Every reasonably aware person of our time is aware of the obvious fact that art can no longer be justified as a superior activity, or even as a compensatory activity to which one might honorably devote oneself. The reason for this deterioration is clearly the emergence of productive forces that necessitate other production relations and a new practice of life. In the civil-war phase we are engaged in, and in close connection with the orientation we are discovering for certain superior activities to come, we believe that all known means of expression are going to converge in a general movement of propaganda that must encompass all the perpetually interacting aspects of social reality. “ – A User’s Guide to Détournement
In the stories handed down to me art (or more broadly culture) served a number of purposes within anarchy and politics more generally. Whether it was an excuse for people to gather for shows, speak truth to power, or, as in the Situationist example of Détournement, break the spell of Capital, art served not only as a vessel for beauty, but also as a means for cohesion and action. This function carried on through down the line, showing up in forms like punk as a subcultural glue, a way for people to bind together and act through aesthetics.
And then, as it’s told, something happened. I’m not sure if that something was the internet or some other as-of-yet-unnamed Leviathanic force which seemed to tear subculture asunder, but we are certainly living in the crater of that force. Yet, as always, people and anarchists continue to make pretty things for one another. Which leaves me wondering how anarchists conceptualize this production, this expression, not only now, but through time.
How has art touched or shaped your anarchy/anarchist journey? How do you see that experience, that art, looking at it from your current 2021 analysis? What does art mean for you now? What does art mean for Anarchy (if anything)? Are there any anarchist projects that are doing interesting things with aesthetics at the moment?