Locust Review: Irrealism as Socialist Cultural Strategy

Haymarket Books

Capitalist realism is popping at the seams. Though its logic still infects every facet of daily life (and much of the new, burgeoning left) its ideological parameters strain against reality: accelerating climate disaster, global pandemic, the growing threat of the far-right. Socialism has also gone from a notional movement to an actual one. Once abstract and historical debates have become increasingly concrete. What is true of politics and struggle in general is true of culture and aesthetics. We cannot pretend to be agnostic on questions of design, cybernetics, the white cube, realism vs. irrealism, etc. In other words, the specificity of socialist-aesthetic strategy has become more important. The Locust Arts & Letters Collective, founded in 2019, is a project dedicated to fleshing out these strategies and strengthening the revolutionary imagination. Against the zombie of capitalist realism, we posit what Michael Lowy and others have called “critical irrealism,” the use of the weird, the fantastical, the other-worldly, to estrange the machinations of capitalism and challenge us to think beyond them. Our magazine, Locust Review, publishes art, poetry, fiction and other ephemera dedicated to just that, while our podcast, Locust Radio, seeks to examine questions posed by the framework from a theoretical perspective. This panel will seek to introduce the LALC’s work to the Historical Materialism conference, and unpack questions related to the project of building a working-class critical irrealism. Introductory readings on Locust Review and critical irrealism: “We Demand an End to Capitalist Realism,” Locust Review, December 2019 “Socialist Irrealism vs. Capitalist Realism,” Red Wedge, February 2020 “Workers! Jump the Shark!” Locust Review, May 2020 “Labor Under an Alien Sky,” Locust Review, August 2020. The Case for Critical Irrealism — Alexander Billet How Collective Dreams Can End the Sleep of Reason – Holly Lewis Their “Weird” and Ours: Socialist Irrealism vs. Fascist Occultism – Adam Turl Representational Impossibility: A Propagandist’s Urgencies and Crisis – Anupam Roy PLEASE NOTE: All events for HM Online are free to register, however we would ask comrades who are able to please consider supporting the Historical Materialism project. Please consider subscribing to the Historical Materialism journal, published by BRILL, who are currently offering a 25% discount on individual subscriptions, valid until the end of the year. To use the offer, quote the discount code 70997 when subscribing at: Also, please consider subscribing to the Historical Materialism book series through Haymarket Books. For $25 per month, this subscription gets you every new title from the Historical Materialism series when it is released (as long as your subscription remains active) plus a 50% discount on *all* Haymarket books titles via our website. Non-US subscribers will be charged an extra $20/month for international shipping.… ***For the duration of the conference, all HM titles in paperback will be available for a 50% discount via the Haymarket website***…

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