23 December 2020

Ajay Singh Chaudhary: “[S]eeing, feeling, and saying all the unnice things, against … those who fear any scrap of negative feeling not dutifully ensconced in a spoonful of sugar, is how we begin to find a way out of our impasse. Almost all the moments identifiable in the revival of the still-nascent left have emerged when the depressive realism seeped in: Occupy Wall Street, the Movement for Black Lives, the Sanders campaigns, NoDAPL, the growth of DSA, and proliferation of other activist organizations. There’s no need to make a fetish of negative affect—that is a real form of ‘left melancholy’; all these movements generate true positive feeling, too. … But these kinds of politics—the ones we should be looking to for guidance—don’t begin with the optimist’s cognitive illusions or manic admonitions to feel good about things. Even the Stoic affective posture in our politics partakes in a kind of optimism: if we just keep on keeping on, following the path forward, we march up the hill to progress. … Collective effervescence—collective feeling—is vital; feel all the manic euphoria perhaps you feel. But feel all the depressive realism and whatever else, too. Feel it about the Trump years with kids, and forced hysterectomies, in the cages that Obama and Biden built. Feel it as we, perhaps finally, begin to mourn the dead. Feel it all—grief, sadness, anger.  Pessimism: ‘… even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he is victorious. And this enemy has never ceased to be victorious.’ Feel it not to internalize toward guilt or as another one-quick-trick-to-fix your life—‘wrong life cannot be lived rightly’ after all—but to open up to that depressive realist realization: it’s not you; it’s the world, and there is something you can do about it.”