I write this to the Black youth of the future, as a young person myself today. I started my political education late and by the time my ideas of revolution had matured, the world had caught up to me. Today, I spend much time thinking about how much more we could have achieved if we knew then what we know now. But now that I have seen comrades abandon our struggle, have felt the betrayal of fellow organisers absconding from their own organisations, witnessed the selfishness of supposed activism which centres itself and not the cause, and lived through life-threatening experiences in service of revolution, I must think. I must keep thinking on how we arrived at this point. For now, I want to write about a Black Summer, about an alternate future much different to the future we are moving toward today.
It is my prediction that in the next few generations of youth, conditions for a true revolution will ripen and this charge will be led by you. Whether it be the ecological crisis, the rise of nuclear conflict or the technological slavery of surveillance capitalism, the world will experience a global devastation so certain and so horrifying that mere survival will require acts of disobedience, acts of revolt.
What is a true revolution? See, this is no easy thing to define. The moment I set something in stone, I am sure there will be very good criticisms of that definition, coming from people who have different perspectives and experiences. More than this, any ability to write down in words what a “revolution” is like will really miss the fact that the revolution happens on the ground, not on paper. There is, therefore, no paper definition of a revolution. But we can try to describe a true revolution as ‘any and all activities which genuinely intend to take us from the current world toward the world we should want to live in.’
What Holds Us to The Winter?
There are many beliefs that people have, but much of those beliefs have no genuine interest in abandoning all the parts of the current world that we should abandon. People seem to want to change some things, but not all things. They believe there are some things in the current world worth saving like luxury, desirability, hierarchy, merit, fame, social standards etc. We are constantly seeing how the people we organise with refuse to do anything that sacrifices any part of their own privilege or power. They believe in the distribution of all goods but their own, the labour of all people except theirs, and the changing of all ways of life except their own. Now, if all people decided that everyone should change, save themselves, it leads to where we are now. Everyone is lobbying everyone else to change. None look inward at the ways in which they themselves should improve. In fact, we experience the opposite. There is an assumption that we are already as revolutionary as we need to be—it is the world that is wrong. Ultimately, I stared into the heart of people and I saw the beat of self-interest.
Further, people choose leaders, and they make these choices on the basis of respectability, desirability and social standard. If someone’s mouth is foul, appearance is tacky or standards are undignified, they can never become a leader. In fact, leadership is reserved for those we approve of. It is a social currency which serves only to reward those that exemplify our social standards. But these are not good social standards. They reproduce deceit and self-interested chauvinistic leadership. There has never been a good leader. And there never will be. The crowd is pulled and tugged by charisma, by desire, by appearance.
This is our Black Winter, a period of stagnancy. Nothing grows. We are covered everywhere in whiteness. There is an endless snow falling from the sky, a frost which renders us all motionless in vertigo. The fields are misty and uncertain. No systems are produced which does not serve empire. Our suffering is continuous, endemic. As much as we claim that the people we bury are seeds, they never shoot from the ground. They are only ever shot into the ground. There is no justice. Blackness suffers totally in vain.
We Are The Ones We Are Not Waiting For
Our generation of youth seem to fall largely in three categories. The largest take no action to change the world. For some, they must focus their energies on surviving. Some are unconcerned about the state of things. Some benefit from current world-systems. The second category of youth are taking actions, but those actions do not bear any results. Some of these youth have given their loyalty to hierarchical organisations (political parties, NGOs, unions etc.) where all power is nested in a few. Some try to find ways of advancing a liberatory agenda from within structures like capitalism, patriarchy or white supremacy. All these youth spend enormous energy thinking they are changing things, but simply end up empowering select people or groups, and not us all. Then there is the third group, and I hope you that is reading this, hurries to join this group.
The third group of youth want liberation for all, not just as mouth service, but as reality. We want everyone to have food, shelter and healthcare, be free from oppression on the basis of their identity, and have the full range of opportunities that personhood should grant a person. We do not make class, sexuality, gender or disability an exception. This means abandoning our society as it is, and living in the ways we want our new society to be like. This approach is called prefiguration. How revolutionary this concept is. We should not wait for the revolution and for the world to change in order to change ourselves. We should change ourselves in anticipation, dedicate our lives in service of revolution, push with all our collective might to change the world through changing ourselves. This is the only way.
For instance, for us to be anti-capitalist, we have shaken off the idea that labour in service of revolution must be paid labour. We volunteer our time freely to community centres, food gardens, clinics and shelters. These are real-world projects that provide resources to people who otherwise would not have them. We do not expect anything in return for this labour. We do not expect to be paid to go to protests any less than expecting to be paid to write articles. I fear a lot of the work of the revolution simply will not be done because our generation demands to be paid to do it.
But who will pay you to fight a revolution? Those that want the revolution have no money. Those that have the money want no revolution. If you’re being paid, it certainly isn’t for the revolution. That is as simple as that. There are many supposed anti-capitalists who would nay volunteer their labour to the commons. But how do we build a commons when people refuse to do so? Where will this commons come from?
In our Black Summer, a commons is the mode of distributing resources. There is no private ownership. Everything is in the commons. We all take from it what we need and provide to it what is in our ability. To create this commons, we should begin to live like that right now. We should give as much as we can, within our abilities, to our communities and take back only what we need. Looking around, our current class of youth are not doing that at all. Many do not contribute to the commons and many more are on the lookout for how they can benefit. There is no revolution in that thinking.
Black Summer, Black Summer
Black Summer, Black Summer
What will we do next summer when there Black is in the air,
When the white of snow has melted and our skin is left out bare
What will we do next summer when there commons is in the ground
And the dead we buried there finally come on sprouting out
What will we do, what will we do, when there Black Summer is
We will look upon the skies and know that Black Summer is
Black Summer, Black Summer, liberation, commons, to be free
We look toward you next summer, Black Summer, to be free
For many, it has been our experience that there is no current revolution. Our organisations exist to serve the few. Our youth are self-interested. Our collective consciousness is absorbed into the way things are right now. Revolutionary thinking requires abandoning this world, leaving it behind. In any case, whether we want it to or not, the world is deteriorating. Things are getting worse. World-systems are leading us toward collective destruction. It is up to us to decide, do we continue along in this Black Winter? And what is this Black Summer? It must be a world of common labour and common service for common liberation. So, to you, the youth of the future, what will you do next summer?