New gangs will appear out of the rubble. Not based on who you know or what you look like, but what you can do. How useful are you? Do you know how to turn a bag of flour and some yeast into tasty bread? Can you sew? Establish and nurture a garden to grow? What do you know and where do your skills lie?
These aren’t retro communes of the past. Neither are they subcultures, though subcultures will materlialise as a result. These are assemblies of know-hows. Some will be built of family units. Too polite to call them gangs and associate with prior connotations, we will refer to them as something like ‘bands’. Everyone still wants to be in a band. Bands still sound cool.
Our years spent labouring ‘creating’ visual identities will be seen. Each band manifesting a distinct visual side – which will go beyond stickers, instead used in the colours of the knits knitted and the ropes knotted, the patterns in the surfaces formed and ingredients of the papers mulched. Ropes made for washing lines and to fasten things onto the backs of our bikes. Surfaces for sitting, working, eating at and standing on. Bands will brand the excess goods they produce to sell. Designing won’t be a job on its own, it will be a tool in the toolbox of the person busy with other things.
These micro-cottage industries will not be cutesy. They will be productive, felt in strong forward motion, vigorous in vitality. They will be focused. Our mothers, aunts and grandmothers will rise to centrality, bearers of good knowledge. ‘…replacing History with Her-story’ as Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi has said this week. Those who still have money will hoard craft books and specialist machinery, but those with the long standing, well practiced expertises will have value. They know how to fix glass and preserve eggs. They know what can be used to grease wheels when the generic bike oil becomes scarce, and they see the further purpose in the materials discarded or forgotten. Like modern prophets they hold now-magical insight.
The men who wore suits will fade into the background. Useful for physical labour if they are lucky. Some of these will be the people who will need to ‘know someone’ to be sympathised into the band. Their place will always be precarious and with ongoing proof of usefulness. Incase it was not clear, tables will turn. There will be little space for dead weight. People will regret the bridges they burnt before.
Age of the Amateur
A life in adhoc. The coming Age of the Amateur open a level playing field. What did you learn while you were house bound? Did you learn how sew masks? 3D print parts for medical apparati? Did you teach yourself horticulture skills and ways of filtration? We will see specialists and generalists. The future after our quarantine from consumerism is adhoc. Not fumbled but makeshift. Making the shift. What did you make fun of from the immigrant kids in elementary school? Did they have whole tomatoes in their lunch box for daily fruit? Were there sausages hanging to dry in their homes? The excess of before will be in bad taste. To eat a banana in a place that doesn’t have the climate to grow them will be ostentatious and abhored. Exotic relics of the past.
How to make a broken clock work again and how to turn the home balcony into something more than a pretty place to sit? These will be the skills valued and signs of a valuable, serious member. I’ll open my home to you and you will become something more than a friend. A new kind of colleague. A new type of comrade.
Those will little to offer will be queried for what they did will all that time in the quarantine. If you have assets you may be forgiven with a trade. Space will be a different premium than before. The ground floor retail spaces that were former top echelon real estate will be repurposed, though with fear. The city is dirty. The inner city the dirtiest.
The suburbs we were priced out to before now have the spaces of the bands. Community areas more sufficient of continuing themselves. Dependency will be kept to a minimum. It will be a central goal. This isn’t the tiny houses of Air BnB with self composting toilets. New forms using old structures.
It’s hard to forsee how this will look, but it will not be quaint. Caretakers are time givers. Time becomes equally useful and respected. To burn days online will be time wasted. Not some kind of self-care from before. Closer to stupidity, more signalling of ill-commitment. Commitment to the cause that is not moralist nor survivalist. It is the new life.
Survivalism won’t be an obscure YouTube subculture. The sub will drop and new forms will take shape to share information. Some key emblems will attempt old ways of capitalism and ruin their own dominance of the scene. They will get caught up in dark messaging. ‘The old Right’ we might say. These figures will be less of a distraction though. Who has time to ‘follow’ deeply? The band will see natural leaders emerge and effort will be applied to maintain communism. Trials and errors of figuring out something we had heard of but never seen here before.
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Premonitions are a series of critical foresights by Ruth Les. The scenarios and ideas are concerned with possibilities, not probabilities. ‘…We should not be confined by the probable. We should discover the possibility hidden in the present.’ – Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi