Notes on a Collectivist Manifesto Part 1
I have personal experience in collectivism. I have played in music groups. When I call myself an "anarchist collectivist" as my political affilliation, I'm being exceedingly pragmatic, drawing from lived experience that proves it might be more effective and more democratising than classist capitalism has ever been, even in experiments of workplace democracy.
Groups of musicians come together with a common purpose. Even if capitalistic ideals of fame and fortune is their common goal, the togetherness and artistic commons of the collective is the primary purpose. No person is an island and, in a sea of capitalism, fame and fortune seems like the lifeboat. Still the music drives the musical collective forward, sometimes to the brink, even beyond. Any riches are a bonus, it's the collective good of the chosen goal that is a musical group's motivation, be they The Beatles or the London Philhamonic, or be they my old bunch of unkown chancer band mates, The Breed or The Collectables (Mk 2 iteration of the band, Me on "bull fiddle" and my tune.). And like The Beatles, all things must pass.)
First there is the idea. Somebody who founds a musical collective has the germ of a style, some songs they want performed in public at any cost. Auditions happen, maybe by chance meeting (eg. Jagger and Richards), maybe via music shop notice boards, maybe via social media. As the collective comes together, the ideas coalesce as the objects and purposes of the band. Their constitution for how they hope to change their community.
Maybe it's "just a covers band", the drive to have fun, create music, entertain people and celebrate a genre, be it world, pop, blues, rock, jazz or art music, even a solo artist or DJ has this kind of goal in mind - to make their local world a better place and take their neighbours' minds of their worries for a brief period in time. And maybe put bread on the table from their efforts at this purpose. It's never about the cars or the bling. It may be about the street warfare, but even that fades away on stage, if not in the lyrics, in the heart. The bling-and-cars branding, the political tribalism, that's exploited by the capitalistic music system to conquer audiences and fleece them. The label system is svengali, at best, at worst, it degrades, it steals and it exploits difference, corrupting what the musical collective initially set out to achieve, playing for their people.
The DIY movement of UK punk and reggae expresses the collectivism of music, and the bands made their communities better (mostly, there were heads kicked) with their music. Or more bearable, at least. They communicated their poverty and desperation in song, they celebrated their heroes, they chastised friends, they called out the public enemy. And while doing this, created economies around their music. Capitalism "hovers" them up to make money on the latest trend (Chumbawumba even tried to use this in the greatest music PR stunt of all time, donating their cut to anarchists and rebels all over the world), but the collectivism up to the point of lable signing works and generates shared value.
Right now, I'm thinking aloud here. I want to create a manifesto that stretches beyond the arts, into social enterprise, sporting clubs, industrial sectors, that can quietly, invisibly, surreptitiously and freely, create community value and provide salaried jobs alongside capitalism and supplant it. Even making national government irrelevant. Especially making venture capital and "international bright young things" like Elon, Jeff, Donald or the remaining Koch(head) utterly unnecessary. They are already, I believe, but we have work to do to show them so.
Author's Note: I post "The Fireplace" here, not because it's my song. Alex, founder of The Collectables, was an emminently better and more prolific songwriter than me, but "The Fireplace" is a song about gaslighting and being gaslit. Capitalism gaslights us. Fame and fortune is not real, it's a deliberate lie. Work hard and get rich? A lie. Trickledown is a lie. They're lies that keep us down and squabbling among ourselves. The wealthy lie at us to set us against one another.
Margaret Thatcher's "There is no such thing as society," is made a lie by community sector organisations every, single day. Local Football clubs, advocacy organisations, even some local businesses, like thrift stores (or op-shops, short for "opportunity shop", as we call them in Australia) providing services to their communities, are society, and all could be collectivsed. All could create value and all could share that value with relevant stakeholders in their wider communities, with no loss of wider productivity. Quite possibly there would be more productivity, in real terms. More value, but shared with all, not a wealthy few, funnelling money up to each other, away from everybody else.
This si why I am starting to jot down ideas for this manifesto.