Design: Fran Marcos
Design: Fran Marcos
A rave is a good occasion to play, connect, release, and reflect. For this Lecken, we want to reflect on the term, “comrade,” which millions of people used to address each other as in the 20th century, but which has been surpassed today by alternatives like “ally,” “chosen kin,” or “babe.” What politics does comrade suggest that these other terms cannot? What better place to reflect on this than in the context of a rave, when the rave is the cultural form that rose up just as comradeship fell out. Coincidence? Or did the rave have to be invented to accommodate our desire for collectivity, reciprocity, and common purpose when (left) politics no longer could? In good Lecken tradition, we treat the rave as an opportunity for constant education and sensibility expansion, a chance to connect over a shared interest while you make a new friend and, why not, meet a comrade.
Comrade names a political relation, a belonging on the same side of the fight, a commitment to a common purpose of making an egalitarian and emancipated world come true for the many.
The comrade is a generic and egalitarian figure. Comradely relations surpass identitarian differences of locality, ethnicity, class, occupation, sex, race, and sexuality because comradeship is about a political relation, not an individual identity. Comradeship acknowleges affinity of purpose, beyond liking or befriending one another. Anyone can be a comrade, whether or not they like me, whether or not they are like me.
Anyone but not everyone can be a comrade. Calling someone a comrade suggests a divide: are you with us or not? If you are not my comrade does not mean that you necessarily are my enemy. You may be a bystander, someone politically disengaged, an ally with interests of your own, someone who might later come to be a comrade.
Comrade implies equal status, fidelity to a joint purpose, commitment to do the work, and desire for collectivity. Commonality arises not out of what one is, but out of what one does (organising, studying, campaigning, travelling together). Comrade is one of many fighting on the same side, aligned through what we care for.
Adapted from Jodi Dean, Comrade (Verso, 2019)