Left Alone brings together 14 authors and six visual artists from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America to individually and collectively reflect – in words and images – on an urgent psycho-political issue that has not yet been explicitly addressed through a left-political lens, that is, Left Loneliness. Combining academic and more personal-political texts, including an interview, poetry, a Rap and a powerful short story, the book explores the contributors’ personally and/or vicariously lived experiences of Left Loneliness from a variety of genres and left political currents: Marxist, Feminist, Anti-/De-Colonial, Anti-Racist, Queer, Post-Soviet, Anti-Ableist and others. Says Feminist writer Sara Ahmed: “Loneliness might be what we are threatened with if we persist in being or doing what we are being or doing.” In this sense, Left Loneliness is neither a metaphor nor a secondary contradiction and definitely not a type of petty-bourgeois “personalism”. Rather, it might be considered one of the rank-and-file psycho-affective elements shaping and at the same time resulting from our myriad, intersecting, unremitting, yet always fragile and potentially shattering political attempts to revolutionize our inner and outer worlds. Given its (growing?) existence in our everyday left subjectivities, the book argues that Left Loneliness and related states of solitude, isolation and alienation, among others, have both debilitating and productive (epistemic) dimensions, with very concrete psycho-somatic repercussions for Left Mental and Physical Health and hence our capacities to persist and build on “being or doing what we are being or doing”. Given that continuing and deepening our multiple ongoing struggles for liberation will depend on our constant ability to (re-)create, sustain and care for both our individual selves and the communities that we are a part of, the aim of Left Alone is to contribute to the strengthening of these personal collectivities in action in-against-and beyond capitalism, colonialism and heteropatriarchy by inviting the comrade-readers into what will ideally be a deeply stimulating and enabling personal-political engagement with the texts and images hailing from countries such as Argentina, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Guinea-Bissau/Portugal, Turkey/Kurdistan, Jamaica, Italy, the UK, Germany and the USA. In short, in the words of one of the book’s authors, Lena Grace Anyuolo from Kenya, “My sisters and brothers, Come, Let us gather, To lay the structures for a joyous existence.” Yes, let’s.
This book is a gem. In a short period of time, some of the most generous and creative revolutionary activists of various generations have come from the high expectations that another world is possible to the deep frustrations inflicted by the violent and insidious neoliberal discipline imposed on bodies and minds, often compounded by the internal conflicts among revolutionary movements. Left Loneliness is the outcome. An outcome which, rather than as an ending, must be read as a new beginning. The texts included in this fabulous book bear witness both to the scars of defeat and to the unshakable belief that there are alternatives and that the struggle must go on. In the background, we can hear Samuel Beckett whispering in one ear: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” And Rosa Luxemburg whispering in the other: “Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein”. — Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Author of The End of Cognitive Empire 2018 and Izquierdas del mundo, únanse! 2020
The contemporary left talks of solidarity, but all too often parcels itself out into bubbles and cliques, communicating in caricatures or simply not communicating at all. The effect of this is everywhere obvious – a deep disconnection. These writings against loneliness register that lack, and show some of the ways we can transcend it, together. Owen Hatherley, Writer and Editor