Northern Steampunk Poetics
Everything around you, everything you see, hear, smell, touch, taste, everything you know, is being traded in and exchanged for the cold currency of consumerism, its human meaning subjugated to the demands of the free market. Slowly, but surely, all of reality is becoming a product, and every human relationship is being reduced to that of producer and consumer. That which refuses to be commodified is either mad, bad or dangerous to know. Welcome to one of the few remaining dangerous discourses: the Tasneem Project. Beyond brand, beyond edutainment, the Tasneem Project is my narrative of resistance, my love letter to humankind, my last hope.
Ensnared by a globalized neoliberalism, our world is divided between the have-not many and the got-too-much few. Today, on planet Earth, 870 million people don't have enough food to eat. Undernutrition contributes to the deaths of 2.6 million children under five each year. Yet 1.4 billion adults living in the more affluent nations, or in the wealthier parts of poorer nations, are overweight. Around a third of these are clinically obese. These inequalities exist in the wealthiest nations, too. Whilst 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the global South every school day, there are also an estimated 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK and levels of child poverty have barely changed in the last 5 decades. Only a minority benefit from this kind of grotesque inequality.
At best the objects of charity rather than a cause for political justice, the world's poor have been forced to take their place among the unseen dispossessed, scratching at the doors of the affluent nations who helped to impoverish them in the first place. Thus vanished, they are only made visible through the warped lens of xeno-racism, a prejudice equally directed at impoverished whites as well as BMEs. Yet the way this new racism reifies and denigrates people before segregating and/or expelling them differs little from the bigotries of old. Today's most infamous xeno-racist category is 'the Muslim': a threat to both (neo)liberal hegemony and national security.
Neoliberalism's pursuit of endless growth also poses a calamitous threat to our planet's biosphere in the form of climate change. Although governments around the world ostensibly agree that our carbon targets must aim to keep the global temperature increase below a supposedly safe 2ºC limit, it is now evident this limit is meaningless. The latest evidence contends that the current rate of increase in carbon dioxide emissions puts the planet on track for a 4–6ºC rise by the end of the century -- the worst case scenario set out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. This scenario means that the human species will cross the 'critical social system thresholds', at which point many of our key civilizational institutions are likely to collapse. Reap the whirlwind.
Why did the revolutions of the past fail to prevent this scenario? By their nature, political revolts fail to recognise that the quest for social justice must begin and end with the development of human potential, and this in turn necessitates an exploration of what it means to be human. We are not machines; we are not talking apes; we are living beings capable of invention and imagination, empathy and passion, and of adaptation, self-sacrifice and love. Of course, we must contend with the lumpenproletariat at the very bottom of society and the wohlhabenden nihilisten (the nihilistic rich) at the top. The latter sustain themselves by derailing our dreams and sucking us into their nefarious schemes: wage slavery, consumption, debt. For this reason, we must agitate for change by every peaceful means available, but not in the spirit of militant vanguardism. Everyone of good heart is invited to this revolution as parallel participants.
Northern Steampunk poetics
advocates a revolutionary creative stance known as mythopoetic
liminality. This is the act of creating a historical/fantasy
world that is simultaneously self-contained whilst evolving in
magical proximity to current events. This world uses both
traditional and digital media along with multiple forms of creative art
to reproduce itself: craft; comedy; creative writing - including
novels, short stories, scripts, and poetry; culture jamming; dance;
essays; graphic design; film; fine art; maps, music; photography;
and theatre. Our particular Northern Steampunk historical/fantasy
world is the Imperial Municipality of Clagsborough, a Northern
industrial town of the 1890s at the heart of the British empire, yet
also home to an array of extraordinary radicals and rebels.