We write this editorial on the morning after Donald Trump took the stage as president-elect, promising to “bind the wounds of division.” That division, borne from disparity and dissenting opinion, is the fire his populism has at once inflamed and utterly dissuaded. Difference, informed opinion and discussion, the vast and complex spectra of human experience, these are the tools of progress.
Ours is a moment lived between the poles of nativism and radical tolerance; we awoke this morning to find ourselves hurtled catastrophically towards the former, while the majority of the world faces a daily fight for freedom, safety and equality. Confronted by this situation, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that what we’re doing here, making a magazine, is a frivolous if not feeble act.
In these moments, we return to what we know. That the tyranny of solipsism and self-interest can only be toppled by an empathy which liberates the mind of its prejudices. We return to our visionaries, our incisive and expansive thinkers, like the great Carl Sagan who reminds us, “Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” Diversity, debate, critique of ourselves and the systems which put us here: these are our tools.
The Brow stakes its claim for existence upon a collective form of resistance via nurturing. In the face of the nihilism diagnosed by the likes of Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, “the pure destruction of useful things for the aim of increasing financial capital,” we create and we pour invisible money into a beautiful hole.
This Capital-themed issue advocates for kindness, for language, for art that rages, while it acknowledges its complicity in what feels like an increasingly awful world. Everything will not be fine. But from grief, from shame, tender visions can sprout and their “wealth” may trickle out.
Through its muralist approach, the contents of this issue locate the anxieties produced by the logic of capital on external bodies, structures and the through lines of our lives. Not only do we hope to interrogate ideas of value, economic and immaterial both, but by enumerating those expenses in the ledger at the centre of this issue, we seek to make transparent the social relations that produced this object in your hands; “the majestic and murderous stupidity of that organisation of time and space and fuel and labor” (Ben Lerner).
In negotiating this magazine’s legitimacy, we acknowledge the many hours that disappear into its production; the often below-minimum-wage-all-the-way-down-to-zilch payment that accompanies a life in the creative industries; the blood on our hands. Consider it an internal memo made public, an exploration of the potential autonomy of labour from capital. Hold these pages close, but be sure to ask how they got there.