dialectics for dummies

Key:

Thesis = T

Abstract Negation = AN

Negation of the Negation = NN

Religion

T: there is a God

AN: there is no God

NN: Man is God

Epistemology:

T: ‘Scholastic’ dogmatism

AN: naive realism

NN: extreme skepticism

Genre:

T: Romance

AN: Realism

NN: Satire/Parody

Ideology:

T: aristocratic idealism

AN: liberal-bourgeois progressivism

NN: conservative pessimism/nostalgia

Political Economy:

T: Feudalism

AN: Classical Liberalism (capitalism)

NN: State capitalism

If you believe that any of the above categories accurately represent non-ideological reality, you are within the ideology of these categories. The same applies if you think the ‘problem’ could be fixed by adjusting the labels.

So, this is an ideological map of ideology, or an interpretation of the beliefs of others. It is in that sense ironic.

What is left out:

1. Relatives — i.e. ‘naive realism’ relates to positivism, extreme skepticism relates to relativism, ‘state capitalism’ relates to Stalinism and neoliberalism, etc. In other words, the categories can be adapted, through argument or adjustment, to metaphorically include terms that would be different in other contexts.

2. Everything that is not ideological. By this I mean, everything that does not attempt to respond to either of two false problems, a) what is human nature? and b) what is the meaning of nature? This includes scientific (practical) empiricism, playing the piano, walking, digestion, vector algebra, and taking good notes, among other things. And yet any of these activities can give rise to metaphysical, ideological beliefs, which in turn reorient the thinker’s relationship to them. Or, as is often the case, this relationship can be affected by an already existing ideology. While it may be true that there is nothing that is outside of ideology, no actual process or activity can be determined by ideology.

This last point is the essence of Marx’s critique of abstract philosophizing. Abstract critique can only go as far as Hegel’s ‘negation of the negation,’ or to put it sloppily the position of the rejection of ideology. In Michael McKeon’s interpretation (via Althusser) this always retains some element of the original thing negated, which, rather than manifesting at a ‘higher level’ (Hegel’s Aufhebung), appears as a nostalgic affectation, the longing for a utopia that is known to be impossible. Because the combinations through which this position can be formed are variable, the third stage of every dialectical triad is inherently unstable, tending in practice to fall back on one of the two previous stages for support. Satire, for example, can merely reproduce the genre conventions of romance in its sending up of realism, or it can become a variety of self-hating realism, yearning for a ‘true expression’ that is always out of reach. The conservative (I use this in terms of the dialectic, in an extra-political sense) may become an armchair authoritarian, or he may acquiesce to the way of the world while keeping alive the fantasy of something ‘better’ through sheer force of will. Or he may ‘accept’ the ‘contradiction’ and claim to have ‘learned to live with it,’ by which he must mean he has tried to stop thinking.

I avoid specific examples here because I see no reason to hide my position within the sphere of double negation, also the position of unstable, world-weary, hysteric modernity itself, what today we tend to call ‘postmodern irony,’ with spurious attempts to connect my abstract categories to historical fact. None of my terms are capable of accurately representing reality, only interpreting the history of abstraction. What does it mean that modernity regards itself a priori as the incoherent outcome of incoherent conflicts? Nothing, and certainly this ideological confusion is part and parcel of the Modern World’s self-presentation: that of unprecedented productivity, creativity, and originality. I say self-presentation — appearance — because it appears productive, creative, and original to us insofar as it is chaotic, incoherent, and self-obsessed. It sees no reason to hide what it has produced, and it sees no reason not to produce anything it can think of. Would another kind of production appear to us as productive? Would another kind of activity appear as active? How different would something have to be to appear truly different to the dialectical mind?

I am speaking about the limits of a myth — modernity — that will remain real as long as we moderns continue to resist the possibility of a stable foundation for meaning, that is, for ideology. This is a resistance to both action and thought, as every thought is also an act, and each calls another into being.

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78 Responses to “dialectics for dummies”

  1. That’s a fun post.

    “None of my terms are capable of accurately representing reality, only interpreting the history of abstraction. What does it mean that modernity regards itself a priori as the incoherent outcome of incoherent conflicts?”

    So, then, what is it really? Produced where, inhabiting what?…(There is a case here for the sinister function of (mostly Hegelian) theories of the novel, inviting the nietzschean/new historicist tweek, sinister as well, in there somewhere.) If you take the sort of Baudrillardian stance – it’s there here everywhere – then…this is a demonstration of the (re)production. Perhaps all the Theses (which are reliant on nameable interlocking institutions, church, monarchy, landed estate…) occur a little more, oh, naturally or by happenstance than the abstract negations (are these produced by elite professionals?) and negations of negations (these are produced by hacks?), the production involving specialised institutions adapted to it specifically, with in some cases no other tasks?

    The novel is in the middle of your table…can it serve as exemplary? …

    And then is this abstract modernity a temporal omniphage, munching up its self-assigned antecedents, and supplying itself with an oblique rhetorical toolbox for the construction of a limitless empire (it grants itself an “eternal emphemerality” by backhandedly outlawing the relation between the permanent intangible and the fleeting configuration?)

  2. traxus4420 Says:

    thanks — looking back on it it gets a little melodramatically heideggerian toward the end, but what can you do.

    “what is it really? Produced where, inhabiting what?”

    have you read ‘we have never been modern?’ bruno latour’s book? he tries to say modernity is an illusion and a false problem based on the ideological split between ‘nature’ and ‘culture,’ and this turns out to be his polemical way of restoring modernity, but as the enlightenment without all the nasty parts (which come from an outlawing of the relation between nature as permanent intangible and culture as fleeting configuration). It’s like an atomization/social democratization of deleuze/guattari. D/G + Habermas, maybe. Wants to tear down the big dialectical abstractions and replace them with nice, democratic ‘constructions’ — so that the ‘limitless empire’ becomes fully ‘networked,’ ‘mediated,’ and ‘inclusive,’ definitely more current — more for the knowledge worker/multitude types (and fans of the EU) — than the hegelianisms/nietzscheanisms lit crit people still often rely on.

    speaking of which, i should change that line about scientific empiricism not being ideological.

    Good point about the different formation of the Theses. the negations — or their successors the epistemic shifts — tend to be described as the result of ‘events’ or ‘breaks,’ right? this form of storytelling is also i think very entrenched though, isn’t it? i mean the important thing is you can dialectify just about anything. the institutions that produce abstract modernity are just less traceable and more fluid than the old church.

    “The novel is in the middle of your table…can it serve as exemplary? …”

    hm, i guess it is, isn’t it. as a form for reading history it probably is (or at least it’s been called, by Bahktin and Lukacs among others) the most compatible with (so maybe the most productive of) ‘the modern.’

  3. thanks and apologies in advance for veering over to the conversation at whatinthehell here, in answer to you there:

    …sometimes it seems that ‘what is the relation of theory to action’ is the polite way of asking the more vulgar question do intellectuals have a role in revolutionary politics? In the Bourdieu book Alexei mentioned there is a long footnote reaming existentialist period Sartre for his answer, which Bourdieu notices has legs no matter how often the rug under is pulled out. But its ‘only natural’ that professional intellectuals will show a tendency to conclude that consciousness determines, one way or another, precisely because it doesn’t; thus a constant furnishing of evidence for one position in the form of a constant assertion of its opposite. Roger at Limited Inc has a fascinating post about sensationalism, and the transition from 17th century accounts of the passions, in humoural medicine and in philosophy grounded in it, to Enlightenment 18th century’s liberation of mind from matter. Since it ties in with the little porn fad in blogonia too – have you seen what’s happening to YouPorn btw? – I recommend it to you!

    “the negations — or their successors the epistemic shifts — tend to be described as the result of ‘events’ or ‘breaks,’ right? this form of storytelling is also i think very entrenched though, isn’t it?”

    yeah. Well though what is here – you have a story with three acts and because the protagonists are not identified, we have a single protagonist implied…worldspirit, spirit of the west, something like this. Historical conflict is displaced into a sequence like theogony, generational sort of baton passing, a favourite family saga move of favoured ancient forms. Perhaps the telling of this story is just the only way to create this protagonist, who cannot be presented in a more direct fashion. The breaks or events are necessary elements of the dramaturgy, because the flesh the oblioquely limned protagonist – he acquires a personality this way, with virtues and vices, foibles and talents, and in turn serves as exemplary figure for the identification of virtue, vice, foible, talent.

  4. I mean to say, lift up the curtain of modernity and you find yerup. What is the thing that matters for ideology? Not modernity – really modernity can be in any camp politically, is very protean. What matters is its authorship, its ownership, its possession, a claim on it, and this is yerup’s claim and capital’s claim, claims which shape the portrait of modernity. So modernity is always a kind of ruse though usually sincerely undertaken. I havent read that Latour (some other stuff of his yes), but what you quote is the question not the answer. What interest does these favourite pendants of capital, nature and culture, serve? How does it arise and what is built atop it?

  5. also you asked there: “So if one is going to discuss some genre of Theory as above all a ‘theory about theory,’ or a theory that is important more for its performance of a certain style of thought, writing, or questioning (i.e. pure dialectic, deconstruction), than for some other thing that it is ostensibly ‘about’ or attempting to influence — and I think this is a fair reading of some Theorists — then what kinds of poieses/praxes does it reproduce?” Ad you put Derrida in this category. But Derrida wrote a treatise, Grammatology, which is fairly traditional in form and advancing a rigid, extremist technological determinism. It’s “about” something outside its own style, though since the something is Writing, and treatise is an instance of writing, and it uses itself as data sort of, it maybe seems more boomerangy than it is. If there is a niche of professional readers who wish to consume derrida but like to think of his texts as having no content of importance, I think this may be because the content – which is not really avoidable, though the translations do kind of lean toward an opacity that a very determined non-comprehender could possibly avail themselves of to not notice the thing is one forceful assertion after another, with a truly unique frequency of terms like “absolute necessity” “always” and “never” – is, in the dogma of liberalism (to which, politically, Derrida himself as well as most of his readers adhere) not only vulgar but a kind of pure evil.

    But as to the question, what kind of poeisis/praxis is this?…Really I think one has to rewind a bit, to Nietzsche. Who initiates a couple things – among them, the notion of a superradical thought, a antithought. The other thing is, a lot of Nietzsche- the most famous stuff, the most popular – resembles advertising copy. You have til then a little variety in the languages writers of theoretical things use, sort of priestly languages and their derivatives. Just before Nietzsche, a definitive break between what will be the humanities+social sciences and the natural or hard sciences happens. The latter have professional laguages, their kind of organically arising, their adequate. The former are left bereft to a degree by this desertion, this loss of participation in those kinds of claims associated with science. Literary criticism rises at this time. And one thing that happens is Nietzsche introduces a way of writing where the philosopher sounds just like a salesman. The beginning of a kind of importation of the manner that commerce uses language, of commercial language. Debord will say here is the spectacle in embryo, beller will speak of the coming into being here of cinema, of the image. But this is not fitting in to one of the three act stories; there is an extended period of competition. We are still in it. But this theory about theory you are asking about – what kind of praxis is it? It’s marketing.

  6. they’re (!) kind of organically arising, adequate…

  7. traxus4420 Says:

    yes i really should have said ‘this is a fair reading of the INTENT of some theorists’ but that is one of those bad words they teach you not to use. because there is of course a ‘content’ to the other people i lumped in there, Baudrillard, et al. but in order to portray writing/thinking as being somehow directly effective, the content has to appear as an effect of its proof. or at least the proof has to appear as of a kind with the cause of the content.

    and as you said about latour, the treatment of the content does not tend to go past the form of the question. the ethic of this genre of philosophy is the asking of ‘new questions,’ or the constant ‘updating’ of the problematic of modernity (the mutation of the ideology of modernity?). in latour the problem is simply dismissed, only to be resurrected in a different form.

    i actually haven’t got around to grammatology yet, just writing and difference a long time ago, specters of marx, and miscellaneous essays/interviews/excerpts. looking up some sections of OG online i see what you mean about the constant assertions but don’t quite follow the last bit about ‘pure evil.’ i detect something, too earnest to be irony, but a kind of implied distance from assertiveness in derrida’s almost traditionally philosophical assertions in this book (or this little bit i’m reading), an effect maybe of their quantity. i can see how this might have matured into his later style, where the explicit propositions are allowed to recede.

    “Nietzsche introduces a way of writing where the philosopher sounds just like a salesman. The beginning of a kind of importation of the manner that commerce uses language, of commercial language.”

    i almost read that book by geoff waite they were quoting a long time ago over at ufo breakfast, but it was really loopy and i was busy so returned it. those hilarious posts on it seemed adequate enough. probably the closest thing so far to an anti-nietzsche, but made the mistake of trying to throw his style back at him, an approach that i guess is unfortunately implied by that term.

    “But this is not fitting in to one of the three act stories; there is an extended period of competition.”

    yes i almost made some reference to this post-dialectics starting with nietzsche, where power and desire start to emerge as the determining factors instead of the spirit of history. competition is a good word for it — this seems to be how theory ‘advances’ now, and not fundamentally through reference to sacred texts — reference is instead incorporated into style, technique, posing — and makes the past start to look like that too.

    was it different?

    i read roger’s thing, i’m a fan of his blog. he’s almost too clever sometimes, that roger.

    and it’s about time more modernity bloggers started talking about porn! i was afraid it was just going to be the parodycenter performing it.

    “have you seen what’s happening to YouPorn btw?”

    you mean this thing? exciting isn’t it?

  8. New Law spells death for Social Porn:

    But, the proposed changes to a US law 18 U.S.C. 2257 might be the end of sites like YouPorn, because they would require every performer (this would include social networks like YouPorn) to disclose about his/her age and identity.

  9. “a kind of pure evil.”

    Godless mechanism and techological fatalism are pure evil to liberalism, I meant, usually. Exaggerating! But as Timpanaro noted, these are dirty words in bourgeois ideology (godless mechanism is worse than calvinist predestination). The charge of mechanism is made, inappropriately, as an insult or smear against any kind of materialism usually. In the case of OG, which actually puts forward overtly an extreme mechanistic determinism, the way liberals cope with this evil doctrine, this heresy, is normally just see no evil, hear no evil….It’s true everything written after OG has a tone of uncertainty, and often a kind of open possibility that each sentence implies a sock puppet, emitting the slightly caricatured hypothesis of someone other than the author of the previous sentence, but the major texts do all sooner or later reassert the fundamental mechanistic presumptions. In Spectres, for example, D proceeds very systematically toward and gets eventually to the assertion that capitalisation is intrinsic to phenomena – at the end of the discussion of the fetish commodity in other words Derrida affirms and celebrates the fetish commodity as predestined, and Marx is diagnosed neurotic for trying to ‘chase away ghosts’ in his critique of the fetish commodity – asserting that capitalisation is always already the inescapable relation between things, it is repetition and iteration itself.

  10. “geoff waite ”

    I didn’t read it, though I also read some of Turbulent Velvet’s posts, which were hilarious. But Derrida belabors this feature also – the apotropaic figures secularised and banalised – though in a celebratory way, and he doesn’t have any explanation for it, again just questions, wonder-and-amazement build-up.

  11. traxus4420 Says:

    “Godless mechanism and techological fatalism are pure evil to liberalism, I meant, usually.”

    ok, i thought you were talking about dogmatic assertion, which I was going to say liberalism still relies on but disavows (drawing out the connection with Derrida’s style).

    “Derrida affirms and celebrates the fetish commodity as predestined, and Marx is diagnosed neurotic for trying to ‘chase away ghosts’ in his critique of the fetish commodity – asserting that capitalisation is always already the inescapable relation between things, it is repetition and iteration itself.”

    this is also Zizek’s strategy, isn’t it, calling Marx a crazy for trying to counteract destiny. in his case it’s that Marx is trying to restore the ‘whole’ productive power of society without realizing that ‘production’ is reliant on the contradictions of capitalism, or that production is always already capitalist.

    that thing about youporn has some distressing implications, much worse than the story in my link about how it can’t sell itself. so-called ‘anonymity’ (lack of proper registration) is so rarely tolerated…

  12. I often find myself arriving at conversations like this one late and ill-equipped. Chabert asserts that Nietzsche writes like a salesman — how so? Traxus, you associate salesmanship with power and desire, but isn’t salesmanship more about seduction? I suppose it’s both: Nietzsche wasn’t averse to wielding the rhetorical bludgeon, but he also likes to perform stripteases where he removes one veil only to expose another beneath it. Certainly the art of philosophical persuasion didn’t start with Nietzsche: maybe it was part of his Greco-Roman revival, to restore the third leg of the trivium.

  13. “Chabert asserts that Nietzsche writes like a salesman — how so?”

    Would you like an easy life? Stay with the herd, forget yourself in it…. But if you want to be all that you can be, buy me. Those who buy me have strength which prefers questions for which no one today is sufficiently daring; courage for the forbidden…These alone are my readers, my rightful readers, my predestined readers: what do the rest matter? — The rest are merely mankind.

    Who talks like that except salesmen? And it goes on like this, pitch, pitch, pitch: we need this, we need that, you need to change yourself, you lack, i’ll supply, i’ll freshen your breath and cure you of your deformities and flaws, buy buy buy me. There’s no attempt to persuade or argue – this is why the style is considered curious for the genre – but what is this style? It’s not unfamiliar. It’s the style of someone jumping around to every manipulative tactic to convince someone to buy a useless worthless thing they don’t need; pitching and pitching and more pitching.

    until very recently the ascetic priest has assumed the dark, repulsive form of a caterpillar, the only form in which philosophy was allowed to live…creeping around…Has this really changed? Has the bright and dangerous winged creature, the spirit which this caterpillar concealed within itself, finally, thanks to a sunnier, warmer, brighter world really sloughed its cocoon and escaped into the light? Is there enough pride, daring, boldness, self-assurance, enough spiritual will, will to responsibility, freedom of will, for the philosopher to be from now on really….possible on earth?

    My goodness. This the great firework pitching of nothing whatsoever. It’s like the volume and shine promised by shampoos – because you are worth it! – the indefiniable extra burst of sexy you-ness promised by a perfume or a can of soda.

  14. Scholars are those who have read in books, but thinkers, men of genius, world enlighteners, and reformers of the human race are those who have read directly in the book of the world… The ideas of someone else that we have read are the scraps and leavings of someone else’s meal, the cast-off clothes of a stranger… to scare away our own original and powerful ideas in order to take up a book, is a sin against the Holy Ghost.

    …and so on from Schopenhauer. You could make a case that Nietzsche’s salesmanship constitutes a nostalgic yearning for the Romantic cult of genius. He’s also demystifying genius, systematizing it, almost democratizing it: follow my program and you too can separate yourself from the herd.

  15. i have read only half of Schop’s bestseller; I think with Nietzsche, we see an early instance of the effects of the spectacle on language. It’s all slogans. Schopenhauer weaves a text. Nietzsche hectors. One can feel there is no structure, but yes, there is an architecture but it is based on image chains – it is in a sense a visual logic. And all these different ways to ingratiate himself with the reader, all these little hints at understanding one another so well winky wink.

    Supposing that truth is a woman – what then?

    It reminds me of no one so much as David Ogilvy. Supposing that aftershave is a woman – what then? Has any aftershave ad ever really possesssed her? We will be the first!

  16. The other difference…the schopenhauer I have read seems like very earnest attempt to convince you of something other than its own necessity to you and specialness. With Nietzsche, the overriding aim seems to develop the image of the product itself, “Nietzsche”, and sell it to you. As itself. A set of positions in favour of excellence and genocide or whatever. It’s these positions in favour – as quips, as intellectual accessories – that are the main thing. Like it almost doesn’t matter whether you end favouring genocide – he doesn’t really try to convince you its a good idea, he just tries to sell you the position in favour. The stance. He presents it as stylish, brand new, chic. It’s something to adorn yourself with. Presumably the reader, like the author, is not someone who really feels quite up to going outside, let along conducting a genocide. It’s not exactly a t-shirt yet, but it’s very close.

  17. The falseness of an opinion is not, for us, any objection to it: it is here, perhaps, that our new language sounds most strangely. The question is, how far an opinion is life-furthering, life-preserving, species-preserving, and we are fundamentally inclined to maintain that the falsest opinions (to which the synthetic judgements a prior belong), are the most indispensible to us, that without a recognition of logical fictions, without a comparison of reality with the purely IMAGINED world of the absolute and the immutable, without a constant counterfeiting of the world by means of numbers, man could not live – that the renunciation of false opinions would be the renunciation of life, a negation of life. It’s an ad-man’s scepticism.

  18. Would Nietzsche have done his “truth is a woman” thing if he hadn’t hated women? Does he hate the truth then? Find himself confused and frustrated by them, enraged at them, humbled by them? He’s the first to admit that his philosophy is a personal confession, a set of writings about himself. But surely that’s not all it is? He goes out of his way to expose himself — it might be sheer egoism, but it seems more like a self-conscious effort to do epistemology and ethics as art, a means of personal expression, a work of creation rather than discovery. And he’s explicit about that too.

    Supposing truth is a woman — what then? Are there not grounds for the suspicion that all philosophers, insofar as they were dogmatists, have been very inexpert about women? …and a few sentences more to elaborate his analogy. Then, second paragraph: Speaking seriously he begins — thereby suggesting that in his first paragraph he was being a little playful. Still, he continues, without analogy, his original point: dogmatics is mostly bluster; it doesn’t really reveal truth. But we’re still in the preface, where the author is allowed to play around a little. He starts the book in earnest by questioning the philosopher’s “will to truth.” Why would we want to seek truth? And might not truth emerge despite impure motives?

    For all the value that the true, the truthful, the selfless may deserve, it would still be possible that a higher and more fundamental value for life might have to be ascribed to deception, selfishness, and lust. It might even be possible that what constitutes the value of these good and revered things is precisely that they are insidiously related, tied to, and involved with these wicked, seemingly opposite things — maybe even one with them in essence… by far the greater part of conscious thinking must still be included among instinctive activities, and that goes even for philosophical thinking… “being conscious” is not in any decisive sense the opposite of what is instinctive: most of the conscious thinking of a philosopher is secretly guided and forced into certain channels by his instincts.

    Granted this is all speculation, all “what if.” But this is the 19th century, before Freud elaborated his theory of the unconscious, long before evolutionary psychology began exploring the connections between instinct and truth-seeking. And we’re only up to page 3. He’s turning philosophy into a product of all-too-human psychology.

    Certainly Nietzsche wanders all over the place in these books, and some sections just seem like rants and quirks and vitriol. But it seems clear that he’s got more than marketing slogans to offer. Nonetheless, as to your original point, Chabert — that Nietzsche does introduce personal appeal and salesmanship into philosophy to a pretty extraordinary degree — it’s true.

  19. “Would Nietzsche have done his “truth is a woman” thing if he hadn’t hated women? Does he hate the truth then? Find himself confused and frustrated by them, enraged at them, humbled by them? ”

    Do you care? You feel you should. But – you don’t, do you? And who could?

    What’s missing here is the novelist’s art.

    “Granted this is all speculation, all “what if.” But this is the 19th century…”

    Yeah that’s nearly three hundred years after Don Quixote.

  20. traxus4420 Says:

    maybe i should just do a post on women or something. women and nietzsche. sheesh.

    i don’t think many of the things left philosophers said about nietzsche that made it ok for nice people to like him were wrong per se, they just committed sins of omission. and they omitted all the bits that are bald-facedly ‘offensive.’

    chabert writes a lot about women as property and women as valuable objects that must be seized, protected, imprisoned, liberated, etc., just like property. it’s an old trope, you run into it a lot. talking about women is a way of not talking about other things. by relating truth to a woman nietzsche is pointing out that the philosopher’s truth is a fetish. he’s recognizing it as an absent center, which can generate an infinite variety of traits and useful objects. So, as something like seduction, nietzsche can benefit from truth by not trying to ‘uncover’ it, by acting as if it didn’t exist (not refuting it, as this would be a truth claim), using its absence to create concepts, slogans, signifiers of his personal charisma and mastery. it turns philosophy (lost after God and after dialectical idealism) away from theology, empiricism, and historicism and toward philosophy as ‘art.’ and truth as a woman takes on added significance. the only weakling that does not get pwned by the overman in nietzsche, aside from christ, is Woman as the figure of creative inspiration who can never and must never be fully grasped. this is the operation that converts the pursuit of truth into the pursuit of power, and analysis into creative ‘discovery.’

  21. traxus4420 Says:

    baudrillard lays out the strategy a little better in ‘simulations.’

  22. Do I, could I care that Nietzsche hates women? I can overlook his “deception, selfishness and lust” in his pursuit of a nobler chivalry, but N. argues against this sort of abstract Goodness and Truth. He contends that his truths are his own, intermingled with and derived from his unconscious motivations. Woman learns to hate to the extent to which her charms — decrease… Women themselves always still have in the background of all personal vanity an impersonal contempt — for “woman.” It’s hard to transform woman into a metaphor for truth in these aphorisms, though I imagine the attempt has been made. So when, as Traxus observes, N. de-fetishizes truth by dismissing it as nonexistent — is this the way he dismisses women as well? You get a sense that he’d like to do that. And when he abandons Truth for “his” truth, is he also searching for, or attempting to create, his own personal woman? Probably, would be my guess. But he’s so ambivalent — “I am many” — he seems to have a hard time being consistent. That’s part of his point too though — “I am many

  23. Dude, I don’t know what happened there — I’m typing along, getting ready to undo a redundancy, when all of a sudden my computer sends it off as a completed comment. So, to continue the thought…

    It’s hard to pin Nietzsche down to anything, but that’s part of his praxis too. Different starting points/instincts/biases lead to completely different conclusions: it’s iterative deconstruction consciously pursued. I haven’t read much of Derrida’s Spurs, but as a good disciple of Nietzsche he flips N’s philosophical sexuation in all sorts of directions — N’s “I forgot my umbrella” can be both phallic and vaginal, and so on. That’s part of the reason for overlooking N’s personal and ideational corruptions, for me anyhow: it’s hard to distinguish N’s game-playing from his “true” self and ideas. But that too is part of the point, I think: the game itself.

    Is the game corrupt, or a deception? I’ll have to think more about that.

  24. “What’s missing here is the novelist’s art.”

    Yeah, I thought Zarathustra kinda sucked.

  25. “You get a sense that he’d like to do that.”… Derrida, concentrating on the gay science, on women charming ‘from a distance’, has “Nietzsche’s woman” a protean composite of a gallery of familiar figures…Iphigenia, Helen, Ariadne…functioning as spurs, the pendant of the apotropaic style.

    I don’t get what he’s trying to make out of the ear, that all of Nietzsche’s investigations are “coiled in the labyrinth of an ear”. But the sound of a hunting horn- like contralto voice calls him, penetrates the sturm and drang. Then he notices this is the voice appropriate to Romeo (he must be thinking of the Bellini, Capuleti e Montecchi) except the illusion of masculinity is imperfect, the contralto voice is matronly. The there’s the woman, in the distance, a serene ship on the horizon. Appearing like a phantom. Out of nothing. Gliding floating, ghostly, spectral, intermediary, silent. Like a ship with its sails full (iphigenia, derrida says, “puts on airs”), she floats above existence! but then, not. She has bodily functions. Yuk.

    And so it goes. Derrida manages to be thrilled by all this, but as you say ktis, Zarathustra tells us one thing we suspect is really true – Nietzsche is just a bad writer. The solipsism undoubtedly is part of the problem, but yes, he wants very much to be an artist, but he has no talent. No craft. He’s not like a picasso who begins by mastering the traditional forms and then invents new forms. He hasn’t the skills for the traditional forms, and the new form is the result of this debility, the desire to “be an artist” without making art, to be “an artist”, seperate from the skills and labour to make art. So this is the result. All this woman on the horizon bizniz was prefaced by “We artists, when we love a woman…” It’s a stage in the development of the shareholder model of artist/subject.

  26. “they just committed sins of omission”

    I don’t think that’s true – as Losurdo’s book argues at length, they didn’t just omit nasty remarks – you can always set aside nasty remarks – they developed a “hermeneutics of innocence” which imposed a rule of allegorical exegesis which transformed the bulk of the text itself. They abolished philology and then imposed a convenient allegorical referent on text which had emphatic, legible, unavoidable meaning already; they abolished that meaning, and enforced a kind of fashion discipline wherein it was impolite to notice the texts enunciations and significations.

    Here’s Jan Rehmann (warning PDF!) summing up very briefly one main position of the (really great) Losurdo book. Losurdo doesn’t really address the post structuralist reception, or go after any nietzschean/marxians specifically (rehmann is after deleuze), he just performs a thorough analysis and account of Nietzsche’s writing. Unfortunately its not translated yet.

  27. ” It’s hard to transform woman into a metaphor for truth in these aphorisms”

    The joke was “what if truth were a woman?” It’s the evocation of a (truly ancient) cliché (Helen), but also that “something is a woman” is a
    formula – everything that men might desire but have difficulty controlling “is a woman” for some aphorist. Machiavelli: fortuna is a woman. The question wasn’t “what if truth were Woman”? (because “a woman” – its implied a certain kind, young and desireable, leisured, whom the man implied is trying to seduce). That ‘truth is a woman’ is a kind of pretence to confronting political power; he is putting his efforts on the level of Machiavelli’s Prince, except that where the Prince was aiming at the conquest of political power, Nietzsche is aiming at convincing you that he is an artist without having to make any art. Chuckie K made a good point at LCC; Nietzsche confuses the purely discursive with power. Like he seems convinced if he declares himself an artist (you wouldn’t know it if he didn’t) this incantation will make him an artist in the absence of any art. He’ll become an artist by refusing to make any art. Chuckie K on Nietzsche seen from Kautsky’s point of view: “His blather about power in fact expounds a refusal of power. He costumes powerlessness as power. The ‘will to power’ masks a refusal to fight.”

  28. I think Nietzsche attempt to write a sort of novel was bombastic and overraught, as is some (you might say most, Chabert) of his philosophical writing. Here’s another little gem from p.4 of Beyond G&E: The falseness of judgment is for us not necessarily an objection to a judgment; in this respect our new language may sound strangest. The question is to what extent it is life-promoting, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps even species-cultivating. This sounds like marketing, but in the next couple sentences it turns into sophistry, to a critique of Kant’s presuppositionalism, to an illustration of what it means to go “beyond good and evil.”

    I generally like Nietzsche’s philosophical style — compared to somebody like Hegel he’s a regular Fred Astaire of pellucid prose. But I think he stakes his claim to artistry not as a literary genius but as a creator of moralities, epistemologies, psyschologies. Instead of a discoverer of truths he is an artist of ideas.

    The ear thing — I recall Nietzsche lambasting students for being “all ears” in the lecture hall rather than questioning the professor and thinking for themselves. That Derrida, he does go on. Who’s a better writer: Nietzsche or Derrida?

    The article by Rehmann looks good — I’ll get back to it. And thanks for elaboraring on the Macchiavellian allusion in the “truth is woman” joke.

    Traxus I look forward to your post on women.

  29. traxus4420 Says:

    chabert –

    “They abolished philology and then imposed a convenient allegorical referent on text which had emphatic, legible, unavoidable meaning already; they abolished that meaning, and enforced a kind of fashion discipline wherein it was impolite to notice the texts enunciations and significations.”

    no expert on nietzsche reception, but i always thought this had more to do with walter kaufmann’s crusade against reading nietzsche as a proto-nazi than the poststructuralists. and the texts have more than one ‘meaning’ (there’s more you can do with nietzsche than agree/disagree). because the one you’re talking about is so central, and so odious, one could argue it was necessary to ‘bracket’ it simply in order to discuss nietzsche at all without resorting to stupidities. and his corpus is such a perfect distillation of 20th century reactionary fantasy — in rotation at multiple levels of society, not just with theorists — that it would be a shame to have had it simply rejected outright. i think it’s extremely important that he hasn’t been dismissed as ‘just crazy’ or ‘just evil,’ so that it’s possible to use his writing as a model for an ideological imaginary that he certainly didn’t author all by himself and probably would have existed in some form without him. just not performed so perfectly.

    and wans’t nietzsche instrumental in making readers critical of the influence of Hegel in Marx, and attacking Hegelian (idealist) marxism?

    there’s a good question — what do you think about Marx’s use of the dialectic? this is something i’m finding difficult to figure out. how important do you think it is/was for him?

    thanks for the articles, btw, both excellent.

  30. Apotropaic! Had to look that one up.

  31. traxus4420 Says:

    “thanks for the articles, btw, both excellent.”

    though i don’t much care for the tossing around of the term ‘postmodernism’ without specifying which part he’s talking about. i mean i can guess, but i get bothered by critiques of postmodernism that dismiss the whole thing as an ideological construction, then say ‘we can take the stuff that’s good’ from it without saying what that is exactly. also i think it ignores the importance of the technology; if nothing else, this is what distinguishes it from modernism.

  32. Lukacs noted that the more bourgeois thought succeeded in understanding facts of social life, the less it was able to grasp it in its totality. I don’t think any poststructuralists were actually influenced by Nietzsche; they instrumentalised those texts to express their rejection of Marxism but also of their own comprehension of what was going on around them, their own comprehension of the huge crime against humanity that is capitalism. They returned to the not seeing the forest for the trees thing. They ran away from what had become really obvious, into the minutae of purported complications. Nietzsche fit. Or rather, presenting Nietzsche as a leftist fit. Reading Nietzsche as a raving reactionary would accomplish very little. Because it was in th spirit of the enterprise itself to say nothing is what it seems, we abolish obviousness. So Nietzsche is a leftist, a feminist, an egalitarian anarchist, weakness is power, et cetera. Perhaps because living with the obvious and colluding in its reproduction had become intolerable.

    Multiple meanings: of course. But meanings of text are finite and some are more equal than others. In the postmodern reception of Nietzsche, it is not an adding to the menu of meanings that’s involved, but the opposite, a prohibition of reading all possible meanings except for the one that is really vapid, as abstract as possible. Prohibited are all the meanings any marxist or historically knowledgeable or literate reading would find on top. Poststructuralist nietzsche reception is all about ruling out the obvious. It’s not about saying, this passage about the blonde beast also conveys blah blah, it’s about saying this passage is not about any blonde beast at all. It’s enunciations are gibberish. It’s imagery is random. It refers to nothing in particular. There is only one meaning, its a secret sense, a secret cargo in this distracting textual package – one needs the key, only the sages have it. The meaning is mystical. The extraction of the mystical charms (“difference” and “repetition” ) is the only valid exegetical practise.

  33. agreed about “postmodern”. The term is really encrusted now, having been overused as a euphemism for a very diverse set of things under attack, to the point where its flung back and forth in an argument by both disputants as a smear of the other. Still, in the Rehmann, I dont have any doubts that I know what he’s referring to.

  34. “But I think he stakes his claim to artistry not as a literary genius but as a creator of moralities, epistemologies, psyschologies. Instead of a discoverer of truths he is an artist of ideas.

    Well yes, and this is to attempt the redefinition of moralities, epistemologies, psychologies and ideas as art. But this is not innocent. The point is to create an illusion of personal authorship, of these social products, for enclosure. That is, to create property in these things, and to claim them as property, and to naturalise the notion of the expropriator as creative, as the author of what he has merely trademarked or expropriated. If Nietzsche’s work is anything sustained, it is a sustained attempted to sell (not argue for, but sell) a concept of intellectual property and of the creativity of proprietors. You are an artist by virtue of buying art. It’s rooted in Kant’s aesthetics but its more extreme, though now we don’t even notice how hard he is selling for this, because that triumphed, and its become common sense, and gone even further. In D’Annunzio’s version its put more systematically. It is much like the Orestia which is about replacing the obvious understanding – women make children- with a theory which attributes all the creativity of childmaking and childbearing to men. Nietzsche and other reactionaries were facing the obvious, that labour makes value, that labourers are creative and intellectuals like himself are sterile paper pushers, creating nothing, and they were trying to sell a counterintuitive theory: that they created the world, its wealth, and indeed humanity, by ownership which is portrayed as judgement and taste. The consumer/purchaser/expropriator sense. It’s actually as if its a physical faculty. And basically this is what the poststructuralists favourite Nietzsche themes all boil down to – the aristo/bourgeois capitalist creates the world and everything in it. It would vanish without his ownership and consumption. It would be formless artless soup. Now of course there are these flings at the bourgeoisie for not doing this as well as could be, for not creating as great a masterpiece as is imaginable, so there are calls for rearistocraticisation. But the premise is that the owners of the world, the appropriators, actually create the world and sustain it with their ‘taste’.

  35. So yeah its dressing powerlessness up as power, dependence as mastery, and parasitic sterility as creativity. This way the producers of the material world are portrayed as dependent and parasitic but necessary as servants. And rightly reduced to that status, because uncreative and owing their very existence to Nietzsche and other petty bourgeois ‘artistic spirits’.

  36. Jean Jaurès said a very perceptive thing: “It’s a sad irony of human history that the fortunes created at Bordeaux, at Nantes by the slave-trade gave to the bourgeoisie that pride which needed liberty and contributed to human emancipation.” In other words, even the personality, the affects and knowledges, the self conception of the revolutionary bourgeoisie, was an expropriation of the creative labour of others. Their very selves, psychologies, epistemologies and ideas were made by slaves.

    Nietzsche was desperatelty trying to sell a changeling substitute for this kind of understanding – requiring totalising – which had become so popular, so irresistable, so persuasive, and so potentially useful to the revolutionary proletariat. So he concocted a rival product, with some of its ornaments and style features, a kind of cheap imitation, hollowed out and retinkered, much the way political anti-semitism and the theory of the Jewish plot was concocted as a rival to Marxism as a critique of capitalism in the same period. And one can only read Nietzsche in this context. Poststructuralists can produce these strained, obtuse, ahistorical, allegorical distillations which seem to issue from a single, lone, divinely inspired poetic genius, but they’re lame and unconvincing, and can’t really compete with properly philological, literary and historical exegeses of these texts (or any other texts).

  37. “The point is to create an illusion of personal authorship, of these social products, for enclosure. That is, to create property in these things, and to claim them as property, and to naturalise the notion of the expropriator as creative, as the author of what he has merely trademarked or expropriated. If Nietzsche’s work is anything sustained, it is a sustained attempted to sell (not argue for, but sell) a concept of intellectual property and of the creativity of proprietors. You are an artist by virtue of buying art.”

    Let me see if I follow that. If Nietzsche is selling something, it’s the possibility of creating. Of course anything created can be expropriated by the market — if you create art you can sell it, the buyer can resell it, and so on. But when he talks about the passive big-eared listener he’s talking about resisting the idea of passively consuming thought. Is he just clearing space for selling his own thoughts? Sort of, but which thought is he clearly selling? If you create your own thoughts you don’t have to buy anyone else’s. And you don’t have anything really to sell if the marketplace of idea-consumers transforms itself into other idea-creators.

    On the other hand… the philosophical will to power is a will to impose one’s thoughts on others. The big-ears will never all be transformed into creators; there’s an elite creator class and a herd of idea consumers. I suppose for this hierarchical arrangement to serve the market, the ideas generated by the creator class have to be convertible into money. And that’s not a predictable outcome of creator class output. What seems more likely is that the market will provide incentives for the creators to turn into idea engineers, crafting intellectual schemes with the express purpose of increasing profit. (Just thinking to myself here.) So if some intellectual elite creates a great idea that has no potential to produce economic gain… what? It’s discounted as a crackpot scheme? It circulates in a marketplace of ideas that assigns value based on something other than money?

    It seems that this latter possibility too is opened up by Nietzsche. If it’s possible to create a system of values beyond good and evil, it’s also possible to create one beyond master and servant, and beyond profit and loss. What would bring such an alternative valuation system into preeminence? A matrix of power that isn’t economic power or military power but rather some sort of bildung power perhaps. It seems possible to imagine a social transformation of this sort, which is more or less what Deleuze & Guattari envision at the end of Anti-Oedipus. I suppose the question is whether it’s possible for a society of creative scientists and artists and intellectuals to operate in such a way that they either help overthrow the present power matrix of capital and its military enforcers, or function counter-culturally in some effectively disruptive way.

    “Nietzsche and other reactionaries were facing the obvious, that labour makes value, that labourers are creative and intellectuals like himself are sterile paper pushers, creating nothing, and they were trying to sell a counterintuitive theory: that they created the world, its wealth, and indeed humanity, by ownership which is portrayed as judgement and taste.”

    I think the idea people do create value, do create realities in which value can be defined in particular ways and attained through invention, production, distribution, etc. Workers can work really hard to produce valueless material artifacts, however one defines value. The artifact has value according to the value system in which it is embedded: what it does and how well it does it, what position it can occupy in a particular reality. Is work itself valuable regardless of its aim or its output? I don’t think so. What is valued, and what kinds of artifacts generate value — these are the work of the idea people. They may make no money at all if the valuation system they have created or bought into isn’t one defined by economic gain. They may own nothing if what they value is continual creation, continual de- and re-territorialization cycles.

    So, must those who do the actual production work be relegated to slave status? In a creative meritocracy the non-creators will almost naturally end up perceived as lesser beings by the elite. But nothing is natural in social valuation systems. The master-servant dialectic isn’t inevitable: it too is a created value system. Besides, there’s no assurance that the creators would wield any sort of power or status over the non-creators — they might be like a class of artisans, academics and artists possessed of a more medieval oddness.

  38. ktis, I’m sorry I find it difficult to sort out what’s you here and what’s you-speakingè for-Nietzsche. Seems to me that this is about fantasy or thought experiment. Like: “I suppose the question is whether it’s possible for a society of creative scientists and artists and intellectuals to operate in such a way that they either help overthrow the present power matrix of capital and its military enforcers, or function counter-culturally in some effectively disruptive way.” Well, if that’s the question, there’s only one way to get the answer, and it isn’t thinking about it or reading Nietzsche, who really didn’t know anything about such matters.

  39. I appreciate your difficulty in responding, Chabert. You offered what you regarded as the way Nietzsche must almost inevitably be understood; I was giving you the way I appropriate what he’s done. Like you, I come at this undertaking not as a professional academic but as an amateur in the French sense of the term. As a functionary in the corporate scene I repeatedly found that the best work tended to die of neglect, that the only value was market value, that supply and demand end up reinforcing each other’s signals, drowning out most interesting experiments in an overdetermined chorus of averageness. Instead of buying a red sports car or having an affair I quit my job and started writing books.

    It is about thought experiment for me; Nietzsche too is largely about thought experiment. His genealogies were thought experiments about past history, suggesting that the present may have arisen from any number of trajectories. Which one was true? Which virtual trajectories will unspool themselves into the future?

    I’m not sure what is that one way of finding out whether it’s possible for some sort of Deleuzian creatorly counter-culture to emerge from within capitalism. Watch and wait? Act as if I’m a lone ambassador of the particular virtual future I favor? Attempt to become a neocon puppet-master, pulling the right ideological strings on the financial and political and economic power with the intent of leveraging the present into an alternative future? Acknowledge the overdetermined futility and act in absurd faithfulness to a personal fantasy? I’m pretty much stumped.

    I’d like to think that there is some sort of immanence at work, a set of vectors of creation and difference that flow through individuals and human collective culture that constitute a virtual alternative culture that could become actuated. What does would it take for the virtual to become actual in sufficient strength that a critical mass of creators might establish a counter-cultural context in which this sort of creational work might take shape. And I do think some sort of interpersonal resonances are necessary, an attunement, between the drive to create and affordances in the human environment that value creations as excellent, not just as pragmatically valuable.

    It’s at this point, where I can see that such a world is conceivable and that there’s nothing intrinsic to the human condition that would prevent it, that I get torn between rage at my own impotence to make anything happen and the urge to write the fantasy as fiction. Fiction is a way of creating a reality in which thought experiments can be played out. This is an ambitious sort of endeavor, one that might actually trigger the resonances and affordances of virtual fellow travelers, that might expose the conceivability of collective realities other than the sorry one we’re embedded in now. But then I find that nobody wants to read this fiction, that no agent wants to bother with it, that the experience resonates primarily with my barely-suppressed rage and sense of impotence.

    Though the discussion here is about Nietzsche, I wonder what frustrations you experience advocating a proletarian revolution but without having any real role to play in it. Is faith in and hope for a better future enough to keep you going?

  40. thanks ktis;..

    ” I wonder what frustrations you experience advocating a proletarian revolution but without having any real role to play in it. ” I don’t know that I’m an “advocate” – I’m not a recruiter if that’s what you mean, though I’ve done fund raising which is kind of like recruiting, though mainly for practically reformist, even if ideologically revolutionary, groups. But – Are you frustrated by having no real role to play in the armed Iraqi resistance? Me, I’m actually very thankful that’s not my situation. Indeed for me, my fantasy would be I went to sleep tonight and woke up in a world which other revolutionary people had transformed into something okay for everybody, as I wake up every day in fact into a world which other people’s revolutionary struggles have made something okay for me.

  41. “I’m not sure what is that one way of finding out whether it’s possible for some sort of Deleuzian creatorly counter-culture to emerge from within capitalism.”

    Well there have been and are creatorly counter-cultures. The thing you are suggesting though is that the participant creators in these cultures form a conspiracy to overthrow the ruling class and carry it out. There is no obstacle to creatorly countercultures. But the obstacles to overthrowing the ruling class are numerous. There’s police, courts, prisons, Blackwater, air forces, just to name the most obvious. I don’t know why creatorly counter-culture produces would be especially equipped to confront these obstacles or how their particular skills as you see them fit to the particular problems, but if you wanted to find out whether this was possible, the only way would be to get together with like minded Deleuzians and try to organise it. If you just want the creatorly counter culture production and not the conspiracy and the result, then there’s already a lot of examples of how that’s done. Like the situationists, say. Is that the sort of thing you mean?

  42. as I wake up every day in fact into a world which other people’s revolutionary struggles have made something okay for me.

    So in other words you’re going to let other people do the dirty work, the really hard, messy labor, while you do all the moralizing and chastising of the clerks of the culture industry; in other words, your philosophy is pure marketing, what you complain against in Nietzsche is who YOU really are. Amusing, though trite. Though pitiable, ultimately.

  43. Having no real role to play was an overstatement. I meant no intellectual role –being a non-proletarian thinker in a situation where ideational leadership from non-proletarians might actually be harmful to the cause. Or maybe I misunderstand the role of bourgeois theorists in a Marxist ideology.

    I don’t necessarily envision a violent overthrow of the current order by the creatorly counterculture. At the same time, I also don’t picture a kind of Amana colony of artists and crackpot inventors who insulate themselves from mainstream culture. Many artifacts currently created, invented, produced and distributed in the global marketplace have value outside of their market value. Right now that non-fungible excellence constitutes a worthless residue. I’d like to see the residual value attain prominence, perhaps through immanent emergence.

    I acknowledge that the revolution which interests me is a petit bourgeois concern, motivated hardly at all by poverty and exploitation in the third world. But it’s a class and labor sector in which I participate, a revolution in which I might play an active role doing what I’m good at.

    Emerging from their high-paying but soul-stultifying purgatory, individuals from the creative class will stand up in their cubicles and lofts and laboratories and scan the horizon looking for someone to congeal their unconscious longings into a resolute resistance that frees the flow of creative juices. And who will that leader be? Muahahaha! No, that isn’t may fantasy, Nietzschean megalomaniac promptings notwithstanding.

  44. Thanks Chabert and Traxus for the stimulating discussion — we’ll have to do it again. You’ve helped me understand some of my own implicit and inconsistent thoughts about Nietzsche, so maybe now I can thrash it through a little on my own for awhile.

  45. “I meant no intellectual role –being a non-proletarian thinker in a situation where ideational leadership from non-proletarians might actually be harmful to the cause. ”

    Well this is not a problem for me; I’m not anybody’s leadership. But I think it’s very telling you consider the leadership roles to be reserved for ‘intellectuals’. Most of what I do is considered intellectual work, as opposed to manual labour – but it’s not leadership.

    “I acknowledge that the revolution which interests me is a petit bourgeois concern, motivated hardly at all by poverty and exploitation in the third world. But it’s a class and labor sector in which I participate, a revolution in which I might play an active role doing what I’m good at. ”

    Well, it seems to me this revolution has already occurred, and what you want to achieve is exactly what already exists. Things have value, you say, apart from their exchange value. Nobody contests this – there is aesthetic value, moral value, use value. Exchange value is only relevant to the organisation of production and distribution of things people value in many different ways. So, it’s done already. I’m unclear on what your complaint is about. What is unsatisfactory in the status quo? The presently existing counterculture producers don’t all appreciate the same things you do?

    “Emerging from their high-paying but soul-stultifying purgatory, individuals from the creative class will stand up in their cubicles and lofts and laboratories and scan the horizon looking for someone to congeal their unconscious longings into a resolute resistance that frees the flow of creative juices.”

    This happens every day. You can open the champagne and toast your victory.

  46. “Or maybe I misunderstand the role of bourgeois theorists in a Marxist ideology”

    By “Marxist ideology” you mean Deleuze, I take it? How does he envision his role? He seems to see it as basically harmless kind of advice-giving to nobody in particular. I don’t think he had any pretensions to being anybody’s leadership nor any worries about serious perils should he inadvertantly influence anyone.

  47. “So in other words you’re going to let other people do the dirty work, the really hard, messy labor,”

    which would be commenting on your blog? or watching videos? I think you greatly exaggerate how hard, dirty and messy it is. For you I guess it can get that way, but not everybody is shitting, spitting, vomiting, sweating and jerking off at the same time whenever they find themselves in front of a screen. That radical subversive activity is indeed ugly, and thanks for doing it. When you’ve finished “subverting the mode of production”, we grateful oompaloompas will treat you to a thorough hose down and a holiday.

  48. Chabert I honestly never jerked off when talking to you on the screen, because your corset only conjures up Victorian castration nightmares. You´d have to send me a more enticing picture, perhaps one of your shaved Communist snapper, or something with red lingerie – a string with a red star opening in front?

    As for the shit piss vomit and sweat, well my point is exactly that you operate on a kind of a Communist Puritanism, your abjection is very similar to the one you usually ascribe to White Supremacists. This is where Hitler and Stalin understood each other well: they were both out to morally reform the people.

  49. ow does he envision his role? He seems to see it as basically harmless kind of advice-giving to nobody in particular. I don’t think he had any pretensions to being anybody’s leadership nor any worries about serious perils should he inadvertantly influence anyone.

    though Deleuze doesn´t say it, I think what he opened up as a possibility is the creation of a new mode of production through technology, which I feel is inevitable because there won´t be any turning off the technology and we´ll have to swim through it. This could be the meaning of the New Flesh even as it may sound scary and weird from a ´´classic´´ humanist perspective.

  50. “But I think it’s very telling you consider the leadership roles to be reserved for ‘intellectuals’. Most of what I do is considered intellectual work, as opposed to manual labour – but it’s not leadership.”

    I don’t think I used the word intellectual, and I certainly didn’t intend to suggest that I thought Marxist leadership would be reserved for intellectuals. I was wondering whether you think that a non-proletarian thinker has a thinking role within Marxism. You say you do intellectual work in a Marxist context, so yes then. And then I wondered whether you deemed it possible that bourgeois thought work might be regarded within Marxism as intrinsically counter-revolutionary. Again, apparently not. Thanks.

    That last bit about the creative class rising from their desks was intended as a joke. But I’ll get myself a nice glass of sherry anyway.

  51. “that bourgeois thought work might be regarded within Marxism as intrinsically counter-revolutionary”

    If “bourgeois thought work” means anything performed by “a non-proletarian thinker”, then the question is then have I ever heard a self-styled Marxist claim that all intellectual work that all bourgeois people do is intrinsically counter-revolutionary? I never have heard anyone who called himself a Marxist say that, no. It’s an idea obviously very profoundly incompatible with Marxism. Indeed I think you are the first person I ever heard even put such an idea forward for consideration.

  52. “they were both out to morally reform the people.”

    Dejan, I didn’t object to your doing the hard, messy work of watching videos. You objected that I was “leaving it to you”. I’m not trying to stop you. I couldn’t care less what you do. You’re the one giving all the orders and unsolicited advice. Let’s see, you have demanded I work in a call centre, give away money I don’t have, comment at your blog, watch several movies, become a lawyer, give up my jobs, instruct you how to overthrow capitalism, move to Haiti, live in a shantytown, comment at antigram, answer your email, reply to your comments, answer your questions, label myself, watch some more videos, like David Lynch movies, think what you tell me to think, co-author a post attacking Jodi Dean, write what you tell me to write, answer other people’s questions when you tell me to. The demands, instructions and orders are endless. Now, what have I ever asked, suggested or demanded you do? Nothing. You comment here complaining I refuse to obey your orders. You somehow hold me responsible for your actions. I don’t care what you do, nor do I care how messy and dirty your subversive activities are. I haven’t asked you to do them, nor have I asked you to stop. If you are asking my permission to do dirty messy labour, or refrain from so doing, I grant it to do. Voilà. Now you are free.

  53. You’re cheating again darling; in that time you wanted me to participate on your own Jodi Dean malevolent parody tour, you practically fell on your knees and sucked my oppressed and underprivileged Serbian cock just to get me to join Qlipoth Incorporated; furthermore you worked for the Parody Center FOR FREE as long as it seemed like I was standing behind your views full-on and having no criticism of them. It may not have been a demand, yet attempted coercion it certainly was! But never mind; I don’t hold you in contempt for that, because ultimately, we had fun, we learned things from each other, we laughed, and I met some great people in the process; the posts on subversive film and Inland Empire are still attracting visitors from all corners of the globe!

    But what does this have to do with my comment on the current discussion, to which you are responding? You are basically saying, I don’t want to be a leader, I don’t want to change things, let other people do it for me, and yet you are so full of proletarian fervor, like that wise-ass kid in the Chaplin segment, that judging by your last remark, even my utterly positive dad Clysmatics is about to become another one of those impotent burgeois apologetics for the topoi of Western Aryan supremacy – like K-punk, Shaviro, Jodi Dean and countless other past lovers before them?

    Please with what do you justify your assumed position of the arbiter here, the subject supposed to know, the Master Signifiariesse, the High Priestess of Marxist Virtue?

    If you can answer that without resorting to my terribly oppressive demands, I just may take you seriously once more.

  54. “Indeed I think you are the first person I ever heard even put such an idea forward for consideration.”

    So maybe this idea could serve as the premise for a fictional hyperbolic variant of Marxism.

  55. You think that’s hyperbole? But your question was serious? Ve scientists are conducting zis experiment to dizcover ze anza to a great kvestchin: Can ze bourshva brain sink ze Marxist soughts?

    Did you get your question from a caricature in some 50s US red scare propaganda? The next question is, don’t communists teach children to report their parents’ to the party leadership if they exhibit bourgeois behaviour like kissing?

  56. Dejan, you are delusional. I never asked you to post at Qlipoth, though I gave you the password, or to attack Jodi Dean. In fact when you first wrote to me, you told me that you were recieving cease and desist letters from kim dot dammit who was threatening to inform the Dutch police that you were harrassing her and others she knew, and you told me you suspected Jodi Dean was “behind it” because of your “parodies” of her and because she had banned you from commenting at her blog.

    I never thought you shared my views, and in fact only had arguments with you at the parodycenter, as anyone can see. They were at the parodycenter for two reasons; you came to argue at qlipoth and then the comments thread got long and you wrote complaining the page took too long to load. The argument then continued at your blog. It moved back to my blog about 300 and again you wrote complaining about the page taking too long to load, and it moved again to your blog. It was an argument, and it was very repetitive, and I got tired of your obtusity and stopped commenting there. Since then you have been following me around everywhere I comment. I don’t know what you are wailing about k-punk, Shaviro and Jodi. To my certain knowledge I have never in my life addressed the first two except in reply. I never read their blogs except for things you insisted I read, with tenacious persistence, saying you could not understand them and please please could I explain to you what they were saying. As for Jodi, that was also the case for a long while, I didn’t not address her except to answer her complaints and diagnoses, but as I told you, when she used someone else’s blog to which she had the password to post an actionable libel, without his permission, falsely identifying the author of the libel as the owner of the blog, for which he and others with the password, some like myself who had already explicitly refused permission, could have been held responsible, because of a troll who behaved much like you, I decided she was a truly devious and dishonourable person from whom one might wisely keep one’s distance. I think if I posted an actionable libel on the web under your name, you would feel the same.

    “Please with what do you justify your assumed position of the arbiter here, the subject supposed to know, the Master Signifiariesse, the High Priestess of Marxist Virtue?”

    Dejan, I am not the arbiter, you and ktis have decided this discussion of Nietzsche’s text should turn into a discussion of my personality. I disagree with you, I am not persuaded by your arguments, and you feel this is somehow uppity. Ktis asked me to elaborate on something I said about Nietzsche, and what he thought was relevant to this was the question of whether I personally was frustrated by being disqualified by “Marxist ideology” from being the “intellectual leadership” of some imaginary communist party he thinks I belong to. You are accusing me of wanting to morally reform someone (Nietzsche? he’s dead), and yet it is you, and ktis, who have turned this conversation to my personality. Why do you both enter a discussion about Nietzsche and resort immediately to ad hominem? I did not for example ask Ktis if he belonged to any small group of intellectuals, scientists and artists working on a political project, or how he felt about being disqualified by “Deleuzian ideology” from the VIP lounge on account of not being kewl enough. But I am posed questions of this sort, and if I answer them with a little subtextual giggle, suddenly you are all aghast. How do you really expect people to reply to that kind of thing? Like this “I meant no intellectual role –being a non-proletarian thinker in a situation where ideational leadership from non-proletarians might actually be harmful to the cause.”

    Ktis, I’m curious, has anyone you’ve ever asked that question not laughed? Perhaps you meant it seriously, if so, I’m sorry. But it’s kind of a sixty year old joke.

  57. inform the Dutch police that you were harrassing her and others she knew, and you told me you suspected Jodi Dean was “behind it” because of your “parodies” of her and because she had banned you from commenting at her blog.

    Yes I suspected it, but was then proven wrong when no police action actually came and Kim Dammit discovered that her sex stalker was somebody else. Unlike you, I don’t harbor bitch hatred for years and years, it doesn’t forment in my snake pit, I am not a Marxist Python, and furthermore, I don’t at all think Jodi Dean, despite her intellectual orientations, is a devious person. None of her comments seem to indicate that she’s vicious, vengeful or evil. And in the meantime I read some of her work, which even as I do not agree with the Zizekian ideas, are well written and fun to read. The reason I asked you about the whole affair was the curiosity aroused by the fact that on your blog you portrayed yourself as a nobleman, a savior of the Serbian and Haitian people, and I could not reconcile that image of you with the way you were ostracized and reviled by the blogosphere; you appealed to my masculine protective impulses and I wanted to help repair your reputation, feeling that the bile against you was unwarranted. I wrote heaps of posts extolling your blog. I met your friends and engaged in long debates with them. Even when you were quite apparently bullshitting, I refrained from comment. But then your old lovers came out of the closet: Steppling…Jonquille… K-punk… that was the slip, Madeleine. You should not have kept the NECKLACE!

    On what basis do you claim that mine and Ktismatics’s question, about your being disqualified by Marxist ideology, is ad hominem? You have refused in the past and continue to refuse to explain on what basis you chastise other people for not having anything to offer qua reform, while having neither any interesting idea for a reform, nor being willing to state your political positions. How do you expect people to take your bile as anything but a flurry of malevolent rhetorics?

  58. ktis, a horrible thought occurs to me which is that you might have been serious about “non-proletarian ideational leadership” being “harmful to the cause”. In which case, I am sorry, but someone has been pulling your leg.

  59. in a situation where ideational leadership from non-proletarians might actually be harmful to the cause.”

    you’re the one who posited, a long time ago, that ideational leadership from non-proles might be harmful to the cause. you said a million times that they are working against the Revolution.

  60. I just wondered what you thought about it is all, but it seems to have turned into something else as we’ve gone along. At this point I’d suggest you just ignore it. A bientot, Colonel.

  61. traxus4420 Says:

    “And then I wondered whether you deemed it possible that bourgeois thought work might be regarded within Marxism as intrinsically counter-revolutionary. Again, apparently not.”

    doesn’t all ‘thought-work’ in the sense i think you mean (culture/media production) involve advocacy? so an individual piece can’t be ‘intrinsically’ anything, its effects rely on how popular it is, who reads it, how it is used (or how it is embedded within the social field). its meaning, and/or its various ‘positions’ (political, philosophical, moral), just like its aesthetic and sensual qualities, can be analyzed, but revolutionary, counter-revolutionary, or subversive quality is more of an empirical question.

    “Things have value, you say, apart from their exchange value. Nobody contests this – there is aesthetic value, moral value, use value. Exchange value is only relevant to the organisation of production and distribution of things people value in many different ways. So, it’s done already. I’m unclear on what your complaint is about. What is unsatisfactory in the status quo?”

    chabert, i don’t think it’s a particularly controversial argument that these other forms of value begin to decay as their social support vanishes, becoming increasingly incoherent and arbitrary as capitalist modes of production and distribution expand and escalate in intensity. if they didn’t there would really be no reason for any bourgeois person to complain. and yet here we are.

    dejan, people make the technology argument about deleuze, that the more arcane-sounding forms of resistance he’s talking about can’t happen yet but will be possible soon. maybe it makes sense to read him as anticipatory, setting our actions on a trajectory in line with the possibility of an open future, but the problems are still about access, even with the Internet. deleuze, baudrillard, all this sci-fi philosophy is predicated on the continuing advance of capitalism and technology for it to become science fact and not just inspirational or personally liberating. but, and the same criticism could be made of marx (who thought socialism would supersede capitalism only upon the complete expansion of the world market), there is no guarantee capitalist production will advance, and in fact there are plenty of reasons to think that it will collapse catastrophically in the not-too-distant future.

  62. traxus4420 Says:

    i would also prefer people stop trying to affix deterministic labels to each other on my blog. none of us are running for office, it does not determine anything what party you vote under here nor what you decide to do to make money under capitalism. may the witch hunts cease and desist.

  63. ” if they didn’t there would really be no reason for any bourgeois person to complain. and yet here we are.”

    Yes, of course, in a way. But then again, what is this complaint exactly? Really – is it that only the elite (intellectuals, artists and scientists) still have “good” values – moral and aesthetic? While the hydra mob only cares about money? So the elite who still have good values need to take action to reform everybody? Or what?

    This has been the basis of a petty bourgeois clique politics – fascism, for example. But if you feel that the cause of the social marginalisation of the elite’s aristo moral and aesthetic values is capitalism and commodification, then clearly the fascist approach is no answer. First of all it’s wrong – intellectuals, artists and scientists don’t have especially “good” values. This anonymous mass in whom these “good” values have supposedly eroded and whom the artistic elite can reform is a figment. As a political agenda, its just adding excuses for repression to supposedly reform the values of people on top of every other problem.

    I belong to group of petty bourgeois and bourgeois intellectuals and scientists and artist (singular); we’re working on a reformist project we consider achievable and worthwhile. This one of thousands of such groups. But if one of us started talking about overthrowing the capitalist matrix or whatever, well, we’d have to have a meeting because it would not be very reassuring about the rationality of that person. Many things can be accomplished by petty bourgeois activist groups in capitalism. Many good helpful things. Even small policy changes in governments can have very big effects on the lives of the most vulnerable people. Civil liberties are important to everyone; protecting these has been a job that petty bourgeois organisations like the CCR, SPLC, and ACLU, and individuals like William Kunstler, have had very significant specific roles in. Corporate liability is important to everyone; the Nader inspired PIRGs and other mostly petty bourgeois groups have enormous impact there. These groups function best when real broad public awareness and sentiment is behind them and keeping them honest. Public access to art is important to everyone – bourgeois groups have an enormous impact on the availability of art to the public. There’s no mystery about what intellectuals, artists and scientists can do for the commonweal; people do things every day. There is also no mystery about the limits to what such organisations can do.

  64. “doesn’t all ‘thought-work’ in the sense i think you mean (culture/media production) involve advocacy? so an individual piece can’t be ‘intrinsically’ anything, its effects rely on how popular it is, who reads it, how it is used (or how it is embedded within the social field). its meaning, and/or its various ‘positions’ (political, philosophical, moral), just like its aesthetic and sensual qualities, can be analyzed, but revolutionary, counter-revolutionary, or subversive quality is more of an empirical question. ”

    I think traxus that you are overlooking “within Marxism” and “Marxist ideology” (a cold war propaganda term). The question was not would a rational person consider the brain of a person whose class interests are bourgeois physiologically different from the brain of a person with working class interests. It was: isn’t Marxism a dogma about the physiological differences between bourgeois and proletarian brains? That is, don’t Marxists believe that an indiviudual with bourgeois class interests has a different kind of brain than an individual working class interests, so that the brain of the former is only capable of producing counter-revolutionary thought? It’s a kind of old caricature based on projection. Nietzsche thought something not very unlike this, that different social classes had really different mental capacities. In the 50s, the hokiest cold war propaganda portrayed Marxism as the result of brainwashing, and asserted that communists who were brainwashed by Karl Marx and Lenin believed these sorts of things about the different social classes mental capacities. Ktis was asking me if it was really true that communists continue today to be brainwashed into believing this, and if so, whether this caused me personal frustration when trying to order my brainwashed comrades about.

  65. traxus4420 Says:

    i was suggesting the increasing incoherence of forms of social value other than capitalist exchange as a general consequence of that system’s expansion, not limited to a single sector.

    the things you say about values and activism are all sensible. i think there is only a tiny segment of intellectuals and artists who believe their activities have any more potential to enact change than what you outlined. but there are more who write and behave ‘as if’ their work had or could have some wider and more immediate effect. it’s common to read academic articles about movies, old novels, and philosophy that end with what a friend of mine describes as ‘limp calls for revolution’ and in my own writing in that genre it can be hard to resist despite myself. it’s like an inherited generic trope.

    i think there is also a more pronounced tendency of late to create and write only for a limited circle of like-minded individuals even as the possibilities for distribution increases, which you can see on blogs but also in art and academic writing. what goes along with this i think is a kind of preference for self-teaching, an unwillingness to try to educate ‘the masses’ in the way mass culture treats the entirety of its audience as ‘the masses,’ but also the avoidance of and increasing inability to think about the public in any meaningful way. i’ve heard random anecdotes about similar kinds of breakdowns and specializations occurring in political activism but don’t know enough to really have an opinion.

    about ktis’s comment, i was just going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    but both nietzsche and marx wrote about the effects of training on the mind and by extension ‘culture’ (i.e. pain and morality for nietzsche, specialization and intelligence for marx) and about both of these things as social products, there is just a very fine line between interpreting class difference as a historical process and as rigid deterministic categorization. i think the latter would be a misreading of nietzsche as well as marx. their difference on this point is more in method — nietzsche’s as sort of fictional or like a hypothetical thought experiment and marx’s as the result of empirical inference.

  66. “increasing incoherence of forms of social value other than capitalist exchange as a general consequence of that system’s expansion, not limited to a single sector. ”

    Yeah but, you are obviously standing somewhere where aesthetic values are quite coherent and cherished, or you wouldn’t mind what you perceive. Like – if your values were in harmony with the values you perceive as socially dominant, there would be no complaint. And since so many people have this complaint, I am very doubtful about the assertion that in fact its not socially dominant, and that this perception of being in a minority is not a bit of false consciousness covering up something else, which is that the most powerful sectors of our society act in violation of our common values, and that the economic organisation of our society routinely violates humanity’s very strongly commonly held values. So instead we say, well nobody has traditional or otherwise excellent values anymore. When everybody does in fact. But we are prevented from acting on them and have a hard time defending ourselves from a minority which is not constrained by morality or increasingly by law.

    The entire planet practically is united in cherishing liberté, egalité fraternité peace love prosperity sharing mutual respect and understanding. So total is the consensus that every ill-intentioned and murderous elite has to pretend to share and protect these values from their enemies to get support.

    This exposes the contradiction at the heart of the lament about decaying values (or their celebration) and all the politics which found themselves on it. Because you wouldn’t be bothered that certain measures of values had decayed if they’d decayed for you too. We don’t lament the disappearance of Bubonic plague in Europe because we’re not sorry not to have it. We don’t value it. It’s impossible to lament the loss of aesthetic values. If we hold these values, here they are. If we don’t, we’re not sorry they’re gone.

    If these forms of social value are indeed incoherent, it would be impossible for anyone to notice or object. It is only if there exists a group – and we can identify the groups which have claimed to be such – who still possesses and is attached to values being superceded, who claims them, who values these values thus constituting them as values, that causes any dissatisfaction with this erosion or hope of repair. That is why this premise of eroding values is always the centre of a politics based on purity and corruption, good and evil, and identifying the champions of valuable values, for whom the valuable values are not eroded but stronger than ever, and those who have lost these values and have valueless values. So- family values, or Christian morality. There has to be a group of champions, who identify themselves, who notice and lament the loss of these values because they still value them. If really nobody any longer was attached to christian morality, or family values, there could be no complaint from anyone that they had lost status in the society. Only the partisans or pretended partisans of specific values lament their non-universality or weakening. You don’t lament the lost of what you do not value. By definition, basically. So the louder and more common complaints become about the loss of aesthetic values or moral values, the more these values show they are far from eroded socially.

    There is a subtext here that the complaint is that aesthetic and moral values are not simply functions of monetary value. That monetary value should be commensurate with these other values. That “good” art should be worth more money than “bad” in a way proportionate to the measure of its aesthetic superiority. So sometimes this is an irritation that these systems operate separately and their separate measures cannot be integrated into a single measure – this makes this complaint common among artists who’ve not been successful financially and fame-wise or people with minority taste in art product. There is also the common, sort of opposite complaint that these other values are indeed becoming a function of monetary value but by coming under its domination – that “what sells” is increasingly deemed “good” by specialists, critics and such who are supposed to hold to aesthetic values and make the official measurements separate from art collectors who make art expensive or movie goers who make films profitable, et cetera. This is contradictory too, because the complaint is that the producers of aesthetic value – professional judgement makers – have lost their ability to produce aesthetic value, but that this loss is perceptible to other producers of aesthetic value (the one who is noticing). But if this is so, then its not that aesthetic value is eroding but a decadence in the profession dedicated to measuring aesthetic values – the professionals are incompetent, the person who is noticing this is competent and should take their place. The speaker is implicitly declaring himself the last sighted man, who knows how to measure “real good aesthetic values” and compare them to the “bad, commerically tainted” aesthetic values of the professionals in aesthetic value production (critics, museum curators, academics), in a blind world. But if the speaker is really the last man to hold these values, or one of the last thousand, the values are really kaput, the speaker and his band apart are eccentric megalomaniacs, and correcting his complaint could only mean making him the dictator of values or with his posse the junta in charge of imposing aesthetic values. This suggest the complaint is coming from someone nobody would wish to socialise with, much less be indoctrinated by.

    Nietzsche was such a person; he proposed the transvaluation of all values except aesthetic ones, and appointed himself the creator of aesthetic values. He seems to be championing a relativism of a sort, but its more a fantasy of despotism – all values will be produced at his own personal whim and according to his taste and imposed by force on others, in his dreams when he’s the blonde beast roaring in the forest.

    Marx recognised that values are social productions. Gramsci elaborated on this; if a society ceases to produce certain values, it is because they are not needed anymore, they are no longer appropriate to the society’s arrangements ( he said rational). Notice what happened to “virginity”. A bit of ideology like this can lose its value and then be revived as an image, a different sort of bit of ideology, for a new purpose. Aesthetic values have never been universal and change in complex ways that have patterns (generations for example); it’s not a tragedy.

    It is a great exaggeration to say moral values have become incoherent in our world. It’s not so. There is really incredible unanimity on fundamental moral issues, such as genocide, war, rape, murder, slavery, torture, exploitation. One can say, our values are eroding because the US ruling class favours torture. No. Everyone else is absolutely aghast and dumbstruck. So much so every political organisation working against torture was taken by surprise and wrong footed by the Bush regime’s bravado, so absolute and firm and widely shared is the moral repugnance. The ruling class has a material interest in torture. That is why they favour it. It has nothing to do with a new morality or a breakdown of morality. The ruling class acts in accordance with its material interests and regardless of the morality of its members, which is basically the same as everyone else. Sectors of the US ruling class have launched a massive propaganda campaign to try to overcome or alter our universal moral opposition to torture. They have failed. They can of course torture. But they have failed to change the universal morality which condemns this as wrong and wicked. Look at any poll. It’s practically everyone on earth. Six billion people consider torture to be immoral and want it to be illegal, minus a few hundred thousand who are cynical. Considering how profitable torture is, and the fact that there has been throughout modern history a profession devoted to torture, doesn’t this suggest a problem with the “value decay” premise? Are people’s moral values really being eroded or made incoherent by capitalism? Or is it not rather than it is difficult for people to do what they want in capitalism, and most exist in situations of enforced dilemma, where they have to choose between lesser evils, or evils for different people, et cetera, and material rewards for performing acts which contradict one’s morality tend to be high, while opportunities for material gain, and with it security and protection from torture among other things, in other ways are slim.

    The “restoring lost values” basis of political programmes is generally plagued in this way, being itself incoherent inherently, and also usually a cover for something else. Critiques of capitalism that begin here with the breakdown of values are famous for providing excuses for the rampages of the capitalist ruling class itself.

    “just a very fine line between interpreting class difference as a historical process and as rigid deterministic categorization.”

    I don’t know how fine the line is, but I think even if its fine, everyone can see it. After all, it’s obviously comical to assert that Marxism – to whose “ideational leadership” the work of Marx and Engels, two bourgeois, is very important – holds that the thoughts of a person whose class position is not proletarian is necessarily a danger “to the cause”.

    Dejan: I didn’t say the ideational leadership of organisations by non-proles was counter revolutionary. I said the widespread belief that American English and Philosophy professors seem to have that they are already the leadership or are being groomed by God for that role was laughable and delusional. It’s too trivial to be counterrevolutionary. It’s just ridiculous. But ktis expresses it well by saying he would find it frustrating to be a member of any political organisation of which he was not “the leadership”. Which is a fairly typical position with a certain class of people – they need to be the boss or there’s no appeal to participate at all, because its recreational. Now this I suspect is linked to their not having any actual interest in accomplishing what the groups they wish to lead attempt. So the idea of leadership is attractive because its fun to dream of being in charge of people and famous and adored, but the idea of membership is positively disgusting not to say insulting. Why would they join an organisation to do boring difficult things toward goals that won’t materially improve their own lives in the strictest personal sense when they could be at the movies or doing other things which they enjoy? So the only possible role in a political party or organisation for these people is leadership. Idea men! That they would not be competent is not something they consider. That they have no experience and nobody is voting them into a directorate, that they don’t even know the street address of the meeting place of their future followers, is no obstacle to leadership in the fantasy. Leadership – that’s fun in itself and they practise for it basically in the mirror and with eachother, writing political theory and asking eachother how to overthrow or subvert capitalism and things like this, arguing a lot about vocabulary and looking for hidden meanings in scriptures. Thus arises this strange fantasy that all these academic politics theorists have that they are strategising as leadership of “the Left” which they usually figure at about half the population of the countries they live in and have friends from. These are people with no followers. Some don’t even have secretaries. Yet they write as if they are strategising for huge mass movements. A hundred people with no party have a conference and discuss what they can learn from Lenin. A hundred academics with no party, no membership, no money, no nothing, get together to strategise as if they were the leadership of a movement of a hundred million people. A hundred academics, everyone “leadership”, with not one follower.

    It’s comical. That was what I said. Counter-revolutionary? You have to be kidding.

    I suppose ktis imagines me one of them, I don’t know why, dreaming of leadership, of the day I will address stadiums full of cheering peons. Perhaps because none of these people actually ever belonged to a leftist political party, they don’t know how the leadership is chosen, and base their fantasy on their own workplaces, which are not very democratic, and so between the old newsreel and the faculty lounge and lecture hall, they have an idea every political organisation is like the fascist movements of European mid 20th century. Glamorous intellectuals – Mussolini, d’Annunzio, Gentile, Marinetti – and a sea of tiny heads, glamorous people seizing power and restoring eroding values and making new super modern modish ones.

    If you seriously wanted to know how often people in bourgeois professions or with a certain net worth are in the directorship of Marxist parties in my two countries, you could just check on the web who is in leadership in all the parties claiming to be marxist or otherwise anticapitalist. It’s not like there are thousands! Instead, the resort to “theorising”, that is, pure fantasy. An airy referent “within Marxism” and “Marxist ideology”. It doesn’t even mean anything. Who cares about “Marxist ideology”, it doesn’t exist except in your braindamaged head, Dejan. The next step of course will be quoting Stalin as an authority, a man often quoted I’ve noticed by his supposed detractors as if he spoke always ex cathedra about all things.

  67. Why would they join an organisation to do boring difficult things toward goals that won’t materially improve their own lives in the strictest personal sense when they could be at the movies or doing other things which they enjoy?

    And what is this if not a moral assessment? In your blog impersonation, you’re calling them to the stand as a kind of a parody lawyer, and you’re facing them with their (unethical) inadequacies. You may not have formulated it like that, but it is implied in your statement above. Still you have little to offer as an alternative, because you yourself prefer the Opera to hard sweaty work such as carrying bean bags to Haiti. Why would you engage yourself in activities that bring you no material improvement, when you can enrich your leisure by engaging in bitch fights with Dr Jodianne Fossey instead, or impressing us with stories about dubious philanthropic projects such as sending humanitarian aid to Jonquille that never arrives, or finding me a job for which you don’t really have the clout? I honestly don’t know what the fuck your project is, what it means, and why we should pay any attention to it in a context other than visiting our favorite Parisian brothel for a good laugh. My other complaint is that having known you for a year now you strike me as a typical Puritan WASP, and then of the Communist variety, this is how your feminism for example sounds to me. I have been trying to tell you that this, and not ”capitalist production”, is the reason why digital capitalism remains as exploitative as it is. It is Marxists like YOU, that humanitarian Trotskyan bomber twit Leninuni and his acolytes, or if you want Zizek’s patron Comrade Josip Broz Tito from your beloved Yugoslavia (that never existed, except in your hauntological fantasy). Their pretend-socialism is blocking progress towards anything meaningfully different. Those impotent academics are much less of a problem in this context.

    The Stalinist thing about your indignated soliloquies is that in Stalinism, they perfected the method of throwing dissenters into the loony bin. Whenever your views are challenged, you diagnose me with some disorder, be it psychosis or brain damage. My only response, frankly, would be to piss in your mouth, or maybe vomit between your tits.

    Traxus you have complicated my statement somewhat. I only wanted to say that since technology won’t be turned off, there is no way you can imagine a struggle against capitalism without technology. Abstinence won’t help, this may be Romantic and Nostalgic but it isn’t effective. I am more interested in your thoughts on that one. The story about capitalist production failing I heard in the 70s, 80s, 90s and I’m hearing it now in the 00s. Somehow though the capitalist production always reassembles itself and continues. So it’s a moot point to discuss. I think it more likely that production will be improved somehow via technologically mediated transformation; although I am not claiming this is an easy or predictable road, I don’t see any other in front of us.

  68. The entire planet practically is united in cherishing liberté, egalité fraternité peace love prosperity sharing mutual respect and understanding. So total is the consensus that every ill-intentioned and murderous elite has to pretend to share and protect these values from their enemies to get support.

    This is correct, but they are not cherishing liberte egalite and fraternite; rather, they are cherishing wimmin’s and gay’s rights, brotherhood and unity and Marxist-based ”multiculturalism”.

  69. i’ve heard random anecdotes about similar kinds of breakdowns and specializations occurring in political activism but don’t know enough to really have an opinion.

    traxus for what it’s worth this is noticeable in the field of design, which is currently more familiar to me than politics. there is a tendency to compartmentalize the work processes involved, and a great shift from the Renessaince artist towards what we used to call fax-idiocy in socialism. this reminds me of babies locked up in cocoons from THE MATRIX I don’t have a better metaphor at the moment.

  70. You manipulative snake, that whole thing was inspired by your dirty business with that Troll Lustmolch and Jodi Dean, a subject you spent so much melodramatic pomposity on. This is why Kim Dammit thought I was stalking her – because of whatever mess you left behind in your arguments on Long Sunday.

    Furthermore, I don’t even remember asking you to help me with jobs; I remember telling you that I wasn’t getting work because the climate in Holland is very hostile to immigrants, and you can read about this in any newspaper, while you yourself noted the same phenomenon in Paris. You are the one who then came up with the initiative to ”help me out”, which shortly thereafter coincided with your helping Patrick Mullins out. (Marx save us all from your help, really.) But what I am trying to bring to light here is that you don’t REALLY care about anything – Haitians, Serbians, other people in general – while you pretend that you do. And this is truly BAD in that specifically odious and fake Communist way. Not because this is a personal issue, I really have nothing personal with you; more because you make everyone who gets in closer contact with you into a total ass, so for the sake of k-punk and Jodi Dean alike I have to emphasize that I am NOT in any kind of a deal with you.

    As for publishing private correspondence, I am only going to warn you once not to do it before I really hurt you.

  71. And you’ve said you think Jodi Dean could get you a job at Pixar. Do you think she will recommend you?

    What I really said is that I doubt Jodi Dean would recommend me to her Pixar friend after I allowed myself to interact with you, because Cobra, this is the kind of a trail you leave behind you. Whoever gets in touch deeper soon becomes untrustworthy.

  72. Traxus, please feel free to delete my last two posts or any others you prefer not to remain. I’m sorry this took place here.

  73. traxus4420 Says:

    i am going to delete the emails. the other post i like.

    remind me never again to use the term ‘values’ as a serious attempt to describe anything.

    also, i think this conversation should be considered at an end. i’m sure the interesting threads can be picked up again some other time.

  74. traxus4420 Says:

    also i’m sorry if anyone felt victimized by any of this weird drama. i’m not used to having to actively moderate this thing. let me know if there is anything you (anyone) need removed.

  75. The lovely thing with dialectics is that you can put absolutely anyting in there, especially in the third step. It was, after all, invented by Hegel as a method of proving anything.

    T: Moving
    AN: Being still
    NN: Watching TV

    T: Thinking
    AN: Not thinking
    NN: Beheading

    T: Capitalists opressing workers
    AN: Workers opressing capitalists
    NN: The end of history

    That’s logic! Or as close as a hegelian/marxist will ever get to logic, anyway. 🙂

  76. […] what bothers me most is the dialectical move. In “Politics of Utopia,” Jameson writes that “utopia emerges at the moment […]

  77. Jodi, involved in libel? Say it ain’t so!

    I guess having a case dismissed due to jurisdiction (not due to it having no substance as her lawyer admitted the substance was merely in the wrong state) gave her the feeling of invulnerability.

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