May 20, 2018 § Leave a comment

My piece from a couple of years ago on Musha’s Decoder, originally in the now-folded Highway, is up here.

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May 20, 2018 § Leave a comment

My long piece on the new BFI boxset of Derek Jarman’s films is in the new Wire, along w/ a few other pieces.

April 4, 2018 § Leave a comment

I wrote a thread the other week noting a few things about Chapo & Shuja Haider’s analysis of Jordan Peterson (see also Shuja’s very rigorous Viewpoint piece). There was a little extra from Matt Christman here, recasting Peterson’s bizarre appeal in more theoretical terms that essentially hijack Debord’s rewrite (in chapter 9 of Society of the Spectacle) of Lukács’ solution of the subject-object opposition in the reification essay. There are – shock horror! – a few problems here, or things that need unpacking. I’ve said before that whilst very few of the ‘solutions’ that left pundits offer for the generative political dynamic of the alt-right would ever work, that doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions available at all, and that it can help to identify problems in what might otherwise be fruitful general approaches. So: 1) the excessively present brute reality of wage-labour, surplus life & alienation that Matt opposes to conspiracy theory is precisely what isn’t a ‘straightforward’ & transparent object to substitute for conspiracy. It is in fact what causes people to stumble into conspiracy: as Jameson has noted, conspiracy becomes the shape that attempts to think totality take under conditions of the universal commodification & parcellisation of social life. The reified life of the spectacle produces its own antimonic opposite in the form of a picture of society ruled by opaque elites; hence Debord’s argument in the underrated Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (1989) that the social epistemology of the spectacle is one of generalised espionage, the state recruiting everyone into spying on everyone else. 2) the field of collective action in which the subject could pursue its dialectical opposition to the object is itself ‘combined & uneven’. (For Lukács, for what it’s worth, the subject/object opposition was precisely not dialectical but an antimony that bourgeois thought, as exemplified in Kant’s analysis of the thing-in-itself, could not overcome, but could only be made dialectical through the practical vehicle of workers’ councils. But let’s leave that aside for the minute.) Its wide variety of forms & institutions (raves, mass political parties, unions, antiracist organisations, riots etc) offer very different conditions of action & effectivity, which in many cases have changed drastically in the last couple of decades (for more on this see Joshua Clover’s excellent Riot Strike Riot, among others). Some of them (especially labour parties & unions but also subcultural institutions) require precisely a hardening of the subject just to navigate them; hence their domination by careerists & bureaucrats, & what may ultimately be a diversion of energy into internal struggles for democracy. 3) Which isn’t to say that there’s no hope for dialectical resolution: all these forms offer important micropolitical advances, which, especially outside the imperial core that forms the home territory of the alt-right, can coagulate into ‘molecular’ movements, as Deleuze and Guattari called them. But it is to say that fascism feeds on the bitter intractability of the world under capitalist realism, the capture of even self-proclaimed institutions of liberation by the grey pragmatism that defines the public sphere late in the history of reification. It offers the spectacular appearance of a utopia of abstract individualism: memes, anime, tradwives & owning-the-libs as the false realisation of a jouissance that the spectacle cannot even promise now. (This, among many others, is one of Angela Nagle’s big mistakes about the alt-right: they absolutely don’t offer collectivity, phantom or otherwise.) What’s missing from the left’s field of action is a sense that it’s even worth making the effort to break out of the reified subject/object opposition: that there exists a ‘Northwest passage’ out of this combined & uneven world, that the world human social practice creates will not simply be a ‘realistic’ solution to inequality or climate change but, in its antagonistic unfolding, the possibility of heaven on earth.

December 22, 2017 § Leave a comment

December 2, 2017 § Leave a comment

December 1, 2017 § Leave a comment

December 1, 2017 § Leave a comment

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