14 August 2008

Sad but oh so true

The Internet is often thought an egalitarian blessing by those who would hold high criminals accountable, yet the only accounting rendered is online. I don't think the guilty regard this as an unfortunate development. I think we've been corralled into cyberspace, taken as freedom its "free speech zones," and adopted its virtual and vulnerable bantustans as our "domains." (Appropriately so called, since its mastery entered mass culture as a euphemism for masturbaton.) We can win the blog wars, but we may as well have been playing World of Warcraft for all the difference it will make when the power goes out and we lose our connection. The connection for which we may have forsaken many others of much higher worth.

Rigorous Intuition (why didn't I start reading this a long time ago?) replicates the Chaos Marxist aphorisms' stance on niche markets and subcultures. Of course, this crap happened long before the internet, it's just now it's far easy for weirdos to form cliques (note that the whole furry/otherkin/otakukin would have never got going in a pre-internet ages).

Thanks for recent comments. I'm afraid I'm not going to change the comments policy - anyone who wants to partake in the discussion had better have a name, although of course feel free to make one up. My point about "science rather than art or magick" should be seen in the context of the above comments - my problem with the latter two at the moment is that the audience is too small and generally irrelevant.


  1. Dear Doloras.

    The way the comments system is set up right now you have to have or make a google account in order to post a comment - and then you have to wait for the 'moderator' to approve your comment. It certainly makes the place less user-friendly when compared to the average blog where posting is immediate.

    I can certainly empathize with your feelings on the alienating 'world-of-warcraft' atmosphere of the internet - but whether theory is online or in periodicals and books it is still theory and can only be judged as theory - that is in terms of its relation to reality and in relation to practice. Theory has always been cut off from the masses to a great extent and that is one of the basic problems a revolutionary movement has to transcend. At least the internet gives you a wide reader range and an opportunity for faster dialogue than more traditional forms of text - ideally this should bring about a good critique to sharpen your theory but from the looks of things you are getting none of that here. I would never have come across your blog if it was in a small paper zine or in informal talks at your local anticapitalist group. But it is useless if it just remains frozen as abstract theory rather than something that affects how life is lived as I am sure you know... But you asked "Is there any work out there which makes a serious attempt at reconciling practical individual psychology with the insights of Marxist/Situationist/Frankfurt School materialist cultural theory?" - So you haven't looked at a text as basic as Vaneigem's Revolution of Everyday Life? And that is just for starters really. So when you get sick of the internet why not go and write up some slogans on walls with a friend... maybe that will help you get unstuck from the hole you appear to have dug yourself into.

  2. we've got a lively discussion on this blog and the dialectic going on at;


  3. Doloras,

    I want to compliment you on CM. Its very insightful and I get a lot out of it. I'm a socialist-I'm in a small Trot group in the US that's affiliated w/the
    CWI/Militant tendency. I'm still relatievely new to Marxism and I'm still catching up w/the classics.I have some doubts about Trotskyism and I think I'm more attracted to the Left Communist tradition.
    Unlike most commies I know I have a strong spiritual side. I'm sort of a semi-Buddhist, I meditate (on and off) and I'm fascinated by spirituality (as opposed to religion) of different cultures. I've gone though a hallucinogen stage and I used to be a big fan of the late RAW. Strange as it sounds I've recently developed a fascination with Islam.
    I've read "A Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right" and Kautsky's "Origin of Christianity". Kautsky's right but he may be a bit "reductionist".
    Anyway I am interested in combining revoluionary socialism and spirituality. I was wondering if you might have thoughts on this. I read your critique of Trot groups (mostly referring to the Sparts, I think)I was wondering what you might think of the CWI/Peter Taafe tendecy? I have a few mixed feelings myself.
    Sorry to be long winded.


  4. Noisy Sphinx: I honestly didn't realise I had ticked the "must have a Google account" button. That's fixed now. I will keep pre-moderation on, because I have gotten enough abuse and personal harrassment in other online forums that I don't want to give any opportunities for the same to happen here. I am actually aware of Vaneigem's work.

    As to "writing slogans on walls with friends", the flippant response would be "what friends?" More seriously: I am actually seriously involved in real world political activism and artistic creation, but the demands of working in a language which co-activists and the target audience can understand limit the extent to which the work that I have set out here can be carried out in the here-and-now. Trying to build such a "working persona" is one of my personal disciplines at the moment.

  5. Kate: thank you very, very much indeed. I don't know much about the CWI because your tendency doesn't have a branch in my neighbourhood. I must admit I haven't been very impressed by what I've seen of your British and Australian comrades doing on the blogs - it seems, well, kind of lacking in imagination, kind of "Marxism by the numbers". John O'Sullivan said in the 1980s that you could understand a lot about the then Militant tendency by the fact that so many of them had clerical jobs in government departments, and social being determines consciousness. Of course, I got my political training in the IST (British SWP's tendency), so I may have just picked up a bad attitude. :)

    Seriously, I have to admit - I think all socialist tendencies which are based on a particular theory rather than political practice are obsolete in the current era. The real question today is: is the time right for Marxists to make the leap into building a real people's mass movement which will necessarily have less than a red-blooded Leninist programme, or is it best to stay in small groups and "keep our powder dry"? I am very much of the former camp, and there are Trots, Stalinists, proponents of the theory of state capitalism and huge fans of Raúl Castro on both sides of that divide. So that's the essential question for me - not which particular books you base your theory on, but what you are doing, here and now.

    I used to be a huge fan of Starhawk (google her) who made the most consistent attempt since the liberation theologists to fuse radical politics with spirituality. Of course, she's an anarchist, so her solutions will probably not be yours, but I recommend a read of her material. Myself, I kind of gave up on "spirituality" (in the sense of some kind of new religion) a while ago, but certainly if we think of "spirituality" as meaning art, culture, ritual and everything else that makes human life worth living, Marxism has got to take account of that. There is regrettably a strain of bone-headed mechanical materialist militant atheism in our movement - the kind who think that the way to deal with religious faith is to say "there is no god and your pathetic human ideals are laughable! BWAHAHAHA!" Seriously - we have got to LEARN from the proponents of religion, in the same way we have to learn from the advertising gurus and management psychologists.

    RAW was great until he got into his Feminist-bashing phase in the 80's. A great man and we'll miss his rapier wit.