Saturday, 15 April 2017

Why does nihilist communism not speak the language of identity politics

Ideology is compliance with the totality as realised through an intolerance for its symptoms. Adaptation to the 'inexorable necessity' of the life-world's productive relations, and subjectively adjusting to the rules of survival on general terms as 'that's the way things are', inevitably triggers, via existing channels of specialisation, a compensatory instinct for reforming the life-world's details. The 'second nature' of the domesticated life-world no longer signifies as an object to consciousness but functions as its structure... 'changing the world' is a question subsumed by the difficulty in preserving a fragile 'complexity' perpetually under attack from all sides. The identity basis of reform assumes both that the generality of relations is beyond critique and that all problematics appear within the domain of institutional specialisations which must be approached through symptomatic treatments (every appropriate response is palliative). 

Adequacy is the capacity of an institution to contain whatever symptoms appear on its horizon within the specialisation of its domain. The problem of crime is contained within the criminal justice system; the problem of an other's weapons is contained militarily; the problems of individuation are contained medically; the problem of social bodies is contained governmentally. And within the general containments are further specialisations; in every sector are generated departmental equivalents to oncology, cardiology, respiratory, orthopaedics. And within every department, further specialisations develop: gastroenterology in the young, diabetic ophthalmology, SaLT for stroke victims. It is amongst proliferating departmental intersections that specified political interest groups appear that are structured as objects for institutional attention. 

The difficulty of transforming designated institutional identities into emancipatory projects is that the content, being reliant on information supplied by a departmentalised gaze (a refraction of a refraction), will always express a bias within its discourse towards reproducing its compartmentalisation and correspondingly will resist any efforts at placing itself within the generality. The compulsive refusal of what it dismisses as 'whataboutery' and its insistence on its own state of exception ensures any identity's proposed solutions to its own problematic will also function as a self-medicating, and symptomatic, treatment in its self-reproduction as the same.

The problematics of bureaucratically defined cohorts based on race, gender, physical and mental ability, age and so on may only appear as a long march of counter-adaptations to existing institutions. The solution to racism appears as anti-racism; the problem of sexism is addressed by anti-sexism... The attenuated flows of information available to identity formations ensures that every 'push back' must appear within the same constraints as that of the original categorising process - identity is always institutionally constrained. On its own terms, those who adopt fixed identity categories as a liberatory identity politics cannot know the 'motive' of what is constraining them. The logic of identity politics represents the force behind 'privilege' as fundamentally separate, alien and thus unknowable. The oppressed conjecture that the oppressor is driven by hatred, when hatred is only a later rationalisation of processive exploitation. 

From the perspective of black liberation, capitalism is constituted as racial hostility; from the perspective of woman's liberation, capitalism is constituted as misogyny. In operation, capitalism realises anti-racism and anti-sexism as much as racism and sexism. It realises religion and atheism, the USA and China, ISIS and Kurdish nationalism; the totality of capitalist relations contains all terms equally. Certainly, without emancipatory struggles, capitalism would have no interest in financing the expansion of the workforce along egalitarian lines, but the tension between concrete repressive instances and abstract equal  ri ghts is precisely the type of antagonistic reified relation that it sustains for exploitation. 
      Nihilist communism does not consider that the march of emancipation is not worth the effort but that its advance has everything to do with the perfected implementation of Enlightenment categories and not much to do with social emancipation from bureaucratic identities. Nihilist communism is not directly opposed to identity politics, it has no forces of oppostion, however it seeks to escape containment within identity's institutionalised conventions. Or, more accurately, if there were such personages as nihilist communists, they may become involved in specific campaigns according to their circumstances and in order to advance their personal interest, but they would not consider this involvement related to nihilist communism. There is an objective and insurmountable  separation between politically reformist campaigns and social revolution... this in itself is not an argument against reformist initiatives but only a recognition of their function.
         
The contradiction at the heart of capitalised relations is not located in bureaucratically defined identities but in the production of the world itself. The sale of labour power as a factor of production is the only point of convergence between actual human beings and their abstract potential for overthrowing the productive environment. Capitalism is not a citadel to be stormed from outside but will be brought to crisis only through the exacerbation of its own contradictions... and the only contradiction responsive to human intervention is the wage relation - where the commodity form coincides with a potential negating consiousness. The question of the potential for revolutionary agency should never have been set at the level of motivation, which finds its answer in those most oppressed, but should always be directed towards those with the latent capacity to effect it. Of course, under conditions now far beyond the programme of real domination, the question of motivation remains open. Even so, the only point at which an identity politics may make an intervention is by raising the cost of its own reproduction as a factor in production. In practice, this would involve any particularly constituted identity accepting its own subsumption within the universal class containing many other concrete identities but selling only one abstract commodity. 
               
        

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