Sunday, 17 August 2014

On generations: 'ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny'

The slim chances of successfully conveying the critique of the left's project* to those who have not yet personally passed through the requisite logic of ardently desiring social transformation does not lessen the tantalising intensity of its prospect. 

If, with unsmiling face, the nipple could be plucked from boneless gums, and the brains dash'd out of those who continue to resuscitate dead forms of oppositionism would not that isolate the necessity of young persons having to undergo the tortuous ontogenetic passage through leftism's phylogeny? 

If critique of the totality might be arrived at immediately, then the young would not have to voluptously give themselves over to what has become a ritualised outrage at established power's non-observance of its own specious principles as a means to build the broad incrementalist popular front. 

If hysterical exceptionalism with regards to flagged up transgressions against 'justice' were not the way into consciousness, then we might all be spared the spectacle of the inhuman and self-realising logic of the mob's going to war over those fetish objects which serve as its ritual triggers (i.e. police brutality and the militarism of the Israeli State to give two current examples). 

If the left's quantitative politics of aligning with those who are distinguished only by the characteristic of their possessing least weapons could be immediately supplanted by a qualitative refusal of, and self-separation from, all interest groups constituted as nation states (established and proto-) and all interest groups constituted as rackets (both sanctioned police thugs and unlicensed criminal gangsters), then this might indicate the genuine possibility of transcending the competition between, and recycling of, this environment's fixed terms of reference. 

If the violence of capitalism were to become intelligible as a systemic characteristic, and that established forms of authority are impelled within the system, just as the spontaneous form of revolt feeds back into the mode of domination, and that there is no room for subjective agency at any level of recursion (not in state policy, not in individual revolt), then human society might gain a chance to recognise itself beyond the self-renewing vendetta politics of we register your victories as our massacres. 

That capacity for step-change chronically missing from the form taken by protest (which may only go through the gears from 'peaceful' to 'violent'), and the reason its life-cycle is always so short, is the very reason it cannot give transcendent** expression to its own capture by the basic competitive structuring of separate interest groups. The protest form precludes the knowledge that each interest group is maintained through its tension with others and is realised not on its own terms but as a contributory form to the totalising environment of violent abstraction*** (i.e. it is the structure by which the product of such groups, their environmental contribution, is hidden from them)

However, as counterpoint to the utopian fantasy of 'bypassing' leftist forms, it is likely that in achieving this state of rapid maturation, consciousness will only, in effect, confirm objective processes that are already well under way. It is only possible to take the totality as object for critique (i.e. it is only possible to transcend the interpellated form of interest group) where the totality itself has become unsustainable. Until that point of objective non-viability is reached, the left will continue to function as both a conservator of established ideological principles and soother of contradictions. 

*The underlying logic of left 'machiavellianism' amounts to this: it is necessary for the oppressor to instigate signal events of oppression that trigger cumulative reactive events of subjective outrage and that this bio-energy may be harvested and converted into structures of left governance presented as 'social change'. The left desires that the world provide it with instances that elicit its own outrage, its desire is to maintain itself in relation to the formative oppressive structure and not to realise its goal (which it has not formulated). The left finds it necessary to orchestrate and replicate triggered subjective reactions in those forms that are most responsive to reproducing those commands. If Israel did not bomb Palestinians, if American cops were not murderously racist, then the left would find its way into social reproduction barred. The cultivation of signal, or exceptional, events by the left (e.g. the kidnapping of girls by Boko Haram, the war of Pakistan in Waziristan, the massacre of more than 600 individuals in Tahrir Square elicted no equivalent responses) should be understood not as a 'hypocrisy' and not even  machiavellianism but as a particular historical mode of biopower - the means by which it can return its specialised product (a replicable living relation to social reproduction at the level of political consciousness) to an institutional form - it is the means of realisation by which it can secure its place. 

**Transcendent here indicates 'rate' of occurrence of a critique of the totality in consciousness rather than access to a higher level. It is through the deployment of certain pressures that the left restricts the rate of occurrence of generalised critique, it specifically introduces this restrictive aspect by introducing false ideological opposing pairs in the mode of an hysterical exigency - one must always choose a side, one must always respond to the demand. 

***Nobody denies that racist cops are a very bad thing but they are not qualitatively distinct, as an indicator of social domination, from either non-racist cops or liberal professors. Every fixed node of the complex food-web of social relations assumes the continued presence of the others for the reproduction of the entirety.