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On building loving revolutionary queer community August 30, 2011

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Anti-imperialism, Feminism, Queer politics.
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Dale recently asked me for specifics, so I reproduce my suggestions here.

Forge passionate personal relationships based on mutual affection and a commitment to anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, decolonization, queer liberation, feminism, and non-hierarchical organizing. Support each other emotionally, intellectually, and materially. Choose one or more of the following: fight the pigs the street, oppose institutional racism in the academy, give out free food, form a union with your coworkers, network with radical communities across the world, tell people not to join the military, correspond with a political prisoner, burn migra cars when see them in your neighborhood, hack a government/corporate website, spread the revolutionary analysis to everyone you know.

♥ So much love to everyone in the struggle! ♥

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1. PixieDust - August 30, 2011

About cops/pigs, I thought this was funny. http://www.easyvegan.info/img/cops-not-pigs.jpg

Summerspeaker - August 30, 2011

Good point!

2. Dale Carrico - September 3, 2011

Without an organizational dimension “passionate personal relationships” — whatever their supposed grounds, even when they are apparently political — may amount to little more than another mode of subcultural signalling, and hence are perfectly compatible with the maintenance and consolidation of the violent, unsustainable, inequitable, homogenizing status quo. It’s too easily accommodated into just the usual consumer narcissism. It isn’t that I disdain the beauty and delight, let alone deny the necessity, of providing emotional and intellectual and material support for congenial colleagues and strangers — it’s that I do not mistake it, on its own, as serious political activity. The indispensable feminist slogan “the personal is political” should be read as revealing the historical articulation of the terms on which personal life is lived and hence the **politicizability** of the personal. I fear that your laundry list is pretty scanty on the details when it comes to “opposing institutional racism in the academy” — what form does your opposition take? rolling your eyes at straight white assholes in the lounge or petitions to the administration or teach-ins or lawsuits? What form does fighting pigs in the streets take? Peaceful protest marches or leafleting neighborhoods about abuses or throwing rocks through windshields or calling police “pigs” on your blog and feeling naughty? Organizing the dispensing of food to the precarious or intervening in the military recruitment of vulnerable populations or creating a powerful co-worker union are all excellent things that do indeed demand sustained organizational effort — but I wasn’t clear on whether you were glibly saying “it’s a good idea” in some abstract way every person of sense already agrees with or if you were claiming to have participated in such efforts yourself in any ongoing way — ongoing is key. After all, anybody can scribble a manifesto or a master plan on a cocktail napkin over drinks — the demand for specifics was about whether **you** are writing checks your ass can cash, you will recall. I am glad you think spreading radical and revolutionary ideas counts as substantial political activity — I’d like to agree with you, and I hope you are right — but as somebody who blogs on politics, but more to the point has taught marxist, eco-socialist, eco-feminist, environmental justice, civil disobedience, critical media theory, p2p democratization, and queer theory to thousands of college age students both in art school and public university settings I do sometimes worry that there are better things to be doing (only some of which I manage to do). I hope you will not take it too amiss that I still worry that you are far too easy on yourself and far too self-congratulatory for the good of the ends you espouse — if it helps, I’ll confess I worry about this in myself also, and that I think these worries are a useful corrective to the powerful countervailing forces toward complacency available even to the bad subjects of an obscenely consequence-insulated exploitation-fat hegemonic order such as US is. I like it that there is some walk as well as talk in this post, though. Especially to the extent that the walk isn’t just more talk.

Summerspeaker - September 3, 2011

Without an organizational dimension “passionate personal relationships” — whatever their supposed grounds, even when they are apparently political — may amount to little more than another mode of subcultural signalling, and hence are perfectly compatible with the maintenance and consolidation of the violent, unsustainable, inequitable, homogenizing status quo.

Hence my suggestion to base these relationships on a commitment to anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, decolonization, queer liberation, feminism, and non-hierarchical organizing.

It’s too easily accommodated into just the usual consumer narcissism.

The lack of money that I and many of my comrades experience makes consumerism rather unappealing. We tend to struggle just to get by.

I fear that your laundry list is pretty scanty on the details when it comes to “opposing institutional racism in the academy” — what form does your opposition take? rolling your eyes at straight white assholes in the lounge or petitions to the administration or teach-ins or lawsuits?

All of the above sound potentially worthwhile. We can to that support services and community-building initiatives for students of color. For example, a colleague of mine does mentoring.

What form does fighting pigs in the streets take? Peaceful protest marches or leafleting neighborhoods about abuses or throwing rocks through windshields or calling police “pigs” on your blog and feeling naughty?

I do Albuquerque Copwatch, which involves both being a presence in the street with video cameras to keep the cops accountable, regular protests against police brutality, and legal efforts against the local department.

Organizing the dispensing of food to the precarious or intervening in the military recruitment of vulnerable populations or creating a powerful co-worker union are all excellent things that do indeed demand sustained organizational effort — but I wasn’t clear on whether you were glibly saying “it’s a good idea” in some abstract way every person of sense already agrees with or if you were claiming to have participated in such efforts yourself in any ongoing way — ongoing is key.

This post is an invocation to revolutionary action and a collection of recommendations intended to inspire, not a personal radical résumé. If you want to see what I do, come to Albuquerque. We could probably arrange for you to speak at the University of New Mexico. David Correia might well be interested.

Since you ask, though, I’ve been doing Food Not Bombs consistently for years and I participate in the proto-union organizing amongst graduate student employees here at UNM.

I hope you will not take it too amiss that I still worry that you are far too easy on yourself and far too self-congratulatory for the good of the ends you espouse — if it helps, I’ll confess I worry about this in myself also, and that I think these worries are a useful corrective to the powerful countervailing forces toward complacency available even to the bad subjects of an obscenely consequence-insulated exploitation-fat hegemonic order such as US is.

Being hard on yourself is a tool of the bosses. I don’t want to play that self-discipline game any more than I absolutely have to in order to survive in this society.

Now, as far radical politics go, there’s hardly anything to celebrate. I’m light-years away from being satisfied with anything I do or any group I’m part of. At this moment in history, we’re pathetic in terms of actual power.

The manifest failings the existing radical movement in the United States demand criticism – the tacit embrace of white/straight/dude supremacy stand out – but we simultaneously need that revolutionary élan common in past times but so absent in this era. As one of my comrades tells me, we should live for the fight.

Transhumanist enthusiasm for changing the world resonates with me for this reason. The zeal reminds me of anarchism in its golden days. I nurture the hope of combining fervent passion with the acknowledgment of uncertainty and complexity.

3. Dale Carrico - September 3, 2011

The lack of money that I and many of my comrades experience makes consumerism rather unappealing. We tend to struggle just to get by.

To fancy your comparative poverty within the US (as a city dwelling graduate student of all things!) insulates you from the norms and forms of consumer spectacular culture is to be deluded in the extreme.

Being hard on yourself is a tool of the bosses

Only? Surely not! Criticism and self-criticism are in my view indispensable to democratizing social struggle — and this criticism and self-criticism is far from the same thing as uncritical acceptance of bourgeois individualist norms of personal responsibility for what are actually structural inequities and violences or defining personal value according to a self-enslaving work ethic.

Transhumanist enthusiasm for changing the world

What the transhumanists mean by “changing the world” is shopping more and faster in tech heaven, an amplification of the unsustainable inequitable homogenizing immiserating precarizing status quo peddled as “accelerating change.” Futurology is a variation of corporate-military marketing discourse, and the superlative subcultural futurology of the Robot Cult is its reductio ad absurdum, reactionary wish-fulfillment fantasizing led by guru-wannabe pseudo-scientists and neoliberal think-tank pseudo-intellectuals peddling techno-transcendence to scared and greedy rubes.

Summerspeaker - September 3, 2011

To fancy your comparative poverty within the US (as a city dwelling graduate student of all things!) insulates you from the norms and forms of consumer spectacular culture is to be deluded in the extreme.

Then I’m deluded in the extreme. It’s hard to enjoy consumerism when you don’t have any money to spend. I can (and occasionally do) long for fun toys and personal fulfillment through the marketplace, sure. I could go deeper into debt if I really wanted nice things. I have the potential to get a decent income someday if I don’t end up dead or in prison.

I agree contesting consumer culture merits constant attention and not flippant dismissal, but economic conditions do mediate participation in the spectacle. It’s not the same for struggling graduate students (and humanities graduate students are almost all around or below the poverty line) as it is for Silicon Valley millionaires.

Criticism and self-criticism are in my view indispensable to democratizing social struggle — and this criticism and self-criticism is far from the same thing as uncritical acceptance of bourgeois individualist norms of personal responsibility for what are actually structural inequities and violences or defining personal value according to a self-enslaving work ethic.

We seem to agree here, though the expression of these principles may differ in practice.

What the transhumanists mean by “changing the world” is shopping more and faster in tech heaven, an amplification of the unsustainable inequitable homogenizing immiserating precarizing status quo peddled as “accelerating change.” Futurology is a variation of corporate-military marketing discourse, and the superlative subcultural futurology of the Robot Cult is its reductio ad absurdum, reactionary wish-fulfillment fantasizing led by guru-wannabe pseudo-scientists and neoliberal think-tank pseudo-intellectuals peddling techno-transcendence to scared and greedy rubes.

But they’re damn excited about it. I like that. ♥

We could argue in circles forever (well, with life extension) about the nature of the transhumanist movement. As you know, I grant that much of that scene conforms to your description here and elsewhere. But you discount differences among transhumanists that I consider critical and ignore their revolutionary potential. It’s not all Kurzweil and Thiel.

4. Dale Carrico - September 3, 2011

But they’re damn excited about it. I like that. ♥

Watch the next Republican Convention, go to Vegas and hear self-improvement gurus tell greedheads they must be ruthless for success and pop their nutritional supplement pills to stay edgy, go to a Mega Church and listen to the pastor mobilize the Christian soldiers in the name of white muscular gun-nut Jeebus, watch the rallies in Triumph of the Will. Plenty of excited people for you to like if you want to be completely stupid about it. The Robot Cult is Kurzweil and Thiel all the way down. Collaborate or resist. J’accuse!

Summerspeaker - September 4, 2011

Meh. The movements you list don’t resonate and connect with historical anarchism/socialism, feminism, and transgenderism the way transhumanism does. Most importantly, they don’t encourage the dismissal of the status quo that transhumanist insist upon. I’m tempted to analyze various examples of transhumanist rhetoric and political argument in detail to highlight these differences, but I think I’d rather use my energies to criticize the movement. We’ll see how it goes.


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