Larvae Apparently Don’t Have Thick Skin

Larvae are not known for having thick skin; indeed, it is often only a thin membrane that separates their primitive organs from the outside world

Much to my surprise, I found myself banned from posting today on the Larval Subjects blog.  In a discussion thread attached to an entry about Marxism on his blog, apparently my comments were too controversial or offensive for Levi Bryant, the author of the blog, to tolerate.  Of course, I can’t help but point out the irony of this situation, by quoting Engels from Part III of his essay on The Housing Question:

I am not going to quarrel with friend Mülberger about the “tone” of my criticism. When one has been so long in the movement as I have, one develops a fairly thick skin against attacks, and therefore one easily presumes also the existence of the same in others. In order to compensate Mülberger I shall try this time to bring my “tone” into the right relation to the sensitiveness of his epidermis.

Since I can’t contribute to any discussion on his blog anymore, the following is taken from our brief e-mail correspondence over the course of today:


Levi Bryant to me

Ross,

I get the distinct sense that you are spamming my blog for traffic, so I have opted to no longer post your comments.  That coupled with your treatment of my blog posters and your portrayal of me with EP over at your blog has led to this decision.

Regards,

L


Me to Levi Bryant

I haven’t received that much traffic from your blog.  And I think that my comments on Spinoza were extremely relevant to the problem you were having.  I could even direct you to a paper I had published on the subject of free will in Spinoza and Leibniz.


Ross,

That’s largely irrelevant.  I do not approve of how you have both interacted with the other participants on my blog and with me.  You have engaged in a monologue rather than a dialogue that has been rather disdainful to other positions equally informed by Marxist thought.  Moreover, over at your blog you have hosted discussion with one of the most well known trolls of the theory blogosphere, EP, who has spent years attacking me online, suggesting that I know nothing about Marx (I have quite an extensive background) and shooting spitwads from afar.  This calls into question the genuineness of your interactions.  Ergo I choose not to make my blog a platform for your interactions.

Regards,

L


Levi,

Listen, I feel like I’m being persecuted merely because of your association of me with EP, with whom you apparently have a longstanding grudge.  I had no idea that EP was so well known as an agent provocateur.  So far, he’s been polite to me, so I have no problem with him

Also, I’m not sure where I was disrespectful to other participants on the blog,  In fact, I fully endorsed Stanley’s comment, and agreed with Drew’s analysis of my position.  I don’t think I personally insulted anyone.  I understand that you thought I was too dismissive of identity politics, but if that’s your only qualm with what I said to you I should hope that you might develop a thicker skin.  Especially if you’re familiar with the hyper-polemical tone that most Marxist discourse adopts.

As for the comments between EP and I on my blog, I think you’re taking things a bit too personally.  I merely said that your comments made it seem like your understanding of Marx was limited to a few texts.  And that was just an impression that I got from some of your responses.  No need to get upset about that.  You know how much you know about Marxism, so my assumption can easily be disproved.

Best,
Ross


Let me get this straight, Ross.  You came into my living room, made ugly slurs about women, homosexuals, african-americans and environmentalists and then proceeded to host a snark fest on your own blog with one of the most belligerent and unfair trolls in the theory blogosphere, all the while mocking the bonafides and earnestness of the Marxists that participate in that living room, and you believe that ****you**** are being persecuted because others don’t care to continue discussion with you or host you in their living room?  Yes, yes, you’re so oppressed that others don’t care to carry on discussion with a pompous, insulting, homophobic, sexist, racist, know-it-all who wishes to pontificate to everyone else without bothering to listen.  Once again, good luck with your revolution.  Somehow I think you’ll have a hard go of it if you continue to engage in this religious fundamentalist, belligerent, behavior that refuses to listen and honor others with dignity.  Pardon me, I have to get back to body building, hormone injections, and hair color treatments in between worshipping neo-pagan gods.

Regards,

L


Levi,

You largely applauded Stanley’s post, in which he warned against calling me “homophobic” or “racist” for criticizing these separate identity movements’ limitations.  And that’s all that I was doing, Levi.  Old-fashioned Marxist and critical theory-style tendency analysis.  It’s perfectly fine that homosexuals fight for the right to live their lifestyle without unfair treatment at work or in the public sphere.  And yes, I’m fine with unisex bathrooms and women “taking back the night,” but if this is as radical as their politics get, I just think it’s pretty sad.  And it’s a simple fact of the current state of affairs that black and Latino culture is largely homophobic and sexist, to a higher degree than white culture is at this present point.  These are all criticisms, legitimate ones.  It doesn’t mean that I’m homophobic, sexist, or racist when I offer criticisms of prominent tendencies within each of these groups’ identity politics.  And it didn’t seem like anyone else really had a problem with the things I was posting except for you.  I had no idea about EP’s past, and so far he’s been pleasant with me, so I’ll try to keep the two separate.  If you really don’t want me to post on your blog, even if it’s relevant information delivered in a respectful manner, then I guess that’s your choice.  I just think it’s a little harsh.

Best,
Ross


I certainly did not applaud that aspect of Stanley’s post.  You presented these emancipatory political movements in extremely ugly and stereotypical terms worthy of Rush Limbaugh.  The fact that you continue to portray these vibrant and diverse movements in this reductive light only confirms the point.  Nor was I alone in evaluating your remarks in those terms.  A variety of others responded along similar lines.  You might think you’re providing relevant commentary, yet micro-fascist sensibilities immediately exclude themselves from discussion.  Your form of Marxism seems not to have learned anything from the last one hundred years of political theory and thought on these matters, repeating the worst tendencies of Stalinist sensibility and general disdain for life.  There’s nothing critical about your critical theory.  It is religious fundamentalism through and through.
Regards,

L


Levi,

Maybe, but even if that is so the reasons are completely different.  Rush Limbaugh criticizes those movements for being too radical and extremist.  I am criticizing those movements for not being radical enough.  It’s just a tendency that I’ve noticed, that these groups are able to gradually approximate the same level of acceptance and equality as the more “privileged” white male culture under bourgeois democracy.  But once this is accomplished, their politics become extremely narrow and limited to single-issue reforms.  They lose sight of the totality that Lukacs and Adorno insisted was so important for understanding the nature of modern society.

Also, my political stance is transparently self-critical and anti-Stalinist/anti-Maoist.  It’s not dogmatic in any sense.  I will unflinchingly critique the Left for its own failures and shortcomings.  That is what the best Marxists have always done (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky, Lukacs, Adorno, Harvey, and Postone).

Best,
Ross

15 thoughts on “Larvae Apparently Don’t Have Thick Skin

  1. I think basically you got banned because of your refusal to back off and accept his authority on everything and probably because of your association – however fleeting – with me. I hope you’re not buying all that nonsense about me being unfair belligerent and so on, it’s mostly Bryant’s projections (he’s really good at it). I can even bet that this exchange took place probably in the span of 20-30 mins with Bryant’s emails getting more and more aggressive, unfair and belligerent. This is nothing, I have some nice samples in which he goes on rants for pages, citing all of his problems and issues with me, issuing threats, saying the most offensive things possible etc etc. As a most notorious ‘troll’ I also get occasional testimonials from other bloggers who can’t believe the sort of vile he spreads around about me (and probably you now as well). I would just dismiss this as a nuisance if he wasn’t in fact a full grown adult whose actions carry consequences. He thinks he carries great weight around the blogosphere, that he gives people traffic by citing them or letting them speak on his blog (again, simple projection – his own love of attention means that if there is large traffic on his blog then it is certainly because he is an important and influential blogophilosopher and therefore it gives him an ego boost – it’s pathetic…) In the end, it’s just a sad lonely individual sitting around his “living room” and barking at the world – no one is attacking him, no one persecuting him or wishes him ill, it’s all in his head, trust me. So don’t take this personally, you’re just another victim in the long long line of victims.

    • Yeah, and I suppose I’m not all that upset over it. It just still surprises me that someone whose background in Marxism is allegedly “quite extensive” would take such exception to my tone and mode of argumentation. Marxist discourse is quite possibly the most belligerent, polemical, and hypercritical mode of discourse in the history of mankind. I thought the points I was making were all perfectly legitimate, but again I’m afraid that they just “got under his skin.”

    • No need to apologize at all, EP. And I hope we can continue discussions of Marxism and all things Russian…particularly the architectural avant-garde in Russia (if you’ve checked out any of my other posts).

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  3. What the fuck? You said nothing racist or homophobic, so he’s the one making “slurs”! And your tone was not overly polemical!

    • Yeah, I really don’t see where he’s getting that from in any of my posts. He thinks I’m just stereotyping, but I’m just criticizing unhealthy tendencies that identity politics have been known to manifest

  4. I really am curious if there are any readers of his blog who happen across this post, and who also participated in the discussion surrounding his “Producing Ideology?” entry, that they might come forward and say if they thought I was being rude or too offensive. There were points of disagreement, but I didn’t see any comments except for ones made by Levi that took such exception to things that I’d written. I am just interested in honestly knowing if I overstepped any boundaries that I didn’t know about or anything. My identity throughout this whole ordeal has been out there clear and in the open, so I don’t think Levi could charge me with cowardice, unless he thinks I’m an alt account for EP or something ridiculous like that.

  5. All right, an update: Levi Bryant and I have continued this conversation through e-mail (though it will not be reproduced here) and both came to the conclusion that the ban was a little bit of an overreaction, based on a simple misunderstanding. In no way do I fault Levi for this, and he has graciously invited me back to post on his blog. I don’t know how regularly I will comment on his entries, but I am glad that at least the option is now open to me again. Nevertheless, I see no need to take this post down, even though I will apologize here for publicizing what was intended to be a private conversation.

  6. All’s well that ends well. I think he was probably upset that you were “hosting a snark fest” with my participation and not actually about any of the points you made, so it’s likely my fault anyway. My apologies to you (but not Bryant, of course, since we’re supposed to be mortal enemies and so on).

    • No need to apologize. I probably won’t be posting over there all that often, anyway. It was a matter of principle. In any case, I hope you and I can at least continue to discuss Marxism and all things Russian…particularly anything that is relevant to my thesis.

    • I have no clue, Ren. Bannings would probably be handed out en masse, and not without good cause. I honestly do wonder why you put up with some of the far-right nutjobs who frequent your site.

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