A Clarification on Why Levi Bryant has Really “Given up Talking to Me”

As Evgeni pointed out a couple posts ago, Levi Bryant is misrepresenting his reasons for no longer engaging with me on the blogosphere.  Yesterday, one of Levi’s followers on twitter, Joe Clement, alerted Bryant to an article that might support his “wilderness ontology” thesis against the criticisms I leveled at it two days ago:

@onticologist This seems highly relevant to your discussion with Mr. Ross about non-human agency vis-a-vis politicshttp://bit.ly/mvkRDX

However, on Levi’s twitter page Bryant indicated that he was no longer interested in talking to me, suggesting that it had something to do with my post exposing some of the origins of Heidegger’s ontological meditations on the environment in Nazi ecology.

@joepdx i’ve long given up discussion with him. When someone calls you a Nazi because you talk about ecology he’s jumped the shark

Of course, I never called Bryant a Nazi.  The real reason that Bryant chose to stop talking to me is decidedly more embarrassing, as he expressed it to me in an e-mail from May 27, about a week before I even posted the article about the fascist fetishization of nature:


Between your highly insulting and patronizing comment about my education (http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/dark-objects/#comment-50541) on my blog and your post mocking my work and scholarship on your blog yesterday I’ve decided to cease discussion with you.



I dealt with this little incident of crybabyism in a separate post, “On Hurt Feelings: The Case of Levi Bryant’s Missing Sense of Humor.”  But this wasn’t the first time that Bryant had banned me from his blog.  Back on April 13, I received an e-mail from Levi informing me that he wasn’t going to post my comments over at his blog anymore.  We had just previously been debating the question of the Left’s role in critiquing vs. “producing” ideology.  His reason for banning me? He explained:


I have opted to no longer post your comments.  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, Evgeni Pavlov, 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.

After repeatedly asking him to be reasonable and pleading my case with Bryant, he continued to respond:

I banned you from my blog for hate speech.

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.

And finally, he explicitly compared me to Rush Limbaugh, which seems to be one of his signature terms of abuse:

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.

So let’s tally things up, shall we? Bryant compared me personally to Rush Limbaugh, accused me of “hate speech,” and then claimed that I repeated “the worst tendencies of Stalinist sensibility.”  As for me, I merely pointed out that many of the motifs of his “wilderness ontology” can be seen as reflecting Heidegger’s late ontology of “pathways” in the Black Forest, searching for the “clearing.”  And then I further pointed out how this was symptomatic of some of the prevailing tendencies of Nazi ecology.  That’s all I did.

Bryant didn’t appreciate that I was pointing out specific places in which he was contradicting himself.  My comments stood in the way of his rather careless philosophical improv act, and called him in for accountability.  That’s why he doesn’t want to talk to me anymore.

5 thoughts on “A Clarification on Why Levi Bryant has Really “Given up Talking to Me”

  1. I never use Nazi analogies. That comes from the experiences with the right, who throw around such talk, without remorse.

    Extreme environmentalism can be argued against, without going back to the Third Reich. Marxist theory and science can win the argument, without offending someone with good intentions.

    My disagreement with you is over method. I would say I agree with you, that the environment is facing severe problems, but wouldn’t it be a good solution to do a, b and c?

    I agree with the critique of Platypus, but they should recognize that in a revolutionary situations the masses turn to traditional organizations first? By saying that, I didn’t offend you, and I’m forcing you to consider my strategy and method.

    Think about how effective it’s, when the right says Obama wasn’t born in America etc. If I was on the right, I would say it’s good that Obama is keeping Social Security on the table. I think it would be good if …..etc.

  2. Yeah, I understand your point, Ren. Nazi analogies are all too common and cliched. My point was that there was a direct line of thought from Heidegger (a famous intellectual supporter of the Nazis) and Nazi ecological thought (from Hess, to Goering, and so on) in fundamental ontology/ecology as it is presently conceived. Much of the environmental movement’s heritage comes from the Right in general, from Romantic nationalism and later mass movements like fascism.

    Your method is probably more likely to win over some of those who don’t feel either way about socialist politics, I’ll grant you. I think that the point of all my relentless critique of the existing Left is that if they don’t possess first and foremost an anti-capitalist consciousness, then their agenda is not radical.

    I think one of my main points, and one which you probably agree with, is that a strong international Left movement must reestablish itself in the heart of capitalism so that in a revolutionary situation there will be coordinated guidance acting according to a strong global revolutionary consensus.

    By the way, did you read the Communist Party of Great Britain’s two-part critique of Platypus? The author was very balanced in his appraisal, I think. He accepted many of Platypus’ points of critique but rejected our reluctance to form a party, etc.

  3. I think one of my main points, and one which you probably agree with, is that a strong international Left movement must reestablish itself in the heart of capitalism so that in a revolutionary situation there will be coordinated guidance acting according to a strong global revolutionary consensus.

    Look at the pattern; Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Libya, then Europe with Greece having a revolutionary situation now. This process has started.

    I agree with you about the state of the left. It’s confused, with moral relativism and post modernism.

    The IMT will be 10 years old next year in the US. We’re based on the Marxist method, and working in traditional parties and unions. half of our meetings are political education, and half practical. No other group has leadoffs every meeting.

    If we get a labor party started in America, the left will have to go along, or be run over.

    I’m closer to the Communist Party of Great Britain’s position.

    I’m waiting for Chris C to analyze the IMT.

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