Live by intersectionality, die by intersectionality

Fall of the House of Seymour


From that chamber, and from that Vampire’s Castle, I fled aghast. The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued; for the vast château and its shadows were alone behind me. The radiance was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon which now shone vividly through that once barely-discernible fissure of which I have before spoken as extending from the roof of the building, in a zigzag direction, to the base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened — there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind — the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight — my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder — there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters — and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the “House of Seymour.”

It’s hard not to entertain a certain amount of Schadenfreude watching the feeding-frenzy that took place on Facebook today. A swarm of piranha descended upon an unsuspecting individual, eating him alive. The victim: Verso posterboy and now ISN booster Richard Seymour, alias “Lenin” (from his blogging handle at Lenin’s Tomb). His devourers: virtually the entire ISN Steering Committee.

Richard Seymour speaks at the London School of Economics

Richard Seymour speaks at the London School of Economics

Rebranding Richard Seymour

Everything had been going pretty smoothly in Seymour’s post-SWP career up to that point. No major obstacles appeared to stand in his way. By all accounts, he was reinventing himself at a remarkable rate, shedding his outdated Marxist allegiances in favor of the latest theories of Butler and Foucault.

Then out of nowhere, three separate comrades messaged me almost simultaneously to let me know there was a storm brewing on the horizon. “On Tim Nelson’s Facebook page,” one of them told me, “the whole of the ISN Steering Committee has turned on Richard Seymour, denouncing him as some sort of racist mansplaining pervert.”

What makes this so satisfying is that Seymour has built a name for himself largely by issuing numerous denunciations and excommunications, based on whatever political principles seemed to carry the day. He went from being a sort of “pocket Hitchens” in the early 2000s to a fire-breathing critic of humanitarian military invasions promoted by liberals, willing to bloc with and support Islamist militants as the only progressive force resisting Western imperialism in the Middle East. Since the SWP rape scandal, Seymour has painstakingly pandered to political correctness, wholeheartedly embracing identity politics and intersectionality as part of the new Left Unity triumvirate of multiculturalism, bowdlerized feminism, and liquidationism by any other name.

No idea who made this, but it sums it up well

No idea who made this, but it sums it up well

Of “race play” and chair design

Martin Luther King Day 2014 — a decisive turning point. Garage magazine featured a photo of the fabulously wealthy Russian socialite Dasha Zhukova, girlfriend of Roman Abramovich, sitting on a chair built to resemble a black woman in a “compromising” position, presumably some kind of bottom in a racialized BDSM fantasy.

Yes, the chair comes in two racial variants: a chair resembling a white woman is also available. No, what happens in the bedroom and whatever politically incorrect shit turns consenting adults on really isn’t up for debate. If lesbian interracial BDSM is your “thing” and you’ve found someone who shares your fantasy, then by all means enjoy it. All this misses the point. Why choose the photo of Zhukova sitting on the black woman for the press release?

Clearly the ad has suggested (if not patently obvious) racist overtones. It was knowingly and deliberately provocative, a marketing gimmick intended to generate controversy and buzz. Seriously, it was released on MLK Day. Obvious. Nevertheless, I’m not sure why people are so shocked by this. Russian oligarchs are like the avant-garde of opulent disdain for the public.

But try telling that to a group hypersensitive identitarians, who look on such media shitstorms as acid tests to determine revolutionary sensitivity and grit. Poor pitiful comrade Seymour: he’s waded knee-deep into the swamp of leftish identity politics and has slipped up, and is now drowning face-down in the muck. Here’s the original post that led to the whole row. Trigger warning for awkward intersectional onedowns(wo)manship and pointless idiocy.

Francisco Goya, Saturn devouring his son (1819-1823)

Francisco Goya, Saturn devouring his son (1819-23)

Warmed-over reformism devours its own

Needless to say, there’s a certain irony that he’d fall eventually prey to the very rhetoric he so cynically espoused. Live by intersectionality, die by intersectionality, I always say. Warmed-over reformism devours its own.

Even so, one starts to feel bad for the guy roughly halfway through the thread. The tedious moralizing and pious platitudes of these self-righteous fucks is too much to handle. If you can actually sit and read through this, you’ve got a stronger stomach than I. But here’s the whole torrid affair, for the morbidly curious among you. Abandon all hope, ye who enlarge this image. Doom awaits.

The controversial exchange (click to enlarge)

blogger Richard Seymour (aka Lenin) denounced as racist mansplainer by ISN steering committee

25 thoughts on “Live by intersectionality, die by intersectionality

  1. For now, I’ll content myself with a question: Did British reds always cite “black comrades” and “female comrades”, or did that follow when some reds adopted the bourgie US take on race and gender?

  2. Having read this exchange and the previous post, I’m left wondering how pervasive this kind of craziness is?

    I keep reading good work by Marxist historians and economists, and like yours and others’ writings on modernism and architecture. But maybe those are just marginalia to the sectarian cocoon that induces people to taking seriously terms like mansplaining and wasting time on pointless facebook feuds. If people like that took power, I would want to be very far away!

  3. Not belonging to the ever infeuding British Left I’m probably not in the target audience for this, but let me just chime in to say that I find your posts on architecture and Marxism vastly more informative and worthwhile than Facebook gossip.

  4. I see the People’s Judean Front are after you. The best advice I can give is advice I wish I had taken long ago: when ad hominem begins, apologize and leave. You cannot win when reason and facts are irrelevant. What matters is continuing to do good work.

      • I was thinking of the subset at wasted ideology. Your reply there was fine—I especially loved the quote—but people like that will only distract you. Which I say from painful experience.

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  9. If it wasn’t before it’s certainly clear now – the ISN is going nowhere. I imagine most of these folks will eventually melt back into whatever identity movement the SWP had recruited them out of in the first place.

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