Journey back into the vampires’ castle: Mark Fisher remembered, 1968-2017

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I nev­er met Mark Fish­er, but we cor­res­pon­ded of­ten via e-mail. And he was al­ways very en­cour­aging. Right after I wrote a scath­ing re­view of “con­fer­ence com­mun­ism” in early 2014, “The Ghost of Com­mun­ism Past,” Mark sent me the fol­low­ing: “Your piece on con­fer­ence com­mun­ism, sent to me by a fel­low ed­it­or, fairly well nails down what we hope Zer0 isn’t. We en­joyed it, happy new year.” Fish­er would of course de­part from Zer0, along with many of his peers, to found Re­peat­er Books later that same year. Nev­er­the­less, his com­mit­ment to an ac­cess­ible, non-aca­dem­ic but soph­ist­ic­ated Marx­ism was un­flag­ging.

Cap­it­al­ist Real­ism was his prin­cip­al achieve­ment in the realm of the­ory, the fruit of a long series of re­flec­tions and in­tro­spec­tion con­duc­ted largely on­line. In it he railed against “the slow can­cel­la­tion of the fu­ture” en­acted by post-com­mun­ist cap­it­al­ism. Tak­ing its cue from Jameson’s in­sight — no less true for hav­ing been quoted ad nauseam — that “it is easi­er to ima­gine the end of the world than it is to ima­gine the end of cap­it­al­ism,” Mark asked if there was “really no al­tern­at­ive” to the neo­lib­er­al re­gime of Re­agan and Thatch­er. Some of his mus­ings about men­tal health, which reg­u­larly fea­tured on his K-Punk blog, also ap­peared with cas­u­al bril­liance in this text:

The cur­rent rul­ing on­to­logy denies any pos­sib­il­ity of a so­cial caus­a­tion of men­tal ill­ness. The chemico-bio­lo­giz­a­tion of men­tal ill­ness is of course strictly com­men­sur­ate with its de­pol­it­i­ciz­a­tion. Con­sid­er­ing men­tal ill­ness an in­di­vidu­al chemico-bio­lo­gic­al prob­lem has enorm­ous be­ne­fits for cap­it­al­ism. First, it re­in­forces cap­it­al’s drive to­wards atom­ist­ic in­di­vidu­al­iz­a­tion (you are sick be­cause of your brain chem­istry). Second, it provides an enorm­ously luc­rat­ive mar­ket in which mul­tina­tion­al phar­ma­ceut­ic­al com­pan­ies can peddle their phar­ma­ceut­ic­als (we can cure you with our SS­RIs). It goes without say­ing that all men­tal ill­nesses are neur­o­lo­gic­ally in­stan­ti­ated, but this says noth­ing about their caus­a­tion. If it is true, for in­stance, that de­pres­sion is con­sti­tuted by low sero­ton­in levels, what still needs to be ex­plained is why par­tic­u­lar in­di­vidu­als have low levels of sero­ton­in. This re­quires a so­cial and polit­ic­al ex­plan­a­tion; and the task of re­pol­it­i­ciz­ing men­tal ill­ness is an ur­gent one if the left wants to chal­lenge cap­it­al­ist real­ism.

How much sad­der it all seems, read­ing these words now, in light of his sui­cide. Mark con­fessed in an art­icle for The Oc­cu­pied Times that he “suffered from de­pres­sion in­ter­mit­tently since [he] was a teen­ager.” Ob­vi­ously it would be pre­sump­tu­ous to con­clude that the miser­able state of left­ist dis­course had any­thing to do with his de­cision to end his life; too many oth­er factors might have been more im­me­di­ate or prox­im­ate. But it would be just as mis­guided to main­tain that this had noth­ing to do with Mark’s over­whelm­ing sense of des­pair in re­cent years, es­pe­cially since he so fre­quently lamen­ted the sorry place at which we’ve all ar­rived.

The in­sist­en­ce on “a so­cial and polit­ic­al ex­plan­a­tion” of de­pres­sion ne­ces­sar­ily en­com­passes left­ist dis­course, as well. “Left-wing mel­an­choly” has of course been de­cried by Marx­ist crit­ics since Wal­ter Ben­jamin as a lux­ury of the well-off, “people in the high­er in­come brack­et… mel­an­choly dum­mies who trample any­thing and any­one in their path… Con­stip­a­tion and mel­an­choly have al­ways gone hand in hand.” Enzo Tra­verso has ded­ic­ated an en­tire book to the ex­plor­a­tion of this theme of “haunt­ing pasts without uto­pi­as.” Yet noth­ing could have been fur­ther from Mark’s mind, since his en­tire project was to re­kindle hope in some al­tern­at­ive to the status quo.

Dis­course is an ir­re­du­cibly so­cial phe­no­men­on, as Mark real­ized. And even those dis­courses that aim to chal­lenge so­ci­ety as it presently ex­ists can suc­cumb to its in­flu­en­ce. They are hardly im­mune from that which they seek to over­come. “It is ne­ces­sary to identi­fy the fea­tures of the dis­courses and de­sires that have led us to this grim and de­mor­al­iz­ing im­passe: where class has dis­ap­peared but mor­al­ism is every­where, where sol­id­ar­ity is im­pos­sible but guilt and fear are om­ni­present. Not be­cause we are ter­ror­ized by the Right, but be­cause we have al­lowed bour­geois modes of sub­ject­iv­ity to con­tam­in­ate our move­ment.”

Lots of people turned their backs on Mark after his 2013 art­icle, “Ex­it­ing the Vam­pire Castle,” from which these last words are ex­cerp­ted. He ap­pre­ci­ated that I stuck up for him. But it re­mains bit­terly iron­ic that he would be pil­lor­ied for writ­ing an art­icle which began by de­plor­ing the game of “name and shame.” As Mark him­self main­tained, this was in turn the leg­acy of Sta­lin­ist de­nun­ci­ation. Even this had been stripped of its mea­ger eman­cip­at­ory prom­ise, however, as he quipped that “[l]ib­er­al iden­tity polit­ics and its grip on the stu­dent left is like Sta­lin­ism without uto­pia.” From the in­tro­duc­tion to his piece:

This sum­mer, I ser­i­ously con­sidered with­draw­ing from any in­volve­ment in polit­ics. Ex­hausted through over­work, in­cap­able of pro­duct­ive activ­ity, I found my­self drift­ing through so­cial net­works, feel­ing my de­pres­sion and ex­haus­tion in­creas­ing.

“Left-wing” Twit­ter can of­ten be a dis­pir­it­ing zone. Earli­er this year, there were some high-pro­file twit­ter­storms, in which par­tic­u­lar left-identi­fy­ing fig­ures were “called out” and con­demned. What these fig­ures had said was some­times ob­jec­tion­able; but nev­er­the­less, the way in which they were per­son­ally vil­i­fied and houn­ded left a hor­rible residue: the stench of bad con­science and witch-hunt­ing mor­al­ism. The reas­on I didn’t speak out on any of these in­cid­ents, I’m ashamed to say, was fear. The bul­lies were in an­oth­er part of the play­ground. I didn’t want to at­tract their at­ten­tion to me.

Any hope Mark had for avoid­ing these bul­lies’ gaze went out the win­dow with the pub­lic­a­tion of this es­say. Prom­in­ent blog­gers like An­gela Mitro­poulos found him guilty of “B-Grade Polit­ics and Re­ac­tion,” writ­ing that “the de­sires [Mark] gives ex­pres­sion to are pretty un­pleas­ant, an en­joy­ment pre­dic­ated on a struc­tur­al neg­at­iv­ity and an oth­er­ing so ob­vi­ous that no one is ac­tu­ally cited ex­cept in the most phant­as­mat­ic, and B-grade, terms. They are, very clearly, just ‘Oth­ers’ for him, and pre­sum­ably a threat to his en­joy­ment, presen­ted as the cause of his sink­ing in­to de­pres­sion, et cet­era.” Mitro­poulos’ non­chal­ant skep­ti­cism about the way this af­fected Mark’s men­tal health ap­pear chilling in ret­ro­spect.

Re­read­ing his piece on the Vam­pire Castle today, though, Am­ber Frost poin­ted out how “it’s strange not to de­tect even an ounce of malice, or the hint of a sneer. He seemed like such a sweet and gentle per­son — so un­like me and my friends — and he was just cru­ci­fied for it. I won­der how any­one can stand to be brave at all without that glee­ful taste for hos­til­ity that keeps me go­ing.” Cru­ci­fied he most cer­tainly was, moreover, ac­cused of har­bor­ing a “crypto-fas­cist men­tal­ity” by Mat­thijs Krul (who non­ethe­less ap­pre­ci­ated his Goth­ic mo­tif). An­oth­er self-iden­ti­fied vam­pire con­demned Mark’s “neo­con­ser­vat­ive left­ism.” Yet an­oth­er im­pugned him as a bro­cial­ist: “White left­ist men [like Fish­er] love ref­er­en­cing Marx. “

Some of the trib­utes and com­mem­or­a­tions that have re­cently poured in have been more heart­en­ing, however. Laud­able, even, con­sid­er­ing they’ve come from those with whom he’d pub­licly dis­agreed. When on Janu­ary 3rd I men­tioned his passing re­marks about an­oth­er blog­ger, Richard Sey­mour — whom he’d dubbed “ex­com­mu­nic­at­or-in-chief” of the Left — Mark was still alive, so there was no ma­li­cious motive for do­ing so. Richard has since then pos­ted a fond re­mem­brance of Fish­er which I thought quite good. Owen Hath­er­ley’s post on Nasty, Bru­tal­ist, and Short was also mov­ing, his first up­date on that blog in nearly five years.

In any case, I was look­ing for­ward to read­ing Mark’s new col­lec­tion of es­says even be­fore I learned of his passing. Now that he’s gone I’ll prob­ably read it more slowly, sa­vor each piece, since no more will be forth­com­ing. Very sad to have lost you, Mark.

dracula-31_castle_matte_brExiting the vampire castle

Mark Fisher
North Star
10.23.2016

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Class con­scious­ness is fra­gile and fleet­ing. The petite bour­geois­ie which dom­in­ates the academy and the cul­ture in­dustry has all kinds of subtle de­flec­tions and pre-emptions which pre­vent the top­ic even com­ing up, and then, if it does come up, they make one think it is a ter­rible im­per­tin­ence, a breach of etiquette, to raise it. I’ve been speak­ing now at left-wing, anti-cap­it­al­ist events for years, but I’ve rarely talked — or been asked to talk — about class in pub­lic.

Where to go from here? It is first of all ne­ces­sary to identi­fy the fea­tures of the dis­courses and the de­sires which have led us to this grim and de­mor­al­iz­ing im­passe, where class has dis­ap­peared, but mor­al­ism is every­where, where solid­ar­ity is im­possible, but guilt and fear are om­ni­present. Not be­cause we are ter­ror­ized by the right, but be­cause we have al­lowed bour­geois modes of sub­jectiv­ity to con­tam­in­ate our move­ment. I think there are two li­bid­in­al-dis­curs­ive con­fig­ur­a­tions which have brought this situ­ation about. They call them­selves left wing, but they are many ways a sign that the left — defined as an agent in a class struggle — has all but dis­ap­peared.

In­side the Vam­pires’ Castle

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The first con­fig­ur­a­tion is what I came to call the Vam­pires’ Castle. The Vam­pires’ Castle spe­cial­izes in propagat­ing guilt. It is driv­en by a priest’s de­sire to ex­com­mu­nic­ate and con­demn, an aca­dem­ic-ped­ant’s de­sire to be the first to be seen to spot a mis­take, and a hip­ster’s de­sire to be one of the in-crowd. The danger in at­tack­ing the Vam­pires’ Castle is that it can look as if — and it will do everything it can to re­in­force this thought — that one is also at­tack­ing the struggles against ra­cism, sex­ism, het­ero­sex­ism. But, far from be­ing the only le­git­im­ate ex­pres­sion of such struggles, the Vam­pires’ Castle is best un­der­stood as a bour­geois-lib­er­al per­ver­sion and ap­pro­pri­ation of the en­ergy of these move­ments. The Vam­pires’ Castle was born the mo­ment when the struggle not to be defined by iden­tit­ari­an cat­egor­ies be­came the quest to have “iden­tit­ies” re­cog­nized by a bour­geois big Oth­er.

The priv­ilege I cer­tainly en­joy as a white male con­sists in part in my not be­ing aware of my eth­ni­city and my gender, and it is a sober­ing and rev­el­at­ory ex­per­i­ence to oc­ca­sion­ally be made aware of these blind-spots. But, rather than seek­ing a world in which every­one achieves free­dom from iden­tit­ari­an clas­si­fic­a­tion, the Vam­pires’ Castle seeks to cor­ral people back in­to identi-camps, where they are forever defined in the terms set by dom­in­ant power, crippled by self-con­scious­ness and isol­ated by a lo­gic of sol­ipsism which in­sists that we can­not un­der­stand one an­oth­er un­less we be­long to the same iden­tity group.

I’ve no­ticed a fas­cin­at­ing ma­gic­al in­ver­sion pro­jec­tion-dis­avow­al mech­an­ism whereby the sheer men­tion of class is now auto­mat­ic­ally treated as if that means one is try­ing to down­grade the im­port­ance of race and gender. In fact, the ex­act op­pos­ite is the case, as the Vam­pires’ Castle uses an ul­ti­mately lib­er­al un­der­stand­ing of race and gender to ob­fus­cate class. In all of the ab­surd and trau­mat­ic twit­ter­storms about priv­ilege earli­er this year it was no­tice­able that the dis­cus­sion of class priv­ilege was en­tirely ab­sent. The task, as ever, re­mains the ar­tic­u­la­tion of class, gender and race — but the found­ing move of the Vam­pires’ Castle is the dis-ar­tic­u­la­tion of class from oth­er cat­egor­ies.

The prob­lem that the Vam­pires’ Castle was set up to solve is this: how do you hold im­mense wealth and power while also ap­pear­ing as a vic­tim, mar­gin­al and op­pos­i­tion­al? The solu­tion was already there — in the Chris­ti­an Church. So the VC has re­course to all the in­fernal strategies, dark patho­lo­gies, and psy­cho­lo­gic­al tor­ture in­stru­ments Chris­tian­ity in­ven­ted, and which Ni­et­z­sche de­scribed in The Gene­a­logy of Mor­als. This priest­hood of bad con­science, this nest of pi­ous guilt-mon­gers, is ex­actly what Ni­et­z­sche pre­dicted when he said that something worse than Chris­tian­ity was already on the way. Now, here it is…

The Vam­pires’ Castle feeds on the en­ergy and anxi­et­ies and vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies of young stu­dents, but most of all it lives by con­vert­ing the suf­fer­ing of par­tic­u­lar groups — the more “mar­gin­al” the bet­ter — in­to aca­dem­ic cap­it­al. The most lauded fig­ures in the Vam­pires’ Castle are those who have spot­ted a new mar­ket in suf­fer­ing — those who can find a group more op­pressed and sub­jug­ated than any pre­vi­ously ex­ploited will find them­selves pro­moted through the ranks very quickly.

The first law of the Vam­pires’ Castle is: In­di­vidu­al­ize and privat­ize everything. While in the­ory it claims to be in fa­vor of struc­tur­al cri­tique, in prac­tice it nev­er fo­cuses on any­thing ex­cept in­di­vidu­al be­ha­vi­or. Some of these work­ing class types are not ter­ribly well brought up, and can be very rude at times. Re­mem­ber: con­demning in­di­vidu­als is al­ways more im­port­ant than pay­ing at­ten­tion to im­per­son­al struc­tures. The ac­tu­al rul­ing class propag­ates ideo­lo­gies of in­di­vidu­al­ism, while tend­ing to act as a class. (Many of what we call “con­spir­acies” are the rul­ing class show­ing class solid­ar­ity.) The VC, as dupe-ser­vants of the rul­ing class, does the op­pos­ite: it pays lip ser­vice to “solid­ar­ity” and “col­lectiv­ity,” while al­ways act­ing as if the in­di­vidu­al­ist cat­egor­ies im­posed by power really hold. Be­cause they are petit-bour­geois to the core, the mem­bers of the Vam­pires’ Castle are in­tensely com­pet­it­ive, but this is repressed in the pass­ive ag­gress­ive man­ner typ­ic­al of the bour­geois­ie. What holds them to­geth­er is not solid­ar­ity, but mu­tu­al fear — the fear that they will be the next one to be outed, ex­posed, con­demned.

The second law of the Vam­pires’ Castle is: Make thought and ac­tion ap­pear very, very dif­fi­cult. There must be no light­ness, and cer­tainly no hu­mor. Hu­mor isn’t ser­i­ous, by defin­i­tion, right? Thought is hard work, for people with posh voices and fur­rowed brows. Where there is con­fid­ence, in­tro­duce skep­ti­cism. Say: don’t be hasty, we have to think more deeply about this. Re­mem­ber: hav­ing con­vic­tions is op­press­ive, and might lead to GU­Lags.

The third law of the Vam­pires’ Castle is: Propag­ate as much guilt as you can. The more guilt the bet­ter. People must feel bad: it is a sign that they un­der­stand the grav­ity of things. It’s OK to be class-priv­ileged if you feel guilty about priv­ilege and make oth­ers in a sub­or­din­ate class po­s­i­tion to you feel guilty too. You do some good works for the poor, too, right?

The fourth law of the Vam­pires’ Castle is: Es­sen­tial­ize. While fluid­ity of iden­tity, plur­al­ity, and mul­ti­pli­city are al­ways claimed on be­half of the VC mem­bers — partly to cov­er up their own in­vari­ably wealthy, priv­ileged, or bour­geois-as­sim­il­a­tion­ist back­ground — the en­emy is al­ways to be es­sen­tial­ized. Since the de­sires an­im­at­ing the VC are in large part priests’ de­sires to ex­com­mu­nic­ate and con­demn, there has to be a strong dis­tinc­tion between Good and Evil, with the lat­ter es­sen­tial­ized. No­tice the tac­tics. X has made a re­mark/has be­haved in a par­tic­u­lar way — these re­marks/ this be­ha­vi­or might be con­strued as trans­phobic/sex­ist etc. So far, okay. But it’s the next move which is the kick­er. X then be­comes defined as a trans­phobe/sex­ist etc. Their whole iden­tity be­comes defined by one ill-judged re­mark or be­ha­vi­or­al slip. Once the VC has mustered its witch-hunt, the vic­tim (of­ten from a work­ing class back­ground, and not schooled in the pass­ive-ag­gress­ive etiquette of the bour­geois­ie) can re­li­ably be goaded in­to los­ing their tem­per, fur­ther se­cur­ing their po­s­i­tion as pari­ah/latest to be con­sumed in feed­ing frenzy.

The fifth law of the Vam­pires’ Castle: Think like a lib­er­al (be­cause you are one). The VC’s work of con­stantly stok­ing up re­act­ive out­rage con­sists of end­lessly point­ing out the scream­ingly ob­vi­ous: cap­it­al be­haves like cap­it­al (it’s not very nice!), re­press­ive state ap­par­at­uses are re­press­ive. We must protest!

Neo-an­archy in the UK

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The second li­bid­in­al form­a­tion is neo-an­arch­ism. By neo-an­arch­ists I def­in­itely do not mean an­arch­ists or syn­dic­al­ists in­volved in ac­tu­al work­place or­gan­iz­a­tion, such as the Solid­ar­ity Fed­er­a­tion. I mean, rather, those who identi­fy as an­arch­ists but whose in­volve­ment in polit­ics ex­tends little bey­ond stu­dent protests and oc­cu­pa­tions, and com­ment­ing on Twit­ter. Like the den­iz­ens of the Vam­pires’ Castle, neo-an­arch­ists usu­ally come from a petit-bour­geois back­ground, if not from some­where even more class-priv­ileged.

They are also over­whelm­ingly young: in their twen­ties or at most their early thirties, and what in­forms the neo-an­arch­ist po­s­i­tion is a nar­row his­tor­ic­al ho­ri­zon. Neo-an­arch­ists have ex­per­i­enced noth­ing but cap­it­al­ist real­ism. By the time the neo-an­arch­ists had come to polit­ic­al con­scious­ness — and many of them have come to polit­ic­al con­scious­ness re­mark­ably re­cently, giv­en the level of bullish swag­ger they some­times dis­play — the La­bour Party had be­come a Blair­ite shell, im­ple­ment­ing neo-lib­er­al­ism with a small dose of so­cial justice on the side. But the prob­lem with neo-an­arch­ism is that it un­think­ingly re­flects this his­tor­ic­al mo­ment rather than of­fer­ing any es­cape from it. It for­gets, or per­haps is genu­inely un­aware of, the La­bour Party’s role in na­tion­al­iz­ing ma­jor in­dus­tries and util­it­ies or found­ing the Na­tion­al Health Ser­vice. Neo-an­arch­ists will as­sert that “par­lia­ment­ary polit­ics nev­er changed any­thing,” or the “La­bour Party was al­ways use­less” while at­tend­ing protests about the NHS, or retweet­ing com­plaints about the dis­mant­ling of what re­mains of the wel­fare state. There’s a strange im­pli­cit rule here: it’s OK to protest against what par­lia­ment has done, but it’s not al­right to enter in­to par­lia­ment or the mass me­dia to at­tempt to en­gin­eer change from there. Main­stream me­dia is to be dis­dained, but BBC Ques­tion Time is to be watched and moaned about on Twit­ter. Pur­ism shades in­to fa­tal­ism; bet­ter not to be in any way tain­ted by the cor­rup­tion of the main­stream, bet­ter to use­lessly ‘res­ist’ than to risk get­ting your hands dirty.

It’s not sur­pris­ing, then, that so many neo-an­arch­ists come across as de­pressed. This de­pres­sion is no doubt re­in­forced by the anxi­et­ies of post­gradu­ate life, since, like the Vam­pires’ Castle, neo-an­arch­ism has its nat­ur­al home in uni­versit­ies, and is usu­ally propag­ated by those study­ing for post­gradu­ate qual­i­fic­a­tions, or those who have re­cently gradu­ated from such study.

What is to be done?

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Why have these two con­fig­ur­a­tions come to the fore? The first reas­on is that they have been al­lowed to prosper by cap­it­al be­cause they serve its in­terests. Cap­it­al sub­dued the or­gan­ised work­ing class by de­com­pos­ing class con­scious­ness, vi­ciously sub­jug­at­ing trade uni­ons while se­du­cing ‘hard work­ing fam­il­ies’ in­to identi­fy­ing with their own nar­rowly defined in­terests in­stead of the in­terests of the wider class; but why would cap­it­al be con­cerned about a ‘left’ that re­places class polit­ics with a mor­al­iz­ing in­di­vidu­al­ism, and that, far from build­ing solid­ar­ity, spreads fear and in­sec­ur­ity?

The second reas­on is what Jodi Dean has called com­mu­nic­at­ive cap­it­al­ism. It might have been pos­sible to ig­nore the Vam­pires’ Castle and the neo-an­arch­ists if it wer­en’t for cap­it­al­ist cy­ber­space. The VC’s pi­ous mor­al­iz­ing has been a fea­ture of a cer­tain “left” for many years — but, if one wasn’t a mem­ber of this par­tic­u­lar church, its ser­mons could be avoided. So­cial me­dia means that this is no longer the case, and there is little pro­tec­tion from the psych­ic patho­lo­gies propag­ated by these dis­courses.

So what can we do now? First of all, it is im­per­at­ive to re­ject iden­tit­ari­an­ism, and to re­cog­nize that there are no iden­tit­ies, only de­sires, in­terests and iden­ti­fic­a­tions. Part of the im­port­ance of the Brit­ish Cul­tur­al Stud­ies project — as re­vealed so power­fully and so mov­ingly in John Akom­frah’s in­stall­a­tion The Un­fin­ished Con­ver­sa­tion (cur­rently in Tate Bri­tain) and his film The Stu­art Hall Project — was to have res­isted iden­tit­ari­an es­sen­tial­ism. In­stead of freez­ing people in­to chains of already-ex­ist­ing equi­val­ences, the point was to treat any ar­tic­u­la­tion as pro­vi­sion­al and plastic. New ar­tic­u­la­tions can al­ways be cre­ated. No one is es­sen­tially any­thing. Sadly, the right act on this in­sight more ef­fect­ively than the left does. The bour­geois-iden­tit­ari­an left knows how to propag­ate guilt and con­duct a witch hunt, but it doesn’t know how to make con­verts. But that, after all, is not the point. The aim is not to pop­ular­ise a left­ist po­s­i­tion, or to win people over to it, but to re­main in a po­s­i­tion of elite su­peri­or­ity, but now with class su­peri­or­ity re­doubled by mor­al su­peri­or­ity too. “How dare you talk — it’s we who speak for those who suf­fer!”

But the re­jec­tion of iden­tit­ari­an­ism can only be achieved by the re­as­ser­tion of class. A left that does not have class at its core can only be a lib­er­al pres­sure group. Class con­scious­ness is al­ways double: it in­volves a sim­ul­tan­eous know­ledge of the way in which class frames and shapes all ex­per­i­ence, and a know­ledge of the par­tic­u­lar po­s­i­tion that we oc­cupy in the class struc­ture. It must be re­membered that the aim of our struggle is not re­cog­ni­tion by the bour­geois­ie, nor even the de­struc­tion of the bour­geois­ie it­self. It is the class struc­ture — a struc­ture that wounds every­one, even those who ma­ter­i­ally profit from it — that must be des­troyed. The in­terests of the work­ing class are the in­terests of all; the in­terests of the bour­geois­ie are the in­terests of cap­it­al, which are the in­terests of no one. Our struggle must be to­wards the con­struc­tion of a new and sur­pris­ing world, not the pre­ser­va­tion of iden­tit­ies shaped and dis­tor­ted by cap­it­al.

If this seems like a for­bid­ding and daunt­ing task, it is. But we can start to en­gage in many pre­fig­ur­at­ive activ­it­ies right now. Ac­tu­ally, such activ­it­ies would go bey­ond pre­fig­ur­a­tion — they could start a vir­tu­ous cycle, a self-ful­filling proph­ecy in which bour­geois modes of sub­jectiv­ity are dis­mantled and a new uni­ver­sal­ity starts to build it­self. We need to learn, or re-learn, how to build com­rade­ship and solid­ar­ity in­stead of do­ing cap­it­al’s work for it by con­demning and ab­us­ing each oth­er. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we must al­ways agree — on the con­trary, we must cre­ate con­di­tions where dis­agree­ment can take place without fear of ex­clu­sion and ex­com­mu­nic­a­tion. We need to think very stra­tegic­ally about how to use so­cial me­dia — al­ways re­mem­ber­ing that, des­pite the egal­it­ari­an­ism claimed for so­cial me­dia by cap­it­al’s li­bid­in­al en­gin­eers, that this is cur­rently an en­emy ter­rit­ory, ded­ic­ated to the re­pro­duc­tion of cap­it­al. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t oc­cupy the ter­rain and start to use it for the pur­poses of pro­du­cing class con­scious­ness. We must break out of the “de­bate” that com­mu­nic­at­ive cap­it­al­ism in which cap­it­al is end­lessly ca­jol­ing us to par­ti­cip­ate in, and re­mem­ber that we are in­volved in a class struggle. The goal is not to “be” an act­iv­ist, but to aid the work­ing class to ac­tiv­ate — and trans­form — it­self. Out­side the Vam­pires’ Castle, any­thing is pos­sible.

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