Postmodernity or the imposture of a false radicality (Barbaria)

Here is an english translation of a text by Grupo Barbaria which, coming from an uncompromisingly revolutionary perspective, makes a short but powerful critique of the platitudes of the various ideologies that loosely fall under the category of ‘postmodernist”. Ideologies which have notably achieved a wide and poisonous influence over radical movements across the world, effectively reducing class to “one more form of oppression” in the minds of numerous would-be revolutionaries, and thus negating the historical struggle of the proletariat and its centrality in the creation of a worldwide human community free from all forms of oppression and exploitation.

This timely text is an important reminder that the revolution for anarchy and communism is not the struggle for fair treatment, representation and recognition for “oppressed identities” on the part of Capital and the State, but their concrete negation and the total and absolute destruction of the class and mercantile society on a global scale.

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The plaintext version follows:

Postmodernity
or
the impos
ture of a false radicality

By Grupo Barbaria

(Madrid, December 2018)

INTRODUCTION

In this text we intend to make a summary critique of some of the ideological platitudes of our epoch, platitudes which for the sake of convenience we call postmodern. Generally, they can be recognized by the idea that any intent to seek a radical emancipation would be a meta-narrative, that to seek some truthful or objective criteria would be a proof of arrogance and the will to dominate. That there exist no general and universal criteria by which to define the reality of the world and thus there exists no search for a general liberation. That everything is subjective, that the only possible struggle is that which is found in everyday life, in the microphysics of powers, without the risk of falling into essentialisms and fixed definitions which are always dangerous, etc.

We write this text coming from a revolutionary practice and we make the critique due to the influence which these kinds of concepts and authors have among the radical activists who try to struggle against this world. For this reason we find it important to be able to discuss the impositions which stem from these kinds of writers. The current which has done the most to introduce this type of perspective in “the social movements” is a ‘lite’ and reformist version of the historical autonomist movement which counts Toni Negri as one of its primary references and which has turned the works of Deleuze, Foucault, Guattari… into presumed manuals of radicalism which “learned” activists must pass through. The recent book by Marina Garcés, a professor of philosophy in the university and a representative of these types of currents and ideas, perfectly expresses what we want to criticize. An apparent radicalism in forms and discourses which claim to want to deconstruct everything and an impotency which is born from the premises, as she herself recognizes in the beginning of the prologue to her book, Ciudad Princesa (p. 11)

I don’t know up to what point we really fought. Neither do I know up to what point we have entirely lost. I know that the ideas and forms of living in which I believe are not triumphant, but they aren’t lost either. The generation of the 70’s wanted to assault the heavens and it burned its wings. We who came after grew among its ashes and we saw how the fires of its hopes and its ideals were extinguished [] And only some, a few, continued stoking the coals of radical thought and commitment. Those of us that became politicized at the end of the nineties didn’t look to the sky unless it were to rest for a moment.

On the other hand, it’s important to comprehend that when we speak about postmodernity we’re not establishing a drastic rupture with what is known as modernity. In reality both “epochs” speak of the same thing, of capitalism and of its tendency to separate form from content, subjectivity from objectivity, knowledge from morals and so on in a long etcetera. Capitalism is a system which is based on a form (capital as a value inflated with value) which tends to subsume any content whatsoever under its totalitarian aegis. Everything can be converted into money as a general equivalent of wealth, any human activity can be subsumed under the empire of abstract labor. Already since the appearance of capitalism, around the 17th century, the first forms of this separation began to develop, also in the forms of thought. We refer, for example, to the I think therefore I am of Descartes or to the mechanicism of the political bodies in Thomas Hobbes. Capital inaugurates an epoch which separates life from its material substance, which fragments human beings from each other, in addition to internally, which destroys the human community… It’s a metaphysics of separation which opposes one against another, as Hobbes himself establishes in his state of nature, as basis for the state leviathan. That war of all against all, the reduction of social life to that of atoms in perpetual mercantile conflict, is what postmodernity will attempt to bring to its maximum expression. In effect, the war of all against all becomes, in the postmodern positions, a permanent conflict among identities. The racialized against the whites, queer against cisgendered, trans against queers, etc. The more oppressions the better! What does it matter in this verborrhea of privileges that establishes who should speak and who should shut up!

In this manner not only is any unitarian critique of this world dismantled, but also the possibility to transcend and to be able to confront the specific oppressions which capital reproduces in its whole gamut. Only a project of the integral destruction of this whole world by means of the reconstruction of the human community permits such an objective.

When we speak of postmodernity we refer to an ideology and not an era. The era continues to be the same, although in spite our fine opponents: the era of capital and its categorical invariants, abstract labor and the commodity, the State and democracy. We refer to postmodernity as an ideology because it’s a matter of a distorted view of reality that doesn’t allow us to understand its authentic meaning and therefore the possibilities to revolutionize it in an emancipatory sense. Furthermore its production transports us from the University of California to the Sorbonne, from the Sapienza of Rome to the Complutense, from the campus of Buenos Aires to that of Calcutta. Therefore, it’s not simply an ideology, but an ideology of which the evident agent is the middle classes. The “radical” academics of the campus translate real oppressions (patriarchal, racial…) into their professional language in order to attain the financing of their investigative projects. A zombie multitude of university students, enthralled and entertained by the esoteric language of their elders, brandish the arms of their incomprehensible magic phrases with haughty security, and pity upon those who would oppose. Postmodernity has a hint of pomostalinism.

All of that said, this text is a combative one, of communist and revolutionary affirmation, a text of negation.

I. AN IDEOLOGY OF DEFEAT

First of all it’s important to inscribe where postmodernism arose from. The postmodernist ideology arose after a series of revolutionary defeats, throughout the length of the 20th century (first and second world war), crowned by the defeat of the wave of social revolts which erupted in the 1960’s: from France to Argentina, from Prague to Italy, from Uruguay to Portugal, the proletariat would try to constitute itself as a party, a class [1]. At certain moments our class would experience very wide insurrectional processes, such as in the Italy of the 60’s, processes of self organization which were finally subsumed like in Portugal, or brief insurrectional episodes like in Cordoba (Argentina) in 1969. The defeat of this wave of struggles, or the second or third wave of the proletarian assault on the society of classes (if we consider not only the revolutionary wave in 1910-1937, but also that of the 19th century from 1848 to 1871) would foment a recession from the process of the constitution of the proletariat as a class and a resurgence of the ideologies fed by pessimism, individualism and nihilism, which devour the hopes in the proletariat and in a humanity finally liberated from the society of classes. The postmodern ideology bases itself on the premise that a radical emancipation on the part of the proletariat would have been a terrible nightmare which could only create totalitarian monsters. Some treacherous ideologues have secularized the logocentrism of the judeochristian religion (in an anarchist and communist version) and have transmitted it to poor and ignorant proletarian illiterates. As we can see, the idealism of the mental operation is absolute. For postmodernity (as for the entirety of modern, bourgeois thought) communism or anarchism is not a real movement that tries to affirm human needs against capital and the exploitation of them, but a very mistaken and erroneous mental construction. Thankfully our illustrious parisian and californian professors have come to awaken us from our juvenile ignorance.

Postmodernity is also at the same time an ideology of renunciation and of pessimism. Underneath its apparent radicality (which is the hook with which it seduces the middle classes into the search for new meta-narratives) there isn’t anything but a renunciation of any intent to really transform this world. From there comes the retreat into micropolitics and the politics of identity. Small is good and the totality is totalitarian, they tell us. Since the counterrevolutionary defeat suffered by the proletariat in the 70’s of the 20th century postpones the necessary revolutionary change to come, necessity is made into a virtue and defeat into a naturalized condition. But this pessimism and renunciation are inseparable and, at the same time are linked to an exultant conception of differences, of cultural particularity and of individual choice, of the diverse and the heterogeneous, of the molecular and the schizoid, of the unstable and the indeterminate, of the skepticism over any criteria of truth and of the relation with the objectivity and the social totality. The world is strange and cruel. It subsumes and alienates us, but the reason for its material basis is not understood and only an ideological and theoretical explanation is given. Typical, on the other hand, of those that make isolated thought their profession, as if the total character of capitalism was simply a mental problem and it would be enough to not think about its total and impersonal dynamic in order for it to not subsume our lives. The postmodernists have something funnily infantile about them: it would be enough to close the eyes for capital to simply cease to exist. Too bad that it’s a matter of unfortunate realities which affect our lives (capital and its movements) and not of the lofty heights of the academic discourses to which the protagonists of our little pamphlet are accustomed, the words of which they believe to performatively construct the world.

This ideology of defeat and of difference connects with the pessimist philosophies of being in which some of the model theorists for the postmodern authors are to be found in reference (Nietzcshe, Sartre, Heidigger, Schopenhauer). The being is an abstract entity which is separated into essence on one hand and existence on the other. The postmodern ideology retakes the idealism and the pessimism of that philosophy. It believes that the creation of the material world commences from language (in opposition to a materialist vision which commences from the real world in order to explain the world; Marx, Engels, Bakunin, or in another sense Aristotle). Postmodernity as a term was born from a book by Francois Lyotard, a french philosopher, who had been a militant in the french extreme left group Socialisme ou Barbarie, led by Cornelius Castoriadis. Lyotard had been opposed to Castoriadis’ idea of being able to think up a revolutionary theory which would renounce marxism, for which he founded the organization Pouvoir Ouvrière with other comrades. Nevertheless, a few years later he renounced marxism and above all the revolution, and he wrote a small book where he synthesized some of the common points of postmodernist thought.

This thought has two important hubs in France and the United States. There are an array of authors of various types, with very different theoretical levels and trajectories, but who undoubtedly have something in common. One of the decisive aspects is the militant renunciation against speaking of the centrality of the proletariat as a revolutionary class which is the only one that can put an end to the dominion of capital (which is something deeper than a system of privileges as our “theorists” seem to poorly understand), or the renunciation of the reality of human nature, as greatest of all evils. On the contrary, the social and historical context is the medulla of a person, a cultural reductionism and the hypertrophy of discourses that performatively shape the life of the subjects.
As we said at the beginning postmodernism is an ideology born in the academy of the french post-structuralist currents. These, after the political and academic crisis of marxism [2] and the crisis of structuralism (of the absolute weight that they had given to the economic and historical structures, after having made human beings into mere supports, legs of a table upon which structures were elevated) gave way to a flight towards the apparently opposite: it’s the moment of the molecular, of the capillary, of the small, of the desires, of the peripheral, of the specific, of the instruments of subjectivization. Really it’s a case of a pendulous movement which has as its basis the political defeat of the proletariat in the 1970’s.

The abstract universality of marxism as an ideology, permeated with scientificism and politicicism, of the reduction of the proletariat to a support for capital, really began to enter a crisis with the ascension of the proletariat in the 60’s. With its defeat, its structuralist authors (Althusser, Foucault, Derrida, etc.) turned into the promoters of post-structuralism, of postmodernism. Furthermore it’s very important to understand that the universality postulated by structuralism, in another manner, is not the type of universality that bears the proletariat as negation of property and the social classes. It’s starting from this truth, that of the pestilence of marxism as an ideology, that postmodernism constructs the great lie of particularism, that of us not having anything in common, that in the end domination will always be around. The universals of marxism don’t have anything to do with those of the proletariat in action.

To better explain ourselves: postmodernity, against the ideas of universality, against history, counterposes the impossibility of creating a history and a universal theory. This aspect is very interesting because what the academic critique of marxism brings is the rejection of every strong theoretical conception, founded in principles, in meta-narratives with meaning (for example the real material conditions of capitalism being global. If all of history has subjective interpretations, how could we be capable of confronting capitalism if we don’t see that it has a global basis which is historical?) They flee, as if it were the plague, from all general conceptions, they are allergic to the human and theoretical universalities.

Notes:

1. In the last segment of the text we explain what we understand as class or party, we also recommend the text “Proletario Yo?” From no. 65 of the journal Comunismo.
[TN:”Me, Proletarian?” (GCI-ICG) is available in english at: https://malcontent.noblogs.org/post/2019/11/19/me-proletarian-gci-icg/ ]

2. Marxism is a social-democratic recuperation of Marx which tries to integrate the proletariat within capital. It’s the party of work inside of capital. As opposed to that, communism is the real movement that struggles for the affirmation of the human needs of the proletariat by means of the suppression of value, the classes, and the State. Marx was an outstanding militant of our party, but as he himself said, “I am not a Marxist”.

II. AN IDEOLOGY OF THE INDIVIDUAL

Postmodernity commences from the subjectivity of each person, from the individual truth, and it’s for this reason that absolute truths do not exist. In fact, it accuses the universal truths of being totalitarian, of being impositional. All this is the result of the skepticism of a theory that does not try to locate our own social existence in a wider framework, because that would be to enclose the specificity of the individual and that of the different identitarian groupings; for postmodernism the fact that the human being is a social being is explained as something merely discursive and not something real and material. It is the world of capital which encloses us. Perhaps at the californian campuses a wider range of options can be found, but millions of proletarians are not so fortunate as to be able to choose this perspective. Our life is determined by a hidden yet very real material form (every day we have to face increasingly worse conditions for survival: jobs that suffocate us, housing which is unaffordable or isolates us from the rest, superficial relations mediated by the commodity, etc.).

This vision of the world can’t aspire to the global emancipation of persons, can’t aspire to think in terms of the whole, of a real community, it can only think in identitarian terms, separated from the rest. This has become palpable in the social struggles of recent years, in the lack of recognition towards other proletarians in the rest of the world as those that have our same necessities and who are an expression of the same struggle, which provokes the lack of solidarity from the rest of the proletariat, in contrast with what our class has done throughout history.

To think that we can all be equal (as democracy tries to) or think that we are all totally different (like the postmodernists) is a clear example of a false dichotomy: within our differences there are things that unite us and which we share as a species, we have the same necessities for living. The ideal democratic equality is everyone having the same. Communism doesn’t fight for the equality or the equity of race or gender, since these constructions are socially functional to the same system that needs them. Therefore, the revolution should not contemplate their preservation and “positive transformation” since its struggle against the mercantile civilization/society bears the destruction of all its categorical, moral, scientific, religious, and juridical foundations. Communism does not try to put an end to the oppression of this world by means of the ingredients in the mercantile pie (distributing proportional quotas according to race or gender), it wants to radically transform the ingredients of the “pie” of human life. Exploitation consists of the same things around the whole world – extracting surplus value – this unites all of the workers, whatever language, age, color or sexual orientation that they have. Capitalism is not a system of “oppressions” but a system of exploitation that creates discriminations and oppressions routinely, because like all systems of exploitation, it’s in its nature to do so in order to maintain its domination.

Postmodernism is a liberal ideology, because it asserts the right of the individual to freely choose what they want to be (within the options of capital, of course). It’s the revolution of the individual who is free to assert their self as woman, man, gender fluid or gender nonconforming, which aspires to recognition and visibility. From whom? From the State, the same old State with its institutions and class interests which are a bit out of fashion. From the microphysics of powers to the assertion of the Rule of Law there’s a relation which is not only logical, but a path which is in fact followed by our brilliant postmodernists: from verbal radicalism to the factuality of the power of capital. There is no sense in thinking that the social problems can be solved individually, it’s not enough to employ an extremist language or to change individual customs. As Cuadernos de Negación has already said: “We would never recommend individual ‘solutions’ for social problems. The individual perception of a problem doesn’t turn the problem into an question of the individual”. (Cuadernos de Negación, n.8). To do this would be to do no more than reduce everything concrete into something abstract: the individual choice to be what you want to be, to choose between the commodities which you are offered. We understand that it’s frustrating, that it makes us feel small to sense problems every day, problems which we cannot resolve in an isolated manner, in an individual manner. But to think otherwise would only create a mirage in which our lives are radical and we have the power to decide if the meat industry goes to shit or global warming will be put to an end by walking to work, to give an example. In addition to resolving social problems in an individual way not being possible, it’s also bullshit. Even if we could resolve things individually, we would do it as individuals do: in an isolated way, without solidarity, with competitive and meritocratic dynamics (all the internalized guilt which is expressed, for example, in the ecologist conscience: you’re not doing enough, you must try harder, look at how I manage to do it…) Against all the individualist atmosphere that we breathe in, it’s important to repeat that the fact that the social problem must be resolved collectively is what makes it possible to reclaim our real human life, the global human community, given that it makes it necessary.

So, in postmodern thought the small is asserted against the large, the subjective against the objective, the molecular against the molar, the multiple against the one, etc. With that what is rendered impossible is the ability to speak about something so important as the human species and its necessities. Postmodernity is an ideology of separation and fragmentation, of disunion and of the virulent rejection of the possibility for us to constitute ourselves as a class. It’s an ideology which is obsessed with the multiplicity of human cultures and not with understanding that human beings are naturally cultural; obsessed with the multiplicity of languages and not with the fact that we are linguistic beings; obsessed with differences and not with what unites us in our diversity. Furthermore, it reduces us to localism and therefore impedes a real internationalism, an internationalism that has nothing to do with the postmodern multiculturalist spectacle. This preoccupation with singularity is always, ultimately, the singularity of individuals that are isolated and in competition, like the different subjects (the woman, the racialized, the homosexual) compete amongst each other.

In reality, postmodernism was a comprehensible reaction to the sociological vision which social-democracy has of of the proletariat.

However, it will react by contesting with new forms of social-democracy, given that the old one would already be very “spent” by the relative delegitimization of the communist parties and of stalinism thanks to 1968. To do so, it will make a round-trip voyage from the blue collar identitarianism in the workerist discourse to the range of identities which represent other subjects of oppression. As such, if workerism had left out women – presto! – The female identity is added. If it had left out the non-whites, here’s the racial identity… Now that the worker identity has lost its weight, more and more subjects of oppression are added: the oppression of autists, the identity of the crazy, the fat, etc. It’s interesting to highlight, as we have already indicated earlier, the intimate relation between the emergence of these ideologies and the weaknesses and limits of the movement of the proletariat itself, fundamentally in relation to the weight of workerism and of economicism in the previous periods of struggle. Not breaking with the social-democratic conception of the proletariat will permit the emergence of all those categories, which function with the same fetishist logic of workerism.

On the other hand we believe that a reflection against integration is also necessary. As we will analyze later in relation to the racializing ideology (which is one of the multiple derivatives of postmodernity), its final objective is the integration into the world of capital. To seek recognition in order to improve the conditions of life inside of capital is to enter into the dynamic of individual competition for survival, instead of seeking a common emancipation. It happens likewise with some discourses that are emerging in spain in relation to race, in contrast to the force that was had by movements such as that of the banliues in 2005, the force of which residing precisely in they didn’t seek integration. In this sense racialism will not really be anything but an objective form of domesticating the struggles of the “racialized” proletarians. The same thing which we say about racialism is analogous to what we can argue about the postmodern feminisms and their attempt at deconstructing the “category” of woman.

Therefore it’s not adventurous to sustain that the postmodern ideology is a liberal theory, a theory of the individual which reinforces capitalism. It’s important to point out that these theories are the form of recuperating the radicalism which many people who submerge themselves in them seek. This recuperation is not ideal, but quite real, as expressed in the counterrevolutionary character of racialism, because they do not aspire to total liberation of the class and the human species. Rather, they render it impossible and weaken the struggle by channeling it onto a legalist and institutional plane.

III. FRONTISM AND INTERSECTIONALITY

In the activist scene the idea is very widespread that there exists a series of heterogeneous struggles that combine in “fronts of struggle”, as if they were struggles that are dissociated and separated, autonomous and parallel, which principally have nothing to do with each other (race, sex, anti-speciesism, ecology, etc.) The union of these struggles into fronts is called intersectionality (those persons or places where a series of oppressions meet). There doesn’t exist an idea of universality and oneness of these struggles, because that would be essentialist.

This totally eliminates the conception of class, since starting from there it results as unthinkable to have one same material battle for satisfying analogous human necessities which connects the proletarian struggles in Morocco with those of Yemen, those of the spanish region with those of Argentina, those of the african-american proletariat with the proletarian kurds. Everything is particular and fragmentary. That’s one more of the reasons why this ideology is defeatist: a school of thought which commences from that which separates us is not capable of thinking in terms of universal emancipation. As we have said in Notes on patriarchy in capitalism:

This division can only be understood from the perspective of the human community and communism as a historical movement. Currently social-democracy puts all of its efforts into situating the class struggle and the division between man and woman on the same level, likewise with the division of races, of sexual practices, etc. However, this affirmation is the best way of negating the possibility of the human community, given that in order to arrive to it it’s not only necessary to put an end to capitalism and the social classes, but also to all the diversity that exists within the species (cf. queer theory). Quite to the contrary, the only form of destroying that machine of death and misery which is Capital is the class struggle, and through it, the negation of all the classes. Nonetheless, this struggle is not only the struggle of the proletariat against capital, but also its struggle to unite what has been separated at the heart of our class. The only form that the proletariat has to do this is to confront the divisions which are imposed by the class societies, among them the division between man and woman.

Postmodernity has extended the idea that what needs to be done with the oppressions is to deconstruct oneself, which is nothing more than to analyze oneself discursively and conceptually. What is deconstruction? It’s an absolutely nominalist concept. It promotes the omnipotent capacity of the consciousness (individual, of course) in order to break with the social relations that “construct” us, that constitute us. The problem is not in recognizing that what we are is in a large measure determined by the social relations that we establish and which establish us, to put it so, although this permits postmodernism to deny every idea of nature or biology. The problem is in believing that thinking, as well as some forms of behavior that procure a substitute for the current relations can change, “little by little”, the totality of the relations that are mediated and subject to the historical and social context of this era, even arriving to the absurdity of affirming that the international class struggle is not necessary to destroy the structures and their currently fashionable methods. It is, to say even in passing, the best manner for self-justifying their very material function: reproducer of the dominant ideology from a professor’s seat.

But what happens once I’ve deconstructed my sex? Will this atomically, materially affect what it is? Will the tone of my skin or facial features change if I deconstruct my “race”? We will return to these questions when we make a stopover in the postmodern Holy Trinity: class, race and gender.

IV. WHAT IF CAPITALISM WASN’T MERELY
ONE OPPRESSION MORE?

Postmodernity is allergic to the totality. For it, there would be no configuring center for our social reality. Its interest for the exotic, the small, the anomalous, the deviated, the incomparable, the grotesque, etc. brings it to abandon the central configuring element, capital as a structuring social relation of this society without which nothing can be understood, although it doesn’t explain everything.

As a result postmodernism provides a conception of capitalism different from that which Marx and the proletarian movement conceived. As we have already said before, for the postmodernists, to assert something as if it were an absolute truth is erroneous, it’s totalitarian, fascist. But unfortunately capitalism is global, and because of that it cannot be confronted partially. And in fact it’s essential to understand that we’re not talking about an aesthetic option, it’s not a matter of postulating how evil grand narratives are, and how a world fragmented into multiple molecular paths that coalesce in a federal and harmonic manner through the desiring flows of its bodies would be preferable, and this has not been so because of a terrible theoretical error that finds its origin in the decadence of greek philosophy or in judeo-christian thought. We’re not talking about ideas which are separate from the global material processes. Capital is a totality in itself, it’s not a product of human groups that need to give themselves meaning with global meta-narratives.

And the thing is that one of the characteristics of postmodern thought is its formalism. It separates the inseparable in a multiplicity of fragments and then calls trying to unite them again intersectionality. In reality what it does is dissect a cadaver and afterwards go back to assemble it artificially, without that causing it to stop being a cadaver, however very conceptual the whole process may be. We will explain slightly better, because we are confronting one of the platitudes of postmodern thought.

Capital is a historical social relation that emerges from two combined processes. On one hand the world develops into capital by means of the creation of capitalist social relations of production, which will separate the peasants from the land and oblige them to sell their labor power as new proletarians. This process will find its genesis in feudal Europe and firstly in England. On the other hand, Capital becomes global by means of its extension throughout the world, something which will see a qualitative leap with the arrival of the spaniards and portugese to America, with the subsequent genocide. Capital emerges from blood and lootings, as Marx reminded, and it’s important to not separate both processes because without the combination of them both the current system of exploitation would not have arisen.

The capitalism which begins to emerge then, beginning from the 16th century, is a reality very different from the antediluvian and imperfect forms of capital that could exist in the earlier pre-capitalist societies. The usury or mercantile forms of capital had no social substance behind them, abstract work, which equalized all types of work and activities at the social level, which will permit that the nature of capital (a value inflated with value) can reproduce itself thanks to the social substance contained in the surplus value which wage labor produces. Capital is therefore a social relation which is impersonal and apparently automatic (but in reality is nourished from abstract labor as a social substance, which makes the antagonism between capital and the proletariat central) which, in its different social metamorphoses invades and reconstructs the whole field of the old pre-capitalist social formations. This is not the place to detain ourselves in a deeper and more exhaustive explanation. What’s important is to understand that capital is not something economic, it’s the social relation that configures, in its metamorphosis, the social totality of modernity, that which separates the social world, breaking with the pre-capitalist communities, the private world and the public world, the economy and politics, the working world from the civic, etc. In the same way it molds in its image and semblance, the abstract logic of money and exchange, the patriarchy of the pre-capitalist societies (this can’t be understood as apart from how Capital has configured it, and the incomprehension of that is one of the theoretical explanations for the social-democratic limits of all feminism) or the racial divisions of capitalist modernity. The enslaving oppression of capitalist modernity cannot be understood without witnessing the triangular commerce between the different regions of capital since the 16th century.

Therefore capital appears to us as something totally unique though differentiated. Of course, we don’t deny the specificity of patriarchal dominion or of typically capitalist racism. What we deny to accept is that these parts can be separated from the whole. Separated, they are incomprehensible. The sum of the parts is not the same as its product. And this is what happens to all the postmodernist theorists with their obsession for studies pertaining to the racial, the neocolonial, to gender… They are incapable of theoretically reconstituting the reality of dominion and exploitation that holds us in its clutches. They can only reconstruct an inanimate corpse that exists only in their heads.

Like so the impersonal and semi-automatic brutality of the dominion of capital is reduced to a mere question of privileges. I as a white cis-gendered workingman have more privileges than she who is a white cis-gendered workingwoman, who must keep quiet in front of a white lesbian, who in turn maintains privileges over a racialized arab woman… And so on, in an absurd and impotent set of russian dolls.

The obsessive particularity of this mental mechanism is incapable of understanding and altering the totality of capital. As we said at the beginning of our text, it’s a matter of a substantially pessimistic conception that doesn’t believe in the possibility of a total change. They are against the grand narratives, the utopias no longer exist, the world cannot change globally, for which it is necessary to act on the small scale, by means of micro-politics, short stories, tales, corporal narrations. Are they really convinced that it’s possible to change the capitalist system in just one part of the world? In reality they abandoned this pretension long ago. Furthermore, capitalism is reduced to one privilege among others, classism, converting it into one more oppression among others such as racism, sexism, ableism, etc.

Like so capital is omnipotent. The only thing that one can do is resist power, a power that is configured by means of its norms and which is struggled against by challenging it by means of identitarian discourses: to change sex, to subvert everything in words so that nothing substantial and real is changed, because really on these grounds, it’s impossible.

Do the postmodernists have some idea of emancipation, a place to which they would like to direct themselves? They criticize everything, but what do they aspire to? They probably don’t aspire to arrive anywhere, but to simply have the possibility to opt for situations. It would appear as if they are in wait for the new oppression to discover that the most radical thing to do is to criticize the critique from the latest philosopher in the university. Postmodernity is a drift of fluid questions in which you deconstruct and appear dematerialized without even knowing how it is that you have arrived to this world or if one really exists. There’s no truth upon which to stand. If what is intended is to contradict for the sake of contradicting, there’s no sense in it because there’s no firm ground on which to stand and sustain oneself; the words and the reality must be in accordance, otherwise we speak an empty discourse. They say they are radicals, but by calling themselves so they are not radicals all of the sudden.

V. A NOMINALIST IDEOLOGY

As we said before, for the postmodernists reality is what is said. The postmodernists live in a cultural and linguistic hypertrophy. Human beings are blank pages shaped by the culture of every place and by linguistic discourses. The idealistic music of this song should already be familiar to us.

For our postmodernists, the reality that we live in comes, at heart, from the world of the ideas or the famous “I think, therefore I am”, and even from the world created by the idea of God. They are not so distant from the idea that nature is created by our language. For the postmodernists everything is language, everything is cultural. Reality is constructed, or perhaps we should say created, by language and culture: Reality is that which is said. Like so we are made to doubt everything material, we are made to doubt even that hormones and sex have anything to do with the fact of being a man or a woman, we are made to doubt so much about the material that we can ask ourselves if possibly tomorrow we will wake up as kangaroos. They tell us over and over again that nature is created by our language, but that the human being has spread to the farthest corners of the earth and influenced the growth and distribution of plants around the globe doesn’t mean that we have created nature.

Since everything is language, everything depends on the subjectivity of the individual. Postmodernity is the typical expression of the anthropology of capital, of its individualism and of its separation. Everything is a representation, therefore reality doesn’t exist and everything is subjective. What is material reality then? What is going hungry, feeling pain? Could it be that they aren’t things that we all feel?

As we can see it’s the case of a strange ideology which, if on one hand it declares itself materialist, in reality it is infused with idealist foundations. A conception which displaces the center of interest from capital as a total social relation (which accordingly cannot be reduced to something economic, as is believed with equal faith be it by marxists or postmodernists) to sexuality and to language. And it’s not that sexuality isn’t an enormously important aspect in thinking about human liberation under the aegis of the class societies, but to conceive it as a substance separated from the most global dynamics makes it into a dead substance, shaped performatively by Capital. This is just what happens to the protagonists of our pamphlet. And what to say about an auto-referential conception of language, which instead of being open and in constant communication with the world and with our practice in it, distances us and separates us from it to later recreate it. In the beginning was the Word, says the biblical book of Genesis, and the same is repeated by our postmodernists. Their theoretical grounds, like those of the capitalist modernity, are amply scholastic, and find their references in nominalists like Ockham and formalists like Escoto, as was acknowledged by some of the more conscious of them, like Deleuze himself.

VI. GENDER, RACE… CLASS?

We’ve already spoken about the famous triad “gender, race, class” as separate elements that wouldn’t have any a priori relation and only connect a posteriori thanks to the wise academic intersectioners. This triad is really something similar to the Holy Trinity of the catholics, a question of Faith that cannot be put into question if one doesn’t want to be excommunicated from the academic and politically correct Church of the left (in all of its versions including the “anarchist” one). In reality postmodernity has a lot to do with pomostalinism at the level of political activism, as we have already anticipated. Starting from this triad many other oppressions (fronts that open) appear to us: speceisist, ableist, fat activism, etc. It’s important not to forget about anything in this endless set of privileges and counterprivileges.

Gender

First of all, it’s important to point out that we are conscious of the existence of intersex persons, who have sexual organs that are between male and female, jut like their hormones. Nevertheless, we don’t believe that the small percentage of these persons are what should dictate the norm of the reflection, which is something that is typically postmodern, to make the margins the center of the theory. The postmodern theories about gender are headed by third wave feminism.

It’s a fact that the society delineates a stereotypical man and woman to us, we only need to watch advertisements and films in order to notice that. Does this stereotype change with time? Yes. Are there different ways of being a man or woman, different customs? Yes. Can one cease to be man or woman because they are named something else? No, being a man or woman is not an identity, it’s a material factor, it is, in an inseparable way, a biological, cultural, social and historical reality.

The Straight Mind: And Other Essays by Monique Witting is a clear example of what postmodernity is. A text which commences from the premise that lesbian women are not.

Lesbian women are not women, they are deserters of their -gender?- because of the fact that they are lesbians. They are not servants of men, therefore they are rebels. This is an example of false revolutionary discourse which commences from an identity and particularity in order to “unite” a group of women through their practices. Once again this brings us to a resolution of the problem in an individual way, which as we have said before reproduces the liberal ideology of capitalism: “To be a lesbian is to create other worlds, to carve out new realities”

How can we explain that it’s passed on from asserting universal rights (“We, the women”) to a theory of the discourse and the norms of power which arrive to the extreme of calling into question the very subjects of “woman” and “human nature”? In her Cyborg Manifesto, Donna Haraway, in the poetical- delirious style which she is characterized by, offers a synthetic exposition of this evolution: “With the hard-won recognition of their social and historical constitution, gender, race, and class cannot provide the basis for belief in “essential” unity. There is nothing about being “female” that naturally binds women. There is not even such a state as “being” female, itself a highly complex category constructed in contested sexual scientific discourses and other social practices.” (Donna J. Haraway, The Cyborg Manifesto)

(“The gender studies offensive”)
Cul de Sac

And the thing is that it’s undoubtable that the oppression of women has a social origin (it’s what the academic studies in fashion call gender) but they are are oppressed as women, which implies the kind of body that they have. And this is what these postmodern conceptions separate with the pathological fear that they have for everything that sounds to them like biological, natural (separation between sex and gender). The control of the body, of the sexuality, of the capacity for giving birth and of nurturing is the natural foundation from which patriarchy is constructed, historically and in all the forms which it has gone on to shape. Therefore in order to understand the genesis and the reality of the patriarchal oppression against women it’s fundamental to rid ourselves of the postmodern dualism, which separates the biological from the cultural and in fact reduces the first to the second, with which they operate the typical idealist reduction from the body to the soul. To better explain: for the postmodernists it’s the cultural form which is important, the physical and biological body is only an epiphenomena of the will. For us it’s fundamental to reject this separation. The body and mind, material life and culture cannot be understood as independent substances. It’s the biological and invariant reality of the woman throughout the millenniums and in different cultures that configures a common substrate which in some cases will act as a positive social and communitarian prius (we’re thinking of the communist societies of the paleolithic or of the neolithic) and in other cases as a motive for dispute and oppression, with the development of the patriarchal, classist and statist societies. This complex interlinking between natural and social aspects has created a multiplicity of different forms of being a woman throughout human history. But the multiplicity of forms doesn’t negate the factuality of a common being of women, in the same way that the multiplicity of cultures that we have lived in as human beings doesn’t negate our common humanity.

In reality postmodern thought operates with very simple and dichotomous binomials. Since there already exists a multiplicity of forms in which “gender” is represented and lives throughout human history, from there they deduce that the woman as a being can be deconstructed and that it will disappear as a category. But the woman as a being is much more than a category, in the same way that a human being is. In reality the whole postmodern theory of “gender”, starting from the “refined” vision of Butler, is a form of “social constructivism” which is heir to the foucaultian theories, that reduce the burdensome material realities to mere discursive enunciations: the doctor with their power apparatus is who orders the system of genders, when they announce that you are a boy and you are a girl, Butler tells us.

Race

Capitalism is racist because it constructs an identity stemming from the nation: “race”, opposed to what we explained earlier about man and woman, is not a material factor in the biological sense. Rather to the contrary, it’s a matter of a fetishization of a series of physiognomic traits (skin color, facial shape or hair, etc.) in order to establish groups of likenesses from which to impose a national-racial hierarchy. The principal aim of this hierarchy is that of all nationalism: the separation of the proletariat in order to better exploit it. The historical role that racism has played is evidenced with clarity: see for example the revolt of the black and white proletariat in the United States at the end of the 19th century and the subsequent state politics of racial separation, at the hands of the development of white democracy.

Nevertheless, this role is forgotten too easily in order to affirm that “race” is an axis of oppression distinct and unassimilable by the class. In this way, it is understood that race and class are separate substances that intersect, in the same forensic logic that we have pointed out before. So then, racialism is that part of postmodernism which puts the national/racial group above all consideration of class.

A big problem of the racializing ideas is that they are brought in to defend history and culture above all without import to if these are male-chauvinist or reproduce class domination. As such, the figure of Atahualpa or the role of religions are asserted without import to the terrible exploitation that they upheld.

The race, as we have said, implies the same game as the nation, it’s the case of a justification for the exploitation of the proletariat as long as it’s “our” form of exploitation and not that of another, stronger bourgeoisie.

Here we feel it’s important to pause briefly to take a look at a book which symptomatic for its reactionary character. It’s the book by Houria Boutedja: Whites, Jews and Us. A book that more than significantly is causing furor in “radicalized” environments. In reality the book is an ensemble of stalinist banalities in which the rancid workerism, the “anti-imperialist” logic and the “anti-yankee” of the communist parties and the marxism-leninisms of different plumages deviate into a key point of social race. Everything that my race does is good in the struggle against the other races. If Ahmadinjad says that in Iran in reality there are no homosexuals he must be admired, since he is deconstructing the logic of the Empire and of the United States when he says that he doesn’t torture. My friends are my friends and it’s necessary to be there with them until the end, and friendship is a question of races. The logic of the lesser evil is continuous. Those that dare to criticize the Venezuela of Chávez and Maduro are no more than whites dressed up as decolonials… In an “amorous logic” (For a politics of revolutionary love is the caption of this text) she also proposes an alliance to jews and non-racialized whites (we don’t forget that above all the world is constructed by races), given that first of all it’s a matter of constructing autonomous racialized movements, behind which the alliance with the white left will be possible. And the thing is that, in reality, the apparent radicalism of the discourse is merely a postmodern version of the popular-frontist discourse of the same old social-democracy as always. It’s necessary to accumulate our own power in order to later negotiate an integration into the capitalist society, a society which for certain is barely named, and when it is it’s in order to consider it as a mere epiphenomena of western civilization. In the purest postmodern style, the materiality comes after the ideas.

In the end, as we have said, the book is no more than an accumulation of platitudes that remind of the worst of the bourgeois movements for national liberation, of a stalinist character, of the 60’s and 70’s, all of them garnished furthermore with incitements of the religious, homophobic variety, for the understanding of male-chauvinism because it’s that of my kind. Obviously to speak about how in their beloved communities there are lines of class which fracture them is something which is better left unsaid. Definitively, racialism is an ideology that is objectively in the service of capital in the attempt to divide us and fragment us as the proletariat, as a unique and global class.

Class?

The postmodernists have but an ingenuous conception of class. Of the three, this is the concept where postmodernism most reveals its continuity with modernism, with bourgeois progressive thought, like it or not. Its conception of class is no more than the sociological conception of class, the same one as that of classical social-democracy and of leninism. It would be something else to dig deeper into how, in the end it oscillates between these old clothes and newly tweaked binomials that serve even more to the confusion: elites/people (Podemos) the included/excluded (insurrectionalism), etc.

And the thing is that, in the most naive versions of postmodernity, class is reduced to a mere question of status, of privilege, losing sight of any structural reality, which never ceases to remind us of the most traditional visions of bourgeois psychology at the beginning of the 19th and 20th century. This vision is combined, at the same time, with a critique of classism which would be equated with having a derogatory view of those who are poor proletarians. Incapable of even remotely grasping the material basis of our society, they end up reducing everything to a form of culture, of perception of the world, of being in this one by means of a discourse. In this way the proletarian being ends up reduced to the discursive game with which we proletarians are reduced to thugs, chonis or chavs. To imagine that we are a material class that struggles to affirm itself and destroy this world doesn’t pass through the heads of these bourgeois academics. And nevertheless, may they be careful, since the meta-narrative always lurks in wait.

VII. COMMUNISM AND ANARCHY AS A REAL MOVEMENT

After having made a run-down of the postmodern Holy Trinity (gender, race and class), we still have new critiques to make. And the thing is that the trilogy can transform into a factorial infinitude of struggles and conflicts, each one from its particularity (speciesist, vegan, etc.) For us communism and anarchy are a total movement from the beginning. The fact that it always starts at some place and from some immediate conflict doesn’t negate its global and historic generalization. The postmodernists tend to negate this real movement by breaking the unity between the immediate and the global, the particular and the universal, in order to reconstruct it a posteriori in a dead manner. As such, the feminist reconstruction ends up being a defense of the equality of rights in capitalism; the racializer, a defense of the integration and the recognition between the different “races”; the workers’ struggle, a reclamation for capital to distribute a bit of the revenue pyramid… In the measure in which each immediate struggle is separated from a global perspective of this world, every particularity is a reformist particularity and their sum is also reformist. And keep in mind that we’re not talking about ideal perspectives or mere principles, they are our real necessities as proletarians which bring us into global confrontation with this world from any of our immediacies.

Obviously, just like patriarchy, racism fractures and divides our class, and it’s a clear agent in the reproduction of the world of capital. What we affirm permanently and invariably is that only through a unitary process of construction of the proletariat as a class, as a historic force, will it be possible to really and materially overcome these divisions that fracture our class and impede our constitution as a party for the destruction of capital and of the State. Communism is a real and unitary movement that commences from human needs and which from there overcomes the divisions and fragmentations. It’s not the result of alliances and summations of different particularities that negotiate and intersect amongst themselves. Only the proletariat can put an end to capital, by negating itself as a class, in the measure in which it is the hidden secret of capital, that which reveals that this is not a natural reality but a social substance. Class is not, however, a sociological occurrence but a collective constitution, a constitution in party as a historical force, and for it to be so it must break with all the divisions which hold us down (national, racial, patriarchal…) The proletariat is a class that is not a class, and its real movement towards communism expresses the power to eliminate not only the class society but the multiplicity of oppressions that capital reproduces within it.

Racial oppression, sexual oppression, the destruction of the environment… are inherent to all class societies, but no other society has attained a level of atrocity as gigantic and as systematic as under the reign of capitalism and more particularly, under the dictatorship of the progress of capitalist civilisation, in its current development. Only a global struggle can destroy the real basis of the alienation – estrangement – of Man and all the inhuman manifestations and atrocities proper to capitalist social relations. Only one social class – the proletariat – contains in its being this project and its realisation, the communist revolution.

Contrary to this project, the liquidation of the struggle by way of its fragmentation and the creation of specific movements (feminism, anti-racism, environmentalism) tend to reduce and to resolve each of these problems into a separate sphere, thus preventing any attack on their profound and common cause. They are therefore irremediable additional attempts to adapt, ameliorate and repair (plaster over) the system and, by these means, to reinforce the dictatorship of Capital. Practically, these types of movement have served and can only serve to divert the revolutionary energy of the proletariat, to improve the mechanisms of domination and oppression as well as to increase the rate of exploitation of the proletariat.

(Thesis of programmatic orientation, Internationalist Communist Group)

We hope that in these these pages we have been able to clear up some of the reigning confusion in many mediums about these themes, so that above all it may serve to foster debates, discussions and clarifications in the present and future.

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BELCHES OF POSTMODERNITY

“The modern economic contracts are no more than linguistic forms, when a contract is manipulated in some way it’s possible to say that the language is being manipulating”

“Instead of ideology I prefer to speak of subjectivization, of the production of subjectivity.

“The subject, according to a whole philosophical tradition and the sciences of the humanities, is something that we encounter as an être-là, something from the domain of a supposed human nature. I propose, on the contrary, the idea of a subjectivity of an industrial, machinic nature, that is, essentially fabricated, modeled, received, consumed .

“Queer, given its ambiguity, permanently jeopardizes they who is take as evident and affirm their identity which is based on the differences and in the changing aspects which are articulated through the notions of class, gender, race, and sex. Understood like so, queer is an anti-assimilationist attitude, politically active and constantly self-questioning…”

“Within a Womanist space, I can elevate black women and other women from other cultures because in this paradigm, I am recognized. I am recognized as a part of that because of my dark skin and my condition as a woman. I, as a black woman, can prosper in a space where my vitality is not overlooked, ignored and thrown away.
With my own auto-validation, I don’t need feminism (intersectional or not) in order to define my participation, or my value, or the value of other women in the struggle for racial equality and gender equity. In short, don’t bother me with feminism. I don’t need to be like you in order to advocate for the rights and possibilities of women”.

“This white universalistic vision of the whole world […] forms a part of that white supremacy of defining everything and universalizing everything”.