Solidarité: Journal of the Radical Left

​​Pity, Manifestos, and the Left


R.M. Rogers



    The left is dead; it died of pity for itself. Questions of where the ‘radical’ non-liberal left is going, of where it needs to go, of where it could go if (only any given line of programmatic measures were applied), all are the staples of any properly rounded left-academic polemic which may appear in the spectacular of today. One might think that after decades of reiteration, that this endlessly predictable ideological parade of elementary neo-Kautskyite commentary might have lost the perception of its initial historical vigor, but, in line with the demands of ideology, the presentation has remained rapid enough in its evolution to stay afloat- so long as the need remains for the castration of radical theory, this will remain an unquestionable trend of our times. The continued overdevelopment of what today passes as modern ‘production’ has persisted in preparing heightened numbers of would-be discontents with the materials demanded of false negation, however, and the demands for the mass party, for the united left, for the sale of the paper, all have found new life in a society dependent upon the preservation of the old.  


    Like any worthless consumer product, the left has been built up with promises in every presumable field of falsely dreamed desire, promising to fulfill every modern dream of the modern consumer that capitalism has simply failed to imbue all with, promising capitalism without capital, consumption without work, a final synthesis of reality with its fraudulent depiction of commodity-induced utopia. With its aging, it has only become more diverse, more diffuse, with numerous additions in flavoring, coloring, and packaging having been tacked onto the same tired ideological currents upon which the commodity has always been founded upon. The opiate of leftist revolution has lost some of its high, and its proprietors are no less than aware of this reality. Technical considerations of capitalism aside, the ability of every leftist to head his own virtual splitter party aside, the same alienation of militancy persists in asserting past the veneer of endless innovation. 


    Inevitably, these considerations are not absent from this pseudo-debate either, making the coup of the left all the more convincing. A discourse that has what appears to be a good and proper oppositional force in the swelling markets of the intellectual, the racket has done well enough internally in the preservation of its own paltry, yet still potentially discernible, position as the overseer of the anti-capitalist struggle. In true postmodern fashion, it has indeed become the case that the left is more self aware than ever, but this self awareness has not encouraged anything beyond a static pity. Envious of the past, ignorant of the future, and concerned primary with the preservation of what decaying mass of prestige is still allotted to the left, the modern militant of reform masquerading as revolution has become sentient in all the most detestable regards. This cadre knows that the conditions of 1917 are long past, that revolution will take on an appearance separate from those which they know, but this is a reality not fully quantifiable in the language of alienation upon which the dedication of their life has been founded.


    Every imaginable left party bureaucracy, the skeletal corpses of every blend of Leninism, all are clamoring in rapid opposition to any article for left unity and to any outfit making a pass at the phrase; these debates are not anything new to the history of the ideology, they wrote the battle plan well over a century ago and are quite fully capable of conducting themselves both defensively and offensively in this still entirely predictable organizational dichotomy. They detest left unity, they know it to be worthless, but their reasons are purely self-reflexive in the most classical sense, they fail to escape the mentality of the ‘radical’ organization as anything but an organization built along the static framework of a positive dialectic designed never to be founded.  All the arguments are still well known, each party cannot have unity because it is the only true party of Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, etc., but the arguments are listing, only the fool insists on buying the face value of such historiography today. As far back as the organizational split in the question of inclusivity vs exclusivity that split the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, the more self-conscious bureaucrats of the left have realized that a strong correlation exists between group size and ease of maintenance, with regards to their own power. Not averse to such self-serving sentiments themselves, the careerists of the opposite camp of traditional mass leftist organizing, the lingering vestige of Kautsky’s SPD, have since proven themselves entirely capable of making a spectacle of the mystical call to unity in party organization in an époque which has long since killed the mass party. The debate may have been livelier at the time, with more true believers occupying the ranks, but the illusion of the appearance was all the same. It’s a useful ordering of the question for both sides, however, as it is a question which allows some molecular decorum of legitimacy. The ‘tactical’ arguments which occur over the divide of what should or should not be scarified for the sake of the mass party are known as irrelevant to most, even if as much amounts to a reality spoken rarely, but this is a reality which lends brilliance to the structure of such a fight- all sides are fully aware that the leverage they may be allotted on a useless question is infinitely greater than that which they may have on questions applicable. 


    The Democrats depend on the Republican menace for negative self definition, vice versa, so follows the ordering of modern leftist ideology. No one is quite sure these days of the differences present between the 50 or so leading Trotskyite parties competing for the title of America’s next top vanguard except the leading members of said groups, a milieu which remains questionably informed. Such is beneficial; it gives them all something terribly important to kill time with. As with any good boss, the militant remains in an adherent to the language of dead time and its material application, the logic of labor. And, in the ranks of a recomposed modernist ideology, an ideology still thoroughly beholden to the myth of labors' naturally imbued positivity, this is a factor not to be scoffed at for its purposes of delusion. 


    Regardless of whether or not they consider revolution to be a spectacle created at the behest of a few, or they consider it to require a mass ‘proletarian’ party of sorts, the end results all exist within close ideological proximity. The more hardened neo-Bolsheviks of today may consider the process on a sliding scale, with more leverage towards rapid transformation towards the myth of their respective rise to dictatorial power, while the holders of the mass line consider these efforts to require more overtures towards the political of today, but the aim is yet a complete realization of a centralized spectacle continually perfected. The baggage maintained by most that inner party democracy will keep a mass political grouping in line isn’t of much note in this process towards a more thoroughly controlled state management of capitalist production, the notion of critiquing the image of modern democracy with the corollary of a mystified ‘economic democracy’ exists only to provide the worker with yet another brand of illusive poverty. Yes, the left of today will employ all with fair wages, provide all with centralized healthcare, furnish our department stores with the 'fairly' produced commodity, all the while eliminating the tyranny of the integrated diffuse with a return to a more modern and equitable tyranny of rationally planned alienation. Militant reformism remains reformism in the society of the spectacle, citations of Lenin and Marx aside. 


    It’s a shame, surely, to think of the casualties suffered in wasted ink on this question since shown to be productive only to aims counter to those of revolt, but, once again, it’s a shame which does not at the same time stimulate surprise. The left of today replicates all the pseudo-debates and false inquiry as the left of yesterday, with repetition serving as the primary model for self-justification. Neo-liberalism is one of the favored enemies of the left today; every article must cite it for legitimacy, so that our enemy may be recognizes as such. Liberalism, in all its varied forms, is in power, it must temper its promises in action- whereas the left is the shadow government of liberal thought, free of such constraints in its speech and thus prepared with the allowance to generate what false divisions between itself and liberalism proper that it may please. Just as Trotsky could speak freely of the deformities of his former Soviet state, purely from a position of envy against its preferred cult image of power, so to may the ‘revolutionary’ left say as it pleases. When SYRIZA is out of power, it will take dramatic anti-capitalist stances as it pleases, in the latest manifestation of the psychosis of the left, though it is well known by most any honest observer that they will cooperate perfectly well with all the norms of modern statesmanship. Neo-liberalism, like the innumerable other ideologically dreamed enemies of the left, serves to remind all that differences exist between the radical left and the liberal left, that radical leftist organizing still yet has a justification for its continued existence to the spectacle, that their lives are somehow defensible, somehow beyond the alienation understood to grip all else. The highest form of alienation, leftism has done the finest work for the continuity of class power today. 


    Once it could be said that the struggle of organized labor, and its hoards of leftist collaborators, was one of some historical salience, when it occupied something of a discernible relation to then popular conceptions of class struggle, but these lessons of revolt have remained entirely static in an époque of class dominance marked by fluidity. The pendulum of capital versus labor has become so thoroughly recuperated into the discourse of the spectacle that today most any argument hinged on the premise automatically finds itself a victim of unconscious self-castration. Use value no longer exists, production no longer exists in relation to organic social demand, all the production that appears today does so simply for the ends of expansion in the field of production. Modernist ideology has run amuck with the creation of increasingly intricate desires and their correlative commodities, this is the reality of what passes as the mystic ‘neoliberal’ adversary. Questions of revolution today are not questions of how to create an ecofriendly capitalism under the guise of socialism, of designs for communal living to be applied today, but rather questions of how to do away with this complete totality. Not only are the conditions for revolution ripe, but they are rotting, a rot which the left has not escaped. 


    The affairs of organizational trifle are now to be viewed as they are, the marginalized fringes will now be given critical inquiry into the cause of their marginalization, revolution demands nothing short of such action. Around the inventors of new values the world revolves. The question of negating the image of revolution by party is certainly not one of original qualities, the history of anarchism is laden with appearances to just such conflict, but their fetishistic love of negation without negation is yet another ideological barrier to the end of a revolution made for the total destruction of the society of spectacle. “Ideology is the falsehood of language and radical theory its truth.” spoke Vaneigem in his Revolution of Everyday Life, in a phrase yet relevant to the struggle for truly revolutionary organization today, which is to say, in the struggle for negative revolutionary organization, or, a fully expressed style of negation. 


    What is demanded of ones understanding of revolution is thus not a strong ecoconsciousness, not a reiteration of blissfully rendered Russian history, not another manifesto on repackaged reform, but rather, an acceptance that we know nothing of modern revolt. The knowledge of revolution will come with the creation of revolution, until that time, our efforts as revolutionists can only lie in the aim of detonating just such a process. Radical separation from the world of separation, such is the only act one can turn to as fertile ground for the discovery of such detonations, as embodied in this model of critique is a critique of the totality. This critique does not entail physical isolation from the centers of modern production, such an illusion has crippled far too many self-assumed anarchist ideologues, but rather an integrated comment against the integrated. A detournement of all that is at once presented within the field of capital's vision necessary must be predicated on the presence of some model of engagement, rarely are battles won with dated tactics, with plans decided for battles since passed.  


He who has knowledge walks among the left today as among animals. Dead are all ideologies, now we want to live…let this be our last will.








 — September-October 2013   Content —