↑ comment by Multiheaded ·
2013-01-02T22:54:45.514Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Unleashing them via political means is thus mostly good.
Nah, I'd simply say that holding them back (via "political means", yes, because all means of repression carry a political dimension due to the importance of their social function) is evil, really evil. The revolution/release itself is sometimes evil, always scary and usually involves violence. But that's simply the kind of pent-up force that results from isolating, torturing and enslaving aspects of people's selves.
This is bad because people's instincts triggered by such heuristics still point in about the right direction to solving said bad stuff in society.
No no no. This is the basic new-left concept of negativity; we could listen to ourselves and understand how we are repressed, where we're hurting, how it impacts our life - but we shouldn't pretend that we know what to do! Trauma does not come wrapped with instructions on how to overcome it. State communism, in particular, has failed, and so has the alleviation of repression through unrestricted sexuality, and many other emancipatory projects too. Articulating the truth of our feelings is enormously important, but it can only tell us what's broken; we can't really see a path to a free, non-repressive and individuality-affirming society.
(Or, rather, we might get a feeling as to where we'd want to go, but it's not calibrated to the circumstances in any way, it's only calibrated to our scream of pain! Good illustration: Zizek quoting Ayn Rand as to why money is good and abolishing markets led to disaster.)
Today's Left can only offer palliatives, think hard, reflect, and act as a conservative force against political projects that rely on repression. Reasons for hope - Utopian hope - are few, but we must keep it alive. In particular, when in the links above you criticize me for supporting intervention in group conflict and identity politics, saying, essentially, that it's better for anyone feeling oppressed to disarm and suffer quietly until the pain numbs them - and maybe there'll be less social conflict overall then. There is an utilitarian logic to it; certain misery is better than certain misery plus group infighting.
Yet the logic of not giving up hope is, to me, different; if there's a real honest chance to create a small segment of society, a small public space where people would really be able to exist, talk or think together, with radically less systemic oppression from each other and from the outside - say, LW in the example above, or a factory, or a classroom - then this is worth fighting for, and worth the usual risks.
And I don't mean, like, formal enforced niceness, politeness, feminism police or such - I mean like what Zizek says about his atheist Christianity, a real love for the Other, under a shared universality that stops differences from being obstacles. A place and a circumstance where you wouldn't just be "tolerated", but accepted, and could accept yourself.
So for a really lame, rambling summary: the left-wing "positive" vision here is essentially an utopia of non-repression; we don't have the remotest idea of how to get there; it's oriented towards individuality but is best described in terms of community and brotherhood, not the individual; it is fundamentally possible, and there are gleans of it here and there in daily life, which are worth fighting for and cherishing; -
yet the opposition to what's repressive and cruel and loathsome in current reality is more basic, and we ought to keep it up; if we give up, we might well lose what little we have under liberal capitalism; there are no promises in walking away from Omelas.