So there is this response to various calls — including Jacobin’s — for left renewal via consolidation, verticalism, alliance with liberals etc. I can’t give it a full endorsement because in far too many ways it typifies a lot of what I don’t like about lefty writing and thinking these days. But a patient reading is rewarding and I endorse this bit completely:
it’s upsetting to watch smart comrades spend so much time shitting on radical leftists in the hope of forming a party acceptable to liberals in order to recompose a Keynesian state that quite simply will never come back. Reformism today is more utopian than revolution.
When I read Jacobin, I can’t help but think of one of Berlant’s points from The Female Complaint: the assumption of certain forms of conventionality allows for a feeling of being in proximity to a world, but at the cost of a crazy expenditure of affective energy and cognitive attention.
Left conventionalism is hard work, it takes a lot of time and effort to try to resuscitate the Party, and I wonder what might happen if this energy and attention were directed elsewhere. And it should be: the Party isn’t coming back, and long marches through institutions will always turn into highways through an interminable hell.
(Sidebar: If some party does come back, though, if you guys manage to get something off the ground—great! I’ll be at your marches, your gatherings, I’ll read your shit. Horizontals are always pretty okay with forming temporary alliances with verticals; anarchists are always at the anti-austerity demos, after all. It would be easier to be in the same cognitive and real space as you guys, though, if you could stop anarchist-bashing so as to be more appealing to liberals, okay?)
It makes an interesting contrast to the increasingly mystifying Freddie DeBoer’s rumination on the revolutionary potential of neoliberals and by neoliberals he clearly means Third Way Democrat neoliberals and by that he of course means Democrats. Why are the taxonomies of taxonomy fetishists always wrong? Anyway, talk about your ‘crazy expenditure[s] of cognitive attention.’