Monday, 1 August 2016

A Summer Chill (4)

Anyone who thinks this garbage is useful is most probably a eurocentric chauvinist.
Nihilist communism is not a critique of the state any more than it is a critique of capitalism. To have  attempted any such project would have constituted an act of moral presumption, even of hubris. Individual life forms are not compatible with the refusal of the environment upon which they depend, if anything the inverse is true: environments tend to refuse, or de-select, all but the most derivative of life-forms.

'Critique' of the objective form of social relations is undertaken automatically within the structuring and destructuring of social forces - the opportunity for a decisive intervention by subjective consciousness within social process is always narrower than expected, even where the necessary recalibrations have been made.

The potential for decisive political and ethical opposition to a given historical institution is severely restricted both for the reason that the institution permits and exceeds any and every critical standpoint taken against it (what exactly is 'the state' if not the life support system of critique?), and because, finally, every critique is also the product, effectively a confirmation by other means, of that which it seeks to negate (what is 'capitalism' if not also 'anti-capitalism'?)

If it is an inadequate critique of the state, then nihilist communism does constitute itself as a reflexive, sometimes circular, critique of the experience of those politically orientated subject formations that correlate to the 'authoritarian personality' and to 'repressive consciousness', and of the relatedness of these to the category of the state.

In this case, the subjective appearance of the state refers to the reproduction of a mode of relatedness that embodies what is 'authoritarian' and what is 'repressive' as constitutive components of subjective relations where these are formulated as liberatory or 'revolutionary'.

Then, (if we are to ascribe it subjective traits) nihilist communism is a critique of the conceptual categories of the 'left' to the extent that these function as mechanisms for reproducing the conceptual categories that the left ostensibly repudiates.The purpose of nihilist communism is not to find a critique of the state but to find the state in critique.

Where particular sets of relations are rejected as constitutive of repressive principles, it is of interest to find if those relations, and their determinative principles, are also escaped. If they are rejected but still retained, then we are obliged to discover the mechanism at work. In particular, our attention is pricked by that affliction which manifests itself as the compulsion to present a named 'liberation' only within the most 'repressive' of categories.

Certain misapprehensions about the nature of its object have resulted in the malicious representation of nihilist communism's critique of the left's representation of Palestinian nationalism as 'Pro-Zionism'. If the allegation is comprehensible, in the way that hostilities released in the form of a transference neurosis are comprehensible, it also could not be more inaccurate.

Nihilist communism is only concerned with representations of Israel as these appear in the discourses of the left, and where the left is historically constrained to process the repressive and liberationist ideologies that it materialises with reference to Israel. These enchantments fall under three main headings: the contributory factors which situated Israel as the culmination of failed European left post-jacobin national liberation projects; the function of the exceptionalist hatred directed towards Israel and the forms taken by anti-colonialist positions desiring to appease that hatred; the left's reference to Israel as embodiment of a Jewish archetype and the deployment of this in the general theory of power as an intentional structure.

Outside of the political domain, the forces contained within subject-formations must be signified within other registers. If certain socially constituted contradictions may only appear fixedly within political discourse as irresolvable contradictions, then the work to escape them is likely to be undertaken outside of politics.

One off-shoot of 'Zionism', or a shoot thrown up from the same ground as Zionism, and which immediately transformed itself into a not-Zionist form, an off-shoot well named by Stalinism as 'cosmopolitanism', realised one such passage away from, and beyond the constraints of political discourse. I shall take up the derogatory term, 'cosmopolitanist ' to reference the development of a specific tendency within the Jewish identity referring to the potential of, and limit upon, subject-formations seeking to evade the trap of simple-form identity.

The cosmopolitanist model echoes the theoretical manoeuvres of both Marx and Freud but it is exemplified by a set of otherwise outlying more or less Central European littérateurs living more or less between the wars. Retrospectively, these seem to be notionally led perhaps by Walter Benjamin and Franz Kafka, but the most significant contributions were made by a-modernist writers such as Antal Szerb, Joseph Roth, Stefan Zweig and also Vasily Grossman amongst others.

The negative function of cosmopolitanist literature, in the context of burgeoning mass media, was to re-assert the novel's refusal to become another vehicle for either instrumentalising rationality or direct propaganda. The cosmopolitanists' project involved practically implementing the refusal of a definite message in circumstances defined by the pressure of 'information' as this became a self-separating category of organisation and manipulation.

Cosmopolitanist protagonists became the locus for an archaic form of dignity which was antagonised by a late form of fate (alcohol, gambling, love, coincidence). Cosmopolitanist stories and novels are suffused with the atmosphere of a lost world that is not entirely the product of hindsight. It is a mode of literature that becomes interesting precisely because it is not political, not experimental, and not 'Zionist', and yet even so it remains both out of step with the circumstances of its production and specifically persecuted.

Where the categorical formulation of liberation, as this appears within political consciousness, becomes itself a significant obstacle to liberation, its problematic must be reset in another register. In one sense, the problem of the cosmopolitanists is the resetting of the category of 'reaction' as this appears in relation to self-revolutionising social process. Cosmopolitanist literature re-introduces a non-virulent, therapeutic, or reflexive form of reaction in the social context of post-imperial 'balkanisation' and the revisionism peculiar to both Freudian 'afterwardsness' and Benjamin's critique of historical materialism (where both signify positively as reactionary standpoints): It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger.

The possibility of the cosmopolitanist standpoint rapidly deteriorated as all autonomies were subsumed within the expansionist programmes of the 'great powers'. That which had manifested as old fashioned from the outset decomposed immediately into a mode of the impossible. Where cosmopolitanists were not murdered or driven to suicide, those who 'survived' became unpublishable. The incompatibility of their position with world-process now becomes significant wherever the problematic of self-extrication from existing conditions is set.

If liberation is inseparable from repression, if revolution necessitates authoritarianism, if progress realises dehumanisation, then the literary strategy of the cosmopolitanists may be referenced as a deliberate working out of a subject-formation struggling to make history for itself under circumstances not of its choosing. Specifically, the cosmopolitanists sought to retrieve or redeem as literature some fragment of universality by means of an identifiably Jewish dialectical method, which is itself expressive of  habituation to centuries of restrictions, finding positive inverted formulation as a via negativa.
The cosmopolitanist form did not result from simple 'assimilation' (as this was structurally denied) but it also evaded identitarian politics as associated with, for example, the ideology of separatism and national liberation (and in this case, so-called 'Zionism'). Political conventionality is logically structured to deny certain self-contradictory combinations which register as unrealisable. The preoccupations of the cosmopolitanists are an example of this. Then, cosmopolitanism finds its preliminary definition: the production of a fragment of universality by means of subjectively combining direct experience of historical constraints with the cultural inheritance of a social identity that is specifically denied political actualisation and therefore, by necessity, must find expression as literature.

In all cases, politics is realised as the denial of the possibility of politics. But the possibility of subjectivity as embodied by the cosmopolitanists, or perhaps by their particular instantiation of a definitive Jewish cultural inheritance, articulates a fragment of the universal filtering through the constraints of an identity sustaining itself by discounting the given form of that identity. 

The cosmopolitanist form, persecuted to the point of eradication by both National Socialism and Socialism in One Country, involved the working out of what the repressive apparatus registered as a premature, hostile or inappropriate form of other-universality in contradiction to the category of commitment which it had instituted as national myth.

The cosmopolitanists had found an unexpected means to articulate their position in advance of the ideology of 'national liberation' and before the failures of this had 'worked itself out' in practice. Belonging nowhere, they were already travelling across borders without passports as a matter of principle. By way of a gear-crunching homology, or perhaps homily, the project of nihilist communism, which is to keep clear a borderless, and valueless, space for human community by means of rejecting the presentation of that community in the register of political leftism, may also be understood as a sympathetic response to the order of experience from which cosmopolitanist categories are drawn.

Then, a sort of invocation shall take the place of the programme: where it is the eternal responsibility of revolt to reject the imposed form of revolt, let every belief also find its own path to its own manner of non-belief. If an atheism of atheism is not the actual goal of nihilist communism, then that is about as far into the distance as it can imagine.

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