Disclaimer: This blog post is not reflective of the majority opinion within the emancipation and was written by one person with minimal editing done by others in the group.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan.
Towards the end of the 20th century, Communism had been finally defeated with the collective evaporation of the Warsaw Pact nations: what remained of the Red Menace turned towards market reforms, and so-called reformed capitalism as in the capitalism that was defined by a huge welfare state that was created for labor, particularly for white labor began to and was torn apart, destroying the social democratic-Keynesian compromise with labor.
The proletarian subject that made both communism and social democracy possible has been weakened at the point of production and decomposed as a traditional “working class” at all via automation, outsourcing, and a the neoliberal political offensive. America had already established itself as a techno-military-industrial superpower in World War II, only growing stronger as it outmaneuvered its rivals and enemies faded out into the pages of history books.
All of these geopolitical socioeconomic events gave the technocratic capitalist elite of the United States a false sense of superiority, seemingly validating the Whiggish notions of progress that have been at the heart of Anglo liberalism. Certainly it characterizes the most tempting promises of the Enlightenment since the birth of its wretched dumpster baby known as America. It was the end of history. Only cruel hand of god could pimp slap the smug smiles of these pencil pushing American bureaucrats and so he did. He gave them an unruly mass of surplus population to deal with.
On the surface, an invention like the cotton gin seems to be a net positive good thing. The cotton gin helped make growing cotton a productive agricultural industry. However the cotton gin’s utilitarian goodness was completely undermined by the social conditions of the time. Serving to extend the life of slavery in the antebellum South that was dying due to the inefficiency of cotton picking by hand.
A story, similar in content but not scale, could be told about the internet. The thing that would be called Internet was the product of years of military research, created with the intent of making a web of interconnected information that could be harnessed by the military apparatus of the United States. Much like other forms of military technological innovation, the internet was transferred from the public sector to the private sector made possible with the development of the personal computer. This seemed to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, allowing for a level of inter-connectivity that had never existed in the past Whole communities could be created in cyberspace and we could all be closer to each other.
The Hope that sprang from the birth and popularization of the internet can only seem to be horrifically naïve with our hindsight. The oblivious and optimistic liberal futurists—who saw the internet as a merely one cog in their universal utilitarian pleasure machine—did not pay attention to the abysmal state of the social sphere in the United States and the rest of the western world.
The “Communities” that produced functional citizens have been eroded with the death of industrial towns, this left the generations that grew up with the Internet to seek shelter from the abysmal outside world into hyper-reality. No longer could the collective hegemony of American society be maintained since communities that bullied socially maladjusted youths into productive proles and were left to create communities of their own online.
While this process of capitalist destruction was liberating for many of those who did not fit into American social life—at least, for those who didn’t fit for reasons that weren’t really harmful beyond violating useless norms—there came into existence a large group of mostly white males who in the past would have been pushed into factory jobs and family life are now left to their own vices. They created spaces online—such as 4chan and other internet forums like it—in which they can express their pain, loneliness and, most importantly of all, their hatred.
Anti-Politics and Pure Negation
Anti-Politics has been term that we have used to describe current wave of discontent with politics in the forms of populism and de-politicization that which are apart of norm in western liberal democracies. While this somewhat accurately describes the current state of the political sphere, this is a smaller part of much larger illness afflicting our stage of capitalism.
Anti-Politics is one form of the pure negation of society (or “civil society” as it is structured under capitalism) as whole rather than being society against the political sphere. Society under capitalism was alienating from the start, as it was founded upon egotistic principles as Marx points out in the “On the Jewish Question”.
However, Marx could have not imagine the extent in which those egotistic principles would have been realized by the deterritorializing tendencies of capitalism. Initially, civil society was intended to be a more individualistic replacement of the organic communities created by precapitalist forms of social relations that existed in Europe. As time went on, even civil society proved to be too collectivist for capitalists: they no longer wanted to deal with the left-leaning tendencies that linked to civil society such as unions or even waste money on the pseudo-communities that they created, as they did not need to appeal the disempowered plebeians.
This why appeals to the “social sphere” fall flat, under capitalism the social sphere was not an organic community: such a thing was destroyed with capitalism’s development. What we have is not “the social sphere vs the political sphere” as Neo-Gramscians suggest—since the social sphere of capitalism is as eroded as the political sphere, only living on seemingly in its last breaths before the sublime release of death.
What was the social sphere under capitalism but the crumbling American educational system? The incredibly large number of young people who are too busy to have social lives, the dissolution of stable kinship and the rise of mass shootings? What replaces the intimacy human interactions that we had in the social sphere in the past other than pure empty spectacle? The irony of Sayer and the Neo-Gramscians as for all their critiques of the political determinism is that they are detached as from “society” as their opponents are.
The best illustration of the connection between anti-politics and anti-social tendencies can be found in the development of the alternative right. Let us first say that Angela Nagel’s much discussed thesis—the alt right being the ultimate expression of a transgressive tendency within the left that was smothered by SJWs—is laughable. Fascists have always glommed onto countercultural tendencies in order to make themselves seem more revolutionary and—especially in the United States— more libertarian than they actually are.
That said, her focus on the alt right Internet subculture was ultimately on the right track. Her characterization of the alt right as as being born out the transgressive subculture of Internet image boards like 4Chan and 8Chan is correct. The alt right has a deep obsession with porn, particularly hentai—anime’s perverse reflection of deep alienation. The anime industry is based on pandering to lonely males with shows about cute—very often sexualized—teenage girls who have social lives. Anime and Hentai allows the alt right fulfill every sexual desire that they have without embarrassing themselves by having to form real relationships—especially with women.
This social alienation driven misogyny took a darker turn as they collectively jerked themselves raw over the mass shooter Elliott Rogers murdering sorority girls and turned him into a mascot. This antisocial misogyny has also led to them trying to combine their transgressive sexual tendencies with social conservatism with rather queer results. The alt right is rooted in this contradiction of feeling nostalgic for family life while being “degenerates”—i.e., fetishizing trans women and cross-dressers as possible wives for the white race, semi-ironically calling them “tradwives” since they feel betrayed by “real” women.
While the social conservatism suggests that they have a constructive program they can only express their desires for such a fantasy in the form of acts of pure negation of “society”, whether it be through mass shootings in the case of Elliott Rogers or acting as the vanguard for the electoral campaign of a senile old racist as half-ironic meme. It is through these acts that they take out their anger against a “society” that has poorly socialized them and raise them into subhuman monsters.
Attempts at herding the masses
The elites across the western world are panicking from the development of these anti-social and anti-political trends; most narratives about the end of history and the dominance of liberal democracy had not prepared them for the aimless thrashing of an inarticulate mass. Their ideology of Anglo-American liberalism was founded on the premise that they could suppress the sort of “state of nature” by channeling it into state and civil institutions and to a certain degree this had worked in the past.
The worker’s movement was prevented from sustainable radicalization by subverting the alternative institutions that they tried to create and pushing them towards the already existing state/civil institutions. While this was successful with the workers movement of the 20th century, this sort of strategy is incredibly hard to pull off in the 21st century, since these institutions were broken by these very elites in the latter half of the last century. Even if the pure negation was as focused as the workers movement, this has not prevent elites from trying, and with utterly humiliating results.
One such result was Donald Trump being elected president of the United States. One might think this an example of the elites successfully harnessing negation, given that Donald Trump unintentionally turned edgy jaded white youths into the propaganda vanguard of a multi-tendency right wing campaign—and they would be somewhat correct.
After the election, the weirdest social products in Trump’s “basket of deplorables” seemed to disappear when it came down to state elections. The major thing that made him appealing for those who craved pure negation—his inexperience as a politician—has led him to be quite possibly the most incompetent President in US history: a senile king who can barely wield the power that he has been given. When his only-slightly-less-incompetent appointments are fired immediately after handing them power and blurting out whatever comes to mind on social media, his peers in the Republican Party are awash in career-ending embarrassment. He is the living, breathing embodiment of everything that the framers of the Constitution—especially the Federalists—tried to avoid by creating this stupidly complex bureaucratic apparatus.
The worst part about all of this is that he is not keeping together the tiny coalition that got him into power in the first place, as good chunk of his amateur propagandists are moving on from him towards more harsh forms of alienation, leaving the Republicans with a corrupt manchild as the face of their party. While all of this is a pathetic display, it is still probably one of the most successful attempts at subverting pure negation towards the ends of the elites.
The Democrats seem to make an even more bewildering spectacle in dealing with the chaotic mass. The Party seems to be the most invested in the dogmas that came out of the “end of history”, for they have not only actively ignored the desire for pure negation coming from their possible base, but also have actively tried to crush it as quickly as possible.
This was done with the blatant rigging of the 2016 Democratic primary in favor of their candidate Hillary Clinton in opposition to the “outsider politician” Bernie Sanders. Bernie was clearly trying to use the feelings of alienation created by modern capitalism towards the rejuvenation of the Democratic Party and social democracy, but The Party was opposed to moving beyond its narrow Third Way Party dogma.
No old crank from Vermont was going to take away the rightful crown of slay-kween Hillary. Indeed every attempt that has been made at using pure negation towards the parties ends has been crushed by either by active resistance from the party or by sheer incompetence. The NGO-Dembot activist network that tried to turn Black Lives Matter into a wing of the Democratic Party was forced to distance itself from the unruly surplus population that actually made up the movement, because the mass did not care for the polite mannerisms of the pro-social, pro-political and pro-capitalist “realism” of the professional activists and proceeded to smash shit as righteously aggrieved rioters do. “The language of the unheard” cannot be translated under such conditions.
As pure negation develops into more violent and alienated tendencies of itself it can only become harder to control, after all how can aimless violence be turned into a mass movement when there are no means of controlling it via institutions. The elites can only be consumed as they try to to resist the swarm that they have unleashed upon themselves.