I came to the conclusion that as violence in this country was inevitable, it would be unrealistic to continue preaching peace and non-violence. This conclusion was not easily arrived at. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle. I can only say that I felt morally obliged to do what I did.
—Nelson Mandela, “An ideal for which I am prepared to die” (1964)
There is a truly inspiring level of thinking and feeling happening here. Lauren Berlant!
Yes, this is very thoughtful and on point. Ask what can be salvaged, scavenged.
Fisher’s metaphor and simplifications were certainly disappointing and a little sad. Too bad, really. Some of what he’s struggling to say is worth appreciating, I think. It’s almost always better to challenge and teach without being a patronizing scold. Also, snarky, hyper-academic competitiveness and know-it-all-ism can be really annoying and alienating, even counterproductive. And it is important to have people attempt to popularize lefty ideas in mainstream venues, even if some nuance gets lost. And, indeed, class is still crucial and maybe even under appreciated nowadays. There is some truth to the claim that the tendency toward increasingly specific divisions in the field of so-called identity politics does seem a little too consonant with the basic systemic functioning of capitalism. In fact, capitalism is expert at making and capitalizing on divisions. So far, nothing beats it at that. Unfortunately, this consonance by the left has in part been borne out of necessary struggles, and thus partly an unavoidable side-effect. If older class-based analyses contain sexism, racism, and homophobia, then they need to be challenged and changed or shit-canned if necessary. At the same time, of course, it’s important to find points of unification and connection, even if ultimately based on perpetual negotiation. I would also say that it’s pretty easy to imagine that capitalism could continue to be capitalism if it gave up sexism, racism, and homophobia. Class, on the other hand, is much more fundamental: the essential division. Obviously, challenges to capitalism should and do come from many different, usually hybrid positions, and there are many, many, many moments of teamwork and sharing amongst those positions. Yet, it’s pretty clear that the recent and still-ongoing crazy consolidation of wealth and power has happened at the same time as the massive and still-ongoing growth and diversification of contemporary theory. While this is not a causal relationship, something not altogether good is going on here, I think. I mean, it’s hard not to throw the very intentional decimation of union- and class-based solidarity by capitalism in that same timeline and not also begin to wonder what was lost — even if that same union- and class-based solidarity absolutely needed to be (and indeed has been) challenged for its sexism, racism, and homophobia. Sadly, capitalism always plays with a stacked and marked deck, and ultimately doesn’t act in good faith. All that said, “broocialism" is a hilarious new term for me. So, thanks for that. And, anyway, what do I know.