Sunday, 2 September 2012

On Utopian and Marxist Socialism

The phallocentrism that Marxist hegemony established within socialism: Notwithstanding Marxism's alleged hostility to religion of any kind, it espouses an entirely orthodox religious conception of social change. The capacity for change is invested solely in a Revolution on the millenarian model: buttressed by an asceticism of the present (no real change until the universal proletarian uprising), a distance from the Ideal is maintained and deferred until The moment of Truth, The moment of overturning when everything turns inside out in one spectacular shudder of history, smashing and destroying the old order. The Revolution will come like God, separating the worthy from the unworthy, a kind of historico-celestial taxonomist, whilst the Proletariat, like the Four Riders of the Apocalypse, go about their fated business of establishing the earthly paradise. Whilst the utopian socialisms whose models were effaced by the Marxist hegemony, who so often (Saint-Simon, Fourier) framed themselves in religious terms, ironically conceived of change on a more materialist basis (in a sense hostile to Hegelian Idealist-Materialism to which Marx and Engels fell prey despite themselves), a more organic basis. The phalanstery as a seed, planted in the social soil; the transformation of society likened not to a tiresome Oedipal drama but to the planting of a forest, and the gradual symbiotic transformation of an environment.

Likewise, it is no wonder that Feminism, so central to socialist discourse early in the 19th Century, became a merely tertiary concern in the wake of Marxism, despite Marx and Engels being in no way hostile to its principles. Marxism is rigidly phallocentric, indeed it never ceases to conceive the phenomenon of Revolution in terms of a seizing of the centralised State-Phallus, a single orgasmic juissance that gives access to an entry into 'power' from the top of an inherited hierarchy, whose effects will then trickle back down to an abstracted populace from whom the energy had originated. 'We' will all share Power after the Revolution, but only by all being given a share of the phallus. And this Phallus-State will be directed by, infused with, an Ideology which will activate its power. What room is there in this vision for the diffused network of autonomous communities envisioned by other socialisms; for the slow and unpredictable growth of new patterns of life which, while sharing many structural principles and perhaps a common inspiration, nonetheless cannot be submitted to any central authority? To a model in which actual revolutionary practice is set in motion on microcosmic scale, to succeed or fail in the midst of what it opposes, without the intervention of the World Spirit, even in Communist form? A model in which, in the last analysis, the specificity of the commune, of the particular attempt—that which will resist both ideological speculation and the priority of numbers, of quantity, in designating 'success'—will ultimately determine the success of the revolution on every level. Despite its many insufficiencies, 'utopian socialism' posited a model of Revolution founded in the existent, in the Real, while 'dialectical materialism' posits a model of Revolution founded in the Imaginary, as always deferred, ahead—in the 'next life'.

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