36 Hours/Thursday in Review (cont.)/A Question

( For the last thirty-six hours I’ve endured a sequence of caustic, implosive stomach pangs. it’s delightful. believe me that soured cafe au lait helped things. In other news, it is piercingly chilly. The seasons have changed, the clocks have fallen back. It is nice to be home. It’s almost never been so nice to ‘be’ home.)

Anyway, I left my own panel (on the ninth floor of l’hotel) for a tinier one in the basement. It was entitled “Strategies for Revolutionary Politics,” which was preposterous/earnest enough to merit my attention. The chair gave the first paper, which was a lengthy critique to the ‘deliberative’ and ‘agonal’ democratic theories of Habermas and Mouffe. The paper called for ‘fanaticism’ from the Left – political interventions that were a sort of spontaneous, anti-Enlightenment ‘other’ to democratic practice. Did I mention he was wearing a skull + bones t-shirt, and said ‘shit’ and ‘bullshit’ a lot, in effort to conjure some sort of ‘outlaw academic’ status? He might as well’ve been wearing a fucking stars n’ bars doo rag. Actually, I guess we all know that’d be a lot cooler, non?

Then came a paper about – you guessed it – pirates. A pretty credible historian wrote a perfectly thorough historical political economy of piracy, and somehow found himself misplaced on this panel.

Afterwards, a Polish phycist arose, bearing a unified, reiterable theory of revolutionary cycles. A PowerPoint ensued, during which he showed us a lot of polychrome charts. He had it all figured out.

Then a very big badass professor – who I later found out is very active in Britain’s Socialist Workers’ Party, which is a pedigree of sorts, sorta -arose to give a paper about “marxism” and “social movements.’ Early in the paper, when it came time for the prof to define his terms, he surprised the audience by saying that it was necessary to define ‘marxism.’ He did so in terms he associates with Lukacs; he maintained that marxism was above all defined by its belief in the historical, revolutionary primacy of the working class.

Now obviously, we all think of class – particulary the proletariat – when we think of marxism. But really, would you cite this (very teleological) kernel as the essential first principle of marxism? I would really like to hear people’s opinions on this, whether they feel qualified to give them or not.

For my part, I think the labor theory of value is at least definitive of the marxist analytic as the evolutionism. Do you usually think of marxism as a political practice or an analytic? Or maybe as a style? Obviously, the professor’s rhetorical flourish was meant to spur academic elites back into the gaudy arena of the ‘hegemonic struggle.’

Myself, I dunno. At a very general level, I would say that ‘marxism’ resounds most intimately within me in its insistence on the place of contradictions and antagonisms in socializing society, and its ideological agnosticism. On an even more general level, the fuck the bosses/fuck shit up/fuck you ethos of Marx’s writing is so much more than punk that I needn’t speak its name. On an even nore general level, the idea of mass, collective acts of democratic-public production/consumption (aka, socialist culture) would be the best shit ever. Such mass acts exist today, but only in the weird, glossy forms afforded by the minority in power. It’d be cool if we had a bigger playbook, is all I’m saying.

The archetypal prisonship is the Love Boat. Ahoy. Anyway, what do you people think marxism is?

Matador Mogul, Basic Instinct Diva, LA Laker

Prisonship Seven-Inch Series vol 9

Blackleg b/w The Bombardier

Largely unknown, Abilene’s self-titled (on Slowdime, distributed by Dischord) epitomizes the marriage of downbeat aesthetics and intelligent stop-start antics that to me represent one of the high points in American heavy music. This belongs with yr June of 44, Fugazi and Slint records fo sho. These songs take their time unfolding, and make their way to really natural conclusions. And the bass playing – Jesus!

When Cafe au Laits Go Wrong…

they go sour. It’s pretty much just curdled milk.

Prisonship Imaginary Seven-Inch Series vol. 8

Fugazi, Guilford Hall b/w Pink Frosty

More moodiness, from the way, way underrated End Hits album. “Pink Frosty” is amazingly Slint-damaged, but takes on a different character due to the McKaye-isms. Guy Piccotto sits with Mark E. Smith and Lydon in the ultimate punk rock vocalist throne room. Wouldn’t it be awesome if all those guys died and were left to hang out in a throne room?

Imaginary Seven-Inch Series vol 7

Shipping News, The Architect in Hell b/w Cock-a-Doodle-Doo

The definitive heavy bands of the late 1990s were Fugazi, Shipping News and Unwound. They all play what I believe to be just about the moodiest music ever. Just like Slint, I couldn’t tell you if I love them because their music matches my view of the world, or if I endlessly aspire to live a life that fits their music. Whatever. “Architect” is as close to a catchy thing as they’ve ever gotten; the other one’s just the best shit, period. Unbelievable bass/drum relations in this band. I’ve seen it live twice, and I still don’t believe it.

Crap/Not Crap:

Eurocommunism.

I could see myself being into this back in the day. It suits my ‘reformist’ tendencies (really – all the way back to the Second International) and my belief that part of seizing the means of production means appropriating liberal democracy towards socialist ends. Or ‘putting liberal democracy right-side up,’ to borrow from Marx’s inversion of Hegel.