IF Capital, part 8: NOT writing anything at all β€” 𝗗𝗔π—₯π—ž π— π—”π—₯π—«π—œπ—¦π— 

Working class kids are implicitly taught that their opinions are worthless. And when they do venture them, they tend to be oppositional, and so they learn from their brushes with authority to simply keep quiet. Such formative experiences may generate a rich inner life coupled with outward unseriousness and superficiality, a rush for the quip, joke or indecency in order to avoid risky public class conflict, however mild. The ability to confidently express one’s opinions in the form of an unashamed public monologue is common amongst the privileged, those that simply take it as given that they belong and that they count. Working class kids learn to hide. Plus, I had a grown up in a household without books. In consequence, I thought a great deal about philosophy but hardly ever talked about it, and when I did I was usually flippant and facetious. If no-one has taken you seriously it becomes hard to take oneself seriously. Best just to think alone, and generally keep quiet.

On this particular day I was ruminating alone while taking superb racing lines around tea pots and cutlery. I wondered why Deleuze and Guattari were popular. Obviously capitalist society creates a demand for anti-capitalist narratives. And the major narrative, that of communism, had been successfully discredited in the rich countries of the West, mainly due to incessant propaganda but also real failures and crimes of the Soviet state. To actually find a route to Marxism, in the 90s in the UK, was difficult. It was socially much more acceptable to engage with radical philosophy that escaped the taint of Stalinism. And then let’s add the incorrigible romanticism of the young. There’s no getting away from the fact that Deleuze and Guattari’s themes attract personality types who, despite denials, find the ideal of schizophrenic insanity, the delirium of irrationality, not hopelessly but liberatingly romantic, a Dionysian intellectual escape perfectly in tune with the club tunes of the day. We all know the archetype of the teenage poet who, perhaps frustrated in love or by lack of peer recognition, transmutes their mild dysphoria into cataclysmic psychic pain, which they narcissistically and secretly enjoy. The next step is pure negation: such an easy and simple strategy: to utterly reject the given as entirely compromised by capital, to turn away completely. Romantic anti-capitalism is beguiling, because it appears super-radical, is very easy to pull off, and avoids the difficult, messy and uncomfortable truths of Marx’s analysis that recognises real material constraints on social possibilities that transcend modes of production. Such was my image of D&G’s most ardent and uncritical nomads: they didn’t really get, perhaps would never get, Engels’ dictum, β€œfreedom is the recognition of necessity”. They wanted to fly away, birth their own ecstatic wings, simply by thinking differently.

I call this the misanthropic method. It consists in noticing a gnarly structure in one’s own personality (e.g. common-or-garden narcissism, reflex contrarianism in order to stand-out from the crowd, the insatiable need for social recognition that overpowers any desire for earnest truth-seeking, intellectual posturing rather than earnest study etc. etc.) that is irrational and maladapted yet infused with high libidinal investment. Then imagine the behavioural consequences if the gnarl was the controlling and dominating structure of your entire personality. Imagine what kind of person you would be, and how you would act in the world if the gnarly demon fully rode you. And then project its existence onto all the psyches around you. Project your failings onto everyone else. Yes, yes: they are the silly preening fuckers, with hardly any self-consciousness, not I!

The misanthropic method, I have found, is remarkably successful, not least because we are all ultimately exactly the same. First apply the method to yourself β€” this is essential for personal growth. It stops you from being a dick. Not just β€œruthless criticism of all that exists” but ruthless criticism of your own existence. And, less importantly but no less usefully, it stimulates your critical faculties to find the hidden gnarl in other thinkers. It can explain all the surface nonsense. A final advantage of the misanthropic method is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to experimentally falsify. So it’s better not to state it publicly. Keep it to yourself.

And so it seemed to me, misanthropically, that the Warwickian cyber philosophers were trying way too hard to be cool and had adopted a radical aesthetic to overcompensate for the absence of substantive content. An intriguingly wrapped present that, once opened, revealed just a pair of nylon socks from C&A. So a trickster plan popped into my head, all the more attractive because its execution would require minimal effort, allowing me to quickly return to dragstering around virtual toilet seats, bumping AI cars off pool tables, and beating more lap records.

IF Capital, part 8: NOT writing anything at all β€” 𝗗𝗔π—₯π—ž 𝗠𝗔π—₯π—«π—œπ—¦π— 

Categories: Philosophy

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