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Heading into Chapter 4 of Capital, one realizes that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Are there really another 800 pages to go? Yes, there are. 840, to be exact, if we include the very serious-looking appendices. Time to fix one’s Marxist courage to the sticking place. Tally ho! Thank goodness David Harvey is such an inspiring guide.
In case the previous 50-page colossus of a chapter hadn’t convinced us, Marx reminds us in the opening of Chapter 4 that the ultimate product of capitalism is money. As an aside, let us note that it’s not happiness, peace and goodwill on earth, or eternal youth, or any other sort of malarkey. No sir.
But capitalism doesn’t begin and end with money as money per se. Money must be transformed into capital. And how exactly does this transformation occur? Here, Marx briefly returns to his earlier formulae – two of which do NOT describe capitalistic exchanges, one of which DOES — can you tell which one?
C-C: Commodity-Commodity exchange (a barter system) – two items of equal value are traded, i.e. my bicycle for your turnip
C-M-C: Commodity-Money-Commodity exchange (exchanging commodities of equivalent value using money rather than straight-out trading)
M-C-M: Money-Commodity-Money exchange. In this form of exchange, the owner of money transforms his money into a commodity; this commodity he later hopes to sell for a profit
Yes, it is indeed the last one that makes the Gucci-little-piggies squeal with pleasure! M-C-M is the formula for how money acts as capital.
Marx here notes that unlike with C-C and C-M-C, the capitalist exchange system M-C-M is no longer about the exchange of equivalents.
It’s not about me trading my home-brew beer for your home-brew wine and us both enjoying the equal value of getting rip-roaring drunk. M-C-M is about starting out with $100, and rather than trading for its equivalent, trying to find a trade that will increase the value of that $100. As Marx notes, if we simply wanted to hoard our $100 in order to show off to everyone what a big fancy-pants moneybags we are, well then, we could be a miser. And by being a miser, we would avoid the risk of commodity circulation altogether.
But are capitalists a bunch of risk-averse, nappy-wetting, nervous Nellies? No they are not!
And so capitalists take the risk of exposing their money to the vicissitudes of the system of commodity exchange. When $100 becomes $110, what has been achieved is not a qualitative change – it’s still money at the end of the exchange – it’s a quantitative change. Marx calls the increment of value that is added to the original sum of money the surplus value. It is critical, of course, in realizing the surplus value that the original sum of money remains intact. In other words, you need to return your original investment plus make a profit.
So let’s imagine that a cunning capitalist has successfully transformed $100 into $110. What then? Well, if he then blows his whole load and exchanges his $110 for a sumptuous meal of, say, dead duck and fine wine, the $110 is no longer capital. Nor is it capital if – like the miser – he hoards it. In such a state, it is “petrified”and it “could remain in that position until the Last Judgement without a single farthing accruing to it” (p252).
So as is becoming evident, money has got to keep moving in order to be capital. It can’t stop, it can’t go on holiday, it can’t take a Time Out. Indeed, as Marx points out, unlike exchanging money for commodities, in which a final goal is in mind – the satisfaction of a need or want – “the circulation of money as capital is an end in itself…”(p253)
It is thus limitless. If you’re going to turn $100 into $110, why not then turn $110 into $120? Why not for that matter, keep going until you’re at $100,110 or indeed $2.4 millon or $937 billion or $19,378 supercalifragilisticazillion? After all, this money, as has been noted previously, provides social power. Do I have the same social power as billionaire Bill Gates? As if! That’s like comparing a flea to a white shark.
On page 255, Marx indulges again in some of his delightful figurative speech when he notes capital’s ability to shapeshift – transforming itself continuously – so that capital can be both money and commodities (commodities of any kind under the sun). Capital is boundlessly creative of value, endlessly adaptable to being and becoming whatever it needs to be in order to increase its magnitude. Rather enigmatically, Marx says, “By virtue of being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or at least lays golden eggs.” (p 255)
David Harvey here cautions the reader to not take Marx literally. Of course, capital does not actually have occult powers. Nevertheless, you would think that capital does indeed have some kind of ominous and supernatural force, given how citizens and especially their governments both fear and revere it. We talk about watching our money “grow” as if it were a beanstalk. When capital is moving through large markets, such as the Stock Exchange – Lord, it’s as if it has become Zeus himself, with powers to “punish” even Western European governments.
More language to provoke angry cries of “blasphemy!” among the dogmatically-inclined lie in wait at Chapter 4’s end, as Marx notes how in a capitalist system, value, in its manifestation as original value and surplus-value, is rather like a certain Mr. Bigshot in Christianity:
It [capital] differentiates itself as original value from itself as surplus-value, just as God the Father differentiates himself as God the Son, although both are of the same age and form, in fact one single person; for only by the surplus value of £10 does the original £100 originally advanced become capital, and as soon as this has happened, as soon as the son has been created, and through the son, the father, their difference vanishes again, and both become one, £110.
Value therefore now becomes value in process… (p256)
I like how Marx usurps the language of faith to critique a system that in a spectacularly short amount of time historically has assumed the same power as organized religion. With its omnipotence and mysterious ways, with its “invisible hand” and its stern – even wrathful – behavior, but also with its boundless capacity to guide the obedient on their way to the Promised Land, capital does indeed emerge as the new deity.
Praise be to Capital; thy Kingdom has come, thy will is done!
There is a great article over here at alternet about the Tea Party in America, arguing that we dismiss at our peril this tax-hating, immigrant-resenting, Obama-resisting movement composed mostly of white, older, prosperous curmudgeons. It echoes some of the things Chris Hedges has said for a while: namely, that America is home to a growing body of neo-fascist sympathizers, people who are basically scared of any kind of future that might see their privileges in any way compromised for the benefit of other classes and/or minorities.
What is most disturbing about the Tea Party is its growing tendency to valorize direct resistance to the government. There is an important nuance here — resistance to governments one disapproves of has a long and very proud history, of course, and I wholeheartedly support the idea. But the Tea Party does not appear to see resisting and transforming the existing government as its major form of political involvement. Instead, much of its rhetoric implies that, just as American colonists threw off the yoke of British Empire, so too should the contemporary “oppressed” violently overthrow the yoke of Obama’s encroaching “socialism.”
With its predilection for authoritarianism, the Right has generally ceded to the Left the defiant tactics of street protests and rallies. But over time, a narrative promoted by such right-wing leaders as Patrick J. Buchanan and Howard Phillips has taken hold, one that demands acts of defiance as proof of one’s patriotism: right-wing populism imagined as the story of the American Revolution. “Dismiss the Tea Parties at Your Peril”
Can anyone imagine what kind of “revolution” might take place in America with Tea Party fanatics in the vanguard? I suppose that what this right-wing revolution might look like is determined, to some extent, by its membership and their values. While the French Revolution trumpeted the Enlightenment ideas of a growing class of bourgeoisie who believed to varying degrees in equality, human rights, the rule of law, freedom, rationality, democracy, the progressive tendency in the development of mankind, and property ownership (ugh!), the Tea Party movement seems to espouse values of a class that has less than universal ambitions:
Tea Party activists rarely speak of race when recounting their grievances; they talk of “culture” — American culture, of course, which they define by the cultural attributes of a particular type of white heterosexual man, one described as the provider for and defender of his family. He speaks English, may own a gun, and perceives himself as asking nothing from his government but the defense of the nation from invaders.
But a revolution of Tea Partiers would not simply be about the assertion of a formerly dominant white patriarchy. There is not only a “culture war” happening here. There is also economic conflict:
Look at it through the eyes of one of these men: Wages have been stagnant for more than 30 years. Over the course of those years, it’s become increasingly difficult to “get ahead” in a culture where doing better than your parents is the measure of success, a culture in which the acquisition of stuff is seen as a measure of one’s Americanism.
You look around you: some people are making gains relative to their previous position, be they black, Latino, female or gay. It doesn’t matter that their previous position was one of disempowerment…
The author goes on to talk about how a movement born of such resentment might achieve its greater aims in mainstream politics. The Tea Party, the author claims, will operate like a virus:
…injecting its DNA into the host body, so that the host body becomes overrun with right-wing cells. In our nation’s two-party system, the host body is the Republican Party. In a two-party system, the other side wins from time to time. The more infected one party is with the virus of fear and resentment, the more destructive our politics become.
The article never contemplates what might be the eventual result of such a virus successfully destroying the current system of democracy called the United States of America. Instead, the article examines how progressives might fight back. I suppose the job of imagining the triumph of the Tea Party, or something like it, could instead fall to fiction writers. It wouldn’t be a particularly happy task, but it might be an exciting one in its own chilling way.
While I really enjoyed the alternet article, and found it to be about the most thorough analysis of the Tea Party yet to appear online, I do wonder if the article is perhaps committing a few errors of ommission, and as a result, neutralizing some of the useful arguments that the Left could use to mobilize against the Right. On most issues, I suppose, the extremes of the Tea Party will never see eye-to-eye with the Left — or at least not what passes as the Left in America. But in some respects, the Tea Party has tapped a reservoir of underground rage that is in many respects justified, and the Left really should pay heed.
The Tea Party deplores the bail-out of the banks, the biggest transfer of taxpayer money to the wealthy elite in history. And so it should!
The Tea Party deplores the incursion of the government into so many aspects of people’s lives. And so it should!
The Tea Party bemoans the passing of the “Old America.” Hmmm.
Now, I am not entirely surely what that Old America is all about. I am neither old nor American, but such an America did apparently exist at one time, and, if you’ll excuse the apparent digression, you can read about it in this wonderful Garrison Keillor article, “The Old America is Fading,” (as an aside, Keillor is even better if you listen to him on the radio; I remember my parents doing so when we lived for a year in Illinois in 1982).
Children don’t wander free and mess around in vacant lots the way we used to — they’re in daycare now or enrolled in programs, and one worries about a certain loss of verve and nerve among the young who’ve been under constant supervision for too long.
And the old hometown is no longer a town but has morphed into suburban anonymity, and it hurts me. My grandmother taught school there, my grandfather came in 1880 and served on the town board that brought in telephone service and paved the roads, but their community of mutual assistance is gone, gone, gone. I have old friends in their 80s who’ve lived in that town for 50 years — good citizens, church people, passionate volunteers and solid Republicans — and in a crisis, when their health took a bad turn, nobody noticed. Neighbors don’t know each other; ambulances come and go and nobody comes by to ask what’s going on. The community they thought they were part of simply doesn’t exist anymore. If you fall by the wayside, you may as well be in the wilds of Alaska.
I believe Keillor puts his finger on something here that transcends Democrat/Republican and Right/Left. He’s evoked a feeling; a sense of a human scale of living. And that human scale has been swallowed up. It’s between swallowed up by suburban developers, Wal-Marts, and the growing tendency to try and organize every part of human activity according to some greater economic good.
That greater good is why kids of “helicopter parents” can’t loaf around in back alleys and get bored and have dreams.
And Obama has become about the biggest killjoy of dreams around.
America, under Obama, is run by exactly the kind of oligarchy that has little patience with that old small town spirit. America, under Obama, is scrambling to restore ever bigger banks to ever-greater heights of profitability, America is expanding the War on Terror (now to Pakistan), America is looking to inflate speculative markets into a giant, precarious bubble one more time.
The Left is currently barking up the wrong tree in continuing to hope that Obama can revive America’s economic system and make it work again. Should Americans trust Obama and the Democrats to take down the Tea Party? Hell no! These are people who still believe the American system is rational, that it’s just suffering a bit of a setback, that if people could just abandon their gut-felt prejudices and hatred and accept each other and work together instead of fighting then the economy would rebound and prosperity would return and we’d be back to the apparent heyday of the Clinton 1990s or something like that.
This is wishful thinking. Moreover, it’s a narrative without a logical conclusion. You can’t revive a system that has failure built into its DNA. This kind of discourse and mindset is fatal, in my view, to the Left.
The Right is “winning the battle of hearts and minds.” It has been for quite a while. Obama’s election victory was only a short-term victory of marketing.
The Tea Party is growing in number because it has appealed to people’s hearts not their minds — and the Left must steal a page from that same book if it’s to achieve anything. I’ll admit, like many on the Left, the seeming triumph of gut-check style politics perturbs me, because I’d like to believe that if certain rational truths were better known then Tea Partiers and their ilk could be persuaded to abandon their misguided prejudices and grievances. If, for example, one could rationally make the case to the population that it’s the War on Terror that degrades the beloved Constitution and NOT the spectre of public healthcare then perhaps the rabid warmongers might second-guess their allegiance to the military.
But that’s just naive. A strong dose of education and informed debate will improve the lot of everyone? No, it’s a liberal fantasy and I don’t believe in it anymore.
I’m not going to say abandon the mind in politics, but let’s give equal attention to matters of the heart. Let’s start by stating that more than truth, consistent argumentation, or Enlightenment ideals, people crave a nice place to live. The kind of small town that Keillor describes sounds awfully appealing to a lot of people. And if my elders are to be believed (James Howard Kunstler also bemoans the loss of small town America and the ascendancy of what he calls the Geography of Nowhere) it appears that for many Americans, such a place used to exist. And it existed in Canada — and probably Britain — too.
Now any rational progressive knows it wasn’t immigration that diminished that happy, prosperous, civic-minded town, and it wasn’t feminism, and it wasn’t gays, and it wasn’t transgendered people or anarchists or Starbucks-sipping liberals either!
What did in the so-called small-town America of yore was greed on a globalized scale. I am sure one day this can be worked into a narrative that can appeal just as much to the heart as to the mind. Such a unifying narrative is sorely needed.
Rather than constructing such a narrative, the alternet article suggests organizing politics against the Tea Party in quite a different way. It suggests that
…to thwart the Tea Party movement from making further inroads, progressives have to re-coalesce not just around elections, but around issues. Immigration reform needs to become the issue of gay-rights activists and feminists. Women’s rights need to be advanced by environmentalists and labor unions. Racial equality, energy reform, Wall Street reform — these all have to become everybody’s issues at some level.
And this is where I jump off the author’s bandwagon. It’s a bit like being lectured that you gotta eat your broccoli when somebody says “these all have to become everybody’s issues at some level.”
These are all of course worthy issues. But the thing is, they don’t sound compelling to a critical mass. They lack the overarching power of the narrative that the Tea Party — no matter how silly and inconsistent it is — has harnessed to its nefarious aims. The Tea Partiers argue — truthfully — that America has changed and they don’t like it. Then they scream and shout about it rather petulantly. But a resurgent Left should start with exactly the same Chapter One.
America has changed and we don’t like it. And when I say we, I mean also those of us who live in other Western democracies who’ve seen many similar changes in our own backyards.
Then, in Chapter Two, instead of resorting to wishing we were back in the Old America — which never existed for everyone, and moreover, depended on a confluence of events that we’ll never see again (cheap oil, very few world economic competitors, a post-War reconstruction boom) — rather than try and revive a Myth, let’s imagine a better future. Recent history, at any rate, seems to show that trying to stitch a quilt out of a patchwork of issues — gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, immigration — leaves the Left rather threadbare. To combat the growing power of the Right, we need our own over-arching narrative that tells us how we got here and where we should go next. We need as compelling a grand narrative as Marx told over a hundred years ago.
In fact, to overlook for a minute the rather unpopular “brand identity” of communism, you could start nowhere better than with “workers of the world unite.” Because if there is one thing that truly is universal, it’s that all of us work or live off the ails of productive work. Chapter Two could start,
“The worker has found himself under increasing assault for three decades. Gay, straight, black, white, Hispanic, he/she inherits a world that has been run for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. Large corporations willfully plunder and pollute the world for the sake of short-term profit and unless their power is checked, ordinary people everywhere will inherit a world that can scarcely sustain them.
It’s time to take the power back.”
When I started trying to write longer works of fiction, I thought that I had a certain moral framework that I was operating inside that would give my work some importance. Ha! This moral framework was a fairly superficial rejection of modern consumer society and suburbia, a rejection born mostly of a feeling of being an outsider. As an antithesis to the general shallowness of everything, I would proudly declare that every-day, banal and totally unglamorous life (versus the culture of the Spectacle) was very much worth living, because it was full of unexplored meaning. A kitchen-sink drama! I would champion the cause of the common man and woman.
Like in the film, American Beauty, I would pretentiously ponder things like the aesthetic value of a plastic bag blowing in the wind. In fact, I even posted a short video of such a scene on YouTube almost exactly two years ago, during my extended fascination with psychogeography, during which I permitted myself to call walks, not just walks, but rather, dérives in the urban environment. Above all, I would champion individualism: freedom from the conformity of suburbia and even from the bourgeois values of one’s own family.
Prior to moving to Montreal, I found Edmonton was a useful backdrop for fiction because it is a typical North American suburban city with little that is exceptional about it apart from its relative isolation and dire climate. My thinking went, “If I can create a story that is interesting, the setting of Edmonton will be different enough to mark me out from my fiction competitors, yet Edmonton will also be universal enough to invite a connection with readers from everywhere.”
Edmonton would be my equivalent of Dostoevsky’s St. Petersburg! Cold, bureaucratic (home of cat bylaws!), impersonal; replete with squalor, alcoholism and sudden violence.
I pitched Blind Spot – my only book that is sort of complete – while in New York in 2007, and was first reluctant to mention the setting. But it wasn’t long before I became proud of the setting because I realized that, in the literary scene at any rate, difference had some cultural capital. A few jokes about “the Mall” and Wayne Gretzky and I was off on a good footing with editors from some major publishing houses, all of whom looked at Canada with a certain fondness. One editor said, a bit enviously, “’You guys give grants to publishers up there!”
But my preoccupation with marketability was premature. Meanwhile, the publishing scene was changing rapidly before my eyes. Publishing was teetering in 2007; the recession has now killed the chances of most new writers of getting a hearing.
So it is time to forget about publishing and get back to the more important job of actually writing. Of course, somebody as self-important and navel-gazing as me is bound to occasionally feel paralysed about the question of writing – especially when one gives up on the immediacy of publishing a novel , and you know, mad cash – because the question of “What is the point?” returns with ever-greater urgency. It would be totally boring to summarise all the ways in which the world has turned out to be a disappointment to me – the final nail in the coffin of my “practical idealism” being the failure of the eloquent but morally bankrupt Barack Obama – nevertheless, times as desperate as these are bound to give pause to anyone doing something as ostensibly pointless as writing a book.
But there is a point. At least a very personal one.
2009 was the year I became convinced that there was no other viable critique of all those things I had disdained (fast food, strip malls, vinyl-sided houses, car culture, etc etc etc) besides Marxism. Any other critique was founded on… well… what exactly? I should hate suburbia because it was dull? I should reject car culture because… uh… individuals were cut off from one another and thus living hollow lives? I should reject accumulation of wealth because it was crass and ugly, and it was cooler and more bohemian to live on less? All this put me ever more nauseatingly in the camp of a European-style elitist pining for the 1920s Left Bank or something. And, of course, because I was that way, I often hated myself. But still I persisted in this vein, even in Montreal, because being a nauseating person has its artistic merits: you can plumb the depths of your own awfulness à la Notes from Underground and perhaps make a point (and even if nobody is listening, it both validates your own awfulness, but also, in a perversely affirming way, the awfulness of society itself)…
A while ago, I wrote to friends of mine “the Left must own things, must do things [in order to make a difference]” perhaps because I was so frustrated with the seeming impotence of the left. But, of course, it only took a few more years of reading to realize that the left had been well aware of its own impotence all along. Moreover, talking about the necessity of “owning” things doesn’t always sit well with lefties. For good reason.
But the current impotence of the left in no way diminishes the relevancy and urgency of Marxist thought. Starting with the election of Obama, and following through to the current day, the combination of my own lived experience and events in general have compelled me to abandon my previous “practical” worldview.
Previously I would have said that Canada’s Liberal party, since Trudeau, had a proud tradition of promoting social justice and respect for diversity and redistributive economic practices that held this country together and made it a better place. Now I would say that the Liberal party, like all modern political parties, is held hostage by the corporate elite and by the seemingly inescapable “logic” of capitalism: we depend on it to live, hence we must surrender to it almost everything of value.
Previously I decried the shrillness of leftist agitators who seemed to move in predictable patterns: pro-labour, anti-capital, pro-environment, anti-comforts of consumer life. Because, you know, I claimed to want to champion the “common man and woman” – and, of course, the common man and woman adore their consumer goods.
Previously I thought the academy was a bastion of interesting yet impractical thought.
What I have slowly and very painfully come to realize over the course of the last year is that there is really no compromising with capitalism. Or more simply put, capitalism is not a compromising system. There is no internal failsafe to it that says, “Whoa, we’ll stop there for the sake of human decency!” If there were cash to be made from spitting or pissing on a human being, you can be sure that someone would do it. Why am I using the conditional tense? Much of modern pornography depends on such scenes of ritual degradation.
I had for many years understood, of course, that even in times of unrivalled prosperity, capitalism both creates and depends upon human misery and suffering – no fiction writer has captured that better than Michel Houellebecq. But this year, the understanding became far more personal and nuanced. It was a pivotal year for me in realizing that in the very city I live in, I am personally a victim of power’s refusal to concede an inch.
In Edmonton, it was easier to live in the illusion that prosperity can, as it were, raise the tide for everyone, and make all of us (who work hard!) richer. But in Montreal, which lives without the bubble of Alberta’s natural resource wealth, class struggle is more visible to the eye – and to the ear. Working-class Francophones of Hochelaga do not speak the same way as the elite of Outremont (where Mayor Tremblay lives). Alberta had Ralph Klein, the populist, who spoke the same way as any relatively intelligent trucker, welder, teacher, farmer. In Montreal, the lexicon of the rich and poor are often very different.
The old version of me – still persisting in a European sense of self – would have thought, oh, that old Montreal money, at least it’s more cultured and sophisticated. And surely that’s good for everybody (as if culture, like wealth, is the tide that lifts all boats).
But culture and sophistication can simply be an elegant way of camouflaging exploitation.
Power and wealth – whether we’re talking old money or the nouveau riche – consistently and unrelentingly relies upon exploitation. You can’t accumulate wealth without extracting value from somebody else. It’s the very definition of profit.
Well, we could be still OK with that. After all, the so-called logic of capitalism is that everyone has a shot at ascending to a level of power that affords him or her the chance to exploit and thus profit from others, and provided that this chance is available to all, then nobody has any right to complain too vehemently; to do so is to simply be a sore loser.
Did I want to be among society’s sore losers?! Hell no!
And I still don’t want to be among society’s sore losers.
So what I aim to do to be a winner in life (!) is to continue to write. Because I now believe, more strongly than ever, that writing is the only tool available to me to help further an understanding of myself and my world. But I am not continuing in the same vein as before, with a scattershot moral outlook that is born from a sense of rejection and isolation. The comforts of Marxism are history, culture, community, and an ongoing body of work to help guide my own awkward fumbling in the dark.
I am still inspired by this essay by Susan Sontag that suggests that the act of narration is the act of choosing what is of value among the infinite number of choices available to a writer, and that by making choices, by saying “this is important and not that,” we make a moral statement to the world. We say, “pay attention to this.”
Previously, I would have said, “Pay attention to the ugliness of the modern suburb!” But this was a dead end, because it was an elitist statement and also one with no conflict within it, and stories still need conflict, even in the hypertextual, hyperlinking age. I had come to a judgement about the suburbs – a judgement shared by a lot of likeminded souls – but having made the judgement, I was left with nothing viable to offer except a stupid plastic bag floating in the wind. Not exactly original. Moreover, anyone with any intelligence and aesthetic sense could admire a plastic bag. Plastic bags don’t change anything.
I would like to think that the path forward, for me anyway, lies in exploring the consequences of capitalism on our thoughts and behaviour and then finding the zones of freedom where we can escape, or where we can create a zone of resistance. The project Houellebecq began with L’extension de la domaine de la lutte and then The Elementary Particles, should not be over, even if Houellebecq himself doesn’t write nearly as well as he once did.
Of course, I cannot and should not seek to be a Houellebecq; I’ve got the particularity of my own experience to draw upon, not to mention, that of my friends. I’ve also got a new city to call home; a city I never tire of exploring and seeking to understand.
A lot of this might sound like it’s going to make for a very dry and boring project. But as my experience with Sexy béton has proved, art with serious intent – even in today’s cynical world – can still be profoundly moving. Duh!
I am often excited, feeling short of time – short of breath even – at the prospect of the many, many things about which I can still say, “Pay attention to this!” Even if I may often say “pay attention” to something that a hundred people before me have said “pay attention” to, hopefully I’ll be standing at a sufficiently different angle to the subject to bring a new light. And even if I fail, it doesn’t matter, because failures on the page are forgiving, whereas failures in life sometimes are not.
What comforts me is that now, without needing recourse to religion, which often is one night’s missed sleep away from insanity, Marxism affords the possibility of tapping into a worldview that constantly replenishes and renews one’s store of metaphors and insights every time one sips from it. It makes for a fascinating vantage point from which to, say, examine the economy of the World Wide Web, with all its scams and hacks and degrading imagery and communities of freaks and fools and friends. It makes for a robust understanding of the relations between very different people – the Hochelaga francophones and the Outrement elite.
More importantly, it means not being alone. It is both arrogant and terrifying to think one has one’s own unique worldview, especially when the worldview is founded on hallucinations, memories, repression, and fear.
Writing without publishing is the most invigourating freedom available to me.