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Doom in the Bud: Golding's Studies in a Dying Culture

By David Golding

Full Communism

Communism is free time and nothing else, he thought when he woke up in the morning. And when he went to sleep: predicting what life will be like under communism would be like packing for a dream.

He let himself sink into his dreams like an abulic and solitary vagabond who lies down soiled in his own shit, or like a heavily medicated hebephrenic who sits on a bench on the grounds of the psychiatric institution to which he has been confined for life, smoking with one hand, playing with himself or with his neighbor—if proximity or charity demanded it—with the other. He didn’t think much of the mentally ill or the homeless, who seemed like images of history’s inertia, incapable of the least social labor.

Once he’d been to an art exhibition sponsored by the usual bourgeois simpletons and left-sentimentalists, in which the “work” of the incarcerated mentally ill was put on display. Most of it was the surrealist pastiche, the unconscious and infantile Afro-primitivism, the lame and clichéd psychedelia of inner torment (the inner life of lumpens being nothing but the ideology of certain social workers and art critics), that one would expect from such a socially progressive production. But the work of one “artist” struck him in particular. The artist, who was Puerto Rican or maybe Central American and who had a room to himself in the museum, painted what could only be described as monomaniacal and endless variations on a single theme: that of his own psychiatric institution being attacked by the myriad but ultimately interchangeable forces of modern military and paramilitary history. As if he were a member of some single-minded and provincial revolutionary front from the 1970s (the ETA, for instance), he was willing to accept succor and material support from the seediest and most ideologically unscrupulous sources. Al Qaeda flew airplanes into the institution in one canvass as readily as George Bush’s Operation Iraqi Freedom liberated it in another. Stalin’s Red Army was as willing to help as were the North American forces who invaded Omaha Beach on D-Day. The Syrian civil war was a veritable potpourri for the artist’s overheated imagination: ISIS, the Free Syrian Army, the bourgeois-nationalist Kurdistan Worker’s Party, and even a kind of comic-book Assad (looking like an Arab Mao) were offered leading roles. Curiously enough, no fascist or explicitly right-wing groups were enlisted in the patient’s liberation art, as if he were atavistically devoted to some mythical anti-fascist principle, as if even his madness had been colonized by Popular Front ideology.

He left the museum inspired. Not by the artist, but by the artist’s unwitting metaphor for the deviations and opportunisms of the Marxist tradition, which at least since Lenin had been willing to throw in its lot with vanguardism, nationalism, Third Worldism, Keynesian fascism, anarchism, and social democracy, not to mention such absurdities as autonomism, radical chic left-wing terrorism, Castro-Bolivarianism, anti-capitalist environmentalism, feminism, anti-racism, etc., etc. (the bad infinity of left ideology).

He went to the exhibition on a date with a white girl. Otherwise he never would have gone. Still, he had to admit it was more interesting than the standard exhibitions of prisoners’ art, with their idiotic iterations on Black Panther kitsch.

He’d given up dating white girls, but not before he’d given up dating black girls (the opposite trajectory of most of his friends, who’d suddenly re-discovered diaspora solidarity, black pride, black beauty, etc., those petty-bourgeois mystifications for which he had no time).

Ultimately he didn’t believe in friendship, anyway. Friendship was early capitalism’s crypto-queer and licentious answer to the disciplinary pain of heterosexual relationships, and though it may once have served a purpose, it was currently a vestigial and epiphenomenal solace, at best. Not that it mattered whether the bourgeoisie continued the institution of friendship. Or rather, it mattered, because social relations do after all have effects, secondary effects, on both the forces and the relations of production. But they don’t matter in and of themselves. For all he cared, if the bourgeoisie wanted (not that it was a question of wanting) to rush towards the cliff as social or as autistic lemmings, as onanistic isolates or as orgiastically enmeshed porifera awash in the current sexual and psycho-sexual fads of the day, it could do as it pleased. When the working class—which as Marx and Engels correctly noted in The German Ideology (whatever they said in the vulgar and polemical heat of the moment of the Manifesto), has no interest to assert against the bourgeoisie—takes power, the social pseudo-question, and the sexual pseudo-question, will not even be solved, but will disappear. In the meantime, what was needed was the development of communist Wittgensteins (Wittgenstein himself was a communist, though he didn’t know it, especially when he spied for the Soviet Union). Though it wasn’t as if being silent about the things whereof we cannot speak would make a difference, historically. Or maybe it would. Maybe it was precisely that silence that would usher in the millennium of free time. At the very least, if the left won’t shut up, it should at least do us (history, the working class) the favor of getting out of the way.

For instance, on Syriza, if they’d just let the fascist Keynesian capitalist state go on with its business of believing in the illusion that it’s killing the Greek workers, when in fact it’s killing itself. Or if they stopped their hypocritical support for ersatz anti-capitalist politicians, when it’s the pro-business politicians who will always have the workers’ support. Why do they think workers support pro-business policies? Out of “false consciousness?,” the invention of that Hungarian fascist Lukacs. No, they do it out of class consciousness, the true and noumenal class consciousness, not the fake and fascist class consciousness invented by Lenin and Kautsky out of thin air, out of narcissistic flatulence. As if the working class had any idea about, or interest in, class struggle!

When he wasn’t tweeting about communist monetarism, or picking fights with left-wing journalists, or drafting manifestos that aimed at the conversion of the libertarian right to the communist idea, he liked to amuse himself by jerking off on Lenin’s What Is to Be Done?, pissing on Mao’s Red Book, defecating on Nkrumah’s Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism, drawing swastikas on the covers of Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment (in order to save money and to pay tribute to Debord, for whom he had a soft spot in spite of himself, he generally performed these black rites in the bathroom stalls of bookstores), sending death threats to Thomas Picketty and Paul Krugman, sending pseudonymous letters to the Federal Reserve claiming to be a COINTELPRO-like infiltrator of various left-wing movements, posting neo-Nazi literature on anti-Zionist websites and posting anti-Zionist literature on neo-Nazi websites, writing stories for porn sites about Kim Il Sung’s sex parties in Switzerland, (usually, but not always, rejected), engaging in friendly conversation with online financial dommes about currency versus money, about Keynes’ currency fetish being a transference maneuver designed to hide his secret masochistic desire to sit on a cock, about the masochistic tendencies of Greenspan and about the possibility of Yellen being a repressed and colonized dominatrix, about whether pussy was use value and cock the Keynesian fascist state’s surplus value, about whether the return of matriarchy could forestall the communist revolution or if the communist revolution were itself nothing but matriarchy, though, in principle, speculating about the communist future was anathema to him.

He never had nightmares, though his dreams were often violent, blood-stained, and apocalyptic. He dreamed, ataraxically, about the failures of the Paris Commune with a certain relish. He dreamed about Marx’s silent science and the noisy wails of Marxists. He dreamed about Iron Age Jewish kings and Iron Age Jewish prophets who marched against the corrupt worshippers of Baal (Baal being class warfare or anti-imperialist struggle, he recognized) and the uxorious husbands of Jezebel (Jezebel being unscrupulous Marxist intellectualism, he recognized). He dreamed about the annihilation of the House of Ahab (Ahab being the fetish for the contingency and inassimilability of history, he recognized). He dreamed about the compatibility of revivalist prophecy and street theater, about how the communist kingdom of free time would convert everyone into a vaudevillian actor prophesying the empty entertainment of free time, which, having no content and no history, would open up onto vast vistas of boredom, the working class in power, alert to nothing, unresentfully orphaned, dead to the fascist past.


If Le Corbusier was right (and I know he was)—namely, that our world is a charnel house, strewn with the detritus of dead epochs—then I, too, am an ideological graveyard, stalked by necrophiliacs. I have never hidden my mortuary wounds, my past. But nor have I succumbed to the naïve, postmodern fallacy that a wound or a past can be apprehended directly: I’m no banshee, no activist. For instance, if one wanted to caricaturize my inner life—and as a former member of a certain revolutionary organization whose name I wish to forget, I recognize relentless caricature as a method in Sun Tzu’s endless war—one could easily discover in those unquiet dimensions various mausoleums or various rotten corpses: the Spartacist League screaming rehearsed chants on behalf of NAMBLA and defending North Korea when the vulgar petty bourgeoisie wanted to defend Palestine; Lyndon Larouche administering electroshock therapy to the genitals of credulous initiates; Lyndon Larouche inventing the Star Wars missile defense system for Reagan and teaming up with the Klan to attack heterodox Trotskyites and fascist Maoists in the South (I’ve jerked off to the objectively righteous Greensboro Massacre more than twice); Bukharin’s caricatures of a Circean Lenin—transformed into a pig—being sodomized by Stalin; my condemnation of the rapists of the Socialist Workers Party (UK) not because I believe in the hysterical claims of intersectional rape-crying revisionists but because I’ve always loathed moronic Cliffites and trendy hashtag activists; the ruthless manner in which I dated a girl during my undergrad days solely in order to gain access to the leadership of the organization, but relentlessly mocked her for being overweight, and raped her repeatedly; the way I look at the world through my dead bird’s eyes, eyes that have surveyed history—its shitty architecture, its shittier art—with a keen hatred of its forms, leaving behind only the pale products of my libido and some academic papers on Soviet Constructivism and some strident quietist ironies and some interventions on behalf of certain wars, certain bigotries, certain depraved modes of human behavior and depraved categories of human thought (having realized that, pace my rabbinical mentor, the destruction of the abstract was not the product of necessary historical changes, but of gnostic mutations in human consciousness).

As a Marxist, however, I’ve never shied away from self-criticism, though naturally not Stalinist self-criticism, which lapses into moralism and tautology. I’ve always believed in the gap between thinking and judging, a gap whose arch extends from truth to the abyss, or from the narcissistic personal identity of the Jew to the impersonal non-identity of the abortive future, which is the opposite of Kautsky’s future, since, though postponed, it never arrives. When I think of the ideal future, which is the only future, the no-future one might say, I think of a Polish anti-communist propaganda poster from 1919, in which a naked, hirsute, hook-nosed, and beer-bellied Trotsky clutches a pistol and sits on a mound of white skulls, overlooking a massacre in a snow-white landscape, his Red Army thugs strangely blanched and Mongoloid-looking (though still white), a white and skeletal Death gnawing on his neck. In the same way, I defended Charlie Hebdo, not out of a sentimental politics of life, but because I believe art’s only function is to humiliate, degrade, distort, and biologize (to the point of abstraction, whereupon we realize there is no biology, only cruelty, and no art, only history). Even Trotsky defended the crude atheistic propaganda of the satirical journal Godless, “where there are a great many cartoons, sometimes quite effective ones, by some of our best cartoonists. Issue after Issue one finds in its pages an ongoing, tireless duel being conducted with Jehova, Christ, and Allah, hand-to-hand combat between the talented artist Dmitrii Moor and God. Of course, we are to a man on Moor’s side completely.” And recently the so-called hard-communists have been defending Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev with his absurd ideas of Islamo-communism, or C.L.R. James with his black Jacobin nonsense!

Not to mention the martyr complex surround Allende: that populist pigmy, that whiskey-guzzling Stalinist, that caudillo Popular Frontist, whose goal was to save Chilean capitalism.

Though Trotsky has nothing left to tell us, either.

In the end, my cowardice got the better of me. I should have spoken more clearly, more forcefully. There were moments in which I seemed to give way—ostensibly in order to win over a greater portion of truth to my side, through tactical retreat—but in the end, as I said, I kept retreating, though on the surface I become more brittle, more polemical, more sure of myself. I started to think more highly of Bordiga, for instance, but at the same time publicly I started to say that racism was a real problem. I inched back towards the organization I was purged from, like a dog or a buzzard circling a certain kind of carrion. I grew older. Zionist publications contacted me to contribute and I even considered their offers. I was pure but my purity had a good deal of impurity in it, or rather my impurity was pure. I succumbed to the indigeneity trend by writing about Buryat architecture in Soviet Russia. I started to think that my beloved or at least my sheltering institution, the University of Chicago, was a palimpsest of pedophilia, violence, and cultism. But what else was what I was left with other than a tradition: a tradition, and careerism, and a popular (or relatively popular) blog?

From August, 2015

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