Socialism without feminism is barbarism, the same cybernetic hierarchy of wretched Stalinist bullshit, leftist recuperation of capitalist infrastructure. Patriarchy, death knell of intersectionality, the ability to see beyond the fucking labour market, closed circuit of exchange and production. It’s more than domestic labour (the horizonal limit of most socialist minds), it’s an entire masculinist culture that privileges so called materialist concerns over identity ones—as if they were ever separate.
This is the binary: materialist vs postmaterialist, marxist vs poststructuralist, socialist vs neoliberal—opposition without dialectical thought. Old school socialists talk about lived reality, whilst throwing you pamphlets written by Lenin and Trotsky. The voices of women, coloured and queer folk disappear beneath a cascade of century old dead intellectual labour. What’s left? Socialism without materialism. Universal erasure of identities that differ from the white hetero-cis-male bloc.
There has never been a socialism without identity, for the identity of the proletariat has always been invisibly marked. Simply the assumption that race issues are for coloured folk and gender issues for women severs any ability to think dialectically across categorical boundaries (the fantasy of hermetic encapsulation). Those who privilege class forget their own dialectical relation in the making of subjugated subjectivities—in the process of interpellation, discipline and domination.
Identity is a relation of material and psychical forces, constructed at the node of the subject, through institutional frameworks and cultural imaginaries. There is no escaping identity, for identity has always arisen out of material arrangements, spatio-temporal playgrounds of culture and semiotics—desires both immaterial and corporeal. Desire bridges the gap between embodied and emplaced, between subject and object, self and other, the surfacing of the psyche through collective, social practices. To reject identity is to reject both subject and society.
I have deeper concerns, however, because in this collapsing of feminism, postmaterialism and identity politics, socialists do two things: i) they reify their own position through a process similar to orientalism—of writing the other into existence, simply for the stabilisation of the self; in other words, of making invisible the raced, gendered, etc, nature of class; ii) they additionally collapse liberal identitarian politics with radical identity politics, and it is this point that seems the most ingenuous.
What is liberal identitarian politics? The recuperation of radical thought through aestheticisation. The great fucking irony is that socialists recognise their own recuperation when they gaze upon t-shirts of Che Guevara, yet can’t see that the feminist and queer politics they so dismiss is also a liberal reformation, an uncanny double that existing indigenous, black feminist and queer anarchist collectives equally hate. It was not feminism that divorced material struggle from identity, but the market.
Let us return to the idea of privilege, not as an ontological property, but as a haunt; as the pre-subjective matrix that allows for certain subjects to arise at all, never as equals, but as scattered nodes of intersecting material and cultural forces. Hegemony, after all, is a struggle over existence, as it exists now. The dominant ideology can never be escaped, only reenacted anew. Rather than escape ideology, we must fail it; make monstrous the apparent, the normal, the taken for granted, in the hopes of dialectically breaking the closed symbolic of the capitalist imaginary.
Read in this matter, privilege becomes a relation that must be sublated unto the emancipation of all. Privilege rather than checked, must be irrupted—total traumatic collapse of both subjects in the relation, through the overthrow of the material conditions that allow for such relations to arise in the first place. Call this a materialist intervention into psychoanalysis, for it is only through reworking actual structures can our psychical landscape change at the fundamental level—at the level of hauntology and virtuality—precession of the material.