Marxist Theory in Ughmerikah.

Announcing a new series of posts inspired by Roberto Bolano’s Nazi Literature in the Americas and some flippant joke I made at yesterday’s Backhaus workshop. Bolano’s book is a compendium of humorous, inventive and brilliant entries of invented Nazi authors from different countries in South America. In this series I will try a similar tact with imaginary Marxist theorists. There are doubtless many obscure Marxist theorists and groups who are more compelling and absurd than the ones I  will invent. However, the ones I invent will all be purveyors of social theories based on Marxian categories more peripheral than the commodity, fetishism, abstract labour etc.


About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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8 Responses to Marxist Theory in Ughmerikah.

  1. What was the joke you made at the workshop?

    • HR says:

      Dur, It was actually after the workshop in the pub. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity in the workshop since Bellofiore, the marxologist ham, was busy yucking it up. No specific joke either come to think of it. More a riff that came out of my conversation with a friend who gave a paper at the marx and philosophy society conference describing his interaction with Principia Dialectica and their pamphlet, which he described as consisting entirely of excerpts from Kurtz’s letters. So I proposed that instead of value theory we should start writing pamphlets that engaged in social analysis based on the more obscure categories from volume II and III like a lacanian marxist analysis of turnover capital as jouissance etc.

  2. Ah, ok, one of those “you had to be at the pub” kinda things.

    I know that feel: I once came up with an entire system of sorting the various tendencies of the German left by assigning them to different characters in Alan Moore’s and David Gibbons’ Watchmen.

    Still, the fictional Marxist thing has promise!

    • HR says:

      Indeed. But at least it will give me the chance to play at being Bolano with less spectacular results.

      I haven’t read watchmen– im a complete philistine with those sorta things– but any desire to recreate the system?

  3. Oh, god, it’s been ages (this was around the time the movie came out), and it was just drunken pub chatter, but I think the system my friends and I came up with was:

    Gegenstandpunkt/Marxistische Gruppe and related tendencies (Ruthless Criticism and Junge Linke) are Ozymandias: essentially correct on all fundamental questions, but unpleasant, with a haughty disregard for ethics and morals, uncompromising, thoroughly convinced of their own correctness.

    Rorschach = the various tendencies like Jürgen Elsässer, Red-Brown “Querfront” politics in general, conspiracy theorists and currency weirdos, basically all those who speak for the “common man” and who smell funny and have bean juice stains on their overcoats.

    The Comedian = The Anti-Germans. They’re informed enough to know the score, but cynical enough to place their powers at the service of American imperialism.

    Doctor Manhattan is the Neue Marx-Lektüre, State derivation debate, and related currents: all-knowing and all-powerful, but separate from the quotidian concerns of mere mortals.

    The Night Owl is a typical Trotskyist: one of the good guys, but whose essential decency is an impediment to ever really accomplishing anything.

    Silk Spectre is a standard Antifa thug. She’s not really in it out of principle, she just wants to kick some ass. Also interesting because she’s The Comedians illegitimate daughter (thus an inversion of the Anti-Germans being a deranged outgrowth of the Antifa movement).

    • HR says:

      That’s pretty good. I did a similar thing with uni faculty and the cast of the wire. Best not to repeat it.

      Am I right in think the film was not well received or am I confusing it with the other films that have adapted Moore?

  4. Well, a lot of nerd-rage got directed at the fact that the ending deviates significantly from the ending in the comic, but fanboys are just neurotic about that kind of thing.

    What I find more upsetting is how the whole intent and tenor of the work was changed. Moore’s comic is pretty obviously a critical demolition of the superhero genre, and his honest contempt for superheros shines through in his characterizations: all the protagonists are portrayed as highly dysfunctional, unsympathetic human beings (the fact that so many fanboys developed admiration for the fascist vigilante character Rorschach is a testament to what idiots most comics fans are).

    But the film version throws all that out the window and basically turns it into a bullshit “grim and gritty” superhero parable, like a Christopher Nolan Batman film, full of angsty, unappreciated costumed adventurers doing a tough job nobody else wants to do.

    Still, the film gets props from me for respecting the context of the work and situating it during the Cold War mid-1980s, rather than trying to update it. The comic is saturated with 5-minutes-to-midnight nuclear war dread.

    I heard William Gibson’s Neuromancer is being made into a film, and I’m sure they’ll fuck it up by setting it in a slick future in accord with the expectations of a 2012 audience. Whereas if they had any balls and respected the integrity of the work, they’d give it a full 1980s look, with Commodore 64 boxy computer graphics, post-punk fashion, and all that good, Blade Runnery early 1980s atmosphere. And if they *really* had integrity, they’d let Frederic Jameson do the commentary for the DVD release. Cyberpunk was all about the dawn of neoliberalism in the late 70s and early 80s, so there’s just something perverse about filming Neuromancer now.

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