Skip to content

Exiting the Vampire Castle

This summer, I seriously considered withdrawing from any involvement in politics. Exhausted through overwork, incapable of productive activity, I found myself drifting through social networks, feeling my depression and exhaustion increasing.

‘Left-wing’ Twitter can often be a miserable, dispiriting zone. Earlier this year, there were some high-profile twitterstorms, in which particular left-identifying figures were ‘called out’ and condemned. What these figures had said was sometimes objectionable; but nevertheless, the way in which they were personally vilified and hounded left a horrible residue: the stench of bad conscience and witch-hunting moralism. The reason I didn’t speak out on any of these incidents, I’m ashamed to say, was fear. The bullies were in another part of the playground. I didn’t want to attract their attention to me.

The open savagery of these exchanges was accompanied by something more pervasive, and for that reason perhaps more debilitating: an atmosphere of snarky resentment. The most frequent object of this resentment is Owen Jones, and the attacks on Jones – the person most responsible for raising class consciousness in the UK in the last few years – were one of the reasons I was so dejected. If this is what happens to a left-winger who is actually succeeding in taking the struggle to the centre ground of British life, why would anyone want to follow him into the mainstream? Is the only way to avoid this drip-feed of abuse to remain in a position of impotent marginality?

One of the things that broke me out of this depressive stupor was going to the People’s Assembly in Ipswich, near where I live. The People’s Assembly had been greeted with the usual sneers and snarks. This was, we were told, a useless stunt, in which media leftists, including Jones, were aggrandising themselves in yet another display of top-down celebrity culture. What actually happened at the Assembly in Ipswich was very different to this caricature. The first half of the evening – culminating in a rousing speech by Owen Jones – was certainly led by the top-table speakers. But the second half of the meeting saw working class activists from all over Suffolk talking to each other, supporting one another, sharing experiences and strategies. Far from being another example of hierarchical leftism, the People’s Assembly was an example of how the vertical can be combined with the horizontal: media power and charisma could draw people who hadn’t previously been to a political meeting into the room, where they could talk and strategise with seasoned activists. The atmosphere was anti-racist and anti-sexist, but refreshingly free of the paralysing feeling of guilt and suspicion which hangs over left-wing twitter like an acrid, stifling fog.

Then there was Russell Brand. I’ve long been an admirer of Brand – one of the few big-name comedians on the current scene to come from a working class background. Over the last few years, there has been a gradual but remorseless embourgeoisement of television comedy, with preposterous ultra-posh nincompoop Michael McIntyre and a dreary drizzle of bland graduate chancers dominating the stage.

The day before Brand’s now famous interview with Jeremy Paxman was broadcast on Newsnight, I had seen Brand’s stand-up show the Messiah Complex in Ipswich. The show was defiantly pro-immigrant, pro-communist, anti-homophobic, saturated with working class intelligence and not afraid to show it, and queer in the way that popular culture used to be (i.e. nothing to do with the sour-faced identitarian piety foisted upon us by moralisers on the post-structuralist ‘left’). Malcolm X, Che, politics as a psychedelic dismantling of existing reality: this was communism as something cool, sexy and proletarian, instead of a finger-wagging sermon.

The next night, it was clear that Brand’s appearance had produced a moment of splitting. For some of us, Brand’s forensic take-down of Paxman was intensely moving, miraculous; I couldn’t remember the last time a person from a working class background had been given the space to so consummately destroy a class ‘superior’ using intelligence and reason. This wasn’t Johnny Rotten swearing at Bill Grundy – an act of antagonism which confirmed rather than challenged class stereotypes. Brand had outwitted Paxman – and the use of humour was what separated Brand from the dourness of so much ‘leftism’. Brand makes people feel good about themselves; whereas the moralising left specialises in making people feed bad, and is not happy until their heads are bent in guilt and self-loathing.

The moralising left quickly ensured that the story was not about Brand’s extraordinary breach of the bland conventions of mainstream media ‘debate’, nor about his claim that revolution was going to happen. (This last claim could only be heard by the cloth-eared petit-bourgeois narcissistic ‘left’ as Brand saying that he wanted to lead the revolution – something that they responded to with typical resentment: ‘I don’t need a jumped-up celebrity to lead me‘.) For the moralisers, the dominant story was to be about Brand’s personal conduct – specifically his sexism. In the febrile McCarthyite atmosphere fermented by the moralising left, remarks that could be construed as sexist mean that Brand is a sexist, which also meant that he is a misogynist. Cut and dried, finished, condemned.

It is right that Brand, like any of us, should answer for his behaviour and the language that he uses. But such questioning should take place in an atmosphere of comradeship and solidarity, and probably not in public in the first instance – although when Brand was questioned about sexism by Mehdi Hasan, he displayed exactly the kind of good-humoured humility that was entirely lacking in the stony faces of those who had judged him. “I don’t think I’m sexist, But I remember my grandmother, the loveliest person I‘ve ever known, but she was racist, but I don’t think she knew. I don’t know if I have some cultural hangover, I know that I have a great love of proletariat linguistics, like ‘darling’ and ‘bird’, so if women think I’m sexist they’re in a better position to judge than I am, so I’ll work on that.”

Brand’s intervention was not a bid for leadership; it was an inspiration, a call to arms. And I for one was inspired. Where a few months before, I would have stayed silent as the PoshLeft moralisers subjected Brand to their kangaroo courts and character assassinations – with ‘evidence’ usually gleaned from the right-wing press, always available to lend a hand – this time I was prepared to take them on. The response to Brand quickly became as significant as the Paxman exchange itself. As Laura Oldfield Ford pointed out, this was a clarifying moment. And one of the things that was clarified for me was the way in which, in recent years, so much of the self-styled ‘left’ has suppressed the question of class.

Class consciousness is fragile and fleeting. The petit bourgeoisie which dominates the academy and the culture industry has all kinds of subtle deflections and pre-emptions which prevent the topic even coming up, and then, if it does come up, they make one think it is a terrible impertinence, a breach of etiquette, to raise it. I’ve been speaking now at left-wing, anti-capitalist events for years, but I’ve rarely talked – or been asked to talk – about class in public.

But, once class had re-appeared, it was impossible not to see it everywhere in the response to the Brand affair. Brand was quickly judged and-or questioned by at least three ex-private school people on the left. Others told us that Brand couldn’t really be working class, because he was a millionaire. It’s alarming how many ‘leftists’ seemed to fundamentally agree with the drift behind Paxman’s question: ‘What gives this working class person the authority to speak?’ It’s also alarming, actually distressing, that they seem to think that working class people should remain in poverty, obscurity and impotence lest they lose their ‘authenticity’.

Someone passed me a post written about Brand on Facebook. I don’t know the individual who wrote it, and I wouldn’t wish to name them. What’s important is that the post was symptomatic of a set of snobbish and condescending attitudes that it is apparently alright to exhibit while still classifying oneself as left wing. The whole tone was horrifyingly high-handed, as if they were a schoolteacher marking a child’s work, or a psychiatrist assessing a patient. Brand, apparently, is ‘clearly extremely unstable … one bad relationship or career knockback away from collapsing back into drug addiction or worse.’ Although the person claims that they ‘really quite like [Brand]’, it perhaps never occurs to them that one of the reasons that Brand might be ‘unstable’ is just this sort of patronising faux-transcendent ‘assessment’ from the ‘left’ bourgeoisie. There’s also a shocking but revealing aside where the individual casually refers to Brand’s ‘patchy education [and] the often wince-inducing vocab slips characteristic of the auto-didact’ – which, this individual generously says, ‘I have no problem with at all’ – how very good of them! This isn’t some colonial bureaucrat writing about his attempts to teach some ‘natives’ the English language in the nineteenth century, or a Victorian schoolmaster at some private institution describing a scholarship boy, it’s a ‘leftist’ writing a few weeks ago.

Where to go from here? It is first of all necessary to identify the features of the discourses and the desires which have led us to this grim and demoralising pass, where class has disappeared, but moralism is everywhere, where solidarity is impossible, but guilt and fear are omnipresent – and not because we are terrorised by the right, but because we have allowed bourgeois modes of subjectivity to contaminate our movement. I think there are two libidinal-discursive configurations which have brought this situation about. They call themselves left wing, but – as the Brand episode has made clear – they are many ways a sign that the left – defined as an agent in a class struggle – has all but disappeared.

Inside the Vampires’ Castle

The first configuration is what I came to call the Vampires’ Castle. The Vampires’ Castle specialises in propagating guilt. It is driven by a priest’s desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd. The danger in attacking the Vampires’ Castle is that it can look as if – and it will do everything it can to reinforce this thought – that one is also attacking the struggles against racism, sexism, heterosexism. But, far from being the only legitimate expression of such struggles, the Vampires’ Castle is best understood as a bourgeois-liberal perversion and appropriation of the energy of these movements. The Vampires’ Castle was born the moment when the struggle not to be defined by identitarian categories became the quest to have ‘identities’ recognised by a bourgeois big Other.

The privilege I certainly enjoy as a white male consists in part in my not being aware of my ethnicity and my gender, and it is a sobering and revelatory experience to occasionally be made aware of these blind-spots. But, rather than seeking a world in which everyone achieves freedom from identitarian classification, the Vampires’ Castle seeks to corral people back into identi-camps, where they are forever defined in the terms set by dominant power, crippled by self-consciousness and isolated by a logic of solipsism which insists that we cannot understand one another unless we belong to the same identity group.

I’ve noticed a fascinating magical inversion projection-disavowal mechanism whereby the sheer mention of class is now automatically treated as if that means one is trying to downgrade the importance of race and gender. In fact, the exact opposite is the case, as the Vampires’ Castle uses an ultimately liberal understanding of race and gender to obfuscate class. In all of the absurd and traumatic twitterstorms about privilege earlier this year it was noticeable that the discussion of class privilege was entirely absent. The task, as ever, remains the articulation of class, gender and race – but the founding move of the Vampires’ Castle is the dis-articulation of class from other categories.

The problem that the Vampires’ Castle was set up to solve is this: how do you hold immense wealth and power while also appearing as a victim, marginal and oppositional? The solution was already there – in the Christian Church. So the VC has recourse to all the infernal strategies, dark pathologies and psychological torture instruments Christianity invented, and which Nietzsche described in The Genealogy of Morals. This priesthood of bad conscience, this nest of pious guilt-mongers, is exactly what Nietzsche predicted when he said that something worse than Christianity was already on the way. Now, here it is …

The Vampires’ Castle feeds on the energy and anxieties and vulnerabilities of young students, but most of all it lives by converting the suffering of particular groups – the more ‘marginal’ the better – into academic capital. The most lauded figures in the Vampires’ Castle are those who have spotted a new market in suffering – those who can find a group more oppressed and subjugated than any previously exploited will find themselves promoted through the ranks very quickly.

The first law of the Vampires’ Castle is: individualise and privatise everything. While in theory it claims to be in favour of structural critique, in practice it never focuses on anything except individual behaviour. Some of these working class types are not terribly well brought up, and can be very rude at times. Remember: condemning individuals is always more important than paying attention to impersonal structures. The actual ruling class propagates ideologies of individualism, while tending to act as a class. (Many of what we call ‘conspiracies’ are the ruling class showing class solidarity.) The VC, as dupe-servants of the ruling class, does the opposite: it pays lip service to ‘solidarity’ and ‘collectivity’, while always acting as if the individualist categories imposed by power really hold. Because they are petit-bourgeois to the core, the members of the Vampires’ Castle are intensely competitive, but this is repressed in the passive aggressive manner typical of the bourgeoisie. What holds them together is not solidarity, but mutual fear – the fear that they will be the next one to be outed, exposed, condemned.

The second law of the Vampires’ Castle is: make thought and action appear very, very difficult. There must be no lightness, and certainly no humour. Humour isn’t serious, by definition, right? Thought is hard work, for people with posh voices and furrowed brows. Where there is confidence, introduce scepticism. Say: don’t be hasty, we have to think more deeply about this. Remember: having convictions is oppressive, and might lead to gulags.

The third law of the Vampires’ Castle is: propagate as much guilt as you can. The more guilt the better. People must feel bad: it is a sign that they understand the gravity of things. It’s OK to be class-privileged if you feel guilty about privilege and make others in a subordinate class position to you feel guilty too. You do some good works for the poor, too, right?

The fourth law of the Vampires’ Castle is: essentialize. While fluidity of identity, pluarity and multiplicity are always claimed on behalf of the VC members – partly to cover up their own invariably wealthy, privileged or bourgeois-assimilationist background – the enemy is always to be essentialized. Since the desires animating the VC are in large part priests’ desires to excommunicate and condemn, there has to be a strong distinction between Good and Evil, with the latter essentialized. Notice the tactics. X has made a remark/ has behaved in a particular way – these remarks/ this behaviour might be construed as transphobic/ sexist etc. So far, OK. But it’s the next move which is the kicker. X then becomes defined as a transphobe/ sexist etc. Their whole identity becomes defined by one ill-judged remark or behavioural slip. Once the VC has mustered its witch-hunt, the victim (often from a working class background, and not schooled in the passive aggressive etiquette of the bourgeoisie) can reliably be goaded into losing their temper, further securing their position as pariah/ latest to be consumed in feeding frenzy.

The fifth law of the Vampires’ Castle: think like a liberal (because you are one). The VC’s work of constantly stoking up reactive outrage consists of endlessly pointing out the screamingly obvious: capital behaves like capital (it’s not very nice!), repressive state apparatuses are repressive. We must protest!

Neo-anarchy in the UK

The second libidinal formation is neo-anarchism. By neo-anarchists I definitely do not mean anarchists or syndicalists involved in actual workplace organisation, such as the Solidarity Federation. I mean, rather, those who identify as anarchists but whose involvement in politics extends little beyond student protests and occupations, and commenting on Twitter. Like the denizens of the Vampires’ Castle, neo-anarchists usually come from a petit-bourgeois background, if not from somewhere even more class-privileged.

They are also overwhelmingly young: in their twenties or at most their early thirties, and what informs the neo-anarchist position is a narrow historical horizon. Neo-anarchists have experienced nothing but capitalist realism. By the time the neo-anarchists had come to political consciousness – and many of them have come to political consciousness remarkably recently, given the level of bullish swagger they sometimes display – the Labour Party had become a Blairite shell, implementing neo-liberalism with a small dose of social justice on the side. But the problem with neo-anarchism is that it unthinkingly reflects this historical moment rather than offering any escape from it. It forgets, or perhaps is genuinely unaware of, the Labour Party’s role in nationalising major industries and utilities or founding the National Health Service. Neo-anarchists will assert that ‘parliamentary politics never changed anything’, or the ‘Labour Party was always useless’ while attending protests about the NHS, or retweeting complaints about the dismantling of what remains of the welfare state. There’s a strange implicit rule here: it’s OK to protest against what parliament has done, but it’s not alright to enter into parliament or the mass media to attempt to engineer change from there. Mainstream media is to be disdained, but BBC Question Time is to be watched and moaned about on Twitter. Purism shades into fatalism; better not to be in any way tainted by the corruption of the mainstream, better to uselessly ‘resist’ than to risk getting your hands dirty.

It’s not surprising, then, that so many neo-anarchists come across as depressed. This depression is no doubt reinforced by the anxieties of postgraduate life, since, like the Vampires’ Castle, neo-anarchism has its natural home in universities, and is usually propagated by those studying for postgraduate qualifications, or those who have recently graduated from such study.

What is to be done?

Why have these two configurations come to the fore? The first reason is that they have been allowed to prosper by capital because they serve its interests. Capital subdued the organised working class by decomposing class consciousness, viciously subjugating trade unions while seducing ‘hard working families’ into identifying with their own narrowly defined interests instead of the interests of the wider class; but why would capital be concerned about a ‘left’ that replaces class politics with a moralising individualism, and that, far from building solidarity, spreads fear and insecurity?

The second reason is what Jodi Dean has called communicative capitalism. It might have been possible to ignore the Vampires’ Castle and the neo-anarchists if it weren’t for capitalist cyberspace. The VC’s pious moralising has been a feature of a certain ‘left’ for many years – but, if one wasn’t a member of this particular church, its sermons could be avoided. Social media means that this is no longer the case, and there is little protection from the psychic pathologies propagated by these discourses.

So what can we do now? First of all, it is imperative to reject identitarianism, and to recognise that there are no identities, only desires, interests and identifications. Part of the importance of the British Cultural Studies project – as revealed so powerfully and so movingly in John Akomfrah’s installation The Unfinished Conversation (currently in Tate Britain) and his film The Stuart Hall Project – was to have resisted identitarian essentialism. Instead of freezing people into chains of already-existing equivalences, the point was to treat any articulation as provisional and plastic. New articulations can always be created. No-one is essentially anything. Sadly, the right act on this insight more effectively than the left does. The bourgeois-identitarian left knows how to propagate guilt and conduct a witch hunt, but it doesn’t know how to make converts. But that, after all, is not the point. The aim is not to popularise a leftist position, or to win people over to it, but to remain in a position of elite superiority, but now with class superiority redoubled by moral superiority too. ‘How dare you talk – it’s we who speak for those who suffer!’

But the rejection of identitarianism can only be achieved by the re-assertion of class. A left that does not have class at its core can only be a liberal pressure group. Class consciousness is always double: it involves a simultaneous knowledge of the way in which class frames and shapes all experience, and a knowledge of the particular position that we occupy in the class structure. It must be remembered that the aim of our struggle is not recognition by the bourgeoisie, nor even the destruction of the bourgeoisie itself. It is the class structure – a structure that wounds everyone, even those who materially profit from it – that must be destroyed. The interests of the working class are the interests of all; the interests of the bourgeoisie are the interests of capital, which are the interests of no-one. Our struggle must be towards the construction of a new and surprising world, not the preservation of identities shaped and distorted by capital.

If this seems like a forbidding and daunting task, it is. But we can start to engage in many prefigurative activities right now. Actually, such activities would go beyond pre-figuration – they could start a virtuous cycle, a self-fulfilling prophecy in which bourgeois modes of subjectivity are dismantled and a new universality starts to build itself. We need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital’s work for it by condemning and abusing each other. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we must always agree – on the contrary, we must create conditions where disagreement can take place without fear of exclusion and excommunication. We need to think very strategically about how to use social media – always remembering that, despite the egalitarianism claimed for social media by capital’s libidinal engineers, that this is currently an enemy territory, dedicated to the reproduction of capital. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t occupy the terrain and start to use it for the purposes of producing class consciousness. We must break out of the ‘debate’ that communicative capitalism in which capital is endlessly cajoling us to participate in, and remember that we are involved in a class struggle. The goal is not to ‘be’ an activist, but to aid the working class to activate – and transform – itself. Outside the Vampires’ Castle, anything is possible.

Mark Fisher is the author of Capitalist Realism and Ghosts of my Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. His writings appears in a wide variety of publications, including Film Quarterly, The Wire, The Guardian and Frieze. He killed himself on 13 January 2017 at the age of 48, shortly before the publication of his latest book The Weird and the Eerie.


  1. Go Go

    RIP Mark Fisher. I’ve just started to read your work and now I feel like I’m late to the party. You were truly brilliant, inspiring, and relentless in your search for the knowledge we need to dismantle capital. You will be missed greatly, comrade.

  2. Joo Heung Lee Joo Heung Lee

    The for-the-most-part inane comments show just how trenchant the problems of the Left are, and probably contributed to the author’s tragic suicide. Mark Fisher hit the nail on the head. We should honor his memory through political mobilization by exiting the vampire castle. Class consciousness needs to make a resurgence.

  3. Serge Serge

    My friend once posted “Someone please explain to me why I wouldn’t want to be a Social Justice Warrior? It sounds badass and amazing.”
    To which I replied: “Because there’s a lot of crazies in the far regressive left. Justice is an institution and methodology that is ultimately based on punishment. Justice may be blind but the people doing the judging and dolling out the punishment are not. Justice is about controlling people through laws, dogma and fear of reprisal. To judge someone socially is to ostracize them. To exclude them from the group. To define someone elses reality and experience for them. Warriors kill. They vanquish their enemies. They have no moral code. When you put all that together, no I don’t think it’s a good term. It implies the punishment of people through blind and immoral force, by self made and aggrandizing judges. It’s no different at all from what the churches of the world have done for thousands of years. Control thought through fear of social justice. The rule of the mob. It should be the awakening and enlightenment brought from love and compassion, not the imposed self-flagellation by people who talk about privilege without talking about it’s price.
    I prefer to just fight for equal human rights, in all its forms but still with my feet firmly rooted in science, rationality, compassion, patience and love. Call me a Human Rights Soldier.

  4. yutk yutk

    One of the endpoints of a Vampire Castle career is making a living out of one’s opression status and sacred opinions itself. I’ve seen someone offer seminars and workshops for greater social justice enlightement, with the blessing inherent in their status, and the list of their actual opressions included being aromantic (not letting society pushing them in relationships, and very queerly being unwilling and unwanting to enter one), polyamorous AND a widower, in the same time. And left-handed, the poor soul. These people never realize when they cross the self-parody line.

    Altough as far as I recall they were not opressed into pretending to be a member of humanity while being in reality a human-appearing dragon from a parallel dimension reality of an anime which came out ten years after their birth, as otherkin often claim.

    “Why do you want the minimum wage raised, you poopylord, instead of feeling guilty for having a job at all while disabled unemployed people exist? You are living on stolen land, why are you so entitled to think you deserve healthcare too? Go in a corner and feel guilty instead! Why do you want abortion rights, flaunting that cis uterus you unfairly received at birth? Why do you want racial equality when you are a man and black women have it worse than you?” These are usually not explicit, but “how dares anyone go to a protest who did not appear at the protests for my particular cause, you are all fake and opressive” was a reaction I got very tired of seeing, instead of any more concrete criticisms of the recent women’s marches, for example.

  5. Dan Dan

    I am tired of situations like one time when I was called “sexist” because I mentioned that wages are exploitative in nature during a discussion about the wage gap. It was a socialist meeting for crying out loud. I can’t even. Great article Mark.

  6. Kat Pincaid Kat Pincaid

    I remembered this piece from 2013. It’s quite good, though you would have been more on track if you had focused on the narcissism of the left. It got to the point where I had to wash my hands of my own left wing identity. The state that the left is in now leaves it indistinguishable from the radical right. There is not a straw man they won’t construct, or a fabrication they won’t make in service of their vaguely defined causes.

    Every ideologue believes their cause is moral and just, and every ideology is horse poopy.

  7. Jeremy Paler Jeremy Paler

    This is older, I know, but…

    I think the only point I agree with here is that class has been down-graded as an intellectual talking point, especially in America. A friend of mine in the DC State Department told me he doesn’t think class really exists in America, and this dude identifies as an “extreme radical leftist.” I just don’t get it.

    Everything else, though, honestly sounds like the mad complaint of a white man who can feed himself. That doesn’t mean the critique is useless, it means it’s silly. How are you going to worry about class itself when most of the people with those all-important minority qualifiers are fairly poor–poverty is one of the *biggest* things critics of anti-minority culture talk about. There is a powerful dialectical relationship between those minority-status qualifiers and practical poverty. Homosexuals of either gender often live in poverty when or if they try to start a family. Needless to say the same is true of American-born racial minorities and some immigrant minorities, though not all. Class struggle is thoroughly foundational to why these minorities seek and are given succor in the first place.

    “The fifth law of the Vampires’ Castle: think like a liberal (because you are one). The VC’s work of constantly stoking up reactive outrage consists of endlessly pointing out the screamingly obvious: capital behaves like capital (it’s not very nice!), repressive state apparatuses are repressive. We must protest!”

    That doesn’t sound like a liberal, that sounds further to the left of anything a liberal would say. Quoting a radical Marxist like Althusser is not exactly a liberal thing to do.

    “big Other”

    I always laugh a little…

    “partly to cover up their own invariably wealthy, privileged or bourgeois-assimilationist background”

    Oh? Invariably you say? In America most academics I know wound up where they did *because* they grew up without a voice or the ability to act on their environment. Their fathers were janitors or military men–the last couple decades’ worth of single parenting will no doubt even further express lower socioeconomic backgrounds in the academy, provided government aid remains. If they only wanted the money they’d have used their talents elsewhere. Most also reject “bourgeois-assimilationist” tendencies like having children, or marrying, and surprisingly many never own property except perhaps a car. Muttering nonsense does not a criticism make.

    What the hell were you doing on Twitter? What kind of person who worries about anything Old Leftists worry about waste their time on 140 characters in the first place? Read a book. Write a book. Discourse–not soundbites.

    I learned absolutely nothing from your diatribe.

  8. peter gentle peter gentle

    “Brand’s forensic take-down of Paxman was intensely moving, miraculous ….” Well, in that case, you must be refering to a different interview from the one I saw. Brand revealed himself to be what he is: a comedian, and someone only a desperate editorial borad at NS would want as a guest editor. Brand’s is a politics of pose, nothing more. He had no ideas whatsoever worth noting, simply talking about ‘revolution’, though what that revolution would look like – a revolution in what? – and how to get there was conspiciously absent from his rants. That he gets caught up in ‘intersectionality’ was another lesson on what the left has beocome – a small, sectarian irrelevance.

  9. clemdane clemdane

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the most refreshing left wing opinon piece I have read in 25 years. I encourage you not to just give up on politics, but to break away from the dour, judgmental Puritans and find likeminded people (like the ones who responded so well to Russell Brand) and strike out on your own. Why not create a NEW kind of leftist movement? It’s about time for a new paradigm. Even if there are only 10 of you to start, word will spread and you might even end up the head a of a huge grassroots movement. You are clearly sincere, thoughtful and have the courage to stand up to some pretty formidable entrenched groups. I wish you Godspeed!

  10. John Smith John Smith

    Wonderful, inspiring polemic. I, personally, already did give up, and the sh!tstorm this article created only serves to reinforce my decision. The very fact that mr. rectenwald had to write an ‘explanation’ of your comments shows the sad, sorry condition the ‘left’ is in these days, and serves only to reinforce the veracity of your claims. The very fact that it had to begin with a ‘critique’ – a critique merely of ‘form’ at that; not taking into account the difference between a polemic and a theoretic exegesis – only serves to show the massive amount of unwarranted power given to what Petras calls this ‘subjectivist cult of essentialist identities.’
    Falling victim to these bourgeois ideologies, as you rightly label them, is somewhat understandable during times of relative peace and prosperity (eg. 90s) when they really asserted dominance, but I had great hope that after the Global Financial Crisis the world would sober up and realize that the ‘End of History’ was an absurd postulate. The Right has awoken/is awakening, but the ‘Left’ still sleeps. All seems lost.

  11. A rather late to the party reply to this piece Intersectionality, Calling out & the Vampire Castle – we need dialogue & change rather than exclusion

  12. Mark Power Mark Power

    All you collectivists are deranged. I can’t wait for the deflationary depression to start and the immigrants you love will cannibalize you.

  13. Tyrone Tyrone

    Leave it to some lily white Brit to try to resurrect the legacy of sexist imperialist Euro-Settler ‘Leftism” Nice to know we in AmeriKKKa arent the only ones having to put up with racism apologists in the socialist movement

  14. Fisher seems to be criticizing what he calls the moralizing left which might be catholic or religion-obsessed persons (deeply deceived by ideological propaganda) and who may also be anti-communist and anti-socialist (against the welfare state and politicians). These types of people not only attempt to make others feel guilty and miserable but narrow down their experience to individuals only without any awareness of class. Fisher used the terms class obfuscation and class privilege. Their specific modus operandi seems to be condemning, a form of mockery and scape-goating. Their blindspot is gender, he says, and although they are left (?) as anti-capitalist (hating their position in the hierarchy), they are individualist, essentializing – no awareness of class. I would like to hear his version of how neoliberalism mantled the welfare state as well as his take on the isomorphism between natural selection and the class structure. Apparently, because he calls them vampire, he implies that they make you bleed!!!

  15. Aaron Aarons Aaron Aarons

    One of the things that makes Fisher’s polemic worthless on the face of it is the lack of any concrete, specific examples of what he is criticizing. He not only gives no quotes and no names, but he doesn’t even give a substantial paraphrase of the ideas he is attacking.

  16. Anyone who doubts the bourgeois roots of identitarianism only has to look into its history. It was promoted by liberal academics like Derrick Bell and Kimberle Crenshaw, people who were far more interested in being part of capitalism’s upper class than promoting an alternative.

  17. Most of the article by Fisher discusses identity as an overlay on more foundational issues. For example, the use of the term, petit-bourgeios, is undefined and the function of this strata is unclear as if it always has the same purpose regardless of task: it is undifferentiated as used by this author. There is the suspicion that identity politics and the attendant guilt-induction has no cause. So, what is it the effect of? Then, in closing, class structure is presented as the culprit entity. Class structure must be ended. The sense here is that the mode of production and reproduction IS the class structure and not that capitalism is a particular mode, a mode of production that is exploitative, deceitful, and oppressive. What we need to see is how the current mode of production, capitalism, in all of its effects, is contrasted by the next historical step(s) which eliminates the exploitation. Our species being and our labor power do not somehow vanish when the mode of production changes. The issue is how it should change: how should we reproduce and how should careers proceed. The labor movement posits unions that graduate the individual through the occupational system and this usually works despite rigidities, but the labor union concept has not been implemented fully and there are several sectors of the society in which the concept of labor union takes on wholly different meanings: a trade union is not an academic union is not a cashiers’ union. Is society to be rationalized as a series of occupational paths regulated by union procedures? Anyway, there is no comparative parallel for species reproduction. Sexual reproduction is entirely unrationalized and until this sphere of interaction is freed from government and religious intervention, freedom as a concept will never be realized. The absence of a rationalization of sexual reproduction is a glaring gap that is secretly controlled by political power, money, and “persuasion.” The hidden side of identity of each person is related to their relation to parent and offspring which is today a hodge-podge of competing unknown lineages controlled by information operations from the state and religion. The description of identity politics or conflicts as phenomena does not address its cause or structure.

  18. Steve Steve

    Congratulations Mark, one of the best articles I’ve read in a fair while. Pretty much every week bring another piece of fraudulent academy dross that confirms the drift of your arguments, whether it’s the shoal of “Lily Allen is a racist” garbage that gummed up twitter taking the heat off Tommy Robinson for a few days, or this past weekend’s masterpiece from the New Statesman “Movember is racist”, which has been widely re-posted on sporting messageboards across Britain, making everyone with politics slightly to the left of Ed Miliband’s look like total clowns. Ellen Mieksins Wood wrote a superb take-down of identity politics around 20 years ago, drawing on her experience of American politics that lacked the unifying force of a progressive left social democratic project. And it’s no coincidence that the defeatism enshrined in that curious ragbag mix of anarchism and liberalism you describe has advanced in the UK thanks to New Labour nearly wiping out the Labour left here. But fair play to the likes of the People’s Assembly and Owen Jones, they are keeping hope alive. And Russell Brand does have that threatening trajectory from mainstream to left politics that so worried the establishment when Tony Benn started going off-message in the late-60s. I also remain optimistic because I remember the huge impact the likes of Livingstone’s GLC made at the time – for all the social media hot air from the gurus of intersectionalism, it was this labour movement project in the 1980s that did electrifying things to advance the interests of feminism, the capital’s black and Irish communities and LGBT activists – and remains an inspiration for political alliances to aspire to even now for the left.

  19. Mike Ballard Mike Ballard

    The ‘super-exploitation’ you write of is not the ‘fault’ of workers in other parts of the world. In fact, it’s just how the wage system operates. Labour power is a commodity which capitalists buy at the lowest price they can. If the type of labour power a capitalist needs is for sale by workers in one country for half the price it is in another, where do you think the capitalists are going to go to buy it? Capitalists aren’t nationalists, although they do promote patriotism amongst their wage-slaves. Capitalists are only in it for the money. Lower wages and working conditions make for higher rates of profit. Therein lies the secret to the fetishism of ‘super-exploitation’.

    The best way to deal with capitalists is from a position of power and our power as a class lies in the conscious praxis of global solidarity as a class. Your constant attempt to guilt trip members of your own class, assuming you are a worker, is typical of the radical liberal approach to gaining ‘social justice’ under the rule of Capital. After 2,000 years of this moralistic approach, one would think the left would have learned that ‘social justice’ will never be achieved by brow-beating the producing classes into submission to a Deity’s aphorisms. It will leave them divided and fighting each other over the ‘correct’ interpretations of what said Deity meant and which BOOK lights the correct path to a jolly afterlife.

    What the producers of all wealth (outside that found in nature) need is a clear understanding of how the wage system works and how to abolish it. What they need are proposals on what to replace the wage system with. What they don’t need are holier than thou leaders preaching to them about their sins of omission and commision.

    Sure, chide, even shun your fellow workers for racist and sexist expressions. Why? Because thinking that there’s more than one race is wrong scientifically and wrong politically because it weakens class solidarity needed for emancipation. The same goes for other divisive ideologies e.g. sexism etc.

  20. jason jason

    vegan academics are oppressed by homeless people who eat burgers, its called internationality you gently caresswit

  21. Andrew Coates Andrew Coates

    As one of the people who helped organise the Ipswich meeting of the Suffolk People’s Assembly that mark came to I’d like to say how much his comments have cheered me up. “One of the things that broke me out of this depressive stupor was going to the People’s Assembly in Ipswich, near where I live.”

    “What actually happened at the Assembly in Ipswich was very different to this caricature. The first half of the evening – culminating in a rousing speech by Owen Jones – was certainly led by the top-table speakers.

    But the second half of the meeting saw working class activists from all over Suffolk talking to each other, supporting one another, sharing experiences and strategies. Far from being another example of hierarchical leftism, the People’s Assembly was an example of how the vertical can be combined with the horizonta….The atmosphere was anti-racist and anti-sexist, but refreshingly free of the paralysing feeling of guilt and suspicion which hangs over left-wing twitter like an acrid, stifling fog.”

    This has made my day, and my comrades will be informed immediately (I missed this earlier when skimming North Star).

    We are a *real* “People’s Assembly”!

  22. Aaron Aarons Aaron Aarons

    “And one of the things that was clarified for me was the way in which, in recent years, so much of the self-styled ‘left’ has suppressed the question of class.”

    One of the things that is constantly clarified for me, and presumably even more for those who are not white, male beneficiaries of imperialist-county citizenship, is how most of the left in imperialist countries has, for over a century, suppressed the recognition of the massive privileges accruing to imperialist-county citizens, especially but not only white male ones, in the international exploitation of labor and looting of nature. It’s meaningless to talk about ‘class’ if your concept of class can’t distinguish between a Bangladeshi garment worker making US$0.25 an hour and a homeowner in Britain or the U.S. making over US$25 an hour. The latter may not be entirely secure, but it is an insecurity shared with the petty bourgeoisie in general.

  23. Michael Odom Michael Odom

    Agreed. Mostly. The draining and cowing effects (the “vampire” aspect) of judgmental/ moralizing identity politics has served the bourgeoisie well in dividing and deflating working class advocacy. Minorities, even the poorest, who want nothing but to get rich by exploiting others are their own enemies and everyone else’s. The black woman on welfare has more interests in common with the homeless white male than she has with the child of privilege born in dark skin. As much as we do not help in dropping the battles against racism & sexism, it is a poor strategy to turn the poor against one another when we could be pointing to their more essential (a word that also means ‘extremely important’) similarities.

  24. anechoic anechoic

    this article shows why most people on the left continually fall for the same tricks played on them by the elite class while many of the comments below reflect why the left will continue swim in it’s own waste ad infinitum – great article! 🙂

  25. xTrotskyx_1990 xTrotskyx_1990

    What a shock it must be to Mark Fisher to receive a series of excoriations in the manner that he describes in his article. As far as I can understand, there’s a difference between ‘essentialising’ and merely ‘categorising’: without the latter, we cannot communicate ideas. I also can’t find the part where he suggest that we should ignore or marginalise gender or race, I hope that someone can help me.

  26. MyMoontime MyMoontime

    Thank God I got out of leftist poopy while I still have my youth. It ain’t worth it. Nothing is worth this level of self-denial and flagellation and moral hygiene. They want to confiscate your drugs and porn, and they aren’t even giving you an afterlife in exchange.

  27. KC Halas KC Halas

    Stop considering and disappear with your ill gotten gains, proffered by graft and corruption by your beloved corporate fraudsters.

  28. Adam Adam

    I found this to be quite enjoyable as someone who is avowedly liberal rather than “of the Left”.

    As a white male who is relatively privileged in economic and social capital, I feel like I have a very hard time these days even getting to the part in the argument wherein I advocate non-Revolutionary progressive tax reform, shareholder participation changes in corporate governance, modest trade union re-strengthening, neo-liberal free-trade agreements with better environmental, labor, and corruption oversight, and the rest of the cavalcade of bourgeois horrors that I think make for a better future than the one offered by the revolutionary Left.

    Somehow it all becomes about my right or authority to speak on whatever issue it is that sparked the conversation. Other people who share similar genetic or historic features to me just don’t seem to have deposited enough into collective oppression credit accounts that I can draw from to allow me to unmute myself.

    Now, I also think, along with some of the other commenters here, that Fisher is constructing class in a way that is way too similar to the way that he criticizes other identity features being constructed. But still, I mean, jeez, how is anybody supposed to figure out that I really *am* an opponent of the general Socialist program — and a dissident of the dialectical ideas and theories that underpin it — if they can’t stop gawking at my oppressive Y chromosome and my oppressive skin color and my oppressive heterosexual predilections long enough to hear it?

  29. Slothrop Slothrop

    Great piece. Particularly this:

    “The Vampires’ Castle feeds on the energy and anxieties and vulnerabilities of young students, but most of all it lives by converting the suffering of particular groups – the more ‘marginal’ the better – into academic capital. The most lauded figures in the Vampires’ Castle are those who have spotted a new market in suffering – those who can find a group more oppressed and subjugated than any previously exploited will find themselves promoted through the ranks very quickly”.

    Seen this first hand over the past few years. Cynical and careerist “politics”.

  30. Dorian Gray Dorian Gray

    This essay is as drudgingly joyless and self-centered as the poopy it condemns and by the end of writing it you should have realized it was ready for the bin. I do commend your effort but you put it toward the wrong thing.

  31. gregoryabutler gregoryabutler

    So only straight White males are “working class” and Black, Asian, women and gay workers (in other words, the MAJORITY of the working class) are “vampires” if we dare to raise our demands?

    Whatever, dude

    Basically, this nimrod wants straight White male national socialism – call it “Whitemanism” for short.

  32. OllieS OllieS

    Because Alan Sugar is from a working-class background, is he working-class? Of course he isn’t, but you’d think that after reading the laughable idea of class in this post. Class is relationship to the means of production, not your background or accent (although the author is apparently unaware that Brand went to Hockerill College, one of the best schools in the country, in a wealthy area).

    The practical politics of this post are extremely boring; I’ve heard it all before. ‘Class’ is important, even if these *great leaders* of our class aren’t at all interested in challenging racism or sexism. The idea that the ‘vampire’ left is a liberal pressure group, but the People’s Assembly isn’t, is laughable.

    And really, the ‘neo-anarchists’ identified here consist only of about 50 people. To act as if they’re some dominant trend which is the main thing holding the left back is again, laughable.

  33. neo-anarchist? neo-anarchist?

    This is a great piece. I am a little bit disconcerted by your comments on ‘neo-anarchists’ though. In short, it looks like – but I hope you’ll tell me this is not what you really meant – you are saying that the only viable strategy is to enter parliament or work through established media and political organizations… everything else is ‘purism’ and ‘fatalism’. The history of the anarchist movement – as well as the best part of the socialist and communist movement – shows us the opposite: it is possible to change the world without sitting in parliament. Surprisingly enough that is what Russel Brand rightly pointed out in his interview with Paxman: whatever the history of the Labour Party, it is today an integral part of ‘an indifferent system that really just administrates for large
    corporations and ignores the population that it was voted in to serve’. Obviously there are forms of political engagement which are meaningful and powerful even if they refuse the possibility of changing the labour party or the corporate media ‘from within’. It is possible to attempt something like that – and it seems to be the strategy you seems to argue for – but attacking comrades who work through other forms of resistance… well it sounds like the Vampires’ Castle.

  34. John Halle John Halle

    I appreciated this and strongly agree with its central point-with maybe a few small qualifications. I should say that I was a bit disconcerted by the tone which implies that the author is a voice in the wilderness in making these arguments. In particular, the notion that the multiculturalist agenda is not only not hostile to but entirely consistent with neoliberalism has been a staple of Adolph Reed’s critique for two decades. Walter Benn Michaels’s The Trouble with Diversity also lays out the argument well, as does Barbara and Karen Fields Racecraft (though a bit too obscurely for my tastes). I’ll also mention my take downs of diversity pimps MH Perry and Tim Wise as application of the basic theory, the former published here at North Star the latter at Doug Henwood’s Left Business Observer blog.

  35. Doug Tarnopol Doug Tarnopol

    A brilliant and much-needed essay. I have shared it with everyone I know, which happens to include, just so you know, Noam Chomsky and Norm Finkelstein. Don’t mean to name-drop; just wanted to let you know they will have seen it. And I’m sure they will much appreciate it, as did I. Well done!

  36. BigDave BigDave

    This is an article that needed writing. It reflects what I’ve thought about a proportion of my so-called comrades on the left for the best part of 40 years. If a genuine class fighter is accused by the state of murder, or a serious but gender/race/etc-neutral crime, we all rally round and say that he/she was fitted up. Make the charge rape, domestic violence, racism, etc., and there is a whole section of the left that assumes guilt, and continues to do so, in a style that would disgrace even The Sun or The Daily Mail, long after charges have been dropped or the person has been acquitted.

    I’ve been rounded on by the bullies simply for agreeing with a quote about an industrial dispute, whose origin was one such person, a genuine class-fighter who has achieved pariah status in the “Vampires Castle”, on the basis of unproven allegations from one person. At the time I didn’t even know who he was, and there was nothing wrong with the quote that someone else had lifted from him.

  37. Seventeen Eighty-Nine Seventeen Eighty-Nine

    Very good article.

    Though the way Mark Fisher treats class here is also somewhat essentialist (as if the class background of any given individual is the relevant point!). This can tend to reproduce the identitarian frame he rightly critiques, and obscures the *political* character of class – which is surely what matters, for anyone interested in social transformation.

  38. Jason Jason

    None of what you write is untrue, but you need to be honest and go the whole way. Calling the intersectionalists, for that is who you mean even though they are not named, “petit-bourgeois” doesn’t entirely do justice to what’s going on here. I suspect you just think calling someone middle class is the ultimate insult.

    Moreover, coming up with cutsey phrases like “vampire castle” isn’t going to address the problem any better than saying “capitalist realism” allowed you to dodge the reality that we do need economic growth, something the left has been dissembling about for decades. There is a reason the left has absolutely no purchase in society and it’s not that people have had their minds bent out of shape by “neo-liberalism”. It’s that it doesn’t, and is incapable of, speaking to ordinary people’e experiences.

    As someone else here said: Leftists are just Calvinists without a deity, more interested in consigning others to Hell than changing the world.

  39. Tim Holmes Tim Holmes

    1. I think this could have been said in about a third of the space and without the jargon. Would make a much better read – because there’s a BIG kernel of truth in here – but it’s obscured by theorising here, in my view. I’d be interested to see how you’d write it up for a tabloid-reading audience. And I mean that quite seriously. Give it a go. Because you make some really important points.

    2. You seem to me to be confusing “the ruling class” and “posh people”. The two are not the same, any more than trustafarians are the same as the FTSE 500.

    3. Anarchists have spurred groups like Climate Camp, UK Uncut, Plane Stupid – they’re out there “getting their hands dirty” all the time, and are always willing to work with sympathetic insiders, or use the mainstream media. There is, yes, a nay-saying fringe in self-imposed exile, but that’s not the whole story, not by a long shot. I wouldn’t even regard it as the mainstream of the movement.

    4. But even then, “outsiders” matter, often a lot. The Labour Party didn’t create the welfare state on its own: it did so because organised popular movements forced it to.

  40. Mike Ballard Mike Ballard

    What is radical liberalism?

    Radical liberals are the non-revolutionary left. They sometimes call themselves Greens, labor, liberal, socialist, communist, anarchist or some ideological subset of human identity; but they never advocate for social revolution. As a plus, many radical liberals advocate reforms of the system of wage labour which give some of the collective product of labour, including some labour time, back to the producers of the wealth of nations. Sometimes radical liberals even advocate for national liberation. Specifically though, radical liberals never advocate for a change in the mode of production and exchange.

    Marx and Engels were social revolutionaries who advocated the abolition of the wage system, common ownership of the collective product of labour and production of wealth for use, with its distribution based on need e.g. communism. The defining characteristics of a social revolution are rooted in a change in the mode of production and exchange. Radical liberals content themselves with advocating reforms of the rule of Capital; but never the total obliteration of Capital as a social relation. They typically advocate a fair wage system with social justice and usually call it, ‘being realistic’. With their political pragmatism in hand, they barrack for good rulers to replace evil rulers and,
    never for a free association of producers, democratically managing the whole the collective product of labour. The self-described anarchists and Communists amongst them sometimes advocate for an equality of wages, not the abolition of the wage system. Some radical liberals calling themselves libertarian socialists advocate for worker owned cooperatives to replace corporations with the aim of restoring fairness and social justice to the marketplace for commodities through genuine competition between enterprises of wage-slaves engaged in self-management, not an end to commodity production and sale and distribution of socially owned use-values on the basis of need.

    Radical liberalism dominates political, social and cultural discourse on the left. With their identity politics in hand, they dream of ending racism, sexism, ageism, classism etc. while promoting environmentalism to achieve social justice under the rule of Capital. For radical liberals, changing the mode of production is an out dated way to approach social justice, one which smacks of bureaucratic State socialism.

    Radical liberals may talk of revolution; but they haven’t got a clue about what a social revolution from class dominated to classless society would entail in terms of sublating the capitalist mode of production, although many of the more reactionary amongst them advocate a return to pre-capitalist modes of production. Radical liberals do not realise that the commodity itself is the building block of class ruled society. As history of human social relations has demonstrated, the commodity undermines any attempt to maintain equal political power between all men and women.

    Social justice will never be achieved under the rule of Capital. Capital is inherently a system of generalised commodity production with unequal political power between men and women of differing classes and even within those classes, as individuals within classes are stratified with varying dynamics of dominance and submission. Social justice means equal political power between ALL men and women or it remains an meaningless abstraction. Thus, the search for social justice via radical liberalism remains a mirage, an echo from the last stages of philosophical Idealism, the epoch of the revolutionary bourgeoisie.

    I have met a lot of nice Stalinists, Trotskyists and anarchists but, I’m not one of them.

  41. Jennifer Armstrong Jennifer Armstrong

    A very nice, well-articulated and insightful article that needs to be spread.

  42. Matthew Brett Matthew Brett

    This column makes strong points that I agree with. There is too much corrosive negativity within movements. However, I believe that your column will only continue this cycle.

    You state that it is right to question behaviour and practices of groups and movements, and that “such questioning should take place in an
    atmosphere of comradeship and solidarity, and probably not in public in the
    first instance.”

    Yet you do precisely the opposite. You publicly condemn a broad and nebulous group of people that you stuff into the “Vampire’s Castle.” These seem to be young
    people that are forming political opinions and trying to engage in radical politics.

    Rather than doing the hard work of trying to engage with (young) people that are developing interests in class, race and gender – you condemn with the same bitter and toxic language that you disapprove of.

    I believe the bitter tone of this article will feed the cycle of negativity that you are trying to resolve. I believe that it will divide and deepen feelings of bitterness.

    I hope this critique is well received. I do have other compliments and critiques about your piece that I believe are important, but I would like to focus on one.

    Sincerely & in solidarity, Matthew Brett

  43. Tsk Tsk

    The fact that so many commenters find it odd that the writer privileges class identity is astonishing. That’s the whole idea. There have been many attempts to blur class identity with other, more cozy and illusory identities, and they didn’t end very well. Amazing, and horrifying, that people calling themselves leftists have missed the whole damn point so badly.

  44. Tsk Tsk

    Or, to put the article’s premise more simply: So many entry exams to get into a club for a handful of remarkably unattractive, vindictive people. Becoming a leftist under these circumstances makes as much sense as running through traffic on a dare for the privilege of joining a clique of failed bullies.

  45. Tsk Tsk

    I thought everybody knew that Leftists were just Calvinists without a deity, more interested in consigning others to Hell than changing the world. As another genuine working-class iconoclast sang, “She’s the little-est rebel/She consigns them all to Hell…”

  46. Anon Anon

    On the spot from beginning to end

  47. KingCole KingCole

    Aren’t you yourself continuing the slave revolt that feeds the vampires by trying to continue the socialist tradition?

  48. mrpettigrew mrpettigrew

    boat people hate gently caress

  49. Tom Tom

    This is some retrograde poopy.

  50. Ben Ben

    You should have just gone and watched ‘Catching Fire’ again.

  51. Bearcubus Bearcubus

    1) Troll on behalf of paid identity-politics professionals, reasserting liberalism’s superior contemporary version of radicalism, postmodern theoretic-anarchism, qua its distractionary retainer function, targeting and isolating individuals and tiny networks of socialist putative good-ol’-boys. (Underlying assumption: postmodern theoretic-anarchists are themselves not implicated in oppressive and repressive relations, which are voluntaristic rather than institutionalized.)
    2) Troll reasserting liberalism’s claim of monopoly powers of recognizing and celebrating individual liberty, based on not paying attention to history or contemporary totalitarian institutions.

    3) Snide troll.
    In conclusion: Personal claim to marginalized identity establishing authority of above points.

  52. John Bull John Bull

    Interesting article. Now that these arguments are out in a public forum, I hope these problems I’ve found in the arguments will add something constructive to the debate.

    1. The whole play of attacking left-wing critiques of bigotry that represent queer sexualities, feminism and people of colour as vampiric and stemming from a ‘vampire castle’ seems a bit dodgy. In themselves, these positions are essential to creating conditions of equality and fairness in the socialist and democratic mass movements many of us have long been striving towards. Dismissing hot-tempered and dramatic critiques as ‘vampiric’ not only delegitimises a form of criticism that doesn’t play by academic rules (isn’t shouting and harsh put-downs part of the demotic politics of the street, about holding your own?), but it also dehumanises their proponents. It creates a bogeyman from which the writer and his allies emerge clean, truly “alive”. These kinds of arguments are dangerous as well as a bit childish eh?

    2. Yeah, a lot of debates on Twitter are bad-tempered, people’s comments can be cringeworthy. Like any public debate I guess. But to propose that the real enemy of class struggle are a few largely well-meaning leftists on the Internet needs to be proved. What are they largely reacting against? A consistent war against the poor and the institutions which protect them fought by a fairly-tightknit alliance of politicians, large businesses, police, army and media-owners. Can the writer really claim that these activists are the real danger to a class struggle, the parasite that sucks the life from it? Or, if instead we thinking more strategically about creating a genuinely political popular movement for democratic socialism, aren’t the enemies elsewhere? Is the vampire castle really made up of hipster Marxist academics? Or is the real bloodsucker something far more substantial and, well, obvious?

    3. Seems unqualified to dismiss the entirety of young dissidents involved in the student struggles or leftists in postgrad study as neo-anarchist, as if it were a single strand of dismissing the state in their politics. There’s a major difference between the common criticisms of the Labour party now, or of saying alongside Brand that voting in the British elections is a waste of time, and entirely abdicating a politics of the state. I don’t think many do this (who do you mean exactly?) and this criticism is unfair and unsubstantiated. And as above, to claim that young students are the enemy of class struggle overlooks the problem of class composition and the “proletarianization” of students, new academics, as with so many of those in former middle-class professional positions.

    4. Class as the writer presents it comes across as another identity construction, rather than an identification. Either that, or he would permit the bogeymen of vampires and neo-anarchists who identify as ‘working class’ to join its forces. Either way, experiences of ‘class’ vary with even more dangerous imprecision than any identity politics: what or who counts as working class economically, or socially, or politically, all varies – not to mention how different age-groups, regions, identity groups might describe their own ‘class’.

    5. If the writer’s intention is to purge the left of its love of grudge matches and in-fighting, then I’m not sure how well this succeeds, but it’s clear that new strategic thinking is needed. But dividing class vs. identitarianism isn’t that helpful. Laclau and Mouffe for instance covered this territory well in ‘Hegemony and Socialist Strategy’ and have pointed to how both can work together in a ‘chain of equivalences’, a series of democratic and socialist movements acting in a broad, pluralistic alliance (though by no means entirely unified). This is what I think of when I read the well-meaning class for comradeship and solidarity in the last paragraph. But the power of ‘class’ as binding of different social groups has been in decline for decades, for reasons the writer and most of us know already, and I’d suggest that new forms of identification that can be more clearly grasped be considered.

    Anyway, before fingers are pointed, I say this as someone from an inner-city background with no money, single parent home, went to state schools, mucked about, went to a mediocre uni, got into a lot of debt, have worked and been on the dole, lived my adult life in council housing etc etc., and I don’t attribute any class virtue to this. Does it matter though, it is actually useful are these Left-McCarthyist “which class are you really!” discussions…?

  53. duras duras

    good thinking mark! agree that we need to do something about these liberal effete queer blood-suckers, and establish our thousand-tweet reign … laughs …

  54. murray murray

    “This summer, I seriously considered withdrawing from any involvement in politics.”

    We were close, so damn close.

  55. A Concerned Vlogger A Concerned Vlogger

    im going to drown you in a var of piss

  56. Ruralrighton Ruralrighton

    Your a dick.
    PS intersectional feminist vampires are under your bed.

  57. automnia automnia

    Your a dick.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Upload image: