Greedy people are starving for gifts;
... starving people have had their gifts taken away. – after Genevieve Vaughan
This is an important discussion, and one I feel anarchists have dealt with in a very partial way. I think it's interesting to note that the limit of the sexual revolution occurred at that very point of capitalist transition from economies of scale. At a time when the atomization of the individual follows an increase in sexualization through film, we receive the free-love hippie. Here, at the climax, something goes terribly wrong. We lose what Zizek refers to as phantasmic desire, and we feel ridiculous. We are now only going through the motions. Love is not possible.
As Foucault and others have pointed out, sexuality is not latent, not actualizing through society as an orgone accelerant. Society and culture define sexuality. Sexuality is created from it's lack, not of itself. Fascism gives us the sexual poverty of 30 women sitting around Hitler, as children amidst a storyteller, jaws agape. The men have a different understanding of 'the violence that goes at it from the hip'. In democracy we have repressive desublimation and the desire for instant gratification. The desiring of desire. The desire of desiring. The opposite is received in the dumbed down versions of Reich's politics, so often touted by polyamorists. Lack of sex makes one a fascist. Love freely comrades! Love, freely.
Is the practical of polyamory so different from the hook-up culture? Comrades with benefits might we call it?
And let us not be misunderstood in this misunderstanding. Polyamory offers us much, but not all. Going too far often leaves one not very far. Emma Goldman told old man Kropotkin that sex is important to us youth. But I think she also meant love. The bound being of love and sex. Has this bind been lost in the transition to the practical world post-1960s? Is there all that much to celebrate?
Women in need of anti-psychiatrists to be taught the orgasm does not suggest how much has been gained, but rather how much has been lost. That feminism has been at times reduced to cheering on the mechanized G-spots of Carrie and her friends in Sex and the City demonstrates not so much a triumph of feminism as a tension towards it's zero-point. It is afeminism. The denial of women's sexuality through women's sexuality. A powerful image that leaves Irigaray's rebuttals of Lacan out in the cold. This sex which is not one. This sex which is one. This sex which is nothing.
The practical is already offered in intolerable doses. If we are to speak of polyamory and open relationships then we need to do so, not outside of the practical, but beyond it. Without this we are lacking what Wolfi referred to as a depth of relations. To have sex we need the practical, to have love we need the ideal. But to get away from this duality we need total appropriation of the other. It is only in this depth of knowing that we might wholly experience the other. In sex. In love.
The author's of The Right to be Greedy, however, bring us to a double bind. We need this total appropriation, but it would seem there is little to appropriate. The individual is anamorphic. A process synthesis. If we are to be loved, and to love, then it is to be with Elliot's twin, or with Beverly's twin. The twin we can never know. As in Dead Ringers our total appropriation of the other is determined by our ability to exist aside a state of compounding reduction. Aside a collective of individuals who are not one. Who are one.
Feminists have told us that we are incapable of loving. I am unsure how I feel of this. It is true that current relations cannot continue as they are. So I am convinced. But the appropriation of Goldman's ideas, without ever knowing who she truly was, without ever trying to go beyond her, says to me that the feminists are incapable of loving. I am unconvinced. As Milena tells Vladimir Illych, you love all mankind, yet you're incapable of loving one individual. You love the world too much. You love yourself too much. You love neither...
Pretty awesome, D.S.. The one place I kind of got hung up on was the notion of appropriation of the other. I don't want to appropriate my other, I want to blend. But not to the point of one, of unity. That annihilation of the unique is impossible, or at least, highly undesireable. I dig the word, intercourse. Before it was defined in terms of sexual 'activism', it referred to an alternative to discourse, beyond mere dialogue or an exchange of words. It referred to folks walking the same path rather than knocking each other off it. This of course doesn't imply that those on the same path are the same person. .
I'm unfamiliar with some of your references to television, but I get the point. Back in the 60's, when modern feminism was starting to get off the ground, there were two films, "Our Man Flint" and "In Like Flint", where the hero was asked how it was that women (even radical feminists) were so enamored with him. His answer: "Simple. I don't compete with them".
But as you say, the point of one is undesirable. And i think this lack of the unique is part of the non-monogamy movement. The synthesis of the individual is self-accumulating. Can its politics be detached from the world that birthed it?
When I first read "Greedy", I was attracted to the idea of merging Stirner and Marx, but red flags started to go off right and left, suggesting to me the project was or could be used as an attempt to recouperate (the ideology of) property and it's accumulation and insert them back into radical ideology - essentially reclaming hedonistic desire in our "altruistic egoism" (ie., the anarcho/libertarian-capitalist project). I personally liked the approach of the old Feral Faun after Novatore who said everything should be treated like the stars: "All that is called "material property", "private property", "exterior property" needs to become what the sun, the light, the sky, the sea, the stars are for individuals ... only ethical and spiritual wealth is invulnerable. This is the true property of individuals". In this sense alone should we all want to be greedy. In this sense too, we can appropriate/incorporate each other without any sense of ownership. Yes, I want it all. Needless to say, I will go over the greedy text again to see if my reaction was only part of my paranoia.
Well said. I can't say I understand property accumulation well enough. But there are parts in 'greedy' that are critical of hedonism. From what I can remember, they see the move away from altruism as a negative. Any attempts to go back, within the current landscape of partial appropriation and the accumulation of others, could only fail. The response is to instead take the other, appropriate them completely. In a Deleuzian sense this could be seen as becoming the other to reactualize oneself. This is more important than the greed over material things, it is the greed of self-mastery. For ethical and spiritual growth. Or as Lacan said, what does it matter how many lovers you have if none of them gives you the universe? I think feral faun pulled much from the greedy text.
Well, I've finally re-read Right to be Greedy with a more open mind. I see your point. My first reading years ago was terminated because I was stopped by the language of "greed". You might say it was no reading at all. It's an important piece but dangerous. I say dangerous because it's damn hard to get out of aristotelian thinking, especially for us older folks who have a lifetime of training in it. My original rejection was coloured by the fact that it was endorsed by folks I'd call anarcho/libertarian-capitalist, and I see why. The words the authors wish to win back are the very watchwords of capital. I thought this a doomed project. Property, power, exchange, greed, selfishness, etc. will never have a place in my Reformed Dictionary of the`English Language. Needless to say, reading this time around proved more impressive.
One of my entertainments is researching etymologies and thinking about the context and varying levels of abstraction in language (narrow, broad, generic, specific). These terms (greed, etc.) have been so historically bastardized, I don't think they can be re-appropriated and fit back into their original context. I'm much more the sort who would prefer to bring back the earlier intentions and apply alternate, more neutral names: attribute, possession, energy potential, capability, reciprocity, feedback, transformation, desire, pleasure, etc. I say this not in support of a dry scientism, but in the sense of virginity and its potential. Extended use can give neutrality a sharp point – revolutionary creation growing from a banal void, not from the reappropriation of all stolen goods. I also say this in the sense of barbarianism. The effectiveness of barbarians is precisely that they do not speak the same language, so cannot be recouperated. They were never part of the fraternity to begin with.
Interestingly, the authors and I seem otherwise to be headed in the same direction. Total appropriation of the other (and its inversion) is precisely what I want. Without this, I feel any search for joy, love, euphoria falls short without heavy inhalation of nitrous oxide or other spectacular distraction. Unfortunately, chemical means to reach such a plateau provide short-lived enthusiasm and some are potentially fatal. The first and hardest task is the elimination of the self-other, individual-collective, subject-object dialectic from a reasoned and felt stance, not just via a level of incompentence induced by spectacular means. "Coming down" always seems to cancel any potential gains made and can lead to depression. Ours is a conceptual task, a revolutionary transformation in worldview, and cannot be furthered by simple lexical change or appropriation. Obviously those right-libertarians I find so offensive don't, can't and won't get it. There is a huge difference between "I want more (of what I don't now have)" and "I want everything (like the stars, sun, wind, oceans, life!)".
The "upside-down world of alienation", the "incapacity for pleasure" will not be reversed by mere linguistic force and dialectic exposition. That "will keep the personal world narrow and impoverished, and the social world menacing and alien." Put simply, the authors didn't go far enough in their juxtaposition of Marx, Stirner, Reich and Vaneigam to rid our thinking of self-other dialectic. Given the assumption that all things are connected, all being is social. This is not a call for democracy. I don't see how this appreciation is possible when the piece is laden with me, my, I, self, you, your, ego, society (as "the outside"), privacy. These words force the dialectic antagonism already forced on us precisely because historical connotation cannot be discarded except over eons of colloquial change in usage. I find it easier to restrict their usage. How authoritarian of me in the interest of communication!
Communism should ideally annihilate not only altruism, but egoism as well, and in that effort, support both: "Compassion doesn't need to be coerced out of us; it comes naturally. We feel others' suffering, as well as their joy, because we are open to feeling our own." Perhaps joy can only be acheived through vicarity: I can only feel it myself when I see it in others? Maybe the authors would agree that what is needed is not the synthesis of dialectic opposition, but the annihilation of oppositions altogether. But their language replaces narrow egoism with more egoism, the self as center of the universe. The social, or communist ego represents a universe of the future with multiple centers. If we were to abandon the very notion of center (with its implied boundaries), we could escape the confines of the dialectic and truly embrace (appropriate) the totality. A communist self would revert to merely a relative point of view amongst innumerable other such points. Without the center, self is redundant, society or commonality is academic, everything is unique, the universe is ubiquitous. Everything is recapitulated in everything else. Mathematical value disappears without the loss of comparison, trendiness, difference & similarity. I'd not stop at the end of exchange value, but use-value as well. Value use, end use-value. Embrace (paradox) and esteem (coherence) without calculation, except of course on tuesdays when contradiction is publicly celebrated and dutifully recorded on ledgers to be stored in library basements, if only to remind us later to not be too rigid in our thinking nor to take our own existence too awfully seriously.
Finally, the appendix situates the project with the situationists and every so-called radical line since in the call for direct democracy, recallable delegates and worker councils. Is this the furthest our imaginations can take us? If one is to refuse representation in the interest of un-mediated living (total appropriation), how is one to authorize delegation, no matter how revocable? Democracy itself sacrifices self-will and responsibility to the collective will. Or is there a basic contradiction demanded by the need for digital watches (ca. 1974; 'cell phones' ca. today) making work one of those necessary evils, as long as someone else is agreeably performing it? I think I have to sway toward the primitivist critique of technology, such that our things must be freely reproduceable (and therefore freely available) in each community either through individual or collective effort and without specialization. Until then, there can be no abolition of work. After that, there will be no need for workers councils. I've said before, I think democracy is the strongest form of social control. Certainly, a loving relationship is not something we would want to go into via strategies of democratic decision-making left to the collective will.