The Material Unconscious

Levi on the need for an infrastructural politics. For what it’s worth I think this kind of politics can start with smaller and more achievable approaches,although by no means easy. If left politics are to be at all relevant in the 21st century in any effective and efficacious sense then it needs to begin from an appreciation of the last few decades discoveries regarding human nature and behaviour. I am not suggesting this would be easy. For instance I find myself in a situation of dissonance between anarchist identification and organzing (sometimes) and a growing sense that the lessons of neuroeconimics and other post-behaviourist disciplines, the discoveries of neuroscience regarding rhetoric and experience, and the emotional foundations of morality need to be integrated into a left infra-politics. For me these are the discourses that elaborate the most immediately human aspects of the “material unconscious”.

Levi also touches on Baudrillard who I am also beginning to appreciate as the thinker who taught the strategic intelligence of the masses. While anarchists and libertarian communists bemoan the lack of radical organizing we see a renewed fever in electoralism. Might it not be that the traditional ultra-left critiques of electoralism completely miss the point, taking the whole thing at face value and from the perspective of the party over the masses. Baudrillard introduces the thought that it is the electoral agencies that are the victims of the people.

Larval Subjects .

irp_7Perhaps we would do best to call it the material unconscious.  Freud famously said that there had been three blows to human narcissism:  Copernicus and his decentering of the Earth, Darwin and his theory of evolution, and psychoanalysis and its discovery of the unconscious.  With the first humanity learns that it is not at the center of the universe.  With the second, humanity learns it is not markedly different from animals.  With the third, humanity learns that it’s interiority is not in charge.  With thingly thought, the thought of the object, we perhaps encounter a fourth blow to our narcissism:  the way in which we are mediated by things.  We dwell within a milieu of things, objects, or what I have elsewhere called machines.  What we take to be our own agency, our own free choice, instead turns out in so many instances to be the agency of these things…

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