I was no-platformed by the CPGB!
The following is an article I wrote for Weekly Worker. It is a critique of Jaqueline Rose’s essay on transgender for the London Review of Books (5 May, 2016). Initially, the editor of WW was happy to print my critique: ‘It’s 5000 words - a two pager!’, he said. But a few days later he sent me an email, which made it clear that he had changed his mind. There was no suggestion that I should do a rewrite and re-submit it. Why? The only explanation he gave was that TWO INDIVIDUAL COMRADES OBJECTED TO MY ARTICLE. He did reveal their identity to me; but I do not think it is necessary to ‘out them’ here. Rather I want to make the point that, if any of these comrades thought that my article was contentious, then the editor should have referred it to the elected bodies of the CPGB for formal deliberation (i.e. the Editorial Board and or the PC). Then if the article were to be be rejected, at least the decision would have been made democratically.
Marxism and the Transgender Question
I know I shall invite controversy, partly because this is a relatively new phenomenon for marxists to consider (along with everyone else). What follows is a critique of Who Do You Think You Are? Jacqueline Rose on Trans (London Review of Books, 5 May 2016).
First, some context. Post Brexit, just when the left needs to unite more than ever before, we are being stymied by identity politics, which keeps on multiplying. As a result, the workers movement - along with society as a whole - is being riven, not just by old reactionary divisions, such as sexism, racism and nationalism; but by new divisions; notably the theory of sexual ‘intersectionality’. In its political form, it is constituted as the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender) movement. This also breaks down into its constituent sections, e.g transgender in our case. In theory and practice, the transgender issue errs more on the side of reactionary than progressive; unless you are a neoliberal; then it can only be seen as progressive: In the name of individual freedom, we see the promotion of the interests of this or that oppressed group; albeit at the expense of the majority, the working class. For those LGBT groups who do orientate to the left, they try to stifle robust debate by means of the spurious ‘safe spaces’ argument (supported by some sections of the left). Others are more militant and sectarian and have adopted the discredited ‘no platform’ strategy for anyone who disagrees with them; including lesbians and gays. (Therefore the unity of LGBT is a fragile one!) The theory of sexual ‘intersectionality’ is also being pushed by academia, especially the advocates of Postcapitalism (not to be confused with socialism and communism): In 2013, two American academics, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, issued a ‘ ‘Manifesto for an Accelerated Politics’, affirming ‘mastery’, technology and the liberator possibilities of capitalism if pushed beyond its limits.’ This includes the ‘post-gender dreams of radical feminism’ and even more; i.e. the ‘possibility of a ‘new kind of human being’,… ‘an interventionist approach to the human’, an ‘embrace of ‘individual bodily experimentation’ set ‘against restricted images of the human’,…a new human with a new body’, in conjunction with the creation of a new society, whose agency is the ‘internet generation’. 1 Needless to say, all this makes me even more sceptical about the question of transgender politics.
What is Transgender?
According to Wikipedia, transgender may be defined as: women or men, who are independent of sexual orientation, identifying themselves as heterosexual/homosexual/bisexual/asexual. The concept of the asexual or ‘intersex’ refers to people with physical sexual characteristics that do not fit the binary notion of male/female. Apart from people who are congenital hermaphrodites or have undeveloped sex organs (who certainly have a case for gender surgery), there is a growing number of people who experience what is now called ‘gender dysphoria’; that is, they want to change their sex, etc. The reasons for this are not given; i.e. is it for physiological or social reasons? People who suffer from this condition can now seek medical treatment in order to change their gender. Inevitably, this involves physical and psychological suffering; not forgetting the psychological/emotional effect that such a drastic transformation must have on their loved ones (e.g. wife or husband.). A trans person has to undergo a protracted series of intricate operations, as well as a regime of powerful drugs, which are necessary to alter his/her hormonal balance in the desired direction. Therefore anyone who seeks to become a transgender person has to undergo extensive psychological tests, as a first step, to see if they can withstand the shocks; not just to their body, but to their mental well-being as well. But as long as you have medical opinion and technology on your side, which will do the job for you, then it is a case of mind over matter. However, as we shall see, the surgery which is involved is not always successful, leading to further physical and psychological suffering for the individual. Thus one may legitimately ask: Is this really natural? If it is natural, how far can we stretch the concept of natural? Should this include the manufacture of cyberhumans (robots/clones/replicants) in an even more technological future? What rights should they have? Is this not a case of seeking idealist solutions to problems which are generated by idealist illusions in the first place?
But there is a more immediate problem: Transsexuals are a tiny minority of the population. The number of transexuals in the United States, with a population of 350 millions is less than a million, of which only a quarter of the trans women have had genital surgery. Yet the cost of becoming a trans to the health service, per capita, is extremely high. Who should pay for this? The taxpayer or should this be done privately? If the latter, then only those who are rich enough can afford it. Therefore the trans project already discriminates against its own kind; let alone the majority of society, who might be asked to foot the bill; whilst at the same time the masses are told that further cuts to the health service are necessary, in line with the government’s austerity strategy, etc. Therefore it is not surprising that the majority in society react in a prejudiced, even in a hostile manner, to the demands of the transgender movement. On the other hand, trans people, as part of the entertainment industry, are accepted. They can be seen on chat shows and have become media-driven celebrities in their own right.
A Marxist Perspective
I object to Rose’s argument on the transgender question for three main reasons. Firstly, as I have already said, it is another a divisive movement, which acts as a further obstacle to the need to reunite the working class everywhere. (In this regard, it plays into the hands of the ruling class.) Secondly, it exemplifies Marx’s argument (which first appears in his writings of 1843), re the myth of bourgeois society and its ‘free state’, which is ultimately able to grant the same rights to all, regardless of race, colour or creed (and now gender); yet the reality is that we live in ‘economic society’, wherein, each man/woman is isolated and at war with everyone else in defence of their private interest. This gives rise to religious and other illusory beliefs, as the cry of alienated, atomised man. Therefore, Marx argues, we need to put an end to atomised society altogether, along with fear and anxiety. Thirdly I believe that dialectical and historical materialism are indivisible. Therefore I take the notion of a dialectics of nature equally seriously, including the concept of human nature. This approach is underpinned by Marx’s Aristotelian approach to philosophy, i.e. essentialism (as opposed to atomism, which still has the upper hand today). For Marx, everything in the universe/nature, along with the historical process itself, is governed by the categories of essence, law and necessity (albeit the latter can also be frustrated by accident). All phenomena must obey a set of laws, which regulate their origin, existence, development and decline, leading to their replacement by another (higher) one. This applies at both the macro and the micro level: from the universe itself, on the one hand, to homo sapiens, on the other, as a finial evolutionary form, characterised by the binary opposite between male and female (the basis for procreation and sexual play). Humans, however, are currently organised in a society based on the commodity form, the basic cell of the capitalist system. But this is a constitutive contradiction, whose telos or final form has yet to be attained in the process of its development; i.e. a society which has abolished private property relations, along with exchange value.
Unlike Jacqueline Rose, I do not see transgender simply as as a progressive movement; as the expression of a demand for individual freedom in the name of diversity, which is open-ended. Rather I would argue that it is the product of a declining capitalism, which is economic, political and cultural in scope. Given the poisonous legacy of Stalinism, combined with the collapse of the organised working class, the ‘nihilism of the bourgeois mode of production’ has not led to the situation which Marx and Engels anticipated in the Communist Manifesto, viz: ‘man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind’. As Lukacs reminds us in his essay on Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat, in the absence of class organisation and consciousness, the alienating effects of the commodity structure become even stronger. ‘It’s basis is that a relation between people takes on the character of a thing and thus acquires a ‘phantom objectivity’, an autonomy that seems so strictly rational and all-embracing as to conceal every trace of its fundamental nature: the relation between people.’ 2 Adorno develops this theme further through his idea of ‘loss of individuality’, which seeks an outlet through the ‘culture industry’. Whilst Debord argues that the atomisation and alienation of the masses under late capitalism is reinforced by the ‘society of the spectacle’, i.e. corporate owned news or propaganda, advertising and the consumption of entertainment. (Today, of course, we could add the corporate-led internet. In the wrong hands, such technology is not only against the interests of the left; it is also being used in mostly negative ways by the alienated masses.) ‘In form as in content the spectacle serves as total justification for the conditions and aims of the…system….it [also] governs almost all time spent outside the production process itself.’ 3 In this context, transgender politics cannot be a progressive movement. Rather it contributes to the what Peter Dews describes as the ‘logics of disintegration’. 4
The transgender movement is easily accommodated by the bourgeois mass media, as well as the entertainment industry, and makes good use of this (as we shall see). ‘All that is solid melts into air’, not just patriarchy, but also hitherto assumptions about the binary opposition between male and female (including homosexuals and bisexuals, wherein masculine and feminine roles are played out). The naturalisation of trans people - as an exotic ‘third gender’ - is part of the ‘indispensable packaging for things…as they are now produced, as a general gloss on the rationality of the system [commodity society], and as the advanced economic sector directly responsible for the manufacture of an ever-growing mass of image objects, the spectacle is the chief product of present-day society’. 5 But, as I have noted, this will take a while for people to accept; given the fact that majority are wage slaves, whose meagre rights are being whittled away. On the one hand, transsexuals, especially male-to-female trans sex workers, are subject to physical assault and even murder. On the other, it is not surprising that trans people have developed a siege mentality. At Goldsmith College, London, they instituted a no-platform policy, which led to violent public outbursts against anyone who dared criticise this, including the feminist critic, Germaine Greer, and gay activist, Peter Tatchell.
A Neoliberal Account
In her essay on ‘trans’, Rose adopts a positive attitude towards her subject. She comes across as a neoliberal, re her ideas about individual freedom. For her bourgeois society is ‘ the end of history’. It just needs to be reformed here and there, and the struggle of trans people is a part of this. This might explain why she restricts herself to an empiricist approach to the subject, based on case studies of female and male transexuals. Lacking any philosophical or theoretical framework, it is not surprising that Rose errs on the side of subjective idealism. Her argument is mostly uncritical, as well as contradictory.
Most of Rose’s case studies concern male-to-female trans people. This is significant, albeit she does not offer an explanation as to why this is. She starts with the case of Corbett v. Corbett (1969), which was a divorce with a difference. The wife in question was born a male. He suffered no congenital sexual defects, but decided that he wanted to have a sex change anyway. But in her new gender role as Ashley Corbett, she subsequently became the first transexual cited as the reason for a marital breakdown. She later compared her divorce to the trial of Oscar Wilde. But ‘For Justice Ormrod, the case was…straightforward. Because Ashley had been registered as a boy at birth, she should be treated as a male in perpetuity….[Despite] full surgical genital reconstruction… the respondent was physically incapable of consummating a marriage as intercourse.’ (N.B. The Corbett case also adds weight to an anecdote which Rose relates at the beginning of her essay, wherein she reluctantly admits that, for male-to-female transexual prostitutes, it is difficult to ‘complete’ the transaction since the transexual body interprets the surgically created vagina as a wound which it tries to close.’ This adds weight to the idea that such surgery is against nature.) According to the judge, Ashley appeared to be feminine, ‘but on closer and longer examination…it was much less so.’ One witness described Ashley as a ‘pastiche of femininity’. The problem boiled down to Corbett who did not see Ashley as ‘an object of desire, but of envy;….he wanted to be her’, but she wanted him to relate to her as a man! Thus the binary distinction between male and female broke down. Be that as it may, Ashly went on to write a book called The First Lady (!) and became a writer and spokesperson for trans people.
Things become even more complicated, because, as Rose reminds us, trans is not a homogenous concept. For some, it means ‘ ‘transitional’ from one sex to another. For others, it means ‘transcending’, as in ‘above’, or ‘in a different realm from’. Thus Jan Morris argued in 1974, ‘There is neither man nor woman…I shall transcend both’. Rose adds, ‘one of the greatest pleasures of falling outside the norm is the freedom to pile category upon category’. She cites a ‘Binary Defiance’ workshop at an American University, which listed on a blackboard the following distinctions: ‘non-binary, gender queer, bigender, trigender, agender, intergender, pangender, androgyne, two-spirit, self-coined, gender fluid.’ (!) In 2011 the New York-based journal Psychoanalytic Dialogues included an editorial which stated, ‘you will meet persons who could be characterised, and could recognise themselves as one - or some - of the following: a girl and a boy, a girl in a boy, a boy who is a girl, a girl who is a boy dressed as a girl, a girl who has to be a boy to be a girl.’ The ‘logics of disintegration’ becomes reductio ad absurdum!
Rose goes on to discuss the contradiction between the dream and the reality, vis-a-vis the idea of having a sex change and how this impacts on both the majority and the transexual minority. She quotes Melanie McDonagh, who wrote in the London Evening Standard earlier this year, that she ‘lamented the relative ease of ‘sex change’ which she sees around her: The boy-girl identity is what shapes us most…the most fundamental…the most basic aspect of our person hood’. Her article is entitled ‘Changing sex is not to be done on a whim’. A whim? [says Rose indignantly] She has obviously not spoken to any transexual people or read a word they have written.’ On the other hand, Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black contemplates the double whammy, i.e. she has had a sex change. But she has ended up being a ‘black, incarcerated, transsexual women…[therefore] even now she has the money, she won’t undergo surgery to feminise her face.’ I suspect that she is in for a difficult future psychologically; but it is a self-inflicted wound that will last for the rest of her life. That is truly tragic. But Caitlyn Jenner surely deserves Rose’s accolade as ‘one of today’s best-known and most controversial male-to-female transsexuals’. She was previously known as Bruce Jenner, who won the 1976 Olympic decathlon. But in her current TV series called I am Cait, she revealed that her ‘facial surgery lasted ten hours and led to her one panic attack: ‘What did I just do?’ On the same show, another trans person, Kate Bornstein, exhorted Jenner to ‘accept the freakdom’. Yet Bornstein herself admitted that, ‘it is the strangeness of being trans, the threat it poses to those who are looking on whether with or without sympathy, that’s the point.’ No one can deny that becoming a trans person requires considerable courage and perseverance, at both the physical and psychological level; even if it is hard for the rest of us to understand their decision to have a sex change in the first place; particularly someone like Jenner.
Nature is a ‘Construct’!
On the other hand, male-to female trans, Susan Stryker (co-author of ‘two monumental Transgender Studies readers, published in 2006 and 2013’) revels in her ‘freak’ status. She refers to a collage of images of herself taken in 1994, ‘welcoming monstrosity via an analogy between herself and Frankenstein: The Transexual body is an unnatural body. It is the product of natural science. It is a technological construction. It is flesh torn apart and sewn together again in a shape other than that in which it was born.’ Rose adds - and here she reveals her own subjective idealism - that Stryker embodies ‘the myth of the natural, for all of us’; i.e. there is nothing natural under the sun. How then have the primates been able to reproduce themselves for millions of years? it is based on a binary distinction between male and female (both in procreation and play), and for humans, this involves heterosexuals/homosexuals/bisexuals, as well as most trans people, I guess. That is what is natural. But in the name of individual freedom (which is impossible under capitalism), Rose extols the struggle of extreme trans people - especially those who have the financial means, which gives them access to the most advanced medical treatment - who want to go beyond the binary principle; albeit in defiance of nature, society and history! She goes on to quote from Styker’s ‘justly renowned, exhortatory statement’, which is ‘unsurpassed’. Rather Stryker reveals herself as an irrational, self-deluding egoist:
I offer you this warning: the Nature you bedevil me with is a lie. Do not trust it to protect you from what I represent, for it is a fabrication that cloaks the groundlessness of the privilege you seek to maintain for yourself at my expense. You are as constructed as me; the same anarchic Womb has birthed us both. I call upon you to investigate your nature as I have been compelled to confront mine. I challenge you to risk abjection and flourish as well as I have. Heed my words, and you may well discover the seams and sutures within yourself.
It might be nonsense, but it is also divisive. But at this point, Rose contradicts herself, by saying: ‘It’s true that without medical technology none of this would be possible. It’s also the case that the need for, extent and pain of medical intervention puts a strain on the argument that the transsexual woman or man is simply returning to her or his naturally ordained place - with the surgeon as nature’s agent who restores what nature intended to be there in the first place. [She turns to another trans called Kaverney, whose] medical transition, for example, lasted two years, involving 25 general anaesthetics, a ten-stone weight gain, thromboses, more than one major haemorrhage, fistula and infections. She barely survived….In 1931, Lily Elbe died after a third and failed operation to create an artificial womb.’ There is always going to be a limit to the attempt to impose mind over matter, even with the aid of today’s advanced medical technology.
Perversely Rose attacks the ideas of Jay Prosser, even though he is the only example which she provides of a transexual transition from female-to-male. She dismisses Prosser, because he confines himself to the notion of ‘transition’ from one sex to another’. She describes this as ‘conservative’, because it reinforces ‘the binary from which we all - trans and non-trans - suffer.’ (My emphasis) Furthermore, he doesn’t agree with the trans demand that gender has to be exposed as a ‘masquerade’, because for Prosser this ‘verges on ‘critical perversity’. Whereas the neoliberal Rose even goes so far as to argue that ‘sexual ambiguity [the non-binary option] should be sustainable without any need for bodily change (!)’ Trans people are showing us all the way forward! On the other hand, in India, it has long been the case whereby ‘the hijra - men who wear female clothing and who renounce sexual desire by undergoing sacrificial emasculation - are recognised and esteemed as a third sex’.
The erroneous idea of nature as a human construct leads to further contradictions. Based on this reasoning, given the fact that we still live in a male-dominated world, even in the west, millions of women are still oppressed, both economically and as sex objects (although in the age of narcissism, men and trans people are fast catching up). But it is women who still dominate the role as the object of desire; who feel obliged to make themselves sexually attractive to the male gaze (echoed by other higher primates); albeit in accordance with the prerequisites of the ‘society of the spectacle’, i.e. the degrading images of women served up both by the advertising and the porn industry. On this latter point, Rose turns to another exhibitionist, the postmodernist cabaret artist, Nina Arsenault, who insists on ‘modelling herself on a Barbie doll….There are no lengths to which Arsenault has not gone, no procedures she has not suffered, to craft herself as a woman, but she has done this, not so much in order to embody femininity as to expose it, to push it right over the edge. Hence her parody of Pamela Anderson ( who of course is a parody of herself [given her numerous breast implants]): an imitation of an imitation of the idea of woman. An image which has never existed in nature.’ What a slip. Rose acknowledges that nature is not a construct after all! She goes on to say, somewhat hypocritically, that, ‘I am genuinely baffled how anyone can believe themselves qualified to legislate on the reality, or not, of anyone else, without claiming divine authority (or worse).’ But she herself has just legislated - correctly, as it happens - that Pamela Anderson has transformed herself into a parody of a woman!
Trans is More Right than Left (So far!)
Continuing in this politically correct vein, Rose turns her attack on the veteran feminist, Germaine Greer. ‘She famously described male-to-female transexuals as ‘pantomime dames’ (a la Dame Everidge herself!) As a result, Greer was forced to resign as a fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge ‘(after opposing the appointment of transgender Rachel Padman to a fellowship), and is now the object of a no-platform campaign.’ Later Rose exposes her own position: Because she disagrees with Greer’s defiant stance against trans people, she says, ‘I am pretty sure that, were I transexual, I wouldn’t want Greer on any platform of mine.’ (This authoritarian attitude is catching!)
Most of Rose’s case studies of trans people reveal a common trait, which I would describe as narcissistic and naval gazing. This does not guarantee that trans people will come down on the right side of the class struggle. Rather the celebrity spokespersons for trans people (at least the ones Rose has cited) appear to be consumed with their own self-interest, as opposed to being on the side of ordinary working people , mindful of the need to change the world, as well as themselves. Some of them are actually rightwing; whilst others play into the hands of the right when it comes to the struggle for equality. Caitlyn Jenner says she will still vote Republican, even for Donald Trump, despite the party’s dire record on LGBT issues. She is being consistent’, says Rose. ‘As Bruce, the famous athlete,…he had been a weapon in the Cold War….’He had beaten the Commie bastards. He was America.’’ As for the British male-to-female trans, Jan Morris - who is not rightwing - ‘When Morris sheds maleness [says Rose], it is therefore a patriotic, militarist identity, with its accompanying imperial prejudice, that is, at least in part, discarded.’ Really! Recently the Pentagon in the United States lifted the ban on trans people serving in the military. So now a trans person has an equal right, along with straight soldiers, to kill innocent civilians in another imperialist war like that in Iraq/Afghanistan.
Rose describes David Cameron, still Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (but not for long), as ‘a leader whose social liberalism, including on sexual matters [legalising gay marriage, etc. Yet this] allows him to drive through brutally unjust economic policies with such baffling ease.’ For once I agree with her. [On the other hand, she writes] In the words of a Time magazine cover story in June last year, trans is ‘America’s next civil rights frontier’. Perhaps, even though it doesn’t always look this way on the ground, trans activists will also - just - be in a position to advance what so often seems impossible: a political movement that tells how it uniquely is, without separating one struggle for equality and human dignity from all the rest.’ Really? Ask Germaine Greer what she thinks! Rose has already forgotten her previous point - vis-a-vis Cameron - about how the ruling class can use the rights of tiny minorities is order to make themselves appear progressive. This is an important aspect of the neoliberal strategy and propaganda.
All this merely confirms Marx’s critique of bourgeois society, whose state is ultimately obliged to grant political and civil rights to all oppressed groups (albeit the latter keeps on multiplying!) But it it is unable to abolish real suffering which arises from its economic base. This in turn gives rise to religious and other beliefs, whose promise of individual freedom is illusory. Hence it becomes necessary to abolish bourgeois society itself and replace it with a communist one, as the ‘true realm of freedom’. I would put the struggles of trans people into the same category as religion. Rose’s case studies of such people proves that bourgeois freedom, even for the rich, who have the means to change their sexual identity, is a myth. Meanwhile within society as a whole, separatist struggles, exemplified by today’s identity politics in general - and that of trans people in particular - despite the efforts of the mass media and the entertainment industry, vis-a-vis the poor and disadvantaged, can only lead to more hostility and even violence against such people. This can only set the class struggle back even further.
Near the end of her essay, Rose refers to the work of the post-structuralist and bourgeois feminist, Julia Kristiva. In Women’s Time, she ‘argued that feminists, and indeed the whole world, would enter a third stage in relation to sexual difference: after the demand for equal rights and then the celebration of femininity as other than the norm, a time will come when the distinction between woman and man will finally disappear.’ But nature is not a human construct. If we try to reconstruct ourselves, we do so at our peril; forget the rest of nature as well. Humans are part of nature, not outside it. Just because we have more advanced brains than other higher primates, does this mean we should we look blithely forward to a future technological society, in which the ‘new’ human triumphs over the latter. However as Rose sees it - in the name of an idealised, neoliberal concept of freedom, which is open-ended - we are entitled to reconstruct ourselves, not in our own image, but in an image which is constantly changing; within which, in the name of ‘sexual ambiguity’, the binary opposition between male and female is abolished, including sexuality and desire. (What happens to those of us who want to remain human?) Can we really envisage our future selves, as both sensuous and reasoning, i.e. creative human beings without this binary opposition? This would mean throwing away a fundamental part of what it means to be human, ever since we emerged as homo sapiens, after millions of years of evolution. If the human is to be regarded as an open-ended construct, then why not advocate the cloning of asexual human beings, as well as cyber-humans, if ever they are invented, sans sexuality and desire? (Cf the Indian hijra. Welcome to asexual, ascetic future world!) Should we then extend human rights to cyber people, which we ourselves enjoy (at least in theory)? This sounds disturbingly like dystopian science fiction, in particular Huxley’s Brave New World. He wrote it, of course, as a warning against the hubris of technological utopianism, which can easily be turned into its opposite. (N.B. This is exactly what the Nazis did; cue the gas chamber. Postcapitalists, please note!) All this could be achieved in a future hi-tech society, which is still an alienated class society, based on private property relations, so that one class continues to pump out the surplus value produced by another; albeit climate change is out of control and the environment has become so degraded, that even the ruling class will have to find ‘off-shore’ havens within which they can live comfortably; as well as rely on replicant humans, who will do all the necessary work; not forgetting replicant animals and pets; because the real ones are in such short supply, they are too expensive to buy. 6 Welcome to the new ‘human’, alone in a barren world!
Transgender ideology is a far cry from Marx’s telos of humanity, (human social ‘man’) which has yet to be fulfilled in a future communist society: Following ‘the positive supersession of private property, i.e. the sensuous appropriation of the human essence and human life, of objective man and of human works by and for man, [which] should not be understood only in the sense of direct, one-sided consumption, of possession, of having. Man appropriates his integral essence in an integral way, as a total man. All his human relations to the world - seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, thinking, contemplating, sensing, wanting, acting, loving - in short, all the organs of his individuality, like the organs which are directly communal in form [speech organs, etc.], are…in their approach to the object, the appropriation of that object [i.e. our true nature, as well as the rest of nature; albeit in a harmonious way]. This is the appropriation of human reality,…the confirmation of human reality. It is…the [only possible] enjoyment of the self for man.’ 7
1. Owen Hatherley, One Click at a Time, LRB, 30 June, 2016
2. Georg Lukacs, HCC, Merlin press, 1990, p 83. [My emphasis]
3. Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, Zone Books, 2004, 1: 6, p 13
4. Peter Dews, Logics of Disintegration, Verso Press, 1990
5. Debord, op cit,1: 15, p 16
6. Cf. that other, seminal dystopian sci-fi novel, Phillip K. Dick’s Do Android’s dream of Electric Sheep?
7. Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, in Early Writings, Ed. Lucio Colletti, Penguin Classics, 1992, p 351 [My emphasis]