A comment on sexuality: response by Nestor

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Fri Jul 25 16:59:59 MDT 2003


> Hey, J., now I see you are resending to Marxmail. So that our exchange is
public? Don´t care at all, just surprised.
> Now, on to my comments.

> You state:
>
> > I don't disagree with you about social darwinism, but I have no evidence
> > that Marx opined that "capitalist formations were the
> > most "natural" that had ever existed". I think rather that he meant that
> > market economy, industrialisation and the development of science
stripped
> > away the mystiques, occult magic, superstition and religious
mystification
> > that had surrounded human conduct and human relations in previous modes
of
> > production.
>
> We don´t agree here. His stress on commodity fetishism, the wanton
Hegelian
> tunes of the first three chapters of Capital, and above all, his
definition
> that "laws that can impose themselves only through crises are natural"
(as
> against human), on Capital, I, all point to the idea that capitalist
> society, through reduction of the basic human relationship to that of
> puppets of things (commodities), is the most "natural", e.g. least "human"
> in this context of all societies.  There are many more sources for
> quotations, but I would only add -because it comes from the _most
> positivist_ book by Marx or Engels- the latter´s criticisms of the
ideology
> of modern scientists on his _Dialectics of Nature_.  His lines on why did
> the "worship of ghosts" take such a grip on otherwise serious and rational
> researchers are worth an anthology IMHO
>
> Relations of persons between things, relations of things between persons.
> In the end, I am simply taking what follows by you to the highest degree
of
> consequence, so to say:
>
> > But this insight should be relativised on two counts: firstly,
> > people in precapitalist civilisations were by no means stupid or
ignorant,
> > sexually or otherwise, and had expressed very sophisticated conceptions
of
> > human nature - in some ways more sophisticated than those on offer
today,
> so
> > that we continue to refer to those "old ideas" as reflected in classic
> > literature and art; secondly, capitalism introduces numerous new
> > mystifications, because it is unable to reconcile sociality and
> > individuality in a fully harmonious way, free from contradictions, and
> > objectifies human characteristics in such as way, that it becomes
> > exceedingly difficult to think objectively or constructively about them.
> > Therefore, the reification of human nature and physical nature does not
> end
> > with capitalist civilisation at all, it just changes its forms.
>
> I have never said that reification can end with or without capitalist
> civilisation. I have only said, following Marx IMHO, that no civilisation,
> whether precapitalist or postcapitalist, can be as reified as the
capitalist
> civilisation. While in the latter reification is the _basic social
> relationship between people_, in other civilisations it is, so to say, a
> necessary evil that can be gauged and constrained (or should be).
>
> >
> > The problem with Foucault is not that he criticises the bourgeois
> > preoccupation with the control and regulation of pleasure (pleasure must
> > always be conditional on hard work and the extraction of surplus-value),
> it
> > is rather that he does not attempt to arrive at a more profound critique
> of
> > the political economy of pleasure. He explores the subjectivities of
> > pleasure and its constraints, but fails to systematically address the
> > objective circumstances that are the foundation of those subjectivities.
>
> Wow. I wasn´t even thinking about Foucault. However, I have nothing
against
> the above.
>
> > This is not unlike Feuerbach's critique of religion - it explains
> precisely
> > why Foucault was so fashionable; he appeals to libertarian and
> humanitarian
> > instincts within the sexual area, in an erudite way, without however
> causing
> > the slightest affront to the bourgeois classes.
>
>
> > The "dirty" social question
> > of prostitution, however, contains much more radical potential, because
it
> > goes to the core of the whole issue, and highlights its class dimensions
> in
> > no uncertain terms, free from prettifications and romantic illusions,
> sexual
> > intimacy and the heights of ecstasy reduced to an purely economic, class
> > issue, commercial huckstering. This was the radical contribution of the
> punk
> > rock movement, and indeed the etymological root meaning of a "punk" is a
> > prostitute. The term "pornography" is likewise derived from the Greek
word
> > "pornos" meaning harlot. Personally, when neoliberals and
neoconservatives
> > carp about their free market panaceas, I personally prefer to start
> talking
> > immediately and directly about prostitution and pimping, since this is
> what
> > they are in fact endorsing, universal whoredom, despite their drivel
about
> > "protecting women" and the "morality of the market". It shows the
> grotesque
> > nature of bourgeois conceptions about human nature in their sharpest
> > expression, as Marx anticipates in his 1844 Manuscripts.
>
> We may well be agreed on this. In my own environment, however, I am more
> concerned with the ellimination of hunger, the main road into prostitution
> (or elsewhere, including death) today. I can´t say I don´t have patience
for
> an in-depth study of the whole set of issues included in prostitution
(which
> mostly overlap with the set of issues included in family, BTW). I am
simply
> trying to explain that I am not in a position to debate these issues in
> depth. Maybe, since you have made this debate public, someone else can
give
> a sound reply.
>
> >
> > The search for pleasure and the avoidance of pain, form the basis of the
> > human emotional structure, however much this may be confused, perverted
or
> > deformed. The critique of bourgeois class society as unpleasant and
> painful
> > is therefore a powerful critique.
>
> Certainly so. May I recall that things do not search for pleasure, things
do
> not avoid pain. BTW, something has been written on this line by Paul
> Lafargue on his Right to Laziness.






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