Phenomena such as gay pride are presented by the order of discourse as essential moments of emancipation from a residual and homophobic patriarchy. In reality, they are simply manifestations of social adaptation to the American way of life of postmodern capitalism, completed with the substitution of the class struggle by a conflict of gender and “sexual tastes” that is, by definition, interclassist and, therefore, functional to the maintenance of the dominant order. The latter succeeds, time after time, in completely eliminating the political priority of the dominated classes from the sphere of appearance, that is, it suppresses, or at least attenuates, the asymmetrical contradiction between capital and labor. This contradiction is ideologically deposed in favor of a completely abstract gender conflict, whereby the rich homosexual and the poor homosexual converge on the same side in the fictitious struggle for the conquest of individual consumer rights.
The domestication of any revolutionary anti-systemic impulse is carried out through the distraction brought about by the conflicts of “diversity” and through adherence to the modules of postmodern coolness. This translates into the ostentation of extravagance and eccentricity which, while confirming the rupture with the old order of bourgeois and proletarian values, are fully compatible with the logic of postmodern and neo-hedonist turbo-capitalism, which promotes any transgression that is functional to the conquest of new spaces for the market and any anti-conformism that conforms to the new scheme of economic and consumerist deregulation. Life within the bars of the technocapitalist cage has not ceased to degrade between extravagance and alienation. And the left, as le parti du mouvement et de la transgression, reconfirms itself as part of the theoretical-practical sanctification of the triumphal march of capital and the ruling classes.
Nor should we overlook the fact that the post-heroic era has long since replaced the hero with the victim: being a victim—that is, a subject who has done nothing, but to whom something has been done—confers prestige and immunity from criticism. Whether it is a group, an individual or the environment itself, the victim is the passive subject par excellence; it coincides with the one who has suffered and therefore deserves respect, in the triumph of that resilience which, not by chance, is the “virtue” that cosmopolitan magnates most appreciate in the subaltern masses. Moreover, the victim has a right by definition, insofar as something has been taken from him: from the weakness of having suffered, one passes, without interruption, to the claim of vindication and the desire for compensation.
Child of the “culture of narcissism,” of rampant egocracy and of the new culture of the vindictive victim, the jus omnium in omnia seems to set itself up as the ultimate foundation of the civilization of the integral individualistic liberalization of consumption and customs. The whimsical rainbow battles, which in the left quadrant have replaced the “red” struggles against capital and against imperialism, are ultimately resolved in demands for capital and for imperialism: for capital, since they are, de facto, liberal-progressive battles against every traditional limit still resistant to the individualist liberalization of consumptions and customs; for imperialism, since they pass without any reservation to the direct support of the “civilizing mission”—with built-in bombardment of the dollar civilization and its moralistic interventionism in the name of take-out civil rights—in those areas of the world not yet subsumed under the capitalist mode of production and existence.
In coherence with the new postmodern regime of power, typical of the nihilistic civilization of the rainbow, it is individual desire—and only this—that will assume the status of law in the absence of the Law. Once again, the anarchoid rebelliousness of the post-Marxist rainbow left does not oppose neoliberal power, but rather supports and ideologically sanctifies it. At the same time, as has become evident since the post-bourgeois and ultra-capitalist shift of 1968, it is no longer authoritarian and centered on the hypertrophy of the Law, but has itself become anarcho-capitalist and lax, permissive and hedonistic.
On the one hand, through the battles for rainbow-hued whims, the glamorous neo-left definitively has abandoned the field of the anti-capitalist struggle against exploitation and classism, which it now accepts as physiological, if not as fecundly “creative”: it deals only with irrelevant problems with respect to the question of labor, the economy and the social—matters that are handled in a sovereign manner by the right wing of money.
On the other hand, with the whims of rainbow consumption, the left of the power-suit, besides favoring the distraction of the masses from the social question and the struggle against capital, promotes the dissolution of society into an atomism of “desiring machines”—to take up Deleuze’s definition: the desiring machines demand that each of their individual consumption whims be legally recognized as law. In this way, the left becomes Lifestyle-Linke, which places centrality not on labor and social rights, but on liberalized individual lifestyles. Instead of the people and the working class, in the discursive order of the bosses’ neo-left, there are now only individuals conceived as desiring machines. They must be “orthopedized,” freed from any residual link with communities and traditions and, dulcis in fundo, crushed under the model of the consumer, who has as many rights as his whims transformed into merchandise according to the money at his disposal.
In this sense, the case of the “surrogate womb,” which the politically correct neo-language has shamelessly re-baptized as “surrogate motherhood,” continues to be emblematic. In most of their actions, neoliberal leftists are no longer able to recognize in such a practice the culmination of alienation, exploitation and objectification, derived from the fact that the woman’s womb is degraded to a “warehouse for sale,” the unborn child is sullied as a commodity on demand, and women of the lower classes are degraded and condemned to resort to these practices because of their own economic condition. Having internalized the “omnimercizing” gaze of capital and the anthropology of free desire, the “sinistrash” vigorously defends the abomination of the surrogate uterus as an expression of “freedom of choice” and as a “civil right,” as an “opportunity” and as a “desire” that must be legally protected. Once again, in the triumph of progressive neoliberalism, the mercantile conquest of the totality of the world of life no longer finds in the left a bulwark of opposition, but one of its theoretical justifications; and this, once again, on the basis of the forma mentis, according to which every taboo and every limit must be broken because precisely therein lies the ultimate reason for progress.
As shown in our Difendere chi siamo (Rizzoli, 2020), the globocratic-financial system aspires to deconstruct every collective identity (Nation and Class, People and State, Community and Homeland) and, in general, every identity ut sic. Indeed, it recognizes in the very concept of identity an inopportune redoubt of resistance to the generalization of the culture of nothingness proper to the commodity and its postmodern relativistic nihilism. More concretely, the dialectical dynamics of the development of capital proceeds by destroying resistant collective identities and, at the same time, by protecting and “inventing” identities that are organic to the consumer society, all the more so if they succeed in horizontally dividing the ranks of the offended. The only identities permitted and celebrated in the time of omni-homologizing disidentification coincide with those of the global-capitalist minorities; that is, with those proper to the social actors whose ideology represents the envelope of moral legitimization of the new social order, centered on financial capitalism sans frontières for liberal-libertarian atom-consumers.
What greater success of neocapitalist power than that obtained by provoking the homosexual exploited and the heterosexual exploited to fight among themselves instead of cooperating from below against the exploiter, whether homosexual or heterosexual? The sectoral micro-conflicts promoted by the new symbolic order of the postmodern lefts are per definitionem horizontal and interclassist, therefore functional to the reproduction of neoliberal power: they completely eliminate from the sphere of appearance the political, social and economic priorities of the dominated classes. And they replace them, in a distractive and compensatory way, by abstract and horizontal struggles; struggles thanks to which the rich homosexual and the poor homosexual, the exploiting woman and the exploited woman, the black plutocrat and the indigent black, converge fictitiously on the same side of the struggle.
The class struggle of the bottom against the top is thus fragmented and made invisible thanks to the artificial production of internal battles—”diversitarian” struggles—in the ranks of the offended, now divided according to differentiations promoted ad hoc by the order of hegemonic discourse. And the left, which—to say it with Norberto Bobbio—was originally on the side of equality, is increasingly taking the side of differences and the defense of diversity; and this not only because, adhering to neoliberalism, it advocates the competitive and asymmetrical vision of society, but also insofar as it assumes as its own front of struggle and political-cultural organization the “diversitarian” battle for differences and for minorities.
Moreover, these vindicatory and differentialist battles—from feminist movements to gay pride—do not seek to overthrow the dominant structures, but to obtain full recognition within them as minorities. The excluded show themselves to be included in the same way that they denounce their exclusion; in effect, they do not challenge a system that is based on exclusion (and which, as such, deserves to be abolished), but selfishly reproach themselves for not having been included in that system. Which is, literally, all inclusive, since it aspires to include everything and everyone within its alienated perimeters by affirming a single distinction—the economic one. Herein lies the false homogenizing interclassism of the civilization of the markets, which breaks down all difference, so that in this way the economic differentiation that is the foundation of classism can reign everywhere, without limitation.
The Black Lives Matter protest phenomenon, elevated by sinistrash to its own design, can also be interpreted under the same parameters. The declared objective of this protest revolt, which broke out in 2020, was not the sacrosanct recognition of the equal dignity and equality of all men, black or white. It was, instead, the creation—or empowerment—of a “sectoral” conflict developed horizontally between blacks and whites, implying, without too much dissimulation, that white men were, as such and without exception, guilty.
Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the Intellectual, The Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns. [This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].
Featured: Merry-Go-Round, by Mark Gertler; painted in 1916.