Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Monday, January 18, 2016

Humankind 5: Object-Oriented Marxism and Racism and Speciesism

Cliff writes about my previous: “I'd include thinking about inequality too. There's something of the human/non-human in that equation as well.”

Absolutely. There are loads of other OO angles. It's just that the intervention in that perennial debate about the “epistemological break” kinda convinced me, yes this is OO Marxism for sure, with a very distinct flavor that you can accept or reject. There's loads of OO mods to the theory, actually. One is through an odd reading of Derrida's Specters of Marx. But somehow this was the one that really clicked for me, maybe because it's been in my head since the late eighties, thanks to my British cultural studies type training (Raymond Williams and Eagleton etc etc etc).

In fact there is a section on an OO related question that I could use a lot of help with. There's going to be a discussion about which came first, speciesism or racism? Traditional post humanist word on the street says it's speciesism, but I have a hypothesis that it might be racism that's distorting the human/nonhuman relation. I'm sort of reverse engineering from my arguments about uncanniness that I've developed from exploring the robotics idea of the Uncanny Valley. There's a phylogenetic part (the caste system << agrilogistics) and there's an ontogenetic part (humanoids, hominids, hominins, primates etc etc etc...human body as historical record of nonhuman evolution). Racism has to do with thinking you can point to certain physical features as indicators of the proper: it has to do with a metaphysics of presence, in other words, and a substance ontology whereby one color is non-marked (it's not treated as a color but as the default quality of the substance, aka totally bland aka “white”).

It would be very interesting if this were correct. It would mean that the struggle against racism is directly also a part of the de-anthropocentrization project. (Not sure whether it's an overlap or a direct line-up either.)

Just an idea, I like to think things back and forth and upside down to see what works, and I like being the devil a little bit, and the official line is that speciesism subtends racism, so...can't help trying it the other way around. I'm wondering whether strangely it might be better for nonhumans if we thought this way.


D. E.M. said...

Your colleague Jean Joseph Goux's _Symbolic Economies: After Marx and Freud _ (published in the 80s I think) does groovy stuff with matter in relation to spirit, phallus, etc. I can't wait to see what happens in your hands.

John said...

That is interesting. I have been kicking around the idea for a bit about speciesism arising from a perceived similarity to not the physical form of other hominids, but instead from a recognized parity between human cognition and spirituality to the senses and thoughts of animals. This is where, from the point of view of neolithic peoples through the present, I situate a sort of abstracted Uncanny Valley effect. My theory is that the human sees this, freaks out, recognized immanence and has been psychically forced to construct a mythology of speciesism in order to perpetuate a hierarchy of dominance. This construct of mine arose out of the problem of how to persuade law enforcement and legislators that animals suffer and perceive and sense (no "sentient" is too little a word here for what is purports to say) in de-anthropocentrized terms. It gets back to comparisons of likes and when they are truly 'alike' and Martin's Act, ritual slaughter, and Animal Deities, and fetshized animal masks and a lot of what Freud and Jung may have missed (more what Freud missed). This attempts to explain a problem left unsolved in my last publication. In other words where systems based upon agency end.