Total(itarian)isation

as I am without a doubt one of the reductive “gobshites” Xenogoth whines about making the “demand that [blog theory] must be applicable to all bases, needs, demographics and interests” in the form of a “rigorous Total Theory,” my only response is [1] to repeat Jameson’s point from the cognitive mapping essay: if you give up on developing a total response to totalizing capital, you have absolutely fucking nothing to say that’s remotely anti-capitalist or useful for anyone on the Left [2]

Ah yes, there’s me told. Good luck trying to counter the totalising nature of capital. I’m sure that will go really well.


I was reading this article recently on David Harvey by Simon Springer called “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Anarchist? Rejecting Left Unity and Raising Hell in Radical Geography“. It’s a pretty bad article, to be honest. Caring little about Harvey and having no idea who Springer is, it seemed like little more than a chronicle of all the airing of their dirty laundry, published randomly on some website that is otherwise about interesting stuff. However, underneath all the mudslinging there’s an interesting and all too familiar dynamic at play: an anarchist struggling against a totalitarian academic Marxist.

The personalities and lame particulars of their blog-fighting aside, it’s a familiar scenario. U/ACC and its offshoots, each undeniably coloured by anarchism, always seem to piss off classic Marxists, who just love to weigh in on any position that comes from a leftist perspective that is not their own, supposedly defending the voices of those left unspoken for, even if it means shouting down someone articulating their own marginalised experience, as if no fragment can be allowed to threaten their near-theological whole. Hence “total(itarian)isation”.

This distinction of an “academic” Marxism, I should clarify, is not to make vague and superficial assumptions about an individual’s education but it is rather a rough distinction that is surely necessary even if badly named — lest we forget: there’s plenty of Marxism in U/ACC too.

Jameson’s “cognitive mapping” is a case in point of this odd brand of impotent Marx — an inherently contemplative argument that pays lip service to Marxist praxis — but there are plenty more problems with it besides.

Many of them are related to topics already explored on this blog recently — primarily. the problem of using maps and mapping as analogies for totalisations which inevitably reduce abstractions to their illusionary appearances.

Cognitive mapping, for Jameson, is a means to an end of disalienation. It is best understood as a sort of biopolitical mindfulness — a consideration of your situatedness within an imagined totality as a way to better anchor yourself.

The suggestion seems to be that cognitive mapping, in reaffirming the limits of the subject, may aid disalienation as this newly reformed internal totality is transposed onto the subject’s outside, just as mindfulness teaches self-awareness of personal bodily flows so that you might resituate yourself in the external flows that we are blown about by.

That is not the same as constructing a totality to fight a totality, as Crane suggests. In fact, reading Jameson properly, G/ACC is precisely an example of cognitive mapping in practice, albeit in the pursuit of a radical alienation rather than its remedy.

In this way, as Jameson considers the enclosure of an alienated city, Nyx instead considers the vast abrupt of an indifferent universe, acknowledging the limits of a practice of mapping at this scale to be impotent (in more ways than one) and doubling down on a zero-centric revolutionary feminine subject which dissipates itself, undermining nation-state and subject, those bastard wholes.

Is the point of Jameson’s essay really to affirm those wholes instead? If yes, Crane’s suggestion that anything to the contrary has nothing to say to the left is just another mistake of his cognitive mapping of his own political position. There is far more to the left beyond his reductive horizon.

The differences don’t stop there of course. Jameson also draws frequently on Lacan here, a figure Nyx is no doubt attempting to usurp from received analyses in her refutation of zero-as-lack. Jameson, instead, draws on Lacan to address the discourse of subjective capture that has orbited this blog recently as well. My own position remains — soon to be expanded — that the Left cannot hope to totalise capital before their map is captured and exploited by a system which will proceed to adapt itself further still, always one step ahead. As such, what is communicative capitalism if not the very capture and cooption of our mapping capabilities?

To approach Jameson, boil him down so disingenuously, ejecting all dated problematics and jump to “build a total to fight a total” is simply an expansion of the disingenuousness that some corners of Twitter have insisted to laying at Nyx’s feet, repeating the same bad arguments and inverted moralities, consistently refusing to address her text on its own terms and instead bringing to the table a total(itarian)ism that G/ACC already preempts and violently rejects.

Crane might continue to use the same tactic with me, dismissing a thought based on an anarchist antifascism as being somehow antileftist in favour of a repugnant insistent on totalising — that’s fine, if incredibly hypocritical.

As Springer likewise details in his own experience, there’s nothing some Marxists like doing more than making blasphemers out of those who reject to the total(itarian)ising of political theory.

It’s all too predictable and, at this stage, all too ineffective.


Addendum: The rebuttal seems to be “But Jameson said equating totalising thought with totalitarian thought is dumb!” As a rule, most definitely, but not in this instance. Jameson wasn’t talking about anarchism when he said that. To use this thought against a fragmentary feminism aimed at patriarchy and nation-state seems like a very convenient reading of Jameson to excuse what remains — in its superficial Twitter deployment — a total(itarian)ism.

The brackets are important — smuggling an action into its disavowal is the definition of a disingenuousness that has polluted the timeline in recent days.

I’m going back to muting gobshites.

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