How far off is it to say that post-left is de-spooked left? After you kill the spooks of work and workerism, civilization, organization, and leftism-as-a-spooky-ideal, what's left that separates the left from the post-left?
@zulikath smug self-satisfaction in the mistaken belief that one has been de-spooked? That's the only uniting characteristic I've seen across post-left folks.
@zulikath this is to say that the idea that one is "post-left" is just another bat in the belfry, another identity to cling to.
@athousandgateaux: The post left thinkers I've been paying attention to haven't been using post-left as much of a self-identifier, because they're generally aware of these kinds of problems. Just because many do flaunt their spooklessness doesn't mean all do, and many don't, which is the more interesting crowd and cluster of ideas to think and talk about and the one that I meant.
@zulikath fair point. I guess in general, a big part of my post-left, egoist, whatever-you-want-to-call it praxis follows the model of Stirner and Novatore in taking the form of relentless critique (even of the people who I largely sympathize and work with, sometimes in the form of tongue-in-cheek jabs).
@athousandgateaux: Then are you treating critique as more of a process where there will always be a post-left for as long as there is an identifiable left to critique? Because I'd agree with that, but as that process develops, it just results in more and more leftist spooks critiqued into irrelevance and dismissal, which is kinda where I was going with the original post, with the post-left not being spook-free but another stage forward of the process of despooking the left.
@zulikath yeah, I think we're on the same page. I'm also thinking of Novatore when he said he was an anarchist, but if there was an anarchist revolution, he would still critique whatever came after. I feel the same way with the "post-left," except I think it's also necessary to critique its tendencies while it's forming, precisely so that it does not ossify into a new spook, a new orthodoxy, etc. (which I have seen starting to happen in certain circles).
@athousandgateaux Yeah, even if we achieved anarchy, there would still be a lot about society left that's worth critique that isn't in the scope of anarchy vs not, the critique will never end. I guess going back to my original point though, is there anything to the post-left beyond the process of progressively de-spooking the left that I am missing, or does that seem like an accurate way to express what post-left is about? It's kind of a hypothesis and framing I'm playing with to see how well it works and whether that makes it simpler to give a straightforward answer to a question of "what is post-left" that otherwise usually gets vague answers.
@zulikath yeah, that definitely seems like a succinct way to explain post-left tendencies to those who are unfamiliar.
I've also noticed a tendency across a lot of thinkers/writers who might be grouped under "post-left" to posit "life" (broadly construed) as a kind of positive content of a post-left project (as opposed to the negative project of critique and annihilation). Wolfi Landstreicher talks about it in "From Politics to Life," baeden talk about it to some degree, it comes up in Against Leviathan, other queer nihiliat and anarcho-nihilist texts I've read talk about it, Tiqqun and Invisible Committee are into it, too... But from my perspective, they've just replaced one spook (politics, revolution, insurrection, what have you) with another (life, vitalism, vital intensity), which is where I see one line of critique that needs to be taken against post-lefties.
@athousandgateaux I think there’s a careful distinction to be made between values we hold above ourselves (as spooks) and values that we hold, ourselves. Especially life, when speaking of our own lives and not of life in the abstract, is easy to make looks spooky even when we don’t mean it that way. Any value we can have egoistically is a value someone else can make into something spooky, it isn’t the value itself, but how we perceive that value, that makes it spooky.
@zulikath Sure. But I think that's precisely the problem that I'm pointing to with a lot of post-left discourse: it abstracts life; it turns life into a spook (consciously or unconsciously) in the same way that humanism turns "the human" into a spook over and above actually existing, unique human beings. But I think post-lefties and their apologists are in denial about this.
To bring it back to my original point and the need for relentless critique: everyone wants to be a spook-buster until it comes time to bust their own spooks, at which point they come up with elaborate justifications for avoiding having to critically assess or jettison their beloved fetish objects (which is exactly what I see any time I try to raise critiques around the tendency towards vitalism in post-left/anti-civ/anti-politics discourse). Like, if it walks like vitalism, and talks like vitalism, it's vitalism. And we can either try to justify that aspect of our values by making conceptual distinctions, or we can actually bust some spooks, ruthlessly critique it, and seek something new.
@athousandgateaux: I'll definitely be much more aware of this tendency going forward after this discussion, but I'm not sure there's a way to express anyone's personal, egoistic ideals that couldn't be taken as being spooky by an uncharitable reading. The charitable (non-spooky "life") and non-charitable (spooky "life") readings should be consciously compared and critiqued as needed as the separate things they are. I'd hate to let avoiding the appearance of spookiness limit expressiveness.
@athousandgateaux: I don't see a ton of people who call things spooks claim to be absolutely de-spooked or pure in their de-spookedness, that's definitely spooky and seems like something people do for the first few months of their journey through egoism until they realize the problem there. But a process of gradually eliminating spooks does seem to lead in some direction and it looks like the direction post-left thinkers are generally going.
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