Magical Marxism & Other Alternative Visions

I noticed the book Magical Marxism by Andy Merrifield (links at the end to give some understanding about the book and author). I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this post. I simply was interested in the basic idea as presented in the title.

I was thinking about how this could be taken in a slightly different direction: Imaginal Socialism, Fortean Anarchism, Zetetic Leftism, Gnostic Radicalism, Taoist Revolution, etc. My thought was combining two aspects: 1) the unknown and murky, desire and imagination, curiosity and wonder, questioning and seeking, etc; and 2) revolutionary politics, radical visions, ways of relating that challenge the status quo, etc.

The failure I see of left-wing politics seems connected to an overly masculine worldview. This made me think of the differences between a thick boundary type and a thin boundary type, and how these differences relate to the liminal, the imaginal, and the Trickster archetype. I see many left-wingers go back and forth between two masculine attitudes: 1) willful plans of action and tactics of directly challenging power; and 2) abstract intellectuality with in-group terminology to clearly define the boundaries and distinctions. The feminine aspects of being in the world are forgotten or dismissed or simply de-emphasized.  Politics, society and the larger world isn’t just about individuals acting. There is a being-in-the-world that goes beyond mere passivity toward a fecund creativity.

What if it isn’t about intellectually or tactically willing something into reality? What if, instead, there was some unknown to lure us forward into realms we could never find on purpose? Maybe the best way forward is to lose the path we’ve been following.

These are just thoughts. I haven’t cleared up my thinking. I was just wondering about a particular angle. I just wanted to pick at this crack I noticed at the foundation of leftist politics. I see some light shining out of the crack and it made me curious about what this light might be.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JQP/is_442/ai_n57755935/

http://www.envplan.com/abstract.cgi?id=d2703eda

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13604813.2011.595116

http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/SessionDetail.cfm?SessionID=12233

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:Qg8PHs9tG6EJ:www.amerikanistik.uni-muenchen.de/ip_60s/finalpapers/duncan_kjoelholt.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESh2hFN_bq5d9QuQfvJot8NOGsTPMBS4Oi9_s0QawavZwVGPSX98cnQsrqbpRJ99w7HQKWViBCejmSpu6pmg4kMHkQU_fE0AwgS0vOWHWLUu_ApDNgAibFtvCJ0IAiChTevyC34W&sig=AHIEtbRFJodqqntFCimQ1wLqQJJwdkSc4A

 

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8 thoughts on “Magical Marxism & Other Alternative Visions

  1. It’s interesting and this is an observation: The early Marxists, and I mean pre-Leninists, had a higher share of woman in their ranks than one would expect and yet contemporary marxists have a longer share. I have often tried to figure this out but I think there is something to your point here.

    I will also note that until 1980s, women voted more conservatively than men. By something about the change of the tenure of conservativism ended this.

    • You probably could say a lot more about this than I could. I don’t know the history of Marxism and Leftism in any great detail. I just was making an observation and wondering where such thoughts might lead. I still don’t know if I had a point to this post. It was just my mind wondering about the possibilities.

      I was trying to connect my speculations with what I do know in terms of psychology and such. I know that there are very real differences in the psychologies of men and women. A movement dominated by men would likely be different from a movement dominated by men. However, I was more thinking along the lines of feminine vs masculine rather than just women vs men. In MBTI, most women test stronger on Feeling than Thinking (and vice versa for men), but there are a fair number of men who test strongly on Feeling (I’m such an example).

      This is why I brought up thin and thick boundary types. There is a lot of interesting research about this. I suspect that very clearly defined ideologies would attract more thick boundary types.

      As for the men vs women aspect, it is important to note that women are going to college more and are gaining more influence in society in general. Times they are a’changing. Women are gaining position in society just as minorities are becoming the new majority. It makes me wonder what all of this might mean.

      On a personal level, I find myself turned off by a lot of the very dry political writings. And I know many people are similarly turned off. I’m a very intellectual person, but my intellectuality is primarily inspired by curiosity and wonder. My first thought began with the idea of Fortean politics. The Fortean normally refers to crypto-zoology and other similar mysteries. So, what would Fortean mean if applied to politics and social relationships. The Fortean isn’t just about the unknown but the unknown that seems to challenge the very foundations of our sense of normal reality. What is it that could shake us free of the reality tunnels we cannot see?

      • You think in terms of America and I don’t, minorities are not unverisalized as the new majority outside of the us, but the voting patterns of women have been consistent. I think education has a lot to do with it, but not in socialism. The socialist women WERE the most educated, but there are few in Europe and American groups who are active or leaders. Think of the major Marxist theorists: There are several women who are majorly important after 1920, but I can’t think of one whose extremely popular right now. There are some really bright ones like Jodi Dean, but they are the exception not the rule.

        Anyway, on magical marxism, I would also advise looking in to Ernst Block and, later, the Situationists.

        • I mean before 1920, I am typing too fast tonight. Anyway, major female thinkers are Rosa Luxemborg, Clara Zetakin, and a lot of the feminist bolshiviks whose were marginalized during the Stalinist period.

        • I don’t just think in terms of America. What I talk about and how I talk about it depends on who I’m talking to. And when I’m online, I’m quite likely not talking to an American.

          In the case with you, I’m not sure what your primary context is since you grew up in the US. A person tends to never know a place like the one they grew up in and it tends to form the background of one’s thoughts for the rest of one’s life, unless something dramatic happens to change that.

          So, pardon me for speaking to you like a fellow American. lol

          Anyway, my comments can be translated to the international level. Besides countries like India, women are increasing in number when it comes to college, business ownership and management, politics, etc. Also, the global population is increasingly becoming less caucasion by percentage. So, accordingly, what is happening in America is more or less representative or at least similar to what is happening around the world.

          That out of the way, why would there be fewer women in leadership positions of the socialist movement? Maybe it is because there are fewer issues contemporary socialism focuses on that interest most women. Socialism used to be more about local politics and local communities. It seems to me that socialism has become obsessed with the big picture of theoretical analysis and international organizing. Even national protest movements can tend to forget the local level of families and communities. Women, because they give birth to children and attend church more often, tend to be more connected to local communities. That is one possibility, but I’m sure there are many more.

          Maybe socialist orgaizations should do a survey of women. The best way to find out what someone is thinking is by asking them. Maybe women would become more involved if they were asked why they aren’t involved and what would cause them to become more involved.

          I’ve heard of Ernst Block and the Situationists. I maybe even have read about them in the past… I’m pretty sure I have. But I don’t remember anything about the two. If only I remembered everything I ever read about. I’ll check them out and see what I find that might be of interest and relevance.

          • “Maybe socialist orgaizations should do a survey of women. The best way to find out what someone is thinking is by asking them. Maybe women would become more involved if they were asked why they aren’t involved and what would cause them to become more involved.”

            Sample bias and extreme sample bias at that. Women who socialists have access to in the US would be members or the college educated, it like all the psychological studies whose who real demographic are twenty-something co-eds who attend the university of the college doing the study, it highly distorts results.

            “But I don’t remember anything about the two. If only I remembered everything I ever read about. I’ll check them out and see what I find that might be of interest and relevance.”

            Magical Marxism is highly, highly influenced by the situationists actually as well as the anarcho-communist French group the Invisible Committee or Tiqqun.

            ” Socialism used to be more about local politics and local communities. It seems to me that socialism has become obsessed with the big picture of theoretical analysis and international organizing. ”

            Bingo. Actually this is a problem because Marxism, for example is largely split into two camp: academics and Left-sectarians of the nearly insane variety.

            I also suspect unequal division of labor at home has made it worse, not better.

            “In the case with you, I’m not sure what your primary context is since you grew up in the US. A person tends to never know a place like the one they grew up in and it tends to form the background of one’s thoughts for the rest of one’s life, unless something dramatic happens to change that.

            So, pardon me for speaking to you like a fellow American.”

            Valid point, but here’s something to consider before the age of 14, I had spent six years of my life with my working class Canadian father in Nova Scotia. I spent about half of my pre-teen years abroad. Now, it wasn’t THAT abroad, but it sort of split my psyche up a bit.

            However, I do forget how much of an American I am when dealing with other Americans, but I remember quickly when dealing with Asians. (Europeans tend to think I am a Canadian for some reason. Canadians themselves can’t tell).

          • I just want to respond to your last comment.

            I was obviously unaware of your having lived in Canada for 6 years along with many years abroad. That makes a big difference. It would be surprising if it didn’t split up your psyche a bit.

            I’m not sure how American you are. I interact with many people online from different countries. To me, something about your way of communicating seems essentially American, but it would be hard to pinpoint exactly why I perceive you that way. It’s harder for me to tell Americans and Canadians apart, at least online.

            By the way, it is interesting to note that the Midwest and English-speaking Canada both share a common influence. After the Revolutionary War, some Midlanders settled in Canada. My part of the MIdwest is very much Midlands culture. Midlands culture was largely influenced by Germans and Quakers.

            However, you were in French-speaking Canada. They have a very intriguing history. I was thinking about Champlain in terms of Paine. Both promoted an inclusive vision of society that heavily influenced the formation of their respective countries, one a Catholic and the other a Deist raised by a Quaker father. The Midwest is probably about equally influenced by Catholics and Quakers, Iowa certainly is.

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