Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcome to Vulgar Material!

This is a blog of political, mainly Marxist, analysis. As there are many such things, almost all published by people smarter than the author of this one, it perhaps behooves me to state my areas of imagined comparative advantage. I hope to focus on:
  • Analysis of the historical far right, in all its aspects. (As this overlaps with my areas of professional interest, this technically counts as an academic blog.)
  • Analysis of the contemporary far right, and in particular of contemporary far right thought.
  • Interventions into contemporary left debates, especially where I suspect people are talking past one another. While my critique of rightist thought exists to better help leftists understand our enemy (and, where applicable, benefit from their real insights), the point of the critique of leftist thought is to improve the quality of our own debate. There are many places where we disagree with each other over real questions of fact and value, and the rectification of names does not allow us to cut past this - but it does allow us to pinpoint where the real disagreement lies, and, sometimes, to find that it may not be very great.
  • Bridging the inferential distance between interested liberals, especially those trained in a bit of neoclassical economics or analytic philosophy, and some concepts common on the left. At this moment, it seems that many liberals are becoming both more disillusioned about existing liberal institutions and more interested in socialism and other forms of radical social change, and it would be a shame if this curiosity were stymied for reasons of presentation. (Of course, I do not pretend that my own way of presenting things wouldn't confuse, alienate, or bore other people as well; I just hope that there's a subset for whom it is actually enlightening.)
It is sometimes said that fascism is not to be debated, but smashed. I would instead say that fascism is to be smashed - and, in particular, its street presence ought consistently be met with greater intimidating force - but that the "is not to be debated" often cedes the field to far right ideas in the world of debate. Their ideas need to be countered, and to be countered, they need to be taken seriously and understood. As a result - and as a result of my own stylistic habits - this is likely to appear more dispassionate on the subject than many other places with similar antifascist commitments. If this were a Serious Publication with an audience of many people without serious political commitments, this could be argued to carry the danger of legitimation. As it is, I do not think that a danger at present - though on this and every other subject, I welcome criticism.

Despite its title, this blog is not dogmatically devoted to a merely vulgar form of materialism. Indeed, sometimes its devotion to a merely vulgar form of materialism can be downright heterodox.

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