A Zizekian Critique of the DSA

I was reading sniffman's "living in the end times" and as I was taking notes on a particular section something occurred to me about the DSA which I thought would be of interest as a discussion topic. If needed I will post the passage itself but I would prefer not to as it is quite lengthy and I feel I captured the point well in my summary.

I'll begin with what I wrote in my notes:

"For Zizek what we traditionally perceive as transgressive behavior has lost the right to this title particulary because it has become the generic example of itself. In other words, we tell ourselves that certain 'transgressive' indulgences lead to self-actualization but they only reinforce the cultural hegemony of the ideology which serves modern capitalism. The market, through commodifying and endorsing individuality and the "left"-liberals insistence that this phenomenon be able to persist absolutely unhindered even by mere intellectual critique (or else one is racist, sexist, homophobic, perhaps even a literal fascist etc) has created a new and even more conservative conformism. Zizek proposes that the tantric overtongue prevalent throughout out current era of neoliberal globalization ( "Bliss comes from saying yes to all bodily needs, not from denying them; spiritual perfection comes from the insight that we are already divine and perfect, not that we have to achieve this through effort and discipline") uses the form of transgression to enshrine and reinforce it's innately oppressive tendencies. Private transgressions are not only tolerated but encouraged and even publicly celebrated and this prevents any truly public transgression from taking place."

Since the DSA just had it's big convention, it crossed my mind that this perfectly describes, if not the the majority of the organization, at least a highly influential and vocal minority. The current DSA program is essentially neo-kautskyism but without even the idealist and utopian visions of "building socialism" which kautsky envisioned; the welfare state is a means to an end not for a reintroduction of class solidarity into american life or the stepping stone to a more "real" socialism but only as a way to stabilize and regulate the market so that it's inherent contradictions do not inhibit the continued project of "intersectionality" which is the ultimate form of Zizek's "conservative transgressive" in that, unlike solidarity, it doesn't demand that workers put aside their differences to unite as a force which can ultimately obliterate the ruling class and it's capitalist system and proceed to build socialism, but demands that opressed and marginalized identities across classes (although predominately those in the new petite bourgeoise sectors which arose from the liberal forms or emancipation for these identities that occurred in the 60s and 70s) collaborate in a rainbow coalition which only asks the State to fully fold their identities into the function of its apparatuses.

Thus, the DSA is not actually fighting to build socialism, as most of us already knew, but I also believe that the previous portrayal of them many on this board (myself included) as mere naive neo kautskyites is also problematic. Bernstein, Kautsky and other opportunists, despite their ignorance and idealism, ultimately still believed themselves to be earnest socialists who truly believed their model would bring about socialism. The DSA (or at least it's leadership) seem to not only be unconcerned with socialism but (whether they realize it or not) antagonistic to it.

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DSA doesn’t do this? If so then how do you suggest they go about it?

By doing it

Yes but like how either by resolutions or policies etc etc?

I'm not going to play this game user. There's a huge history of Leftist organizing in America to draw on and try to update for the modern day, either start there or just admit you don't actually give a shit about even trying to build socialism and go back to crying at your toothless socdem org's convention about "gendered language" and loud noises

Is it really a Zizekian critique when Zizek advocates for social democracy?

This thread is about the DSA. Everyone knows Zizek himself doesn't have an alternative to shit in just using his propositions as a jumping off point for discussion thus yeah, it's Zizekian

Nice try trying to derail the thread cuz you don't want to discuss your limp wristed reformist org tho

Where did I say this? I literally just want to know what things you or OP want DSA to do that counts as building worker solidarity and organizing labor.

Critique without advise is worthless at best and crippling at worst.

Hey man check this out

Yeah that's why everyone should just disregard Marx tbh, stupid faggot did a lot of criticizing but forgot to write an instruction manual for how to do communism without ever having to fuck up or self-crit that could be universally applied to every time and place forever what a fucking stupid asshole

As a european they seem like another socdem party. Their make up of labour aristocrats and petite bourgs is typical and what leads to their female/poc/lgbt empowerment ideology. They might dislike the "1%" but really they hate the lower uneducated class even more. I could see this becoming the burger version of fascism.

Thanks for the link then. So you want DSA to emulate the Black Panthers? That is fine i guess.
Oh fuck off, I said advise not instructions. Not even attempt was made in OP’s critique to suggest what can they do.

Precisely. I will repost something I wrote elsewhere cuz it's relevant to what you just said:

The "you can't criticize me if you dont tell me how to be perfect" line is childish as fuck and acting like that isn't precisely what you were doing is doubly childish.

Also you're still missing the point. I'm not saying literally be the black Panthers I'm just illustrating that there's a wealth of approaches to organizing the working class and the oppressed without going full identitarian radlib. There's even ways to do it through idpol that are revolutionary rather than liberal.

The point of the OP that you missed is that the DSA, if it wants to be taken seriously and not just become the American form of a modern day socdem party but with even more woke capitalism needs to be completely restructured and reoriented. You got butthurt that I was criticizing your org though so you said fuck having a good faith discussion about it and start saying "oh yeah well what's YOUR answer"


Well thank god I never did or said such a thing else I will be seen as the childish one trying to project my insecurities on others.

And I already agreed with your assessment of the DSA, I am just asking what is it you want it to restructure and reorient. The BP’s initiatives are good food for thought and I never implied that you want DSA to be like BP.

Well the joke are you pal, I am not even a burger and I want to know your solutions so I can see if it applicable to my own country’s fledging socdem/demsoc party. Stop being so butthurt when someone asks you a such a neutral question.

Butthurt socdems get out

I think those with more Kautskist sympathies like the jacobin crowd definitely do have the same kind of building socialism mentality as Kautsky. On the other hand, there are those who are on the side of radical socialism in the abstract, but in practice constantly take the side of capitalism through intersectional struggle and by taking positions such as open borders which are purely posturing. Zizek talks about that as well, it may sound nice and revolutionary but if it ever came about it would blow up in these people's faces, causing chaos and popular reactionary movements.

Imagine being this insecure in life

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On the other hand, there are those who are on the side of radical socialism in the abstract, but in practice constantly take the side of capitalism through intersectional struggle and by taking positions such as open borders which are purely posturing. Zizek talks about that as well, it may sound nice and revolutionary but if it ever came about it would blow up in these people's faces, causing chaos and popular reactionary movements.
I'm not a maoist but u think this is one reason it's still helpful to read combat liberalism imo, particularly keeping these sections in mind

Also these people are a good example of the whole Lacanian conception of a pervert as someone who may initially appear to be revolutionary but over time exposes themselves as one of the least revolutionary people imaginable because their "subversive" actions aren't oriented toward changing social structures they just get off on being subversive, so when the market gives them a cultural space and provides them the tools to do so to their hearts content they end up actually perpetuating the current social arrangement in an even more efficient manner than in an overt police state. They're basically just the liberal inverse of Sam Hyde and Zig Forumsacks

How do you identify and weed out the fetishists?

FUCK Zizek and FUCK socdems

Usually by doing shit that is generally uncomfortable for those who are just doing it as a trend. A big one in 21st century burgerland is whether someone can be anti-imperialist to the end (that is, without some kind of "well I'm antiwar BUT and then some sort of justification like Milosevic, Saddam Hussein are bad guys or whatever. I'm not saying you can't say Milsoevic or Hussein aren't bad guys just that trying to do the 'both sides' bullshit with wars that are objectively expansions of us imperialism is a sign you probably aren't actually interested in building socialism). Another is if a white person who was fine being a cis man who said the n word when they were in high school 2 years ago is suddenly a genderqueer who believes in reparations and that people who have literally never met them before should magically be able to discern their pronouns from telepathy or something of that nature. Most are easy to spot and the examples I'm talking about are hyperbolic but their real life forms generally follow that model. Basically anyone who is constantly making everything about them beyond anything remotely reasonable.

Say for instance that the building you meet at doesn't have a wheelchair ramp and you have someone who uses a wheelchair in the group. They take time out of the meeting to stress it and it is adressed. That's one thing

Now say someone literally has to bring the entire meeting to an absolute halt because of some personal neuroses they have and won't shut the fuck up until literally the entire fucking day has become a conversation about them and their problems and them shaming everyone for not preemptively considering them. That is literally the opposite of building solidarity.

As far as weeding them out it depends on which of two general subgroups their in: people who are liberals but are genuinely interested in changing society but can't overcome their liberalism. These people are capable of changing their perspective gradually and should be helped to do so.

Them there's people who see organizations as nothing more than another opportunity to accumulate social capital and virtue signal about what a good person they are. They usually have a nuclear fucking meltdown at any criticism and will refuse to change, opting instead to imply that they are more oppressed than everyone else in the group and thus the group should bend the knee to their sole authority in all issues from now on. If you don't just kick them the fuck out at that point they will consolidate more and more influence until they just obliterate the entire fucking process. I don't want to get into my personal life story but I have actually seen this happen a few times and not only is it incredibly uncomfortable it's also absolutely demoralizing for everyone involved.

I also want to reinforce that in not against trans people. I've known several irl and they were all good people and legitimately working class. This isn't about fighting idpol with anti-idpol (itself another form of idpol) it's about sifting out those who are or have the potential to actually be comrades from those who are just basically using socialism as a way to elevate their personal brand.

Also this is going to sound like a joke but unironically watch several breadtube videos go get a feel for what the fetishists are like, particularly contrapoints and thought slime. Literally everything has to be predicated on appeals to reason rather than materialism and the totality of the content revolves around the individual rather than the analysis of current capitalist trends and how to respond to them in a way that actually moves forward the construction of a radical working class movement rather than achieving victories in culture war scuffles

Most of these people love "combat liberalism"

See this right here is what I'm talking about. You think you're doing a gotcha. Most of them "love" Marx too, does that mean we shouldn't follow what Marx and Engels said about "bourgeois socialism"? Exactly why did you feel it was necessary to mention this or that it was a "refutation" of some kind?

Unlike marxs analysis of capitalist society, maos combat liberalism is inward facing. It will be used be these people to purge us just as much the other way around.

You're getting way too hung up on the fact that I referenced combat liberalism. I didn't mean that every org should force everyone within it to read it it m8 I was just referring to it to illustrate my larger point.

But if you're going with this where's I think you're going im not interested because it sounds like rather than have a productive conversation about organizing which might enlighten both of us you're only interested in looking for simple holes through which you can retreat from the argument into either defeatism or your sense of self (or both).

Honestly what I'm getting at is that combat liberalism is itself an example of liberal thought. The ppl who kicked me out of the dsa in particular were big fans of it. As a set of organizational principles it is insufficient to defeat liberalism

They don't do it to a bizarre degree. I watched convention day 3 on YouTube. It started with a motion to reconsider a prior vote to endorse decriminalization of sex work. The first speaker talked about being trafficked in Hawaii or something, and so she basically thought they should overturn the prior vote and no longer support decriminalization. Several people came afterwards questioning and disputing what it would mean procedurally to vote on the motion to reconsider. Somebody else came up and yelled that it was fucked up they were talking about procedure when this person just talked about being trafficked, and some other people mentioned that she should have made a Rated PG Parental Guidance before talking about being trafficked because it was traumatizing. They ultimately didn't pass.

Later there was more procedural bickering about how the marshal should regulate the progressive stack when there are too many people wanting to speak. I felt like that in particular was somewhat revealing because one person complaining basically asked if the marshal could please reduce the need of marginalized people to identify themselves as needing to speak first, lest they also create animosity among others in line, and the chair replied that the whole point of the marshal regulating the progressive stack was so that people in line weren't getting into arguments about how to organize the line (ie, having a line literally debating who is most oppressed in respect to whatever the issue was at that moment). Furthermore, the chair accurately pointed out that some people's identities aren't visible to the marshal, so that the marshal requires them to notify them. Obviously identifying as a transwoman would be an example, but it goes beyond that, such as when they were discussing whether there should be childcare at monthly meetings and somebody shouted that a parent had been waiting at the back of the line to speak.

Basically, although the chair stood firm that the marshal's duties were actually reasonable in regards to the problem of organizing a progressive stack in the line, the fact that someone still felt the need to claim they weren't using psychic powers to find the optimal way to plan the line so that nobody in the line had to be uncomfortable seems wild. In fact, prior to all of this there was a vote to create a committee to suggest means of expanding membership to 100,000 by some date in 2020. In presenting the need for this, the speaker said that it was well known in the DSA that they weren't inclusive enough! The thing they were made fun of the most for this last convention was that they passed a motion to have everyone do jazz hands instead of clap because clapping could be damaging to people with disabilities or PTSD or something. This has to be one of the most sensitive political organizations in America, and many of its members still feel like it is somehow callous or predatory.

lol how'd you get kicked out of the dsa?

Being a leftist is so incredibly frustrating
how is it possible for every organization and movement to be so awful

It's reflective of bad fucking ideas, or insincere intent. Most of these people are probably not materialists or Marxists. They're just a confused bundle of conflicting beliefs.

Also I don't fully understand why they announce their pronouns when they refer to each other by the gender neutral "comrade". The chair always says "the comrade in the white shirt has the floor" etc. and then they say "hello, pronouns he him" and nobody ever refers to this person in a gendered way.

So then if i want something more authentically marxist, what options do i have in real life
or can the dsa be reformed with better ideas?

Announcing your pronouns is fucking retarded and having pronouns beyond he and she and they is literally complete nonsense that should just be ridiculed

If you meet someone and they arent using the correct pronouns just kindly correct them and they'll start doing it 9/10 if they're serious about being in an org with you. Anyone who says they become dysphoric if referred to by pronouns other than he/she/they are literally making shit up for attention and should just be kicked out tbh

The war isn't meant to be won but is meant to go on forever. You literally will never please them because the second they become content they stop being the center of attention and we can't have that now can we

braindead take

That is a lot of negatives in one sentence, I am assuming you are okay with critique on the other side as long as you don’t make it equivalent? The silver lining that came from the Venezuela crisis was it being the perfect litmus test, anyone denouncing Maduro are outed as LARPers. Although unlike SOME people in this board, I can tolerate critique of Maduro as long as that person admits that USA intervention and Guido would make things a lot worse.

And that’s bad? IIRC Contrapoints barely mentions labour shit and socialism lately anyway.