“America is the only country that went
from barbarism to decadence
without civilisation in between.”
Have you noticed how, for example, being rude towards fat people has suddenly become a question of left-wing politics instead of proper upbringing and being a decent human being? Have you noticed suddenly embracing your own mental illnesses, instead of treating them in a proper way, and encouraging others to act the same, has become an act of political “emancipation” and “empowerment” of the individual? Have you noticed how toxic Western political correctness has become the mandatory language of the left-wing politics with its aim being the enforcement of a certain way of discussion without examining the content? Have you noticed how being working class has suddenly become just one of the identities, how suddenly you can become working class just by association, instead of needing to work for a wage or being dependent on somebody that does, and how the working class has lost its role as the “wheel of social change” to become “oppressed peoplex”? Have you noticed how the problem of racism is suddenly “challenged” by enforcing particular ethnic identities?
In short: have you noticed how left-wing politics has completely abandoned its content in the pursuit for useless forms and/or smokescreens and how it has stopped being an idea aiming at the creation of a mass movement of the working class with the aim of change and the creation of a better society and has become a social scene for a socially non-adjusted people?
To quote the 16th century Spanish philologist and humanist Francisco Sánchez de las Brozas: “Latet enim veritas, sed nihil pretiosius veritate (Truth is hidden, but nothing is more beautiful than the truth).”
THE POST-POST-MODERNISM OF THE DUMMIES
All of these problems represent a trend in left-wing politics and thought that is coming from “Anglo” academia, predominantly the United States of America, which is why I have decided to call this phenomenon ‘American Thought’.
What do I mean when I say ‘American Thought’? I am talking (mostly) about ideas such as cultural appropriation, identity politics, intersectionality, empowerment, shaming and privilege theories and American theories about race and racism, which the American left is mixing with Marxism, Third World “progressive” ethno-nationalism and projecting to the rest of the World – mostly Europe – without any real materialist analysis to back up these thoughts. After all, materialist scientific methods of analysis – brought to us by centuries of European enlightenment – are “useless”, mostly because they are asking for you to provide arguments, to handle certain theoretical apparatus and back up your claims with historical evidences. You know, all these annoying things that prevent you from expressing yourself and your oppression.
In its understanding of the World, ‘American Thought’ is not even that original. Essentially it is post-1968 French left theory, so called post-modernism, torn down to the tinniest bits and rearranged into a simplified language suitable for American campuses. It is French “theoretical poetry” stripped of its charms and romance into endless hysteria of word salads without making a single point.
Roots of this can be found in neoliberalism and its agenda of dissolving society into individuals and commodities. Of course, neoliberalism does not dissolve classes within production or the division of labour, but it dissolves the political potential of the working class through the individualisation of class. Which is why the left of today, in its inability to cope with the complete destruction of its historical counterpart through the 20th century, has decided to turn towards ideology and strategies of the far right, with its emphasis on the individual, its identity, ethnic romanticism and defence of culture and has replaced the class with it. The class interest of the working class is not what drives the left politics of today as the working class is viewed mainly as one of the “underdog” identities.
It is also extremely important to note how ‘American Thought’ benefits from American imperialism and its worldwide supremacy. American imperialism helps it spread mostly through social networks, popular culture and “independent” media, imposing itself, just like the USA, as the sharia police of this little socio-political scene on the international level. Or to put it in short: The World exists only if you look at it through the eyes of the American left.
Social networks are crucial for spreading of ‘American Thought’ not only because they promote simplified expression, but also they are simplifying language itself which suits this narrative of theoretical simplification and poverty. Also, social networks allow certain academics, who have not published anything genuine or important in their lives and that cannot even grasp the basics of their own academic disciplines, to gain attention and a following just by saying “shocking things” on the Internet. I am talking about cases such as George Ciccariello-Maher’s “white genocide” stunt or Michael Rectenwald’s stunt to get full time employment at New York University. Narcissistic need for constant attention is certainly one of the most important missions of ‘American Thought’, but unlike academia of the past it is unable to fulfil its basic social purpose: to educate and to develop theory. Even though, one could point out that they are still developing theory that serves the agenda of the ruling class in this present capitalist epoch with its identarian and individualist discourse. Also, this narcissism is present in activist circles too and one of the worst examples of that were “thinkpieces” regarding recent murder of Heather Heyer.
The phenomenon of the left on social networks was covered, among many other things, in an interesting new book by Angela Nagle called Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right (2017). Nagle herself, while criticising both the left and the right and their approach to social networks, has found herself a victim of a leftist slander campaign which has produced numerous articles which have not even engaged a single point she made but just aimed to discredit her. Which just describes a way that ‘American Thought’ is dealing with its criticists.
Usually when somebody criticizes ideas that comprise ‘American Thought’ – especially the merging of identity politics with Marxism – he or she is marked as a phobe (short for phobic). In the simpleminded and black-and-white world of the left politics every criticism is unnecessary and dangerous, so there are only “good” and “bad” guys. So, a phobe is basically a new fascist – an ultimate evil and enemy or just a person who does not agree with you. In order to be a “good” guy one has to win the ‘Oppression Olympics’; which is basically a ritual of acceptance designed by American leftists where one has to collect all the possible identities one can find in order to hide the fact that they mostly consist of university educated white people from the USA – the most privileged people in the World.
Nevertheless, if these ideas remained locked up in the campuses of American universities nobody would care about them. But it is not the case as this approach has spread across the world.
As one of my homies pointed out jokingly: “the idiocy of American left academia can easily be explained through an example of Judith Butler, because she at the same time considers an academic essay as a violence and Hamas and Hezbollah as part of the broad left.”
In the rest of this text I will discuss why particular elements of ‘American Thought’ have nothing in common with Marxism. But before I start I just have to make a disclaimer.
Firstly, despite naming this phenomenon after the country of its origin it is important to emphasise that purpose of this text is in no way to promote any form of nationalist thought, for example anti-Americanism. Anti-Americanism is something that is popular among the right and the left in post-socialist countries, it is connected with conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism and other forms of chauvinism and usually represents a particular nationalism in disguise. Also, it is popular among the anti-imperialist left worldwide as it represents, as Moishe Postone puts it, “the anti-imperialism of fools”, because their concept of anti-capitalist emancipation is not building of a “human community” (Marx) but eradication of the “global evil” – USA. And secondly, I do not think that this phenomenon represents the left in “Anglo” world as a whole. There are many comrades who participate in class struggle, either through organising or intervention, but unfortunately one has to be connected with them in order to get information about and insights into their work, their successes and failures, experience and lessons as everything is suffocated by narrative of ‘American Thought’.
WHITENESS, RACISM AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE
Today it is almost impossible to find a person who was engaged in a discussion with the left from the West and who never encountered ideas such as white privilege, White and whiteness. In this particular view the concept of White becomes a separate “sociological category”.
It looks like people sometimes forget how racism is, in similar way as class, a problem of the political and economic, i.e. it is a problem of access to societal resources and services, segregation, violence and in the role that certain group plays in a political process. It is always used to exclude certain ethnic groups based on their or their ancestors background.
‘American Thought’’s approach towards race and culture also reveals its poverty of understanding the historical role, limitations and fundamental concepts of classical liberalism; such as individuality as expressed in John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty (1859). It is expressing a constant need adhere to their own specific ethnic identities and to aggressively impose them to others. This is rooted in their constant fear of not having an identity and in their refusal to just accept that they are just Americans.
Furthermore, it seems that anti-racism of today has become the enforcement of racial and ethnic differences as an answer to the failure of “colourless” liberal anti-racism. I have said ethnic because, for example, the concept of whiteness is not rooted in what we know as “classical racial division”, as it excludes numerous ethnic groups which are usually considered as Caucasian on the basis of their political heritage of the 19th and 20th centuries. Of course, again, exclusively from an American perspective. It usually states how certain Caucasian groups are not white in a “sociological sense” and how, accordingly, all non-whites are considered as “oppressed people”. Who is actually white and who is not is the question on which there are a lot of answers as self-proclaimed Marxists are sinking deeper into the cesspool of “racial science” charlatanism.
If we go little bit deeper and place these concepts into the reality of political and economic discourse that has been present for the last few decades, i.e. so-called neoliberalism, we can get some interesting insights. One of the most important outcomes of neoliberal policies has been the total destruction of the “public realm”, along with the sole idea of the public and social. Through the process of transition ex-socialist societies, such as the Croatian one, in which I am living, have been more radically hit with this change in discourse then Western ones. And in the political sphere this discourse did not only abolish the public and social, it did not only proclaim that the personal is now political, but it proclaimed the personal the only form of politics. Which in its essence, together with the dissolution of society into individuals, leads us towards situations where perusing ones racial or ethnic culture and identity is considered progressive.
I would again like to emphasise the imperialist nature of ‘American Thought’, i.e. in this particular case, looking at the rest of the world trough “American eyes” and copy-pasting American racial dynamics onto every other society. For example, Europe is an extremely complex continent with an extremely long history of interactions, conquests, World Wars, Cold War, conflicts, pogroms and grudges. It is impossible to look at it as one whole as it is divided within its own segments based on these previous conflicts and interactions. To try to incorporate whiteness in Europe is frankly quite idiotic as majority of people in Europe are Caucasians and yet through history a lot of them were enslaved, ghettoised, exterminated and relocated. Therefore, it is impossible to use an American understanding of racism in Europe as there are a lot of parts of Europe, like the countries of ex-Yugoslavia, where racism as such simply does not play any significant role as there are other ethnic, religious, “clan/tribal” and ideological conflicts which have marked our recent history and which play an important role. European Islamophobia and Antisemitism as, unfortunately, dominant and widespread forms of discrimination and prejudice cannot be looked through “American eyes”. However, we can use a classic understanding of racism, in the sense of a certain group of people being inferior to other, in the case of Antiziganism directed towards people of Romani heritage which is widespread in Europe. For one to understand these relations it is important to make a proper analysis of social dynamics of the societies in question, along with examining historical sources, instead of adopting shortcuts of cheap theories.
The concept of whiteness is also interesting in the left’s attempts to comment on ‘conflicts in the world’. The conclusions are always the same: failed processes of national liberation are always at the centre in the most primitive neo-Maoist sense, every gang of chicken thieves deserves “critical” support, no matter of their class, political and ideological prefixes (i.e. support for Hamas, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood etc.) and in the case that there is some kind of “socialist” omen (i.e. Rojava, “Novorossiya”, Naxalites etc.), which is usually just a relic of Soviet Cold War imperialism, then comparison with past social revolutions begin. Of course, nobody ever mentions the working class. The goal of ‘foreign politics’ analysis is always the same: solidarity with ‘oppressed people’.
But who, or what, are these ‘oppressed people’?
‘Oppressed people’ are usually considered as those that do not belong to the dominant identarian narrative of the country they live in. When I put word oppressed in inverted commas I do not do that to ridicule oppression of certain groups because they are something really real and nobody should turn a blind eye to them. A lot of these oppressions, for example, the oppression of women, have existed almost as long as human civilisation and are not necessarily products of capitalism, even though capitalism did absorb it, sometimes enhanced it and even, in some cases, set in motion certain progressive changes and reforms. A lot of these cases show how impossible it is to solve them within limits of capitalist society.
However, one cannot call himself/herself a Marxist if he/she pursues broad and sloppy populist categories. People have always been a broad category with only one realpolitik, nationalist and populist task: to justify collaboration of Marxists with a certain fraction of the bourgeoisie. History is here to witness the failures and self-destructive toxicity of these attempts.
One more thing that is important to reflect on is how whiteness is used in discussions. Cries such as “shut up white” and “check your privilege” are used when somebody expresses disagreement with the nonsense of the American left. The goal of such an approach was never to engage in discussion or exchange arguments, which usually, in its modernist fashion, leads to new conclusions and cognitions. But for social scenes: change is not a goal. Their main goal is to preserve themselves and they are hostile to any intrusion that could shake their foundations. To quote El Mago, leader of Mara Salvatrucha gang from a movie Sin Nombre (2009): “the scariness goes away, but the gang is forever.” Nothing will change.
THE CASE OF CULTURAL APPROPRIATION
The common definition of cultural appropriation is the use. of elements of one culture by people of other culture. The problem, of course, starts with the American leftist interpretation of this phenomenon. They see it as something negative, as they see the protection of indigenous, oppressed and non-white cultures from whiteness as their mission. And they also connect this with Marxism.
To incorporate such a view of cultural appropriation into Marxism, i.e. to give it “Marxist justification”, is quite preposterous to anyone with a basic understanding of modernist and humanist mission of Marxism.
This view of cultural appropriation in reality is a really conservative position of defence of certain culture, customs and ‘ways of life’ which belongs to a nationalist and chauvinist tradition instead of an internationalist Marxist one. The mere idea is that a certain group of people behaves in a certain way and it should be “left alone” to intellectually and consciously develop without ‘outsiders’ intervention’. This premise is not just conservative and reactionary in its essence, but it is also completely ahistorical: through the whole of its history humanity has developed through interaction and appropriation of more advanced ideas.
The post-modernist relativism of identity politics and its agenda of “cultural preservation”, as something opposite to cultural appropriation, can bring us to the conclusion that there is no problem with the extreme backwardness of certain societies. For example, they do not see a problem with women wearing the hijab or any other similar cultural symbol. In the eyes of these people the hijab does not represent a symbol of patriarchal domination and repression – a symbol which does not just “float in the air” but has real repercussions in political and social systems of certain societies. And there is no rationalisation persistent enough to change that fact, along with the fact that a lot of communists from the ‘Muslim world’ have critiqued these religious traditions for what they are. Of course, solutions like the idea of banning the hijab in the European Union is a completely different problem connected with European Islamophobia and needs to be discussed through a proper discourse.
If we take ‘American Thought’ seriously, it looks like the goal of Marxists is the preservation of national, ethnic, local and even religious cultures and identities, which developed through centuries and centuries of economic exploitation, repression, hierarchy and primitive social structures, instead of destroying them.
It is also interesting to note how a lot of advocates of ‘American Thought’ like to claim and attack “orthodox” Marxism for its Eurocentrism. They behave like they have, like we say in Croatia, “discovered hot water” by saying that Marxism is Eurocentric. Of course, it is. Karl Marx himself was Eurocentric and Marxism of his followers, especially the 2nd International, was even more Eurocentric – just like any other modern ideology that was product of Europe. But it is not, or at least it was not supposed to be, a dogma that advocates “the end of history” upon its realisation, but “a living movement that changes the current state of things”, abolishes economic and social exploitation of individuals and continues its mission of advancement and enlightenment of of the ‘human community’. Or in other words, the goal of Marxism lies in its continuity of development of free social relations between people.
This of course means that in 21st century we cannot just recite Lenin’s nonsense while our listeners wait for their communion and a chance to go home and get some sleep. Marxism must develop with time, together with changes in human consciousness and relations with the aim of abolishing class society. That does not mean that Marxism needs, as advocates of ‘American Thought’ propose, to incorporate some specific ‘cultural insights’. Marxism was never a question of culture, but of class struggle and while one cannot deny the Eurocentrism that marked its history, and that was essential to the way of thinking of European intellectuals of past times, those mistakes will not be erased or corrected with the acceptance of nationalist and religious savagery from other parts of the World. Therefore, proletarian internationalism remains the only way out.
However, it is also almost impossible not to mention that same people who protest against the Eurocentrism of ’orthodox’ Marxism have no problem in using their countries imperialist machinery to impose Anglocentrist ideas to the rest of the World. But contradictions are what make us human, right?
It is impossible to behave like culture is not a commodity in capitalism. Culture has its own value which depends on market trends. Nevertheless, capitalism itself has already started a process of destruction of particular cultures and imposing its own values as universal. This process is usually referred to as globalisation or sometimes as multiculturalism and usually has a negative prefix because of both right and left-wing nationalism. Of course, this process is highly limited by ideological and historical contradictions which capitalism is trying to satisfy.
Which brings us to the following: Marxist thought is revolutionary thought precisely because it aims to abolish all social relations of present society and to create a new one. Cultures belong to that package as they cannot be viewed as external and timeless “truths”.
WHAT ABOUT THE WORKING CLASS?
Now is the time to discuss identity politics, intersectionality and how does Marxism fits into all that. But before I go deeper into problematics as such it is really important to state how one cannot be a Marxist and/or communist if he/she views being working class as an identity.
To view being working class as an identity is an ideological construct that is spread by the European populist right-wing. For them the working class, usually accompanied with attributes such as white and Christian, is the pillar of society. It is the identity which possess all crucial values upon which Europe was built and it is something one should be proud of. In reality, this is nothing but twisted Christian logic which values hard work and suffering in “this world” as something that is necessarily for one to be rewarded on “the other world” – where his eternal soul will rest.
On the other hand, modern day leftists’ identify themselves as working class just by association. In their worldview the working class is the only moral social class just by being working class. It is the eternal underdog in the struggle against capital. But what makes it moral or just? How can social class hold certain virtues if it is nothing but a construct of present society? Also, how is it possible to identify with a class if you do not share its position in production?
We Marxists reject all this ideological and moralist nonsense as one has no reasons to be proud of his/her exploitation by others, poverty and sufferings of everyday life. Seriously, why would anyone be proud of living like a dog?
For Marxists the working class is therefore not mere an identity one should protect or abolish, but it is a social class which is defined by selling its labour power for a wage. Besides that socio-economical relationship an individual worker (or prole) has nothing in common with other workers. Which makes it impossible to create a specific working-class identity or social category.
This was really nicely covered in Monsieur Dupont’s book Nihilist Communism:
“We do not know what anyone means when they describe the proletariat as a social category. If they are implying that the working class as a social body have something between themselves, other than their experience of work then we utterly reject this. MD have a penchant for Champagne and Tarkovsky movies whereas our neighbours prefer White Lightening and WWF wrestling, our economic position, however, is identical. We refute all identity politics as ideology and we absolutely refuse to view the proletariat as a political/sociological constituency equivalent to ethnicity, gender or sexual preference. The proletariat has no existence independent of capitalism.”
Even present society evolved regarding questions of certain liberties which were not covered by “orthodox” Marxists of 19th and 20th century (for example gender and race) in their discussions and writings, that does not mean that class is still not the main unit of division of labour and society and that the working class is not the “motor of history” i.e. the only one which can create communist society.
Nevertheless, I believe that there is a widespread and wrong understanding of nature of the working class as one “monolithic and unitary body”. Leninist relics approach the working class in this manner claiming that it only needs one strong organisation that will focus it towards “the ultimate goal”. But in reality, the working class is highly divided by various interests that are based on the position of certain workers within the capitalist division of labour or on certain industries/sectors they work in. Various identities, such as gender, ethnicity etc. also divide the working class. However, one should not pretend that the bourgeoisie is a unitary body as it is also divided by various interests and identities and there is constant power struggle among its ranks.
Class and identity function on different levels. Identity is transclass – i.e. it is not connected with a specific class within the capitalist mode of production. Or as Marxist feminist Eve Mitchell points in her critique of intersectionality: “identity politics is rooted in one-sided expression of capitalism, and is therefore not a revolutionary politics.” It is bourgeois politics, that was a product of certain historical context, and it takes form of bourgeois struggles – struggle of the individual and union of individuals, rather than class.
It is also important to notice how a lot of modern day self-proclaimed Marxists have really conservative view of what working class (proletariat) actually is. This view owes more to 19th and 20th century bourgeois sociology than it owes to Marxist understanding of class. Which is why it being common to refer to working class only as industrial workers. You know, working class equals strong hairy men that swing heavy hammers! Confronted with the capitalist offensive present since 70’s, marked with major deindustrialisation in the West and after collapse of Eastern Block and Yugoslavia in 90’s also in the “Second World”, this view faced with its own contradictions. But of course, instead of “going back to Marx” (purely in materialist methodical sense rather than ahistorical appropriation of his politics as whole), the left submerged more and more into American liberal and cultural discourse adopting identity politics as it main backbone and worldview. Because the left, as one person on Facebook humorously put it, wants to be both the ethologist and the victim, it is putting its focus on everything but the working class. Which is why its academia was trying to be so innovative when trying to invent fancy new social groups, categories and revolutionary subjects, from multitude to precariat and surplus populations, while usually completely missing larger historical and theoretical context and essentially – the point.
But we should not act so surprised as these days the left has really little or no connection with the working class what so ever. As I like to say, it is behaving like a little bee, jumping from flower to flower, from struggle to struggle, from identity to identity, pretending to still exist as powerful and relevant as ever, until someone says “the Emperor has no clothes!”
11TH THESIS OF TL;DR
Identity politics and all other components of American Thought are abhorrent to Marxism. Especially when they claim Marxism and pursue other “motors of change” rather than the working class. I would like to invoke Marx’s famous eleventh thesis on Feuerbach and point out that today we are not facing just a problem of “change”, but also a problem of a total lack of materialist “interpretation” of the World.
It is pretty obvious that if we want to change the position which the left is in these days we need to annihilate the idea of Marxism as another social scene. Especially when the bone marrow of Marxism lies in its pro-societal mission towards the ‘human community’ and collectivism instead of the individualism of angry teenagers that just want to defy their parents.
One could think that with change and rejection of ‘American Thought’ I am in favour of a conservative falling back to “classics” and “orthodoxy” of “golden age European Marxism”. Such a position would indeed be quite ridiculous today and they are nothing but another extreme of the same “social scene” polarisation. Marxism has no future in the 21st century if it fights campus individualism within its ranks with Protestant literality. After all, it is a political ideology which has its own methodology and approach towards analysing social relations. And these social relations are not static, predefined or “here to stay”. Quite the contrary, which is why we need to get back to using Marx’s method of understanding society instead of relying on some blueprints or laundry lists.
Which is why I would once again embrace the idea behind Eleventh Thesis.
While zealots of this and that thought that exists today are trying to enlighten us with their new theories, actions for the sake of action and/or self-promotion, we can recognise that all these ideas are coming from above – from a self-proclaimed intelligentsia and vanguard, and are a reflection of its petty-bourgeois and bourgeois view of society. In reality, they do nothing but maintain the status quo of reproduction of capitalist relations. The working class is still locked in its workplaces and unemployment bureaus.
But why should we look to the left and intelligentsia for a change? As Marx and Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto:
“The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.”
The left today has zero interest in true social change. It is a conservative force as its only raison de vivre is to maintain its micro reproduction, micro hierarchy and safety in being totally useless.
 Moishe Postone. “Dualism of Capitalist Modernity: Reflections on History, the Holocaust, and Antisemtism”. in: Jews and Leftist Politics. Judaism, Israel, Antisemitism, and Gender, ed: Jack Jacobs. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2017, p. 65.
 It is interesting to note here how etymological root of the English word slave comes from medieval Latin slcavus, sclava which means Slav. Other languages that were based on Latin, such as French or Spanish, share the same root. History behind the word lies in conflicts during 9th century where Slavic people that were captured were used as slaves. In Arabic language the word saqaliba refers to Slavic slaves that were captured during raids or wars, but have also served as mercenaries in Muslim world during Medieval. Also, Ottoman Sultan Murad I established elite corps made out of slaves called the Janissaries. They were made of Christian boys that were converted to Islam and were mostly recruited from Balkans. The Janissaries were abolished Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 in the Auspicious Incident in which more than 6000 of them were executed.
 I am referring to national liberation struggles as failed processes in the sense of creation of new communist or “progressive” societies, not in the sense of using military action to liberate certain countries from “imperialists” and creating national bourgeoise in process. If we take that in account national liberation struggles were all pretty successful, but I am looking at them from the communist point of view – something that the left that supports them also claims to do.
 For such critique check Mansoor Hekmat’s article “Islam, Children’s Rights, and the Hijab-gate of Rah-e-Kargar: In Defence of the Prohibition of the Islamic Veil for Children” (1997).
 Since I am discussing Eurocentrism of Marxism I would like to point out that there is an interesting book by Kevin B. Anderson called Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies (2010).
 With Anglocentrism I am mostly referring to centrism that goes around USA and UK, with USA being predominant force and UK being just a loyal sidekick. Kind of like Batman and Robin.
 Monsieur Dupont. Nihilist Communism: A critique of optimism in the far left. (Ardent Press, 2009), p. 50.