The introduction to Here Be Monsters: How To Fight Capitalism Instead of Each Other
"Not everything that looks like liberation actually is, nor is every political idea which claims to help people actually helpful. Sometimes, we can dream up things which become nightmares. Sometimes, the left is actually out of touch with reality, with “larger reality.” Sometimes, the theories and frameworks crafted to fight oppression only lead to more oppression. Sometimes, the “impossible” is actually really impossible."
This is so clarifying. I'm really looking forward to the book.
It's all this good. Buy it.
Great intro! Looking forward to getting my copy.
I agree that there are still only two dominant competing meta-narratives / frameworks politically but there are some interesting shakeups happening in parts of the "post-liberal" world. One of these interesting post-liberal thinkers, Sohrab Ahmari, wrote a book called Tyranny, Inc., detailing capitalist exploitation of workers from a social conservative perspective. I haven't read his book yet, but it has been blurbed by the likes of Slavoj Zizek and Jacobin magazine as well as Senators Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio…a strange group of recommenders, surely.
So I am interested to see what happens when those sympathetic with what you call "leftist" goals of ending "capitalist and industrialist exploitation of the Earth and of people" also have socially conservative viewpoints around hierarchy, family structure, abortion, sexuality, etc. How do we thread the needle of celebrating some forms of personal liberation without veering into either conservative restrictions/hierarchies on one hand and the unreality of representations that is becoming rampant in an age of isolation, social media and algorithms on the other hand?
Perhaps I should read your book to learn more ;-) But also I would love to hear your thoughts on this new "post-liberal" shift that aims for the same economic goals of the traditional left but not the social ones. Here is a great podcast episode/article where I learned more about Ahmari's book: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area/2023/8/30/23841383/sohrab-ahmari-tyranny-inc-the-gray-area
I loved your story about the bat guy. I just wrote about it on my Substack under the subhead "Miscellaneous brain candy." https://astrologybooks.substack.com/p/echoes-remembering-september-2022s
A delicious appetiser. And I'm just wondering whether your date were an undercover philosopher slyly referencing Thomas Nagel's "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?".
In the Subcultures seminar I used to teach we talked about the otherkin subculture (they're the ones who believe they are animals, mythical creatures, weather phenomena, and whose pronouns are "dragonself," "cloudself," etc.) But the fun and games can only be taken so far: eventually, an otherkin's self-ascribed identity may collide with entrenched power structures that are unwilling to play along. Someone who believes she's a cat cannot insist on having a kitty-cat language interpreter in court, nor would someone who claims they're a vampire and must not be touched by rays of light be granted a midnight trial, or a diet of human blood if they are incarcerated. A cloudself likewise won't be given accommodations to float down the hall from a room where they're taking a proctored exam - say, a medical board exam - because it's in their nature to be diffuse and move around.
Of course, all I've provided above are examples of the fallacy of "appealing to authority" - I have not proven that these otherkin are not cats, vampires, or clouds. Very few of us would believe they are these things.
But when could a person's claim to "other" be persuasive? For example, would you believe an Indigenous shaman who said they had transformed into an animal (perhaps in trance) in order to gain esoteric knowledge?
I think the key difference between a shaman and the Batman in Rhyd's story is that a shaman offers something to their community. Even if they are a "dark" shaman, it's understood in some societies that there is a balance of forces, and the "dark" shamans will be opposed by light ones, and it's all part of some larger picture. What did Batman offer? Intimacy, but with strings attached, and a new game where he got to make up all the rules - and when he wasn't accommodated he behaved like an entitled b(r)at. In the end, he had nothing to share but an offended ego.
There should be compassion for those who are different, but it doesn't mean they have a right to have all their whims indulged, and it's legitimate to draw a line between roles that can be enacted in public (e.g. in court, in school, in prison ... ) and those that can only be negotiated privately, where others have a right to refuse to join in the play.
I'm looking forward to reading the book!
This idea of "Realists of a Larger Reality" resonates so strongly with me - and love this usage of monsters, too - feels very apt. Have just pre-ordered a physical copy, looking forward to getting hands on it! Congratulations on getting it to this point Rhyd