Sectarianism, splitting, the lower-Left

In his blog Doug Belshaw posted some reflections on Margaret Killjoy’s ‘lower Left’ model of the space within which progressive alliances may be attempted in orthodox political space. Killjoy’s post Lower Leftism: Expanding Upon the Political Map presents the basic schema below. Unable to respond to Doug’s post in Wordpress (some feature of Wordpress?) below is the response I wanted to make. Date: 11sep2018

killjoy lower-left map.png

Killjoy 2016 | One way of understanding who are a lower-leftist’s strategic and natural allies.

Sectarianism, splitting, the lower-Left

Yes this is a helpful map Doug - perhaps bcos it can frame discussions? Have been pondering it since Mayel tooted the link in However, there's a long way to go before it can inform day-by-day practice - the actual living of lives in moment-to-moment affective space? Some dynamics (‘sectarianism') within the lower left are hard to handle. And recognising just who, in practice, is in the lower-left is not simple either. Labels don't necessarily do that work reliably - and self-labels may not be trustworthy?

In recently I encountered a (self-described) anarchist who refused to even consider a well-known Marxist geographer's work on the grounds he's a Marxist and Marxists can be centralist, and chauvinistic towards anarchists. As it happens, the geographer knows a thing or two about distributed society, distributed economic formations and distributed anti-capitalist struggle. I hinted that chauvinism in this case was with the anarchist who ‘just knew’ that the Marxist - any Marxist - was a waste of time, certainly not with the de-centralist geographer of uneven development. And I got a slap in the mouth. No alliance on offer there then!


There's a lot more dimensionality hidden in Killjoy’s map? Open-ness of heart and #pluriversity vs closed-hearted violence-ridden #Othering is somewhere woven within the lower-left . . not just 'across the border' in the other quadrants? But the labelled axes of Killjoy’s map don't finger with any precision this inward dimension of brittle, inflexible, violently defensive Self? Although Margaret Killjoy makes a move in this direction - invoking identity intolerance - the map is essentially a map of ideologies ('positions') and not a map of selfing-and-othering, of a kind that might help give us bearings in-here, in the body in the moment? This is hard to work with, and just as hard (for the same reasons?) to conceptualise. The guts kick in before the conceptual mind, the manifesto-writer and the lawyer do? So, how about the #heart-mind - can this get off the starting blocks faster, before we're trundling down the highway of what the dhamma traditions call sankhara?

Sadly, the folks who brought this reference to fruitful Killjoy's idea have left in the recent whirlwind. And just to underline the complexity of things . . 'lower Left' Killjoy is a transwoman. [Context: the whirlwind of crisis in was triggered in the main by issues around the (actual? anticipated?) abuse and protection of trans people in’s online space.] Elsewhere in trans territory, this same issue of the heart is addressed, courageously, from a standpoint of activism within communities of queer & trans folks of colour, by Frances Lee in No justice without love - Why activism must be more generous. That author notes: “In many social justice communities, fear and shame are regularly used to control other people’s behavior and shut down contentious discussions”. Lee seems to believe that the agile, skilful heart-mind of the activist needs to get off the starting blocks a whole lot faster - as fast as the guts? - and can train to do so. I'm with that. That's basic literacy?

So yes . . still a lot of thinking and exploring to do around this. Alliances, in practice, are not matters of logic or signing up for formal narratives and agendas? Folks do get tribally stuck in echo chambers of their 'own kind' - which resonate somewhere deep in the guts, and get us into motion before the mind gets into gear? And maybe, for many folks, hatreds and shame/disgust are more powerful - and available - than generous affiliations? Always, waiting in the wings, is the mode of behaviours toward Others that was marked by Wilfred Bion and the Tavistock Institute post-Kleinians: pathological ’basic assumptions’ of splitting, dependence and projection, in groups that we might naively hope would form themselves up as ‘work groups’, and get on with the husbandry of collective skill, wellbeing and commonweal?

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