Voyou Désœuvré

Outside my department, there’s a bookshelf where faculty leave books they want to get rid of. This being a political science department, most of the books are unutterably dull statistical analyses of votes in congress, or whatever, but last week I did pick up an interesting looking book called Socialist Visions. There’s a great essay in the book that starts with pictures of soviet visions of collective architectures, and ends with a plan for chopping up suburban housing estates and reconfiguring them as communes. Another essay contains one of the stupidest sentences I’ve ever read:

Elsewhere I demonstrate that the symbolization of nature as an object that must be dominated by an ostensible separate subject is generated in the nuclear form of (what Dinnerstein calls) “mother-monopolized” child rearing, and that the emergence of authentic forms of shared parenting established the necessary unconscious basis for a post-objectifying symbolization of nature and the technologies that are its materialization.

I see: the problem of industrial capitalism can be explained solely by reference to child rearing. What is up with (a certain form of) psychoanalysis’s obsessive desire to, as Tocqueville put it, “see the whole man in the cradle”? It’s such an absurd piece of romantic mysticism, imagining that children have some absolutely sui generis fragility, and, in contrast, that adults are totally self-determining. It’s a bizarre re-reading of Freud as if he were the most conventional of liberals.


  1. ishi, 3:47 am, June 22, 2011

    i heard a theory in the 40’s held that swaddling babies—in russia, for the cold i guesss—explained stalinism. pampers pretty much ushered in utopian market democracy or neoliberalism, possibly with a transition period a la Marx from cloth diapers to the current late period of capitalism in which its all good.

    i note the profound identification of ‘symbolization’ as the precursor for technological materialism post-nautral-ism. reminds me of john zerzan (language and number are the root of all evil) who reminds me of rousseau (yes, but its a neccesary evil—-count on it, i got 5 on you). its funny all these intellectuals arguing (typically for a living) that writing and math are morally wrong and joyless bullshit.

    (as an aside, the only issues i have with boring social science books is they are commonly as redundant, innovative, original, and oevres d’art as an all new calculus book or standard econ text or perhaps shaum’s outline series.

    one might need a regression analyses to show the entropy of such books is primarily due to their being identical particles (bose statistics) and as Boltzmann suggested without evolving entropy towards heat death of the uiverse there’d be no time, free market optimization, jobs, or human rights (eg right to be lazy).)) The signifiers must condense eventually yielding the phase transitions we all know and love (to hate).

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