@moltopopulare joins co-hosts Natalie Smith, Will Beaman & Maxximilian Seijo to problematize unquestioned leftist critiques of the “Professional Managerial Class,” or “PMC,” past and present. As exemplified by a recent episode of The Dig podcast, leftists frequently invoke the epithet “PMC”–as well as its cousin, “ultra leftist,” or simply “ultra”–in order to shore up class solidarity against capitalist cooptation and ward off allegedly unfeasible political aims. Yet in reality, the Superstructure gang argues, the left PMC trope conceals deeply zero-sum and exclusionary logics that undercut universal emancipation and caretaking. Often stemming from a place of self-loathing or a desire for self-exculpation, such logics not only police leftist discourse according to a univocal workerist ethos, but also violently divide supposedly legitimate from illegitimate horizons of contestation in a manner that reduces universalism to exceptionalism. Tracing the PMC figure’s theoretical and historical roots, the episode culminates with a sustained reading from Karl Marx’s controversial essay, “On the Jewish Question.”
Link to our Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/MoLsuperstructure
Music: “Yum” from “This Would Be Funny If It Were Happening To Anyone But Me” EP by flirting.
http://flirtingfullstop.bandcamp.com Twitter: @actualflirting
Transcript: Mike Lewis
Superstructure: On the PMC Question
Will Beaman 00:14
Okay, hello, everybody. This is Will Beaman, and this is another episode of Superstructure. I have my two co-hosts, Maxx Seijo.
Maxx Seijo 00:24
How’s it going?
Will Beaman 00:25
And Naty Smith.
Naty Smith 00:27
Will Beaman 00:27
And returning to the podcast is @moltopopulare on Twitter?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 00:33
Will Beaman 00:34
Naty Smith 00:35
Where’s that accent from that she has? What is that? Is that from South Africa?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 00:42
Haha fuck you, Naty.
Maxx Seijo 00:46
All the way down underneath the base, actually.
Will Beaman 00:48
The superstructure is under the base in the southern hemisphere. You know the toilets go the other direction.
Maxx Seijo 00:55
Capital circulates the other way.
Will Beaman 00:56
Uhuh, exactly. But so yeah, today is May Day. Happy Communist Christmas, everybody. …To steal the thing that Charlotte said in our first take that we just did. So Maxx, what did you do today? I think that you were out in the base celebrating.
Maxx Seijo 01:15
Yeah, I went to the Mayday March. Downtown area. Actually, we started near Chinatown. And this is in LA, and yeah, we marched a good two miles. It was great. A lot of chanting. There were some people who were saying how The Squad was not your friend, which was kind of funny, in front of us.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 01:42
Was that a chant?
Maxx Seijo 01:43
No, they were just mad at DSA for some reason.
Will Beaman 01:48
There was a chant, though, wasn’t there that was like about how “AOC is a sellout” or something?
Maxx Seijo 01:53
I mean, the highlight was when someone turned around and looked and said “Bernie was a boss.”
Naty Smith 02:03
What does that even mean? What is that supposed to mean?
Will Beaman 02:10
He had employees!
Naty Smith 02:12
He’s a PMC who sold out? Is that what you are saying? One of the bad PMC?
Maxx Seijo 02:17
Yeah, everyone was there. We were having fun. We were marching. We were chanting. I was dancing. It was good fun.
Will Beaman 02:23
Instead of working, he was dancing.
Naty Smith 02:26
Did you go stoned and/or have a playlist? Like what was your playlist on the way? And what form of transportation did you take? Was it green?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 02:34
Fuck it. It was Rage Against the Machine, and he was riding a motorbike.
Maxx Seijo 02:41
Yeah, so I drove in my Mini Cooper, and I listened to The Killers on the way.
Naty Smith 02:52
Do you really have a Mini Cooper?
Will Beaman 02:54
Wait, no you don’t.
Maxx Seijo 02:55
Yeah, I really do. Yeah, it’s right outside. Because I guess that’s where it would be. I really have a Mini Cooper. Yeah.
Will Beaman 02:55
You do? How did I not know that you have a Mini Cooper? That’s what the MC in PMC stands for.
Maxx Seijo 03:03
Oh my God. Alright!
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 03:07
Princess Mini Cooper.
Maxx Seijo 03:12
Yeah, that’s me. I’m Princess Mini Cooper.
Naty Smith 03:13
Well, what shirt are you wearing right now?
Maxx Seijo 03:14
I’m wearing a Minnie Mouse shirt.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 03:20
Oh yeah. Oh my god.
Maxx Seijo 03:20
I’m just…Look, here’s the problem is I have to really tamp it down. It’s too much sometimes, so a “mini” everything.
Will Beaman 03:30
It sounded like there were some Ultras at that rally today, right?
Maxx Seijo 03:35
Yeah, mostly just like according to the logic of Ultras, there were people who were young and passionate, and were, you know, yelling about internationalism, which is fine.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 03:48
And not in the DSA.
Maxx Seijo 03:50
Well, right. Well, but it’s weird because I’m in the DSA. Anyway…
Will Beaman 03:55
Maxx is in the DSA now.
Maxx Seijo 03:57
Will Beaman 03:57
Maxx Seijo 03:58
Will Beaman 03:58
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 03:59
About 20 minutes ago.
Maxx Seijo 04:01
But it’s a good way, I think, to get into the conversation today, which is: there was a whole, let’s say “kerfuffle” on Twitter, about a The Dig podcast and related DSA, certain people in DSA sort of discourse around Ultras and what that means, how that phrase is used…
Naty Smith 04:28
Let’s just start off and say they mean Charlotte.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 04:33
Charlotte and people like Charlotte.
Naty Smith 04:37
Will Beaman 04:38
So we’ve been wanting to do an episode about the PMC like Professional Managerial Class thing for a while, and then suddenly like the week before we were going to do it, this Ultra discourse emerged, which is basically just the the next iteration of the PMC discourse, so we thought we’d stay topical and talk about Ultras and you know, I think we’ll tease out during this episode, what both terms mean and why they’re the same, or at least kind of analogs
Naty Smith 05:10
Will Beaman 05:11
They’re analogs of each other. Maybe let’s start with Ultras in the Ultra episode. So this was an episode of The Dig podcast, which is the official Jacobin podcast.
Naty Smith 05:26
It’s one of the…
Will Beaman 05:27
Oh, maybe. I thought it was like the flagship.
Naty Smith 05:30
Will Beaman 05:31
Maxx Seijo 05:31
Technically, it is a podcast from Jacobin.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 05:34
Wait, is it the same podcast that did the Catherine Liu?
Will Beaman 05:39
That’s the YouTube channel, so that’s the difference.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 05:42
Oh my god. Okay. Yeah.
Naty Smith 05:43
So no, The Dig is like the more woke podcast of Jacobin. Like, Dig is typically the, you know, I know Dan and yeah, usually a lot of deep dives, and kind of academic-y books. So it’s less of that, typically, of this like, official Jacobin Catherine Liu thing, if that makes sense.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 06:06
Yeah. Yeah, yeah yeah.
Naty Smith 06:07
Like the Derick Varn of Zero Books.
Maxx Seijo 06:09
That’s a good way of putting it. But this episode specifically broke with that…
Will Beaman 06:13
Maxx Seijo 06:13
Broke with that trajectory, and was more like the Catherine Liu of Jacobin. So yeah, I mean, I guess I want to start like, what are Ultras?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 06:23
Well, Naty asked me this in a chat the other day, and my entire understanding of Ultra-leftism is like my history on the Leninist left, and I’m pretty sure it just means anyone who is left of the party. And that is my entire understanding. It’s just a word used to discredit basically anybody to the left of the speaker.
Will Beaman 06:52
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 06:52
Like the title of the Lenin book is, Ultra-leftism: an Infantile Disorder. Do you know what I mean? Like, it’s, it’s like, it’s such a precursor to the kind of internet language that we use now, in a way.
Naty Smith 07:05
Because there’s still a lot of Lenin in a lot of people’s DNA like not to use a DNA metaphor, but like…
Will Beaman 07:11
I mean, it relies, first and foremost on this idea of where the masses currently are. Right?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 07:18
Will Beaman 07:19
You know, you establish that first from the outset, and then the role of a mass party, right? Which then becomes their distinction of a mass party that meets the masses where they’re at?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 07:29
Will Beaman 07:29
Versus Ultras, right, who just begin with their ideas and don’t really care about where the masses are at.
Naty Smith 07:39
And there’s historical splits or references probably too, right? Like, oh, this Bordigist or this Left Communist and then, I don’t know, like this lib con guy, but then took on over time, like probably all different…
Will Beaman 07:51
Right, yeah. And the structure of it is that since it opens with this appeal to like a base of normal people who are all a certain way, it’s a very slippery term, because it really can just be applied to anybody to the left of whatever you and your organization has determined is where the masses are.
Maxx Seijo 08:12
A party line.
Will Beaman 08:12
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 08:13
And then, obviously, where the movement of the masses and the consciousness of the masses supposedly are always is exactly in line with where the party is, of course. So those two things become completely interchangeable. Once you replace the masses, like this idea of the masses, with the party, then you could really justify anything by these terms, if you know what I mean.
Will Beaman 08:35
Yeah. And so it’s a self-exculpating party line, right?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 08:38
Will Beaman 08:39
That doesn’t want to admit that it is a party line, because there’s this like, pretensions of being…
Naty Smith 08:45
We have a mass tendency. Anybody can say anything.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 08:48
Will Beaman 08:49
It’s science! Yeah, this is just, you know, we’re just reflecting passively what the workers are telling us, which for some reason, we’re, you know…But obviously, this is a value judgment, right? And they’re trying to erase their own curation of what is a legitimate workers grievance, and priority…
Naty Smith 09:10
It’s a curation of what you can say, and what you mostly can’t say is anything that isn’t what they’re saying.
Will Beaman 09:16
Yeah. And so it ends up becoming this, it’s very much like a kind of a projection, you know, because the tendency that it’s describing like, that is what the Ultra tendency is, if it’s anything, right, it’s starting with an ideal that you haven’t justified at all, but you’re just kind of asserting and then trying to discipline people according to that. And of course, I think that we would say that there’s no such thing as politics that doesn’t do that. But you have to own that ideas are there a priori in whatever you’re putting forward and be reflexive about that and deal with that in some way. Instead of, you know, kind of hiding behind “these aren’t my ideas. These are just the ideas of the people!” Which ended up being you know, you have to compromise here and here politically and you don’t compromise there. Right? That’s how it shakes out practically.
Naty Smith 10:10
It’s very vague outside of a plan. And then apart from the plan and the things you’re supposed to do with no speaking, this vagueness can associate with people who are really different. Because like, there are bad actors on the left. You know, there are like Stalinist people, there are people who are a bit wild. And I think it’s better to be specific when you talk to them about what is wrong about their ideas. This just like “you’re an Ultra,” then it’s just like, people who are good and bad actors, like you’re not engaging any of their ideas except to say, “No, you’re in the wrong ones, because you’re not normal,” whatever the fuck that is, and you can think you have a good faith version of what’s normal, but it’s so easy for someone shitty to take on that normalcy and immediately, like, apply it in an exclusionary way.
Maxx Seijo 10:57
Well, and what’s important about this too, right like Dan Denvir, Naty who you know, on the podcast said like, an Ultra is, you know it when you see it, which is just completely irresponsible, right?
Naty Smith 11:10
Cuz I know Dan’s not like that. But like the wrong person, like Catherine Liu, who’s thinking that, she means something really violent.
Maxx Seijo 11:19
And like, just as a great example, is in the wake of that podcast just to concretize it, like, people have commented on our episodes where they would normally call us like PMC or cops, or are now calling us Ultras, right? So there’s this sort of interchangeability with it, that I’m willing to take it in the benefit of the doubt to say that there are people who think that this term is not dangerous in that sense, right? But…
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 11:19
Naty Smith 11:49
I can’t imagine why, but yeah.
Maxx Seijo 11:50
Right. But, I don’t know why they think that, right? It probably is a sort of cliquishness. But the point of that episode…
Naty Smith 11:59
Well, I think because someone like Ryan Knight actually is like, shitty that they’re critiquing. But the vocabulary they’re using is bad. But I think they’re thinking, well, this object I happen to be thinking of is shitty, but I think they’re diagnosing wrong what’s shitty about him, and then associating it again, and this really destructive or dangerous discursive move where everybody who’s not your clique thinks it’s about them. Then you fucked up.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 12:25
But that does have a broader disciplinary function as well. Like that’s part of the reason for it, that intentional vagueness. Yeah, and then like also, I think that they really do seem to have just started adopting Ultra to replace the word wrecker. Whether you see us that, you know, like everyone was constantly being accused of being a wrecker, and now that have like, what, like more politicized version of that? Like…
Will Beaman 12:38
Uh huh, which in a previous episode “Gramsci Overboard” where we read from an essay called “Dad Overboard” by Amber A’Lee Frost…
Naty Smith 13:03
Was it not “Daddy overboard”? Or…
Will Beaman 13:06
I think it was “Marx Overboard”. You know, I mean, we focused on the kind of, oppressive sort of family logics of like, when you compare an organization to a family, you know, which you do when you say that somebody who tears it apart is like a homewrecker. Right? When you do that, right, the appeal to a family is you’re not allowed to leave, right? Like if you leave you’re gonna fuck everything up. So it’s…
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 13:33
Will Beaman 13:33
So the onus is on you to stay.
Naty Smith 13:36
Well, it’s a disciplinary function that is like a preemptive silencing you know, when people are like, “don’t don’t fight online about anything with DSA.” Like, that’s just preemptively like well, a.) like people are gonna say shit online like and probably some will be true and some not, but just trying to be like, “don’t say shit” like, that’s the way cover ups happened. Like, that’s the way
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 13:56
Naty Smith 13:57
People don’t feel safe to like, say shit. And then people will say “no, like real DSA chapters, if you go in real life, like, you know, people are super multi-tendency and open and you don’t know the debates that people are having.” It’s like, well, then why can’t we know the debates people are having? Like, why are we gonna have this totally different impression?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 14:15
It just sews distrust towards this, but it doesn’t help anything. Like, yeah.
Naty Smith 14:20
Will Beaman 14:20
Yeah, um, not to give the term “the benefit of the doubt,” but to give a lot of people who give the term “the benefit of the doubt” the benefit of the doubt, right? They, I think, are identifying something that’s like a real problem, that the term Ultra is the only term that they’ve heard used to describe it. Right?
Naty Smith 14:20
Will Beaman 14:40
And yeah, and that problem is a certain you know, I mean, we talked about the “Force the Vote” campaign to like, try to bully and abuse AOC into bending to the will of the left, which has been thwarted by the fact that it has like lost its univocal enemy. You know? There’s a real problem with the kind of politics that just picks purity tests, and from those purity tests prosecutes this punishment drive to try to discipline everybody according to those politics.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 15:11
Yeah, these are real tendencies. Like, for example, like in Australia, we only had a fucking same sex marriage plebiscite like in 2017, and it was like put to a public vote. And it won in the end, but like, it was like months and months of public debate and stuff. And there were like…This is an example of like, I think, like just leftists that were arguing against gay marriage on kind of Ultra leftist terms saying, you know, “marriage is a bad institution, and it’s a heterosexual institution, and blah, blah, blah.” Which, like, you know, they’re all true. Like we are all famously critical of the family, and…
Naty Smith 15:53
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 15:57
But yeah, I think people have a right to be annoyed about that kind of thing, when it does seem like it’s just kind of like undercutting struggles that do have a little bit of momentum. Do you know what I mean? Like…
Maxx Seijo 16:10
And like, importantly, though, that struggle is not one that is located in a single point of agency, which is unions as the collective will of a working class.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 16:24
Maxx Seijo 16:25
I think that’s where this whole conversation is just so muddled because it’s premised on this need to weed out inauthenticity, right? And to weed out difference because difference is seen as the enemy of a movement that needs a coherent negation, right? That needs to coherently negate a particular set of power and forces.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 16:53
Sorry, unless the kind of differenc is like you’re a Nazi or something, that’s fine. Like you can be a Nazi in a union.
Naty Smith 17:02
Well that’s relatable, everybody can understand. Sometimes you need some QAnon… Like Glenn gets it. Glenn’s a pretty regular guy, Glenn Greenwald. And he gets it.
Will Beaman 17:02
Well, of course! Well, right.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 17:14
Naty Smith 17:14
Sometimes you just…you and the guys, you just want to believe in QAnon. That gives you a sense of community. That’s understandable. Amber gets it, too.
Maxx Seijo 17:22
Well, right. Because this gets us into the next part of the conversation that I think we want to get to, which is that the premise of this vision of change starts from the fact that to say that someone is an Ultra positions the person saying it, like in this case, you know, Dan and Dan Denvir and Femi and, and Mindy Isser, and everyone on this podcast.
Naty Smith 17:53
Olúfẹ́mi was like, “I don’t believe in aesthetics. Aesthetics are horrible.” You know, it’s like, okay…
Will Beaman 17:58
Yeah, well, and this is the, like, the root of their diagnosis of the Ultra problem is that the problem is aesthetics. Right?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 18:08
Will Beaman 18:10
Right, it doesn’t start from the coherent working class base.
Naty Smith 18:16
Which is not at all aesthetic.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 18:17
It’s just wearing overalls, it’s not aesthetic, it’s just organic.
Maxx Seijo 18:21
I’m gonna continue on my train of thought, so…But to call someone Ultra, like what Dan Denvir and Olúfẹ́mi and Mindy Isser and others did, is to position oneself as someone within the position of having knowledge, right? I have the knowledge about the science of Marxism to quote Mindy Isser, specifically.
Will Beaman 18:49
Did she really say that?
Maxx Seijo 18:51
Well, she said we have to have faith in the science of Marxism. Right. But no, this is really important. This is really important, right? Because to call someone an Ultra means to implicate yourself as not in the working class, right? You have the knowledge to identify the tendencies of what’s valid, what’s invalid, what’s normal, and what’s abnormal. Because you are a PMC, right? Because you spend time with the books, right? It’s sort of understood that you’re not an organic intellectual, right? So called…
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 19:32
You’re the Professional Manager of the Class.
Maxx Seijo 19:35
Exactly. Right. That’s so fucking brilliant.
Naty Smith 19:40
I feel a little bad how hard I laughed.
Maxx Seijo 19:43
Well, we’re noting that and keeping it in.
Naty Smith 19:46
I know I’ve already accepted that after some of the other episodes. Like don’t put this in there like yeah, right bitch.
Maxx Seijo 19:56
But this is important, right? Because it’s like, as the managers of the class and of the organization that is the mass that has a sort of organizational structure that is supposed to foment this mass politics in the class of which they identify with, but which of course, they know because they have to understand that it’s a scientific relationship to the point of production, that they can’t be in that class.
Naty Smith 20:24
Because this is the thing, too, Maxx. This is like the shit that happened with which I was really surprised with Dan because he’s like, interviewing academics all the time. And then he’s like, “oh, like, uh, you know, who really liked this episode? Professional organizers. You know who didn’t? Academics.” It’s like, whoa! Like, wait a second. Like, that’s a really rude way to dismiss like half of your listeners probably as well as anyone who disagrees with you as if that’s a slur. And that’s what this whole PMC thing comes back to is like, academic self-exculpating. Barbara Ehrenreich, Catherine Liu, like, all these theorists like circle back to this thing where they’re like, “Well, we are the PMC, and we are academics, but we like need to debase ourselves and be humble.” Which like, but the way they say it is then they’re like, “this other academic was rude to a foundry worker.” And it’s just like, this is so hack! It’s hack concepts.
Maxx Seijo 21:19
It’s hack concepts, but it’s also baked into the dialectical logic of the theory of change that is the science of Marxism, again, to quote Mindy, right? Which is, the class is going to be for itself, right? It’s going to be a self-interested class that is fighting for itself, right? It’s going to fight for its own wages. It’s going to fight for its own working conditions. It’s going to fight in that contestation, right? And the job of the organizer of the knowledge worker of the PMC, who’s woke and who considers themselves radical, is to be for the class, right? It’s being for the class in a zero-sum relationship. And in the 70’s, like part of the debate that was coming out of like, with the New Left was debates with other tendencies, like the New Communists or different Trots, I feel like the Trots. Who knows, but like people go into factories to join the working class. It’s like, No, we won’t join the working class will manage the working class, but in a humble way. But then there were also debates at the time, like, oh, well, though, you know, some people were saying like, Well, part of the working class is at the universities like André Gorz, but it was like a lot of there’s like, interesting historical iterations of these debates.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 22:36
Because like, I, when I was a Leninist, I literally read a fucking essay. We were made to read a fucking essay called “Ultra-leftism and Liberalism: Two Sides of the Same Coin” or something like that. Like it’s a very theorized thing in mental Marxist circles.
Maxx Seijo 22:54
Well right. What this signals is this desire to bracket, right? It’s always this bracketing, right? And so you have to posit something as invalid in order to establish something that’s valid, right? And so it’s like, calling someone Ultra is like a relationship. It’s, in a weird way, it’s almost self-implicating, right? So like, what they did in the podcast is like, say, “all these people are Ultras, but we are just Ultras who are smarter.” Right?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 23:25
Yeah. Well, it’s like you were saying before. You, you know, you’re putting yourself in a position of knowledge and a position of power in that sense. But you’re also like, yeah, it’s you’re really making yourself that adult in the room. That’s like the Lenin Infantile Disorder. Like, it’s just saying everyone else is children.
Maxx Seijo 23:47
Naty Smith 23:47
And the self-hating academic.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 23:48
Yeah. And that also, it really does bring into the PMC thing of why they refuse to criticize the union bureaucracy as managers, as literal managers of the working class.
Maxx Seijo 24:02
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 24:03
In the same way that they want to criticize academics. Like you were saying about was it Dan Denvir saying, “oh, like professional organizers like my podcast, academics don’t.” And it’s like, well…
Naty Smith 24:13
They didn’t like that specific one.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 24:15
Yeah. Professional organizers, you know, get workers fired for starting strikes without their permission, like, as well. So it’s, yeah, but that’s not a criticism they have because like, also, you know, Amber Frost and stuff, they’re all fucking professional union organizers like…
Maxx Seijo 24:30
And you know what? Like, I’m in a union. I’m in the UAW, right? Like, and our union fucking sucks.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 24:38
Maxx Seijo 24:39
You know, which is not to say that unionization and unions in general suck and are not a useful like, important analog for thinking a theory of change in different ways.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 24:50
Maxx Seijo 24:51
But unions? Like this deferral strictly to unions as institutions, as the only path by which we will get change is really fucked.
Naty Smith 25:02
Well and also there was that tweet that Gabriel Winant did where it’s like, you know, this is someone who’s a history professor, you know, like U. Chicago and so he’ll always like really historicize like, the PMC and like the Ehrenrich’s own 70’s version of like saying what the PMC is in the 20th century. You know, but like, he tweeted, like, “Oh, I’ve been in Union rooms that were…and not just graduate unions!” As if like, real unions aren’t like, I don’t know, like, this guy’s writing about like, in Pittsburgh, the move to healthcare and like Black women’s unions, but then is still doing the same like, academic self-exculpating thing, which is like within that Leninist move of like, Ehrenrich and Liu being like, consciously like, yeah, we are in the academia, but like, whether it’s like Barbara saying she dated a man who was a truck driver who read more Marx than her or like, Catherine Liu being like, “I have an inner truck driver” whenever she wants to say something offensive, like…
Maxx Seijo 25:29
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 26:06
She literally tweeted about how her husband won’t do dishes. Like, bragging about it. That’s how of the base she is.
Maxx Seijo 26:13
Well yeah, because she’s being for the base, right? I mean, like, she’s doing dishes for the base.
Will Beaman 26:21
Yeah, she’s reproducing her husband as a worker.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 26:23
Yeah, she’s wives and/or mothers of the working class.
Will Beaman 26:29
Naty Smith 26:29
Did you know that some truck drivers still feel a sense of service, like Barbara Ehrenreich will also say shit like that in interviews? And she’s like, well, we shouldn’t just say that PMC…because there’s this argument of the PMC, though, like, what’s rescue-able about it, like from the left is if they denied the ability to be for capital and become for workers, that you can kind of like rescue the seed of service that comes out of professionalism. I don’t know what the fuck that’s supposed to mean. But then it’s like self contradictory, because Barbara will also say, she’s like, well, actually, like truck drivers, too, feel a sense of service. So it’s like, well, then what was the point of the argument? Like…
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 27:09
Naty Smith 27:09
Is this about like…?
Maxx Seijo 27:10
Yeah, I mean the whole thing stems from an anxiety, and this is what I realized, like, through the course of this discourse, which is, the anxiety is, is whether you’re again, Denvir, or Mindy Isser, or you’re an accomplished academic who does important work with DSA, is this anxiety about not feeling like you’re a valid social agent, right? I mean, that’s what it is, right? And so you don’t want to be an Ultra, because an Ultra is someone who has desires for things that are grander than the Pro Act, right? But you feel invalid in having those desires because those desires don’t immediately translate into having a communist revolution, right? So the anxiety about feeling those desires and feeling like you’re in the privileged position to feel those desires then comes out in the form of othering and othering people who have those, but they aren’t beaten out of them quite as much by the world and by losses. And so what that anxiety produces, because we do live in a sort of variously precarious, neoliberal-ish world, right, is this need to cut away certain desires, or certain senses of the identity of oneself in order to then produce a sort of working mold for how we can even just begin to start changing things. And what that really is is it’s a self loathing form of taxpayer logic, where I am the PMC, I could be an Ultra, I might be an Ultra. I might be bad for the party because I want things, and as a PMC, I have to reduce myself, right? Bring myself to pure service of this self-interested entity, which is perceived to be the located valid agent in a struggle with capital. In a class struggle with capital.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 29:29
Quite Dasha. I just want free healthcare.
Naty Smith 29:32
Yeah, well, that’s where this Maoist history is interesting because like Barbara Ehrenreich, and like part of her talking about the 70’s…Like one of her people who’s supposed to be PMC is like, you know, like a professor and his wife who were reading from Mao’s Little Red Book, and is like…Barb, every time Mao says liberal, they say Barbara. But then at the same time, this casting out is turned back against them because she’s like, I don’t know why…Actually, it’s really funny. She says to Alex Press, “I don’t know why PMC has become an Ultra-left slur.” It’s like you just used two…Like, and then at the same time that Catherine Liu is talking about, she has some sort of like Maoist thing, and like part of this thing of the New Left in the 70’s is like, they’re doing this sort of Maoist, self-crit. So it’s like, sometimes someone else is doing it to you. But then you’re doing it to somebody else. And then it’s like this chain-effect paranoia, because kind of this looking for the, like you guys have talked about before, like this kind of mass politics, neoliberalism that’s in parts of Maoism.
Maxx Seijo 30:38
And this is the exact same move that Gabriel Winant makes, right? In his article about the Professional Managerial Class, right, which is locating a particular class, which has a particular proximity to the point of production. Again, the point of production is not a thing, right. And the point of production is a complex social relationship that involves a sort of means of the means of production, that is money. And I feel like that’s important to say, and that sort of public, those public relations of money precede that. So we’ve spent a lot of time deconstructing that whole myth of the point of production and the the base and the working class, but it’s important to say that the need to identify an invalid class that needs to subordinate itself is exactly implicated in all of these sort of needs and tendencies to dialectically harmonize a sort of socialist agenda, right?
Naty Smith 31:41
And your interview with Dan Berger was good on that, the way that movements are, for Money on the Left, the movements are nested, there’s all different, like you don’t all have to be like on one single line, like you guys can, like, intersect and work together and have different things going on. And you also don’t have to constantly prove yourself, like how much work have you done? Like, how much like, are you valid? Like, do you give a shit or not like this having to like prove yourself as well as like…It’s very Protestant or I don’t know what it is.
Maxx Seijo 32:08
And so PMC and Ultra are both symptomatic, like formations, that are of a piece with the structural analysis of what Mindy Isser calls the Science of Marxism. Right? And so that’s important to say, right? It’s not like there’s a valid form of PMC. It’s not like there’s a valid form of Ultra that these would become slurs, right. These analytically structured slurs of othering are part and parcel of an analysis not only have a theory of change, but what production is, right? It’s a retrenchment to this base-superstructure dialectical analysis. And this is why we have a huge problem with it. Not at the first, like an analytical point, right, one might say, as a science of political economy, but at another level, there’s the discursive argument.
Naty Smith 33:05
Yeah, I mean, there’s different things going on. Like there are historical middle classes, right? There are historical people who were, you know, like, some of the people they cite, you know, like, white collar in the 50’s. Or see, C. Wright Mills, or like, there were certain types of jobs created, which yeah, like, that’s partly related to different things, whether it’s state investment, or the most corporate shit. But it’s like, none of these things happen through some scientific logic where just like the 70’s naturally de-industrialized. And so that’s…No, what actually happened was like political decisions were made. And also what happened from the 70’s to the 80’s, isn’t that the PMC, like, didn’t kiss the ground enough, and so that’s why Atari Democrats won in the 80’s and they betrayed the class instead of doing enough, like, nursing management and union outreach to the steel workers, you know. Like, there are historical layers. There are things where there were different times where different people had different kinds of jobs. But that all is…Like the thing is prior, it’s like people are just looking at the end of it.
Maxx Seijo 34:11
Well I mean, they’re looking at it through an analytical lens that produces outcomes that fit that analytical lens, right? I mean, that’s certainly the case with Gabriel Winant. That’s the case with Barbara Ehrenreich. There’s a dialectical lens that’s happening here that means that the we can only have the Pro Act if we all, right, as discursive actors, subordinate our desire to think and to be critical, and to have theories that can explain and think out new alternative potentials to a material process that is scientific in nature. And so there are all different sorts of ways we could come at doing this. But this general model then manifests in different ways through different people theorizing things like PMC. But it’s important to say, I think that we…that our line, which, you know, we’re gonna laugh and our party line, right? The Superstructure line, I’m going to bang a gavel…
Naty Smith 35:13
I reserve the right to have the Naty exception.
Maxx Seijo 35:19
Natalie, and right is that like, you know, PMC and Ultra are performing a similar function, whether it’s psychologically or analytically. And that function is to say that there’s something that I don’t like. It can be myself. It can be someone else. Right? It can be stemming from jealousy, or stemming from hatred, or stemming from all different sorts of places. But…
Naty Smith 35:50
Well I don’t know if jealousy is the right line we want to use. That’s like…
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 35:53
I think that there’s an element of competition like intra…like a competition. Like, I definitely feel like there’s an anxiety of like…Because these people they all are academics, the people talking about Ultras and PMC.
Naty Smith 36:11
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 36:11
They are all staying in that industry. They are aware. Like, I think there is an element of like, not jealousy, but like competition with other academics. None of them actually want to go work in a factory, you know what I mean? And so they have to justify themselves, and they have to justify being there. And they have to differentiate themselves from other people to stay there, but also remain connected to the base.
Maxx Seijo 36:37
Yeah, and I mean jealousy in a very particular way. I mean, in the sense that an Ultra, to someone who is a responsible PMC, an Ultra is someone who has the same desires as the academic who wants a revolution, but doesn’t subordinate them to a working class. So right, it’s like, and this played out in the episode where one of like Mindy Isser said, “I was an Ultra, I know what it’s like to just be out there and to be doing everything that I want to do.”
Naty Smith 37:07
I mean, again, their definition is a mess, too. But their definition of Ultras is just a mess, like…
Maxx Seijo 37:12
Oh, of course. But that’s every def- But that’s by design.
Will Beaman 37:16
It has to be a moving goalpost.
Maxx Seijo 37:18
It has to be.
Will Beaman 37:19
Because it stems from a misunderstanding of what is a highly contingent, always publicly-mediated construction of employment and all of these things into some kind of a class formation, that then they attribute a particular kind of consciousness to, and then they try to, like, push back against their own consciousness and choose the difficult path.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 37:47
Well, I remember like, to illustrate what Maxx was saying, like, when I was in a Socialist Party, like we used to go to a lot of like, Antifascist, like counter rallies. And, you know, sometimes, like, depending on what the kind of organization wanted to do, you know, in the pre-meetings, like the planning meetings, that would be like, “Look, we can’t be like those Black bloc people, you know, we want to go. I know we all would love to be the Black bloc people, you know. I know we want to go and like to get in the thick of it, and beat the shit out of some fascists. I get that, but this is not the time for that.”
Maxx Seijo 38:26
That’s what I’m talking about.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 38:27
Yeah, exactly. I get what you mean. Yeah. And I relate to that. I was that.
Naty Smith 38:31
It’s relatable. Yeah, it’s relatable.
Will Beaman 38:33
It’s “relatable”, quote, unquote, in the way that like Ryan Knight is relatable, right? There’s a sense in some of these framings of Ryan Knight as an Ultra that’s like, “we would all love to be Ryan Knight.” And it’s like, no! Like, we shouldn’t…
Naty Smith 38:50
I don’t know if they…
Maxx Seijo 38:50
No, that’s there.
Will Beaman 38:52
That is 100% there. It’s just hard to relate to being jealous of Ryan Knight, I’m having. But I see what you’re saying.
Maxx Seijo 38:53
Will Beaman 38:53
When Mindy describes Ryan Knight as being like, you know, “I used to be an Ultra like, I get it.” And they’re examples of Ultras are things like Force the Vote which yes, might make us feel good, but isn’t like strategically, like, loyal enough to the base. I mean, there’s real desire of like, what’s wrong with Ryan isn’t his ideas, it’s that his ideas are not close enough to reality, like, are not practical enough. But it’s, no actually…
Naty Smith 39:28
Well that’s what’s the moving goalpost. Yeah, that’s the goal post.
Will Beaman 39:31
Right. But on the end of Ryan’s ideas themselves: his ideas are a punishment drive, and that needs to be spelled out. Because…
Maxx Seijo 39:40
Will Beaman 39:40
Right, that’s what I’m trying to zero in on.
Naty Smith 39:43
Because he has slurs, too. He also has slurs, like…
Will Beaman 39:45
Of course! Of course, because… Because the whole thing is projection of their own punishment drive onto him. That’s why they say “I used to be an Ultra,” because, like they’re talking about themselves.
Maxx Seijo 39:47
It’s baked into the analysis.
Naty Smith 39:57
Right, right. I get that.
Maxx Seijo 39:59
Yeah, and that’s incredibly important because then that leads back, and I feel like we’re circling here, which is an interesting sort of…
Naty Smith 40:04
Now we can get to Catherine Liu and yeah, the human capital and, go ahead.
Maxx Seijo 40:09
It leads exactly to what the PMC, as a concept, which is a concept that is a moving goalpost, as well, by design, right?
Naty Smith 40:20
Maxx Seijo 40:20
Because the PMC is structured around this punishment drive relationship on to the self and onto a culturally…A sort of particular cultural formation that they’re identifying. Right? A particular, to use cultural studies language, a particular cultural conjuncture, right?
Naty Smith 40:42
That sounds inflationary, is that like ethnic studies?
Maxx Seijo 40:47
There’s a, there’s a, there’s a…
Naty Smith 40:49
Is that when you go between departments and you just travel and are liminal and…
Will Beaman 40:54
And then you trip and you create a new money form, and then capitalism starts again, and it’s a mess.
Maxx Seijo 41:00
This is an aside. This week, in a class, I argued with Lawrence Grossberg, who’s a professor at UNC Chapel Hill, who is a student of Stuart Hall. And he talks about, like, our affective cultural moment as hyperinflationary. It literally talks about it as hyperinflationary. Right, so there’s this culture, there’s this understanding of our current cultural moment as a sort of a relation of production, sort of as culture as like discursive production that locates PMC in both like and some people do it as Winant, which is, this is a relationship to a class economic historical formation in a dialectical moment.
Naty Smith 41:19
Eww. And it doesn’t have anything to do with your self identity as like a child of the never ending academy, yeah.
Maxx Seijo 41:55
And also grad student unions aren’t real unions. Well, I agree. The UAW is not a real union. So it’s precisely this movement that we get from Ehrenrich and Winants definition of PMC to Catherine Liu’s sort of flaunting, indulgent hatred of anyone she culturally, sort of, she can smell the PMC on them.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 42:20
Stinky pussy. Literally.
Naty Smith 42:25
That’s one of the biggest problems facing the working class.
Will Beaman 42:30
I mean, it’s also really interesting, this sort of like, the way that they talk about cultural signifiers and all of these things like, this is idealism. But it’s idealism that for them is an artifact of the fact that they’re PMCs. Right? Like, it’s the tell, right? It’s the thing that they can’t help but give away. They were born into what I think Marx would call a religion, right?
Maxx Seijo 42:58
Will Beaman 42:58
As a sort of a form of idealism, which is essentially a reflection of capitalism, especially when we get into the neoliberal kind of moment. Our you know, what, what, I guess Marxists used to feel more comfortable calling their obvious class identity as workers, right? Under neoliberalism, everything is an analogy to markets, and we are analogized to entrepreneurs, right? We’re entrepreneurs of ourselves, we collect skills, there are assets, our little portfolio of tradable skills that we, you know, acquire new ones, discard them…All that kind of stuff gets rolled in to all of the cultural telltale signs of the “PMC” which is, you know, this obsession with, you know, “my babies need to listen to Mozart,” and you know, all this stuff that that Catherine Liu, in some of the videos that I saw was complaining about how PMC’s raised their kids. And, there are some preppy assholes, right? Of course!
Naty Smith 43:48
The husband who works at a bank, but we could call that something else as opposed to, like, the driving issue in DSA.
Will Beaman 44:14
Yeah. Like, how about calling that white supremacy?
Maxx Seijo 44:16
Will Beaman 44:17
Like, why are we making that about, you know, about their relationship to sales associates?
Maxx Seijo 44:26
But calling it white supremacy would be alienating a potential base of workers. And so you have to come up with some other signifier for it, that can still posit it’s invalid structure, but not in a way that in any way can be used in turn back on the valid structure. And so this is why this is exactly the problem, right? So we ended up weirdly, people like Catherine Liu, and people who talk about PMC end up searching for cultural modes of articulation of class. Because that’s what it always was, too.
Will Beaman 45:07
Because that’s what all culture is, it’s connected to a material position.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 45:12
Catherine Liu, she made the funniest point because in the end like she was she was like, in one of the interviews on like, Jacobin that I think it was, she was like so…She said it’s a moral decision that a lot of middle layer people can make. For example, She said people from…
Will Beaman 45:29
A lot of middle layer people.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 45:30
Yeah, she was like, for example, like high school teachers up to professors can make a decision to be of the base. They can choose. They say there’s a choice.
Maxx Seijo 45:40
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 45:40
And then she…
Maxx Seijo 45:42
They can join DSA.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 45:43
Yeah, the example she used was, so for example, the high school teacher that knitted a beanie for Bernie Sanders…
Naty Smith 45:52
It’s so petty. It’s just petty.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 45:54
She is an example of a potential PMC that has made a decision to stay close to the base via knitting…
Naty Smith 46:03
Oh, that’s one of the good ones.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 46:07
That’s her differentiation.
Maxx Seijo 46:09
Wait, and so we just end up arguing at the level of some materialized sense of culture
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 46:17
Maxx Seijo 46:17
Like this knitting that then can stand in for class relations…
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 46:22
Exactly. I love knitting.
Maxx Seijo 46:22
Because in a neoliberal era, the only way to get at class relations is through this sort of cultural backdoor. So then we end up processing politics on the terms of aesthetics, which we hate that we nevertheless base our entire base in a dialectical relationship upon.
Will Beaman 46:45
Naty Smith 46:45
It’s the, excuse me, it’s the eternal return, it’s the eternal return of what was it the eternal…
Maxx Seijo 46:51
I mean, it’s the eternal return of the lack, right? Which is…
Naty Smith 46:57
Oh, I like those.
Maxx Seijo 46:58
Yeah, you do. And so the whole, like, I hope like this, this convo, and with Will’s beautiful, pristine editing, it’s gonna be a little bit like, rapid fire still, but I hope if there’s something like to take away from it, it’s that the whole structure of Ultra, PMC, valid working class base, valid theory of change that goes to the point of production, i.e. unions to pass the Pro Act to get to the Job Guarantee to get those things. Like we love, I love those policies, like personally.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 47:33
Maxx Seijo 47:34
Right, they’re awesome. And we absolutely need them…
Naty Smith 47:38
Maxx Seijo 47:38
And they’re not good enough. And there’s so much potential there. There’s potential for for solidarity and justice and like universal forms of inclusion and internationalism, even in all of them.
Naty Smith 47:50
Parties. Right. And getting high.
Maxx Seijo 47:53
Exactly. It’s desire and sex and all of it, like we love all that stuff. But please don’t submerge it into a rigid dialectical schema that then predicates its own validity on the invalidity of an other.
Will Beaman 48:10
Maxx Seijo 48:11
Please, like I beg of you. And, you know, this is also why I want to bring it back to like, marching today, like, for May Day, was beautiful. It was lovely. I was dancing. You know, I felt solidarity with everyone.
Naty Smith 48:25
Just like Barbara, you were dancing in the streets.
Maxx Seijo 48:27
Even when people were turning and looking at me and like, looking at me disgustingly because I was like, supporting the Pro Act and not, and not like a revolutionary communist. I still felt so in solidarity with them. Because it was…
Will Beaman 48:41
And at no time did that solidarity, like, involve Maxx choosing to be that person instead of who he is.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 48:50
Maxx Seijo 48:50
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 48:51
Or othering anyone else.
Maxx Seijo 48:53
Right. Or having to say that I am only here to be there for a worker? It’s like, fuck you!
Will Beaman 49:01
Maxx Seijo 49:01
We’re all workers in various ways. This is a complex social relationship to democratic and variously undemocratic forms of contesting production at multiple nodes and levels, whether it’s discursively, or “materially”, there’s so many different forms and functions of this.
Naty Smith 49:21
Ok but did you hear Catherine? She said fuck cultural rebellion.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 49:26
Fuck cultural rebellion. haha
Maxx Seijo 49:29
And it’s like, you know what Catherine? Fuck you. And if you vote for the Pro Act, that’s great! You know, like, whatever, like, there’s so much diversity in all of this. And it’s important to push back against people like Dan Denvir in this podcast and Mindy Isser and others who insist on a reductive view, on a taxpayer, zero-sum, organizational process view that insists on a rigid party line in all its forms and, by golly, we are known…
Naty Smith 50:01
A certain amount of Protestant good works, like you need to justify yourself within Calvinism.
Maxx Seijo 50:08
And like people burn out. And other people have been making great points, like, people burn out, people get exhausted. Some people, and like, I’m one of them, struggles to be in organizational relationships anyway because of histories of relationships in organizations that have been traumatic for various reasons, right? And so, like, there’s so much diversity here that we need to navigate, and we can do that by not needing a dialectical other to sustain ourselves in a zero-sum relationship.
Will Beaman 50:38
Yeah, we don’t need to negate our diversity.
Maxx Seijo 50:40
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 50:42
Will Beaman 50:43
And that’s…and so I actually want to read something now that I think will…
Naty Smith 50:52
Some light reading.
Will Beaman 50:53
Some light reading that I think will ring really strong in people’s ears as an analogue to what we’ve been talking about.
Naty Smith 51:01
Charlotte, I think this is from one of our favorites…
Will Beaman 51:03
Yeah, this is an essay, well, I’m not gonna say the name of the essay yet, but it is Karl Marx. And this is Marx essentially describing the negation of difference as materially grounded cultural subjectivities that need to be cast aside because of their religious, their idealism, right? In favor of a scientific working class identity. So in this essay, Marx writes: “The most rigid form of the opposition between the Jew and the Christian is the religious opposition. How is an opposition resolved? By making it impossible. How is religious opposition made impossible? By abolishing religion.” Right? “So to be conscious of your class is to have a subjectivity that is in alignment with your actual position. So… “As soon as Jew and Christian recognize that their respective religions are no more than different stages in the development of the human mind, different snake skins cast off by history, and that man is the snake who shed them, the relation of Jew and Christian is no longer religious but is only a critical, scientific, and human relation. Science, then, constitutes their unity. But, contradictions in science are resolved by science itself.” Right? And science itself is exactly this, I mean, this materialism, right? Like, that’s the Science of Marxism.
Maxx Seijo 52:41
Will Beaman 52:42
That Mindy has so much faith in. You know, now that I’ve read that, believe it or not, that’s actually not the passage that usually gets cited as being scandalous from this text. The text is called “On the Jewish Question.” And it was written by Karl Marx.
Naty Smith 52:55
Foucault loves science.
Will Beaman 52:59
I mean, Foucault would be probably right about how science is being used here, you know?
Naty Smith 53:06
Yeah, no, for sure.
Maxx Seijo 53:08
We like Critical Theory, because it critiques this sort of sense of enlightenment positivism. Right? Exactly. You know, I mean, that’s why I read, you know, Critical Theory, and that we go by, sometimes variously with Money on the Left, MMT Critical Theory.
Will Beaman 53:24
Yeah. When we’re reading this and thinking about it, to think about the complicated identity of, you know, as a PMC in all the complicated ways that it’s described, where you have a choice before you: you can either act in a self-interested way, and emancipate yourself from your immediate…
Naty Smith 53:44
The Good Samaritan of the Pope, that was my biggest frustration with that episode with all the dialectical encounters and charity that the Good Samaritan is like, so like central to his metaphor, and it’s the same thing. It’s like, you come on the road, and there’s somebody who’s sick, you can be good, or you can be bad, what will you do? And that’s the source of everything.
Will Beaman 54:03
Exactly. Yeah, it’s, it’s an encounter, and you find Pareto optimality for goodness. Basically, right? But, you know, there’s this choice that you get as a PMC that, and they’re all talking maybe not fully aware of this and reflexive about this, but this is extremely self-implicating, and they’re talking about themselves and the choice that they think that they’re making to hold a sign outside instead of send a tweet.
Naty Smith 54:30
I’m definitely like, if anybody’s PMC in this definition, like I’m of it and of those people and like it’s 100% about themselves.
Maxx Seijo 54:39
By the way, I was able to hold a sign and send a tweet at the same time today. So just, as an FYI.
Naty Smith 54:47
Oh, that’s..Once again.
Will Beaman 54:48
Contradiction in the Maxx form.
Maxx Seijo 54:51
That’s called the Maxx form.
Naty Smith 54:52
I told you to delete that selfie that you posted from praxis. I’m not sure if that’s allowed.
Will Beaman 55:00
You just negated yourself, and now you’re back in a religion. Nice going, Maxx.
Naty Smith 55:05
Did you pay your dues to post that?
Maxx Seijo 55:08
I actually did.
Will Beaman 55:13
Right? So you know, we’re talking about this choice that PMC people face under capitalism. Basically, you know, it’s, do I emancipate myself in this individualistic way or do I selflessly sacrifice now in order to get true working class emancipation by abolishing my capitalist ideology, where I see myself as a bundle of human capital who’s flowing around the world going from job to job.
Naty Smith 55:41
A bundle of human capital. That’s like those eights, those eights all, like bundled up infinitely.
Maxx Seijo 55:49
The process is to give up your self-interestedness
Will Beaman 55:53
Maxx Seijo 55:53
That’s the key because the ground of classical economics, as we all know, is self interest.
Will Beaman 55:59
Maxx Seijo 56:00
You’re trying to maximize your self interested utility for yourself, right?
Will Beaman 56:04
In a vulgar, materialist explanation of PMC, or just all the explanations of PMC really, like I’ll just say, try to “empathize” with people who are PMC’s by saying that it’s in their immediate self interest to buy into all of that stuff.
Naty Smith 56:23
You had a good line about like, because Winant was locating it in like the Warren-Bernie thing, and it was like you had a good line, like, you know, “be nice to like your aunt who’s, uh, a Warren voter.” Like, “Talk to her about Bernie like, don’t be rude. Don’t be a dirtbag Bernie person. You need to be like…” No, look. A lot of Bernie supporters are PMC. We know this Warren aunt, and I’m humble about that.
Will Beaman 56:46
Totally, yeah. But…ok so.
Naty Smith 56:55
Will Beaman 56:55
Naty Smith 56:56
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 56:58
Like Catherine Liu just wants to replace HR anti-racism seminars with struggle sessions.
Will Beaman 57:06
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 57:07
As though they’re not totally similar things, like…
Will Beaman 57:11
Naty Smith 57:11
And the weirdest struggle sessions, too. Just imagine.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 57:14
Yeah, just talking about you stinking pussy. Is it how much you hate your baby… Yeah, I left my baby in a room for 10 hours in the dark the other day, I didn’t give a shit.
Maxx Seijo 57:26
I’ve been to a few struggle sessions if that’s…
Will Beaman 57:32
Okay, so I’m just gonna start reading. Now I think that we…
Naty Smith 57:36
Back to the Jewish question!
Will Beaman 57:38
Now that we’ve set up the old gate queue enough. So, I’m just kidding. I think that we’ve set up this reading enough. “Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew – not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does,” who’s, you know, Bauer’s this person that this is like a polemic against.
Naty Smith 58:00
He has a lot of those. “Fuck you, bitch!” He has a lot of those missives for people who are anti-Twitter.
Will Beaman 58:06
Yep. “not the Sabbath Jew, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew.” Which is, again, the exact same move that we’ve been talking about and critiquing with the PMC. You know, look for the secret of the true nature of the PMC in their stupid rhetoric. Let’s look, in their stupid rhetoric, to find out what we can glean from that materially about the position that the PMC is in. Right?
Maxx Seijo 58:39
Right, virtue signaling.
Will Beaman 58:40
Maxx Seijo 58:41
Right? I mean, that…Yeah.
Will Beaman 58:41
Naty Smith 58:42
Will Beaman 58:43
Naty Smith 58:43
Excuse me, we changed it.
Will Beaman 58:45
Yeah. So then Marx writes, “What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.”
Naty Smith 59:00
Not great. Not great.
Will Beaman 59:02
Right. Which, you know, right. But the thing is, right…
Naty Smith 59:06
Like, it’s complex.
Will Beaman 59:07
We’re not trying to show that Marx had like, covert antiSemitic intentions, right? Like…
Naty Smith 59:13
It’s the argument. The logic is about what it’s about.
Will Beaman 59:17
It’s worth saying that, you know, Marx’s purpose here, like, he wants to help everybody, right? Like he just wants the class struggle, right? But anyway…
Naty Smith 59:29
Anyway, that’s the biggest…anyway.
Will Beaman 59:33
Yeah, so he says, “Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time.” Right? It would be self-emancipation.
Maxx Seijo 59:49
Will Beaman 59:50
You have to kill the…the PMC in your head, right?
Naty Smith 59:54
You have to hoard your virtue.
Maxx Seijo 59:55
I mean, I don’t want to say this, but like kill the PMC in your head, right is to kill the self-interested. huckstering, money-grabbing Jew in your head.
Will Beaman 1:00:06
Maxx Seijo 1:00:07
Right? I mean, that’s what Marx is saying.
Will Beaman 1:00:09
Maxx Seijo 1:00:09
Right. And that’s why people like Winant and Ehrenreich and people who say that I was once an Ultra, but now I’m not. And that’s like the shape of that…
Naty Smith 1:00:22
I’m an academic, but one who’s well behaved.
Maxx Seijo 1:00:25
Exactly. The shape of that is precisely similar. I have to stop being for myself, even though my position in society produces me to want to be for myself, because secular Judaism, secular capitalism has been, is totalizing. You have to sublimate those desires to the Science of Marxism. And that is to eliminate the Jew in your head. And it’s also worth noting that framing things…
Naty Smith 1:01:01
Taxpayer logic. Some taxpayer logic there.
Maxx Seijo 1:01:03
Right, that’s taxpayer logic, zero-sum dialectical logic. It’s also worth noting that it’s a very easy slippage from going from eliminate the PMC, Jew in your head to eliminate the PMC or the Jew out there. Right?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 1:01:17
Well, because I guess what does it actually…Because they are also they’re making a point about what they think a human being is going to be like when class is abolished, or whatever, and all they’re saying is, it’s not a Jew.
Will Beaman 1:01:31
Maxx Seijo 1:01:32
Will Beaman 1:01:33
He doesn’t write recipes for the kitchens of the future, you know. I mean, he just, you know, we’ll just start, we’ll just negate the Jews, but besides that, you know, it’s anybody’s guess.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 1:01:42
Yeah, yeah, we’ll just see what happens. Fuck around like that.
Maxx Seijo 1:01:46
This is exactly the point, though. This is exactly the point, right? Because modernity, like the story that Marx tells about the Jewish merchant, and about usury, as the sort of capitalist logic of both capitalism and pre-capitalism. There…It’s located in a specific, like, Jewish identity that he historically ascribes as the causal agent of the onset, right, of capitalism, of the circulation of commodities, in a particular historical moment, right? And so, to the nature of dialectics and the being thrown into relations of circulation, is that…
Naty Smith 1:02:28
And that’s why Bernie was a carpenter in the 70’s, to become Christian.
Maxx Seijo 1:02:34
Well, well, right.
Naty Smith 1:02:35
Sorry. Delete. Delete.
Maxx Seijo 1:02:35
The point is, really, I mean, this I have an actual anecdote about this. There were communists passing out papers, like International communist newspapers at the march today. And someone came up to me and said, like, the goal is not just to do social democracy, it’s to, it’s to abolish paying for things, right? And it’s basically abolish exchange and to live like our ancestors lived. Right? And that’s, that’s what’s harbored in this, right? There’s a reason why, and this person means well, I have no doubt, right? But there’s a reason why the impulse is to go back to nature. I mean, in the economic and philosophical manuscripts, Marx talks about communism as naturalism.
Will Beaman 1:03:25
Naty Smith 1:03:26
Maxx, first coming for the Jewish question, then anarcho-primitivism. It’s just really, we’re taking on a lot of big fish.
Maxx Seijo 1:03:33
But saying that to not be PMC, to not be self interested, you know, as the sort of the totalizing relationship of a secular Jew, i.e. money, is precisely this desire to get back to nature. That is precisely Christian.
Will Beaman 1:03:51
Maxx Seijo 1:03:51
In its own structure.
Naty Smith 1:03:52
I love the church so much, though, it’s really pretty, but I also hate aesthetics.
Will Beaman 1:04:00
I’m just gonna, I’m not even like, I’m like, halfway done with one of the quotes. So I’m gonna keep going.
Naty Smith 1:04:08
This is beautiful. Everybody loves us.
Will Beaman 1:04:11
So, right Marx writes, “An organization of society which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make the Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would be dissipated like a thin haze in the real, vital air of society. On the other hand, if the Jew recognizes that this practical nature of his is futile and works to abolish it.” Right, if the PMC joins DSA, right?
Maxx Seijo 1:04:45
Will Beaman 1:04:46
“he extricates himself from his previous development and works for human emancipation as such and turns against the supreme practical expression of human self-estrangement.” Right, and what better way to actually like if you just take out the word Jew, right? That is the exact way that the PMC gets described, right?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 1:05:12
Yeah, that’s so true.
Will Beaman 1:05:13
Everything is this practical expression of human self-estrangement that we need to recognize as being a practical expression in order to then replace it with a more authentic expression that’s informed by knowledge.
Naty Smith 1:05:27
They joined the Atari Democrats, and they watched The Crown.
Maxx Seijo 1:05:33
I mean, this is precisely the point, right? Like, I love The Crown…
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 1:05:38
Maxx Seijo 1:05:38
Because I’m a princess PMC. But also like, and I’m a graduate student who writes about all sorts of like, abstract German media theory, blah, blah, blah, right? And, but…
Naty Smith 1:05:53
Is that gay?
Maxx Seijo 1:05:55
When I do it. But when all said and done, right, like, the argument that we have to like, lash ourselves of our identity in order to do meaningful work, is totally ridiculous, but it’s not arbitrary, right? It’s situated precisely in a philosophical and theoretical argument, which is why the theory work that the so-called PMC do is so important. Which is not to say that it’s prior to in some absolute sense, either, but that these networks of ways we understand and exert agency over our movements, and our organizations and our politics in various ways. Whether it’s, you know, like, I’m walking down the street, and I trip into Krysten Sinema, and I say, “Krysten Sinema, vote for the Pro Act.” And like, right, like, that’s a valid form of…
Naty Smith 1:07:03
And fund the leftist univers…Fund public universities.
Maxx Seijo 1:07:07
Naty Smith 1:07:07
Like fund shit like that. The reason it has these scarcity logics is precisely because yeah, like in a lot of ways, like neoliberalism and different regimes of scarcity and capitalism within the university, but also like there’s been histories of certain kinds of publicly afforded abundance, like, but you want to lean into the left leanings of that always. That’s the point.
Maxx Seijo 1:07:07
And these people know that you just need to fund things. Like that’s what’s so frustrating about this. It’s like, people know MMT now, right? People know that we can fund things, that you need to be able to fund things, but at the level of process, and at the level at which they read culture and method, there’s this disjunct, right? Like they know we need to get rid of scarcity logics, and then they’re like, “Well, no, those are the Ultras, and they’re wrecking out…” Like, it’s like, whoa wait a second. Because they don’t believe in the possibility of the public.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 1:08:08
Yeah, and then you’re like, how do you…well how do you get oh, like, oh, they actually demanded, like, reforms and funding really? And then you’re like, how do you how do you get them then? And then they just say the labor movement every time.
Naty Smith 1:08:20
And we love a lot of the labor movement, right? What we critique is the locus, because like the way it’s like theorized and aestheticized, right?
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 1:08:30
Maxx Seijo 1:08:31
We don’t have to romanticize it either or fetishize it.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 1:08:33
Maxx Seijo 1:08:34
I mean, like I said, my union sucks ass.
Charlotte (@moltopopulare) 1:08:36
Maxx Seijo 1:08:37
And that’s fine. I’m still gonna like…when bargaining comes, we’re still gonna…
Naty Smith 1:08:42
Some people like sucking ass.
Maxx Seijo 1:08:43
I mean, anyway, um, but uh…
Naty Smith 1:08:49
Back to the Jewish question, alright.
Maxx Seijo 1:08:53
I don’t want to go back to the Jewish question.