Marxism and any critical science seeks to understand and denaturalize the human construction of our social world. It begins from the premise that we are social beings that in our relations to each other and the natural world bring into being specific forms of social life that are historically contingent. It seeks to dissect both social forms and individual subjectivity and show how the two are interrelated.

When I occasionally internalize the common sense that the social world as it exists probably makes some sense—that is, it is the way it should be, it is natural—I try to imagine coming to Earth with no knowledge of human beings, and asking one about the way he lives his life. He tells me that while as a child he was sexually attracted to both boys and girls—these two categories part of a system of binary categorization they have created (despite clear evidence that it is a false binary)—he is a “heterosexual,” that is, he now only has sexual desires toward and relations with members of the “opposite sex.” I would think about how deeply the social structures of his society influenced his individual consciousness, to the point of stamping out desires and coercing (not just through violence, but through uncountable everyday practices) him into forming an aspect of his identity based upon the limiting and packaging of these desires. Does this make any sense? Is this a social world I would want to live in? No. But because it is my social world, and it is the dominant mode of thought, it is so much easier to accept than contest it.

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”

There is nothing sadder to me than the prospect of accepting the social forms that exist and my internalization of them as natural, and living my life alienated from its full potential. Yet I do not believe in some sort of return to a pre or post-social subject, but in constructing a new self out of the world as it exists.

“Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.”

We need not feel bad about our subjectivity and socialization, but take stock of our starting point and see where we can go.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s