This year we’ll be watching posts by the Socialist Workers Party’s budding Marxist intellectual Richard Seymour at Lenin’s Tomb to single out for recognition some of his exquisitely impenetrable paragraphs. At the end of the year, we may select a winning paragraph that Orwell himself would have considered worthy of inclusion in “Politics and the English Language” as an example of bad writing.
For example, from A turbulent rebellion:
This is not to diminish the integrity of feminist struggle, which has its specific privileged sites of struggle, its goals and its particular object of analysis (patriarchy or male domination, however construed – more on this in a future post). It is just to say that the patterns of feminist struggle are obviously overdetermined by a multitude of axes of antagonism, by conflicting and contradictory identities, by specific and contested political strategies, and by the conjunctural forms and heterotopic spaces in which social relations are concretised and institutionalised. At any rate, the appearance of concepts like ‘intersectionality’ adverts to such overdetermination. The strategic consequence of this for socialists seems obvious to me. Today’s rebellion against patriarchy is tomorrow’s fight against war, next year’s fight against spending cuts, this generation’s revival of militant class struggle. The idea, still advanced by some, that this fightback leads necessarily to the dead-end of liberal ‘identity politics’ has to be consigned to the skip.
OK, the last two sentences are fairly comprehensible, so it may not make the final cut. But try this one on for size– from Patriarchy and the capitalist state:
My suggestion is that as an analytic, patriarchy must be treated as one type of the more general phenomena of gender projects which in certain conjunctures form gender formations. What is a gender formation? I am drawing a direct analogy with Omi and Winant’s conception of racial formations, which comprises “the sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed … historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized.” This is connected “to the evolution of hegemony, the way in which society is organized and ruled,” in the sense that racial projects are linked up with wider repertoires of hegemonic practices, either enabling or disrupting the formation of broad ruling or resistant alliances. A gender formation would thus be a ’sociohistorical process’ in which gender categories are ‘created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed’ through the interplay and struggle of rival gender projects. From my perspective, this has the advantage of grasping the relational, partially contingent and partially representational nature of gendered forms of power, and providing a means by which patriarchy can indeed be grasped in relation to historical materialism.
I think we’ve got an early leader.
Update: KB Player comments:
I’m all for kicking needlessly obscure language but it seems a bit mean to concentrate on one person. Why not widen the scope?
Fair enough, although Seymour sometimes seems to have cornered the market in it, at least among far-Left bloggers. Examples from other sources are welcome.