Towards a queer Marxism: Holly Lewis on the terms of the dialogue.

Author:Heino, Brett
Position:The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory, and Marxism at the Intersection - Book review

Holly Lewis

The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory, and Marxism at the Intersection, London: Zed Books, 2016; 340 pp.: ISBN 9781783602872.

... Here lies in ruin The masterpiece of gods, the tower of Asia. To her defence allies had come from far, From the nine mouths of frozen Tanais, And from the birthplace of the dawn, where Tigris Pours his hot stream into the ruby sea; Hither had come the queen of virgin tribes Whose frontiers face the nomad Scythians And threaten foemen on the Pontic shore. Yet she was vanquished; yet she was destroyed; Great Pergamum lies low; her massive walls, With all their towering beauty, are brought down, Her house all in ashes. (Seneca, 1966: 155)

When one is feeling pessimistic, Seneca's vivid description of the fall and ruin of Troy seems to capture the demise of the working-class movement since the 1980s. Like Ilium, this social force also had allies, including people within the movements for women's liberation, anti-colonialism and civil rights. Like Ilium, these allies couldn't prevent the essential destruction of a particular form and method of working-class power.

The results of this process of degradation have revealed two truths, one historic and the other prospective. First, at least part of the cause of the fracturing of Left unity can be attributed to the dissonance of its component parts. Despite the fact that Marxists, feminists, queer theorists and critical race scholars all shared an overall dedication to a fairer society, it became clear that the theoretical and practical terms of their cooperation were often at cross-purposes, with each favouring 'their' experience and conception of oppression. Second, it has become clear that the corrosive capacity of neoliberalism to foster division and alienation between citizens can only be combatted by a redoubled effort to build a united and cohesive anti-capitalist movement.

Providing some theoretical prerequisites of such a movement is the main task Holly Lewis tackles in The Politics of Everyobdy: Feminism, Queer Theory, and Marxism at the Intersection. She begins her analysis by noting that the term 'everybody' is 'politically unsettling' (p. 1) and can assume different meanings depending upon the political proclivities of those using it. Whereas the everybody of liberal pluralism is the desiring, individualized consumer-subject, the everybody of fascism is 'everyone in their place' (p. 4). Reacting against the tyranny of these usages, there is a tendency on the part of some ostensible progressives to treat the term as synonymous with totalitarianism, with the only answer being a retreat...

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