A short note on the criticism levelled at object-oriented ontology

Now, I know that there had been a certain amount of (dismissive) marxist critique of OOO that i, honestly, haven’t paid that much attention to. I know that Alexander Galloway (or was it Cole) made some weird argument saying that OOO basically amounted to commodity fetishism, and some other dude made the more interesting point that OOO is the philosophical result of the precarisation of academia. But as far as I know no one has made the argument that OOO is a reaction to the neoliberal self. What is one of OOO:s main points is that things have being and that things have an untouchable core, an essence that is truly theirs. No matter what an object do, what relations it enter in to, its essence is intact, untouched, unequivocally its own. Following chapter three of Mirowski’s Never Let A Good Crisis Go To Waste, we can see that the opposite is true for the neoliberal self. No stable self, no stable identity, nothing about the self that is not up for debate, that is not the subject or object of some market. In the face of the last 30 years of neoliberal onslaught of every aspect of (Western) society, is it strange that a philosophy that adamantely defends the existence of identity and self, that there is something that is me even though I don’t know what it is, has risen and gained prominence?

Althusser Revisited!

Apparently On the Reproduction of Capitalism, the sort of Director’s Cut/Extended Version of “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” – an article/essay that I’ve found to be quite illuminating (and at the same time a bit “meh, I already know this”). Anyhoodles, the people over at have decided to make a shorts and illuminating summary/translate it from English to American. Read it.

The Conspiracy Against The Human Race

“This train of thought synopsizes a brand of metaphysical and psychological determinism according to which human beings cannot either defy accepted workings of reality or manipulate the origination of a state of mind and emotion. Naturally, all forms of determinism court the incredulity of the most sizeable portion of thinkers and non- thinkers alike. Anyone who subscribes to one or more of the arguments for an absolute or qualified free will may choose to disregard this passage. (The futility of all argument has already been stipulated in the preface to this work.) Arguments against free will are the most vilified in human thought, far more than arguments against the existence of gods. Even leading atheists draw the line whenever someone argues that, logically speaking, we are not in control of our thoughts and behavior. As materialists, they deny that moral “laws” have been crafted in a world unperceived by our senses; as tax-paying citizens, they still need to live in this one. And to disallow moral agency and responsibility would overturn every authorized ruling that makes the world work, if deficiently. Without the assumption of morality and responsibility, no one could be held accountable for crimes against life and property. In principle, it is irrational to bring before a bar of justice some skin-suited automaton whose behavior is out of alignment with the herky-jerky machinery in which it is supposed to function. But not to do so would be destructive of the sociopolitical status quo, which must be preserved if people are to be protected from sinking into a funk of foundationlessness. Newsflash: anyone who must receive instruction in morality will not benefit from it. Those concerned with morality are not the ones who need concern themselves with morality. The ones who need to be concerned with morality are those who will never be concerned with morality. Ask any sociopath, whose deficit of fellow-feeling is evened out by others with a hyper-developed, unhealthy sense of moral responsibility. The latter group will take on the guilt from which the remorseless are spared, blaming themselves for tragedies they cannot lawfully or logically be connected with. One is as helpless as the other to be anything but what they are, morally speaking. Everyone in between these groups will go with the wind. The majority cannot be taught how to feel about their behavior, only bludgeoned or cajoled into doing one thing or another. Rewards and punishments may be effective, but there can never be a mathematics of morality. Either the chemistry and neurology are there or they are not. Every day it is proven that not even deities that hand down codes of conduct can enforce them among their believers. For a god to publish the warning “Do this and do not do that . . . or else” is the moral equivalent of a highway speed trap. What a racket is right and wrong, and what a joke is justice or injustice: concepts thought up by parties with a vested interest in them. They hold nothing together that is not already held together by forces outside any law or moral system. But for a sensitive consciousness, this is something too terrible to know. Among those who back determinism in theory, none lobby for major renovations of their society’s justice system as its wheels grind slow but exceedingly fine. The determinist is not about to derail what he himself regards as illusions, which may be rough on bad-mannered or ill-designed automata but serve the social machine acceptably well. The determinist is also aware that if our illusions fall apart on paper, they are intractable in our lives. They have such a lock upon us that even the desire to escape from them is nearly impossible. To hate our illusions or hold them dear only attaches us to them all the more. We cannot stand up to them without our world falling apart, for those who care. While determinists stick to their logic, they are satisfied to let their philosophical opponents run the puppet show. What choice do they have? Yet how much slack do you give to what you believe is a lie, even a lie that holds steady the social order and braces up everything you have become accustomed to—your most cherished image of yourself, your country, your loved ones, and the value you place on your work, your hobbies, your possessions, your “way of life”? How much slack do you give to what you believe to be a lie before you say you have had it with lies, before you forsake everything to live with what you really think and feel about the way things are? How much slack? Answer: all the slack in the world.”

-Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race


Quite the read. And the quote above is only from an endnote. Read the book. He engages in a quite interesting polemic with Nietzsche, attacking him from a point he usually doesn’t get shit from. Also read Thomas Ligotti’s other books, his collections of short stories. They are quite intriguing. Like HP Lovecraft and Paul Auster were the same person, or something. I have been meaning to make a Marxist analysis of one of the stories at some point, but you know. I can never get my thumb out of my arse.