Academic journal article Genders

Lesbian Violence as Fascist Crusade in Monster

Academic journal article Genders

Lesbian Violence as Fascist Crusade in Monster

Article excerpt

[1] The cultural articulation of sexuality to political violence has enjoyed no shortage of scholarly analysis in recent years. Drawing upon libidinal models familiar to readers of renowned German Freudo-Marxists Wilhelm Reich, Herbert Marcuse, and Klaus Theweleit, several monographs published since the mid-to-late 1990s forward compelling arguments about the relationship of modern sexualities to violence with respect to fascism (e.g., Slane; Carlston; Duggan; Hewitt). Much like their critical theoretical predecessors, these texts examine a purported ideological determinacy of homosexuality to fascism. Their renewed attention to the question, however, is inflected by postructuralist critiques of prior heterosexist explanations associated with psychoanalysis (e.g., Foucault). Drawing inter alia from queer masculinity studies (e.g., Halberstam) and critical race theory (e.g., Somerville), these recent reconsiderations of the fascism-homosexuality nexus deploy a deconstructed psychoanalysis largely disarticulated from the anti-capitalist class analysis engaged by Freudo-Marxism while retaining nonetheless a political interest in representations of sexual violence for which the Victorian and Weimar periods still figure as typical historical matrices.

[2] The ensuing critical theses have achieved a modicum of support in the U.S. academy in the midst of two right-wing presidential coups and attendant economic crises, as scholarly interest in left-oriented cultural critique has resurfaced within liberal and progressive academic circles (e.g., Tinkom). Indeed critical theory, which differs from both liberal political economy and orthodox Marxism for its insistence upon subjectivity as the necessary analytic starting point for aesthetic criticism, continues to bear a stigma of disrepute on both political fronts for its sustained interrogation of commodity fetishism at the register of cultural form--what Theodor W. Adorno refers to as the "phoniness" of mass culture (133, 137), its ideological dissimulation of surplus-labor production through intransitive, often intangible occasions of cultural exchange. Recent analyses of fascist sexualities are largely reluctant to examine this material register of culture, sometimes as a result of authorial self-censorship in light of what has been dubbed the "New McCarthyism" (see Ginsberg, "Academic"), but more often out of the sheer intellectual non-knowledge that derives from a century of U.S. anti-leftism, to which I refer elsewhere in terms of the academic institutional phenomenon of neoliberal "dumbing down" (Ginsberg, "'Dumbing'").

[3] By the same token, a significant dearth of informed counter-analysis of the fascism-sexuality nexus on the Marxist left betrays an uncannily complementary evasion of critical theory's crucial, anti-fascist praxis of immanent critique, a methodology of engaging and interrogating the formal contradictions and aporias that symptomatize the ideological reduction of a cultural occasion's interpretive layering into apparent coherence and viability, and that preclude their re-envisioning, apropos of Marx, as reified principles of historical movement and change (see Antonio 333). Immanent critique poses the dual question of how and why cultural occasions might be theorized, produced, and received other than through methodologies that would assimilate them, their means of conception, expression, and dissemination, into hermeneutic intelligibilities disengaged from the material concrete. As Jewish Marxist theorists Enzo Traverso and Esther Leslie have each argued variously, immanent critique has been misrecognized within poststructuralist schools as dogmatic and elitist for its strong focus on formal structures, and within Marxist circles as counterproductive for its apparent subversion of the conceptual "outside" considered necessary to revolutionary praxis. In fact this methodology pace Marx enables a profoundly radical envisaging and effectuation of political culture. …

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