Reading Marx in Beirut: Disorganised Study and the Politics of Queer Utopia
This article draws on ethnographic research carried out with Marxist reading groups run by a Lebanese revolutionary socialist organization. I examine the labor that Marxist theoretical practice was doing in a political conjuncture widely viewed as post-Marxist , discussing the relationship between theory and affect, and the role that affective infrastructures play in maintaining and reproducing social movements and political organisations. Drawing on Moten and Harney, I frame this intellectual labor as a form of dissonant , disorganized study - a mode of preparing for revolution by being together in brokenness and routinely generating a commitment to a particular political horizon. This form of political praxis as study unfolded within a
Lebanese activist scene dominated by a pragmatic conception of politics, within which the critical labor of the radical and revolutionary left was largely considered sterile , mired in something akin to what Berlant calls cruel optimism. Drawing on Munoz, his conceptualisation of the politics of queer utopia, and his defence of utopian imaginativeness, I argue that for radical and revolutionary leftists in counter-revolutionary times, cultivating solidarity and camaraderie by maintaining a space of study that could enable technologies of both self and collective constituted a productive political act.
Copyright (c) 2020 Sophie Chamas
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