From Postmodernist Nonsense to Plain Proletarian English: A Translation Guide

For a printable PDF of this article, click the cover image above.

Some readers of kites, particularly class-conscious proletarians in North America and our international audience, may be confused when they encounter the terminology and slogans used by postmodernist activists and academics in the US and Canada that are alien to their life experience and to common sense. In order to assist such readers in making sense of the nonsensical language trafficked by postmodernists and develop their ability to contend with postmodernist ideology and politics from a communist perspective, kites has come up with the following translation guide. The terminology and slogans popular with postmodernists are translated into what Fred Hampton called plain proletarian English, guided by a Dave Chappelle-inspired insistence to “say what you mean.” We believe it is appropriate to mock people who claim to be about ending oppression but insist on using alienating grad school language that seems to serve the purposes of separating postmodernists from the masses, policing people for the words they use, and mistaking the use of convoluted terminology for intelligence. “Performative wokeness” (to use postmodernist language against postmodernists) has nothing to do with real liberation.

Translations

ABOLITIONIST: (1) A word petty-bourgeois activists use to make themselves sound cool and more radical than they really are. (2) Someone who is terrified of the masses, including and especially those who are incarcerated, but likes to read Angela Davis. (3) An advocate of paltry reforms, such as shifting a little bit of government funding away from prisons and police and into community programs, who pretends that such paltry reforms are revolutionary change. (4) A liar. Today’s so-called abolitionists are not to be confused with the pre-Civil War abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, and John Brown, who understood and acted on the fact that the slave-owning class had to be violently overthrown in order to abolish slavery.

BIPOC: A term used to downgrade the status of Latinos to recipients of the bronze medal in the oppression Olympics.

CENTER ______ : Take a privileged segment within an oppressed or marginalized group of people and act as though the lives and viewpoints of that privileged segment represent the entire oppressed or marginalized group. For example, postmodernists like to extol sex workers as though they are the vanguard of the revolution, but for the most part only have in mind the small segment of sex workers who choose their profession without any form of coercion and work in relatively safe conditions. They do not have in mind the many women and girls trafficked as sex slaves, and when they talk about sex worker rights, they do not mention the right of sex slaves not to be sex slaves.

CHANGE THE DISCOURSE: If you change the way people talk about things then you change the world. This idea of “change the discourse” explains all the policing of language and performative wokeness on social media by postmodernist activists and the ever more absurdly complex theoretical jargon used by postmodernist academics. While communists consider transforming the ways people think to be essential to revolutionizing society, we also believe that changing the practical, material relations between people is equally as important and integrally linked with changing the ways people think. Notably, postmodernist academics have proven incapable of noticing, let alone being self-critical, of the fact that their view of “changing the discourse” being the principal (exclusive?) means to change the world “centers” their own role as people who work within the discursive realm while marginalizing people who perform physical labor and people who make real sacrifices in revolutionary struggle.

COMMUNITY: The more a postmodernist talks about community, the less connection they have to the masses.

DECOLONIZE _____: Get me a job at a nonprofit activist organization. The postmodernist use of the term “decolonize” is not to be confused with Frantz Fanon’s insistence, in the opening sentence of The Wretched of the Earth, that “decolonization is always a violent event.” Nor is it to be confused with actual anti-imperialist struggles in parts of the world that are still colonies or semi-colonies, such as Puerto Rico. The increasing postmodernist use of the term “decolonize” corresponds to a decline in anti-imperialism within the US.

INTERSECTIONAL: Middle-class (or petty-bourgeois).
PROBLEMATIC: Postmodernists use this term to refer to anything they have a political or moral objection to, but in doing so violate their own belief that any universal politics or morality (for example, communism) is an oppressive imposition. It’s not that the postmodernists’ moral or political opposition to things they find “problematic” is invalid or that we can’t often unite with it, but we just wanted to take this opportunity to show how full of shit they are in proclaiming themselves against any and all universalisms but then treating their own ideology (sorry, “discourse”) as universal.

SELF-CARE: (1) A way that postmodernists pretend that sleeping in and chilling at home on a Sunday watching movies is some important political act. (We’re not against chilling at home sometimes, but we don’t feel the need to pretend it’s anything more than that.) (2) Going home a little early from the hipster bar on a Friday night rather than staying out really late and getting very drunk (to reiterate, at the hipster bar…just in case it’s not clear that postmodernist activists are essentially hipsters). “Self-care” in the postmodernist sense should not be confused with the kind of self-discipline that communists should have in maintaining our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health through a regimen of healthy eating, exercise, and practices such as meditation so that we can best serve the people. Postmodernists could benefit from reading what their high priest, Foucault, had to say about the origins of the concept “care of the self” in the privileged (slave-owning) classes of antiquity.
SEX-POSITIVE: An uncritical attitude towards, and sometimes even praise for, prostitution and pornography that ignores the sexual exploitation of and violence towards women and girls as well as misogynistic ideology that dominate these industries. (Yes, there’s a bigger discussion to be had about the way Victorian-era morality suppressed sexuality, especially of women…)

VIOLENCE: A word postmodernists use to talk about pretty much everything that isn’t actual physical violence.