Eliot Rosenstock discusses Warren’s bizarre DNA test, and how it relates to the architecture of neoliberalism.
The proof is not always in the pudding. In a delightfully dystopian move, Elizabeth Warren decided to prove she wasn’t an invalid by getting a DNA test and sharing it with the public. Why did Warren get the DNA test in the first place? To better understand this event, let’s have a look at some architecture critique.
Brutalist housing projects have recently come back into vogue in the public eye (if not in the building industry itself) in a call for more housing for more people, and a guess here, a general disgust reaction towards all things luxury branded. Neo-brutalism pitches itself with its name as an updated version of the famed soviet matter-of-fact housing style. Views on Neo-Brutalism are polarized. The first quote below is a disavowal of an entire architecture style as being depressing, the general line of those against. The second quote hypes up Neo-Brutalism as an architectural style both aesthetically and politically desirable:
“Neoconservative critics blamed the newfangled architecture rather than larger forces of discriminatory economics, but as sociological studies have proven, the claim that tall residential complexes breed social malaise is groundless.” – Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume III, page 162 (2018)
“(On Alexander Gorlin’s Boston Road Supportive Housing, New York, 2013-2016) Conceived to give the homeless not only shelter but rehabilitation services, Gorlin’s apartment house is as socially uplifting as it is architecturally superb.” 1
The neoconservative here, much like Trump in mainstream political discourse, performs the role of the dialectical fetish object in that if one is sloppy with argumentation, one perfoms what we might call a True Scotsman fallacy, everything the Scot says is wrong. Harry Potter demonstrates this along with some exceptions that prove the rule such as Snape, “the good Jew” of Slytherin. JK Rowling is a capitalist but not like “those capitalists” who are literally Voldemort and so on. Through the framing of the self as a “good guy,” one gives oneself a blank check. If Elizabeth Warren is Harry Potter, why wouldn’t she get a DNA test to prove it? The only way out of this loop is to continuously reject provocations from those identifying as capitalism with a human face, as well as inhuman unapologetic Darwinian capitalists.
Elizabeth Warren is a capitalist, but not like “those capitalists,” or “those right wingers.” She is Gryffindor or something– “here spit in this cup and we’ll sort you out.”
Inhuman Darwinianism is well-known, but the DNA test event has this strange quality of being an intersectional Darwinian idea. “I am truly a person of color” would be too bold, but because its too bold, it gets approached in this manner of, “well, here is my DNA test!”
How many other things are approached in this manner by the so called left wing of capital (neoliberalism)?
Engagement with contradictions are replaced by fetish objects in various forms. Kennedyism is losing its sheen, no longer there is the good guy with the nice haircut who we can trust to represent our interests. A move away from republicanism and into analysis.
It would make sense that those on the left would look at the current democratic front runners and see nothing but simulation, a shell of their policies being taken up by neoliberal hack jobs. Bernie is nice and all, but let’s not fall into Kennedyism. Let us ask ourselves, are they engaging with contradictions? Are they utilizing fetish objects? Are they baited by stupid vulgarisms? Bernie can do any of these things, he is a person making choices and the future is not set in stone.
Speaking of set in stone, what do we make of concrete objects as representational of the negation of the big bad neoconservative? No architecture style can replace how it was created, how workers are treated who build the architecture, how are the materials sourced, how are disputes addressed, and so on.
Neoliberal Brutalism ignores these questions. Instead we get, because some guy who is bad doesn’t like it, it is good. When brought into the register of the voice it sounds silly, but it must be brought into the register of being spelled out like this. Elizabeth Warren would do well to spell out her political moves to herself, to acknowledge that she is taking a DNA test to prove she is a Person of Color, that she is double plus good intersectional.
Engaging with contradictions– that’s the pudding factory where the proof is.
Eliot Rosenstock is a psychotherapist in Los Angeles California, and the author of Zizek in the Clinic: A Revolutionary Proposal For A New Endgame In Psychotherapy (Zero, 2019)
1Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume III, on one of the 16 pages in between page 160 and 161 which do not get a page number. Here the structure of disavowal takes the form of a page which does not even get to be a numbered page, even the page here is disavowed.