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Is this is a symptom of the contemporary conjuncture or novel medial conditions? Or is it in fact basically a persistent, though problematic, dimension of left-wing culture that has survived the collapse of orthodox Marxism? My impression is that although novel medial conditions may favor these practices, for the Left they are actually an enduring dimension of political culture that ensconced itself in the Ivory Tower and has subsequently endured by reproduction before enjoying a new revival within social media.

One could plausibly tell a far longer story about the trajectory of European left practices for ensuring ideological homogeneity and consensus through exclusion, from the worker’s movement to Stalinism through the Seventies and the NSM. Stalinist political culture was marked by the disjuncture between public and private and the outing of “hidden” counterrevolutionaries, two pertinent dimensions of what DeBoer describes. This apparently survived the breakdown of Stalinism and the advent of the New Left: in the late Sixties and Seventies, a variety of exclusionary practices were used to enforce ideological homogeneity and to struggle over power within the harder factions of the New Left. Virtually all Maoism-tinged orgs adopted autocritical practices that were basically awful: in the U.S. this included the Panthers and the student Maoists, in France and Germany, student organizations also performed these practices. Left political culture has dramatically pluralized its various discursive regimes over fifty years — anti-racism, feminism, political ecology, LGBTQ activism. But the obsession with purity and authenticity, and the spontaneous consensus that in order to demonstrate that, there’s nothing like outing hidden reactionaries within the movement, endure.

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