It’s no wonder that realism has such a bad name. It has perpetually been ruined by political realism. Political realism has always been that despicable ideology whose name is necessity. It has always functioned at the behest of inegalitarian social arrangements, justifying one more way deny people their voice and to expropriate their goods. On the one hand it strives to regulate bodies in such a way that only some bodies are entitled to have a say, to govern, to rule, to lead, while others are relegated to silence and, above all, invisibility. Political realism is here a mechanism designed to render invisible voice and other social entities. The political realist always says “listen to those in the know”– usually oligarchs or servants of oligarchs –”they are naturally superior, they have your best interests at heart!” Speaking against the masters becomes pure folly. The voice of those that protest, that refuse the “wisdom” of the masters, is immediately coded as animal noise without reason that only “emotes”. We can think here of the difference between how the medical establishment treated hysterics before and after Freud. Prior to Freud, the hysteric was to be dismissed, to be denied voice, to be relegated to the irrational. After Freud the hysteric is to be listened to as articulating a wrong and a breach in the order of identifications. Political realism strives to silence the hysteric, claiming that their voice is no voice at all, that that voice comes from no place of knowledge or wisdom.
In this way, second, the political realist insures the smooth operation of exploitation and oppression. If the voice of the hysteric (the protester, the activist) is successfully silenced, then they never have a place in the process of deliberation. Their vantage need never enter into the calculus of forming ways of life, bodies, rankings, countings, etc. The oligarch and servant of the oligarch always claims that he knows what’s really best for such and such a body. That body, of course, is no longer consulted, nor is it allowed to participate in any way. Like the patients in older systems of psychiatry that are never consulted but which are subjected to everything from forced medication to electro-shock therapy to lobotomy, this part is everywhere regulated by the state, by the masters, by the oligarchs– and “for their own good” –without having any say in it. Political realism always strives for this refusal of voice. The voice of this uncounted part is reduced to mere emoting, ignorance, stupidity, lack of tactical understanding, etc., etc., etc. It’s infantalized and animalized. Of course, here the animal is the example par excellence of the voice denied voice; of the voice reduced to a grunt. The animal is what we all are within the statist framework of political realism. It is in this way that exploitation and oppression proceeds apace. The animal becomes entirely invisible, or rather reduced to a code that’s already managed by the regime of the oligarch… It is reduced to a voice that has always already spoken and been understood; which is to say that it has been reduced to what the oligarch believes the animal to be saying. As such, it is inapparent.
Yet the “animal” must still be convinced. This is the most despicable gesture of the political realist. The political realist naturalizes the contingent organization of the social order, perpetually arguing that this the only that can and does exist. By virtue of this effacement of the contingency of this order, by virtue of the naturalization of this order and the identities that populate it, the “animal” must accept austerity foisted on its back because the alternative is “worse”, the animal must accept second class status as a woman, a latino, a black person, a queer, a worker, etc., because the alternative is “worse”. The mechanism always consists in creating a false dilemma between catastrophe and exploitation and oppression. To avoid the former, the political realist hopes to persuade the animal to accept the latter. Of course, this deadlock only proceeds through the denial of voice to the animal, a voice which opens the possibility of different distributions of the social than those that currently reign.