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Bad Subjects

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Bad Subjects is a collective that publishes a magazine (Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life) and provides access to both via a public-access website. In 1998, Bad Subjects founded a small educational nonprofit corporation, also called Bad Subjects, which promotes the progressive use of new media and print publications. Donations to the nonprofit go toward funding printed copies of the magazine Bad Subjects (distributed for free), and other related projects, such as Bad Subjects books.

Bad Subjects seeks to revitalize progressive politics in retreat. We think too many people on the left have taken their convictions for granted. So we challenge progressive dogma by encouraging readers to think about the political dimension to all aspects of everyday life. We also seek to broaden the audience for leftist and progressive writing, through a commitment to accessibility and contemporary relevance.

Bad Subjects was founded in September 1992, at UC Berkeley. Since then it has circulated widely, and today we actually have tens of thousands of readers around the world. You can use our online facilities to find articles on any topic, or browse our current or recent issues. --http://eserver.org/bs [Sept 2004]

Sex Slavery and Queer Resistance in Eastern Europe

Bad Subjects, Issue # 69, June 2004

Fourteen years into transition from the communist system, eastern Europe is undergoing an economic and ideological crisis. Unemployment, poverty, and homelessness are mounting. Fragile and very limited democracy wants to pass for macho. It is categorically straight, and in general, hostile to minorities. --Tomasz Kitlinski and Joe Lockard, http://eserver.org/bs/69/kitlinski_lockard.html [Sept 2004]

Hegel's dialectic of master and slave is particularly relevant. Ukrainian-born Alexandre Kojčve's reading of Hegel accentuated what we read here as civic sadomasochism. Freud, from out of a mittel-Europe ripped ceaselessly by masculinist militarism, defined armies as libidinous union. With such a libidinal anchor, the army reiterates the primal horde, its violence, and male sexual competition. Kristeva argues that society has changed into the dialectic of master and slave. In our view, sadomasochism rules that dialectic. The sexuality of militaries and paramilitaries prevails in eastern Europe.

This is fala, the 'wave,' an unofficial system of dependency upon surveillance, control, abuse, and torture of — as if Gramsci had predicted it — the subaltern. The slavery of Eastern Europe, the fala, is degradation. It is a mafia-esque S&M pecking order that originated in militaries, entered schools, and now is a social system of the Second World. Fala reflects eastern Europe's feudalism (serfdom ended in 1861 in Russia and in 1864 for Russian Poland) and the traditional sex roles of eastern Europe, restored by the transition.

Fala is sadomasochistic and systemic; it dwells on sexual intimidation, individual and mass. It employs bullying, torture, and ritual S&M for sexual subjugation; it is a duel between competing desires. Voluntary or involuntary, penile or penal servitude — the slavery of Eastern Europe is sexual humiliation. Both the sadist and the masochist feel in charge, in control. Theodor Reik writes about the hubris of the masochist, but maybe sadism and masochism are reversible and forever combined. "Ein Sadist ist immer ein Masochist. Ein Masochist ist immer ein Sadist," according to Freud's diagnosis. http://eserver.org/bs/69/kitlinski_lockard.html [Sept 2004]

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