Nathan Michael Sacket

YouTube producer for the research group Slimy Clearing

Nathan co-founded with other leftists a research group called Slimy Clearing. Concerned by the disintegration of working class institutions, the group produces research and education for workers. We aim for a historical materialist education that can support workers organizing for the historical long haul. We argue that workers should produce durable research and education institutions in their collective interests, and that these institutions may not closely resemble existing models of schooling, academia, corporate or trade training, or digital media forms. Nathan currently tutors students and performs odd jobs in Oklahoma. He has a Bachelor’s degree in computer science from Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

We Must Produce a New Materialist Education

Abstract

How can the Left fight the public stupor and persistent muteness of the working class? We must remember William Blake’s parody of Enlightenment rationality in the figure of Urizen (“your horizon” or “your reason”) as a lonely solipsism, blinding and mutilating himself with crass concepts, yet proliferating across the globe. This figure of self-delusion becomes familiar across society: the micro-sect, the impositions of identity right and left, the banalities of political media, and the ubiquitous private filter bubble as the vanishing point of public discourse. We can explain these historical processes of collective irrationality with the aid of a social and material theory of our life-long education. Bernard Stiegler explained two related processes of “disindividuation” undermining two central capacities of subjectivity: desire-positing (desiring better work, a better solidarity, a better future) and reasoning (the giving of reasons to persuade others and reach new understandings). In the first process of disindividuation, work alienates and atomizes workers from each other, producing a condition of interindividuality, where persons look to an image of individuality or collectivity to conform to (Louis Bonaparte, the master race, the organization man, and now more farcical figures). Meanwhile, a second process of disindividuation persists in the technological and bureaucratic exteriorization of know-how in the areas of work, leisure, and the blurred private-public spheres. “The marketplace of ideas” dismantles workers’ forums and proliferates experts, whom Immanuel Kant warned of. This essay urges the formation of autonomous research and education groups to assist workers in reorganizing both forums and technology towards the production of new mutual subjectivities. Only new institutional forms can progress the struggle of Enlightenment today.