We Have Never Had Sex
The paper proposes an original approach to the analysis of the sexual economy of war and, together with Donna Haraway’s claim “We have never been human,” reconsiders Lacan’s formula “There is no sexual relation” proceeding from the idea of sex as a humanizing practice. This idea is opposed to popular metaphors of animality and the naturality of human sexual life. Thus, according to Georges Bataille sex, or rather eroticism, is what transforms not human beings into animals, but animals into human beings: just like labor in Engels, it presents a central principle of anthropogenesis. For Bataille, this transformation is an event that marked the passage between pre-history and history and the appearance of historical humanity. The paper places this argument into a paradoxical twist by suggesting a hypothesis that such a transformative event has not yet happened, and that, instead of sex, in today’s capitalist society people rather practice, to quote Žižek, “masturbation with a living partner,” where the integrity of a person is replaced by partial objects. This argument finds support in Platonov’s satire on masturbation and his critique of the Anti-Sexus, the latter being both masturbatory and antisexual (i.e., something that prevents sexual relationships). The paper shows that there is a remarkable gap in Platonov’s writings between two understandings of sex—as “the soul of the bourgeoisie” which is to be overcome by the consciousness of the proletariat, and as what is to be postponed until a communist society will be built. It analyses the constitutive character of this gap, or ambiguity, for Platonov’s radical revolutionary asceticism.
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