Fight for Nothing. Some Thoughts on Queer Nihility

By Edith Doyle

Forward- Before we begin, the writers of this piece would like to acknowledge a number of factors and nuances which frame the form of ‘nihilism’ we will advocate below. Firstly, that we see the nihilistic lens as inseparable from and foundational to any meaningful queer and insurrectional project, that without this trinity (a Queer, Insurrectional, Nihilist project/ trinity) any one of these three lens’ becomes isolated, stagnant, and meaningless. Second,
that we position our nihilism within the “active” tradition, meaning that we take nihility (nothingness/the void) as a stimulus to action, to joy, and to love, rather than, as the popular conception of nihilism might suggest, to the passive pursuit of noting/inaction. Finally, we do not see the nihilist lens as solving any problems or generating any solutions. In fact, we don’t want any solutions – we understand that this is unpalatable to some, and unfeasible to many. We acknowledge that our nihilism is a product of our particularly nuanced struggles, oppressions, influences, and experiences; we don’t ask that queer nihility work for you, or wish to spread it like some facile ideology; we simply acknowledge its possibility within our own lives and express the raw joy it evokes in our encounters with the world.

“dead in the land of the living” (Nihilism as a tool for breaking from queer stagnation)

In a moment where ‘queer theory’ has come to mean little more than critical analysis, where ‘queering’ has become the treasured verb of ‘alternative’ academics to mean simultaneously anything and nothing, and where bourgeois, cis men would have us believe that now is a time of “post-queer”politics, there is a need for a radical reclamation of what it means to be queer, a need to remember that just because some rich gays can get get married, many of us are still ‘marked to die’¹ based on our being trans, sex workers, of colour and/ or poor.

Queer Insurrectional Nihilism suggests a framework to reject this reality while also recognizing that many of the solutions offered by the police, the state, and by ‘movement managers’/NGO anarchists², such as “safety” and inclusion are themselves worthy of rejection. By this, it is meant that safety and inclusion are often posited as liberatory, transgressive and desirable means to an end; while in reality the mechanisms necessary to maintain these projects rely on increased hostility, pacification, and oppression of other marginalized people such as trans-women and women of colour. Coupled with this rejection of increased hostility, is a total rejection of, and hostility towards the existence of the police, the state and ‘movement managers’. Queer, insurrectional, nihilists view these bodies (police, states, movement managers) as authoritarian, oppressively violent, dogmatic, and (in many cases) as enemy combatants; as such solutions offered by these bodies, and indeed the continued existence of the bodies themselves are to be rejected.

A nihilistic lens suggests that while we should recognize the reality of our own potential destruction/death at the hands of transphobes or police officers as negative, we must also reject our absorption into any positivist project or campaign that would ‘protect’ queers from these experiences whilst still maintaining the bio-political fabric of society at large. Queer, Insurrectional, Nihilism rejects any inclusion/protection within/from society, since there is a recognition that inclusion can only come at the price of someone else’ oppression; instead Queer, Insurrectional, Nihilism endorses an anti social turn, declaring open con ict with society. “The machinery of control has rendered our very existence illegal- and of course, in turn we’ve committed our lives to criminality”³.

“I want to be negated”(Nihilism as a lens for re imagining).

Starting, then, from this stance of “the excluded” and “self-excluding”, queer insurrectional nihilism begins by positioning itself beyond the realms of that which is existent and into imagined realms of possibility. It seeks not to repair, reform, or even engage in the existing paradigm of reality (except in moments of attack against it), but rather to live something unnameable, destructive, and joyous in the margins. To describe this pursuit, let us use the term “criminal joy” which may take any number of different articulations- from the pursuit of sex with imagined or re purposed/renamed body parts, to the kneecapping of a gay politician/businessman, or a simple physical or mental pursuit into another reality (daydreaming for example).

Coupled with the pursuit of “criminal joy”, a nihilistic approach to gender is one that allows us to look beyond corporeality, to attempt a dismantling of identity, and to explore the possibility of flows of force, removing the “I” or the self as an active creator of experience, and existing instead as a vessel for and embodiment of experience. A practical example of this is the lived experience of some trans women whose womanhood often exists distinct from the supposed ‘reality’ of their prescribed ‘gender’.

“No Future, Utopia Now” Nihilism as practice of the present)

In talking of re-imagining and breaking from reality, it is important to note that the nihilistic lens rejects prefigurative politics and the putting forward of programs for the future; any attempt to claim the future is misguided and authoritarian. Instead, queer nihilism encourages us to stake a claim on 17 the present, firmly and fully occupying it, not to “be the change we want to see” but rather to take everything we desire here and now. To this end, it is important to understand that queer nihility is neither a project nor a program but rather a way of existing, a recognition that any demand is co-optable and as such the struggle for “nothing” is to be preferred to the one for something.

¹Fag Mob/Fight for Nothing Productions – ‘Marked in Contradiction, Complicity, Exit’ 2015
²By movement managers we mean both groups and individuals who seek to control, manage, or direct the uncontrollable mob, mass of people, or collective anger of those struggling against domination by capital in order to make “coherent movements” and/or “pallatable demands” – think ‘Stonewall’, the people organizing general assemblies at occupy, or that dude talking about ‘the movement’ in the last meeting you went to.
³‘Gang of Criminal Queer’ – “Criminal Intimacy” in Total Destroy. Milwaukee, WI: 2009