Dear Emily Post-Avant,

Happy New Year from Brooklyn. I’m a Brooklyn DSA-er and I wonder if you’ve heard of the controversy surrounding Commune Magazine: the accusations of rape against one of the editors of the magazine. Just before the holiday season someone “called out” Commune Magazine’s editorial staff for harboring a rapist. The only males on the staff are Joshua Clover, Jasper Bernes, and Shyam Khanna, or at least they were on the staff. No one can tell the composition of the editorial committee anymore because the masthead on the site is gone as of this controversy.

In New York, some comrades I know were planning to attend the release party of Commune’s new issue at the Verso loft. Then this document accusing a Commune Magazine person of rape appeared. Commune canceled the party. They deleted their masthead. They later claimed they responded to the demands of the anonymous rape survivor to part ways with the editor/accused-rapist.

As you know very well, Commune editors and writers have in the past piled on in online mobbing situations, calling out everyone in sight, so it seems boldly hypocritical to hide from scrutiny and not at least name the person involved in the rape allegations. Was it Clover, Bernes, or Khanna? Clover has a reputation in left circles for womanizing and pressuring younger women for sex, but he appears to be still “writing” for Commune. That would leave Bernes or Khanna. Rape is a serious offense and it seems odd to demand that one take these accusations seriously and then not report the offender to authorities or at least make the name publicly available.

Anyway, Commune’s sex politics seem to be getting very odd these days. Their anti-family essays that call for the total plasticity of future social relations border on the ludicrous. Commune writer Sophie Lewis seems to be the most intense representation of this truly bourgeois tendency. A devastating review of her book calling for total surrogacy in birth and child-rearing just appeared. Coupled with Kim Moody’s demolition of the Clover book on “riots,” it would appear the two-legged semblance of a theoretical stool—rioting until the anti-family oblivion unfolds—has finally collapsed.

What say you dear Emily, is the Commune crew avoiding “accountability” in a rape case, to use the fashionable language of social media?

Brooklyn DSA’er


Dear Brooklyn DSA’er,

Indeed. I recall that for the Communards, only recently, it was all about holding a Red Guard trial by student mob for the Marxist scholar Gopal Balakrishnan. With a couple of Commune editors trying to inflame the frenzy, for good measure, by running to the cops and the Board of Regents, to snitch out his purported drug use at parties.

Mind you, I’m not suggesting the UC/Santa Cruz decision reached on the sexual misconduct accusations wasn’t valid, nor that there shouldn’t have been consequences for the apparent transgressions. I don’t know enough about it. But surely our morally vanguard comrades have a species of “Principle Problem” if they think a New Left Review editor deserves a public hanging by mass posse, but that one of their leading own (whose alleged assault sounds worse than the accusations against Balakrishnan) gets a pass to anonymously slink away and hunker down in a safe-house. While the rest of his Commune Editor homies get off from having to fully face the awkward questions. How nice to be able to just put it all behind you and go on with business as usual, when your past “praxis” has been to rabidly Call-Out and Cancel…

Speaking of “business,” I see that the magazine has its own apparel line and online Retail Shop, including hoodies with slogans, that read, like, “Commune: For a Life Worth Living.” That’s charming, I guess. But someone should now come up with a bunch of updated slogans about supposed communists engaging in a rape cover-up and photo-shop them onto sweatshirts and book bags and stuff. For example, “Commune: For a Life Worth Living (even if you’re raped by one of us).” Well, I’m sure there are ideas out there that are catchier than mine.

By the way, I don’t know if you saw this from a few weeks back, discussing the intro to the “After Post-Marxism” conference, organized by Joshua Clover and gang. I’ll bet you’d be super-surprised to learn that when I posted the link on their colorful Facebook page, in the comments, the courageous editors quickly deleted it. Shoved it out the door of the copter over the Rio de la Plata. Airbrushed it into the Silicon Valley ether. Can you imagine these peeps as Cultural Commissars in 1938? Yes, you can.

Oh, and on this genius campaign our Communards are embarked on for abolishing the family and sourcing the children out to the Collective Farm Parenting Collective. That gives me an idea for another slogan you could photo-shop onto a hoodie: “Commune: Where Post-Post Marxists Can’t Be Bothered with Tired Old Shit Like Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.”

Onward to the Academic Riots,


–Emily Post-Avant