In “Stars Down to Earth” Theodor Adorno analyzes several years’ worth of 1950s Los Angeles Times astrology columns. Describing astrology’s distinctive blend of supranatural wisdom and banal advice, Adorno demonstrated how the column legitimized and dignified a historically specific type of social and economic organization, i.e. capitalism, as natural and timeless. Thus, countless horoscopes advise readers to work diligently in the “AM” while “enjoying” (pleasure should be purposeful) limited recreation in the “PM” (as if the 9-5 workday is a transcendent feature of the universe). Similarly, readers are regularly encouraged to defer to “higher-ups,” who deserve a special sympathy not granted to “equals” or “inferiors” (as if capitalist hierarchies and the putative benefits of ass-kissing are natural givens of life rather than politically structured injustices). Above all, the column encourages readers to conceptualize themselves as utilitarian “economic men,” encouraging them to conform to, rather than question, their hectic lives through adopting superior time management techniques – as though their anxieties result not from a given political-economic order but from their own individual irresponsibility.
Lest we think that Adorno’s study is dated, a Washington Post horoscope for Libra counseled last month:
No matter how many errands you have to run today, time and flexibility are on your side. Don’t hesitate to push yourself to take on more than you normally would – you’re underestimating your ability to juggle. Just don’t box yourself in and cut off any new opportunities because you’re afraid you won’t have the time, because if you rearrange one or two things, you definitely do have the time.
Given the pitiful paucity of astrology columns that are not infused with decidedly bourgeois ideologies, I have recently devoted some time to studying astrology. I have put my (admittedly nascent) training to use in order to provide an alternative column – a corrective, so to speak – that doesn’t pretend to be “neutral” (what is?) but instead explicitly embraces communist assumptions about the social phenomena that the stars, nonetheless, apparently help shape.
So here, dear reader, is your Commie Horoscope for the week of 12/23/2013.
Aries (3/21-4/19): If you feel like Jupiter has been playing tricks on you, Aries, you just might be right. You are indeed doing more at work, and this is because you have to generate more surplus value in the absence of all of your outsourced and otherwise terminated colleagues. Do not ignore your desire to walk off. But be strategic about it, lest your liberatory act backfire; try to organize a collective walk-out. Aquarius, Leo, and Taurus make powerful allies.
Taurus (4/20-5/20): Does your back hurt, Taurus? Why wouldn’t it? You work all day and then spend your so-called “free-time” on the internet (producing more profit for bosses, btw, whether your own or Zuckerberg). And I’ll tell you something else: Gemini’s back hurts too. Practice saying this to those who would have you work even more in order to pay for Christmas season junk: no, I am not cheap – but you, my dear comrade, have “dupe” written all over your face.
Gemini (5/21-6/21): Oh Gemini, they say you have two faces. I, however, see a dialectician. As such, listen to Hegel – as inverted by Marx. Do not merely singly negate your troubles; doubly negate them by destroying not only what torments you but their underlying structural causes as well!
Cancer (6/22-7/22) Cancer, I encourage you to speak with Aries, Aquarius, Leo, et al. about some very frustrating goings-on at work (Mercury’s rise gives you, in particular, a headache). You’re not the only one who feels like you’re being exploited. The decline in the rate of profit and capital’s insatiable vampire-like need for expansion should, however, remind you to not merely blame your sleazy boss. Even if you had a wonderful master – I mean, boss – you’d still be screwed in the end. It’s the system, Cancer!
Leo (7/23-8/22): How the mighty have fallen, proud Leo. But what do you expect when you’re kicked off the land and reduced to a permanent state of insecurity and hand-to-mouth labor? Work or starve is a false “choice”; there are better ways to organize economic production. And that overwhelming debt? It’s not your fault. Consider blowing it off (applicable to others, too).
Virgo (8/23-9/22): Do you know what “retrograde” means, Virgo? As in, “Mercury is in retrograde”? It means that, depending on the circumstances, we all are inclined, from time to time, to act like reactionary asses. Just remember, language is historically produced and unless there was a revolution that no one knows about, “It’s just a joke” doesn’t convince anyone that you’re not being racist, or sexist – or, if you prefer, reproducing racist, or sexist, ideologies.
Libra (9/23-10/22): They say you’re fair and balanced, Libra, but don’t lose your critical edge. Do you really think you should be fair to fascists? Do you really think you should respect opinions that are not only based on completely erroneous facts but function to keep you down as well?
Scorpio (10/23-11/21): Oh sexy Scorpio, I’ll never call you a hedonist. On the contrary, you’re right to pursue pleasure. Just remember that the commodification of pleasure is inseparable from its increasing utilitarianism under the dictates of profit. Capitalism is not only making you sick, it’s killing your fun.
Sagittarius (11/22-12/21): Find other fire signs like Leo and Aries. According to my readings, you (but not only you) are likely being threatened by your landlord – if not explicitly, then implicitly given the inherent power disparity characterizing the renter-owner relationship. This is a collective problem that necessitates a collective response. Leave the individualist indulgences to Holden Caulfield and other adolescents.
Capricorn (12/22-1/19): You’re sick? Everyone’s sick. You’re tired? Everyone’s tired. You’re exhausted by looking for a job (or by having one)? The moon’s ephemeral conjunction with Jupiter suggests that, yes, it might be time to organize a general strike. Additionally, stick to your guns and abstain from the pressure to waste your time, money, and health on the toxic holiday binge-consumption going on all around you. And don’t forget, “market-ers” use the idea of generosity to promote greed – point that out at the office Christmas party. It’ll be a hit.
Aquarius (1/20-2/18): Do you know what’s happening to the oceans, water-bearer? Do you think recycling and “green” consumption is going to stop it? Get your head out of your ass, Aquarius; the system of production is predicated on infinite expansion and environmental ruination. It’s out of the individual’s hands. Only collective efforts can cure collective problems; it’s a categorical error to think otherwise.
Pisces (2/19-3/20): If I were you, I’d call in sick to work, but not before convincing all your co-workers to call in sick as well — indefinitely. Then, I’d do my best to convince your neighbors to join you in a rent strike. Possibly organize with Capricorn ally. Remember, Pisces, the true Christmas spirit entails the elimination of private property.
Joshua Sperber, your commie astrologer, is based in New York and can be reached at email@example.com