November 19, 2010

Inept or unwilling? I've been wondering about the problem of the left. Is it inept or unwilling? I think the latter (although I can be persuaded by those who wish to argue, "why choose?"). Much left discussion laments how the left doesn't have any idea, can't get its act together, etc--as if the problem were a sort of inability to do things, a kind of bumbling fumbling. But this is mistaken. The actual problem is unwilling--not willing at all. Once the New Left delegitimized the old one, it made political will into an offense, a crime with all sorts of different elements: --taking the place or speaking for another (the crime of representation); --obscuring other crimes and harms (the crime of exclusion); --judging, condemning, and failing to acknowledge the large terrain of complicating factors necessarily disrupting simple notions of agency (the crime of dogmatism); --employing dangerous totalizing fantasies that posit an end of history and lead to genocidal adventurism (the crime of utopianism or, as Mark Fisher so persuasively demonstrates, of adopting a fundamentally irrational and unrealistic stance, of failing to concede to the reality of capitalism). Arch criminal number one: communism (and so the above-mentioned charges participate in the long honored fascist program of first eliminating the communists and then picking off the rest of the unnecessary and inassimilable one by one). But a politics without representation, exclusion, dogmatism, and utopianism is no politics at all (which is why Schmitt quite rightly sees liberalism as lacking a politics). It is instead an...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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