„Was für eine Philosophie man hat, hängt nicht nur davon ab, was für ein Mensch man ist. Es hängt wesentlicher davon ab, in welcher Zeit man lebt und vor allem: in welche Art man dieser zugehört. Ob man in Gedanken auf eine absinkende Welt und das Vergehende ihrer Zeit bezogen ist, oder auf eine, die – wenn auch mit schwerer Geburt – heraufkommt.“
“The semi-democratic process works of necessity against radical change because it produces and sustains a popular majority whose opinion is generated by the dominant interests in the status quo. As long as this condition prevails,
it makes sense to say that the general will is always wrong — wrong inasmuch as it objectively counteracts the possible transformation of society into more humane ways of life. To be sure, the method of persuasion is still open to the minority, but it is fatally reduced by the fact that the leftist minority does not possess the large funds required for equal access to the mass media which speak day and night for the dominant interests — with those wholesome interludes in favor of the opposition that buttress the illusory faith in prevailing equality and fair play. And yet, without the continuous effort of persuasion, of reducing, one by one, the hostile majority, the prospects of the opposition would be still darker than they are.
Dialectics of democracy: if democracy means self-government of free people, with justice for all, then the realization of democracy would presuppose abolition of the existing pseudo-democracy. In the dynamic of corporate capitalism, the fight for democracy thus tends to assume anti-democratic forms, and to the extent to which the democratic decisions are made in “parliaments” on all levels, the opposition will tend to become extraparliamentary. The movement to extend constitutionally professed rights and liberties to the daily life of the oppressed minorities, even the movement to preserve existing rights and liberties, will become “subversive” to the degree to which it will meet the stiffening resistance of the majority against an “exaggerated” interpretation and application of equality and justice.
An opposition which is directed, not against a particular form of government or against particular conditions within a society, but against a given social system as a whole, cannot remain legal and lawful because it is the established
legality and the established law which it opposes. The fact that the democratic process provides for the redress of grievances and for legal and lawful changes does not alter the illegality inherent in an opposition to an institutionalized democracy which halts the process of change at the stage where it would destroy the existing system. By virtue of this built-in stabilizer or “governor,” capitalist mass-democracy is perhaps to a higher degree self-perpetuating than any other form of government or society; and the more so the more it rests, not on terror and scarcity, but on efficiency and wealth, and on the majority will of the underlying and administered population. This new situation has direct bearing on the old question as to the right of resistance.
Can we say that it is the established system rather than the resistance to it which is in need of justification? Such seems to be the implication of the social contract theories which consider civil society dissolved when, in its existing form, it no longer fulfills the functions for which it was set up, namely, as a system of socially necessary and productive repression.”
“It sets its face against the idealism which either thundered against the world for its deficiencies, or sought something finer than reality. Philosophy is to be the science of the actual world—it is the spirit comprehending itself in its own externalizations and manifestations. The philosophy of Hegel is idealism, but it is an idealism in which every idealistic unification has its other face in the multiplicity of existence. It is realism as well as idealism, and never quits its hold on facts. Compared with Fichte and Schelling, Hegel has a sober, hard, realistic character. At a later date, with the call of Schelling to Berlin in 1841, it became fashionable to speak of Hegelianism as a negative philosophy requiring to be complemented by a “ positive” philosophy which would give reality and not mere ideas. The cry was the same as that of Krug (q.v.), asking the philosophers who expounded the absolute to construe his pen. It was the cry of the Evangelical school for a personal Christ and not a dialectical Logos. The claims of the individual, the real, material and historical fact, it was said, had been sacrificed by Hegel to the universal, the ideal, the spiritual and the logical.”
In Stephen Houlgate's The Opening of Hegel's Logic, he provides a succinct treatment of the difference between Kant and Hegel in which he has Hegel basically providing an anti-correlationalist critique of Kant. This idea of Hegel as an anti-correlationalist came up at the Association for Continental Philosophy of Religion conference a couple weeks back, but it really hit me reading this section.
What is the meaning of non-human life? “Flourishing” is the cutesy, abstract, Aristotelian answer that often comes back. But isn’t propagation and the avoidance of being eaten closer to the truth? Only in the barest, most limited sense does human life resemble this. Only when our telos has been taken away does our being resemble the highest goal of animals and plants. “Flourishing” won’t bridge the gap. Herzog was right to see in the grizzly bear’s eyes not a returned gaze, an equal, but only “the vast indifference of nature”. To talk about a world after humans, as if this were philosophically virtuous or timely, is speculation in the idle, not the metaphysical sense. If it were honest it would at least admit the diminished meaningfulness of that life and recoil in horror, attempt – politically – to avert it.
COMMUNISM, A NEW BEGINNING?
Major NYC Conference organised by ALAIN BADIOU and SLAVOJ ZIZEK
Cooper Union, New York, October 14th-16th 2011
Livestream at: www.versobooks.com
A new conference with leading thinkers to discuss the continued relevance of
the communist idea.
“The long night of the left is coming to a close” wrote Slavoj Zizek
and Costas Douzinas in their introduction to THE IDEA OF COMMUNISM. The
continuing economic crisis, the shift away from a unipolar world defined by
American hegemony, and the ecological crisis mean that growing numbers of people
are keen to explore an alternative, and to re-discover the idea of communism.
With the advent of the Arab awakening millions have sought new ways to overcome
corruption and dictatorship.
Responding to Alain Badiou’s proposition of the ‘communist hypothesis’, the
leading thinkers of the left convened in London in 2009 to discuss the
perpetual, persistent notion that, in a truly emancipated society, all things
should be owned in common. Two years later, the discussion continues—this time
in New York.
Organised with Verso Books, eight leading thinkers will be discussing
COMMUNISM: A NEW BEGINNING? at Cooper Union on the weekend of October
Verso is glad to announce that we will live stream the conference on our
website, from Friday, Oct 14th at 6pm. You’ll need to log in to access the
video page, so please register now if you don’t yet have an account.
FIRST SESSION: Friday Oct 14, 6-9 PM (moderator: ZIZEK)
Slavoj Zizek: SHORT INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
Frank Ruda: REMEMBERING THE IMPOSSIBLE. FOR A META-CRITICAL ANAMNESIS OF
Alain Badiou: POLITICS AND STATE, MASS MOVEMENT AND TERROR (read by Bruno
SECOND SESSION: Saturday Oct 15, 10AM-1PM (moderator: ZIZEK)
Bruno Bosteels: ON THE CHRISTIAN QUESTION
Susan Buck-Morss: COMMUNISM AND ETHICS
THIRD SESSION: Saturday Oct 15, 3-7 PM (moderator: BOSTEELS)
Adrian Johnston: FROM SCIENTIFIC SOCIALISM TO SOCIALIST SCIENCE. NATURDIALEKTIK
THEN AND NOW
Jodi Dean: COMMUNIST DESIRE
Etienne Balibar: COMMUNISM AS COMMITMENT, IMAGINATION, AND POLITICS
FOURTH SESSION: Sunday Oct 16, 10AM-1PM (moderator: BOSTEELS)
Emmanuel Terray: COMMUNISM: WAYS AND MEANS OF THE RECONSTRUCTION
Slavoj Zizek: CONCLUSION: FREEDOM IN THE CLOUDS
UPDATE: Alain Badiou unable to attend
With great regret we have to announce that, due to illness, Alain Badiou will
not be able to attend the conference Communism, A New Beginning? this weekend.
We are all extremely disappointed but we hope you’ll join us in wishing Alain a
swift recovery. He has prepared a text to be read (by Bruno Bosteels) so will
still be able to contribute to the conference, and we still expect the
conference to be an extraordinary event.
For more information on the Verso livestream from New York: