Category Archives: tragic politics

Daniel Cohn-Bendit & Claus Leggewie: “1968: Power to the Imagination”

“Our solidarity with the national liberation movements was immense. … What we largely ignored, however, was the suppression proceeding from the liberators themselves, once they had seized power.”

Revolutionary states of emergency

“Modern states of emergency follow close on the heels of modern revolutions. They are, per Agamben, ‘a creation,’ ironically, ‘of the democratic-revolutionary tradition and not the absolutist one’ [State of Exception, 5]. Though he does not himself make this point explicitly, we cold consider emergency an instrument that emerges from within the revolution to turn its most radical tendencies back. When a revolutionary government suspends its own constitution, it undermines the constituent politics – that is, the popular power to form a truly egalitarian body politic – that originally precipitated the revolution and which the constitution is supposed to enshrine. Emergency decrees are, in this regard, the counterinsurgent practice par excellence. They circumscribe constituent power withing the sovereign voice” (Ahmed, Archaeology of Babel, 2017, 189).

Paul Quinn-Judge: “The Revolution that Wasn’t”

“Ukraine has for the past two decades been caught in a vicious circle. While Russia attempts to keep the country within its orbit, reformers struggle to change a totally corrupt political system, and the ruling class subverts their efforts.”

“The re-election of Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister disproves everything we thought we knew about democracy.”

“Until recently, many political scientists believed that there was a certain set of countries in which democracy was safe. … The recent election in Hungary is the latest piece of evidence that this theory has always been dangerously naïve.”

Bronwen Everill: “Demarginalizing West Africa in the Age of Revolutions”

‘It is true that the West African Age of Revolutions did not inspire specifically democratic change in the polities that were “revolutionized”, and that the revolutions’ relationships with the practices of the slave trade and slavery were complicated. But if not all of these revolutions were democratic, then maybe it wasn’t an age of democratic revolutions at all, which makes the particular cases of democratic revolution interesting in different ways.’

Andrew Culp interviewed “On Giving up on this World”

‘What might it mean, Culp asks, to “give up on all the reasons given for saving this world?” In response, this interview explores the pathways offered by a “dark” Deleuze, a politics of cruelty, Afro-Pessimism, partisan knowledges, destituent power, and tactics of escape.’

“Tunisia’s Next Revolution”

“Over the past seven years, the Tunisian left has reorganized and restructured itself. The leftist youth, which stood at the forefront of the struggle for political and democratic rights, has used its new power to fight for the revolution, creating new forms of organizing and reaching beyond the leftist contexts of the prerevolutionary period.”

“Jacob Zuma Resigns as South Africa’s President”

“Initially Mr. Zuma’s presidency inspired hope in millions of South Africans, especially the poorest. But, tainted by numerous accusations of misconduct, he came to symbolize the corruption that flourished during his time in office. Influence peddling in his administration was so widespread, according to the nation’s former public protector, that it became a form of state capture in which Mr. Zuma’s business partners or friends influenced government decisions in their personal interest. Now, his departure as president leaves South Africa with a disillusioned electorate, a weakened economy and a tarnished image in the rest of Africa.”

Steve Wright interviewed on “Italian workerism and its enduring legacy”

“The failure of Potere Operaio to convince other revolutionaries that its goals and methods were suitable led ultimately not only to the group’s collapse, but also a rethinking of aspects of the workerist framework. Some people headed off to the mainstream left, following other workerists who had already embraced the notion of ‘the autonomy of the political’; many others were attracted to a new wave of worker extremism, in which ‘autonomist’ workplace collectives turned their backs on the far left groups and sought to carve out a new project based directly in factories and communities. The appearance of so-called ‘new social movements’, starting with the women’s movement, saw a section of Italian feminists draw upon their own earlier involvement in workerist politics as one means to understand the circumstances around them; it also (eventually) pushed many of their male counterparts to begin to address aspects of the politics of reproduction. Workerism as a branch of marxist theory connected to wider social struggles collapsed by the early 1980s, along with most of those struggles themselves – but it’s fair to say that it was already in crisis by the late 1970s, due to the seemingly growing complexity of revolutionary politics, which cast doubt over the certainties held a decade before.”

“October! The Soviet Centenary”

South Atlantic Quarterly 116: 4 (October 2017), Hardt & Mezzadra, eds.