Theory of Needs
Marxism is premised on the possibility of a political economy structured to meet human needs, rather than generate private profit. Could a New Deal capitalism in principle be capable of satisfying them? Is it even possible to disentangle ‘real’ needs from socially constructed ones? Translation of two texts from a 1942 seminar on the question of need.
For Fredric Jameson, allegory exposes the contradictions that ideology obscures: capturing the multiplicities of modernity and forging an interpretive mechanism for the cultural critic. From transforming the text to terraforming the planet, insights into the method of a leading Marxist theorist gleaned from his most recent—and most playful—work.
The Vanishing Library
Twice consumed by fire and set to be rebuilt anew, in what sense can Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s library at the Glasgow School of Art still be said to exist? Freudian derealization, Cartesian doubt and Gaelic allegory summoned by a resident scholar’s memories of reconstructed timbers and their smouldering remains.
An Afternoon with Althusser
Notes on a conversation in the summer of 1977, when the philosopher made an impromptu visit to the NLR office. Wide-ranging discussion on Althusser’s relations with the PCF, the condition of Marxism, the Chinese and Russian revolutions compared; Trotsky, Sraffa and the problems with Gramsci’s concept of hegemony.
The Idea of Hope
Reflections on continental philosophy from both sides of the Rhine, tracing complex inter-relations between post-structuralism and the Frankfurt School. Problems of subjectivity and nature, social determination and individual responsibility. Philosophical contexts of critical theory—and German Idealism as laboratory for system-building and experimentalist thought.
Politico-philosophical profile of Jacques Bouveresse, close friend and colleague of Bourdieu, examining the relation of his large, idiosyncratic body of work to the French philosophical traditions it explicitly disavows. Can thinkers as divergent as Wittgenstein, Musil and Kraus be mobilized to provide a coherent and countervailing ‘Kakanian’ tradition?
The Juridical Economy
Art as the uncanny double of law in the work of Kant, Schiller and Hegel, and its confrontations today with the law in avant-garde practice, as the juridical category of the person either expands beyond even the corporation, dismissed as ‘artificial’ by Hegel, to new fictive forms, or contracts to captive sub-human shapes.
Badiou and the French Tradition
How to locate an energizing philosophy of activity and production, and of fidelity to past revolutionary ruptures, in relation to the line that runs from Sartre, Althusser and Lacan to Foucault, Derrida and Deleuze? A critical interrogation of the return to philosophical tradition, from metaphysics to ethics, in Badiou’s major systematic works.
A Structuralism of Feeling?
Frédéric Lordon’s work combines an elite business-school training with a radical Regulation Theory background, highly effective polemics against the hardening economic and neo-imperial orders in France and the Eurozone with an ambitious social-philosophical agenda. Alberto Toscano investigates.
The Decline of Decadence
From Nietzsche to Lukács, decadence was a matter of cultural disintegration and social atomization under pressure of capitalist modernity, but such talk has dwindled. Malcolm Bull asks whether the private languages of conceptual art are decadent or undecadent. And is the market a substitute communicator of shared values?
Socialism as a Regulative Idea?
In The Structure of World History, Kōjin Karatani attempts a radical reconstruction of historical materialism, from early nomadism to post-capitalist society. Mauss, Hobbes and Marx mobilized as companion thinkers of exchange; Kant as ethico-political prophet. Rob Lucas queries the speculative history of one of Japan’s leading public intellectuals.
Reflections on the occasion of the Rome Lecture and on its themes. Dialectic of the inside and the outside, the surprising role of non-knowledge in subjectivity—and new technologies and labour processes as experiential grounds for transformation in class consciousness.
Marxism and Subjectivity
Transcript of Sartre’s 1961 Lecture at the Istituto Gramsci in Rome, previously unpublished in English. A sustained philosophical riposte to Lukács’s History and Class Consciousness and argument for a concept of subjectivity as process, vividly illustrated in concrete situations.
Nietzsche for Losers?
Opening a symposium on Malcolm Bull’s Anti-Nietzsche, Dews retraces the logic of critical supersession in European philosophy before taking issue with the author’s account of Nietzschean will to power and the reading strategy to be pursued in the face of it.
All Played Out?
Christopher Johnson detects the patterns of a hidden philosophy of history, threaded through Claude Lévi-Strauss’s most famous works. Might its seeming pessimism—a sequence of downward turns from the Neolithic to the present—hold out the possibility of alternative outcomes, virtual destinies?
Beyond existing arguments about equality, might the praxes of permanent and passive revolution offer a way to conceptualize a more expansionary levelling? Drawing on motifs from Nietzsche, Babeuf, Marx and Gramsci, Malcolm Bull traces the contours and consequences of extra-egalitarianism.
The Coming Contradiction
Reflections on Fredric Jameson’s Valences of the Dialectic and its engagement with questions of historicity, narrative and time. Categories and concepts from Hegel, Marx, Sartre and Ricoeur, used to interrogate the impasses of the present—and to envision what lies beyond.
The Ideology of Universalism
Contending visions of universality, from Kantian common sense to the doctrine of human rights. Can a constellation of singularities emerge within the standardization envisaged by globalized production? Prompts from Musil, Gursky and the carpet-weavers of Kuyan-Bulak.
How to Begin from the Beginning
Mountaineering lessons from the Bolsheviks’ master strategist provide a metaphor for regroupment in hard times. Slavoj Žižek identifies the principal antagonisms within contemporary capitalism, as the basis for positing anew the ‘communist hypothesis’.
Attending to Abstract Things
From the philosophe De Brosses in the eighteenth century to the abstract expressionist Barnett Newman and the conceptualist Sol LeWitt in the twentieth—via Hegel, Creuzer and Marx—the fates of the fetish and the commodity, in critical thought and art.
Order and Event
Peter Hallward assesses Logiques des mondes, the latest major work by Alain Badiou, within the context of his wider concerns with truth and subjective being. Set theory and ontology brought to bear on abstract questions of appearance, relation, fidelity and historical change.