Jacques Rancière | Identifications of the People

The people has always been a double figure. At the time of the French revolution, it emerged in the opposition between subject of sovereignty and actual population: miserable people or ignorant and fanatic populace. But this duality is still much older. Aforetime the demos in Athens referred to both the sovereign people of the Assembly and the clutter of common people. Democracy is first of all a sobriquet invented by the Athenian elites to designate this inconceivable government of common people. Each time the people is declared sovereign, the same fundamental paradox, under diverse forms, makes the scene. […]

Walter Benjamin | The Author as Producer

    II s’agit de gagner les intellectuels “la classe ouvriere, en leur faisant prendre conscience de l’identité de leurs de-marches spirituelles et de leurs conditions de producteur. – Ramon Fernandez   You recall how Plato treats the poets in his projected State. In the interest of the community, he does not allow them to live there. He had a high idea of the power of poetry. But he considered it destructive, superfluous – in a perfect community, needless to say. Since then, the question of the poet’s right to exist has not often been stated with the same insistence;…

Pier Paolo Pasolini | A Desperate Vitality

  I (Draft, in a cursus in present-day jargon, of what has just transpired: Fiumicino, the old castle, and a first real idea of death.) As in a film by Godard: alone in a car speeding down the motorways of Latin neo-capitalism — returning from the airport — [where Moravia stayed behind, a pure soul with his bags] alone, “racing his Alfa Romeo“ in sunlight so heavenly it cannot be put into rhymes not elegiac — the finest sun we’ve had all year — as in a film by Godard: under a sun bleeding motionless unique, the canal of the…

Esther Leslie | Walter Benjamin

Esther Leslie | Walter Benjamin  ⇒   PDF (Full book)       For a Marxist Poetics of Science: An Interview with Esther Leslie First published in Historical Materialism Can you tell us a bit about your intellectual and political formation? I come from a political family — my parents were Trotskyists, my grandparents on one side were anarchists and, on the other, one grandfather had been involved in unemployment marches. There was a strong sense of class consciousness and political engagement at home. My anarchist grandfather, who was German, was a book publisher and bookseller in London and so we were…

César Vallejo | From ‘Art and Revolution’

    THE REVOLUTIONARY FUNCTION OF THOUGHT Confusion is a phenomenon with a permanent, organic character in bourgeois society. Confusion grows ever thicker when it is addressed as already confusing problems by the very historical terms of its utterance. The latter occurs with the brand new and, at once, very old problem of the intellectual’s obligations with regard to revolution. As posed by historical materialists, this problem is already a tangle. When formulated or simply outlined by bourgeois intellectuals, it acquires the aspect of insoluble chaos. *** “The philosophers,” Marx says, “have only interpreted the world in various ways. The…

Alain Badiou | Philosophy for Militants

Philosophy for Militants: PDF   An urgent and provocative account of the modern ‘militant’, a transformative figure at the front line of emancipatory politics. Around the world, recent events have seen the creation of a radical phalanx comprising students, the young, workers and immigrants. It is Badiou’s contention that the politics of such militants should condition the tasks of philosophy, even as philosophy clarifies the truth of our political condition. To resolve the conflicts between politics, philosophy and democracy, Badiou argues for a resurgent communism – returning to the original call for universal emancipation and organizing for militant struggle.    …

Alain Badiou | Metapolitics

Metapolitics argues that one of the main tasks of contemporary thought is to abolish the idea that politics is merely an object for philosophical reflection. Badiou critically examines the thought of anthropologist and political theorist Sylvain Lazarus, Jacques Rancière’s writings on workers’ history and democratic dissensus, the role of the subject in Althusser, as well as the concept of democracy and the link between truth and justice.