Razmig Keucheyan's The Left Hemisphere: Mapping Critical Theory Today has recently appeared in its first Greek edition, published by Angelus Novus. Earlier this month, Keucheyan spoke with Tasos Tsakiroglou of Efimerida ton Syntakton about the book and contemporary critical theory — in the context of climate change, and in relation to recent European electoral contests, including the 2017 French presidential election.
In the panorama of the different critical theories that you analyze in your new book The Left Hemisphere, and despite their diversity, do you discern a common thread that unites them? and what is it?
Pessimism certainly is a common thread. None of these thinkers believes that overthrowing capitalism and replacing it with another, relatively better, system is an obvious possibility. Some of them believe it is not possible, and think “resistance” to power and “micropolitics” is our only option. This pessimism is a consequence of the tragic experiences of the 20th century, especially Stalinism.
This letter was first published in Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.
(via Wikimedia Commons)
As a rule, crises open up the terrain of the possible, and the crisis that began in 2007 with the collapse of the subprime market is no exception. The political forces that upheld the old world are now decomposing — first among them social democracy, which has since 2012 entered a new phase in its long process of accommodation to the existing order. As against these forces, the National Front has diverted part of the anger in society to its own advantage. It has adopted the pretense of an anti-systemic stance, even though it challenges nothing about this system, and least of all the law of the market.
Such is the context in which Nuit Debout was born — a movement that now marks the first month of its existence. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the opposition to neoliberalism has taken various different forms: the “Bolivarian” governments in Latin America in the 2000s, the “Arab Spring,” Occupy Wall Street, the Spanish indignados, Syriza in Greece, the Corbyn and Sanders campaigns in Britain and the USA…. Future historians delving into our era will doubtless say that it was particularly rich in social and political movements.
This appeal denouncing the police violence and the abuses that have become generalized since the state of emergency came into effect in France was produced by a collective made up of more than three hundred academics, activists, and artists. Translated by David Broder.
(Outside the Saint-Lazare train station, April 12, via Libération.)
Since last November and the proclamation of the state of emergency, the decomposition of the social-regression and police-truncheon state has massively accelerated. This state has dropped any inhibitions about its submission to capital — a capital that stamps its feet, impatient to be able to exploit and cast aside whomever it likes, whenever and however it pleases. Those who refuse to roll over — fighting for their dignity, their future, or simply their everyday lives — are being brought in ever-greater numbers before tribunals, treated as terrorists and, like the Goodyear workers, sentenced to prison terms. Developing in tandem with this has been the most methodical police violence.
This text was written for a discussion devoted to the collective volume Marx & Foucault. Lectures, usages, confrontations (eds. Christian Laval, Luca Paltrinieri and Ferhat Taylan. Paris: La Découverte, 2015), held at Paris’s Lieu-dit literary café on 28 January — and published in Contretemps. Translated by David Broder.
To this day, there have been only a few analyses of the links between Marx and Foucault. The introduction to this volume does mention some, but here we can also see how few there are. This is surprising, for these two authors count among the critical theorists who had the greatest influence in the twentieth century. It would take precise bibliometric analyses to prove it, but there can be little doubt that Marx and Foucault are the most frequently cited references in contemporary critical thought. So one first reason to welcome this book’s publication is that it fills a gap.