“Anglophone readers now have a chance to see what all the fuss is about…”: Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art, the latest from esteemed philosopher and literary critic Jacques Rancière, has been hailed as the magnum opus on aesthetics from one of the subject’s leading theorists. Rancière utilizes a series of “scenes,” or critical historical events in Western art, through which he interrogates our understanding of modernism, and subsequently, the fraught relationship between the aesthetic and the political. Perhaps most startling in the age of the hyper-inundated and fast-paced reader, it’s evident that Aisthesis has inspired the very same “close reading” in its readers that the philosopher himself employs.
We, citizens of Europe and beyond, call on all our fellow citizens to support the Greek workers’ and journalists’ general strike.
At a moment when the IMF has implicitly admitted that the privatisations and restructuring imposed by the Troika in exchange for loans – supposedly meant to reduce Greek sovereign debt – have in fact driven the country to ruin, this same Troika (also including the European Commission and European Central Bank) has come to Athens to make fresh demands. Its terms were such that the Greek government has decided to speed up the enslavement of Greece to domestic and foreign neoliberal dictatorship.
Democratic malaise, political disarray and panic: a year after Francois Hollande’s election, things aren’t looking good. Jacques Rancière and Pierre Rosanvallon, two major thinkers and theorists of democracy, attempt to understand our moral and political predicament.
From the 7 May 2013 print edition of Le Monde
Jacques Rancière is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris-VIII. His books include On the Shores of Politics, Short Voyages to the Land of the People, The Nights of Labor, Staging the People, and The Emancipated Spectator. His next book, Aisthesis, is out in June by Verso.
Pierre Rosanvallon is a French center-left thinker, previously involved with François Furer in the Fondation Saint-Simon. His books in English include, amongst others, Democratic Legitimacy: Impartiality, Reflexivity, Proximity; Democracy Past and Future; and The Demands of Liberty. In 2002 he founded the République des Idées.
How did you make democracy and equality the central axes of your political concerns, inquiries and research ?
Pierre Rosanvallon: I became a full timer for the CFDT [union federation] when I finished at the HEC [business school] just after May ’68. At that time I began to read an enormous amount on the history of the workers’ movement. I had made contact with a publisher, Léon Centner, who had issued an impressive collection of hundreds of pamphlets on the building of the workers’ movement, Les Révolutions du XIXe siècle [‘The Revolutions of the Nineteenth Century’] in 48 volumes. Having got the CFDT to buy the lot, I dived into reading them. From that point on, I knew well that it is impossible to understand the tasks of the present – the project of self-management then being central – without a long-term perspective on the questions in hand. I wanted, besides, to understand the disorderly phenomena of democracy. To know why the structures of collective organisation did not work as well as expected. All these questions on the organisation of democratic life made for my first field of studies.