Critique of Political Reason
by Régis Debray
384 pages / May 1983 / 9780860917632
Régis Debray’s major new work is an exploration of the foundations and limits of political discourse and action. Focusing, with his familiar verve and fluency, on the mechanism through which ideologies mobilize historical subjects, Debray argues that there is a common pattern in all great political or religious movements. Each possesses an apparatus that releases affective charges of belonging and closure; each is tended by bodies of functionaries who maintain its continuity and transmit its doctrines. The great mobilizing ideologies—Christianity, Islam, Marxism—deploy corps of priests, teachers, cadres. The real foundation of “political reason”, for Debray, lies in the human need to participate in closed groups, denying or mitigating the harshness of the external world and the fact of death.