what is to be done?


I’ve been toying with the idea of writing something that plays on Nietzsche’s writing on history called something like On The Uses and Abuses of Theory for Life. The piece would examine how theorists are used in theory and what the ramifications are for using say Adorno or Adorno’s concept of x in your writings.The piece would start from the following problem; theory’s sophisticated language is supposed to demystify but the fairly standard theoretical practice of utilizing a vareity of different theorist’s concepts in your theory can become mystified and obtuse in-itself. In the worst cases this theoretical mystification becomes a substitute for critical thinking. Its incoherent drivel also gives theory a bad name because its language operates in such a specialized way that although it may be incoherent to somebody who has studied theory, anyone who hasn’t will find it incomprehensible, thus totally divorcing theory from any hope creating widespread demystification. But, this is not to condemn the practice wholesale because I obvously think it has value, only to call into question the sort of practice of people like say Agamben who sometimes seem to think being obscure is critical in its own right as well as remind ourselves that although it may be aesthetically pleasing to try to decipher what the fuck Agabmen is talking about with his ‘anything whatever’ there is more important shit going on right now that we should be criticizing. If the blame for the current global economic clusterfuck gets shifted to the Madoffs of the world and capitalism is not demystified and held to account then we only have ourselves to blame. I’m not really saying anything here that isn’t obvious, but, perhaps we should also be looking to theorists like Korsch who use theory and try to engage people. I read his Theses on Marxism the other day and found them very pertinent. They sorta reminded me of what Badiou is developing, but without Lacan. We gotta do something.

Here is Badiou’s enigmatic answer to what is to be done;

“This is our task, during the reactionary interlude that now prevails: through the combination of thought processes—always global, or universal, in character—and political experience, always local or singular, yet transmissible, to renew the existence of the communist hypothesis, in our consciousness and on the ground.”

The article is worth reading in full for his brilliant reading of Sarkozy, his idea of seeing things from a global perspective, and his history of the communist hypothesis.