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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Join us for the London launch for Set 4 of Verso’s highly popular Radical Thinkers series, bringing together the seminal texts of the world’s leading intellectuals.Radical Thinkers Series 4 Logo

DON’T LOOK BACK

RADICAL THINKERS AND THE ARTS SINCE 1909

Thursday 26 November 2009, 18.30–20.00

Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG


WITH TERRY EAGLETON, SIMON CRITCHLEY, KATE SOPER, EYAL WEIZMAN AND CHAIR ALBERTO TOSCANO

 

On the 100th anniversary of the Futurism Manifesto, join critical thinkers TERRY EAGLETON, SIMON CRITCHLEY, KATE SOPER, EYAL WEIZMAN and CHAIR ALBERTO TOSCANO  in exploring a century of radical thinking and the arts – and debating what lies ahead. The recent Futurism exhibition at Tate Modern reminds us of an age when politics and aesthetics were densely interwoven in an explosive rejection of the past. This distinguished panel will assess the legacy of modernism to ask how today’s radical thinkers might understand the role of the arts at the dawn of the twenty first century and beyond.

Tate logo

Tate Britain Auditorium
£8 (£6 concessions)
For tickets book online here or call 020 7887 8888.

 

 

 

Verso 9781844673506 Walter Benjamin or Towards a Revolutionary Criticism smallTERRY EAGLETON is Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster. His many books include Walter Benjamin: Or, Towards a Revolutionary Criticism in Set 4 of Radical Thinkers, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate and the forthcoming The Task of the Critic: Terry Eagleton in Dialogue

Read Terry Eagleton’s ‘Waking the Dead’ article in the New Statesman, reflecting on what Benjamin’s approach to history and memory can tell us about America in the 21st century.

 

Critchley 1SIMON CRITCHLEY is Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York and author of  Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity: Derrida, Levinas and Contemporary French Thought in Set 4 of Radical Thinkers, Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance, The Book of Dead Philosophers, On Humour and Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction.

 

Verso 978-1-85984-461-8 Relish the SublimeKATE SOPER is a Professor in the Department of Humanities, Arts and Languages at London Metropolitan University and author of To Relish the Sublime? Culture and Self-Realization in Postmodern Times.

Eyal high resEYAL WEIZMAN is an architect and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College, University of London and author of Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation.

 

FINAL FRONT COVER_Toscano_Fanaticism smallChair: ALBERTO TOSCANO, editor of Historical Materialism, lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London and author of The Theatre of Production: Philosophy and Individuation Between Kant and Deleuze and the forthcoming Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea.

 

 

 

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Praise for Radical Thinkers:

“An extremely pleasant surprise: a new imprint from Verso called Radical Thinkers, and a pile of white-covered paperbacks by the likes of Theodor Adorno, Fredric Jameson, Guy Debord and Walter Benjamin. Not only do they have nifty cover designs, they are ridiculously cheap.” Nick Lezard, Guardian

“A compendium of left-wing philosophical and political thought, inoculating it against the ‘great idea’ of philosophy-as-self-help. As a way of transforming… formless disgust into educated critique, these books are a fine, cheap and decidedly elegant starting point.” Owen Hatherley

“A golden treasury of theory” Eric Banks, Bookforum

“Verso’s beautifully designed Radical Thinkers series, which brings together seminal works by leading left-wing intellectuals, is a sophisticated blend of theory and thought. The 12 authors whose writings are included in the series have worked tirelessly to expose the mechanisms by which culture and knowledge are manufactured, managed and controlled.” Ziauddin Sardar, New Statesman

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Slavoj Žižek tells the New Statesman’s Jonathan Derbyshire why he rejects mainstream political theory, why he supports Barack Obama, and why we need Marx more than ever:

… the Slovene’s avowedly “Leninist” provocations, and his hand-waving in the direction of the Jacobin Terror and Mao’s Cultural Revolution, are intended to unsettle and to question the sort of liberalism that dominates political theory in the west – especially in the English-speaking world. The recent fruits of his prodigious output, including a book on violence and a defence of “lost causes”, all tend in this direction.

When I spoke to Žižek on the telephone from New York, where he’d been giving a series of talks on the financial crisis and Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, I asked him what relation he thought his work has to the mainstream of normative, liberal political theory done in British and American universities…

I’ve noticed how many of the people who consider themselves to be more radical than the liberal standard do not work in political theory proper but, as it were, hide themselves as literary critics or philosophers. It’s as if their radicalism is an excess which requires them to change genre.”

But what’s most significant about the academic left, in his view, is its abstract moralism, which he denounces as utopian, much as Marx and Engels denounced the early French socialists as utopian. “This excess of radicality concretely art iculates itself in some kind of general moralistic outrage. You get a kind of abstract, moralistic politics in which you focus on groups which are obviously underprivileged – other races, gays and so on – and then you explode in all your moralistic rage. This has to do with what you might call our cultural, post-political capitalism, in which the most passionate struggles are cultural ones. A large majority of the left doesn’t question liberal democracy and capitalism as such. In the same way that when we were young we wanted socialism with a human face, what a large part of today’s left want is capitalism with a human face.”…

What implications does such an account have for the actual practice of politics? “I am a Leninist. Lenin wasn’t afraid to dirty his hands. If you can get power, grab it. Do whatever is possible. This is why I support Obama. I think the battle he is fighting now over healthcare is extremely important, because it concerns the very core of the ruling ideology. The core of the campaign against Obama is freedom of choice. And the lesson, if he wins, is that freedom of choice is certainly something beautiful, but that it only works against a background of regulations, ethical presuppositions, economic conditions and so on. My position isn’t that we should sit down and wait for some big revolution to come. We have to engage wherever we can. If Obama wins his battle over healthcare, if some kind of blow can be struck against the ideology of freedom of choice, it will have been a victory worth fighting for.”…

Read the full piece here.

 

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Yitzhak Laor, author of the forthcoming The Myths of Liberal Zionism (Verso, October 2009), writes about Israeli settlements and US policy in the June 16th edition of Haaretz.

After Israel conquered Sinai in 1956, the United States allowed David Ben-Gurion to make his speech about the “Third Kingdom of Israel.” The Americans then sent the Israel Defense Forces quickly back to their tents. Had the Americans also wanted to resolve the conflict in 1967, they would have gotten Israel out of the territories four or five wars ago, with the same ease with which they coerced Yitzhak Rabin’s first government into the first separation-of-forces agreement with Egypt. But the years went by, the dead were buried, the disabled have covered many long kilometers in their wheelchairs, the American peace plans have continued to create hopes, and the United States has not expelled Israel from the Palestinian territories…” READ MORE

To read more about the book click here

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Verso 9781844673414 Saviours and Survivors smallAcclaimed scholar and author of the recently published Saviors and Survivors:  Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror, Mahmood Mamdani, discusses how reporting of the conflict in Darfur reproduces the spurious ethnic categories of British colonialism and argues that the story of the “Arab” presence in Sudan is much more complicated.

“I first went to Sudan in 2003, the year that the insurgency began in the Darfur region of the country. Very quickly, I began to notice something distinctive in the way the western press reported the conflict in the province. I had written a book on the genocide in Rwanda, and academic papers on the conflicts in eastern Congo and Angola. The global media had treated those events as if they had unfolded in the dark of the night. But not Darfur. Darfur was globalised from the outset and was made the subject of a media blitz.

There was an obvious reason for this. Darfur – unlike Congo, Angola and Rwanda – was the focus of a political campaign in the United States, the Save Darfur movement. But one of the effects of its becoming a domestic issue in the US was a series of distortions of the historical record…”

READ MORE…

For more information about the book please click here

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verso-9781844673568-after-the-party“For those contemplating a first journey into the murky world of South African politics, there can be few better guides than Andrew Feinstein. This book by the lawyerly figure who would come to be known as the ANC’s “Mr Clean” in its first post-apartheid governments charts a giddy ascent from political newcomer to euphoric MP and on to disillusioned critic and exile…

Unlike other recent offerings on the same period from South Africa, such as Marc Gevisser’s academic study of Thabo Mbeki and Tony Leon’s unbearably long autobiography, this book is neither the work of a clinical outsider nor a self-glorifying political memoir. It has more in common with Michela Wrong’s excellent It’s Our Turn to Eat. Like her hero, the Kenyan whisteblower John Githongo, Feinstein begins his political career from stage left and in awe of his new colleagues…” — READ MORE

Support independent book stores and buy from them or, if you must, buy online from Verso, Book Depository or Amazon

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Badiou’s recent and much-discussed The Meaning of Sarkozy (see other posts below for more on Badiou, this book and the recent communism conference) has been reviewed in an article by Martin Puchner in the current issue of Bookforum:

Sarkozy.qxd:Layout 1“The Meaning of Sarkozy, then, is not a rueful account of the rightward drift of France but the work of a nonconformist philosopher…we must acknowledge the powerful gesture of his thought.  If philosophy is the discipline charged with the construction of alternative worlds, few practice it with more determination and élan.”

Irish Left Review has a thoughtful and extensive engagement with the book here, written by the Paris-based Seanachie:

“The book is well written, wittily abrasive and perfectly readable…its overall rhetorical tone is incantatory…propagating a message, an exhortation to ‘courage’ for the long road ahead is Badiou’s agenda here.”

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In this year of Darwinian celebrations, Verso publishes The Pure Society, André Pichot’s polemical history of the dark side of evolutionary theory.

In this book, Pichot, a prominent French historian of science, exposes the connection between Darwinian biology and social oppression, as a supposedly objective scientifically-themed ideology was used to justify and extend projects of eugenics and racism.  The success of Darwinism in science is in fact due to the usefulness of Social Darwinism to those in power.

The New Humanist has just carried a positive review of this extensively-researched book:

Layout 1“Eugenics, argues Pichot, was not the work of a few cranks and Nazi ideologists, it was the mainstream and its opponents were the intellectual “eccentrics”…Pichot’s work is a salutary warning.  As he notes, the malignant ideologies of eugenics have not disappeared, but are now privatised with the pressure of the market, the media and medicine encouraging us to breed our own “perfect” offspring.  The key question The Pure Society poses is how we can defend human beings against being reduced to mere raw material, or animals fit for breeding, without relying on the usual religious models of the sacred inviolability of human life.”

Support local independent bookshops by buying The Pure Society from them.

This book is also available from Verso, Amazon and The Book Depository.

Praise for the French Edition:

“This book is terrifying and sends shivers down one’s spine…With a methodical, surgical but also indignant pen, André Pichot painstakingly tracks these ordinary crimes [of eugenics]…One of the great merits of his work is that it calls on us for a spirit of critical vigilance”  Télérama

“André Pichot is an excellent historian…Pichot analyses [this complex history of eugenics] with finesse.  He destroys the false ideas, the “fables” which were completely invented to justify a priori ideas.  A very rich book, which is based on abundant documentation.”  Études

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