Someone who wanted their question to stay private asked me if I had PDFs of any Ernesto Laclau material. Just in case any followers would be interested in this stuff as well, I’ve DropBoxed the few books of his I have. Enjoy!
The Making of Political Identities (ed. Laclau)
Contingency, Hegemony, Universality (Laclau, Butler & Zizek)
Hegemony & Socialist Strategy (Laclau & Mouffe)
[In “Civilization and its Discontents”] Freud writes about how civilization is sick, and how to cure it, because of course psychoanalysis can’t be used to cure the collective. In one place he writes that of course the answer of Christian love seems to be the best answer, but I’m afraid, he writes with irony, that it is not practiceable. I thought that precisely this is the point: The fact that it is impossible is why it is the answer. Now if you think about it, this is precisely the definition of love that Lacan gives. Lacan’s definition is that love consists in giving what one does not have. Of course this is a definition by impossibility, because how can you give what you don’t have? We don’t need to be Christian or to have a Christian face to agree that Lacan’s definition is a Christian one. To give what I don’t have is precisely not to give something I would have, so it must mean not to give anything of the order of anything that could be given. No, to give something that doesn’t belong to the realm of give–able things, neither that nor to give myself, because one could be seduced by the idea “yes this means to give myself.” If myself is once again something I could give, then this myself is only the myself which I have. Then this definition means that love consists in giving something which is nothing… Love consists in my giving from me what is not mine in any sense of a possible possession of mine, not even my person. So to love means to give what is behind or beyond any subject, any self. It is precisely a giving of nothing, a giving of the fact that I cannot possess myself. This is to abandon, because in that case I would say that to give is the same as to abandon. In French I would say donner is the same as abandonner. Because to give in French is donner…
— Jean Luc-Nancy, “Love and Community,” 2001.
"Feminist genealogies can be described as genealogies of women who not only do not place their hopes for happiness in the right things but who speak out about their unhappiness with the very obligation to be made happy by such things. The history of feminism is thus a history of making trouble, a history of women who refuse to become Sophy, by refusing to follow other people’s goods, or by refusing to make others happy."
— Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness
From what I’ve read so far I’m pretty sure I disagree with Dean on a lot of points, but an interesting interview nonetheless. Saw a buddy at the coffee shop with his copy of the book today. Looks good. Gotta pick it up.
Oh Jodi. I love you, but holy hannah this just isn’t especially well argued, is it? There’s a problem that keeps popping up for me in all of Dean’s lectures and interviews around The Communist Horizon, and its this way that she, without any hesitation at all, completely collapses democracy into its (neo)liberal form and then tows that form as a kind of ahistorical inevitability. This is especially irritating since, as she hints in this interview and as she’s said quite explicitly elsewhere, much of her argument in The Communist Horizon relies on trying to undo the notion that communism is and only can be bureaucratic, Stalinist statism. There was a lecture floating around here a while ago where she argued that in the West (and this is true), Communism has been reduced to a kind of empty vessel—an ahistorical constant that is inevitably and inescapably totalitarian—that is simply filled with various contents at various historical moments in a way that justifies the fundamental assumption of totalitarian ends. No matter who is leading, no matter what the party form, no matter what the context, Communism, reduced to an ahistorical abstract, is bound to realize only its most authoritarian tendencies. This is a fair and accurate analysis. The problem is, she does exactly the same thing to democracy, fixing it in advance as something that will inevitably cement and shore up the resources of capitalist inequalities. Neoliberal democracy is simply the latest content shoehorned into that empty assumption, working to amplify the capitalist tendencies (allegedly) already at work within the form and theory of democracy itself. If we’re committed to a radical historicism in the analysis of communist governance, and to radical historicism as a general strategy of political critique, then it seems odd to suspend that commitment when it comes to a critical analysis of democratic forms, no?
Other than just being a not-so-strong rhetorical strategy, I think this equivocation is what ultimately undergirds her claim that democracy and communism are opposed and that the former, in the final instance, displaces the latter. And later in the interview, that equivocation rears its head quite clearly when she remarks that it is in fact the infrastructure of parliamentary democracy in Greece which has given Communism in the form of Syriza (also sort of lol at that claim that Syriza remains communist) an opportunity to show itself and perhaps even flourish in places. I just don’t think it’s accurate or fair to say that capitalism and democracy will always say yes to one another without betraying an ahistorical mode of analysis—or at the very least, a historicist analysis that only cuts in the direction of party Communism. And while I do like the rhetorical statement that Communism is the only thing that says “No” to Capitalism, I also don’t think that’s true. I don’t buy that the phrase “anti-capitalist,” which opens itself more to coalitional forms of struggle and resistance, doesn’t operate just as well. One might claim that Anti-Capitalism as a rhetoric still seeks recourse to “Capitalism” as its constitutive ground, but I’d argue that Communism does the same thing, even if not in name. What’s Communism, afterall, but a dialectical opposition to capitalist modes of production? Can there be a Communism without the constitutive outside of Capitalism? And if Capitalism is the constitutive outside of Communism, then Communism itself retains the trace of Capitalism in its very form, and can’t be seen as, I think, any more or less opposed to Capitalism than a phrase like anti-capitalism.
ALSO, that swipe she takes at Laclau and Mouffe is I think pretty weak. Like…”Look at Laclau and Mouffe! It’s almost as if they’re saying that class isn’t the essential plane of antagonism with which we must contend!” Well…yeah. That was like, their thesis. So probably. If I say “I disagree with a bunch of what Jodi Dean argues in this interview,” then I don’t think saying “your argument is invalid because you disagree with Jodi Dean” is an especially strong critique.
Okay. I need to shower and work on grad school apps. Also probably whisky.
"Those forms of co-habitation characterized by equality and minimized precarity become the goal to be achieved by any struggle against subjugation and exploitation, but also the goals that start to be achieved in the practices of alliance that assemble across distances to achieve those very goals. We struggle in, from, and against precarity. Thus, it is not from pervasive love for humanity or a pure desire for peace that we strive to live together. We live together because we have no choice, and yet we must struggle to affirm the ultimate value of that unchosen social world, and that struggle makes itself known and felt precisely when we exercise freedom in a way that is necessarily committed to the equal value of lives. We can be alive or dead to the suffering of others, they can be dead or alive to us, depending on how they appear and whether they appear at all; but only when we understand that what happens there also happens here, and that ‘here’ is already an elsewhere, and necessarily so, that we stand a chance of grasping at the difficult and shifting global connections in which we live, which make our lives possible—and sometimes, too often, impossible."
Judith Butler, Precarious Life and the Obligations of Cohabitation
Delivered at the Nobel Museum, Stockholk, May 2011.
Dang I rly like this lecture.
"The smallest act in the most limited circumstances bears the seed of…boundlessness, because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change every constellation."
— Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
If sexual difference enjoys this quasi-transcendental status, then all the concrete formulations of sexual difference (second-order forms of sexual difference) not only implicitly refer back to the more originary formulation but are, in their very expression, constrained by this non-thematizable normative condition. Thus, sexual difference in the more originary sense operates as a radically incontestable principle or criterion that establishes intelligibility through foreclosure or, indeed, through pathologization or, indeed, through active political disenfranchisement. As non-thematizable, it is immune from critical examination, yet it is necessary and essential; a truly felicitous instrument of power. […]
Thus, as a transcendental claim, sexual difference should be rigorously opposed by anyone who wants to guard against a theory that would prescribe in advance what kinds of sexual arrangements will and will not be permitted in intelligible culture.
Judith Butler, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality
aaaaaaand stick the landing.
"This is made all the more interesting by his [Zizek’s] suggestion, Hegelian-style, that I am also a historicist. I believe the Lacanian group that writes in Zizekan vein is the only group of scholars to have called me a historicist, and I am delighted by the improbability of this appellation."
Judy B gettin sassy. Snaps for Judy.
(from Contingency, Hegemony, Universality)
Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, Slavoj Žižek, Contigency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left
What is the contemporary legacy of Gramsci’s notion of Hegemony? How can universality be reformulated now that its spurious versions have been so thoroughly criticized? In this ground-breaking project, Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Zizek engage in a dialogue on central questions of contemporary philosophy and politics. Their essays, organized as separate contributions that respond to one another, range over the Hegelian legacy in contemporary critical theory, the theoretical dilemmas of multiculturalism, the universalism-versus-particularism debate, the strategies of the Left in a globalized economy, and the relative merits of post-structuralism and Lacanian psychoanalysis for a critical social theory. While the rigor and intelligence with which these writers approach their work is formidable, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality benefits additionally from their clear sense of energy and enjoyment in a revealing and often unpredictable exchange.
AHH. Have been wanting this forever. Thanks, Internet.
Žižek has famously been called ‘the most dangerous Philosopher in the West’. To make him deserving of this title, I have come up with the most dangerous drinking game of all time. I am about 300 pages into ‘Less than Nothing’, and if I had followed this one rule, I would have had at least 300 shots by now.
We play a slightly different variation. Watch a recoding of him speak, when ever he touches his nose, strokes his beard, sniffs, ajusts his t-shirt or any other of his ticks, drink.
We nearly died.
I once played a drinking game to go along with the recent and terrible Atlas Shrugged movie. It was called “Atlas Chugged.” It was like bingo, except you’d cross out squares and drink for things like “Someone shows contempt toward the poor.”
I could hardly move the next day.