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somnambulist
08-05-2009, 03:07 PM
What's the Big Idea?

By Paul Graham

A recent conference at Birkbeck gathered together philosophers to discuss the past, present and, more importantly, the possible future of communism. Paul Graham takes a bird's eye view of proceedings

From Friday 13 to Sunday 15 March the great and the good of Continental philosophy, along with a few of their Anglo-Saxon(ish) counterparts, met at Logan Hall for a conference, On the Idea of Communism, convened by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. Day one saw papers from Michael Hardt, Bruno Bosteels and Peter Hallward, day two from Alessandro Russo, Alberto Toscano, Antonio Negri, Terry Eagleton, Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou, and finally day three from Slavoj Žižek, Gianni Vattimo and Judith Balso. Jean-Luc Nancy was originally down to offer interventions throughout the duration, but was kept away due to illness, so this responsibility fell, informally at least, to Žižek, who entertained with his unique brand of impromptu stand-up. It had been announced on the BIH website that the speakers would not ‘deal with practico-political questions of how to analyse the latest economic, political, and military troubles, or how to organise a new political movement,' but would instead approach communism ‘as a philosophical concept'. In their introductory remarks, Žižek and Badiou stressed the need to focus on the philosophical significations of the word ‘communism' itself, to breathe new life into it and look for something positive, and insisted that we distance ourselves from, in Žižek's words, the ‘moral stigma' of past associations. Žižek cautioned against the temptation for knee-jerk reactions in response to the financial crisis. As he put it, ‘There is a time to think'.

Such an approach prompted a skeptical response from some quarters, both before and after. At a time when even mainstream media can question the neoliberal project - however superficially - surely more could be expected from such erstwhile dissidents to identify the actually existing potential for the left to take advantage of the present crisis of capitalism. However, it's a very strange logic that takes philosophers to task for discussing philosophy. It should be agreed, after all, that since we are prepared to condemn blind subservience to neoliberal ideology, we should be equally willing to scrutinise our own ideals, and not risk a lapse into the kind of dogma that got us into the mess of the financial crisis in the first place. So a more appropriate response would be to judge the conference on its own terms. But this presents its own problems. Since there were so many papers delivered over the three days, and so many ideas developed, it's easy to fall into the trap of limiting oneself to trite objections, providing little or no genuine insight. What follows, instead, is a brief delineation of a few of the broader themes that emerged.

H συνέχεια εδώ (http://www.metamute.org/en/content/what_s_the_big_idea).

anef
10-05-2009, 10:02 AM
Ωραίο και σύντομο άρθρο γι' αυτό το περίφημο συνέδριο. Πολύ γέλιο είχε η πρόταση του Ζίζεκ να κλείσουν με τη Διεθνή!