Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Constructing A New Collective Subject

Žižek's presentation at the conference eclipsed that of Badiou, his ostensible master. It was necessary to begin again, Žižek said – echoing Badiou's call to rediscover 'the communist hypothesis' as if for the first time. Badiou remains a scalding and bracing critic of the present managerialist restoration of power and privilege, but it is difficult to be confident that he is orientated towards thinking the future. By contrast, Žižek's focus, like that of Negri and Michael Hardt, was very much on how current (apocalyptic) conditions – ecological catastrophe, the crisis of private property brought about by digitization, the impact on human identity of neuroscience and genetic engineering – may lead to new possibilities. Žižek is ready to affirm the emancipatory potentials brought by science-fictional capital's liquidation of territories and identities. If what most of the conference speakers still wanted to call 'communism' is to be achieved, it will require nothing less than the construction of a new type of human being. (Something that this conference, with its punitively long sessions, also seemed to demand: maintaining concentration through three 45-minute papers in a row exceeds the tolerances of the human organism.) As Toscano and Hardt made clear, concepts such as equality and the abolition of property only appear to be self-evident; in fact they are at the moment only dimly thinkable. Theory, in its destruction of the very 'workaday Anglo Saxon empiricism' which treats private property and commodities as natural and transparent concepts, must play a role in the construction of this new collective subject. 
-----> Mark K-punk Fisher on the Idea of Communism conference, writing in Frieze Magazine.

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