Toscano’s Politics of Abstraction.

Infinite Thought posts a talk by Alberto Toscano (with pictures that illuminate the inner secret meaning) here. I’d say there’s plenty in that talk that’s worth discussing. Just to give you an idea: 

This figure of philosophical anticipation, initially framed in terms of actuality striving toward thought, and later enveloped and surpassed in the knowledge of capitalism’s tendencies, has important consequences, I want to argue, for our very idea of communism. The specificity of communism stems from its intrinsic and specific temporality, from the fact that, while never simply non- or anti-philosophical, it is an idea that contains within it, inextricably, a tension towards realisation, transition, revolution. I now want to briefly draw the consequences of this argument in terms of four interlinked dimensions of the notion of communism which challenge the philosophical sufficiency or autonomy of the concept: equality, revolution, power, and knowledge. You will note that in some manner these are dimensions which philosophy sometimes defines by contrast with the vicissitudes of communist politics and its associated critique of political economy. Thus, economic equality is sometimes treated as the counterpart to equality as a philosophical principle or axiom; power, especially state power, is regarded as a dimension external to philosophical questioning about communism; knowledge is juxtaposed to truth and revolution is regarded as an at best enigmatic and at worst obsolete model of emancipatory change. 

My favorite part of the post is, however, this awesome photo (is that a Bentley or a Jaguar?):


9 thoughts on “Toscano’s Politics of Abstraction.

  1. Discussing philosophy? What kind of blog do you think we run here? That sort of intellectualist elitist bourgeois engagement with ideas is so over! I believe a fancy car with Communist symbols is all I have to say about this conference…

    Seriously, I just thought I’d give the masses the link, “discussion” might or might not happen.

  2. Long live the equality of utility!
    Long live the knowledge of equality!
    Long live the revolution of knowledge!
    Long live the power of revolution!
    Long live the utility of power!

    Hey, maybe we have something here. Or, maybe not.

    I don’t know, how excited can we get about rich (and yes, they are rich under the standards of the world) intellectuals whose primary subsistance is text production under academic auspices, texts sold at inflatedly high prices to the children of otherwise wealthy families, all meet trying to iron out just what it means to keep an idea alive when so many who have tried to bring it to fruition have brutally (and if it were not so brutal, hilariously) botched it. “We,” a specific group of dream-weavers announce to themselves and others, “we are dreaming a dream for YOU, not so much for us, but for YOU, who cannot dream as we can” is this ever a consciousness we can endorse.

    Who is speaking, and to whom are they speaking is I thought cardinal to deciphering messages. Long live the party.

  3. Is this not almost always the case when it comes to philosophical and political ideas? Others are dreaming their dreams for us – I can’t think of any really significant idea that I consider to be true and useful that I personally came up with, unless, of course, you count fundamental principles like “Don’t drink too much the night before an important meeting or a presentation” and “If it doesn’t smell, it’s fresh enough to wear again”…

  4. Mikhail,

    It is also the case with artists that they are “dreaming for us” and thank goodness so. But with this specific brand of philosophical revival, the attempt to make good on a Political Idea that has been done so very wrong (okay now, so the end of the world did not occur at midnight, the year 2000, what did he REALLY mean? In what way did WE fail him?) that troubles me.

    I think that art is very “useful” in the sense that it dreams for us, and philosophy as well, but when description becomes prescription, when artists stop showing us what they say, and telling us how we should see, (then act and do) there is an inherent contradiction which somehow leads to brutal historical absurdity. It is a monastic priesthood all over again.

    Now yes, it may be very interesting to ASK an artist what he thinks of the situation. There will be a certain feel to her/his words if you have respect for their work. But there is no necessary connection between there process and ours.

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE reading the political philosopher. They are the dreamers of new possibilities of thought as it relates to the concrete world. But they confuse sometimes their role as dreamers with an imagined position of the ONLY dreamers, or the only dreamer (the one with the correct argument).

    It is back to that odd realization, philosophers are curious TYPE, and those that have thrived in the academic environments (survival of the fittest), carry with themselves quite a number of, what would be considered genetic defects, out there in the real world of persons and lives lived. When the university arose in the middle ages there was a time when your two best vocations were that of a theologian or a lawyer. A nice, complimentary pair these two. Those that make the real world, and those that critique the makers in the name of something “higher”.

  5. Pingback: Mikhail on the Communism Conference; Don’t talk about the car! « Frames /sing

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