History and the Sphinx: Of Riots and Uprisings


Jasper Bernes and Joshua Clover deliver a superb review of Alain Badiou’s The Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings, challenging cries for greater “organization” along the way.

The exhortation to organize has been often heard in the dissolution of the various Occupy encampments here in the US, from left thinkers as various as Noam Chomsky, Doug Henwood, and Jodi Dean. And “organize” must in some regard be the right thing to do, in so far as it is a term both common-sensical and capacious in its lack of specificity. It risks being what Fredric Jameson calls a “pseudoconcept”: the imperative to “organize” comes down to, do that thing that causes you to be more rather than less effective. But lacking any further tactical clarity, the word inevitably backslides into the meaning it offered the last time around, redolent of sad-faced activists trying to sell you copies of Socialist Worker. In the face of this vast and mercurial irruption which Badiou’s book wishes to register, the call to “organize” serves for the moment as the chorus to a paradoxical song: this new politics is fantastic, but it seems to have reached its limits; we need…the old politics!

(Read more on Los Angeles Review of Books )

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3 Responses to “History and the Sphinx: Of Riots and Uprisings”

  1. patmorton Says:

    The article appears on the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) site, not the London Review of Books. Big difference! LARB was founded by Tom Lutz, faculty member in the Creative Writing department at UC Riverside.

  2. A.D. Says:

    Self-organisation is the first act of the revolution; it then becomes an obstacle which the revolution has to overcome. supplement to Théorie Communiste N°20 -june 2006-.

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