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7

The Defeat of Critical Thinking (1977–93)

5
terms
3
notes

Elliott, G. and Keucheyan, R. (2013). The Defeat of Critical Thinking (1977–93). In Keucheyan, R. Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory. Verso, pp. 7-32

7

In the beginning was defeat. Anyone who wishes to understand the nature of contemporary critical thinking must start from this fact.

From the second half of the 1970s, the protest movements born in the late 1950s, but which were inheritors of much older movements, went into decline. The reasons are various: the oil shock of 1973 and the reversal of the ‘long wave’ of the trente glorieuses; the neo-liberal offensive with the election of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in 1979 and 1980; the capitalist turn in China under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping; the decline of old forms of working-class solidarity; the Left’s ascension to power in France in 1981 and, with it, ministerial prospects encouraging the conversion of leftist militants who had distinguished themselves in May 1968; the definitive loss of credibility of the Soviet and Chinese blocs; and so on and so forth. [...]

—p.7 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan 4 years, 11 months ago

In the beginning was defeat. Anyone who wishes to understand the nature of contemporary critical thinking must start from this fact.

From the second half of the 1970s, the protest movements born in the late 1950s, but which were inheritors of much older movements, went into decline. The reasons are various: the oil shock of 1973 and the reversal of the ‘long wave’ of the trente glorieuses; the neo-liberal offensive with the election of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in 1979 and 1980; the capitalist turn in China under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping; the decline of old forms of working-class solidarity; the Left’s ascension to power in France in 1981 and, with it, ministerial prospects encouraging the conversion of leftist militants who had distinguished themselves in May 1968; the definitive loss of credibility of the Soviet and Chinese blocs; and so on and so forth. [...]

—p.7 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan 4 years, 11 months ago

(noun) the point in the orbit of an object (as a satellite) orbiting the earth that is at the greatest distance from the center of the earth / (noun) the point farthest from a planet or a satellite (as the moon) reached by an object orbiting it / (noun) the farthest or highest point; culmination

8

The apogee of the New Left occurred from around 1968 until about 1977 (the Italian autonomist movement)

—p.8 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago

The apogee of the New Left occurred from around 1968 until about 1977 (the Italian autonomist movement)

—p.8 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago

used to express a conclusion for which there is stronger evidence than for a previously accepted one

12

When these intellectuals are members of the organizations in question and, a fortiori, when they are leaders of them, the constraints of political activity are clearly visible in their publications

—p.12 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago

When these intellectuals are members of the organizations in question and, a fortiori, when they are leaders of them, the constraints of political activity are clearly visible in their publications

—p.12 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago

(of a seal or closure) complete and airtight

12

Marxists now produced hermetic knowledge, inaccessible to ordinary workers, about fields without any direct relationship to political strategy

—p.12 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago

Marxists now produced hermetic knowledge, inaccessible to ordinary workers, about fields without any direct relationship to political strategy

—p.12 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago

a recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea, or situation

16

The End of Ideology by the American sociologist Daniel Bell dates from 1960, but it was only during the 1980s that this leitmotif reached France and found expression in all areas of social existence

—p.16 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago

The End of Ideology by the American sociologist Daniel Bell dates from 1960, but it was only during the 1980s that this leitmotif reached France and found expression in all areas of social existence

—p.16 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago
23

Since the 1960s, the United States has been the quintessential country of identity politics. This phrase refers to policies – governmental or otherwise – aimed at promoting the interest, or combatting the stigmatization, of some particular category of the population. Identity politics aim to rehabilitate the ‘identity’ of social groups hitherto discriminated against on account of the negative perception to which they are subject. Identity politics has two important characteristics. The first is that it involves minorities who recognize themselves as such – that is, who do not have the mission of transforming themselves into a majority. In this regard they are opposed to entities like the ‘people’ or the ‘working class’, whose historical role was to coincide, in the more or less long term, with society as a whole. The struggle for recognition of homosexual identity, for example, does not necessarily aim to generalize this identity. It aims to put an end to the stigmatization of those concerned. The second characteristic of ‘identity’ thus conceived is that it is not a (uniquely) economic instance. It contains a decisive cultural dimension.

—p.23 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan 4 years, 11 months ago

Since the 1960s, the United States has been the quintessential country of identity politics. This phrase refers to policies – governmental or otherwise – aimed at promoting the interest, or combatting the stigmatization, of some particular category of the population. Identity politics aim to rehabilitate the ‘identity’ of social groups hitherto discriminated against on account of the negative perception to which they are subject. Identity politics has two important characteristics. The first is that it involves minorities who recognize themselves as such – that is, who do not have the mission of transforming themselves into a majority. In this regard they are opposed to entities like the ‘people’ or the ‘working class’, whose historical role was to coincide, in the more or less long term, with society as a whole. The struggle for recognition of homosexual identity, for example, does not necessarily aim to generalize this identity. It aims to put an end to the stigmatization of those concerned. The second characteristic of ‘identity’ thus conceived is that it is not a (uniquely) economic instance. It contains a decisive cultural dimension.

—p.23 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan 4 years, 11 months ago

the ideology and thinking of French revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel: anti-individualist, anti-liberal, anti-materialist, anti-positivist, anti-rationalist, spiritualist syndicalism

27

Now, there clearly exists a Marxism of Sorelian descent, of which Gramsci and Mariatégui, two authors with considerable influence on the new critical theories, count among the representatives

—p.27 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago

Now, there clearly exists a Marxism of Sorelian descent, of which Gramsci and Mariatégui, two authors with considerable influence on the new critical theories, count among the representatives

—p.27 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan
notable
4 years, 11 months ago
30

[...] These theological figures raise the question of how it is possible to continue believing or hoping when everything seems to run counter to belief, when circumstances are radically hostile to it. It is only natural that critical thinkers should feel the need to offer an answer to it. Experiments in constructing a socialist society have all ended tragically. The Marxist conceptual and organizational framework, which dominated the labour movement for more than a century, has collapsed. In such conditions, how is one to continue believing in the feasibility of socialism, when the facts have brutally and repeatedly invalidated the idea? Theology offers plentiful resources for thinking this problem – belief in the non-existent is its speciality – and from this point of view it is understandable that critical thinkers have seized on them.

—p.30 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan 4 years, 11 months ago

[...] These theological figures raise the question of how it is possible to continue believing or hoping when everything seems to run counter to belief, when circumstances are radically hostile to it. It is only natural that critical thinkers should feel the need to offer an answer to it. Experiments in constructing a socialist society have all ended tragically. The Marxist conceptual and organizational framework, which dominated the labour movement for more than a century, has collapsed. In such conditions, how is one to continue believing in the feasibility of socialism, when the facts have brutally and repeatedly invalidated the idea? Theology offers plentiful resources for thinking this problem – belief in the non-existent is its speciality – and from this point of view it is understandable that critical thinkers have seized on them.

—p.30 by Gregory Elliott, Razmig Keucheyan 4 years, 11 months ago