In the past decades, the political and intellectual fields have grown more and more separate. This process has resulted in a growing gap between social movements and critical thinkers, who are mostly academics today, whereas Kautsky, Lenin, Gramsci or Rosa Luxemburg were not, they were political leaders. However, elements of reconnection between critical thinkers and political movements can be observed today.
Whatever one thinks of the resulting political strategy, it has led to interesting debates within the European left.
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These ties, however, will be different from the ones that existed at the time of Lenin and Gramsci…. As you assert, climate change increases social inequalities at the expense of weaker and poor. How can we unite the fight against capitalism with the ecological movements? An argument I elaborate in my book Nature is a Battlefield is indeed that capitalism leads to inequalities in relationship to the environment. The subaltern classes throughout the world are much more affected by pollutions, natural catastrophes, or biodiversity losses, than the rich.
While Ernesto Laclau gets his own section, Chantal Mouffe is mentioned only in passing. It seems here that Keucheyan would do well to explain how his selection of thinkers are better equipped to understand the real impact and dynamics of imperialism, and why these form a better basis for a unified radical movement against real-life domination. Here he discusses thinkers who reject the idea of cognitive capitalism as barring knowledge in production.
Moreover, it is here he raises the worry that one of the mentioned thinkers Robert Brenner is Eurocentric. This too is puzzling, given that ecology is one of the major unifying radical political causes between geographical location and other forms of political fragmentation.
My Book Review of The Left Hemisphere: Mapping Critical Theory Today – Daniel Tutt
Keucheyan recognizes this omission, and justifies it by arguing that he otherwise has found no theory of ecology that is systematically based in Marxism He sees critical theory as limited to a self-identifying Marxist tradition, thus avoiding discussions of critical theory more broadly construed. However, this is not entirely true. It seems here that the obvious answer is that Latour is not sufficiently grounded in Marxist thought.
Keucheyan himself claims that Marxism has lost its hegemony within new critical theory, indeed that this is one of its marks For instance, he limits the selection of feminist thinkers to those who specifically discuss the nature of the gendered subject, thus disbarring big strands of Marxist and black feminism. Thus, if strict adherence to Marxism is not a criterion for the selection of thinkers, the lack of women mentioned in other parts of the book is hard to explain. There are many interesting and politically fruitful theoretical analyses of the structures of oppressions that have enriched the Marxist tradition that come from inside feminism, but they are far from limited to it.
However, in this way, Keucheyan is perpetuating his own worry about the power structures internal to critical theory that make it politically impotent by virtue of their inextricability from the ivory towers in which they are produced. However, the main force of book remains: it raises an undeniably important question of how one should approach the task of mapping critical theory, such that it both reflects theoretical reality, and is fit for purpose.
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Keucheyan takes an important first step in this direction. Your email address will not be published. Email me when others comment on this review.
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