Lenin Reloaded

[sic] Series

Book 7
Duke University Press
Free sample

Lenin Reloaded is a rallying call by some of the world’s leading Marxist intellectuals for renewed attention to the significance of Vladimir Lenin. The volume’s editors explain that it was Lenin who made Karl Marx’s thought explicitly political, who extended it beyond the confines of Europe, who put it into practice. They contend that a focus on Lenin is urgently needed now, when global capitalism appears to be the only game in town, the liberal-democratic system seems to have been settled on as the optimal political organization of society, and it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than a modest change in the mode of production. Lenin retooled Marx’s thought for specific historical conditions in 1914, and Lenin Reloaded urges a reinvention of the revolutionary project for the present. Such a project would be Leninist in its commitment to action based on truth and its acceptance of the consequences that follow from action.

These essays, some of which are appearing in English for the first time, bring Lenin face-to-face with the problems of today, including war, imperialism, the imperative to build an intelligentsia of wage earners, the need to embrace the achievements of bourgeois society and modernity, and the widespread failure of social democracy. Lenin Reloaded demonstrates that truth and partisanship are not mutually exclusive as is often suggested. Quite the opposite—in the present, truth can be articulated only from a thoroughly partisan position.

Contributors. Kevin B. Anderson, Alain Badiou, Etienne Balibar, Daniel Bensaïd, Sebastian Budgen, Alex Callinicos, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, Stathis Kouvelakis, Georges Labica, Sylvain Lazarus, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Lars T. Lih, Domenico Losurdo, Savas Michael-Matsas, Antonio Negri, Alan Shandro, Slavoj Žižek

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About the author

Sebastian Budgen is a member of the editorial board of the journal Historical Materialism and a coeditor (with Chiara Bonfiglioli) of La planete altermondialiste.

Stathis Kouvelakis teaches political theory at King’s College London. His books include Philosophy and Revolution: From Kant to Marx and Dictionnaire Marx Contemporain (coedited with J. Bidet). He is an editor of the French journal Contretemps.

Slavoj Žižek is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Social Studies in Ljubljana, Slovenia. His many books include Theology and the Political: The New Debate (coedited with Creston Davis and John Milbank), Cogito and the Unconscious, and Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology, all also published by Duke University Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Jun 11, 2007
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Pages
346
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ISBN
9780822389552
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Semiotics & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The Cartesian cogito—the principle articulated by Descartes that "I think, therefore I am"—is often hailed as the precursor of modern science. At the same time, the cogito's agent, the ego, is sometimes feared as the agency of manipulative domination responsible for all present woes, from patriarchal oppression to ecological catastrophes. Without psychoanalyzing philosophy, Cogito and the Unconscious explores the vicissitudes of the cogito and shows that psychoanalyses can render visible a constitutive madness within modern philosophy, the point at which "I think, therefore I am" becomes obsessional neurosis characterized by "If I stop thinking, I will cease to exist."

Noting that for Lacan the Cartesian construct is the same as the Freudian "subject of the unconscious," the contributors follow Lacan's plea for a psychoanalytic return to the cogito. Along the path of this return, they examine the ethical attitude that befits modern subjectivity, the inherent sexualization of modern subjectivity, the impasse in which the Cartesian project becomes involved given the enigmatic status of the human body, and the Cartesian subject's confrontation with its modern critics, including Althusser, Bataille, and Dennett. In a style that has become familiar to Žižek's readers, these essays bring together a strict conceptual analysis and an approach to a wide range of cultural and ideological phenomena—from the sadist paradoxes of Kant's moral philosophy to the universe of Ayn Rand's novels, from the question "Which, if any, is the sex of the cogito?" to the defense of the cogito against the onslaught of cognitive sciences.

Challenging us to reconsider fundamental notions of human consciousness and modern subjectivity, this is a book whose very Lacanian orthodoxy makes it irreverently transgressive of predominant theoretical paradigms. Cogito and the Unconscious will appeal to readers interested in philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and theories of ideology.

Contributors. Miran Bozovic, Mladen Dolar, Alain Grosrichard, Marc de Kessel, Robert Pfaller, Renata Salecl, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupancic

Contemporary discourse seems to provide a choice in the way sexual identities and sexual difference are described and analyzed. On the one hand, much current thinking suggests that sexual identity is fluid—socially constructed and/or performatively enacted. This discourse is often invoked in the act of overcoming an earlier patriarchal era of fixed and naturalized identities. On the other hand, some modern discourses of sexual identity seem to offer a New Age Jungian re-sexualization of the universe—"Men are from Mars, and women are from Venus"—according to which there is an underlying, deeply anchored archetypal identity that provides a kind of safe haven in the contemporary confusion of roles and identities.

In this volume, contributors discuss a third way of thinking about sexual identity and sexual difference—a direction opened by Jacques Lacan. For Lacan, what we all recognize as sexual difference is first and foremost representative of a certain fundamental deadlock inherent in the symbolic order, that is, in language and in the entire realm of culture conceived as a symbol system structured on the model of language. For him, the logical matrix of this deadlock is provided by his own formulas of sexuation. The essays collected here elaborate on different aspects of this deadlock of sexual difference. While some examine the role of semblances in the relation between the sexes or consider sexual identity not as anatomy but still involving an impasse of the real, others discuss the difference between sexuation and identification, the role of symbolic prohibition in the process of the subject’s sexual formation, or the changed role of the father in contemporary society and the impact of this change on sexual difference. Other essays address such topics as the role of beating in sexual fantasies and jouissance in feminine jealousy.

Contributors. Alain Badiou, Elizabeth Bronfen, Darian Leader, Jacques Alain Miller, Genevieve Morel, Renata Salecl, Eric L. Santner, Colette Soler, Paul Verhaeghe, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupancic

The masochist, the voyeur, the sadist, the sodomite, the fetishist, the pedophile, and the necrophiliac all expose hidden but essential elements of the social relation. Arguing that the concept of perversion, usually stigmatized, ought rather to be understood as a necessary stage in the development of all non-psychotic subjects, the essays in Perversion and the Social Relation consider the usefulness of the category of the perverse for exploring how social relations are formed, maintained, and transformed.

By focusing on perversion as a psychic structure rather than as aberrant behavior, the contributors provide an alternative to models of social interpretation based on classical Oedipal models of maturation and desire. At the same time, they critique claims that the perverse is necessarily subversive or liberating. In their lucid introduction, the editors explain that while fixation at the stage of the perverse can result in considerable suffering for the individual and others, perversion motivates social relations by providing pleasure and fulfilling the psychological need to put something in the place of the Father. The contributors draw on a variety of psychoanalytic perspectives—Freudian and Lacanian—as well as anthropology, history, literature, and film. From Slavoj Žižek's meditation on “the politics of masochism” in David Fincher's movie Fight Club through readings of works including William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner, Don DeLillo’s White Noise, and William Burroughs's Cities of the Red Night, the essays collected here illuminate perversion's necessary role in social relations.

Contributors. Michael P. Bibler, Dennis A. Foster, Bruce Fink, Octave Mannoni, E. L. McCallum, James Penney, Molly Anne Rothenberg, Nina Schwartz, Slavoj Žižek

Although much has been written on autobiography, the same cannot be said of autothanatography, the writing of one's death. This study starts from the deconstructive premise that autobiography is aporetic, not or not only a matter of a subject strategizing with language to produce an exemplary identity but a matter also of its responding to an exorbitant call to write its death. The I-dominated representations of particular others and of the privileged other to whom a work is addressed, must therefore be set against an alterity plaguing the I from within or shadowing it from without. This alterity makes itself known in writing as the potential of the text to carry messages that remain secret to the confessing subject.

Anticipation of the potential for the confessional text to say what Augustine calls "the secret I do not know," the secret of death, engages the autothanatographical subject in a dynamic, inventive, and open-ended process of identification. The subject presented in these texts is not one that has already evolved an interior life that it seeks to reveal to others, but one that speaks to us as still in process. Through its exorbitant response, it gives intimations of an interiority and an ethical existence to come.

Baudelaire emerges as a central figure for this understanding of autobiography as autothanatography through his critique of the narcissism of a certain Rousseau, his translation of De Quincey's confessions, with their vertiginously ungrounded subject-in-construction, his artistic practice of self-conscious, thorough-going doubleness, and his service to Wilde as model for an aporetic secrecy.

The author discusses the interruption of narrative that must be central to the writing of one's death and addresses the I's dealings with the aporias of such structuring principles as secrecy, Levinasian hospitality, or interiorization as translation. The book makes a strong intervention in the debate over one of the most-read genres of our time.

In Žižek's long-awaited magnum opus, he theorizes the "parallax gap" in the ontological, the scientific, and the political—and rehabilitates dialectical materialism.

The Parallax View is Slavoj Žižek's most substantial theoretical work to appear in many years; Žižek himself describes it as his magnum opus. Parallax can be defined as the apparent displacement of an object, caused by a change in observational position. Žižek is interested in the "parallax gap" separating two points between which no synthesis or mediation is possible, linked by an "impossible short circuit" of levels that can never meet. From this consideration of parallax, Žižek begins a rehabilitation of dialectical materialism.

Modes of parallax can be seen in different domains of today's theory, from the wave-particle duality in quantum physics to the parallax of the unconscious in Freudian psychoanalysis between interpretations of the formation of the unconscious and theories of drives. In The Parallax View, Žižek, with his usual astonishing erudition, focuses on three main modes of parallax: the ontological difference, the ultimate parallax that conditions our very access to reality; the scientific parallax, the irreducible gap between the phenomenal experience of reality and its scientific explanation, which reaches its apogee in today's brain sciences (according to which "nobody is home" in the skull, just stacks of brain meat—a condition Žižek calls "the unbearable lightness of being no one"); and the political parallax, the social antagonism that allows for no common ground. Between his discussions of these three modes, Žižek offers interludes that deal with more specific topics—including an ethical act in a novel by Henry James and anti-anti-Semitism.

The Parallax View not only expands Žižek's Lacanian-Hegelian approach to new domains (notably cognitive brain sciences) but also provides the systematic exposition of the conceptual framework that underlies his entire work. Philosophical and theological analysis, detailed readings of literature, cinema, and music coexist with lively anecdotes and obscene jokes.

In the space of barely more than five years, with the publication of four pathbreaking books, Slavoj Žižek has earned the reputation of being one of the most arresting, insightful, and scandalous thinkers in recent memory. Perhaps more than any other single author, his writings have constituted the most compelling evidence available for recognizing Jacques Lacan as the preemient philosopher of our time.

In Tarrying with the Negative, Žižek challenges the contemporary critique of ideology, and in doing so opens the way for a new understanding of social conflict, particularly the recent outbursts of nationalism and ethnic struggle. Are we, Žižek asks, confined to a postmodern universe in which truth is reduced to the contingent effect of various discursive practices and where our subjectivity is dispersed through a multitude of ideological positions? No is his answer, and the way out is a return to philosophy. This revisit to German Idealism allows Žižek to recast the critique of ideology as a tool for disclosing the dynamic of our society, a crucial aspect of which is the debate over nationalism, particularly as it has developed in the Balkans—Žižek's home. He brings the debate over nationalism into the sphere of contemporary cultural politics, breaking the impasse centered on nationalisms simultaneously fascistic and anticolonial aspirations. Provocatively, Žižek argues that what drives nationalistic and ethnic antagonism is a collectively driven refusal of our own enjoyment.

Using examples from popular culture and high theory to illuminate each other—opera, film noir, capitalist universalism, religious and ethnic fundamentalism—this work testifies to the fact that, far more radically than the postmodern sophists, Kant and Hegel are our contemporaries.
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