6 Radical politics today I N T H E P R E V I O U S chapter, I explored a number of different approaches to the question of democracy. I suggested that democracy – if it is to be taken seriously today – must be thought beyond the political limits of the nation state, and beyond even the theoretical limits of sovereignty itself. As a form of politics which takes equaliberty as its horizon, democracy can no longer be confined to the state, a political category which, in the very name of democracy, crushes its aspirations and denies its radical potential. Perhaps
This is a book about how understandings and experiences of time shape people’s politics. Focusing on a key period of change in France between the late 1890s and 1914, Time and Radical Politics in France follows thinkers and activists as they grappled with questions about time. How should temporal categories be conceived as ideas? Was time speeding up? Did people have control over the future or were they subject to immutable historical laws? Could and should the past be recreated? Such questions came to the fore during the Dreyfus Affair, a scandal which challenged conceptions of the French nation and the heritage of the Revolution of 1789, prompting past, present, and future to be re-examined. Political right and left emerged from the upheaval more clearly distinguished from one another and, in the early twentieth century, both poles underwent their own evolutions. On the right, radical groups such as Action française emerged to protest against the Third Republic, while the left sought new ways of overthrowing the capitalist order, such as the general strike. Drawing on a range of primary source material—including letters, diaries, published articles, speeches, novels, and police reports—this book shows how the lens of time offers a unique perspective on nationalist, socialist, and syndicalist movements during this period. Time was contested terrain, a source of conflict or consensus between and within different groups which structured political thought and engagement. Ultimately, ideas about time shaped how pressing issues such as revolution, nationhood, and social change were understood.
This chapter examines how various visual perceptions of one garment, the smock frock, influenced nineteenth-century British politics. By the first half of the nineteenth century, the smock frock was a cheap utilitarian ready-made overall used by many working men including small-scale farmers and agricultural labourers. Farmers who worked ‘hands-on’, alongside their labourers, became associated with the character of the ‘smock frock farmer’, also personifying honesty and integrity. However, as growing urban populations put pressure on food production, many saw such farmers as inflexible, adhering to old systems, backward-looking, and against progress. These two conflicting interpretations of this sartorially based term are investigated, considering how they were used for political gain by both sides in many important political debates of the era. The chapter then discusses how the smock frock was taken up as a uniform for class confrontation alongside the fustian jacket, which was commonly associated with working-class radicals. As many rural labourers faced abject poverty and starvation during the mid-1840s, their daily dress, the smock frock, became used as a political symbol of their condition. How agricultural labourers expressed their political discontent using their appearance is investigated along with the implications this had into the late nineteenth century. Politically, the smock frock could thus embody both class conscious radicals and traditionalists opposed to progress. As this chapter illuminates, the dichotomy between the two stances makes the metaphor of the smock frock in political identities fluid and often contradictory.
How do we think about radical politics today, in the wake of the collapse of Marxist-Leninism and the triumph of neo-liberal capitalism? How should radical political theory respond to new challenges posed by globalisation, postmodernity, the ‘war on terror’ and the rise of religious fundamentalism? How are we to take account of the new social movements and political struggles appearing on the global horizon? In addressing these questions, this book explores the theme of universality and its place in radical political theory. It argues that both Marxist politics of class struggle and the postmodern politics of difference have reached their historical and political limits, and that what is needed is a new approach to universality, a new way of thinking about collective politics. By exploring various themes and ideas within poststructuralist and post-Marxist theory, the book develops a new approach to universality — one that has implications for politics today, particularly on questions of power, subjectivity, ethics and democracy. In so doing, it engages in debates with thinkers such as Laclau, Žižek, Badiou and Rancière over the future of radical politics. The book also applies theoretical insights to contemporary events such as the emergence of the anti-globalisation movement, the ‘war on terrorism’, the rise of anti-immigrant racism and the nihilistic violence that lurks at the margins of the political.
Anti-militarism is today an unquestioned mainstay of anarchism. This book presents a systematic analysis of anarchist responses to the First World War. It examines the interventionist debate between Peter Kropotkin and Errico Malatesta which split the anarchist movement in 1914. The controversy revolved around conflicting interpretations of the shared ideas of internationalism and anti-militarism. The book analyses the debates conducted in European and American movements about class, nationalism, pacifism and cultural resistance. Just as Kropotkin's position was coherent with his anarchist beliefs, it was also a product of his rejection of the main assumptions of the peace politics of his day. Malatesta's dispute with Kropotkin provides a focus for the anti-interventionist campaigns he fought internationally. Contributions discuss the justness of war, non-violence and pacifism, anti-colonialism, pro-feminist perspectives on war and the potency of myths about the war and revolution for the reframing of radical politics in the 1920s and beyond. The collaboration between the Swiss-based anarchists and the Indian nationalists suggests that Bertoni's group was not impervious to collaboration with groups whose ideological tenets may have been in tension with the ideology of anarchism. During the First World War, American anarchists emphasised the positive, constructive aspects of revolutionary violence by aestheticising it as an outgrowth of individual creativity. Divisions about the war and the experience of being caught on the wrong side of the Bolshevik Revolution encouraged anarchists to reaffirm their deeply-held rejection of vanguard socialism and develop new strategies on anti-war activities.
This book takes a fresh look at British radicalism in the first half of the nineteenth century from the perspective of the new and burgeoning field of the history of emotions. It represents a major challenge to the ways in which historians have studied political culture in modern Britain by showing how we must break away from teleological assumptions about the rise of the rational public sphere. Politics did not just revolve around ideas, power, organisation and practice but also feeling. This project raises questions fundamental to politics in every age: should the public sphere be a domain free from feeling, or at least one where restraint is exercised? What are the consequences for democratic polities where either affective restraint, or its opposite, excess, operates? Are there occasions when public displays of feeling are acceptable (or less acceptable), and, if so, when and why?
Introduction I F, AS MARX believed, the role of philosophy was not to interpret the world but to change it, then radical political philosophy is doubly charged with this task. Yet ever since the spectacular collapse of the Communist systems nearly two decades ago, and indeed for some time before, the radical political imaginary of the Left had been in a state of crisis. Even socialists today embrace capitalism and the global free market, and devote their energies to fighting ‘cultural wars’ against ever more minute forms of discrimination. The so-called Third
4 Ethics T H E P R E V I O U S chapter explored the question of subjectivity in radical politics, and it tried to formulate a new mode of political subjectification – understood in terms not of simple identification but, rather, a dis-identification from prevailing subject positions and social identities. We found also that this raised certain ethical questions, namely the extent to which this attempt to escape subjectifying power and explore new forms of subjectivity suggests at the same time a new conception of ethical action. Foucault, for instance, saw the
ever more firmly – or worse, to a conservative mania that seeks to resurrect some sort of imagined pre-modern ‘lifeword’ with all its attendant obscurantisms and authoritarianism. Moreover, while postmodernity can create the conditions for a sustained critique of existing power relations and ideologies, it can lead to the production of new and equally pernicious forms of domination. A ‘postmodern’ radical politics must diagnose and confront these new modalities of power. Indeed, the question of power has always been central to radical politics, which has sought an
continued to radicalise religion and in so doing produced a democratic hymnody, one that was infused with the rugged independence typical of the proud working-class tradition of self-help. Hymns then became part of radical political discourse and the fight for democratic reform. This chapter looks both at how Chartist hymnbooks operated as a kind of ideological manifesto and at how hymns worked in action. It will then