recomposition of a communist politics

Institute for Conjunctural Research

“The narcissism of renegades?The spectres of recuperation, repetition and imitation have always haunted the various ideologies of resistance, at least those not all too happy to celebrate the joys of ambivalence and the hybrid, those for which resistance is not just the name of a minimal inflection – a torsion, a distance, perhaps even a perversion – in the densely articulated space of hierarchies, partitions and dominations. In order to make a contribution to specifying what resistance may mean today, whether the term is even applicable or operative, what its minimal lineaments may be, I would like to turn to a relatively minor, if, as I hope to argue, symptomatic, episode in the vicissitudes of this concept: the intellectual trajectory that led some figures emerging from the current of French Maoism, first, to formulate an ideology of pure revolt, or absolute resistance, countering the complicities of Marxist-Leninist revolutionary politics vis-à-vis the perennial mechanisms of power and oppression; second, to revise the latter theory of ‘angelic’ or non-dialectical revolt into a tragic theory of morality, separating the resistance exemplified by moral protest and the defence of human rights from any notion of revolt, now considered ‘barbaric’ – thus adopting, despite all protestations to the contrary, the key thesis of the nouvelle philosophie, as instigated and ‘produced’ by Bernard-Henri Lévy, to wit, that there is a bloody thread running straight from Das Kapital to the Gulags, and that it is philosophy’s collusion with mastery and the state that lies behind the ‘totalitarian’ disasters of the 20th century. The aforementioned trajectory is encapsulated in two works arising from the collaboration of Christian Jambet and Guy Lardreau, philosophers schooled at the École Normale at the time of the May events, and militants in the Gauche Prolétarienne, the most visible of the post-68 Maoist organisations, famously supported by Foucault and Sartre against the censorship of its newspaper, La cause du peuple. The GP disbanded in 1974 after its increasingly patent inefficacy on the shop-floor and its last-minute retreat from the option of armed struggle. It would be easy, and perhaps even useful, to reduce the two works in question, L’Ange and Le Monde, to mere effects of an exquisitely Parisian sequence, which led a few children of the elites, ‘the little princes of the University’, as Lacan sardonically noted, into a spectacular but ineffectual, and misinformed, embrace of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, through a period of inevitable disappointment, into an equally overblown and narcissistic exploitation of their personal failures for media effect, and, finally, to the collaboration with the increasingly hegemonic ideology of human rights and humanitarian interventions, still with us today ….”.