The following text is from my personal journal. Nights are, as ever, sleepless.
March 24th (early hours.) My love is showing her concern. Why shouldn’t she be? These were difficult times – now they are radical times. There is violence; tear gas, police batons, talk of mass arrests, riot police in our school buildings. And we are distant. She wants to believe that I can distance myself from my politics. From my philosophy. In a sense, I can. Hyperbole is a stratagem of argumentation. I can offer myself to an argument partly as a foil of the counter-position; all good arguments close by negotiation, and radical phraseology may be a pragmatic utility for grounds conceded in this process. But as a philosopher, what am I? What is my business in these streets? The causes for the movement affect us all. But the pure sanguinity, the singularity, the sweat and the sentiment of it all – I am reminded of my youth, spent largely thrashing around at punk rock shows. And yet I turn about and see the insurrectionary soup I’m in, and I see that some who chant these chants still feel that this is a punk rock show. “Pigs” are faceless walls of moshpit-ambivalent violence we thrash angrily against (and throw fists at, when the chorus booms). What agency puts me here? I offer myself as a foil – as a vessel for ideas. As a munitions depot for ideological counterculture. To declare one’s involvement as a philosopher is just to offer one’s self as a material reality of ideology – as the necessity of political reality; that is, as the emancipatory realpolitik at the end of the illusory Capitalo-parliamentary Right and social democratic (at best) “Left”. — I digress. The point is that I am here to share ideas: for many feel – but not all hear – them. Thus, offering myself as foil is a matter of integrity. The voice of the Left must always be radical when strong, as a precondition for meaningful social justice. Material conditions necessitate a manifestation of some transcendent reality (the French ‘maniféstation’ is infinitely superior here to the English “demonstration” or “protest,” as it suggests a becoming-real or materialization of ideology). Either I part ways with material reality, or I put the transcendental on a Procrustean Bed, like a plain bronze statue who wished to be Apollo. No. As a philosopher, as I place myself in the context of class struggle, so too do I become a manifestation, more or less transcendental. Why is this voice necessary? Marx and Engels argued against utopian socialism, and surely transcendentalism rings of such ideological poetics. Here is another material reality; to most, the idea of a “socialist revolution” (even when presented scientifically) sounds utterly inconceivable. All talk of revolution is thus utopian. This is especially true where the myth of neo-liberal economic stability kills even the spectacle of a real emancipatory Left, where workers fight for narrow social reforms and balk at Marx’s face on our papers. Announcing this idealistic revolutionary perspective in a way that legitimizes it is inherently poetic – we might call it utopoeiosis – speaking beyond structure. The illusive bureaucratic politicians call this poetry “sedition”. I offer myself as an idea materialized. Because the movement needs spectacle. Because the spectacle of opposition – though officially declared dead (thank Fukuyama) – can still inspire. Because we all feel poetry – we just can’t all hear it.