Theory and Practice: Political Philosophy, Radical Politics and Social Resistance

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 The Heyman Center, First Floor Board Room

Postdoctoral Working Collective
Theory and Practice: Political Philosophy, Radical Politics and Social Resistance
Fall 2012

Theory and Practice explores critical debates in the history of the interaction between political philosophy and grassroots militancy.  Our discussions address:

  1. The reciprocal influence of philosophers and radical social movements on the development of collective struggles for political emancipation and social empowerment.
  2. The evolution of the ideas of justice, individual rights, and revolution according to historical context and intellectual debates on militant strategy, the limits of collective representation and the contradictions of revolutionary leadership.
  3. The reception of revolutionary movements in comparative perspective, exploring the challenges of writing the history of radical politics with a critical outlook on the politics of memory.
  4. The debate over means and strategies of struggle and the alternatives offered by non-violent militancy.
  5. The prospects of social protest in an age of ongoing economic crisis and political discontent.


Fall Schedule and Reading Program

Sept. 12 Introduction

Sept. 26 Individual Liberties and Political Militancy
Hannah Arendt, “On Freedom”, “The Revolutionary Tradition and its Lost Heritage”
Cornelius Castoriadis, “Recommencing the Revolution” (1963)
Claude Lefort, “The Contradiction of Trotsky” (1948-1949)

Oct. 10 American Radicalism
Walt Whitman, Democratic Vistas (1871)
Georges Sorel, On Violence (1908)
John Dewey, History of Liberalism (1933-1934)

Oct. 17 Savage Enlightenment and True Democracy
Pierre Clastres, "Freedom, Misfortune, the Unnameable", "The Return to Enlightenment", Archeology of Violence (1977)
Miguel Abensour, "True Democracy and Modernity", "Savage Democracy" and "The Principle of Anarchy" from Democracy against the State.  Marx and the Machiavellian Moment (2004)
Étienne de la Boétie, Discourse on Voluntary Servitude (1548)
Optional: Miguel Abensour, "Le Contre-Hobbes de Pierre Clastres", L'esprit de lois sauvages (1987)

Oct. 24 Anti-Totalitarianism and the Reinvention of Democracy
Claude Lefort, The Question of Democracy (1983)
Andrew Jainchill and Samuel Moyn, "French Democracy between Totalitarianism and Solidarity" (2004)
Pierre Rosanvallon, "Intellectual History and Democracy: An Interview with Pierre Rosanvallon" (2007)

Nov. 7 Special Session with Professor Andrew Arato (New School)
Andrew Arato, “Political Theology and Populism” (2012)
Claude Lefort, “The Permanence of the Theologico-Political?” (1981)
Carl Schmitt, “Political Theology” (1922)

Dec. 5 Special Session with Professor David Harvey (CUNY Graduate Center)
David Harvey, Rebel Cities (2012)


For further information contact Alhelí Alvarado-Díaz ([email protected]), organizer of Theory and Practice.

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