Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Revolution That Already Is

'It is impossible to predict the time and progress of revolution. It is governed by its own more or less mysterious laws.' (V. I. Lenin)

A friend of mine sent me the link to a paper written by Irving Goh, a doctoral candidate at the European Graduate School. (Damn damn damn, I wished I'd known about this PhD program prior to starting mine!) The premise is that philosophy's task is to rip holes in ruling hegemonies (and, thus, too State-sponsored ideologies) -- and that, as such, philosophy (as represented by, amongst others, Deleuze and Guattari, Baudrillard, and Derrida) should be in danger of being repressed as dangerous. There's a lot to recommend here. However, I am increasingly doubtful of philosophy's revolutionary task. The revolution, so to speak, will always be televised -- just ask Che Guevara.

I'm certainly not opposed to the notion of 'heterogeneities' (can we speak of a plurality as a 'notion'?), but there does seem a problem when we start associating it with a 'not-yet' principle -- something that always remains on the horizon, and thus something to which we can only strive. The idea here is that revolution, because it will inevitably be appropriated into some kind of hegemonic market or system or State (either because of its 'structure', a la Derrida; or because of technological advances, a la Baudrillard), should be supplanted by a more disembodied idea that keeps us suspicious of these markets, systems and States. Such is the possibility of a revolutionary revolution -- Revolution In-Itself. It's not that this is simply academic, Leftist posturing, though it sometimes is. The more significant deficiency in this thinking is that it misses the far more 'difficult', contrarian thought that revolutionary difference / the possibility of new horizons and heterogeneities of thought is itself the result of the State's desire for hegemony -- i.e., that the revolutionary is not some external possibility, but rather the inherent element that the State cannot accommodate and, thus, disavows. What if, in other words, the revolution has always already been televised, and the revolutionists are not prophetic visionaries of what could be, but simply those who happened to be paying attention to what already is?