A Collection of Essays
Political Romanticism 245
Political Romanticism Martin Crowley Even now, now, very now Le hiatus théorique est absolu; la coupure, de fait, décisive. Entre le monde libéral-capitaliste, notre monde, et le présent de l’exigence communiste (présent sans présence), il n’y a que le trait d’union d’un désastre, d’un changement d’astre. — Maurice Blanchot, ‘Le Communisme sans héritage’1 When might the revolution arrive? I want to make a start by asking this question in this way, to avoid two risks. First, the risk of the future tense (‘when will the revolution happen?’), with its appeal to an eschatological historiography and the attendant, murderous economy of ends and means. Secondly, the risk of the past tense (‘when did the revolution happen?’): namely, the complacency of our contemporary common sense, which consigns revolutions to a dark, bloody age from which we would now have emerged, thankfully, into the light of the eternal, post-ideological present – and which thereby aligns itself smilingly with the ideological distractions masking this moment’s ongoing, bloody exploitation.2 Guarding against these risks, if possible, I want to ask whether we can – following Blanchot – think of the time of something like revolutionary activity (which we might also call revolt or refusal) as escaping these two alternatives: that is to say, as neither the time of Romantic messianism, nor a gap, a messianic interruption or turning-point which would, happily, have always already receded. I want to suggest that, 1 In EP, 113–15 (p. 115). 2 On this,...
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