If regret and hypocrisy come to indicate the affective registration of think-
ing itself — as I have suggested that they ought to, at least insofar as one
relates to the other — then what’s left for politics?
The question appears reasonable, since we so often assume that politics
depends, at the very least, on the rhetorical force of conviction, in which
case we know what we say or think and why we do what we do. Regret,
conceived as it is here, might strike us as small change in the work of
real politics, especially since we are accustomed to thinking of regret
strictly in terms of failure, and then as a near synonym for nostalgia,
at least when nostalgia is understood in its more colloquial expressions
as a tenacious longing for something that has passed to the extent
that we fail to properly appreciate what is before us.1 I hope that I have
indicated no such thing myself. The answer to the question, if there is
just one question, might simply be: I don’t know. But in saying so, I am not
suggesting that we do nothing or expect nothing better. I simply suggest
that we cease making appeals to the possible, which is nothing more than
a false ground of knowledge, the proven path of what cannot, in any case,
be given as proof. It may be that proof is only ever, in phenomenological
terms, given, as the second chapter should indicate. In this sense, I am
in sympathy with Jean-­ L uc Nancy’s response to Lenin’s question — what
is to be done? — especially as it continues, in a nearly unabated fashion,
to haunt political theorists, and precisely as an invocation of the possible.
The question, in Nancy’s formulation, promises something that it can
never deliver: a guarantee. Writing a year after a series of general strikes
Previous Page Next Page