notes
Prologue
1. Modes of argumentation need to change, too. The Left has a long his-
tory of turning to modes of argument whose importance is asserted through
the classic idealist ruse of explaining away anything that might complicate its
judgments—that is, “The fountainhead will produce whatever we may need”
(Stengers 2011b, 379).
chApter ONe
The Grounds of Politics
1. In the past, the Left has too often taken emancipation to mean a world
free of constraints. In fact, emancipation has nearly always produced new con-
straints, which are a part of the political equation.
2. The so- called aestheticization of the political is often taken to be the most
problematic and contentious contribution of continental philosophy. What
does it mean? How exactly does it operate? And how might it become the basis
of a practical politics? Too often it is seen as a defeatist strategy. We aim to show
that it is not. Most particularly, the general political stance that arises from the
aestheticization of the political is an attack on passivity and the political agenda
that arises from that agenda, including how ignoble feelings such as envy and
paranoia damp down political engagement, how non- cathartic feelings can
be just as important as the cathartic releases that so often seem to have been
valued in the Western demos, and how resigned or pessimistic understandings
act as their own results, as well as the general construction of a poetics of sym-
pathy that is not the usual sentimental genre.
3. We are not, in other words, advocating active passivity or passive activity,
as seems to have become popular among some intellectuals, such as Žižek.
4. So, for example, in a mediatized age like ours, the Left has to intervene
imaginatively in the politics of public culture. This means not only recognizing
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