Wars of Position: The Cultural Politics of Left and Right by Timothy Brennan

By Timothy Brennan

Taking inventory of latest social, cultural, and political currents, Timothy Brennan explores key turning issues within the fresh historical past of yankee highbrow lifestyles. He contends yes social-democratic imaginative and prescient of politics has been banished from public dialogue, resulting in an not going convergence of the political correct and the educational left and a deadening of serious competition. Brennan demanding situations the traditional view that affiliations in accordance with political trust, claims upon the nation, or the general public curiosity were rendered out of date via the march of occasions within the years prior to and after Reagan. as an alternative, he lays out a brand new direction for a destiny infused with a feeling of highbrow and political possibility.

In highlighting the shift in America's highbrow tradition, Brennan makes the case for seeing belief as an identification. up to race or ethnicity, political trust, Brennan argues, is itself an identity-one that continues to be unrecognized and with no felony protections whereas owning its personal specific tradition. Brennan additionally champions the belief of cosmopolitanism and opinions these theorists who relegate the left to the prestige of postcolonial "other."

Wars of Position records how substitute perspectives have been chased from the general public degree via strategic acts of censorship, together with inside of supposedly dissident wings of the arts. He explores how the arts entered the cultural and political mainstream and settled into a clumsy secular faith of the "middle way." In a chain of interrelated chapters, Brennan considers narratives of the autumn of the Berlin Wall and the Clinton impeachment; reexamines Salman Rushdie's pre-fatwa writing to light up its radical social leanings; offers a startling new interpretation of Edward acknowledged; seems on the deadly reception of Antonio Gramsci inside of postcolonial background and feedback; and provides a stinging critique of Hardt and Negri's Empire and the effect of Italian radicalism on modern cultural conception. in the course of the paintings, Brennan additionally attracts on and evaluations the guidelines and effect of Heidegger, Lyotard, Kristeva, and different influential theorists.

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On the one side, a celebrated micropolitics has blended, at times indistinguishably, with suburban self-help and go-it-alone schemes. On the other, an apocalyptic rhetoric of the new millennium has given us the likes of Paul Virilio and Gianni Vattimo, or self-styled “communists” like Negri and Guattari, whose politics more closely resemble the theater of anarchism than liberalism in its conventional guise. I position both sides within the politics of the middle way because they are underground, millenarian, and cloaked in the language of an all that can never be realized.

I use it here, at any rate, with intentional irony to refer to that nervous overcompensation by well-intended administrators who still actually believe in what they pretend not to: namely, the radical and essential differences among people on the grounds of race, gender, and ethnicity. In this liberal sentiment there circulates an amalgam of similarly harmful but widespread assumptions by the very people at the cutting edge, supposedly, of curricular reform, affirmative action, and postcolonial sympathy.

The very belief culture consigned to history’s cobwebs has reappeared again and again in traduced forms, seen graphically in the reemergence over the last decade of Marxists like Walter Benjamin, Adorno, Ernst Bloch, C. L. R. James, Gramsci, and Lefebvre, as “poststructuralists” avant la lettre. The left Hegelian tradition is constantly present as a resource in whatever turns are invoked by theory to greet the shifting of events. There it always seems to stand—muted, disguised, unwanted, unavoidable—in whatever statement of the new presents itself.

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