A song for today


What I’m talking about is recovering a certain openness that I actually associate with the foundations of radicalism or leftism. This openness often collapses soon after the left or a radical justice project attaches itself to a certain vision, to a certain end or to a certain practice. What we might need to give now, or what we might need to inhabit now, is that founding openness to possibility, to seeing the world differently, to seeing power differently, to seeing the future differently. This involves a brave and humble intellectual and political openness. It also means refusing the dichotomy between the local and the global, the national and the transnational, the intellectual and the practical… I actually think that it’s the only way through or out of the melancholy that has to do with the lost objects and attachments of the left and the despair for the possibility of change. I think that the only way out of that kind of melancholy and that kind of despair is not by darting towards yet another answer but by opening up to a different reading of the present, a different reading of our attachments and possibilities.

Here is where Foucault’s notion of genealogy is so important. It is a way of refiguring the present through a past, telling the present’s story differently. This democratic future that we’re after is actually a future that we will only be able to make by opening the present differently. I think that many of us experience the present as terribly closed—not just closed because certain options have been foreclosed, but also closed because of certain stoppages in progressive history. I think the opening that we have to cultivate is a kind of affective and intellectual opening to political possibility that would help us read the present differently.


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