Thinkers series brings together some of the best of the last century’s
thinkers in a handy, heady package, aiming to popularise radical thought
for a wider contemporary audience. The reviews below are of books
in the current, second series, which is soon to be followed by a third.
the work of leading lights such as Adorno, Eagleton and Zizek, this
second cycle is an excellent resource for anyone who wants a thorough
overview of the thinking that has shaped our times, or sought to:
the focus is very much on on left-leaning theorists. In fact, the
series raises the question of what makes a radical thinker, of what
makes for interesting and innovative theory.
Wars’ coverage of these books was born of a desire to engage
with – and criticise – the often difficult and technical
work of important and influential leftist writers. Rather than a hot-headed
approach, we’ve been concerned with reflecting on the issues
raised, putting these thinkers and theories in context and drawing
out how they better illuminate the current cultural and political
climate, in a bid to ‘pull up the roots’ of the big issues.
Radical Thinkers package is available in a printer-friendly
commissioning editor, books
is a radical thinker?
How should thinkers balance intellectual integrity
with the need to be understood; how should radicalism express itself
in order to be received positively; and if the ultimate aim is doing
something, how can theories become manifestos?
is a radical reader?
Rather than addressing a movement, radical thinkers
since the 1990s have addressed other thinkers who are disoriented
by the demise of the left. If ‘being radical’ had once
been shorthand for being on the left, this meaning was now all but
redundant, and the term was up for grabs. It still is.
Descartes: Reason, Ideology and the Bourgeois Project
by Antonio Negri
points to how Descartes' dualism retains an implicit awareness of
the hegemony of the bourgeois form of social existence, and how this
can be translated into an imposition on the state’s mode of
producing and existing. The seeds of the revolution are sown.
Marxism: Adorno or the persistence of the dialectic
by Fredric Jameson
problem with using Adorno to reveal the alienating praxes at work
within capitalist social relations, is that it’s not really
capitalism that’s the problem for Adorno. The ‘reification’
discerned under capitalism is ultimately absorbed back into what Adorno
perceives as a far longer history of reification per se.
and History: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Marx
by Louis Althusser
one subscribes to the now-deceased Althusser’s now-deceased
project or not, his attempt to identify what makes a thinker radical
deserves serious consideration; and the book is indeed ultimately
worthy of inclusion in this Verso series.
by Ernesto Laclau
real disappointment for this reader is not the rarefied language,
but the fact that Laclau rejects the possibility of formulating the
Enlightenment notion of a totalising universal identity, and with
it washes down the drain any project of uniting the world under a
single banner of rationality.
of Modernism: Against the New Conformists
by Raymond Williams
critique of cultural pessimism remains relevant given the still current
trend to disavow the future and its alternative potential, and to
categorise new technologies alternately as both determinants of social
change and threats to established artistic, now 'classicalised', forms.
Hugh Ortega Breton
by Jean Baudrillard
is always tempting to imagine Jean Baudrillard preparing to write
a book by sharpening an axe, swinging it into his computer monitor,
then gluing the shattered pieces to a celluloid film reel, projecting
it to a crowded room full of admirers and absolutely forbidding them
to take it seriously.
the Shores of Politics
by Jacques Rancière
Rancière's aim is to criticise the post-political consensus
that has replaced yesterday's battles. Some genuinely winning and
original insights come through, but beneath the arch-theorising, Rancière's
vision of politics amounts to little more than a tired fantasy of
by Paul Virilio
is no consistent argument in any article, let alone any broader theme
developed across the collection as a whole. Instead, it is a jumble
of categories and neologisms ('globalitarian') with no analytical
heft, mixed in with portentous quasi-mystical rambling about technology.
for the Study of Radicalism (JSR)
Institute searchable online catalogue