Jacques Rancière

In my last year of my Masters degree we were required to read Rancière. He undermined the possibility of understanding art when he said of revolution, (rather I should say Rancière having given up all hope of revolution)  that  Marxists think  a revolution or (equality) is always just over the horizon. In this he has obviously accommodated capitalism, and holds no hope for change. This is an endorsement of a system which destroys the environment and kills the human spirit daily with its ever-searching quest for profit.

Rosa Luxemburg, a real honourable Marxist, brought to the fore the question of ‘agency’, that the future is made by the actions of men and women today…many outcomes are possible, another world is possible, but another world also could be drowned in blood. Taking control of the systems that keep the majority silenced, powerless and without control is the most important scientific question of our age, a socialist question, unanswered. Lenin’s  suggestion and work towards organising the most conscious of workers and workers supports into an organisation for change ideas and theory, still stands as the most important issue for our day. Failed revolutions lead to rivers of blood, (Egypt) and the Groszs and Ranciers, in my opinion, turn our eyes away. Revolution is cultural, ideological, physical and mental. It means taking over systems and throwing out, by force if necessary, that  tiny minority, those 80 people who have more wealth than the poorest 3.4 billion, and smashing the systems and people that keep them in power and on their gravy trains.  On the side of coal mining, oil pollution, global warming, poverty is the present governments and the oppositions an a drunken dance of  obscuration.  But capitalism is insane, a mad system that puts profit before the majority of people and human/animal/planet need.

Given that we do not live in a system of fair distribution, and the excess of the few is hidden  ideologically, by the university theorists who serve the minority who fund the system and its cruelty, then funds for art, welfare, hospitals and education, gone. There is much money for war and even torturing refugees….Yes, there may be little class struggle, and unions have a low membership rate, not surprising given the cosy partnership between union bureaucrats and bosses,  but as the South African history writer Charles Von Onselen once put it, when class struggle is suppressed before it bursts out again, it is seen in the nooks and crannies of everyday working life. 1

Nor is Rancière’s  right wing argument new. Ever since Neoliberalism and capitalism loves to wave  ‘farewell to the working class’ only to see it arise again.  Marx’s understanding that a class is either ‘for’ itself or ‘in’ itself is handy here. A class “in”itself  exists without any consciosness of itself. It is a compliant defeated class de-unionised, quiet, obedient, the way the ruling class wants it. (That is why torture , prisons and the rule-of-law are so important for them to try to eep this state going) And so are the neoliberal Ranciers who posit the idea of a universal obedient class. A class that begins to learn its strength, begins to dance its way to strength, culturally, poetically artistically and intellectually, it sees itself as connected united and strong, across gender, race, culture and any other divide the rulers so love to exacerbate. It becomes a class for itself. The short lived days of class awakening in South Africa, after ’76 breathed oxygen into my veins. I was thirsty for knowledge and the ideas from the Russian revolution 100years ago still come to us today through the books writing and living revolutionaries.

Solidarity, is the war cry of the working class. To each according to their need from each according to their ability. Support is always given willingly to other struggles locally and globally, fly a picket, and borders are nothing but lines drawn in the sand.  A class “for” itself is a revolutionary class. I would like to do PhD looking at how art flourishes in times of revolutionary confidence.

A socialist revolution began,  it was destroyed by Stalin and the defeats in Germany and elsewhere, and we are coming closer and closer to the ticking clock of climate destruction, and it is necessary, imperative that we have a full blooded, wholesome, revitalising life giving planet saving revolution now.

  1. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=acls;idno=heb02679

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