I have been meaning to go back and complete the two essays on politics, but I realize I am at an impasse. I have moments of seeming clarity and then I attempt to write them and it does not go so well. At those moments I retreat into other areas, usually some form of escapism of a relatively tawdry and undemanding nature. All I can do then is let the aspects of the impasse stew in my mind, and come at them sideways.
I have a problem dealing with the political as I always have a sense of being caught between the Scylla of politics and the Charybdis of anti-politics. I am in general agreement with the anti-political argument as put forward in differing aspects by Insipidities/Letters Journal, Robert Kurz (see especially the recently translated "Socialism of the Producers as Logical Impossibility"), and Jehu @RE: The People. And yet there is something to it that feels deeply inadequate, not in the sense that they miss the chance for some positive political practice, but a failure to engage with the tension between law and ethics best developed by Gillian Rose, Jacques Ranciere, and Gaspar M. Tamas (and I think well developed in this review by Marcus Pound of the book-length argument between Slavoj Zizek and John Milibank.)
I can't quite express what it is, but I think it is captured in a piece by Marcel Stoetzler on the anti-Semitic origins of sociology, but it is also contained in Marcuse's important essays in Negations: Essays in Critical Theory.) I will do more with this section, starting with pasting it in, and then we can move on from there.
"On Bataille and Caillois, see Falasca-Zamponi, ‘A left sacred or a sacred left?’; Dan Stone, ‘Georges Bataille and the interpretation of the Holocaust’, in Dan Stone (ed.), Theoretical Interpretations of the Holocaust (Amsterdam and Atlanta, GA: Rodopi 2001), 79 / 101; Michael Weingrad, ‘The College of Sociology and the Institute of Social Research’, New German Critique, vol. 84, 2001, 129 / 61; and Richard Wolin, The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 2004). Bataille and Caillois
also started out on their exploration of ‘the sacred’ as constitutive of politics as part of an effort to understand and fight fascism, but the solutions they came to recommend were so vehemently and undialectically opposed to ‘utilitarianism’ and democracy that they ended up in the vicinity of the left wing of fascism (at least temporarily and without ever thereafter having been able to take account of the problem satisfactorily). The fact that radical but undialectical rejections of democracy and ‘utilitarianism’ remain the principal inroad for fascism into left-wing anti-hegemonic movements is what lends urgency and contemporary relevance to the otherwise ‘academic’ discussion of whether it was wise for Durkheim and his students to join in the reactionaries’ polemics against ‘Spencer and the economists’. What is at stake here is the old question of whether ‘the left’ can afford even the slightest ambiguity in its stance towards ‘the right’ while struggling against liberalism. I think it cannot."