Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Radical Political Theory

Another draft syllabus for Winter 2009:

POLI 364: Radical Political Thought
The Theory and Practice of Revolution

For the purposes of this course, radical political thought is understood to encompass the three revolutionary and leftist political tendencies of the 19th and 20th Centuries: Marxism, anti-colonialism, and radical feminism. Radical movements are revolutionary in that they seek to break with the liberal and capitalist political order rather than perfect that order. That is, these movements do not want a more inclusive or expansive liberal order, but desire the overturning of that order itself. They are leftist in that they do not seek to recover some pre-liberal, traditional order, but try to create something new: a post-modern politics for a post-modern society.

The particular itinerary of our investigation will follow radical movements as they have attempted to answer three questions: 1) What is revolution, and how is it to be accomplished? 2) What role does violence play in maintaining the present state of society, and what role will it play in the overthrow of that state? 3) What is ideology and how does it function? We will begin with Marx’s discussion of revolution in his mature political writings, then examine a) the revolutionary Marxist tradition, b) its assimilation and critique of Sorel’s theory of mythical violence, c) the anti-colonial appropriations of revolutionary Marxism, d) feminist and post-structuralist rearticulations of the revolutionary project, and e) the strategy of refusal articulated by the Italian Autonomia movement.

Reading Schedule:
January 6-8 Introduction
Marx, Capital, Chapter 6

January 13-15 Marx, Capital, Chapters 26, 31 & 32, and selections from the ‘Grundrisse

January 20-22 Marx, selections from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
and The Civil War in France

January 27-29 Lenin, selections from What Is To Be Done?

February 3-5 Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution

February 10-12 Sorel, selections from Reflections on Violence
Benjamin, “Critique of Violence”

February 17-19 Fanon, “Concerning Violence”

February 24-26 No Class

March 3-5 Mao, On Contradiction

March 10-12 Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”

March 17-19 Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”, Lectures One and Two

March 24-26 MacKinnon, “Desire and Power”

March 31-April 2 Haraway, “The Cyborg Manifesto”

April 7-9 Castellano, “Living With Guerilla Warfare”