The understanding of the possible

At the cry of Marxism – Studies in Western Marxism's self-criticism, expansion and settlement
Forfatter: Mikkel Bolt
Forlag: Antipyrine (Danmark)
MARX / Mikkel Bolt takes hold of the many uprisings of our time. He belongs to the theorists who would have liked to see the settlement of what we might call state and party Marxism.


The readers of Ny Tid know Mikkel Bolt as a reviewer and essayist in the newspaper. In addition to being a newly appointed professor of political aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen, Bolt is also the author of a number of books on art history and political theory. In the beginning, this was mostly based on the question of the avant-garde and the situationist upheaval before May 68, but he has also written about the works of art and culture under totalitarian conditions. The topic appeared in Bolt's inaugural lecture "Late Capitalist Fascism and the Aestheticization of the (White) Working Class" this autumn at the University of Copenhagen – a study of the reasons why the democratic nation-state today cultivates a racist image in, for example, Denmark.

The subject of fascism was also dealt with in Bolt's book Trump's counter-revolution (Nemos, 2017). Nothing is more relevant than the issue of building totalitarian mastery in an age when digital control seems to be without limits other than those masks and umbrellas can provide, as we see it during the ongoing and in every way crucial uprising in Hong Kong , the world's democratic gunpowder. The connection between ethical issues and subversive practices has included Bolt in several of his books on precisely that uprisings.

The question of the uprising

I At the shouting distance of Marxism this is especially about the situation of Marxism lately. The articles that make up the main corpus of the book have all been published before (some even in English), although they appear in several places in an edited version. They are framed by a preface and an afterword authored for the occasion Рwhere it is uprisings and the memory of the uprising that is on the way. A "scope logic" for the Marxism question is suggested by filmmaker Chris Marker's documentary footage from the Vietnam protests' storm against the Pentagon, La Sixi̬me face du Pentagone (Pentagon's Sixth Face / Facade) from 1967 and his finishing ten years later of these footage in the film Le fond de l'air est rouge (literally: "Basically the air is red"). This far exceeds the question of which states and philosophers have, over time, called themselves Marxist, and which states and philosophers have since allegedly broken or denounced that term.

Ramses. See

There is a difficult one promiscuity between the uprising and the state, since the uprising is so rarely a pure uprising initially, but very often a uprising against just a state and sometimes even manipulated by a part of the state or party. Such promiscuity was especially true for the long period of uprisings that went from the mid-60s with the so-called cultural revolution in China and the far more genuine May 68 uprising in France up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen uprising in Beijing – both in 1989.

In Denmark, Das Kapital was read against historical materialism.

Especially the Chinese part of the uprisings back then – uprisings which of course also included the aforementioned Pentagon storm in 1967, the Portuguese army carnival revolution in 1974, the uprising against the Shah in Iran in 1979, and not least the Eastern European uprisings against Soviet satellite states from the Baltic to the Black Sea in 80 The Ears – each in its own way helped to dissolve the impression of Marxism as a theory complex that could maintain its critical potential regardless of the circumstances. Yes, on the contrary: Maoism, Soviet Marxism, Castrism, Trotskyism, with their many depositors in the European parties, either for the Kremlin, for Beijing or (sometimes) for Titos Yugoslavia and this country's "alliance-free" allies, radically discredited the alleged criticism that should be contained in some of the assumptions of Marxism. First of all it historical materialism theory of the primacy of the class struggle as an explanation of the course of history and its theory of alienation as an explanation of the laborers' dependence on the forms of production and accumulation of capitalism.

Ontological Marxism

Mikkel Bolt is one of those theorists who would have liked to see the settlement of what we might call state and party Marxism.

In the early '70s, the luscious economy emerged at Deleuze / Guattari and at Lyotard, which was to replace the space that consciousness theories occupied in a particular Hegelian Marxism with G. Lukacs at the forefront. In Denmark, Das Kapital laest against historical materialism: Gustav Bunzel and Hans-Jørgen Schanz examined the logic of form (value, money, profit, salary and price). All this while writing the class struggle as nothing but the way in which capitalist society ensures the reproduction of labor.

For Bolt in The shouting distances texts written between 2012 and 2016 should have complemented the criticism of political economy (Marxism) and the operating economy (one of the postmodern core assumptions).

But for the undersigned, who is one who has experienced the whole process ever since Guard Red-the people would sell Maoism in front of the Parisians art cinemas in December 1966, I can only say that precisely state Marxism, be it Chinese anti-Russian or vice versa "Eurocommunist" (a little later), had totally shut down the approach to what Bolt would have liked to happen: the emergence of a kind of ontological Marxism that had been liberated from the bureaucratic forces that used Marxism.

The storm of the Pentagon in 1967 during the Portuguese army's revolution in 1974, the uprising
against the Shah of Iran in 1979, as well as the Eastern European uprisings against the Soviet satellite states
from the Baltic to the Black Sea in the 80s.

Back will be the questions as to why resurrection cannot get settled with the states yet, be they state capitalist or so-called private capitalist – get destructed or deposited as it is today. In addition, the entire strategic thinking about distribution and the elimination of money that Marx presented in The criticism of the Gotha program (1875), could gain a foothold in the ongoing uprisings.

Or will the uprisings simply break the states for a time, in the the riots have a money elimination and one proletarian distribution in place as perspective? As happened, for example, for the municipality of Barcelona in the winter of 1936-1937, for the uprising in Budapest in 1956 or for the Benghazi and Aleppo municipalities in 2012. We talk about short-lived and insufficient events, which nevertheless sat and now sit in the population understanding of the possible but which also needs articulation, that is, critical formulation. It is here that the second main assumption of postmodern thinking, the one about conflictual thinking, finds its full meaning: It is unfolded by Jean-François Lyotard in the philosophical main work of the 80's on the dispute or dispute: The different (1983
- see also Niels Brügger [ed.], Lyotard and the Controversy – Readings by Le différend, Battlefield, 1990).

The question of commitment

Bolt is, of course, one of the most important capacities in contemporary Marxism research: Few know as he does all the texts that have been published in English, French, German and Italian about Marx, and critical thinking with associated discussions. And it is by virtue of this overview that the anthology of On ropening distance will come together as a combination, paired with Bolt's openness to other forms of subversive thinking: A "remnant Marxist" like Fredric Jameson can be treated, for example, with a founder of feminist philosophy like Judith Butler or an Arendtian like Italian Giorgio Agamben.

It is about maintaining a theory of science with Marx's criticism of capitalism on the one hand and the existential-philosophical criticism on the other. The focal point therefore becomes the question engagement. To that end, Mikkel Bolt has in On ropen distance chosen by French playwright Jean Genet, whose company during the uprisings consisted of internationalist relations between, on the one hand The spring of May (the spirit of May 68) and, on the other, the vulnerable populations and their activist groups such as the Black Panthers in the United States and the Palestinians fedayeen in the Middle East. It happens in a very thorough and debatable chapter, which as a title has a whole line of thinking (it has titles often with Bolt): "Yes, of course, but ... Derrida, Genet, George Jackson, or: deconstruction, engagement and revolution". The reservation in the title reflects Derrida's doubts about outgoing, public statements, here in connection with George Jackson's incarceration ... and subsequent murders. This is a murder committed by the prison guards while Genet tried to organize an international campaign to support Jackson (see George Jackson, Soledad The Brothers, introduction by Jean Genet, Schønberg, 1971). And so the hesitant and doubtful are suddenly taken out of the strategy and put into the finishing and the aftermath – when it was too late ...

The testimony and the memory

Truls Lie has presented Chris Marker's work to the readers of Ny Tid. So they want to know that it is a good grip to discuss Marker's relationship with the testimony and the memory of the event as the introduction and conclusion of this book. Marker is arguably the most significant political artist after Bertolt Brecht. His films portray and document crucial events or stories in the modern world. Not least the big question about the subjective dimension of engagement, a dimension that always flares up like an inflammation – when it's too late.

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