• Cult-D. Radical Theory (*Advanced!)

    (Nikolay Karkov, SUNY Cortland)

    This seminar is advanced. Some background in philosophy is required.

    One hundred years after the arguably biggest political event of the past century, the Revolution of 1917, and in light of its subsequent failure, the contemporary left continues to seek ways for imagining a radically different world. With orthodox forms of Marxism-Leninism in disrepute, the institutional and symbolic infrastructures of the socialist world nearly extinct, and recent political developments projecting a bleak immediate future, radical theory on the left seems to be facing a major crisis of (intellectual and political) confidence. Nonetheless, radical intellectuals and social movements have not ceased looking for alternatives to both the counter-Revolution on the right and the pitfalls of twentieth-century socialism.

    In this course, we will explore some of the debates on the contemporary left, as they seek to envision/foreground/resurrect radical possibilities in the present while often drawing on the lessons of the past. Taking up such radical imaginings from mostly the theoretical fields of anarchism (and its cognates), contemporary neo- and post-Marxism, and radical theory from the global South, we will perform close readings of selections form the work of James Scott, Joshua Clover, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, Jodi Dean, Maria Mies, Silvia Federici, and Julieta Paredes. Concepts/practices to be explored might include infrapolitics, the riot/strike couplet, accelerationism and the communist horizon, the idea of the commons, community, and the debt economy, and communitarian feminism, among others.

    The format of the course will be seminar, with student discussion. Students will be responsible for a mid-term reflection paper and a collective final presentation including a written component.

    Tentative schedule of classes:

    Scott, “The Uses of Disorder and “Charisma”,” Two Cheers for Anarchism.
    Clover, “Introduction: A Theory of Riot,” Riot. Strike. Riot. The New Era of Uprisings.
    Srnicek and Williams, selections from Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work.
    Dean, “Our Soviets” and “Occupation and the Party,” The Communist Horizon.
    Mies, “No Commons without Community,” Community Development Journal Vol 49 No S1 (2014).
    Federici, “From Commoning to Debt: Financialization, Micro-Credit, and the Changing Architecture of Capital Accumulation.”
    Paredes, “Spinning Fine Thread: Perspectives from Communitarian Feminism” (translation draft).