PBS 2: ‘Ultraleftism’

“There is no useless courage” – A. Badiou, Theory of the Subject

While I agree generally with the outlines given by Peter Camejo in his wonderful pamphlet on Liberalism, Ultraleftism, or Mass Action, I feel there is a risk of using ‘ultraleftism’ as an excuse to submit to the field of the ‘possible’. The argument being that ultraleftism alienates the progressive elements of the majority, and so separates us from the real movement forward (jeopardising our status as vanguard), as well as causing demoralisation in the group when the harsh reality hits home.

While this is all true, I would argue that ultraleftism must be risked (I don’t say made a principle of) in order to inspire strength of resolve, commitment and excitement in a revolutionary project. This risk may well be the only way to progress as a revolutionary group, and the best way to learn. (The other risk, the risk of liberalism may also well be necessary).

By risking ultraleftism I do not mean adventurism, sectarianism, or mere posturing, but instead the careful disregarding of objective conditions at points in order to test the possibility of a project (I think Badiou’s philosophy leads too far towards adventurism or posturing, to be honest). This simply means taking a wager (after serious analysis) and committing to it for a period of time – not letting objective conditions dissuade people from its continuation. This is eminently reasonable, since it is out of the question that we could know the objective conditions of a situation in their entirety, and thus do not know the borders of the field of the possible or the impossible.

This has to be carefully balanced by a culture of internal criticism and self-criticism.

The same applies for musical and other endeavours.


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