Although written for a US audience, ‘Periodizing the 80s’ seems just as applicable to the UK. Seriously, this chapter of A Leftist Ontology: Beyond Relativism and Identity Politics is well worth a read.

I don’t concur with the conclusion, which I feel sneaks out of the room in which the argument had been developing. Everything up until page 77, when the author moves on from implicating the tired ‘positive’ or ’emancipatory’ use of Foucauldian biopolitics to discussing Virno’s multitude, chimes clearly with critical insights the Left must adopt with respect to the recuperation (to use a Debordian term) of past victories by capital. The impulse towards nostalgic repetitions of our history must contend with historicity itself: we can’t repeat anything because we are always in a different sequence, we have to always start afresh from where we are. The conclusion that the author toys with, but ultimately fails to draw, is that today the project of emancipatory justice is not one of freeing ourselves from a regime in which repression takes the form of essentialist, institutionalised dogma but is perhaps more a project of constructing or developing a dogma of our own, against what has become a normative liberal-capitalist flow of pseudo-rebellious, adaptive, mutating simulacra of ‘liberation’.

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