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Nathan Coombs “Political Semantics of the Arab Revolts/Uprisings/Riots/Insurrections/Revolutions”

Coombs, Nathan 2011. Political Semantics of the Arab Revolts/Uprisings/Riots/Insurrections/Revolutions. Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies 4: 138-146.

But why exactly is the term ‘revolution’ so politically=charged in comparison to others such as ‘revolt’, ‘uprising’, ‘riot’ or ‘insurrection’? Let us propose that it is because of all the above terms, ‘revolution’ is the one that implies the deepest content. It does not simply  describe  mass  political  actions,  crowds  on  the  street,  or  governments  falling. Instead, it announces an affirmation of the systematic overhaul of existing socio=economic conditions,  within  which  the  popular  mobilisation  plays  an  essential  role  even  while  it remains  insufficient  to  represent  the  overhaul  itself […] (139)

Hence, our first Badiouian axiom regarding revolutions is that the complete social overhaul indicated by the word cannot be fully predicted: a revolution relies on the introduction of novelty that reconfigures the sense of what is possible. (140)

Revolutsioon tugineb uudsuse sissetoomisele, mis muudab võimalike tegevuste välja. Kas seda ei tee ka mäss/ülestõus? Või on siin mõeldud pigem seda, et revolutsiooni käigus organiseerub uudne tegevusväli (korra haaramine, ülevõtmine ennustamatu poolt), mille kuju ei ole võimalik ette ennustada. Ilmselt viimane.

Instead of presenting the idea of the event  as an abstraction, he conceives it as a subtraction, and likewise for the subjective process of affirming an event. The essential difference can be put as follows: the revolution conceived of by social science is one based on  the  accumulation  of  knowledge  of  the  phenomenon  filed  under  the  signifier ‘revolution’,  whereas  for  Badiou  the  event—in  an  ambiguous  mathematico=epistemological register—is the occurrence of the void: the empty set of inconsistency asserting itself as a momentary, vanishing, partitive excess over belonging (see Badiou, 2006, meditations 16=20, pp. 173=211). Or, dropping the quasi set=theoretic language, the difference is that Badiou’s event occurs and recedes as quickly as it happens, leaving only an  indelible  mark  on  those  subjects  given  the  choice  to  affirm  it  and  see  through  its consequences to the end.  It disrupts the regime of knowledge with an irreducible novelty. (140)

Sotsioloogiline revolutsioon: subjektitu ajalooline sündmus; filosoofiline: ainult subjekti toel toimuda saav protsess, mis hõlmab truudust sündmusele.

Let us first mark the most crucial difference: namely, that the term ‘event’ operates as an idea,  whereas  a  revolution,  on  the  other  hand,  consists  of  a  concrete  set  of  factual occurrences. (141)

In rendering the possibility for splits like these into formal language, we have to go beyond Badiou to make the distinction that a revolution has to be both a revolution (a term of itself, much the same as how Badiou constructs the matheme of the event), and also must contain at least one event thought separately from the revolution itself. (141-142)

[…] for a non=subject, a specific revolution Rx is solely the sum of what is known of revolutions past framing the contemporary evental site X. This expresses particularly well non=subjects’ inability to perceive anything more than contingent spatial and temporal variants  in  each  revolution,  and  also  the  social  science  methodology,  which  conceives revolution by cumulatively adding the features of each past revolution to just modify the definition,  controlling  it  within  the  encyclopaedic  regime  of  knowledge. (142)

Mitte-subjekt, ehk revolutsioonist väljaspool seisev pealtvaataja/ajaloolane/sotsioloog jne, kes loendab sündmusi kui fakte, teeb üldistusi, loob entsüklopeedilise revolutsiooni “keele”, mille põhjal saab hinnata/ennustada tulevaste sündmuste “revolutsioonilisust”. Ent subjekti jaoks, kes praktiseerib truudust, ei ole taolist keelt olemas, sellist hinnangukriteeriumit: subjekt on see, kes mõneski mõttes tegutseb pimeduses, tundmata iga järgneva teo tagajärgi.

For  the  non=subjective sociological understanding of revolution, there would probably be no problem in labelling events  in  the  Arab  world  as  revolution  as  long  as  they  match  an  adequate  number  of features present within the sociological knowledge. (144)

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