Sinful Dialectic

“…the negative itself, we may say, has reduced all these individuals, not to their most elementary essence as commodity and labor power (as Lukacs argued in History and Class Consciousness), but precisely to their elemental power as negation and revolutionary refusal, as agency, as a form of revolt in which they are all equal and from which new post-revolutionary forms can be expected to change.” – Jameson, “The Three Voices of the Dialectic”

“The dialectic does not express the nature of mathematics; it applies to the agent and not to the object of scientific activity.[…]It is not a question of setting aside dialectical thought; one must instead try to know the limit beyond which its application in this direction is fruitful.” – Bataille, Visions of Excess

With every step the synthesis looks back at the originary thesis, seeing the shadow of the antithesis. A shadow cast by what? Every division of negation moves not foreward, but around, casting new shadows upon itself in its own gaze. The present spies the negation that came before, and all that came before that.  Every link looks back on those links that look back, forming a new thread of remembrance that weaves through the chinks of the chain.

“Who holds the devil, let him hold him well,
He hardly will be caught a second time.”   – Goethe, Faust

The Devil and the Angel are Janus-faced, captured in each-other’s struggles. Blown forward by the wind, flattened up against the barrier of the present. While one looks towards the past, longing to redeem and mend the tragedies that have occurred there, the other tears away what stands in its way presently.

With every establishment, and every blow that knocks it down, there is drawn out an excess of history – the process of time within (and escaping) our own perception.

We cannot let our remembrance allow the Devil, the spirit of negation and action, to escape our grasp. Else we let its task remain the march of progress. Our very challenge is to capture the Devil again, to turn the power of this force not into progress, but into interruption: to “jump backwards in order to jump forewards,” to move ourselves off-track the current order of things.

“Even conduct involving the exercise of a right can nevertheless, under certain circumstances, be described as violent.” – Benjamin, “Critique of Violence”

Remembrance must provoke action. Moreso, it must provoke action for all the oppressed and all the exploited. It is therefore part of the task of remembrance to acknowledge that pure victimization is only present in the experience of suffering itself. So as the conquistadors form an empire does another empire – one still built upon enslavement and suffering – fall. As Jerusalem is established in remembrance and reparation, so it becomes a mechanism for destruction. Slavery is replaced by an industrial imprisonment apparatus. Barbarity replaces barbarity. This is what must be done away with.

Should sin be a departure from virtue, then surely the leap forward would be a sin. But a sin that remembers, and strives towards redemption of that which it overcame through its sinfulness. This is the pivotal energy of shame and will. Nostalgia and mourning. Always the one must act upon the other, providing the spark with which to act against our present.

The “infinite project” once proposed by the Social Democrats is impossible in the finite time of our present condition: progress striding towards unmitigated disaster. The project of revolutionary change is only possible in the here and the now so that a new period of history may open up into infinity.

Revolution is at once the cultivation of the unexpected and the end of blind faith.

We do not fight for the consolidation of all into one, but for the return of opportunity through the unique. This takes the form of class struggle.

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