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The Destruction of Reason: An Unfinished Project

On Contemporary Irrationalism
8 June 2018, 5:30 pm

Guest: G. M. Tamás
In conversation with Alex Cistelecan

More than sixty years ago, in his controversial Destruction of Reason, Georg Lukács identified the intellectual origins of fascism in the philosophical tradition of German irrationalism and vitalism of post 1848. How would he formulate his diagnostic today, what exactly would entail an updating and continuation of his approach in our current context? Which are the philosophical mainsprings and conceptual groundings of today’s social and political regression? Which are the defining traits and particular versions of contemporary irrationalism, and in which way does it fulfill its role in legitimating the status quo, and not least, where does this paradigm come from and how can it be overcome? But also conversely, how can we reconcile our allegiance to historical materialism with the paradoxical imperative to articulate a rationalist and progressive philosophy in an irrational and regressive world?

The “Popular Front” in Unpopular Times
8 June 2018, 7:30 pm

Guests: Florin Poenaru, Costi Rogozanu, David Schwartz
In conversation with Dana Domsodi

In line with his strategic approach to reason and progress as intellectual weapons in the struggle against the fascist regression of imperialist capitalism, Georg Lukacs emphasized, already in 1928, in the famous and not less controversial “Blum Theses”, the strategy of the ‘popular front’: that is, the necessary alliance with the bourgeoisie and bourgeois democracy against a steadily and generally spreading fascism. Today, in such a similar context, how viable remains this political strategy and what exactly does it entail? Should we again attempt to rescue bourgeois democracy from its own fascist drifts? How long can we still differentiate and choose between the allegedly opposed versions of “illiberal populisms” showing up everywhere and their alleged nemesis, the technocracies of the “Rule of Law” – what is to choose between these two similarly non-democratic and authoritarian versions of contemporary capitalism, which, through their false antagonism and genuine mutual generation, testify to the structural limit of our world: the irreducible divorce between “popular” and “democratic”, the fracture between any idea of popular sovereignty or at least representation, and the constitutional and institutional rigid framework, that is the state apparatuses and mechanisms of de-politicization and non-representation of actually existing liberal-democracies. Crushed as we are between, on the one hand, social forces that are enrolled in the service of reactionary politics precisely because they are deprived of the possibility of politically representing themselves, and on the other, institutional and political structures that justify their democratic legitimacy precisely as their duty to non-represent the former, what is left from the strategy of the “popular front”, when its basic equation, the link between “popular” and “democratic”, seems irrevocably undermined? And how can we still practice a progressive social theory, art or critique, without falling in the opposite traps of hobby or avant-gardism, in such regressive times?

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