On August 22, 2012, Douglas La Rocca and Spencer A. Leonard of Platypus interviewed Dick Howard, professor emeritus at Stony Brook University and the author of The Specter of Democracy: What Marx and Marxists Haven’t Understood and Why, among other books. What follows is an edited transcript of their interview.
Alain Badiou claims that the twenty first century has yet to begin. We stand mired in the ideology of democratic materialism, which insists there are only bodies and language, and that we can persist without an idea. Our “atonal” environment of weak differences is riddled with a type of nihilism that crushes every master signifier, even those struggling to point in the direction of equality. Emancipatory politics is confronted with the nearly impossible task of going beyond the subject of the market, but with no clear means by which to do so.
NEGATIVITY AND REVOLUTION seems to fly in the face of the Adorno revival over the last twenty years. The editors bravely assert in the introduction to their book that their focus will not be on Adorno, nor about the body of his work, and, above all, that it is not written by Adorno specialists. The intent of this book, which is the outcome of a seminar at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades Alfonso Vélez Pliego of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, is to elaborate on what Adorno called negative dialectics and how it might serve as a counter-strategy to other forms of theorizing the present, and could thus be of benefit to radicals, political activists, and Adorno scholars.