Insurrections and the Role of Philosophy

Here is the abstract of my talk at the upcoming Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World conference happening July 23rd-27 at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. My talk will include a rough trailer and some clips from the film Insurrections that I am directing. I welcome your feedback on this abstract.

“Insurrections and the Role of Philosophy”

In this paper, I compare three theoretical models for thinking the intensification of riots and protests in our current times, including: the neo-autonomist thought of Franco “Bifo” Berardi who theorizes the return of the riot as an affective-emotional response to depression and anxiety under cognitive capitalism; the Marxist/Lacanian thought of Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek and Jodi Dean which theorizes the riot as an attempt to bring about an inexistent worker subject, presenting a sign of nascent revolutionary subjectivity; and the descriptive account of the communization theorists including Joshua Clover and Endnotes that theorize the riot as surplus labor struggles at the site of circulation.

The apparent tensions across these theoretical models arise at the level not only of their descriptive accounts, but also more significantly at the level of their prescriptive accounts. It is these prescriptive tensions and differences that shed insight into the challenge of political organization, the question of the subject produced by the riot or insurrection, and the potential direction these struggles are headed.

This presentation includes a short excerpt of a documentary film in production entitled Insurrections that features philosophers discussing the return of riots and massive social movements.


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