by Daniel Hartley
Many of the contributors to this website will want to share a sense of their personal motivations for taking part, all of which will vary a great deal. For what it’s worth, here are my own:
Why is a group like this necessary? And why now? One could do worse than begin with the collapse of communism. From the great revolutionary movements of the nineteenth century, through their realisation in Russia in 1917, up until the last decade of the twentieth century, people around the world had available to them a lively, present alternative to the capitalist status quo. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, that alternative – which was a failure – no longer exists.
Those born in the West today are bereft of a revolutionary tradition. In fact, they are bereft of a tradition of almost any kind – other than the various religions which many (wrongly, in my view) see as superstitious gimmicks of a bygone era. With the decline of primary industries in many countries and with the increased pervasiveness of privatization, community itself is becoming a thing of the past. Newborns inherit an eternal present of alienated monads which projects itself as an untranscendable horizon.
This would not be a problem if the eternal present weren’t so damaging to the majority of humanity. But it is. So we have a task before us. It is no longer viable or politically worthy to say that being a revolutionary requires being a member of the working-class. There must be new alliances formed between the middle-classes (to which most of the contributors to this website will belong) and the workers. Moreover, we must rethink what we even mean today by ‘middle-class’ and ‘worker’: it is one thing casually to observe that the traditional working-class can now be found in various locations in Asia; it is quite another to think through how this fundamentally alters the nature of the working-class and what is left behind in the West.
In other words, the task of the new generation is not only to act: it is to create a new tradition for its actions. This is part of what this website hopes to do. By bringing together students, professionals and workers to discuss a whole range of issues – from energy production to healthcare, from philosophy to gastronomy – it aims to formulate concrete solutions to current problems. Cutting-edge critical theory will be fused with the day-to-day know-how of the workplace or the home, all the while questioning the very concepts through which we’re thinking the future. (What, for example, is the ‘workplace’? When and how did that concept arise? What would a society look like in which the ‘workplace’ no longer existed?)
It must lead to knowledge, community and action. We must create our own inheritance.