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February 10th, 2012 at 11:02 am

Santiago Zabala on Being a Communist in 2012

Santiago Zabala, On Being a Communist

Communism, we have been told, has been consigned to the dustbin of history. Not so, according to Santiago Zabala, most recently the co-author with Santiago Zabala of Hermeneutic Communism: From Heidegger to Marx.

In a recent article on Aljazeera, Santiago Zabala that many of the issues confronting us today—the breakdown of capitalism, possible war with Iran, etc.—are existential and touch on the question of Being. Unfortunately, he suggests, many philosophers, particularly analytical philosophers confine themselves to technical issues that are oblivious to the large sociopolitical issues of the day.

Zabala argues that communism might help reinvigorate philosophy’s engagement with sociopolitical questions. In fact, many leading contemporary philosophers are already rethinking communism. Zabala writes:

[F]or readers … still interested in the existential nature of philosophy, where our own Being is always at stake, communism might become a way to return to philosophy’s original sociopolitical task. After all, it should not be a surprise that distinguished contemporary philosophers who focus on existential matters (such as Alain Badiou, Gianni Vattimo and Slavoj Zizek) have also reconsidered the meaning of communism for this new century.

The communism of 2012 does not invite a return to the Soviet communism of the last century and in fact, its death provides an opening for what he terms a “weak” communism. Zabala argues:

The weakened communism we are left with in 2012 does not aspire to construct another Soviet Union, but rather proposes democratic models of social resistance outside the intellectual paradigms that dominated classical Marxism. These paradigms have been overcome because Marxism has gone through a profound deconstruction that has contributed to dismantling its rigid, violent and ideological claims in favour of democratic edification. Being weakened from its own scientific pretexts for unfettered development allows communism to finally unite together its supporters.

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