By M. Plot
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Extra info for Claude Lefort: Thinker of the Political
In addition to Socialisme ou Barbarie, Lefort was a co-editor of Textures (1971–75), Libre (1977–80), and PasséPrésent (1982–84). 10 At the conclusion of this brief introductory essay, what can be learned from Lefort’s political biography (if, in spite of everything, I can use that term)? I have alluded already to the popular reception of Lefort’s critique of totalitarianism, and to his rejection of its anti-political simplifications that gave rise to the New Philosophers and their epigones. But the challenge posed by the dialogue between repetition and the new remains, although its form changes, just as do the forms of ideology analyzed in the ground-breaking 1974 article “L’ère de l’idéologie” (published in Les formes de l’histoire).
The practical experience of the militant organization Socialisme ou Barbarie made him understand that, however pure, innocent, and transparent the radical party wants to be, 18 Intellectual Influences and Dialogues it inevitably leads to bureaucratic domination over those it claims to liberate. A division will remain between those who (claim to) know, the leaders, and those (who supposedly) need revolutionary guidance in order to become what History decrees that they must become. 7 Lefort does not exempt himself from this temptation, which he calls “repetition,” criticizing his own lack of audacity during his militant years.
13 In language reminiscent of Hegel, Lefort calls the adversarial relation of the people to the grandee a natural relationship. The people are the immediate object of the desire of the rich. By natural Lefort means not politically instituted or institutionally mediated. ”14 In the prince, the people seek protection against the grandee’s insatiable desire to oppress. This constitutes the institution of the political order, since the prince, or, as we shall see, the image of the prince, is elevated above the natural conflict generated by the social divisions.