The Critical Potency of Despair

As the Greek Left is driving in the summer of 2015 through the Desert of its Defeat, reflections on the critical potency of despair acquire special urgency.  In The Highway of Despair: Critical Theory After Hegel (2015), Robyn Marasco proposes that”despair is a dialectical passion. By this I mean that despair is at odds with itself. It militates against itself. It conserves and preserves the possibility of what it also denies. If, in etymological terms, despair indicates the absence of hope, this is no simple absence. Despair can never fully let go of its familiar and estranged other” (5).  The book includes an interesting discussion of Adorno’s infamous essay “Resignation” (1968), a critique of political action that deserves comparison with “The Vita Activa and the Modern Age,” section VI of Arendt’s The Human Condition (1958).

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