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The Time of History, the Time of Politics, the Time of Strategy

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The theoretical problem Bensaïd tries to confront from the 1990s onwards is the problem of the categories that are necessary to account for the traumatically new experience of history opened up by the defeat of the revolutionary experiments of the twentieth century. Hence the necessity of new answers to these fundamental and inexhaustible questions: How are we to understand history in its relation to human practice and to politics? Can we talk of ‘necessity’ in history, of ‘laws of history’, of ‘determination’, or ‘determinism’, or of modes of causality operating within it? How are we to conceive the notions of ‘historical possibility’, of ‘conflict’ and ‘struggle’? Bensaïd’s contribution will focus on a dialectical notion of temporality that implies a primacy of politics over history and a break with the traditional Marxist notions of a historical subject as an internally homogeneous and fully-sovereign collective force.

Affiliations: 1: Department of French, King’s College London


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