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Haunting pasts without utopias

The article covers a selection from the book Left Melancholy: Marxism, History and Memory, in which Enzo Traverso explores the relationship between the political left and the notion of history and the flow of time, focusing on the melancholic aspect developed by the left through its defeats in the 20th century. The selection, which includes most of the first chapter and excerpts from the second, represents the collapse of modern utopias and revolutions as a historical condition of left melancholy. It shows how this has developed in history as a central feeling and attitude towards time on the part of the left. In this context, Traverso discusses several revolutions, starting with the French and immediately after the Russian Revolution, describing events in former Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as well as elsewhere in the world, such as North Africa and the Middle East. He shows us how in a time span of two centuries historiography itself has changed its perspective from the point of view of the winner, through the loser, and finally to the point of view of the victim. For the latter shift the fundamental historical event is the Holocaust and postwar ideological unification around a politically empty commemorative symbolic economy. The article draws on authors such as Reinhart Koselleck and his concept of “Sattelzeit”, Walter Benjamin, and the concept of “Jetz-zeit” and Carl Schmitt. The author notes that the biggest historical loser was socialism along with feminism and all subsequent forms of left-wing utopias. Meanwhile, American and British conservatism made a revolutionary turn with neoliberalism in the 1960s and 1970s and conquered the world in a victorious march.


Article inside journal

Issue No. 284 - History Between Politics and Critique
Časopis za kritiko znanosti
2021 , volume volume 49 , issue issue 284
12,90 € each (incl. tax - DDV)
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