The WPU introductory letter to the 11th year of lectures:
The new program of the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia asserts that the phase of transition has ended. This standpoint can be regarded at least a bit extravagant, because majority of parties in the post-socialist states cannot get over the ghosts of the past. One of these enduring ghosts is also totalitarianism. It is represented as a historical past of post-socialist states and as evil that has not been clearly and completely surmounted. The process of transition is inseparably linked with the process of struggle against totalitarianism: unless totalitarianism is completely defeated, one cannot speak about the end of transition.
The fundamental goals of transition, namely the introduction of the free market, the parliamentarian democracy, civil liberties, the ‘legal state’ [Rechtstaat] and ‘culturalisation’ of all social spheres, they all refer - directly or indirectly – to the struggle against totalitarianism. The free market has substituted »totalitarian« state dictate in the economy; the parliamentarian democracy has replaced the authoritarian rule of the Parties; the civil society has substituted ideological communist terror and mass political mobilisation has been replaced by the mass ‘culturalisation’. In order to achieve the final victory over totalitarianism, one should unconditionally introduce even “more” free market, more democracy, more critical opinions and more culture.
However, not only politicians and journalists are haunted by the ghost of totalitarianism. Also, the contemporary radical Left seems to be burdened with it, especially when trying to break up with the legacy of Stalinism and Leninism. The totalitarian threat hangs above every discussion on discipline, revolution, political violence... The forms of organisation, methods of struggle, ideology and political rhetoric of the new social movements are determined by a silent polemics with the totalitarian legacy of revolutionary projects of the 20th century.
The imaginary spectre of totalitarianism has many real effects. For example, within the public discourse of history one can witness the blurring of distinction between communism on the one hand and fascism and Nazism on the other; they are seen only as three different variations of totalitarianism. Simultaneously, the distinction between the revolutionary violence and the violence of domination is disappearing; every political demand for the radical change of the world and every political action that tries to realize this demand are immediately marked as totalitarian. As a result, any revolutionary politics is excluded from the field of legitimate politics.
In the same way, all positive political and social achievements of socialism are being discredited. The post-socialist classes currently in power also disqualify the system of public services, the institution of welfare state, workers' rights and forms of mass political participation (demonstrations and strikes) as remains of the totalitarian past. This is how the totalitarian phantom is transformed into the instrument for the ‘demontage’ of the welfare state and for the prevention of the mass and direct democratic politics or, if we turn the perspective around, an instrument of exploitation and domination.
The ghost of totalitarianism also functions on the level of the political discourse, that is, in the struggles between different political perspectives and programs. It establishes parliamentary democracy as the horizon and as the last border of politics, and, at the same time, blocks all critiques of parliamentary democracy and, consequently, any thought or practice of politics outside the framework of the parliamentary democracy. Such politics could be, according to this logic, only totalitarian.
The “theories” of totalitarianism see socialist systems as »whole«, homogenous and uniform totalities. With the help of this operation the “theories” of totalitarianism overlook the internal division of socialisms: on the work of revolution (e.g. Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968 ...) that continued even after the establishment of authoritarian and bureaucratic rules, and on the work of domination (Stalinism). It is precisely this ideological omission that enables »theories« of totalitarianism to wholly reject socialism, since this perspective does not provide any analytical distinction between the system of public kindergartens and terror of the secret police – both form a part of homogenous, indivisible and totalitarian whole.
The ghost of totalitarianism also effects the theoretical production. Not only the science of history – although its effects are the most obvious there - but also other social sciences and humanities. That is why the theory of politics has immense difficulties when trying to surpass democratic horizons; and why philosophy, previously influenced by the revolutions of the 20th century, is, under the guise of return of humanism, humanity and ethos, being overrun by obscurantism. Not to mention the march of »new economy«, planning to liberate enterpreneurs at the expense of the workers.
Totalitarianism functions as the ideological instrument of new forms of domination and exploitation and, simultaneously, as theoretical blockade, as a barrier, preventing the thinking of politics, history, of economical and social antagonisms. WPU will try to crush, or, at least, to bypass this blockade in order to explore what is hidden behind it – that is, how the totalitarian phantasm works as a signifying practice and as an ideological mechanism in concrete situations – and thus be able to think politics and history without the intervention of the ghost of totalitariansm.
Program Comitee of Workers'-Punks' University (WPU)
Ljubljana, September 2007
11. letnik Delavsko-punkerske univerze predstavlja:
Cikel dvajsetih predavanj na temo Totalitarizem
Študijski bralni seminar Althusser - teorija, ideologija in antihumanizem
Študijski bralni seminar Emancipatorna politika feministične teorije in kritike
Študijski bralni seminar Simptom
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