Friday, January 30, 2015

Overcoming our 'sad passions'

"How does it happen that people who have power, in whatever domain, need to affect us in a sad way? The sad passions are necessary. Inspiring sad passions is necessary for the exercise of power. And Spinoza says, in the Theological-Political Treatise, that this is a profound point of connection between the despot and the priest—they both need the sadness of their subjects. Here you understand well that he does not take sadness in a vague sense, he takes sadness in the rigorous sense he knew to give it: sadness is the affect insofar as it involves the diminution of my power of acting." - Gilles Deleuze

How is it, you ask, that we on the British Left can be, at times, such abysmal people?  How does it come to pass that so many of our noble aims end not just in defeat, ruin, but also vicious blood-letting?  Neoliberalism thrives on our "sad passions", the diminution of our power of acting, our conviction - ever harder to conceal behind cheap, chipper optimism - that there really is no alternative.  The atmosphere of bitter defeats and disappointments, one piling on the next, lours over us all.  No aetiology of the impotent rage, pettiness, misdirected aggression and self-destructiveness of the British Left would be complete without this.

One reason to be delighted by Syriza, is that it breaks with this. It breaks with years of internalised defeat and sourness.