Murzban Jal

Radical Enlightenment and the Socialist Alternative

How does the critique of modernity (as it is found in some of the alternative radical strains in the Enlightenment ranging from seventeenth century dissenters against the newly emerging orthodox elements of modernity to Gandhi in our own country's emerging modernity) square with the ideals of economic and social justice in the broad Leftist tradition owing chiefly to Marx? Pragoti presents a selection of articles from a seminar in Hyderabad in January 2009 on 'Radical Enlightenment and the Socialist Alternative'.

The Importance of Being Enlightened.

In the various strands of the Radical Enlightenment the principle theme is the question of the crisis: we have the crises of the sciences, of reason, of modernity, etc. But, of course, Murzban Jal points out that in these renderings there is no crisis of capitalism. So it follows for the alternative Enlightenment, since something is indeed rotten in the state of the Enlightenment, the subject of history cannot be a class subject. The theme of the crisis of the sciences is now expressed in the crisis of Marxism. The proletariat cannot be the subject of history. And yet there has to be the subject. The tragic hero of Romanticism comes marching in. What Romanticism wants is not the negation of capitalism, but negation of all reality. The Romantics cannot be the revolutionaries, but only the tragic heros, who like Goethe’s Faust, are dragged to hell. There they take residence like Adorno, waiting for the missing messiah to come.