庞蒂论自由 518

庞蒂论自由 518

Idealism (like objective thought) bypasses true intentionality, which is at its object rather than positing it. Idealism overlooks the interrogative, the subjunctive, the aspiration,
the expectation, the positive indeterminacy of these modes of consciousness,
for it is acquainted only with consciousness in the present
or future indicative, which is why it fails to account for class. For class
is a matter neither for observation nor decree; like the appointed order
of the capitalistic system, like revolution, before being thought it is
lived through as an obsessive presence, as possibility, enigma and


To make class-consciousness the outcome of a decision and a
choice is to say that problems are solved on the day they are posed, that
every question already contains the reply that it awaits; it is, in short, to
revert to immanence and abandon the attempt to understand history.
In reality, the intellectual project and the positing of ends are merely
the bringing to completion of an existential project. It is I who give a
direction, significance and future to my life, but that does not mean
that these are concepts; they spring from my present and past and in
particular from my mode of present and past coexistence.


Even in the
case of the intellectual who turns revolutionary, his decision does not
arise ex nihilo; it may follow upon a prolonged period of solitude: the
intellectual is in search of a doctrine which shall make great demands
on him and cure him of his subjectivity; or he may yield to the clear
light thrown by a Marxist interpretation of history, in which case he
has given knowledge pride of place in his life, and that in itself is
understandable only in virtue of his past and his childhood. Even the
decision to become a revolutionary without motive, and by an act of
pure freedom would express a certain way of being in the natural and
social world, which is typically that of the intellectual. He ‘throws in
his lot with the working class’ from the starting point of his situation as
an intellectual and from nowhere else (and this is why even fideism, in
his case, remains rightly suspect).


Now with the worker it is a fortiori the
case that his decision is elaborated in the course of his life. This time it
is through no misunderstanding that the horizon of a particular life
and revolutionary aims coincide: for the worker revolution is a more
immediate possibility, and one closer to his own interests than for the
intellectual, since he is at grips with the economic system in his very


For this reason there are, statistically, more workers than middle
class people in a revolutionary party. Motivation, of course, does not do
away with freedom. Working class parties of the most unmistakable kind have had many intellectuals among their leaders, and it is likely
that a man such as Lenin identified himself with revolution and eventually
transcended the distinction between intellectual and worker. But
these are the virtues proper to action and commitment; at the outset, I
am not an individual beyond class, I am situated in a social environment,
and my freedom, though it may have the power to commit me
elsewhere, has not the power to transform me instantaneously into
what I decide to be.


Thus to be a bourgeois or a worker is not only to
be aware of being one or the other, it is to identify oneself as worker or
bourgeois through an implicit or existential project which merges into
our way of patterning the world and co-existing with other people. My
decision draws together a spontaneous meaning of my life which it
may confirm or repudiate, but not annul. Both idealism and objective
thinking fail to pin down the coming into being of class consciousness,
the former because it deduces actual existence from consciousness, the
latter because it derives consciousness from de facto existence, and both
because they overlook the relationship of motivation.



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