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56 Editorial


In this issue of Radical Philosophy, we offer a characteristically
varied collection of contributions: two pieces which explore the
relationships (actual and potential) between diverse social movements, a literary-philosophical analysis of Genet’s Prisoner of
Love, and an interview with one of France’s leading post-war
radical theorists, Cornelius Castoriadis.

One of the most promising and challenging of all contemporary developments on the left is the growing re-alignment of
socialist and ecological politics. In the UK, Raymond Williams’ s
pioneering pamphlet on Ecology and Socialism was a significant
forerunner of such more recent events as the highly successful
‘Red and Green’ national conferences, and the formation out of
them of a ‘Red and Green Network’. In the USA theoretical work
in the field is already further advanced, with the pathbreaking
work of James O’Connor and his colleagues associated with the
new journal Capitalism, Nature, Socialism. European activists
and thinkers, most especially those involved on the left of the
German Greens, have, of course established the groundwork for
these more recent advances. Radical Philosophy has made its own
contribution to this growing literature, and in this issue we publish
an important new article by Tim Hayward. The starting-point for
Hayward’s argument is a critical analysis of K. Lee’s recently
published Social Philosophy and Ecological Scarcity. Lee’s attempt to span the analytical philosophical tradition and ecological
social and political thought is commended by Hayward, and so is
her attempt to show the importance of a socialist view of social
justice in the meeting of ‘concrete’ needs to any ecologically
sensitive social philosophy. However, Hayward shows that Lee
takes insufficient distance from liberal conceptions of rights
which, as Hayward shows, are incapable of sustaining the conclusions which Lee herself endorses.

Hayward goes on to acknowledge the force of several wellestablished ecological criticisms of Marx’ s view or historical
development and human emancipation through a domination of
‘humanisation’ of nature, but nevertheless insists that it would be
a mistake to follow Lee and many other ecological socialists in
simply abandoning Marx in favour of the ‘utopian’ tradition
defined by Fourier and others. A morally grounded rejection of
our unrredeemably ecologically destructive capitalism may well
have, Hayward recognises, an important part to play in the
formation of a movement for change, but it is clearly insufficient
as a guide to its practical success. For this we need an adequate
explanatory critique of the LMP’s ecological limits and a practical strategy for change. The Marxian critique of Utopianism, in
other words, still remains pertinent in relation to the ecological
politics of today.

Carl Hedman’ s contribution to this issue of the journal is
ostensibly a discussion of rival views on the relationship of the
new reproductive technologies – in their tendency towards
‘ectogenesis’ , the artificial womb – to the rights and well-being of
women. It also turns out to be about the possibility of a creative
re-alignment between previously independent oppositional soRadical Philosophy 56, Autumn 1990

cial movements – in this case movements for class, gender, and
racial equality. His vision is of a ‘difference-respecting coalition’

in multidimensional struggle against a system of multidimensional
privilege. Considering diametrically opposed views of the political significance of the new reproductive technologies, Hedman
uses this framework to show that a more fluid dynamic and even
the possibility of resolution of these static ally opposed positions
may be achievable if two conditions are met. First, that the
technologies are understood not simply and ahistoricall y, in terms
of their current location in existing relations of power and domination, but in terms of their potential under conditions which
might change in the course of feminist struggles themselves.

Second, that feminist insights are set alongside and in reflective
interchange with those of other oppositional social movements.

Though situated firmly within the field of philosophical
controversy unleashed by post-structuralism, Simon Critchley’ s
article addresses one of the central, perennial questions of philosophy – what is truth? The topic of Critchley’s piece is Jean
Genet’s posthumously published Prisoner ofLove. In it, he poses,
through Genet’s own words, and with asides on both Sartre’s and
Derrida’s rival commentaries on Genet’s earlier writings, the
relation between a text and the truth it attempts totell”:'” in this case,
that of the Palestinian revolution. Genet spent two years with the
Palestinians on the West Bank, and more than a decade later,
already terminally ill, wrote down his memories and experiences
in this text. Genet himself had ‘sworn to tell the truth in this book’ ,
but Critchley’ s hypothesis is that the Prisoner of Love ‘is a book
about the conditions for the possibility of truthful narration, and,
more precisely, about what sort of narrative technique is required
to tell the truth about a revolution’ .

A change of pace, to a more informal and leisurely presentation and interchange of ideas is represented in this issue’s interview between Peter Dews and Peter Osborne, for Radical Philosophy, and Cornelius Castoriadis. Possibly Castoriadis will be
best known – at least to some of RP’s readership – for his involvement in the influential, though short-lived, French radical
grouping’Socialisme ou Barbarie’. Though disbanded in 1967,
the ideas of the group had much in common with, and probably
significantly influenced, the explosive revitalisation of revolutionary thought and action symbolised by the ‘events’ of Paris,
May 1968. The interview offers some fascinating glimpses of
Castoriadis’s early days in the Greek communist movement, his
move to France and involvement in Trotskyist politics and his
increasingly radical departure from the Marxist tradition in favour of the notions of autonomy, self-management and his distinctive conception of the ‘imaginary institution of society’. The
interview continues with a wide-ranging discussion of these
ideas, together with commentary on contemporary political and
economic questions: market and plan, democratic self-government, and the signficance of the recent revolutions in Eastern

Ted Benton

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