Political physics


Intellectual journals have their moments; if they’re lucky more than one. But to sustain themselves over decades, they have to change (or become part of an establishment), and change more than once.

With this issue, Radical Philosophy marks forty-five years as a collectively edited, selfpublished and still largely self-produced print journal. It is still only recently, in historical terms, that the alternatives on offer require the use of the qualification ‘print’. The journal – or should we call it a magazine? the equivocation has always been important, for at its best it has surely been both – appeared three times a year for the first 68 issues (up to autumn 1994). It has been published bimonthly since 1995. The first version of the radicalphilosophy. com website went live in the summer of 2000 and we launched apps, with enhanced pdf versions of the print edition, on our fortieth anniversary in 2012. The magazine has drawn upon, and helped construct, a community of nearly 1,200 contributors.

This 200th issue will be the final issue of the current print edition of Radical Philosophy, which has retained the same basic format since the introduction of the Commentary section back in 1994.

Sustaining the production, organization of distribution and marketing of the magazine – and maintaining a distribution of tasks across the collective as a whole – over a long period, during which the institutional life of academics in the UK has been transformed dramatically, has become increasingly difficult. The multiple contradictions – organizational, cultural and intellectual – the grappling with which once gave the journal its life, have taken their toll, as the fixing of the format and routinization of the labour have led to ever greater disparities in levels of activity. The lapsing of the interview series and the slackening of the pace of RP conferences have been signs of the growing pressures on collective members’ time. A renewal of the editorial group is needed to take the project further. Some of us will step down once a transition is secured.

Historically, the extension of the term ‘magazine’ (meaning store of merchandise) to a type of publication, at the beginning of the nineteenth century – a repository of information by various writers, for the general reader – registered the market populism driving the project of mass education in Europe. Today, the word ‘repository’ – aka ‘eprints’ – is more likely to evoke the chill wind of the governmental management of intellectual production and copyright, and its disavowed deformations of redisciplinarization. That is one of the new contradictions – yet to be forced into a productive form – in relation to which a new editorial and self-publishing project must be built.Radical Philosophy plans to announce details of its next instantiation to its subscribers and other readers early in 2017.

At moments … she had found that a new kind of means of exchange or transport of human energies (‘means’ is the wrong word, the elementary particle is ‘goal’), namely unspoken agreement, could mobilize an exceptional capacity for work. In fact, considerably more than could be paid for with money. The problem of basing a political formation on this new ‘gravitation’ did not lie in the strength of such ‘political physics’, but in the maintenance of the ‘force field’. Nothing of this flash of mutual aid was still convertible … later. And nothing could alter this catastrophic conclusion. A body politic ‘without memory’ could not be justified. The archival memory was able to register the ‘spark of solidarity’, but not to revive it subsequently. The elementary particle of this physics … resisted documentation.

Alexander Kluge, The Devil’s Blind Spot, 2002