From Marx to Castoriadis, and
from Castoriadis to Us
Some decry the sixties generation as hedonistic and blame it for the social laxity that has given us culture wars and increasingly conservative government. I remember it rather for the attempt to create the politics of a new left. That project, I have been arguing in this book, remains on the contemporary agenda. But in order to reclaim it, it is necessary to understand where it went astray and to see whether it can be reconstructed on another foundation. As it happens, this project coincides in many ways with Cornelius Castoriadis's own political development. To illustrate the overlaps (without denying the differences), a few introductory remarks are useful.
It was clear that the new left had to distinguish itself from the old, but this was not easy in America at a time when its anticommunist crusade (which was not confined to the excesses of McCarthyism) was still part of the recent present, the universities were still oriented to the liberal consensus, and monolinguism prevented access to the various dissident left traditions. 1 I had the good fortune to travel in Eastern Europe and become friendly with some young Czech dissidents; that experience inoculated me against the enemy-of-my-enemy arguments that led many in the new left to adopt an anti-anti-communist