Stirred and Shaken. From ‘the Art of the Possible’ to Emancipatory Politics

Benjamin Arditi

in Politics on the Edges of Liberalism

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625116
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652778 | DOI:
Stirred and Shaken. From ‘the Art of the Possible’ to Emancipatory Politics

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This chapter explores the persistence of agitation in emancipatory politics. It deconstructs the familiar notion that politics is the ‘art of the possible’, an observation made by Bismarck in the nineteenth century and taken as a rallying cry by political realists everywhere. The purpose of this is to destabilize the frontiers between the possible and the impossible, and between revolutionary and non-revolutionary politics. Agitation functions as a symptom that prevents the closure of politics in a purely gentrified format or, alternatively, agitation in tandem with emancipatory politics brings out the ‘eventness’ of events and reveals the working of the impossible, something which is easily lost in the more banal realist coding of politics as ‘the art of the possible’.

Keywords: agitation; emancipatory politics; revolutionary politics; Bismarck; non-revolutionary politics; political realists

Chapter.  8115 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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