One of the most enduring topoi of political philosophy is that particular interests and passions, combined with ignorance, are the major obstacles in the way of a rational ordering of public affairs. The whole idea is inspired by the hypothesis that passions are necessarily selfish and that reason is not.
The assumption that there are generous passions, that there is a thirst for this-worldly justice, is wholly new. This is why solidarity is understood, still, as a sentimental notion bereft of conceptual force, however heart-warming and lovely. This is why Marx’s idea that the class interests of the proletariat do ‘objectively’ coincide with the general interest of the emancipation of all mankind is a philosophic construction. Empirically, however, the emotional reality of the international workers’ movement–and of all great revolutions–has been a passion for justice, a desire of transcending selfishness. The goal will be to analyse the inherent conceptual content of such a desire and to ask for the place of solidarity in a reified society.
G. M. Tamás is a Hungrian philosopher and prolific writer of essays. He mainly lives in Budapest and recently is a frequent speaker at demonstrations or left-wing gatherings. Being a former dissident, his views on political theory and philosophy gradually shifted to the left. He is said to belong–with Žižek, Badiou, Kurz, Negri and others–to the company of heretical European Marxists.
Selected Publications: Les Idoles de la tribu (1989), Telling the Truth about Class (Socialist Register 2006), Innocent Power (2012), Kommunismus nach 1989 (2015).
In cooperation with the ERC Project GRAPH–The Great War and Modern Philosophy, KU Leuven.
The keynote speech by Professor Tamas is part of the workshop Pro Patria Mori – Solidarity and Sacrifice in the First World War, which takes place at the IWM on April 14 and 15.