changing circle

In order to make the step from reformism to radical change, we must pass through the zero-point of abstaining from acts of resistance which only keep the system alive. In a strange kind of release, we have to cease to worry about other people’s worries, and withdraw into the role of a passive observer of the system’s circular self-destructive movement. For example, in relation to the ongoing financial crisis that threatens the euro and other currencies, we should stop worrying about how to prevent financial collapse in order to keep the whole system going. The model for such a stance is Lenin during World War I: ignoring all “patriotic” worries about the motherland in danger, he coolly steps back to observe the deadly imperialist dance while laying the foundations for the future revolutionary process—his worries were not the worries of most of his countrymen.

As was clear to Rand, if we want to see real change, then our own worries and cares are our main enemy. We need to stop fighting small battles against the inertia of the system, attempting to make things better here and there, and instead prepare the terrain for the big battle to come. The standpoint of the Absolute is simple enough to achieve; one merely has to withdraw to the (usually aestheticized) position of totality, as in the popular song the “Circle of Life” from The Lion King (words by Tim Rice):

It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

The song is sung by, of course, the lions: life is a great circle, we eat the zebras, the zebras eat grass; but then, after we die and return to the earth, we also feed the grass, and the circle is closed—this is the best message imaginable for those at the top. The crucial thing is the political spin we give to such “wisdom”: is it a matter of simple withdrawal or of withdrawal as the condition for a radical act? In other words, yes, life always forms a circle, but it is still possible (sometimes) not just to climb or descend its hierarchy, but to change the circle itself. Here we should indeed follow Christ, as the paradox of the Absolute itself renouncing the standpoint of the Absolute and adopting the radically “critical” stance of a finite agent engaged in a terrestrial struggle. This stance is deeply Hegelian, Hegel’s main thesis being precisely that of an Absolute strong enough to “finitize” itself, to act as a finite subject.





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