The miserable have no means for entering the circle of power other than the

The miserable have no means for entering the circle

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"The miserable have no means for entering the circle of power other than the revolutionary destruction of the classes which now occupy it. " Bataille exhorts the oppressed to initiate precisely this "bloody and in no way limited social expenditure " (BOC I, 308). Revolution i s not - a t the very least, not primarily - a means to a practical end (the overthrow of capitalism, the creation of a workers' state); it is an end in itself, a sacrifice in de ance of the principle of utility . The Bataillean revolution aims not at victory, but at pure loss . The political triumph of the proletariat, if it were in fact to come about as a result of such an effort, would have to be seen as a kind of accidental by- product. Yet Bataille is not entirely limpid on the questions of ends and means. Certain passages in "The Notion of Expenditure" (including the lines just cited on the desire of "the miserable" to enter "the circle of power" ) can be read as positing overarching political aims for the sacrificial rev olution, thus calling into question the purity of "pure loss" in the political realm. While he challenged Durkheim's domestication of the sacred, the reduction of sacrifice to social utility, Bataille rec ognized that such utility did in fact attach to sacrificial operations (as Mauss had shown that it did to potlatch) and that not only so ciologists but the practitioners of "primitive" sacrifice themselves might very well, if questioned, describe their ritual behaviors in terms of utilitarian aims. Bataille did not deny the utilitarian as pects of sacrifice and its equivalents, but he did maintain that these aspects were secondary and that in the concept of pure expenditure he had identi ed sacrifice's essential nature. It is easy enough to denounce
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Bataille's apparent equivocation on the question of whether revolution as sacrifice could or should be j usti ed in relation to speci c political goals. Yet one can argue that Bataille's tolerance for a certain logical inconsistency on this issue sprang less from intellectual laziness than from a genuine commitment to the cause of the oppressed in a historical context where rigorous logic seemed to lead ineluctably to despair. The sincerity of Bataille's concern for the miserable and excluded, for the workers as victims of capitalist exploitation, should not be ignored when we consider the genesis of Bataille's theory and its possible flaws .18 If Bataille groped for a theory of revolution that might somehow continue to justify political struggle in the face of what appeared as objectively hopeless conditions, it was to a con siderable degree because of his genuine hunger to see the end of a political and economic order that crushed the masses for the profit of a small elite.
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