On the Uses of an Idea
By Alberto Toscano
Alberto Toscano will be launching ‘Fanaticism’ on Thursday 8 July, 6.45pm, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH. Toscano will address the key issues at the heart of his new book, and welcome discussion from attendees. For more information and to book tickets, please call +44 (0)20 7930 3647, or visit the ICA website.
About the book:
The idea of fanaticism as a deviant or extreme variant of an already irrational set of religious beliefs is today invoked by the West in order to demonize and psychologize any non-liberal politics. Alberto Toscano’s compelling and erudite counter-history explodes this accepted interpretation in exploring the critical role fanaticism played in forming modern politics and the liberal state. Tracing its development from the traumatic Peasants’ War of early sixteenth-century Germany, to contemporary Islamism, Toscano tears apart the sterile opposition of ‘reasonableness’ and fanaticism. Instead, in a radical new interpretation, he places the fanatic at the very heart of politics, arguing that historical and revolutionary transformations require a new understanding of its role. Showing how fanaticism results from the failure to formulate an adequate emancipatory politics, this illuminating history sheds new light on an idea that continues to dominate debates about faith and secularism.
About the author:
Alberto Toscano is a senior lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of The Theatre of Production, translator of Alain Badiou’s The Century and Logics of Worlds and co-editor of Alain Badiou’s Theoretical Writings and On Beckett. He has published numerous articles on contemporary philosophy, politics and social theory, and is an editor of Historical Materialism. More information can be found here.