In a radical reconsideration of political theory and politics, Paul Eisenstein and Todd McGowan explore the notion of rupture or radical tearing apart in both history and theory through the sweep of Western philosophy from Plato to Kierkegaard and beyond. The authors use contemporary literature and film to elucidate political theory, examining works by such writers are Dave Eggers, John Irving, and Toni Morrison, as well as films by directors from Sergei Eisenstein to David Fincher.
Paul Eisenstein and Todd McGowan find that a rupture or radical break is repeatedly invoked at the beginning of every philosophical system. In this rupture, many of our most cherished political values—equality, solidarity, and the idea of freedom—emerge. But the lack of a sustained commitment to this radical tearing apart has repeatedly foreshortened, distorted, or perverted those same values. Most political philosophy may have marginalized these radical breaks with the past. But Eisenstein and McGowan demonstrate that Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, and Slavoj Žižek have consistently brought rupture to the fore as an organizing principle for political thought. This insight holds great pertinence to our current world situation. Seeing the possibilities for an extended dialogue and sustained political change, Eisenstein and McGowan argue for a more systematic engagement with these theorists.
“Rupture represents a paradigm-shifting intervention into political philosophy and practical politics. It creates a new map for understanding the emergence of political theories and political acts today. Reading this book allows one to understand that political philosophy must above all root itself in the metaphysical tradition that has largely been abandoned. Though Eisenstein and McGowan are not the inventors of rupture—this honor goes most likely to Hegel—they will be seen as two of its chief proponents, and rupture will become the watchword for contemporary politics.”