During the lime between the end of the First World War and the r ise of the culture industry in the industrialized WeSt in the 1940s and 1950s, a number of Marxist thinkers struggled to keep alive a redemptive and radically utopian spirit as a basis for linking radical thought and action. One such thinker. George Lulcics, analyzed the possibilities of radicalizing the working class through a redefined notion of cultural politics, ' Another, Walter Benjamin, pointed to a radicdl discourse that went beyond the technocratic instrumentali ty a fthe new age.2 Most important, Ernst Bloch created an entire political philosophy on what he was to later call 1be Principle of Hope/' Bloch found it inconceivable to speak of a radical d iscourse outside a radical utopianism and steadfastly refused to e ngage in what Benjamin had labeled "left melancholy," or a tendency among some leftists in the 1930s to substitute a "fatalistic for an interventionist atti· tude toward the world. ,,4 Bloch formulated the discourse of possibility into a jX>litical project and argued that "only thinking directed towards changing the world and informing the desire to change it does not confront the future ... as embarrassment and the past as spell. "S Even Theodor Adorno, the consummate negative dia· lectician, argued against the assumption that a radical project need only commit itself to the discourse of critique and despair. Endorsing Benjamin's emphasis on messianic forms of thought, Adorno wrote:

The only philosophy which can be responsibly practiced in the face of despair is to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption. Knowledge has flO light but that shed on the world by redemption: all else is

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reconstruction, mere technique. Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and eslrJnge the world; reo."eaJ it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as it will appear one day in the messianic light. To gain such perspectives without lIelleity or lIiolence, entirely from felt contact with object-thiS alone is the task of though\.6 This legacy o f hope as a precondition for radical thought and

struggle is nO( generally charaaeristic of e ither radical social theory o r prevailing forms of radical edUCAtional theory in North America. Within the d iscourse of critique that informs much of the new radical social theory, one often finds the denial of all first principles upon which to reconstrua a social vision, historical analyses replaced by a fetish for struCturalist diSCOUrses, and the abandonmem of political struggles for ideological and textual readings. Attempting to give their d iscourse legitimacy wimin the academy, many radicalmeorists solemnly battle over the indeterminacy of textual meanings and in doing so produce a cata.log of empiriCAlly based distinctions and technical methods to be used in amtly;;ing different levels of significations. Lost in an ever-deepening quagmire o f meoretical obfuscation, these attempts tOO often redefine social crises in pu rely technical and academic tenns. Meanwhile, as the web of human suffering widens, radical intellectuals engage in journal exchanges over the inescapability of language or the prison-house of SignifiCAtion, or the inscription of subjectivity in the dominant discourse. Consequently, the battlegro und for social and political struggle is no longer the factory, the public school, the churches, the unions, o r mass culture; on the contrary, the new terrain is increasingly becoming the "radical conference," the symposium at which academics can read their papers and cdSh in their politiCAl currency.