Polity Press’ book series Theory Now is a formidable backdrop to our Theoretical Times and to the increasingly dangerous and frightening world of Trumpland. Starting in 2011 it is still going strong. Each book has a collection of high quality contemporary essays on the theorist in question. There is Zizek Now (on Slavoj Zizek), Derrida Now (on Jacques Derrida), Kittler Now (on Friedrich Kittler), Nancy Now (on Jean-Luc Nancy), Foucault Now (on Michel Foucault), Ranciere Now (on Jacques Ranciere) and Sloterdijk Now (on Peter Sloterdijk). Two early books in the series also had subtitles suggesting particular current perspectives on a singular theorist’s studies. Hence, Virilio Now: Current Perspectives in Virilio Studies (on Paul Virilio) and Baudrillard Now: Current Perspectives in Baudrillard Studies (on Jean Baudrillard). Many of the theorists in the series Theory Now feature in my new paperback book Theoretical Times out with Emerald on October 7.
One theorist unlikely to feature in Theory Now anytime soon has a claim to be the contemporary world’s most influential critical thinker – namely GWF Hegel of German Idealism fame. As Theoretical Times demonstrates at length the theorists and scholars gathered around the transcendental materialism of Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek (as well as Badiou and Zizek themselves) have brought back to global prominence a philosopher who was born in 1770 and died in 1831. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel has been seen to be the major theorist to revive for the present epoch. Hegel’s philosophical system, which in its time was adapted and turned on its head by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as they collectively theorised the coming communist modernity of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has been rigorously resurrected for today by contemporary scholars all over the world. A recent special issue of the journal Crisis and Critique, edited by Badiou/Zizek/Hegel scholars Agon Hamza and Frank Ruda, is a case in point. Vol 4 No 1 of Crisis and Critique is over 500 pages and freely downloadable and is entitled Hegel(‘s) Today. It is almost like a mock up of a Polity Theory Now book but online. Digital Hegel! Alongside essays on Hegel by Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou there are myriad essays by other scholars together with an interview with Fredric Jameson who also contributes an essay of his own. Adrian Johnston, the philosopher and pyschoanalyst who coined the term transcendental materialism for Badiou, Zizek and their followers’ work, contributes a fascinating piece to the special issue of the journal on Hegelian and Dialectical Materialism. The many contributors to the special issue of Crisis and Critique have forced dialectics back on to the agenda. They have flagged up the coming of a New German Idealism with a major contemporary relevance, one which can claim that the present epoch is grasped best through Hegel’s system, providing conceptual tools for understanding the present world as it is. Hegel Now!