Masterclass with Enzo Rossi – 7 december

December 7, 2017

Enzo Rossi (Universidade de Amsterdão)

“Being Realistic and Demanding the Impossible”


Political realism is characterized by fidelity to the facts of politics and a refusal to derive political judgments from pre-political moral commitments.

Even when they are not taken to make normative theorizing impossible or futile, those characteristics are often thought to engender a conservative slant, or at least a tendency to prefer incremental reformism to radicalism.

I resist those claims by distinguishing between three variants of realism—Hobbesian, Machiavellian, and Marxist—and contrasting them with both non-ideal theory and utopianism. I then characterise a version of Marxist realism that eschews both feasibility constraints (unlike non-ideal theory) and prescriptions about the ideal society (unlike utopianism). I show how the resulting novel form of negative normative theory has more radical potential than morality-driven (and hence often ideological) political theory, and how it can support both open-ended, radical social critique and concrete forms of prefigurative political action.