I have brought together here most of my texts from the past few years that are devoted to the contemporary situation, to reflection on society, and to politics. A fifth volume of the Carrefours du labyrinthe series will follow in a few months, containing writings bearing on psychoanalysis and philosophy.One will encounter a few repetitions among these texts. Such repetitions are inevitable when one has to familiarize different audiences with the author's presuppositions, which are not obvious to everyone. It is difficult to eliminate them without destroying, each time, the logical order of the argument. I hope to be able to count on the reader's indulgence.July 1995
since the end of Socialisme ou Barbarie, I am no longer directly and actively involved in politics, save for a brief moment during May 1968. I try to remain present as a critical voice, but I am convinced that the bankruptcy of the inherited conceptions (be they Marxist, Liberal [in the Continental sense of conservative believers in the "free" workings of a "capitalist market"], or general views on society, history, etc.) has made it necessary to reconsider the entire horizon of thought within which the political movement for emancipation has been situated for centuries. And it is to this work that I have harnessed my efforts since that time.
In America . . . where it has the advantage, in the person of David Ames Curtis, of benefitting from a remarkable translator, [Castoriadis's thought] interests not only 'radical' intellectuals but also, in a larger way, numerous researchers in the social sciences. 
David is the kind of translator one encounters rarely: he is extremely conscientious, tirelessly verifying everything he does, never hesitating to ask the opinion of the authors about what might pose a problem in the texts on which he is working. He has now translated six volumes of my writings, which have been published by the University of Minnesota Press, Oxford University Press, Stanford University Press, and Blackwell. Pierre Vidal-Naquet, for whom he has also translated and published several works in translation and who, a philologist by trade, is demanding to the point of scholasticism as concerns the exactitude and accuracy of expressions, is full of praise for him. 
Try proposing it! I happened to propose it in the institutions of the Ecole, where I proposed one day in 1968 that to the Ecole's Council be added an anti-Council chosen by lot. Everyone laughed in my face! Only once have I succeeded in winning passage of this idea, that was in 1981; by way of an article in the newspaper Liberation that attracted the attention of [Education Minister] Savary, I got what today is called the C.N.U. to be chosen by lot, and it worked quite well. Never had one had so free and independent a C.N.U. than thanks to this drawing of lots. The funny thing is that I believe Pierre Leveque had been chosen by lot. Well, it is all this that renders democracy possible. 
When, a year or two before his death, Castoriadis was offered an American contract to write a book on his theme of The Big Sleep in contemporary Western societies, I could tell he was tempted by this offer to let him bring his political views up to date, but he then suddenly said that all he wanted was to "do pure ontology." I knew that the context was that he felt he had accomplished a great deal already in writing about topical political matters and that this work would stand and could continue to influence those who were willing to let themselves be moved by it and who wanted to go further themselves -- and not that he had decided to put all of his past political efforts behind him. So I looked at him squarely, and asked if he really meant that about "pure ontology." His answer was equivocal, informed by his impending sense of mortality. A more revealing admission came when he said that he used to think every day about re-forming a revolutionary group but that the conjunctural situation, as well as psychological impediments to group activity, were so discouraging that he had begun to think about this "only once every other day." In his last interview, published about a month after his death, he stated nevertheless that he would always remain a revolutionary. How he might express this, in philosophy, in psychoanalytic practice, in political engagement, in artistic expression, and so on, remained for him an open question. To the extent that we are interested in engaging his legacy meaningfully and confronting it fully, this is a question that still lies before us, too, not behind us.
prosperity has been purchased since 1945 (and already beforehand, certainly) at the price of an irreversible destruction of the environment. The famous modern-day "economy" is in reality a fantastic waste of the capital accumulated by the biosphere in the course of three billion years, a wastefulness that is accelerating every day. If one wants to extend to the rest of the planet (its other four-fifths, from the standpoint of population) the liberal-oligarchic regime, one would also have to provide it with the economic level, if not of France, let us say of Portugal. Do you see the ecological nightmare that signifies, the destruction of nonrenewable resources, the multiplication by fivefold or tenfold of the annual emissions of pollutants, the acceleration of global warming? In reality, it is toward such a state that we are heading, and the totalitarianism we have got coming to us is not the kind that would arise from a revolution; it is the kind where a government (perhaps a world government), after an ecological catastrophe, would say: You've had your fun. The party is over. Here are your two liters of gas and your ten liters of clean air for the month of December, and those who protest are putting the survival of humanity in danger and are public enemies.
We know that a terrible economic and social imbalance exists between the rich West and the rest of the world. This imbalance is not diminishing; it is growing. The sole thing the "civilized" West exports in the way of culture into these countries is coup d'etat techniques, weapons, and televisions displaying consumer models that are unattainable for these poor populations. This imbalance will not be able to go on, unless Europe becomes a fortress ruled by a police State.
To say (as you Esprit editors hypothesize) that a dull and lifeless social sphere has taken the place of a fecund one, that all radical change is henceforth inconceivable, would mean that a whole phase of history, begun, perhaps, in the twelfth century, is in the process of coming to an end, that one is entering into I know not what kind of new Middle Ages, characterized either by historical tranquillity (in view of the facts, the idea seems comic) or by violent conflicts and disintegrations, but without any historical productivity: in sum, a closed society that is stagnating or that knows only how to tear itself apart without creating anything. (Let it be said, parenthetically, that this is the meaning I have always given to the term "barbarism," in the expression "socialism or barbarism.") There's no question of making prophecies. But I absolutely don't think that we are living in a society in which nothing is happening any longer.
Can one exit from this situation? A change is possible if and only if a new awakening takes place, if and only if a new phase of dense political creativity on the part of humanity begins -- which implies, in turn, that we exit from the state of apathy and privatization characteristic of today's industrialized societies. Otherwise, although historical novation certainly will not cease since any idea of an "end of history" is multiply absurd, the risk is that this novation, instead of producing freer individuals in freer societies, might give rise to a new human type, whom we may provisionally call zapanthropus or reflexanthropus, a type of being that is kept on a leash and maintained in the illusion of its individuality and of its liberty by mechanisms that have become independent of all social control and that are managed by anonymous apparatuses already well on the way toward achieving dominance.
we are touching here upon a fundamental factor, one that the great political thinkers of the past knew and that the alleged "political philosophers" of today, bad sociologists and poor theoreticians, splendidly ignore: the intimate solidarity between a social regime and the anthropological type (or the spectrum of such types) needed to make it function. For the most part, capitalism has inherited these anthropological types from previous historical periods: the incorruptible judge, the Weberian civil servant, the teacher devoted to his task, the worker whose work was, in spite of everything, a source of pride. Such personalities are becoming inconceivable in the contemporary age: it is not clear why today they would be reproduced, who would reproduce them, and in the name of what they would function.
Without [the democratic] type of individual, more exactly without a constellation of such types -- among which, for example, is the honest and legalistic Weberian bureaucrat -- liberal society cannot function. Now, it seems evident to me that society today is no longer capable of reproducing these types. It basically produces the greedy, the frustrated, and the conformist.
unsound on matters of fact . . . deeply flawed, riddled with major factual errors . . . much of it is invented and its political analysis ill-informed and simplistic. The book's principal problem is the amateurish quality of much of Levy's research. The section on the English childhood of Moar Sheikh begins raising one's doubts about the author's veracity. . . . BHL's grasp of South Asian geography is especially shaky. . . . Gossip and hearsay are repeated as fact. . . . More seriously, there are numerous occasions where Levy distorts his evidence and actually inverts the truth. . . . Levy's misuse of evidence here is revealing of his general method: if proof does not exist, he writes as if it did.
It is an alarming reflection of how widespread is the ignorance of Islam in general and of Pakistan in particular that only one of the many reviews of the book that I have seen in the US, by a Pakistani writer, has called attention to BHL's errors and elisions, or even bothered to note his disturbing expressions of contempt for ordinary Pakistanis . . . Who Killed Daniel Perl? is not only an insult to the memory of a fine journalist who refused to accept the crude ethnic stereotyping that Levy indulges in, and who was notably rigorous in checking his facts. It also shows the degree to which it has become possible for a writer to make inaccurate and disparaging remarks about Muslims and ordinary Pakistanis as if it were perfectly natural and acceptable to do so.