What is it about theorising that draws such venom from the right? I have been thinking about this for some time now, and it has taken on some urgency recently (see post below). What brings me to ask this question is, perhaps, something to do with my fidelity to the idea that theory and left-wing politics are not merely connected or comfortable bedfellows, but that left-wing politics is, ontologically as it were, born of theory, fundamentally reliant on it and refuses the separation of theory and practice, seeing that separation as a symptom of hegemony. In this sense, then, the right is right (as it were) to hate theory, to sniff in it the narcissism of leftist nostalgia (as they would have it). The left, they would put it, is stuck to the image of a coherent and catch-all theory of the social in which humans and agents will circle in a tight and closed system of mutuality. Of course, they are right in one sense: the left's attachment to theory has also been about an attachment to a fetishized notion of theory as somewhat removed form the sphere of action by dint of its overarticulation, its over-investment in the Symbolic.
Now, for me, the theoretical insists on a certain dis-articulation (as a way of removing oneself from the singularity of the act and turning the act around, taking it for a walk, connecting and disconnecting it from other phenomena and insisting on its relationality). In short, what theory does for me is make me think beyond the veil of appearances to get to something else, to something hidden or coded, something that only shows itself when one disinvests and re-imagines the ground on which one stands.
Of course here lies, precisely, the problem: theory allows us to get to that question, to that disarticulation, but rarely if ever guarantees the return to the singularity of the act. Yes, of course, wining is act, thinking is act, but the question must be focused differently, it seems to me: how might those 'acts' constitute acts that count. That seems rather banal, but counting (in both senses of the word) is what this is about. What, precisely, are the consequences of the act? In other words, the act (a singularity) is actually plural – it relies on an a posteriori reconstruction of the act once the consequences, the shadow, the footsteps in the field, are manifest. To put this differently, the act is a kind of event which requires a retrospective reconstruction. The act is always constituted in nostalgia, in the idealising moment that seeks to recall it, to make it, to bring it into the light of political history, personal narratives, stories within stories within stories.
In short, what the right always misses (and this is their ontology, as it were) is that acting is never singular, never present as such but always deferred, referred, interred.