The Harvard Review of Philosophy

Volume 28, 2021

Political Resistance

Adam BurgosOrcid-ID
Pages 23-52

A Dialectical Taxonomy of Resistance

Working from Adorno’s notion of negative dialectics, this essay charts a dialectical course of resistance toward a horizon of universal freedom. Rather than propose relations between ideal types of resistance, it emphasizes the ineliminable historical dimensions of not only real-world resistance movements but also the philosophical and political theorizing that attempts to make sense of them. In doing so it brings out certain conceptual relations that emerge or recede as the context of resistance shifts. The first moment considers the dichotomy between reform and revolution, the second moment delves into modes of reform, and the third looks to modes of revolution. Along the way the essay discusses the work of such varied figures and organizations as Rosa Luxemburg, John Rawls, Martin Luther King, Jr., Candice Delmas, Robin Celikates, Kimberlee Brownlee, Emma Goldman, Students for a Democratic Society and the Weather Underground, and the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. In the end, the essay is written in the service of understanding the stakes and presuppositions of resistance, in theory and practice.