Apio's Reviews > Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility

Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse
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's review
Dec 11, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: philosophy-and-theory, cultural-analysis
Read in June, 2009

REVOLUTION AS AN INFINITE GAME: Some thoughts on Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games

Although James P. Carse did not write his book as revolutionary theory (far from it), the ideas he puts forth provide useful tools for conceiving what an anarchist revolution might be. In particular, his ideas point to why an anarchist revolution, or for that matter, any true revolution, cannot be a finite game, i.e., why it cannot operate within the logic of work. The logic of work is the logic of winners and losers, of success and failure. As soon as a revolution reverts to this logic, it has ceased, because the past has fixed the future, defined its parameters, and this guarantees that the revolution will defeat itself—or rather, this constitutes that defeat. In every revolutionary situation, many of those who take part in the events begin playing the situation as an infinite game. This manifests in the vast array of experimentation, exploration, humor and festivity that manifests in every revolutionary situation. But in every revolution there are those—mostly very sincere revolutionaries who lose themselves in their role—who see a revolution as a thing to win, and who therefore seek power in order to win it. In this way, they transform it in to a finite game, and though they might win themselves or their party a title with the power it brings, in the process they destroy the revolution and establish its end—a new state.
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Tracy Ruggles This is exactly what I'm thinking as I'm reading it for the first time. I'm in the chapters discussing politics and finite games. Haven fun reading it.

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