Abolishing Freedom: A Plea for a Contemporary Use of Fatalism

Today freedom has become a signifier of oppression. In this historical situation fatalism is the only possible stance that allows us to think freedom without being indifferent. We must affirm the position of a comic fatalism, whose slogans are:

Start by expecting the worst!

Act as if you did not exist!

Act as if you were not free!

Act in such a way that you accept the struggle you cannot flee from!

Act in such a way that you never forget to imagine the end of all things!

Act as if the apocalypse has already happened!

Act as if everything were always already lost!

Act as if you were dead!

Act as if you were an inexistent woman!



“This is an utterly captivating, smart, provocative book—compelling in its argument, fascinating in its detail, sobering in its implications. Absolutely exhilarating.”

— Rebecca Comay, University of Toronto

“Appropriating it as a natural right, a possession that can be taken away, the sign of the subject's sovereignty, liberalism has given freedom a bad name. Yet how to think without acknowledging the fact of freedom. In his delightful book, Ruda shows us the way. Reducing the liberal edifice to rubble, he rescues a freedom that is in no way ad libitum.”

— Joan Copjec, Brown University

“In Abolishing Freedom Ruda develops a remarkable reading of fatalism and of its inherent liberating powers. One should point out the intriguing choice of authors through which Ruda discusses the logic and merits of fatalism: Luther, Descartes, Kant, Hegel and Freud. These names and their combination promise a lot: not only an extremely interesting reading, but also a genuinely original concept of fatalism. Ruda’s book more than lives up to this promise.”

— Alenka Zupančič, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Art

“What if fatalism and freedom are not simply opposed, what if the highest freedom is its self-abolishing through the act of freely assuming one’s fate? The main points of reference in Frank Ruda’s exploration of this profound Hegelian idea are Descartes, Lacan and Badiou. However, at a deeper level, the book is about the fundamental deadlock of our allegedly liberal-permissive societies. Abolishing Freedom is not only the very acme of today’s philosophy, but much more – it is a book for everyone who is tired of all the ideological babble about freedom of choice.”

— Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana

About the Author

Frank Ruda is Senior Lecturer for Philosophy at the University of Dundee, UK, and a visiting lecturer at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. In addition to Abolishing Freedom, he also authored Hegel’s Rabble (Bloomsbury, 2013), For Badiou: Idealism without Idealism (Northwestern University Press, 2015), Reading Marx (with Slavoj Žižek and Agon Hamza; Polity Press, 2018), and The Dash – The Other Side of Absolute Knowing (with Rebecca Comay; MIT Press, 2018).