The Rising Tide Of Insignificancy

The Big Sleep

By Cornelius Castoriadis, translated from the French and edited anonymously as a public service, December 2003. Numbers in parentheses refer to the date of original publication in French or English, whichever occurred first. See each individual publication note for date of composition. Numbers following the publication date refer to pages in the PDF version.

Notice, ii
Books by Cornelius Castoriadis Published in English with Standard Abbreviations, v
Books by Cornelius Castoriadis Published in French with Standard Abbreviations, vii
Foreword, xi
On the Translation, liii

The Vacuum Industry (1979), 3
Psychoanalysis and Society I (1982), 13
Psychoanalysis and Society II (1984), 30
Third World, Third Worldism, Democracy (1985), 46
The Gulf War Laid Bare (1991), 57
Between the Western Void and the Arab Myth (1991) with Edgar Morin, 63
The Dilapidation of the West (1991), 73
Postscript (1994-1995), 106
The Revolutionary Force of Ecology (1993), 109
The Rising Tide of Insignificancy (1994), 124
A Rising Tide of Significancy? A Follow-Up Interview with Drunken Boat (1996), 155
The Coordinations in France (1996), 165

Anthropology, Philosophy, Politics (1990), 179
The Crisis of the Identification Process (1990), 208
Freud, Society, History (1996), 231

Unending Interrogation (1979), 259
The Idea of Revolution (1989), 288
The Athenian Democracy:
False and True Questions (1993), 311
Democracy as Procedure and Democracy as Regime (1996), 329

Complexity, Magmas, History: The Example of the Medieval Town (1993), 363
Appendix, 387


The present volume is offered to readers as a public service in the hopes of encouraging reflection and action aimed at deepening, and realizing, the project of individual and collective autonomy on a worldwide basis in all its manifestations.

Neither any website that would make the electronic version available nor any other distributor who may come forward in any medium is currently authorized to accept any financial remuneration for this service. The anonymous Translator/Editor (T/E), will thus not receive, nor will T/E accept, any monetary payment or other compensation for his labor as a result of this free circulation of ideas.

Anyone who downloads or otherwise makes use of this tome is suggested to make a free-will donation to those who have presented themselves as the legal heirs of Cornelius Castoriadis: Cybele Castoriadis, Sparta Castoriadis, and Zoe Castoriadis. Either cash or checks in any currency made payable simply to "Castoriadis" may be sent to the following address: Castoriadis 1, rue de l'Alboni 75016 Paris FRANCE.

A suggested contribution is five (5) U.S. dollars or five (5) euros. The aforesaid legal heirs are totally unaware of this undertaking, and so it will be completely for each individual user to decide, on his or her own responsibility (a word not to be taken lightly), whether or not to make such a contribution -- which does not constitute any sort of legal acknowledgment. It is entirely unknown how these heirs will react, nor can it be guessed whether receipt of funds will affect their subsequent legal or moral decisions regarding similar undertakings in the future. (Much Castoriadis material has gone out of print and much more remains to be translated into English, publication projects in which T/E is currently engaged.) Nevertheless, it is recommended that each user contact, by electronic mail or by other means, at least ten (10) persons or organizations, urging them to obtain a copy of the book in this way or offering these persons or organizations gift copies. It is further recommended that each of these persons or organizations in turn make ten (10) additional contacts under the same terms and circumstances, and so on and so forth, for the purpose of furthering this nonhierarchical and disinterested "pyramid scheme" designed to spread Castoriadis's thought without further hindrance. (See foreword.)

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The above materials were sent to us electronically by an anonymous person, who was perhaps inspired by our reflections on the relevance of Castoriadis's books, in particular his Social and Political Writings. We have decided to post The Rising Tide of Insignificancy to this website in the spirit in which they were originally translated and edited, that is to say, in the spirit of the free excahnge of relevant and useful information. We have not received, and will not receive any financial compensation whatsoever for our involvement in this important project.

To read an article on this project, published 26 March 2004 by The Chronicle of Higher Education, click here.