Category: Post-Neoliberal Civics

I’m reading Jeffrey Alexander’s massive The Civil Sphere in the final stages of my project with Lambros Fatsis on public sociology. The reviewers suggested we need to expand our concept of publicness to take account of the notion of civil sphere, defined by Alexander on pg 3 as “a world of values and institutions that generates the […]

I’m greatly enjoying Christopher Kelty’s recent book The Participant which is an enormously creative reflection on participation from a philosophical and anthropological perspective. What endears me to it so much is it clear sense of the ontology of participation which it sustains without remaining stuck at the level of ontology. He treats participation as: A concept A […]

As often happens when I read older texts by Peter Sloterdijk, I’m struck by a sense of their enduring relevance compared to other thinkers who write in his register. In this extract from his Infinite Mobilisation (1997) he writes about the significance of those experiences when infrastructure struggles and we grind to a halt. What he […]

There’s a short aside in Against The Web by Michael Brooks which identifies something which I’ve often reflected on. For all their terrible characteristics figures like Jordan Peterson are serving an existential need which the left ought to understand. From pg 50: Like everyone else, young white men are trying to muddle through life in […]

A few days ago, I tweeted* a complaint to a public transport operator in frustration at how few people were wearing masks on their services and the seeming lack of enforcement by the operators. I was visiting my parents, who’ve been shielding since March and I was growing increasingly concerned that I was exposing them […]

From Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore’s A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things loc 2651-2699: When the United States abandoned the gold standard in August 1971,80 international capital sought refuge from this “Nixon shock” in commodity purchases. At the same time, the Soviet Union—following poor harvests—traded its oil for wheat, driving up […]

I’ve spent the last couple of years grappling with the notion of ‘post-truth’ in order to understand the changing social and political context within which academics are using social media. It’s a term I’m instinctively wary of because it so often fails to transcend the level of platitude, enabling people to dismiss political currents they […]

This point made by Benjamin Bratton, in a personal conversation quoted by Zizek in Pandemic!, makes an important point about how we categorise state action in a crisis like this. From loc 523: China introduced measures that Western Europe and the USA are unlikely to tolerate, perhaps to their own detriment. Put bluntly, it is […]

From Zizek’s The Ticklish Subject pg 430: In short, the only way effectively to bring about a society in which risky long-term decisions would ensue from public debate involving all concerned is some kind of radical limitation of Capital’s freedom, the subordination of the process of production to social control – the radical repoliticisation of the […]

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how breaks, ruptures and transitions are conceived of an ontological level. They are evidenced through factors across a range of domains which are presented as indicators of change but the underlying rupture must exceed these particular trends in order to be regarded as such. There’s something might and […]

I thought this was a good summary of the strange alliances unfolding as the plate tectonics of politics shift, from Rosi Braidotti’s Post Human Knowledge pg 34-35: Former liberal thinkers turning arch-conservative, in response to the current US administration’s preference for white supremacy, is becoming a salient feature of the contemporary American theory wars (Lilla […]

From Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism loc 373: While neoliberalism, which emerged with the Thatcher and Reagan governments, led to higher unemployment and lower wage growth, for more than a generation this was mitigated by access to cheaper goods and services–by relocating production to countries with lower wages–as well as inflated asset prices, particularly […]

From Matt Taibbi’s Hate Inc loc 120: In 2016 especially, news reporters began to consciously divide and radicalize audiences. The cover was that we were merely “calling out” our divisive new president, Donald Trump. But from where I sat, the press was now working in collaboration with Trump, acting in his simplistic mirror image, creating […]

From David Harvey, Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom, Columbia University Press, 2009, pp. 80–1: The optimistic cosmopolitanism that became so fashionable following the Cold War, Craig Calhoun points out, not only bore all the marks of its history as “a project of empires, of long-distance trade, and of cities,” it also shaped up as […]

This is an important point by Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson which echoes an argument Will Davies made a couple of years ago. The claim of being suppressed, being denied a platform, plays an increasingly crucial role in how reactionary celebrities build their platform. It draws attention for their work, provides them with their narrative and […]

One of the curious features of social media is how it encourages reflection on the use of social media. It has brought novel experiences and the capacity to discuss novelty, leading to a growing focus on online interaction as an object of online interaction. The result is often far from pretty: I take ‘post-truth’ to be in […]