Category: Post-Neoliberal Civics

I thought this was brilliant from Ruha Benjamin, in the forward to Critical Digital Pedagogy, describing the responsibilities of educators. It applies more broadly than our present crisis but it feels even more pertinent against the backdrop of the pandemic: So, what are the responsibilities of educators and educational institutions in a context where this […]

Much of the commentary on the possibility of post-Trump Trumpism has tended to focus on the possibility of a much more competent populist emerging to lead this movement i.e. one who is disciplined, strategic and serious in contrast to the impulsive and instinctive character of the outgoing president. However this passage from Zizek’s Pandemic 2! […]

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear” ― Antonio Gramsci This quote from Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks has been a mainstay of social commentary grappling with the longer term implications of the financial crisis of […]

I’ve been preoccupied by a phrase used by Anand Giridharadas in his most recent newsletter. As he puts it, some people are clearly “wanting to be left alone by history for a little while”. It points to the hyper-mobilisation which characterises contemporary society, as well as the exhaustion which can follow from this. As Trotsky […]

I thought this was a really interesting analysis which captures a split in my own musical tastes, as an interest in provocative music co-exists uneasily with a desire for collective experience through live music: Afro-American music is still cherished for its tragic yet affirmative sense of life. But it got shoved aside in the late […]

In his recent book of essays, Will Davies draws a comparison between securitisation and digital platforms. From pg 15-16 of This Is Not Normal: These are just some of the ways in which the credit derivative and the platform have transformed our political world in the twenty-first century. But there is more to it than […]

I thought this was a great account of Zygmunt Bauman’s style by David Beer in his newsletter. It’s the same quality which can be found in the trilogy of books by Giddens in the early 1990s which, along with Bauman’s oeuvre, facilitated my transition from philosophy to sociology. These works excited me because they provided […]

From this disturbing piece by Richard Seymour: A glance at the crowd shows it to be younger and more heteroclite than one would expect. The heavily armed protests in the US mostly resembled outings of a Duck Dynasty fan club. Granted, in these English displays, there is the inevitable quorate of Nazis, QAnon supporters, flag […]

The closing passage from Richard Seymour’s latest essay has been reverberating in my mind since I read it: Should we fail to posit the alternative, the constructive reworking of civilisation that is so urgently required, and that accommodates us to inhospitable nature, we do not get the boom years and centrist orthodoxy. We get harder […]

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 […]