AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThe governing logic of the neoliberal world seeks to impose strict policy outcomes without all the trouble of political debate. Neoliberal governmentality is constructed as ‘apolitical’ or, in James Ferguson’s words, an ‘anti-politics machine’, a function of economic science, conceived by experts (such as independent reserve banks, committees and advisors) whose recommendations determine appropriate social behaviours and methods to encourage their practice. Politicians are judged not on their skill in delivering agreement and compromise, but rather on their skill at delivering balanced budgets and economic growth. This sets up an interesting proposition. When the overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists advocate policy to address the threat of climate change, how does neoliberalism react? Counterintuitively, many neoliberal actors have sought to undermine the authority of climate science. This has caused a rift in the governing logic of neoliberalism, as it selectively abandons the 'anti-politics’ positivism it is built on. Therefore, the anthropocene as a mode of understanding could present a discursive challenge to neoliberal hegemony, exposing the paradoxes and contradictions that lie within the anti-politics agenda. We argue, therefore that the nurture of moral political debate is a crucial task of an anthropocene mode of understanding, one already emergent in activist movements. While these movements are frequently characterised as anti-political in themselves, we argue that instead they should be understood as prefigurative of new extensions of democracy.
CitationCox, P., & Revi, B. (2015, October). Anti-Politics in the Anthropocene. Paper presented to Repositioning The Social At The Heart Of The Anthropocene: A Transdisciplinary Dialogue, panel 2: Challenging (im)moralities: breaking the hegemonic game? , University of Kent, School of Anthropology and Conservation, United Kingdom.
DescriptionWriting began partly in response to Joanna Zylinska’s chapter in minimal ethics and conversations conducted across spaces between strangers. Two starting points, Bauman divorce between power and politics, against the background of his earlier work on the holocaust and modernity, coupled with Ferguson’s critique of neoliberal governmentality as an anti-politics machine. We suggest that it is not simply neoliberal, but all modernist politics that carries antipolitical as its shadow, so that to move forward we need to re-evaluate the terrain of the political and frequently unconsidered normative assumptions about a progressive politics, especially against the backdrop of postcolonial critique.
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