This book offers a unique and timely reading of the early Frankfurt School in response to the recent 'affective turn' within the arts and humanities. It revisits some of the founding tenets of critical theory in the context of the establishment of the Institute for Social Research in the early twentieth century. The book focuses on the work of Walter Benjamin, whose varied engagements with the subject of melancholia prove to be far more mobile and complex than traditional accounts. It also looks at how an affective politics underpins critical theory's engagement with the world of objects, exploring the affective politics of hope. Situating the affective turn and the new materialisms within a wider context of the 'post-critical', it explains how critical theory, in its originary form, is primarily associated with the work of the Frankfurt School. The book presents an analysis of Theodor Adorno's form of social critique and 'conscious unhappiness', that is, a wilful rejection of any privatized or individualized notion of happiness in favour of a militant and political discontent. A note on the timely reconstruction of early critical theory's own engagements with the object world via aesthetics and mimesis follows. The post-Cold War triumphalism of many on the right, accompanied by claims of the 'end of history', created a sense of fearlessness, righteousness, and unfettered optimism. The book notes how political realism has become the dominant paradigm, banishing utopian impulses and diminishing political hopes to the most myopic of visions.
The last Muggletonian Marxist: EP Thompson’s paradoxical triumph
the decline of the anti-nuclear movement Thompson resumed
his studies of English history, but made little claim for their relevance
to contemporary political issues. Thompson refused invitations to
discuss Marxist theory, and stopped using many Marxist concepts in
his writing. We have noted how, at the end of his life, he even came to
feel that the concept of class had become ‘boring’.
A peculiar triumph?
The story of EP Thompson’s life might seem, from one perspective, like
a record of frustration and failure. Certainly, EP Thompson’s politicalhopes were dashed
The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.
In its contributions to the study of material social differences, queer theoretical writing has mostly assumed that any ideas which embody 'difference' are valuable. More than this, where it is invoked in contemporary theory, queerness is often imagined as synonymous with difference itself. This book uncovers an alternative history in queer cultural representation. Through engagement with works from a range of queer literary genres from across the long twentieth century – fin-de-siècle aestheticism, feminist speculative fiction, lesbian middle-brow writing, and the tradition of the stud file – the book elucidates a number of formal and thematic attachments to ideas that have been denigrated in queer theory for their embodiment of sameness: uselessness, normativity, reproduction and reductionism. Exploring attachments to these ideas in queer culture is also the occasion for a broader theoretical intervention: Same Old suggests, counterintuitively, that the aversion they inspire may be of a piece with how homosexuality has been denigrated in the modern West as a misguided orientation towards sameness. Combining queer cultural and literary history, sensitive close readings and detailed genealogies of theoretical concepts, Same Old encourages a fundamental rethinking of some of the defining positions in queer thought.
Nationalism has reasserted itself today as the political force of our times, remaking European politics wherever one looks. Britain is no exception, and in the midst of Brexit, it has even become a vanguard of nationalism's confident return to the mainstream. Brexit, in the course of generating a historically unique standard of sociopolitical uncertainty and constitutional intrigue, tore apart the two-party compact that had defined the parameters of political contestation for much of twentieth-century Britain. This book offers a wide-ranging picture of the different theoretical accounts relevant to addressing nationalism. It briefly repudiates the increasingly common attempts to read contemporary politics through the lens of populism. The book explores the assertion of 'muscular liberalism' and civic nationalism. It examines more traditional, conservative appeals to racialised notions of blood, territory, purity and tradition as a means of reclaiming the nation. The book also examines how neoliberalism, through its recourse to discourses of meritocracy, entrepreneurial self and individual will, alongside its exaltation of a 'points-system' approach to the ills of immigration, engineers its own unique rendition of the nationalist crisis. There are a number of important themes through which the process of liberal nationalism can be documented - what Arun Kundnani captured, simply and concisely, as the entrenchment of 'values racism'. These include the 'faux-feminist' demonisation of Muslims.
insistence on the natural wisdom of the primitive world. It seems to me sentimental to believe that earlier ages were
any happier or more spiritually healthy than our own. I suspect he may
be as wrong about that as he certainly was in quoting Mao, ‘L’aurore
est devant nous’; a politicalhope almost as mistaken (in the light of later
crimes) as Pound’s belief in fascism (though Mao’s atrocities were not
yet committed). But the beauty of ‘The Kingfishers’ is redolent of a more
ancient East. Olson looks to it as civilisation indigenous to the Americas
which night replace
certain aspects of the liberalism of fear – not least how deeply
embedded it is in contemporary culture but that it also stretches
back to the Cold War era, if not before. The historic proximity and
immanence of catastrophe means that the only politicalhope rests
in avoiding the worst, in being pulled back from the precipice.
Wyndham’s re-imagining of a Cold War-era state of nature
Cosmopolitan Dystopia.indb 177
dramatises in extreme form a basic truth about the powerful
imaginative grip of the ‘American fairy godmother
was built the Temple of David
and conserved the Ark of the covenant; by extension, within the
Judeo-Christian tradition, Jerusalem itself is sometimes called Zion.
The term refers to redemption, and the rastas use it in its biblical
meaning: Zion is the promised land, the city of God, the messianic
Jerusalem (or “New Jerusalem”) built after the end of the world
and where the righteous will live in peace and harmony, with God
among them (Revelation 21–22). For the rastas, Zion symbolizes
hope, whether it is religious hope, celestial hope, or a socio-politicalhope
avoid becoming entangled in Northern Irish politics, hoping that the Unionist government at Stormont could
do enough to satisfy all sides.9
The escalation of violence
On 12 August the Apprentice Boys march in Derry was stoned by Catholic
youths. Violent clashes followed with the police in what became known as
the Battle of the Bogside. Two days later the rioting spread to Belfast where
it was more starkly communal. Seven people were killed in Belfast and
around 1,800 families were forced out of their homes by the disturbances
(roughly 1,500 Catholic and 300 Protestant
). Berg proposes that we –by which he means self-identifying ‘radical
cultural critics’ –surrender our utopian wishes and politicalhope so that we
might finally recognize today’s liberal-democratic, capitalist societies as the
great, unparalleled achievements of civilization that they are. Berg writes: ‘no
social order has ever produced more freedom, more equality, and more justice than the combination of bourgeois capitalism and liberal democracy’.17 Like
Gray, Berg also rests his arguments on a similar Hobbesian presupposition of
fear, demonstrated, for instance