We are all fascinated by the mystery of metamorphosis - of the caterpillar that transforms itself into a butterfly. Their bodies have almost nothing in common. They don't share the same world: one crawls on the ground and the other flutters its wings in the air. And yet they are one and the same life. Emanuele Coccia argues that metamorphosis - the phenomenon that allows the same life to subsist in disparate bodies - is the relationship that binds all species together and unites the living with the non-living. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, plants, animals: they are all one and the same life. Each species, including the human species, is the metamorphosis of all those that preceded it - the same life, cobbling together a new body and a new form in order to exist differently. And there is no opposition between the living and the non-living: life is always the reincarnation of the non-living, a carnival of the telluric substance of a planet - the Earth - that continually draws new faces and new ways of being out of even the smallest particle of its disparate body. By highlighting what joins humans together with other forms of life, Coccia's brilliant reflection on metamorphosis encourages us to abandon our view of the human species as static and independent and to recognize instead that we are part of a much larger and interconnected form of life.
The death of God in the West was the prelude to a formidable metaphysical soap opera that continues to this day. Christianity's masterstroke was to combine a fierce belief in the individual with the promise of eternal participation in the Absolute. When that dream evaporated, various attempts were made to offer the individual a minimum of being. The latest of these attempts is advertising, which seeks to arouse desire and transform the subject into a docile phantom doomed to follow advertising's every whim. But, like all previous attempts, this skin-deep, superficial participation in the world fails, and unhappiness and depression continue to spread.However, we can all produce a cold revolution in ourselves by stepping outside the flow of information and advertising. We need to take some time out, unplug the television, turn off our iPhones, stop buying stuff, stop wanting to buy stuff, temporarily detach ourselves and adopt an aesthetic attitude to the world. We just need to stay still for a few seconds.This is one of the key themes developed by Michel Houellebecq in this collection of his texts and interviews from the last three decades. Here he explains and elaborates his point of view, discusses his novels and addresses a wide range of topics from politics, religion and literature to suicide, euthanasia and paedophilia. An indispensable book for anyone interested in the work of one of the most widely read and controversial novelists of our time.
We have long since lost our faith in the idea that human beings could achieve human happiness in some future ideal state-a state that Thomas More, writing five centuries ago, tied to a topos, a fixed place, a land, an island, a sovereign state under a wise and benevolent ruler. But while we have lost our faith in utopias of all hues, the human aspiration that made this vision so compelling has not died. Instead it is re-emerging today as a vision focused not on the future but on the past, not on a future-to-be-created but on an abandoned and undead past that we could call retrotopia.
The emergence of retrotopia is interwoven with the deepening gulf between power and politics that is a defining feature of our contemporary liquid-modern world-the gulf between the ability to get things done and the capability of deciding what things need to be done, a capability once vested with the territorially sovereign state. This deepening gulf has rendered nation-states unable to deliver on their promises, giving rise to a widespread disenchantment with the idea that the future will improve the human condition and a mistrust in the ability of nation-states to make this happen. True to the utopian spirit, retrotopia derives its stimulus from the urge to rectify the failings of the present human condition-though now by resurrecting the failed and forgotten potentials of the past. Imagined aspects of the past, genuine or putative, serve as the main landmarks today in drawing the road-map to a better world. Having lost all faith in the idea of building an alternative society of the future, many turn instead to the grand ideas of the past, buried but not yet dead. Such is retrotopia, the contours of which are examined by Zygmunt Bauman in this sharp dissection of our contemporary romance with the past.
The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States sent shockwaves across the globe. How was such an outcome even possible? In two lectures given at American universities in the immediate aftermath of the election, the leading French philosopher Alain Badiou helps us to make sense of this extraordinary occurrence. He argues that Trump's victory was the symptom of a global crisis made up of four characteristics: the triumph of a brutal form of global capitalism, the decomposition of the established political elite, the growing frustration and disorientation that many people feel today, and the absence of a compelling alternative vision. It was in this context that Trump could emerge as a new kind of political figure that was both inside and outside the political order, a member of the Republican Party who, at the same time, represents something outside the system. The progressive political challenge now is to create something new that offers people a real choice, a radical alternative based on principles of universality and equality. This concise account of the meaning of Trump should be read by everyone who wants to understand what is happening in our world today.
We are living in an open sea, caught up in a continuous wave, with no fixed point and no instrument to measure distance and the direction of travel. Nothing appears to be in its place any more, and a great deal appears to have no place at all. The principles that have given substance to the democratic ethos, the system of rules that has guided the relationships of authority and the ways in which they are legitimized, the shared values and their hierarchy, our behaviour and our life styles, must be radically revised because they no longer seem suited to our experience and understanding of a world in flux, a world that has become both increasingly interconnected and prone to severe and persistent crises.
We are living in the interregnum between what is no longer and what is not yet. None of the political movements that helped undermine the old world are ready to inherit it, and there is no new ideology, no consistent vision, promising to give shape to new institutions for the new world. It is like the Babylon referred to by Borges, the country of randomness and uncertainty in which `no decision is final; all branch into others'. Out of the world that had promised us modernity, what Jean Paul Sartre had summarized with sublime formula `le choix que je suis' (`the choice that I am'), we inhabit that flattened, mobile and dematerialized space, where as never before the principle of the heterogenesis of purposes is sovereign.
This is Babel.
Three years after the political novice Volodymyr Zelensky was elected to Ukraine's highest office, he found himself catapulted into the role of war-time leader. The former comedian has become the public face of his country's courageous and bloody struggle against a brutal invasion. Zelensky's extraordinary leadership in the face of Russia's aggression is an inspiration to everyone who stands opposed to the appalling violence unleashed on Ukraine.
This book - the first biography of Zelensky published in English - tells his astonishing story. It has been revised and updated for this new paperback edition.
Contrary to the common view that globalization undermines social agency, `alter-globalization activists', that is, those who contest globalization in its neo-liberal form, have developed new ways to become actors in the global age. They propose alternatives to Washington Consensus policies, implement horizontal and participatory organization models and promote a nascent global public space. Rather than being anti-globalization, these activists have built a truly global movement that has gathered citizens, committed intellectuals, indigenous, farmers, dalits and NGOs against neoliberal policies in street demonstrations and Social Forums all over the world, from Bangalore to Seattle and from Porto Alegre to Nairobi. This book analyses this worldwide movement on the bases of extensive field research conducted since 1999. Alter-Globalization provides a comprehensive account of these critical global forces and their attempts to answer one of the major challenges of our time: How can citizens and civil society contribute to the building of a fairer, sustainable and more democratic co-existence of human beings in a global world?
'Even the biographical individual is a social category', wrote Adorno. `It can only be defined in a living context together with others.' In this major new biography, Stefan Müller-Doohm turns this maxim back on Adorno himself and provides a rich and comprehensive account of the life and work of one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. This authoritative biography ranges across the whole of Adorno's life and career, from his childhood and student years to his years in emigration in the United States and his return to postwar Germany. At the same time, Muller-Doohm examines the full range of Adorno's writings on philosophy, sociology, literary theory, music theory and cultural criticism. Drawing on an array of sources from Adorno's personal correspondence with Horkheimer, Benjamin, Berg, Marcuse, Kracauer and Mann to interviews, notes and both published and unpublished writings, Muller-Doohm situates Adorno's contributions in the context of his times and provides a rich and balanced appraisal of his significance in the 20th Century as a whole. Müller-Doohm's clear prose succeeds in making accessible some of the most complex areas of Adorno's thought. This outstanding biography will be the standard work on Adorno for years to come.
Humanity is at a crossroads. We face mounting inequality, escalating political violence, warring fundamentalisms and an environmental crisis of planetary proportions. How can we fashion a world that has room for everyone, for generations to come? What are the possibilities, in such a world, of collective human life? These are urgent questions, and no discipline is better placed to address them than anthropology. It does so by bringing to bear the wisdom and experience of people everywhere, whatever their backgrounds and walks of life.
In this passionately argued book, Tim Ingold relates how a field of study once committed to ideals of progress collapsed amidst the ruins of war and colonialism, only to be reborn as a discipline of hope, destined to take centre stage in debating the most pressing intellectual, ethical and political issues of our time. He shows why anthropology matters to us all.
Introducing Polity's Why It Matters series: In these short and lively books, world-leading thinkers make the case for the importance of their subjects and aim to inspire a new generation of students.
Looming trade wars and rising nationalism have stirred troubling memories of the 1930s. Will history repeat itself? Do we face the chaotic breakdown of the global economic system in the face of stagnation, protectionism and political tumult?
Jeremy Green argues that, although we face grave problems, globalization is not about to end. Setting today's challenges within a longer historical context, he demonstrates that the global economy is more interconnected than ever before and the costs of undoing it high enough to make a complete breakdown unlikely. Popular analogies between the 1930s and today are misleading. But the governing liberal ideology of globalisation is changing. It is mutating into a hard-edged nationalism that defends free markets while reasserting sovereignty and strengthening borders. This `national liberalism' threatens a much more dangerous disintegration, fuelled by inequality and ecological crisis, unless we radically rethink the international status quo.
This brilliantly original account of the discontents of globalization is a must-read both for concerned citizens and students of global political economy.
In a context marked by the virulent return of patriarchal and white supremacist attitudes, a new generation of feminist activists are continuing the struggle: these are very feminist times. But how do these and other movements relate to the contemporary posthuman condition?
In this important new book, Rosi Braidotti examines the implications of the posthuman turn for feminist theory and practice. She defines the posthuman turn as a convergence between posthumanism on the one hand and post-anthropocentrism on the other, and she examines their complex relationship and joint impact. Braidotti claims that mainstream posthuman scholarship has neglected feminist theory, while in fact feminism is one of the precursors of the posthuman turn, through diverse social movements and political traditions. Posthuman Feminism is an analytic and creative response to contemporary conditions and a call to action. It highlights the constraints but also the potentialities available to feminist political subjects as they confront the ever-growing injustices of sexism, racism, ecocide and neoliberal capitalism.
This bold new text by a leading feminist philosopher will be of great interest to students and scholars throughout the humanities and social sciences.
Most humans are significantly richer than their ancestors. Humanity gained nearly all of its wealth in the last two centuries. How did this come to pass? How did the world become rich? Mark Koyama and Jared Rubin dive into the many theories of why modern economic growth happened when and where it did. They discuss recently advanced theories rooted in geography, politics, culture, demography, and colonialism. Pieces of each of these theories help explain key events on the path to modern riches. Why did the Industrial Revolution begin in 18th-century Britain? Why did some European countries, the US, and Japan catch up in the 19th century? Why did it take until the late 20th and 21st centuries for other countries? Why have some still not caught up? Koyama and Rubin show that the past can provide a guide for how countries can escape poverty. There are certain prerequisites that all successful economies seem to have. But there is also no panacea. A society's past and its institutions and culture play a key role in shaping how it may - or may not - develop.
There were only a few women economists who made it to the surface and whose voices were heard in the history of economic thought of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Maynard Keynes, and Milton Friedman - right? Wrong! In this book, distinguished economist Edith Kuiper shows us that the history of economic thought is just that, a his-story, by telling the herstory of economic thought from the perspective of women economic writers and economists. Although some of these women were well known in their time, they were excluded from most of academic economics, and, over the past centuries, their work has been neglected, forgotten, and thus become invisible. Edith Kuiper introduces the reader to an amazing crowd of female pioneers and reveals how their insights are invaluable to understanding areas of economics ranging from production, work, and the economics of the household, to income and wealth distribution, consumption, public policy, and much more. This pathbreaking book presents a whole new perspective on the development of economic thought. It will be essential reading for all students and scholars of the history of economic thought and feminist economics.
Ditching the stuffy hang-ups and benighted sexual traditionalism of the past is an unambiguously positive thing. The sexual revolution has liberated us to enjoy a heady mixture of erotic freedom and personal autonomy. Right? Wrong, argues Louise Perry in her provocative new book. Although it would be neither possible nor desirable to turn the clock back to a world of pre-60s sexual mores, she argues that the amoral libertinism and callous disenchantment of liberal feminism and our contemporary hypersexualised culture represent more loss than gain. The main winners from a world of rough sex, hook-up culture and ubiquitous porn - where anything goes and only consent matters - are a tiny minority of high-status men, not the women forced to accommodate the excesses of male lust. While dispensing sage advice to the generations paying the price for these excesses, she makes a passionate case for a new sexual culture built around dignity, virtue and restraint. This counter-cultural polemic from one of the most exciting young voices in contemporary feminism should be read by all men and women uneasy about the mindless orthodoxies of our ultra-liberal era.
There has never been a time when `following the science' has been more important for humanity. At no other point in history have we had such advanced knowledge and technology at our fingertips, nor had such astonishing capacity to determine the future of our planet. But the decisions we must make on how science is applied belong outside the lab and should be the outcome of wide public debate. For that to happen, science needs to become part of our common culture. Science is not just for scientists: if it were, it could never save us from the multiple crises we face. For science can save us, if its innovations mesh carefully into society and its applications are channelled for the common good. As Martin Rees argues in this expert and personal analysis of the scientific endeavour on which we all depend, we need to think globally, we need to think rationally and we need to think long-term, empowered by twenty-first-century technology but guided by values that science alone cannot provide.
The ecological crisis is a very real crisis for the many species that face extinction, but it is also a crisis of sensibility - that is, a crisis in our relationships with other living beings. We have grown accustomed to treating other living beings as the material backdrop for the drama of human life: the animal world is regarded as part of `nature', juxtaposed to the world of human beings who pursue their aims independently of other species.Baptiste Morizot argues that the time has come for us to jettison this nature-human dualism and rethink our relationships with other living beings. Animals are not part of a separate, natural world: they are cohabitants of the Earth, with whom we share a common ancestry, the enigma of being alive and the responsibility of living decent lives together. By accepting our identity as living beings and reconnecting with our own animal nature, we can begin to change our relationships with other animals, seeing them not as inferior lifeforms but as living creatures who have different ways of being alive.This powerful plea for a new understanding of our relationships with other animals will be of great interest to anyone concerned about the ecological crisis and the future of different species, including our own.
`Deep adaptation' refers to the personal and collective changes that might help us to prepare for - and live with - a climate-influenced breakdown or collapse of our societies. It is a framework for responding to the terrifying realization of increasing disruption by committing ourselves to reducing suffering while saving more of society and the natural world. This is the first book to show how professionals across different sectors are beginning to incorporate the acceptance of likely or unfolding societal breakdown into their work and lives. They do not assume that our current economic, social and political systems can be made resilient in the face of climate change but, instead, they demonstrate the caring and creative ways that people are responding to the most difficult realization with which humanity may ever have to come to terms. Edited by the originator of the concept of deep adaptation, Jem Bendell, and a leading climate activist and strategist, Rupert Read, this book is the essential introduction to the concept, practice and emerging global movement of Deep Adaptation to climate chaos.
According to some chronicles of the Spanish Conquest, the violent arrival of the Conquerors to the Andes in the sixteenth century led to sex-dissident people who lived outside the dominant European cisheteropatriarchal model being burned at the stake. This act burned more than the flesh; it also charred practices, ways of life, and textualities, leaving an emptiness and a trauma that would mark the future literatures of the Andean region. This book cannot repair those pre-sodomite texts and bodies. It seeks instead to reconsider the value of the ash, a metaphor that allows for a critical and contradictory reading of sexual dissidences in the Andean region in the twentieth century, beyond both multiculturalism and the wake of a globalized LGBTI movement. Through a comparative analysis, and drawing on theoretical perspectives such as anticoloniality, feminisms, and cuir (rather than queer) theories, the book aims to understand the value of a series of complex texts in which dissident subjectivities, practices, and desires help to broaden the understanding of the Andean. Winner of the prestigious Casa de las Américas prize, the book was praised by the jury for the paradoxical and provocative way that it struggles against the abyss of past destruction and reflects on the contribution of the Global South to the often uniformist thinking around the body and its intersections.
Everyone knows the wind's touch, its presence, its force. Sometimes it roars and howls, at other times we hear its wistful sighs and feel its soothing caresses. Since antiquity, humans have borne witness to the wind and relied on it to navigate the seas. And yet, despite its presence at the heart of human experience, the wind has evaded scrutiny in our chronicles of the past. In this brilliantly original volume, Alain Corbin sets out to illuminate the wind's storied history. He shows how, before the nineteenth century, the noisy emptiness of wind was experienced and described only according to the sensations it provoked. Imagery of the wind featured prominently in literature, from the ancient Greek epics through the Renaissance and romanticism to the modern era, but little was known about where the wind came from and where it went. It was only in the late eighteenth century, with the discovery of the composition of air, that scientists began to understand the nature of wind and its trajectories. From that point on, our understanding of the wind was shaped by meteorology, which mapped the flows of winds and currents around the globe. But while science has enabled us to understand the wind and, in some respects, to harness it, the wind has lost nothing of its mysterious force. It still has the power to destroy, and in the wind's ethereal presence we can still feel its connection with creation and death.
The kiss is the image that, perhaps more than any other, encompasses the beauty and poetry of love. Every love is required to maintain the kiss, to make it last. When they kiss, lovers carve out their hiding holes, finding their peace from war. When they kiss, the noise of the world is silenced, its laws broken, time is stolen from its normal continuity. They fall together in their distinct, embraced tongues. The kiss joins the tongue that declares love with the body of the lover. And the extinction of the kiss and, most importantly, of the desire to kiss one's beloved announces the demise of love. In this short book, Massimo Recalcati - one of Italy's leading intellectuals and bestselling authors - offers seven brief lessons on the mystery and miracle of love, from the serendipity of the first encounter to its end or its continuation over time, as mysterious and miraculous as the first encounter itself.
What is it that leaves us shell shocked in the face of the massacres carried out in New York on 9/11 or in Paris on 13 November 2015? How are we to explain the intensity of the reaction to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo? Answering these questions involves trying to understand what a society goes through when it is subjected to the ordeal of terrorist attacks. And it impels us to try to explain why millions of people feel so concerned and shaken by them, even when they do not have a direct connection with any of the victims.
In Shell Shocked, sociologist Gérôme Truc sheds new light on these events, returning to the ways in which ordinary individuals lived through and responded to the attacks of 9/11, of 11 March 2004 in Madrid and 7 July 2005 in London. Analysing political language and media images, demonstrations of solidarity and minutes of silence, as well as the tens of thousands of messages addressed to the victims, his investigation brings about the complexity of our feelings about the Islamists' attacks. It also uncovers the sources of the solidarity that, in our individualistic societies, ultimately finds expression in the first person singular rather than the first person plural: 'I am Charlie', 'I am Paris.'
This timely and path-breaking book will appeal to students and scholars in sociology and politics and to anyone interested in understanding the impact of terrorism in contemporary societies.
`Islamophobia' is a term that has existed since the nineteenth century. But in recent decades, argues Pascal Bruckner in his controversial new book, it has become a weapon used to silence criticism of Islam. The term allows those who brandish it in the name of Islam to `freeze' the latter, making reform difficult. Whereas Christianity and Judaism have been rejuvenated over the centuries by external criticism, Islam has been shielded from critical examination and has remained impervious to change. This tendency is exacerbated by the hypocrisy of those Western defenders of Islam who, in the name of the principles of the Enlightenment, seek to muzzle its critics while at the same time demanding the right to chastise and criticize other religions. These developments, argues Bruckner, are counter-productive for Western democracies as they struggle with the twin challenges of immigration and terrorism. The return of religion in those democracies must not be equated with the defence of fanaticism, and the right to religious freedom must go hand in hand with freedom of expression, an openness to criticism, and a rejection of all forms of extremism.
There are already more than enough forms of racism; there is no need to imagine more. While all violence directed against Muslims is to be strongly condemned and punished, defining these acts as `Islamophobic' rather than criminal does more to damage Islam and weaken the position of Muslims than to strengthen them.
Recently there has been an extraordinary international revival of interest in Hannah Arendt. She was extremely perceptive about the dark tendencies in contemporary life that continue to plague us. She developed a concept of politics and public freedom that serves as a critical standard for judging what is wrong with politics today.
Richard J. Bernstein argues that Arendt should be read today because her penetrating insights help us to think about both the darkness of our times and the sources of illumination. He explores her thinking about statelessness and refugees; the right to have rights; her critique of Zionism; the meaning of the banality of evil; the complex relations between truth, lying, power, and violence; the tradition of the revolutionary spirit; and the urgent need for each of us to assume responsibility for our political lives.
This short and very readable book will be of great interest to anyone who wants to understand the forces that are shaping our world today.
In what ways are cities central to the evolution of contemporary global capitalism? And in what ways is global capitalism forged by the urban experience? This book provides a response to these questions, exploring the multifaceted dimensions of the city-capitalism nexus.
Drawing on a wide range of conceptual approaches, including political economy, neo-institutionalism and radical political theory, this insightful book examines the complex relationships between contemporary capitalist cities and key forces of our times, such as globalization and neoliberalism. Taking a truly global perspective, Ugo Rossi offers a comparative analysis of the ways in which urban economies and societies reflect and at the same time act as engines of global capitalism.
Ultimately, this book shows how over the past three decades capitalism has shifted a gear - no longer merely incorporating key aspects of society into its system, but encompassing everything, including life itself - and illustrates how cities play a central role within this life-oriented construction of global capitalism.