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.
Academic, writer, figure of melancholy, aesthete - Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009) not only transformed his academic discipline, he also profoundly changed the way that we view ourselves and the world around us.
In this award-winning biography, historian Emmanuelle Loyer recounts Lévi-Strauss's childhood in an assimilated Jewish household, his promising student years as well as his first forays into political and intellectual movements. As a young professor, Lévi-Strauss left Paris in 1935 for São Paulo to teach sociology. His rugged expeditions into the Brazilian hinterland, where he discovered the Amerindian Other, made him into an anthropologist. The racial laws of the Vichy regime would force him to leave France yet again, this time for the USA in 1941, where he became Professor Claude L. Strauss - to avoid confusion with the jeans manufacturer.
Lévi-Strauss's return to France, after the war, ushered in the period during which he produced his greatest works: several decades of intense labour in which he reinvented anthropology, establishing it as a discipline that offered a new view on the world. In 1955, Tristes Tropiques offered indisputable proof of this the world over. During those years, Lévi-Strauss became something of a French national monument, as well as a celebrity intellectual of global renown. But he always claimed his perspective was a `view from afar', enabling him to deliver incisive and subversive diagnoses of our waning modernity.
Loyer's outstanding biography tells the story of a true intellectual adventurer whose unforgettable voice invites us to rethink questions of the human and the meaning of progress. She portrays Lévi-Strauss less as a modern than as our own great and disquieted contemporary.
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.
In June 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As the EU's chief negotiator, for four years Michel Barnier had a seat at the table as the two sides thrashed out what `Brexit' would really mean. The result would change Britain and Europe forever. During the 1600 days of complex and often acrimonious negotiations, Michel Barnier kept a secret diary. He recorded his private hopes and fears, and gave a blow-by-blow account as the negotiations oscillated between consensus and disagreement, transparency and lies. From Brussels to London, from Dublin to Nicosia, Michel Barnier's secret diary lifts the lid on what really happened behind the scenes of one of the most high-stakes negotiations in modern history. The result is a unique testimony from the ultimate insider on the hidden world of Brexit and those who made it happen.
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?
We make sense of love with fantasies, stories that shape feelings that are otherwise too overwhelming, incoherent, and wayward to be tamed. For love is a complex, bewildering, and ecstatic emotion covering a welter of different feelings and moral judgments. Drawing on poetry, fiction, letters, memoirs, and art, and with the aid of a rich array of illustrations, historian Barbara H. Rosenwein explores five of our most enduring fantasies of love: like-minded union, transcendent rapture, selfless giving, obsessive longing, and insatiable desire. Each has had a long and tangled history with lasting effects on how we in the West think about love today. Yet each leads to a different conclusion about what we should strive for in our relationships. If only we could peel back the layers of love and discover its "true" essence. But love doesn't work like that; it is constructed on the shards of experience, story, and feeling, shared over time, intertwined with other fantasies. By understanding the history of how we have loved, Rosenwein argues, we may better navigate our own tumultuous experiences and perhaps write our own scripts.
'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.
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 this post-apocalyptic rollercoaster ride, philosopher Srecko Horvat invites us to explore the Apocalypse in terms of `revelation' (rather than as the `end' itself). He argues that the only way to prevent the end - i.e., extinction - is to engage in a close reading of various interconnected threats, such as climate crisis, the nuclear age and the ongoing pandemic. Drawing on the work of neglected philosopher Günther Anders, this book outlines a philosophical approach to deal with what Horvat, borrowing a term from climate science and giving it a theological twist, calls `eschatological tipping points'. These are no longer just the nuclear age or climate crisis, but their collision, conjoined with various other major threats - not only pandemics, but also the viruses of capitalism and fascism. In his investigation of the future of places such as Chernobyl, the Mediterranean and the Marshall Islands, as well as many others affected by COVID-19, Horvat contends that the `revelation' appears simple and unprecedented: the alternatives are no longer socialism or barbarism - our only alternatives today are a radical reinvention of the world, or mass extinction. After the Apocalypse is an urgent call not only to mourn tomorrow's dead today but to struggle for our future while we can.
There are few issues more contentious today than the nature and purpose of borders. Migration flows and the refugee crisis have propelled the issue of borders into the centre of political debate and revealed our moral unease more clearly than ever. Who are we to deny others access to our territory? Is not freedom of movement a basic human right, one that should be defended above all others? In this book Paul Scheffer takes a different view. Rather than thinking of borders as obstacles to freedom, he argues that borders make freedom possible. Democracy and redistributive justice are only possible with the regulation of access to territories and rights. When liberals ignore an open society's need for borders, people with authoritarian inclinations will begin to erect them. In the context of Europe, the project of removing internal borders can therefore only be successful if Europe accepts responsibility for its external border. This timely and important book challenges conventional ways of thinking and will be of interest to everyone concerned with the great social and political issues of our time.
Inequality is the crisis of our time. The growing gap between a few at the top and the rest of society damages us all. No longer able to deny the crisis, every government in the world is now pledged to fix it - and yet it keeps on getting worse.
In this book, international anti-inequality campaigner Ben Phillips shows why winning the debate is not enough: we have to win the fight. Drawing on his insider experience, and his personal exchanges with the real-life heroes of successful movements, he shows how the battle against inequality has been won before, and he shares a practical plan for defeating inequality again. He sets a route map for us to overcome deference, build our collective power, and create a new story.
Most books on inequality are about what other people ought to do about it - this book is about why winning the fight needs you. Tired of feeling helpless in the face of spiralling inequality? Want to know what you can do about it? This is the book for you.
Today Syria is a country known for all the wrong reasons: civil war, vicious sectarianism, and major humanitarian crisis. But how did this once rich, multi-cultural society end up as the site of one of the twenty-first century's most devastating and brutal conflicts? In this incisive book, internationally renowned Syria expert David Lesch takes the reader on an illuminating journey through the last hundred years of Syrian history - from the end of the Ottoman empire through to the current civil war. The Syria he reveals is a fractured mosaic, whose identity (or lack thereof) has played a crucial part in its trajectory over the past century. Only once the complexities and challenges of Syria's history are understood can this pivotal country in the Middle East begin to rebuild and heal.
As an unprecedented global pandemic sweeps the planet, who better than the supercharged Slovenian philosopher Slavoj ?i?ek to uncover its deeper meanings, marvel at its mind-boggling paradoxes and speculate on the profundity of its consequences?
We live in a moment when the greatest act of love is to stay distant from the object of your affection. When governments renowned for ruthless cuts in public spending can suddenly conjure up trillions. When toilet paper becomes a commodity as precious as diamonds. And when, according to ?i?ek, a new form of communism - the outlines of which can already be seen in the very heartlands of neoliberalism - may be the only way of averting a descent into global barbarism.
Written with his customary brio and love of analogies in popular culture (Quentin Tarantino and H. G. Wells sit next to Hegel and Marx), ?i?ek provides a concise and provocative snapshot of the crisis as it widens, engulfing us all.
Can a drop of perfume tell the story of the twentieth century? Can a smell bear the traces of history? What can we learn about the history of the twentieth century by examining the fate of perfumes? In this remarkable book, Karl Schlgel unravels the interconnected histories of two of the world's most celebrated perfumes. In tsarist Russia, two French perfumers Ernest Beaux and Auguste Michel developed related fragrances honouring Catherine the Great for the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. During the Russian Revolution and Civil War, Beaux fled Russia and took the formula for his perfume with him to France, where he sought to adapt it to his new French circumstances. He presented Coco Chanel with a series of ten fragrance samples in his laboratory and, after smelling each, she chose number five the scent that would later go by the name Chanel No. 5. Meanwhile, as the perfume industry was being revived in Soviet Russia, Auguste Michel used his original fragrance to create Red Moscow for the tenth anniversary of the Revolution. Piecing together the intertwined histories of these two famous perfumes, which shared a common origin, Schlgel tells a surprising story of power, intrigue and betrayal that offers an altogether unique perspective on the turbulent events and high politics of the twentieth century. This brilliant account of perfume and politics in twentieth-century Europe will be of interest to a wide general readership.
Berlin in the early 1990s, right after the fall of the Berlin Wall: this is the place to be. Berlin-Mitte, the central district of the city, with its wastelands and decaying houses, has become the centre of a new movement. Artists, musicians, squatters, club owners, DJs and ravers are reclaiming the old city centre and bringing it back to life. This interregnum between two systems - the collapse of the old East Germany, the gentrification of the new Berlin - lasts only a few years. West Berliners, East Berliners and new residents from abroad join together to create music, art and fashion, to open bars and clubs and galleries, even if only for a few weeks. In the months following the fall of the Wall, there is a feeling of new beginnings and immense possibilities: life is now, and to be in the here and now feels endless. The phrase `temporary autonomous zone' is circulating, it describes the idea - romantic and naive but, in the circumstances, not absurd - that, at a certain moment in history, you can actually do whatever you want. Ulrich Gutmair moved to West Berlin as a student in autumn 1989: two weeks later the Wall came down. He spent the next few years studying during the day in the West and exploring the squats, bars and techno clubs in the East at night. He fell in love with House and Techno and raved at Tresor, Elektro, Bunker and many other places that in the meantime have almost disappeared from collective memory. Ten years later he decided to write a book about that period in between, when one regime was brought down and a new one wasn't yet established. When utopia was actually a place to inhabit for a moment.
At the heart of how history sees the French Revolution lies the enigma of the Terror. How did this archetypal revolution, founded on the principles of liberty and equality and the promotion of human rights, arrive at circumstances where it carried out the violent and terrible repression of its opponents? The guillotine, initially designed to be a `humane' form of capital punishment, became a formidable instrument of political repression and left a deep imprint, not only on how we see the Revolution, but also on how France's image has been depicted in the world. This book reconstructs the Terror in all its complexity. It shows that the popular view of a so-called `system of terror' was retrospectively invented by the group of revolutionaries who overthrew Robespierre, as a way of trying to exonerate themselves from culpability. What we think of as `the Terror' is best understood as an improvised and sometimes chaotic response to events, based on the urgent needs of a revolutionary government confronted by a succession of political and military crises. It was a government of `exception' - a crisis government. Terror brings together a wealth of factual elements, along with recent thinking on the ideological, emotional and tactical dimensions of revolutionary politics, to throw new light on how the phenomenon of terror came to demonise the image and memory of the French Revolution. It will be essential reading for students and scholars of the French Revolution and for anyone concerned with the ways in which political conflict can descend into violence.
The world is in the midst of a storm that has shaped the history of modernity along a double fracture: on the one hand, an environmental fracture driven by a technocratic and capitalist civilization that led to the ongoing devastation of the Earth's ecosystems and its human and non-human communities and, on the other, a colonial fracture instilled by Western colonization and imperialism that resulted in racial slavery and the domination of indigenous peoples and women in particular. In this important new book, Malcom Ferdinand challenges this double fracture, thinking from the Caribbean world. Here, the slave ship reveals the inequalities that continue during the storm: some are shackled inside the hold and even thrown overboard at the first gusts of wind. Drawing on empirical and theoretical work in the Caribbean, Ferdinand conceptualizes a decolonial ecology that holds protecting the environment together with the political struggles against (post)colonial domination, structural racism, and misogynistic practices. Facing the storm, this book is an invitation to build a world-ship where humans and non-humans can live together on a bridge of justice and shape a common world. It will be of great interest to students and scholars in environmental humanities and Latin American and Caribbean studies, as well as anyone interested in ecology, slavery, and (de)colonization.
Populism is an expression of anger; its appeal stems from being presented as the solution to disorder in our times. The vision of democracy, society, and the economy it offers is coherent and attractive. At a time when the words and slogans of the left have lost much of their power to inspire, Pierre Rosanvallon takes populism for what it is: the rising ideology of the twenty-first century. In The Populist Century he develops a rigorous theoretical account of populism, distinguishing five key features that make up populist political culture; he retraces its history in modern democracies from the mid-nineteenth century to the present; and he offers a well-reasoned critique of populism, outlining a robust democratic alternative. This wide-ranging and insightful account of the theory and practice of populism will be of great interest to students and scholars in politics and the social sciences and to anyone concerned with the key political questions of our time.
This biography of Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) tells the story of a Jewish boy from Algiers, excluded from school at the age of twelve, who went on to become the most widely translated French philosopher in the world - a vulnerable, tormented man who, throughout his life, continued to see himself as unwelcome in the French university system. We are plunged into the different worlds in which Derrida lived and worked: pre-independence Algeria, the microcosm of the École Normale Supérieure, the cluster of structuralist thinkers, and the turbulent events of 1968 and after. We meet the remarkable series of leading writers and philosophers with whom Derrida struck up a friendship: Louis Althusser, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean Genet, and Hélène Cixous, among others. We also witness an equally long series of often brutal polemics fought over crucial issues with thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, John R. Searle, and Jürgen Habermas, as well as several controversies that went far beyond academia, the best known of which concerned Heidegger and Paul de Man. We follow a series of courageous political commitments in support of Nelson Mandela, illegal immigrants, and gay marriage. And we watch as a concept - deconstruction - takes wing and exerts an extraordinary influence way beyond the philosophical world, on literary studies, architecture, law, theology, feminism, queer theory, and postcolonial studies. In writing this compelling and authoritative biography, Benoît Peeters talked to over a hundred individuals who knew and worked with Derrida. He is also the first person to make use of the huge personal archive built up by Derrida throughout his life and of his extensive correspondence. Peeters' book gives us a new and deeper understanding of the man who will perhaps be seen as the major philosopher of the second half of the twentieth century.
Today, in Western countries, we are seeing both the fragmentation of the gender binary (the division of the social world into two and only two genders) and its persistence. Multiple genders, gender-neutral pronouns and bathrooms, X designations, and other manifestations of degendering are becoming common, and yet the two-gender structure of our social world persists. Underneath the persistence of the binary and its discriminatory norms and expectations lurks the continuance of men's power and privilege. So there is the continued need to valorize the accomplishments of women, especially those of denigrated groups. This succinct and thoughtful book by one of the world's foremost sociologists of gender shines a light on both sides of this paradox - processes in the fragmentation of gender that are undermining the binary and processes in the performance of gender that reinforce the binary, and the pros and cons of each. The conclusion of the book discusses why we haven't had a gender revolution and how degendering would go a long way in creating gender equality.
Does a global economy render the traditional nation-state obsolete? Does globalization threaten democratic life, or offer it new forms of expression? What are the implications of globalization for our understanding of politics and of national and cultural identities?
In The Postnational Constellation, the leading German philosopher and social theorist J?rgen Habermas addresses these and other questions. He explores topics such as the historical and political origins of national identity, the catastrophes and achievements of "the long twentieth century," the future of democracy in the wake of the era of the nation-state, the moral and political challenges facing the European Union, and the status of global human rights in the ongoing debate on the sources of cultural identity. In their scope, critical insight, and argumentative clarity, the essays in The Postnational Constellation present a powerful vision of the contemporary political scene and of the challenges and opportunities we face in the new millennium.
Those unfamiliar with Habermas's theoretical work will find in this volume a lucid and engaging introduction to one of the world's most influential thinkers. For readers familiar with Habermas's writings, The Postnational Constellation provides an invaluable application of his social and political theories to current political realities.