Politics Out of History

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Princeton University Press, 2001 - Philosophy - 193 pages
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What happens to left and liberal political orientations when faith in progress is broken, when both the sovereign individual and sovereign states seem tenuous, when desire seems as likely to seek punishment as freedom, when all political conviction is revealed as contingent and subjective? Politics Out of History is animated by the question of how we navigate the contemporary political landscape when the traditional compass points of modernity have all but disappeared. Wendy Brown diagnoses a range of contemporary political tendencies--from moralistic high-handedness to low-lying political despair in politics, from the difficulty of formulating political alternatives to reproaches against theory in intellectual life--as the consequence of this disorientation.



Politics Out of History also presents a provocative argument for a new approach to thinking about history--one that forsakes the idea that history has a purpose and treats it instead as a way of illuminating openings in the present by, for example, identifying the haunting and constraining effects of past injustices unresolved. Brown also argues for a revitalized relationship between intellectual and political life, one that cultivates the autonomy of each while promoting their interlocutory potential. This book will be essential reading for all who find the trajectories of contemporary liberal democracies bewildering and are willing to engage readings of a range of thinkers--Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, Spinoza, Benjamin, Derrida--to rethink democratic possibility in our time.

 

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Contents

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Page 180 - development, this realm of physical necessity expands as a result of his wants; but, at the same time, the forces of production which satisfy these wants also increase. Freedom in this field can only consist in socialised man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control.
Page 180 - But it nonetheless still remains a realm of necessity. Beyond it begins that development of human energy which is an end in itself, the true realm of freedom, which, however, can blossom forth only with this realm of necessity as its basis, (p. 820)
Page 186 - each new class which puts itself in the place of one ruling before it, is compelled ... to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society[;] ... it has to give its ideas the form of universality and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones." The German Ideology, in The MarxEngels Reader,
Page 183 - [T]he cause of the origin of a thing and its eventual utility, its actual employment and place in a system of purposes, lie worlds apart; whatever exists, having somehow come into being, is again and again reinterpreted to new ends, taken over, transformed, and redirected

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About the author (2001)

Wendy Brown is Professor of Political Science and Women's Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her books include States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity (Princeton), Manhood and Politics: A Feminist Reading in Political Theory, and Left Legalism/Left Critique, coedited with Janet Halley.

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