Program in Ethics and Public Affairs
ABSTRACT: The coherence of the social collective that contemporary liberal governance claims to represent requires constant access to a historical “reset” button, a simultaneous acknowledgment and disavowal of history. The political economic institutions that facilitate this false solidarity—what we might call the “anti-social contract”—range from the mundane to emergency measures, but they share an origin in, and gain much of their legitimacy from, a key mechanism of governance: contract. This talk considers some of the ways contract mediates the relationship between past and future in liberal-capitalist society, in particular with regard to Indigenous land claims. If contracts “settle” the past, what is to be done in the shadow of a past that cannot be settled?
Geoff Mann is a professor of geography at Simon Fraser University and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. His most recent books are In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy and Revolution (Verso, 2017); Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future (Verso, 2018, co-authored with Joel Wainwright); and Money and Finance After the Crisis: Critical Thinking for Uncertain Times (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017, co-edited with Brett Christophers & Andrew Leyshon). He lives on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh in Vancouver, Canada.
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