Social Criticism and Political Thought: From Progressive Neoliberalism to Reactionary Populism? Distribution, Recognition and the Crisis of Hegemony

Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 12:00 pm to 1:20 pm
301 Marx Hall

We are currently facing a severe crisis of political authority: a dramatic weakening of the credibility of the established political classes, political parties, and the political commonsense that had underpinned them. Aiming to clarify this process, I map the hegemonic field of the previous period. Constructed around the (highly restricted) opposition between progressive and regressive neoliberalisms, this structure foreclosed anti-neoliberal perspectives, leaving a sizable segment of Americans, victims of financialization and globalization, without a voice. I then chart, first, the process by which competing populisms (progressive and reactionary) erupted to fill that gap in 2016, and second, the unfolding of Trump's presidency as a hyper-reactionary neoliberalism, which recreates the old gap. Looking also at the current “resistance,” I suggest we are stranded in an interregnum in which, quoting Gramsci, "“the old is dying and the new cannot be born.”