Tomorrow I’m heading to Dayton, Ohio, to take part in its monthly research meeting and talk about one of my latest papers-in-progress, “Neoliberalism, the Street, and the Forum.” (This if for a chapter of a book under review with Routledge edited by Albena Azmanova and Mihaela Mihai titled Reclaiming Democracy.) The issue is this: in a neoliberal age that eschews political choice in favor of the TINA (there is no alternative) logic of the market (no matter that this logic is seriously flawed), how can the public sphere respond? I argue that the often seemingly dueling elements of the public sphere — social movements and deliberative forums — have a complementary relationship and together can counter neoliberalism’s anti-politics. Social movements help us think what we are doing. This is an Arendtian way of putting something Arendt never herself wanted to think: that social movements have a crucial role in the political, that is the political public sphere of deciding what kind of people and communities we want to become.
By Noelle McAfee
I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.View all of Noelle McAfee's posts.