It was my pleasure recently to be invited by the ‘Always Already Podcast’ team to put in a guest appearance on their show, and respond to their recent episode on Martijn Konings’s fascinating book, The Emotional Logic of Capitalism. They offered me a 10-minute slot, and ran it in Episode 19 of their Epistemic Unruliness series. Below, you can find a slightly edited and extended version of my remarks, which were provoked by their own engagement with Konings’s book, but also by my own, continuing work on austerity and recession in Ireland. For ease of reading’s sake, I have added in some material from remarks I made at another talk I gave on February 17, this year, at Ohio State’s ‘Research in International Politics’ (RIP) group, entitled Austerity as Tragedy? From Neoliberal Governmentality to the Critique of Late Capitalist Control:
On this week’s show we talked about the New McCarthyism with our guest Dr Tara MacCormack, a Lecturer at University of Leicester. Tara writes on security, foreign policy, and legitimacy. Among other things, she is interested in how traditional conceptions of military and territorial security have been displaced in the last few decades, by the concept of human security. In 2010, Tara published a book with Routledge entitled ‘Critique, Security and Power: The Political Limits to Emancipatory Approaches.’
Our conversation this episode addressed a number of topics, including the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, reaction to the resignation of Lt. General Michael Flynn as national security advisor, the role of the the “pro-war left” in promoting the New McCarthyism, and the question of left strategy in the aftermath of the protests against Milo Yiannopoulos, at the University of Berkeley.
UPDATE: the letter below was subsequently printed, and can be read here (with some alterations made by the paper’s editor, it seems)…
This is my letter to the Irish Independent (I know, I know, why bother…), about Dan O’Brien’s piece today:
To Whom It May Concern,
Dan O’Brien (29/10) claims that because there are no self-described neoliberals, it is not possible to engage with their ideas. But surely he would not deny the historical existence of self-described free market radicals, like Milton Friedman and Gary Becker, or the historic influence of their ideas on government policymakers, like Paul Volker and Margaret Thatcher.
Neoliberalism, quite simply, is a theory that advocates applying the laws of the market to as many domains of human existence as possible, as intensely as possible. Neoliberals take up the ideas of early liberals, like Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Those thinkers had faith in the virtue of market-based competition as a mechanism for optimizing the distribution goods and services. Moreover, they believed the experience of buying and selling in the marketplace was a moral corrective, producing over time a class of responsible and capable citizens, named ‘entrepreneurs’.
An essay I co-wrote with Iver B. Neumann, ‘Worlds of Our Making in Science Fiction and International Relations,’ has just been published in a volume entitled Popular Culture and World Politics: Theories, Methods, Pedagogies’. The book is published by E-International Relations, and is edited by Federica Caso and Caitlin Hamilton. The book is available on Amazon, or as free-to-download PDF.
The piece is largely devoted to the question of defining science fiction, and its interest to IR scholars. Here’s an excerpt:
“Taking this broad array of artefacts seriously, then, as artefacts proper to the literary genre of science fiction, the question becomes one of how consumer expectations are subject, among other things, to the expectations generated by the conventions of this genre. Following Cultural Studies theorists like Darko Suvin, we recognise that science fiction is ‘a literary genre whose necessary and sufficient conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, and whose main formal device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author’s empirical environment’ (suvin, cited in Freedman 2000, p. 16). The term ‘estrangement’ (rus. ostranenie), coined originally a century ago by russian formalist Shklovsky, is that which gives the text the power, implicitly or explicitly, to give the reader over to a sense of the possibility of another reality. By contrast, ‘cognition’ refers to that which enables the text to rationally account for the way this alternative reality actually works. It performs this operation by posing explicit differences between the inner workings of its narrative world and those of our own.
As Freedman (2000) stresses, however, operations of estrangement are not in and of themselves all that politically significant. Texts orientated more towards estrangement, such as tolkien’s Lord of the rings, can be read for all intents and purposes as fantasy. Texts that focus more on cognition, on the other hand, tend towards realism at the expense of imaginative difference, thus potentially stretching the limits of the genre too far in the opposite direction. For this reason, as freedman cautions, the exact parameters of science fiction as a genre are somewhat difficult to nail down. For freedman, what is essential ultimately is the ‘cognition effect’, that is, ‘the attitude of the text itself to the kind of estrangements being performed’ (Freedman 2000, 18, emphasis in original). Thus, even though actual science may someday supersede the cognitively rational elements of a particular science fiction text, it should remain a part of the genre because the author originally understood what he or she was writing to have a potential cognitive validity. On this account, a definition of the genre would necessarily exclude the Lord of the rings, but it would feasibly include the more traditional estrangement-centric ‘pulp’ of Hugo Gernsback’s 1929 Amazing Stories, of which Star Wars would naturally be considered a contemporary exemplar.
For the sake of precision, however, we might want to narrow this definition down a little. By the time Shklovsky came up with the term ‘estrangement’, the idea that alternative realities were not only part of literature’s remit, but one of literature’s defining traits, was already firmly ensconced. A romantic such as Coleridge defined poetry in terms of a willing suspension of disbelief. Thomas more’s Utopia was first published in 1516. Indeed, taking into consideration that older literary traditions are basically part of religious traditions, and noting that religion is a social phenomenon that by definition operates with more than one reality – there is the profane and visible reality, and then there are one or more alternate realities – we would argue that the existence of what Suvin refers to as ‘an imaginative framework alternative to the author’s empirical environment’ is the historical literary rule. It was only with the coming of modernity that the possibility of a wholly disenchanted literature emerged. In light of this, the oft-heard throwaway line that all literature is science fiction cannot be written off without argument.”
Thanks to all involved for putting this together!
Attention all #ISA2015 participants, the #RubySeries needs YOU! We are looking for volunteers to film/record #Ruby panels. We will have one or two video cameras and, thus far, two or three podcast quality microphones (to use mikes, we will also need laptops, so volunteers for podcasting – bring them along). Volunteers – would be great if you are in town already on Tuesday for quick training. Ruby panels’ organizers – if you have podcast quality microphones, please bring them along and record your own panels if possible (Blue Snowball microphone is 59$ on Amazon). All – if you have microphones and or even video cameras with tripods that you could use at ISA, please bring them along. And do remember to ask all panelists for consent if recording. Please see discussion on the Occupy IR FB group for further discussion. Solidarity!
Following Cynthia Weber’s recent post over at Duck of Minerva, there has been a lot of debate about the International Studies Association’s planned ‘Saphire Series’ for the upcoming annual conference in New Orleans. Some of that debate has been taking place at the #occupyirtheory/ipe Facebook group. With now over 175 comments, there have been a wide ranging set of proposals and ideas about the issues raised by the Series, and how to respond to them. Many will be using the #Ruby hashtag on Twitter to maintain communications on these issues as the conference proceeds. Another idea has been for people to list any panels they feel might offer the possibility of institutionally balancing the dominant ‘white, male and tenured’ voices the Series is showcasing. Interested readers can also follow the Twitter hashtag #RubySeries for updates on these panels.
Disclaimer: this list is based on suggestions made in context of an open and ongoing discussion at the OccupyIR group on Facebook, among other places, about ISA’s Sapphire Series. It is not intended as a way of ‘promoting’ select panels. It is merely a way for people to link their panels together in an expression of solidarity in response to the perceived elitism of the Sapphire series. If you are part of a panel that you do want listed, let me know. Similarly, if you do not want your panel listed, I am happy to remove it for you.
Ruby Series: Celebrating Multiple Voices in Conversation
Current as of 02/17/15 — 71 Panels!
- WA10: Presidential Theme Panel: Advancing Global IR (I): Challenges And Prospects
- WA11: Rethinking Silence, Voice and Agency in Feminist Approaches to Security
- WA21: Local Actors and the Diffusion of Gender Norms in Developing Regions
- WA41: Decolonizing Methods: New Tools for Global IR
WA52: Anti-Colonial Poetics and the Lived Experience of Politics
WA 56: Presidential Theme Panel – Indigenous Peoples, Values And Sovereignty, In The Study Of Global Politics
WB30: Presidential Theme Panel: Bandung+60: Legacies and Contradictions
WB31: Postcolonialism, Feminism And Global International Relations: Remembering The Legacy Of Geeta Chowdhry
WB78: Women’s Activism in Revolutions and Crises
WC18: Embodiment, Experience and War: Methodological Challenges and Reflections
WC19: Do We Know Gender in Peacebuilding? (I) Gender Mainstreaming and UNSCR 1325
WC40: Girls, Gender and the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda
WC60: Women in Conflict: Perspectives
WD02: FTGS Eminent Scholar Panel Honoring Shirin M. Rai
WD08: New Thinking on Religions and Civilizations in World Politics
WD52: Representation and Practice: Bodies, Borders and Orders of Security
WD58: Living Globalisation: Female Academics at Home and Abroad
- TA10: What’s Wrong with a Singular World?
TA11: Gendering International Organisations
TA 22: Race And International Relaons: A Debate Around John Hobson’s “The Eurocentric Conception Of World Politics”
TA30: Borders and Belonging: Gender, Nation, Ethnicity in Transnational Relations
TA29: roundtable on “(Everyday) Sexism in the Academy: Stories & Strategies”
TA38: roundtable: Does Russell Brand Have A Point, Or Does Being Cheeky Count As Revolution?
TA50: The End of Militarized Masculinity? Global Perspectives on Gender and Traveling Concepts
TA51: Is the Personal-National Globally Political? Theorizing the International Diffusion of LGBTQ Rights
TA69 Claiming a Voice: Politics in a World of Inequality.
TB30 Presidential Theme Panel – Feminist International Relations Today: A Discipline Transformed?
TB50: Global Feminist IR
TC02 Race and Racism in International Relations
TC06: Presidential Theme Panel – How The Search For ‘Non-Western IR’ Led To A Reflection Of The ‘Self’: (Un)Learning IR In And Beyond The Classroom
- TC07: Globalizing International Studies Pedagogies
TC16: Gender and Human Rights, 1:45pm
TC21: Art as Subject, Art as Method
TC56: Decolonial Methodologies: Critiques and Experiences from the Fieldwork
TC72: Critical Friends and De(Con)Structure Critics: How Should Feminist Academics Engage with Global Institutions?
TD09: IR’s Eurocentric Limitations TD21: roundtable on “After Deepwater Horizon: Rebuilding Indigenous Communities After the BP Gulf Oil Disaster”
- TD14: Colonial Legacies and Decolonizing Trajectories
TD33: Making Sense of Emotions, Politics and War
TD52: Global Human Trafficking and Gender
TD57: Global Masculinities in a Transnational World
- FA13: Conceptualising the Use of Sexual Violence and Rape in War
- FA22: Do Something: Activism, Responsibility and the Politics of ‘Helping’
- FA47: Gendering the Global Political Economy
- FB10: Presidential Theme Panel: Decolonizing the Western Academy: Postcolonial Challenges to Global IR
- FB27: LGBT Issues and Diffusion
- FB34: Queering/Querying Global Political Economy
- FC01: Angela Davis honored as IPE section’s 2015 Outstanding Activist Scholar in New Orleans. (co-chaired by J. Ann Tickner and Hasmet M. Uluorta. More information will be coming shortly. If you have any questions please contact Hasmet — firstname.lastname@example.org )
- FC19: Deconstructing Silence and Agency in Sites of Insecurity
- FC26: Political Engagement and Political Alternatives in The Age of Austerity In Europe
- FC27: Queering Global Politics: Destabilization or Disciplinarity
- FC39 Presidential Theme Panel: Three Decades of Worlding IR: A roundtable Retrospective
- FC55: Addressing Gender-Based Violence: Issues and Responses
- FC57: Presidential Theme Panel “Postcolonialism, Race And IR: War, Capitalism, Segregation, Tribes, Literature”
- FC72: Women in Conflict: Agency and Human Security
- FC74: Sex Gender Violence Desire?
- FD36: Queering IR Theory
- FD37 Presidential Theme Panel/Global Development Distinguished Scholar Panel in Honors of Prof. Pal Ahluwalia
- FD56: Presidential Theme Panel – W.E.B. Du Bois: The Global Color Line And North American IR
- FD57: Making Bodies International
- FD59: Gender-Based Violence in ‘War’ and ‘Peace’
- SA07: Regional Institution Building In Comparative Perspective
- SA25: The Global Dead (II): Mourning, Suffering, Witnessing
- SA31: Economic Development and Women’s (Dis)Empowerment
- SA41: Art Matters: On the Aesthetics of Violence, Death and Memory
- SA61: Queer Theory and the International
- SA72: International Relations as the Crossroads of the Global and the Local
- SB17: Beyond Biopolitics and Risk in Post 9/11 Critical Scholarship: The Affective Politics of the War on Terror and Beyond
- SB47: Masculinities, Militarism and Feminist Security Studies
- SB43: Bodies In/And/Of/For Global Health
- SB54: Sexualised Violence, Surveillance and New Security Technologies
- SB57: Presidential Theme Panel – 34 Ways To Say “International Relations”: The Teaching, Research And Interna
***CFP for a panel***
Title: Global Crises / Capitalist Expressions: Critical Connections
Where: EISA 9th Pan-European Conference, Sicily, 23-26 September 2015
Abstract: What are the ways that relations of global capitalism can be made intelligible through analyses of various “crises”? This panel seeks to develop the analysis of contemporary capital by way of capturing its expressions, or effects, in a range of contemporary global crises (economic, environmental, epidemic, colonial, militaristic, etc.). We hope to highlight different iterations of global capitalism through its intrinsic tendency to crisis, and by doing so, to underscore the possibilities of a variety approaches to the critique of capitalism. Thus, we invite papers addressing a breadth of potential sites and scenes of contemporary capitalism’s globality, from those involving more immediately situated struggles over the limits it places on everyday material existence to more widely-scaled analyses, focusing on the governmental and governmentalizing dynamics of globalization itself. Gathering these various approaches together, this panel will be an opportunity to explore the stakes of global capitalist discourse and practice as it advances norms of market-based existence, individual responsibility, flexible partnership and resilience, all the while beset by the aporias of uneven development, financialization, war profiteering, corporate welfare, and the reckless extraction and consumption of resources.
For more info, contact Nicholas Kiersey (at the address on this website) or Garnet Kindervater. Submissions no later than Monday, September 29, please.