On Empire of Conspiracy and agency panics.
 
 
We focus our discussion on the notion of 'agency panic' that is at the centre of Timothy Melley's account of conspiracy theories in postwar America. Does it apply to the Great Reset and Russiagate equally?
 
Melley's approach is a useful way of understanding what conspiracy theories give voice to – but is Melley defending or attacking the liberal humanist subject? We disagree amongst ourselves.
 
We then discuss how apathy and paranoia coexist, and wonder whether paranoia characterises the End of the End of History. And does Enlightenment scepticism reside somewhere between these two states?
 
Finally, we discuss jealous cuck husbands and Obama's idea of an epistemological crisis.
 
Additional reading: An extensive list of works on conspiracy theory can be found here

On Anthony Giddens' The Consequences of Modernity (ch.3)

[Patreon Tier 2&3 Exclusive]

In the second episode of the Cynical Ideology section of the 2022 Reading Club, we look at what trust is and why it has declined so precipitously in recent decades, especially in relation to institutions. 

Is the opposite of trust mistrust, or is it existential angst? What's the link between the absence of trust and a sense of impending apocalypse? Is money or the market the only abstract entity we still trust? And what about the state?

Reading:

The Consequences of Modernity, Anthony Giddens (1990), ch. 3

With European liberals waving Ukraine flags, how might the war and escalating geopolitical tensions between major power be prompting a return to nationalism and patriotism? Is it just a means for elites to extract sacrifices from the people? And how 'real' are nations anyway?

Articles:

On our financialised world. 

We talk to Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou about his new book, Speculative Communities. How has speculation become the very practice around which modern societies coalesce? And how does speculation actually give voice to the  waning legitimacy of neoliberalism? 

Do dating apps, Tik Tok and other social media give birth to 'speculative communities'? And is populism a speculation on the future, a leap into the unknown?

 
On Zizek's "How Marx Invented the Symptom" from The Sublime Object of Ideology.
 
We kick off the second phase of the 2022 Reading Club, on Cynical Ideology, with this selection from Slavoj Zizek's landmark first book in English. How does he supplement Marx's conception of ideology? Are we post-ideological or trapped in cynical ideology? How would we go about breaking free of it?
 
Reading:
The Sublime Object of Ideology (ch. 1), Slavoj Zizek 
On the whatever decade.
 
People are turning back to reinterpret the 1990s. Clearly, they were peak End of History years. But does that mean that no politics actually happened? If it's the period of the cultural turn, does that mean we should seek to understand that decade culturally?
 
And what are the political consequences of how we interpret the 1990s?
 
Readings:

If the End of History was characterised by post-politics, and the 'populist decade' of the 2010s dominated by anti-politics, then how should we understand more recent phenomena? Are the following of a qualitatively different nature to anti-politics, namely: the intensification of culture wars, growing polarisation that does not always align neatly with class, of increasingly hysterical and personalised politics, and of the competition between escalating emergency politics? 

To commemorate the publication of the German edition of The End of the End of History, co-author Alex Hochuli was in conversation with historian of political thought, Anton Jäger at the Monacensia in Munich.

To commemorate the publication of the German edition of The End of the End of History, co-author Alex Hochuli was in conversation with David Broder, Europe editor of Jacobin Magazine at Spike Magazine, Berlin.
 
The crumbling of the liberal, technocratic order over the past decade has led to a variety of hysterical reactions from the establishment. Faced with new challenges to their authority, they have reacted by calling their opponents "fascist", blaming misinformation or adopting conspiracy theories of their own. How are we to understand these reactions and the apparent conflict between neoliberal technocracy and "populism"?
 
 

[Live events in Germany: Berlin / Munich]

On emergency politics today.

We talk to Geoff Shullenberger about competing emergency politics, left and right. Should politics be enjoyable and provide a frisson of transgression, or not? Is bare life all that's on offer? And is declaring the predominance of 'emergency politics' itself an emergency a problem?

Readings:

On neoliberalism and biopolitics.
 
In the fifth session of the "Emergency Politics & Control" theme of the 2022 Reading Club, we take on The Birth of Biopolitics, Michel Foucault's 1978-9 lectures at the College de France (no's 4-6, 9-10).
 
How does Foucault trace a line between German ordo- and American neo-liberalism to biopolitics? What role does human capital play? Is 'biopolitics' a critique or a manual? And how useful a tool is it to understand the management of the Covid pandemic?

On liberals' embrace of the past and history wars.

We talk to Matthew Karp about his essay, "History As End: 1619, 1776, and the politics of the past". It seems as if there's an ideological inversion going on, where liberals see history in terms of original sin and cycles of injustice, or at best, want to relitigate the past in order to fight battles of the present. Meanwhile conservatives have abandoned the past. What does this say about current attitudes to capital-h History and making the future?

Readings:

[Patreon Tier 2 Exclusive]

On Frank Furedi's How Fear Works.

Following on from last month's discussion of Corey Robin's Fear, we examine a differing attempt to demystify the politics and culture of fear. 

To join a local Reading Club where you are, email info@bungacast.com 

On Marxism & the Left.

We talk to Elena & Joshua about their new edited collection, The Conformist Rebellion: Marxist Critiques of the Contemporary Left. Who or what is "the Left" today – merely the left wing of Capital? And what distinguishes a specifically Marxist critique of the Left? How has Marxism and the question of exploitation been sidelined in favour of a libera concern with discrimination?

Over on Patreon you can hear the second part of the interview, plus our After Party debating the contemporary Left's connection to Marxism, the history of social democracy, and moral versus materialist critique. 

Readings:

On the fusion of technocracy & populism.

Carlo Invernizzi Accetti talks to us about his book, Technopopulism, co-authored with Chris Bickerton. This is the "new logic of democratic politics". How are all politicians today effectively technocratic and populist at the same time? How does this distinguish our age from a more ideological age in the past? And what can be done to make politics ideological again?

Part 2, which includes the rest of the interview, and the After Party where Alex, George and Phil debate why politics are toxic today, is available here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/64729183/

Readings:

On class & material self-interest.

We talk to Vivek Chibber about his new book, The Class Matrix: Social Theory After the Cultural Turn, which seeks to answer why capitalism has proven remarkably stable. Vivek explains why classical Marxism does not need 'ideological supplements' to explain why there hasn't been revolution; instead, structural class theory already provides the answers. 

We go back to basics, looking at the role of interests, debate what the real role of ideology is (not 'false consciousness'), and look at why particularism, rather than the universal collectivism of class, now dominates. 

Part two of the interview, plus the After Party, is available over at patreon.com/bungacast

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