States of Emergency: Essays on Culture and Politics

States of Emergency: Essays on Culture and Politics

States of Emergency: Essays on Culture and Politics

States of Emergency: Essays on Culture and Politics

Synopsis

In his latest book, Patrick Brantlinger probes the state of contemporary America. Brantlinger takes aim at neoliberal economists, the Tea Party movement, gun culture, immigration, waste value, surplus people, the war on terror, technological determinism, and globalization. An invigorating return to classic cultural studies with its concern for social justice and challenges to economic orthodoxy, States of Emergency is a delightful mix of journalism, satire, and theory that addresses many of the most pressing issues of our time.

Excerpt

In his big book of the Apocalypse, Living in the End Times (2010), Slavoj Žižek, dubbed by The New Republic “the most dangerous philosopher in the West,” declares that his “underlying premise … is a simple one: the global capitalist system is approaching an apocalyptic zero-point.” I agree with that premise. Žižek adds that the “‘four riders of the apocalypse’ are comprised by the ecological crisis, the consequences of the biogenetic revolution, imbalances within the system itself (problems with intellectual property; forthcoming struggles over raw materials, food, and water), and the explosive growth of social exclusions and divisions” (19). the essays in States of Emergency deal with these and other related crises.

Of the four “riders” named by Žižek, the one that I mention only in passing—the ecological crisis—may well be the leading factor that causes the ultimate collapse of “the global capitalist system.” Last year was the hottest on record for planet earth. in February and March 2012, much of the United States, including Indiana where I live, experienced nearly a month of 80-degree temperatures, over 30 degrees above normal. Heat waves and drought have afflicted large swathes of the nation, causing record-setting forest fires in Colorado and Utah. the year 2012 also witnessed a record number of tornados, including the outbreak that demolished most of as Joplin, Missouri. and then there was Hurricane Sandy. “Extreme weather events,” as the expression has it, will only get worse as the heating of the planet accelerates.

The two sections of States of Emergency, “Class Conflicts” and “Postmodern Conditions,” are meant to suggest some of the connections among the diverse themes of the essays that may not otherwise be ap-

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