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The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism

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In The Fragility of Things, eminent theorist William E. Connolly focuses on several self-organizing ecologies that help to constitute our world. These interacting geological, biological, and climate systems, some of which harbor creative capacities, are depreciated by that brand of neoliberalism that confines self-organization to economic markets and equates the latter wit In The Fragility of Things, eminent theorist William E. Connolly focuses on several self-organizing ecologies that help to constitute our world. These interacting geological, biological, and climate systems, some of which harbor creative capacities, are depreciated by that brand of neoliberalism that confines self-organization to economic markets and equates the latter with impersonal rationality. Neoliberal practice thus fails to address the fragilities it exacerbates. Engaging a diverse range of thinkers, from Friedrich Hayek, Michel Foucault, Hesiod, and Immanuel Kant to Voltaire, Terrence Deacon, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Alfred North Whitehead, Connolly brings the sense of fragility alive as he rethinks the idea of freedom. Urging the Left not to abandon the state but to reclaim it, he also explores scales of politics below and beyond the state. The contemporary response to fragility requires a militant pluralist assemblage composed of those sharing affinities of spirituality across differences of creed, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.


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In The Fragility of Things, eminent theorist William E. Connolly focuses on several self-organizing ecologies that help to constitute our world. These interacting geological, biological, and climate systems, some of which harbor creative capacities, are depreciated by that brand of neoliberalism that confines self-organization to economic markets and equates the latter wit In The Fragility of Things, eminent theorist William E. Connolly focuses on several self-organizing ecologies that help to constitute our world. These interacting geological, biological, and climate systems, some of which harbor creative capacities, are depreciated by that brand of neoliberalism that confines self-organization to economic markets and equates the latter with impersonal rationality. Neoliberal practice thus fails to address the fragilities it exacerbates. Engaging a diverse range of thinkers, from Friedrich Hayek, Michel Foucault, Hesiod, and Immanuel Kant to Voltaire, Terrence Deacon, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Alfred North Whitehead, Connolly brings the sense of fragility alive as he rethinks the idea of freedom. Urging the Left not to abandon the state but to reclaim it, he also explores scales of politics below and beyond the state. The contemporary response to fragility requires a militant pluralist assemblage composed of those sharing affinities of spirituality across differences of creed, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.

30 review for The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    "The outside is multiple, active and real; it is merely not to us divine, we also construe transcendence as would that which is coming into being rather than a being beyond being." 141 "If we are minor participants in a larger cosmos composed of multiple, interacting force fields that periodically morph, part of our experience of attachment to the world may be tied to the experience of vitality and to those small and larger moments of real creativity to which it is connected. The idea is to cult "The outside is multiple, active and real; it is merely not to us divine, we also construe transcendence as would that which is coming into being rather than a being beyond being." 141 "If we are minor participants in a larger cosmos composed of multiple, interacting force fields that periodically morph, part of our experience of attachment to the world may be tied to the experience of vitality and to those small and larger moments of real creativity to which it is connected. The idea is to cultivate subliminal experiences of vitality further, even as we work to diminish the risks that accompany acting recklessly on those fruits." 146

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This was an interesting book about how politics and a rather stagnant and increasingly ridiculous political consensus should (and isn't) confronting outside influences that are beyond its power to distort and rework, such as climate change and other external threats. The ideas are really interesting and engaging. The language is a bit painfully academic; the style that seems to aggressively want no one besides a tenure committee to read the book. That's a shame, because it's a message that should This was an interesting book about how politics and a rather stagnant and increasingly ridiculous political consensus should (and isn't) confronting outside influences that are beyond its power to distort and rework, such as climate change and other external threats. The ideas are really interesting and engaging. The language is a bit painfully academic; the style that seems to aggressively want no one besides a tenure committee to read the book. That's a shame, because it's a message that should extend beyond academic circles to reach full impact. But that said, I slogged through it and was better for doing so.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    An important work worth reading. Coming from many of the same starting concerns I have and working through issues with often surprisingly evocative prose I had high hopes. Some of them were dashed however as my engagement with speculative materialism has only heightened my desire to fully break from Kantian idealism and monotheistic artifacts whenever possible...and my explorations into emergency policy during ecological crisis has if anything re-iterated the need to stay as far away from milque An important work worth reading. Coming from many of the same starting concerns I have and working through issues with often surprisingly evocative prose I had high hopes. Some of them were dashed however as my engagement with speculative materialism has only heightened my desire to fully break from Kantian idealism and monotheistic artifacts whenever possible...and my explorations into emergency policy during ecological crisis has if anything re-iterated the need to stay as far away from milquetoast social democrat homilies as possible and rather seek out something more akin to a situationally adjusted vanguard party. In such a fragile world as Connolly rightly describes, I must admit my skepticism at universal grassroots democracy to be a major force when the environmental catastrophes start to hit. Diamond's examination of the ruthless and decisive actions of the Tokugawa Shogunate seem much more apt. Still, the more works out there to de-throne anthropocentrism than the better.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Niklas Olaison

  5. 4 out of 5

    Enrique Reynoso

  6. 4 out of 5

    James Harris

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  8. 4 out of 5

    Phillip Breton

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  10. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Andra

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dae Joong

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Ray

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  15. 5 out of 5

    August Boyer

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matt Crawford

  17. 4 out of 5

    D.W. Miller

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julien Leger

  19. 5 out of 5

    Philip Tschirhart

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ted Morgan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Shileny

  22. 4 out of 5

    Frankie Dintino

  23. 4 out of 5

    Xing

  24. 4 out of 5

    c.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erol Tarhan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Griffith

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ali

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

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