How can we best theorise and understand the politics of disorder? Here we consider what conceptual frameworks can aid our understanding of real or perceived crisis. We draw on a range of theorists and approaches from various disciplinary perspectives including Giambattista Vico, Pierre Bourdieu and John Rawls among others.
Vico and Populism: the Return to a ‘Barbarism of Reflection’
In this essay, Rico Isaacs brings Italian political philosopher Giambattista Vico’s thought to bear on the issue of contemporary populism. Contemporary populism can be reflected in Vico’s cyclical philosophy of the three ages of civilisation: the divine, heroic and human ages (Corso e ricorso). Contemporary populism represents a return to the barbarism of the heroic age through the descent into individualism and private interest, the return of divinely ordained rulers and the recourse to myth, violence and morality. Humankind’s reason has become corrupted by the complexity of highly developed society, releasing the destructive forces of contemporary populism and a descent into a ‘barbarism of reflection’. Corsi e ricorsi illustrates how contemporary populism remains but a stage in the Vichian cycle, alluding to how it represents an essential form of political life throughout history.
Published in Proto-Sociology, Volume 37/2020: Populism and Globalization
Neoliberal Social Justice
What sort of social institutions best represent Rawlsian commitments to free and equal citizenship and distributive justice? Many philosophers believe that the answer must be either liberal socialism or a property-owning democracy based on the radical redistribution of wealth. However, the Rawlsian case for socialism is generally made without considering two key realistic challenges to human sociability: the knowledge problem and the incentive problem.
In Neoliberal Social Justice, I apply the framework of robust political economy to this question. It allows us to compare potential solutions to the problem of social justice under realistic conditions. In such scenarios, the more familiar institutions of capitalism and constitutional liberal democracy are better aligned with Rawlsian commitments than socialism. This reveals unexpected common ground between the liberalisms of the left and right.
Hayek versus Trump: The Radical Right’s Road to Serfdom
Sociology in Times of Glocalization
This book offers a series of critical discussions of how sociology is responding to the challenges of globalization, to local counter-reactions to them, to the many ways ‘the global’ impacts our lives, and to the new questions about research this poses.