Adam Kotsko analyzes the current political conjuncture in the United States through the lens of political theology, which he understands as fundamentally a study of systems of legitimacy. From this perspective, the neoliberal order is not merely an economic or political order but also a theological one, centered on the axiomatic value of free choice and imbued with a faith in the market’s judgment of our free choices. The system-wide effects of the global financial crisis, which did not correlate with any good or bad choices, shattered the legitimacy of the neoliberal order, but so far both major US political parties have been focused on somehow rehabilitating neoliberalism rather than breaking with it. In the wake of Trump’s inauguration, this attempt to restore neoliberalism has reached farcical levels, as both parties are seduced by conspiracy theories that implicitly concede that the current order is illegitimate, yet fail to promote a real alternative.
American Politics in the Era of Zombie Neoliberalism
Adam Kotsko teaches in the Shimer Great Books School at North Central College. He is the author of Neoliberalism’s Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital (2018), The Prince of This World (2016), and Why We Love Sociopaths (2012), among other books and articles, and the translator of many works by Giorgio Agamben.
Adam Kotsko; American Politics in the Era of Zombie Neoliberalism. Public Culture 1 September 2020; 32 (3 (92)): 453–463. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-8358662
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