Wellek Lectures 2018: Wendy Brown,"Authoritarian Liberalism and Moral Nihilism"

Department: Critical Theory at UCI

Date and Time: May 2, 2018 | 4:00 PM-6:00 PM

Event Location: Humanities Gateway 1030

Event Details

Lecture 2:  Democracy versus Freedom: Neoliberalism's Critique of the Political

Overarching theme: What occasions the novel fusion of anti-social freedom, white nationalism and authoritarianism taking shape across the EuroAtlantic today?  How have four decades of neoliberalism contributed to building unstable plutocratic political regimes rooted in reactionary mass affect--the very nightmare the original neoliberals aimed to avert with their reformulations of state, society and subject?  The lectures develop these questions by considering three under-examined features of neoliberal reason:  its critique of the social; its rejection of the political and the democratic; and its novel valorization of traditional morality (and not only markets). The lectures aim to fathom how "actually existing neoliberalism" spawned racist rightwing populism and nihilism instead of its utopia of free subjects and states disciplined by markets and morals.

About Wendy Brown:

Professor Brown is Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her fields of interest include political theory and its history, nineteenth- and twentieth-century Continental philosophy, and theories of contemporary capitalism. She is best known for intertwining the insights of Marx, Nietzsche, Weber, Freud, Frankfurt School theorists, Foucault, and contemporary philosophers to critically interrogate formations of power, political identity, citizenship, and political subjectivity in contemporary liberal democracies. She is the author of numerous books, including Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (2017) and Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (2010). Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages.