Lecture Drucken

Alex Williams

The Politics of Anticipation

18:00-19:00Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 29 10178 Berlin
There is an ongoing contemporary tendency in both activist left political practice and political theory towards valorising the immediate, the spontaneous, and the voluntaristic. While such emphases are explicable given the historical travails of the party form in the twentieth century, these tendencies have given rise to forms of political thinking and action which are seemingly incapable of installing the changes they wish to effect. This paper will therefore outline, as a countervailing tendency, an argument for the politics of anticipation. It will proceed in three sections. First will be a clarification of what we take to be viable and non-viable in theories of politics mortgaged to the metaphor of motion. This will critique both libidinal-economic interpretations of the idea, and those putatively (though dubiously) associated with a more Marxian cast. What remains will be two interlinked facets: the political importance of the category of the future, and the political necessity of epistemology. The second section will focus on the relevance of the future for thinking and strategising the political, in a defence of different modes of anticipation: plans, programmes, experiments, and models. Accompanying this will be an analysis of futurity as embedded in complex hegemony: the ability to modulate the direction of travel of a set of socio-political-economic-technical set of assemblages. The third section examines the role of political epistemology. It is only through an account of the articulation of knowledge and action that the politics of anticipation can be prosecuted. Against a backdrop of left political theory emphasising the ontological, this part will argue for a robust mode of political epistemology, grounded in the idea that the more we understand about the world the better we can intervene in it.