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Catastrophism: the Apocalyptic Politics of…

Catastrophism: the Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth

by Sasha Lilley, James Davis (Contributor), David McNally (Contributor), Eddie Yuen (Contributor)

Other authors: Doug Henwood (Foreword)

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372474,188 (3.33)None
In this lively 400-year history, kids will read about Peter Stuyvesant and the enterprising Dutch colonists, follow the spirited patriots as they rebel against the British during the American Revolution, learn about the crimes of the infamous Tweed Ring, journey through the notorious Five Points slum with its tenements and street vendors, and soar to new heights with the Empire State Building and New York City's other amazing skyscrapers. Along the way, they'll stop at Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and many other prominent New York landmarks. With informative and fu.… (more)



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Helpful, if not earthshattering (no pun intended). Well-written essays that make the case: predictions of apocalyptic catastrophe can be a useful tool for galvanizing the right, because they confirm the reactionary worldview, and reify the rightwing desire for authoritarianism. But they are not useful for building movements to transform society in a more humane, democratic, ecological, and equitable way. On the left or in apolitical people “catastrophism” merely tends to generate despair and a sense of powerlessness, which results in cynicism, absorption in the trivial, and immobility.

Sadly, the weakest chapter is the one on apocalyptic cultural production. It is narrowly focused on zombies (a fun and fruitful topic however) – but apocalyptic symbols and narratives are a much broader and deeper part of our cultural inheritance, and they resonate far more on a mythic level of understanding than on an historical or political one. Left rationalism would like to see myth defanged by reducing it to history (the chapter’s author quotes Walter Benjamin to that effect) but mythic consciousness is irreducible to historical consciousness because the conception of time is fundamentally different. The left idea that class-conscious rationalism alone is sufficient to nullify deep-seated supra-rational (joyful, transcendental, as well as terrible) elements of human experience is a weakness of much theory, and needs to be reconsidered.
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  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
Reviewed here.
  scott.neigh | Aug 12, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sasha Lilleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davis, JamesContributormain authorall editionsconfirmed
McNally, DavidContributormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Yuen, EddieContributormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Henwood, DougForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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