ABSTRACT

This essay argues that recent catastrophizings over freedom of speech are symptoms of a conjunctural crisis in the North Atlantic world. They index, in the main, a crisis of profitability and deindustrialization in the Global North, as seen for instance in the lumpenproletariatization of the working and professional classes; increasing domestic resistance by racially minoritized groups to police violence and murder; sustained insurgencies to imperialism abroad; the militarization of borders; and widespread crises occasioned by climate change. The writings of Hannah Arendt, I argue, offer an acute angle into how a celebrated thinker in the Global North advanced influential analytical categories for policing this conjunctural crisis. Ultimately, I argue, apocalyptic discourses about the unsayable (“cancel culture,” “wokeness,” “de-platforming”) seek to make unthinkable ongoing and emergent radical uprisings, insurgencies, and revolution.

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