Has political resistance has lost its ability to confront political and economic power and achieve social change? Despite its best intentions, resistance has often become incorporated and neutered before it achieves its aims, as new forms of power absorb it and turn it towards their own ends.
Since the Enlightenment, the opposing forces of power and resistance have framed our view of society and politics. Exploring that development, this book shows how resistance can, ironically, reinforce existing status quos and fundamentally strengthen capitalist and colonial desires for “sovereignty” and “domination”. It highlights, therefore, the urgent need for new critical perspectives that breaks free from this imprisoning modern history. In this spirit, this book seeks to theorize the radical potential for a post-resistance existence and politics. One that exchanges a permanent revolution against authority with the discovery of novel forms of agency, social relations and the self that are currently lacking. That aims to construct economic and social systems based not on the possibility of freedom but enlarging the freedom of possibility. In the 21st century can we move beyond power and resistance to a politics at the radical limits that eternally expands what is socially possible?
1. The Tyranny of Power and Resistance / 2. Tracing Out the History of Power and Resistance / 3. The Enlightened Faith in Power and Resistance / 4. Colonized by Power and Resistance / 5. Producing the Modern Power and Resistance Subject / 6. Breaking Free from Power and Resistance / 7. Beyond Power and Resistance – the New Conditions of Possibilities / 8. Politics at the Radical Limits – From Permanent Revolution to Eternal Possibility
Peter Bloom is a lecturer in the Department of People and Organisations at the Open University. His research critically studies contemporary themes of power, politics and ideology. His previous work includes the forthcoming book Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Globalization (Edward Elgar, 2015).
Bloom offers a postmodern attempt to revise the power and resistance paradigm fundamental to Western political thought. The first chapter summarizes the focus of his effort. The author follows with a history of power and resistance, basically as concepts, or accepted motifs. Chapter 3 reviews in standard fashion the development of modern Western political ideas, emphasizing the emergence of resistance as a recurring form of political action. Bloom next moves beyond modernism with his contention that Enlightenment rationalism has often devolved into myth and fantasy. Chapter 5 depicts capitalism as a hindrance to the potential for a broader concept of resistance. But the author then argues that modern forms of organization and technology enable new types of resistance that may weaken traditional structures of power. Chapter 7 features the use of Derrida and Foucault as harbingers of possibilities beyond traditional views of power and resistance. The concluding chapter urges a rethinking of the “notion of freedom” that moves this idea from simply a basis for resistance toward a positive source of opportunities. Bloom illustrates how postmodern interpretation could temper the hegemonic status of key political concepts. Summing Up: Recommended. Faculty only.
Peter Bloom cleverly draws on key thinkers using discourse and ideology from the past and present to illustrate a mutually constitutive relationship between power and resistance. He explores how social change agents might reinvent rather than challenge, and so paradoxically support, power. This book is an important read for scholars and activists interested in realizing the potential of radical politics.
Peter Bloom ambitiously sets out to deconstruct the ‘power & resistance’ paradigm still dominating critical theories as well as much of emancipatory political practice. He offers a challenging genealogy of this fundamental political fantasy highlighting its various uses and its debilitating implications. He also discusses a set of much-needed alternatives for effective social change. Operating at the disavowed threshold where discursive/affective hegemony and post-hegemony never stop morphing into each other, he charts an original course that will surely mark future debates.