Legitimation Crisis? On the Political Contradictions of Financialized Capitalism // with Nancy Fraser

  • Franke Institute for the Humanities 1100 E 57th St Chicago, IL, 60637 United States

Description: Numerous phenomena suggest a serious crisis of democracy: for example, declining electoral turnout; the rise of extremist parties; widespread disaffection with the European Union; steep narrowing of real policy differences between competing parties as nearly all rush to placate “the markets”; increased capture of public powers by private interests; growing geopolitical irrationality, reflecting the decline of US hegemony. No wonder, then, that diagnoses of political crisis proliferate: we hear now of “post-democracy,” “de-democratization,” “the crises of democratic capitalism,” and “façade democracy.”

Fraser suggests that these phenomena are best understood as expressions, under historically specific contemporary conditions, of a general tendency to political crisis that is intrinsic to capitalist societies. She elaborates this thesis in three steps. First, a general account of “the political contradiction of capitalism,” without reference to particular historical forms. Then, Frasier reconstructs Jürgen Habermas’s 1973 book, Legitimation Crisis, as an account of the form this political contradiction assumed in one specific phase of capitalist society, namely state-managed capitalism. Finally, she argues that democracy’s present travails express capitalism’s political contradiction in its current phase of financialized, globalizing capitalism.

Seminary Co-operative Bookstore will be hosting a booktable of Prof. Fraser's books after the lecture.

Bio: Nancy Fraser is Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Political and Social Science and Department Chair at the New School for Social Research in New York. Her concentrations include social and political theory; feminist theory; contemporary French and German thought. Recent publications are Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (2013); "Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History" in the New Left Review (2009); and Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World (2008).

Co-sponsored by the Social Theory Workshop, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.