Manual The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism

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Connolly engages these ideas, as well as several other well-known voices in the Western philosophical canon, in order to paint a picture of our cosmos and develop a set of principles by which to live and take action in it. The Fragility of Things ultimately offers us a new theory of political economy: one that firmly dislodges the market as the leading mechanism of historical explanation and, simultaneously, illuminates possibilities for political activists to realize different future trajectories.

This is a tall order, and in just under pages, Connolly accomplishes it. Throughout the book, he moves back and forth across several emotional and intellectual spectra so fluidly, you will wonder how it is that long lists of tragedy after impending tragedy can be followed by a real sense of hope and possibility. Or how the evolutionary adaptations of paramecia are put in conversation with the increasing inequities in the financial market system.

And though Connolly draws extensively on complexity theory, incorporating work by neuroscientists and leading extended discussions on teleodynamic self-organizing systems, this text is anything but dry. You feel culminating moments in every chapter, surges of affect following intricate dissection of the forces moving this world.

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In the end, Connolly seems to accomplish an impossible feat: a book that is both wide-ranging and neatly tied together—or as neatly as can be, considering its metaphysical foundations. The first interlude tackles a seemingly tangential issue in a revealing way, apparently motivated by a remark Richard Dennett made at a conference asserting the non-necessity of spirituality The second interlude is an extended explanation of self-organizing systems.

Using the alliance between American evangelicalism and neoliberalism as one example further examined in his Capitalism and Christianity, American Style , to which this book is a companion , Connolly shows reason for optimism by revealing how vulnerable this complex actually is. Why insist on maintaining this distinction between the human and non?

By doing this, how is the author complicit in reproducing the same binary distinction and privileging of the human over the nonhuman world that he is critical of?

William Connolly’s The Fragility of Things by Allegra Giovine

What, then, of a complete embrace of more-than- human conceptualizations of life in gaining a deeper understanding of neoliberalism and the fragility of things? Perhaps a more radical approach that does not insist on etching this distinction between the human and non might allow for a more expansive look into the way that neo-liberalism operates through the world.

I believe that to make a truly novel contribution to contemporary socio-political thought and offer geographers the opportunity to think neoliberalism afresh would require taking a much greater epistemological leap. Notwithstanding my reservations, the book takes meaningful steps towards reconceptualizing our role as a species and does important work in beginning to consider nuanced imaginaries to address highly problematic systems that currently hold sway in the world. One can only dream that—even if in just some small way—the book does this. Related Papers. The fragility of things.

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William E. Connolly - Wikipedia

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Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism