Public Lecture

Thursday 11 October 2018, 18:30 - 20:00

Democracy’s Crisis: On the Political Contradictions of Financialised Capitalism

Nancy Fraser, Henry and Louise A. Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the New School for Social Research, New York

Auditorium Ivan Pictet
Maison de la paix, Geneva

Many observers posit that we are living through a crisis of democracy. But what exactly is in crisis here? Are democracy’s current ills rooted primarily in the political order, and can they be solved by reforming the latter? Or are we facing a broader, more far-reaching crisis, of which the crisis of democracy constitutes but one strand, inextricably interwoven with others? And in that case, what is the true object of the crisis, and what are its deep-structural sources?

In her presentation, Nancy Fraser will argue that democracy’s present travails are best understood as expressions, under historically specific contemporary conditions, of a general tendency to political crisis that is intrinsic to capitalist societies. She will elaborate this thesis in four steps. First, she will propose a general account of “the political contradiction of capitalism” as such, without reference to any particular historical form. Second, she will historicise that contradiction, showing how it has given rise to political crises in every prior phase of capitalist history. Third, she will describe the form this contradiction assumes today, in financialised capitalism. Finally, she will reinterpret the present democratic crisis as a strand of the general crisis of this last and most recent form of capitalist society.

Nancy Fraser is Henry and Louise A. Loeb Professor at the New School for Social Research, Visiting Research Professor at Dartmouth College, and holder of an international research chair at the Collège d’études mondiales, Paris.