Tuesday 28.5. / 8.15 pm / Kulturno informativni centar (KIC) / LECTURE

Kate Soper: Subverting capitalist ‘progress’: alternative hedonism, cultural revolution and the politics of renewal

Growth-driven consumer culture is plainly disastrous for the environment, and remains reliant upon a neo-colonialist transfer of labour, resources, products and services from the poorest nations to the richest. In my talk, I focus on the affluent consumerism propelled by that exploitation, reflect on its extensive power, but also consider how emerging forms of disaffection with its negative aspects might foster support for much needed radical social and economic change in wealthier societies.

Though presented as a model of the ‘good life’ for less developed communities, consumer culture is better seen, I contend, for what it has largely become: an engine for the enrichment of a corporate elite at the expense of the health of the planet and the well-being of most of its inhabitants.

To begin to correct for this, we need a cultural revolution that challenges prevailing conceptions of ‘progress’ and ‘modernity’, and is centred on the promotion of an ‘alternative politics of prosperity’. I discuss the forms this ‘alternative hedonist’ politics of prosperity might take, its role in transition to a post-growth order, and the ways it could hook up with more explicit and militant anti-capitalist initiatives.

moderated by: Mladen Domazet

Kate Soper is Emerita Professor of Philosophy and a former researcher with the Institute for the Study of European Transformations at London Metropolitan University. She was an editor with Radical Philosophy and New Left Review, and a columnist for the US journal, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism. She was active in the peace movement in the 1980s and a Chair of the European Nuclear Disarmament movement. She is a translator, among others, of Sebastiano Timpanaro, Noberto Bobbio, Michel Foucault, Cornelius Castoriadis and Carlo Ginsburg. Her own books include: On Human Needs: open and closed theories in a Marxist Perspective; Humanism and Anti-Humanism; Troubled Pleasures: Writings on Politics, Gender and Hedonism; What is Nature? Culture, Politics and the Non-Human; Citizenship and Consumption (co-edited); The Politics and Pleasures of Consuming Differently (co-edited). Her most recent book is Post-Growth Living: for an alternative hedonism.