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Whitham, Ben (2024) 'The Revolution of Values and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy.' Global Political Economy, 3 (1). pp. 152-171.

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One domain of global political economy (GPE) that warrants more serious scholarly attention is the plane of what Jessop (2010) calls ‘cultural political economy’ (CPE). This article connects GPE and CPE, through an exploration of the production and exchange of meaning (semiosis) in the global politics of ‘values’. The point of departure for this exploration is a series of overlapping crises in GPE. From the Great Recession to the global COVID-19 pandemic, these crises are often associated with the rise of dangerous new reactionary forces. Conspiracist far-right and increasingly authoritarian centre-right movements continue their ascendancy. Meanwhile, a (neo)liberal self-proclaimed ‘centre’ decries this ‘rise of populisms’, lamenting a perceived backlash against liberal democracy itself. This article offers a novel reading of the present conjunctural crisis, through the cultural theory of bell hooks. Specifically, hooks’ ([1984] 2000) identification of ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’ as the real Western social model, her analyses of the political-economic crises of the 1990s and her development of Martin Luther King’s notion of a ‘revolution of values’ are all crucial to explaining the present crisis, and exploring the potential of progressive politics today. Reframing ‘liberal democracy’ as white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, it is argued, enables a number of further insights. In particular, this analysis allows us to understand our present moment as a confrontation between truly progressive values – including anti-racist, anti-capitalist and feminist values – and what turn out to be the shared regressive and reactionary values of (neo)liberalism and the far right. The aim of the article is to show, in the terms of Stuart Hall’s Gramscian analysis, ‘how different forces come together, conjuncturally, to create the new terrain, on which a different politics must form up’ (Hall, 1987: 16).

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISSN: 26352257
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2023 11:16

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