Crisis as Art of Government

23/02/2017, 17:00 - 18:30


A seminar as part of the Capitalism, Crisis and Ideology research theme at the School of Modern Languages with guest speaker, Professor Dario Gentili.

“It is a crisis, there is no alternative.” This simple declaration enables governments across the world to justify and legitimize unpopular political and economic decisions, which are often made well beyond the purview of their legislated powers. To justify its exceptional decision-making powers, an elite class of political technicians point to some kind of extreme situation or emergency, which appears inevitable and destined. I argue that the word “crisis” in contemporary political discourses goes beyond its rhetorical use and points to a precise form of art of government. In fact, characterizing an economic crisis as “endless” or “secular stagnation,” which is a practice that can be traced back to at least the 70s, is representative of the very definition of crisis as art of government. It represents how economic crises are politicized in neoliberalism. My genealogical investigation will demonstrate that despite the neoliberal inflection of this form of governing it actually has quite ancient roots. Just as in our world, “technicians” were charged with administering crises, which in ancient Greece were the magistrates and physician. It is only through a genealogical approach that it is possible to challenge the contemporary logic that crises are inevitable and to turn to the more serious problem of examining how crisis as art – “technical” – of governing operates within our contemporary political discourses.

Dario Gentili is Associate Professor in Moral Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, Communication and Performing Arts, University of Roma Tre. He is an expert on Walter Benjamin and his research lies at the intersection of political, legal, and historical inquiries. His essays are translated into English and other languages.

Monographs: Il tempo della storia. Le tesi “sul concetto di storia” di Walter Benjamin, Guida, Napoli 2002; Topografie politiche. Spazio urbano, cittadinanza, confini in Walter Benjamin e Jacques Derrida, Quodlibet, Macerata 2009; Italian Theory. Dall’operaismo alla biopolitica, Il Mulino, Bologna 2012.

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Room 2.18, School of Modern Languages
66a Park Place
CF10 3AS

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Capitalism, Crisis and Ideology Seminar Series