Volume 1, Issue 1 (2021)
We are thrilled to bring you the inaugural issue of Emancipations: A Journal of Critical Social Analysis. This journal offers a venue for the intellectual critique and social criticism of capitalism, of its dynamics and societal effects, in view of forging radical, emancipatory transformation. While many outstanding journals already publish scholarship in these areas, Emancipations has three distinctive features.
First, its open access format enables anyone with an internet connection to freely download all content. While there are costs associated with producing and publishing journals, the current corporate model erects unwarranted barriers to the free circulation of ideas: when even a university library account does not guarantee access to the latest work on Marxist theory, how could philosophy ever change the world?
Second, Emancipations embraces multiple ways of theorizing and criticizing capitalism. Without questioning the value of journals that identify with a particular tradition, tendency, or methodology, we aim to create a space that would bridge these differences and keep the meaning of capitalism, as well as its possible transformation, open and contestable.
Finally, rather than publishing work that fits within the accepted boundaries of a particular discipline, Emancipations focuses on a subject – capitalism – whose functioning is insightfully analyzed by scholars across numerous disciplines. We hope that, with the help of readers and contributors, Emancipations will become a crucial reference for anyone interested in capitalism, whether inside or outside the academy.
To become a venue of collaborative critique of capitalism, the journal will host not only peer- reviewed articles and book reviews, but also interviews, conversations, debates and experimental ventures, which readers are welcome to suggest and organise.
When we first announced the birth of this journal and issued a call for papers, we wrote that “Emancipations recognizes that, just as oppression takes many forms, so too do their modes of overcoming. Emancipation is not singular because any system of domination has multiple fracture points and possible lines of flight. Capitalism is no exception. To live in, through and out of capitalism, we need dynamic maps that demarcate the fault lines and struggles in this ever-evolving social order.” The articles that comprise this first issue of Emancipations work individually and collectively towards just this set of goals, while approaching capitalism and its transformation from divergent theoretical and disciplinary vantage points.
Surveying the historical tipping point at which we now stand, in “The Political Economy of the Apocalypse,” James Galbraith invokes the four infamous horsemen -- Pestilence (pandemics), War (neo-imperial expansion), Famine (as an upshot of climate change), and Death (precarity and despair) – to discuss the policy dilemmas we are currently facing as we try to cope with the most dramatic economic crisis in postwar history. Written before the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the diagnosis it advances that neo-colonial or neo-imperial military ventures are politically and economically lost causes has a prophetic quality. Will Galbraith’s verdict on the other three ‘horsemen’ prove equally true?
In her conversation with Lara Monticelli (“Progressive Neoliberalism isn’t Working”) Nancy Fraser outlines her understanding of capitalism as an “institutionalized social order,” rather than simply an economic system. This shift brings into focus the “non-economic background conditions of capitalism” upon which the capitalist economy is reliant, and suggests that a genuinely “radical emancipatory project” must be a vast collaborative undertaking, involving not only labor movements but also “feminists, environmentalists, anti-racists, anti-imperialists, and radical democrats.”
In “Critical Theory, Fascism, and Antifascism: Reflections from a Damaged Polity,” Bradley Macdonald and Katherine E. Young draw upon the work of early Frankfurt School critical theorists to examine the relationship between capitalism and what they call “proto-fascist potentials and fascist aspirations” in the current moment. The authors explore how Trumpism deploys social media and invocations of fake news to exploit liberal democracy’s vulnerability to fascism, and argue that anti-fascism must also be anti-capitalist.
In “The Ghost University: Academe From the Ruins,” Peter Fleming draws on his new book Dark Academia: How Universities Die (2021), to dissect the ailing body of contemporary academia, scarred from the Covid lock-downs. He lays bare some of the logics and logistics through which universities are transformed from a place of collegiality and civic purpose, whose vocation is to “cultivate and democratize reason”, into a production-plant, an EDU-Factory, as he calls it, where bureaucratic economism is destroying not only the capacity for meaningful intellectual work, but often deprives its employees of the very desire for intellectual work, the courage to rebel and even the will to live. Is subversion still attainable? We hope this piece will open an enduring discussion in Emancipations on the way intellectual life, in higher education and beyond, can empower novel ways of seeing and fighting.
Finally, in “David Graeber and Militant Epistemologies: A Tribute,” Adrian Favell, Myka Tucker-Abramson, Mark Davis and Andrew Wallace reflect on the life and work of a scholar-activist whose example shows the difficulties – but not impossibility – of resisting the dictates of corporate academia. Graeber’s intellectual dissidence, political restlessness and knack for whimsical delivery make him representative of the kind of engagement this journal aspires to foster.
Albena Azmanova and James Chamberlain
Critical Theory, Fascism, and Antifascism: Reflections from a Damaged Polity
Bradley Macdonald and Katherine E. Young
David Graeber and Militant Epistemologies: A Tribute
Adrian Favell, Myka Tucker-Abramson, Mark Davis, and Andrew Wallace
About the Artist.
Hailey Nickels (°1998, Clovis, NM, United States) makes photos, drawings and films. By referencing romanticism, grand-guignolesque black humour and symbolism, Nickels creates work through labour-intensive processes which can be seen explicitly as a personal exorcism ritual. They are inspired by a nineteenth-century tradition of works, in which an ideal of ‘Fulfilled Absence’ was seen as the pinnacle.
Her works directly respond to the surrounding environment and uses everyday experiences from the artist as a starting point. Often these are framed instances that would go unnoticed in their original context. Hailey Nickels currently lives and works in Starkville, MS.