A Critique of Liberal Cynicism

Peter Sloterdijk, Judith Butler, and Critical Liberalism
by Will Barnes (Author)
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Where does Extreme Liberal Cynicism—so common in academic and popular culture—come from, and is it capable of solving the problems it identifies? A Critique of Liberal Cynicism: Peter Sloterdijk, Judith Butler, and Critical Liberalism identifies the motivations and resources within liberal cynicism and their potential for overcoming its pernicious extremes. Will Barnes describes Extreme Liberal Cynicism as a product of mourning, guilt, and the experience of powerlessness stemming from the trauma of holding liberal investments in a world in which these investments are vulnerable to ideological critique and seem to have failed. Extreme Liberal Cynicism seeks invulnerability through disavowing the efficacy of its constitutive ideals achieved via a reified hopelessness that eclipses trauma, guilt, and disempowerment leaving the cynic unhappy, alienated, hostile, obstinate, delusional, and desperate; thus, it is a failing self-defense mechanism. Barnes argues that although Extreme Liberal Cynicism is rationally unjustifiable and intrinsically harmful, it also contains the impetus for a reappropriation of its complex desires and losses. This adjustment could compel the extreme cynic to maintain a moderate critical liberal cynicism committed to critiquing and reinvigorating its constitutive ideals of freedom, equality, and justice, and thereby contribute positively to progressive politics.

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Publication date
July 26, 2022
Page count
Paper ISBN

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