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We are entering, we are told, a post-liberal age.
Authoritarian populism is in the political ascendant, and notions of permissiveness, multiculturalism and “identity politics” have allegedly failed us, meaning that we must now fall back on some notion of tradition. However, it’s not only the usual, conservative suspects who have got on board with this argument, but centrist politicians who, at least notionally, are hostile to the likes of Donald Trump and UKIP.
Authentocrats examines this populism of the centre, and exposes how its spurious concern for “real people” is part of a broader turn within British culture (as exemplified in the brute masculinity of Daniel Craig’s James Bond, the allegedly “progressive” patriotism of nature writing, and a televisual obsession with the World Wars), as it withdraws from the openness of the Nineties under the bad-faith supposition that there’s nowhere to go but backwards.
In their declaration that the left can only save itself by becoming less liberal, Authentocrats charges liberals themselves with fuelling the post-liberal turn, and asks where the space might be found for an alternative.
Joe Kennedy is from the north-east of England and teaches English and Cultural Studies on the University of Gothenburg’s programme at the University of Sussex in Brighton. He writes on literature, critical and cultural theory, politics, music and sport for a range of publications.
“Authentocrats is a bracing corrective to a political discourse awash with specious appeals to imagined communities, a timely reminder that what we think of as “real” – in culture as in art – is often mere fiction.”