Seeking essays on the politics of "contemptuous despair"
January 17, 2021 9:10 AM   Subscribe

I teach an undergrad seminar on the politics of hope, especially re: the climate crisis, and am seeking articles exploring the notion of "contemptuous despair" (which I could assign to my students)

The last time I taught the class, I included a module connecting hopelessness with right-wing radicalization and extremism through a politics of "contemptuous despair." I assigned a couple pieces introducing eco-fascism (here and here) alongside that essay about 4chan by Dale Beran (here) which presented a more intimate portrait of how this sensibility of "contemptuous despair" can take root and how it could be expressed in contemporary politics.

While engagingly written, I remain kind of ambivalent about how effective the 4chan piece was in helping students connect these dots (lots of inside baseball details about gamer culture). That said, I was really struck by the essay, which was discussed on this site (with parallels to similar discussions about "incels"), and I wondered whether anybody here could recommend other interesting and engaging work in this vein.
posted by eagle-bear to Education (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You must know the bit from Umberto Eco's analysis of fascism: that through a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.

This would seem to be one angle on the “too weak” part.
posted by XMLicious at 6:04 PM on January 17

My son says a YouTube lecture called “Is it okay to have children?” Might be of interest.
posted by creiszhanson at 8:20 AM on January 18

Response by poster: Ah, yes, that would be Meehan Crist's Is It OK to Have a Child, which I assign elsewhere in the course.

I ended up sticking with the triplet of texts I already mentioned from last time. I did find a few others that help gesture at these connections, including this one (a brief intellectual genealogy of environmentalism's racist history), this one (a review of TFW No GF, about incel culture), and this one (a blog post by adrienne marie brown on the challenges of white allyship and relinquishing power), which I added as additional reading.
posted by eagle-bear at 5:27 PM on January 18

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