Theorizing from and Traveling toward
a Radical Democratic Habitus
A catastrophe is under way. A hypermalignant form of capitalism is entangled
with ecological collapse, unfathomable inequality, ruthless privatization of the
commons, the dismantling of democracy, intensifying xenophobia, “new Jim
Crow” racism, permanent war, and the destruction of higher education as a
space for critical and creative inquiry. This malignancy often manifests re-
markable capacities to outmaneuver even modest efforts to avert the worst,
let alone more ambitious movements to generate powerful alternatives that
lean in fundamentally better directions. Formal politics are confined to nar-
rowing channels that keep shifting rightward, while a vast portion of what
goes on even in the “critical” portions of the academy has become hyperpro-
fessionalized in ways that often lack both transformative vision and serious
contact with movements trying to make real change. Pragmatic sensibilities
too often lose connection with the creative provocations, affective intensities,
and expansive horizons of radical vision. Scholarly sensibilities increasingly
focus on discursive industries of hermetic tertiary literature that shed less and
less light on matters of increasing urgency. For a long time, powers that might
resist neoliberalism and generate alternatives have grown less creative and
less powerful, while vicious game- changing dynamics of rapacious powers are
modulating and on the move. As hopeful movements around democratizing
education, climate justice, racism, austerity, solidarity economics, migration,
and broad- based community organizing are beginning to rumble, how might
we regenerate more promising forms of academic work and politics?
This book is written in the midst of scholarly, pedagogical, and activist
movements along various edges between scholarship and practice. My aim has
been to inhabit these edges as ecotones—rich evolutionary zones of tension and
pregnant commingling between different- yet- related ecological communities,
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