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Ordinary DemocracySovereignty and Citizenship Beyond the Neoliberal Impasse$
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Ali Aslam

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190601812

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190601812.001.0001

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Democracy and the State

Democracy and the State

(p.103) 4 Democracy and the State
Ordinary Democracy

Ali Aslam

Oxford University Press

Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism traces persistent desires for mutual attachment and participation in public life amid conditions of economic precarity and diminished agency. This chapter evaluates the concept of do-it-yourself (DIY) citizenship Berlant proposes as an alternative to participation in formal political institutions through the lens of Occupy Sandy, a mutual aid network organized after Hurricane Sandy heavily damaged the New York and New Jersey coastlines in 2012. Because Occupy Sandy’s DIY ethos is consistent with changes in the workplace that emphasize entrepreneurial freedom, flexibility, creativity, and autonomy, it fulfill desires for community and authenticity on the back of critiques of indifferent and inefficient state bureaucracies consistent with neoliberal calls for the rollback of the state. The chapter concludes by suggesting how resistance to neoliberal governance can originate not in pointing to climate change as other critics have suggested after Hurricane Sandy, but in the desire not be human capital.

Keywords:   Hurricane Sandy, Occupy Sandy, climate change, entreprenurial freedom, DIY citizenship, desire, state power, neoliberal governance

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