‘The Old Prejudices Wax, The Old Interests Play, The Old Neuroses Govern’: Defeat and the Conjuncture
- new formations: a journal of culture/theory/politics
- Lawrence & Wishart
- Volume 102, 2021
- pp. 64-77
- Additional Information
Brexit is often represented as a response to deep-seated regional, generational and cultural divides. An alternative is to view the rise of right-wing populism as a visceral reaction to a long experience of defeat. In the Marxist tradition, from The Eighteenth Brumaire to Walter Benjamin’s ‘On the Concept of History’, the event of defeat has often been a prompt to conjunctural thinking. Conjunctural analysis begins with the identification of a break, or what the historian Fernand Braudel calls a ‘structural discontinuity’. Following Stuart Hall’s method of conjunctural analysis, a ‘history of the present’ suggests that recognising this conjuncture as a moment of defeat is a necessary part of reinterpreting the past in order to change the future.