The ideal of freedom in the Anthropocene: A new crisis of legitimation and the brutalization of geo-social conflicts
Associate Professor Mikael Carleheden and PhD student Nikolaj Schultz have published the article ‘The ideal of freedom in the Anthropocene: A new crisis of legitimation and the brutalization of geo-social conflicts’ in the journal Thesis Eleven.
The article is based on the notion that modern social orders are legitimised by the ideal of freedom. Moreover, most conceptions of this ideal are theorised against the backdrop of nature understood as governed by its own laws beyond the realm of the social. However, such an understanding of nature is now being challenged by the ‘Anthropocene’ hypothesis, which argues we have entered a distinct geological age during which human activities have had a significant environmental impact on Earth.
In the article, the authors investigate the consequences of the Anthropocene hypothesis for freedom as an ideal legitimising social order.
They begin by discussing the conception of legitimation, after which they examine three classical notions of freedom (developed by Hobbes, Kant, and Hegel), in light of the Anthropocene. Following their claim that these notions all have severe weaknesses in view of the Anthropocene, they argue that modern social orders are facing a new legitimation crisis. Such a crisis, they suggest, involves a ‘brutalisation of social conflicts’, which under the conditions of the Anthropocene assumes the form of geo-social conflict.