New issue of Political Theology

The journal Political Theology has a new issue out, including my review of Hardt and Negri’s Commonwealth.

30 Responses to “New issue of Political Theology

  1. Dan Says:

    I was wondering about your review ever since you first mentioned writing it. I agree with your remarks about the significance of Commonwealth and I also agree that it is the best book in the trilogy. That Empire will likely remain the most sold volume does reflect the audience more than the content (as you suggest), but also reflects the context of the audience. When Empire was released the anti-capitalism protest movement was hitting its peak at the popular level. At that time, curious folks from a wide variety of backgrounds were willing to read some “heavier” books. For now, with the anti-capitalism thing having either become passe or having become successfully co-opted and branded, you just won’t find people (in general) reading about it nearly as much. That’s, like, so Seattle ’99, man.

  2. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Well there is other parts of the world. Europe is moving towards a general strike. South America continues along dual power.

  3. Dan Says:

    Really?? Who knew??

    Look, APS, I’m not dissing Kotsko’s reading of H&N. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it is very close to my own. I’m just talking about book sales and why I think book #1 will outsell book #3. I’m pretty aware of what’s going on in Europe and South America (and you forgot to mention India), but I don’t think those events will lead Commwealth to outsell Empire.

    I’m more curious about the direction you’re heading. Care to share?

  4. Anthony Paul Smith Says:


    So, why the dickishness with me so often? Was my comment that insulting to you? I was simply trying to suggest that the rather negative take (“the anti-capitalism thing having either become passe or having become successfully co-opted and branded, you just won’t find people (in general) reading about it nearly as much. That’s, like, so Seattle ’99, man”) might not necessarily be true. I didn’t realize you were just talking book sales and, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not entirely sure that’s the reason it will have the lowest sales out of the three. But, whatever.

  5. Dan Says:

    I wasn’t aware I was being overly dickish with you. My apologies. Given the nature of your comments as I have encountered them on various blogs, I wasn’t aware that you were such a sensitive squirrel. Often it seems to me that you deliberately miss the point of what a person is writing in order to bomb in a one-liner or some sort of jab that isn’t really necessary (IMO). But, look, maybe I’ve overestimated the thickness of your skin so I apologize and am ready to begin anew.

    With that in mind, I am genuinely curious as to how you envision your own trajectory relating to these social theorists or philosophers or economists (or whomever) who take issue with capitalism and the contemporary order of things. It seems as though you agree with the criticisms (in theory) but I’m not sure what that means for your life as you live it. Yes, strikes in Europe. Dual power in SA. A “red wave” sweeping India… and APS, where do you fit in?

  6. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Anthony can’t reveal the full extent of his activities in this forum, for fear of alerting the authorities.

  7. Dan Says:

    In that case, we’ve got more in common than I thought.

  8. Adam Kotsko Says:

    “Anthony Paul Smith — codename: Duchess.”

  9. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    So, for some reason, out of everyone here, you have come to focus on me and if my life matches up with my ideals? That’s kind of creepy and is about what I thought the problems was. As far as it goes, though, I don’t really feel I have to prove myself to you. As for the rest, I don’t see myself there, but whatever, by all means, be a dick to me. Was just curious where it was coming from and, while bewildered, now I know. But I frankly don’t give a fuck.

  10. Dan Says:

    Chill, Duchess. I’m not asking you to give a fuck and I’m not asking you to prove yourself. I’ve actually had a lot of back and forth with a lot of folks about how life matches with ideals — in the blogosphere with everyone from Halden and Nate Kerr to Roland Boer — in the Academy with a lot of peeps — from Moltmann to Hauerwas in theology, to Sylvia Keesmaat, Michael Gorman and N.T. Wright in NT, to Todd Gordon in Canadian Political Science, etc. etc. So, when I say I’m curious, I really mean that. I’m just curious. Plus, Adam has written enough about other things to make me think I’ve got a decent enough impression about how he resolves things… you not so much.

    I do find it interesting when people get hyper-defensive about this subject. Not uncommon amongst academics. What do you reckon that means?

  11. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Ha. I’m not being defensive? And I’ve talked about it enough in the real world and on here that I don’t see why I would start a conversation with someone who already seems to have me assigned to a place. People tend to be defensive when someone seems to be judging them, I’ve noticed, so that could be it! But, no; I’m good.

  12. Brad Johnson Says:

    Dan, you realize, I know, that words, even those written in the comments of a blog, carry with them a tone — intended or not — and yet your rhetorical register still doesn’t change when somebody reads you in a way that you say you are not intending to be taken. I’m not a part of this give and take you have going with Anthony, but even I see the tone that is putting Anthony on the defensive.

  13. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I agree that Dan’s tone has been weirdly aggressive and insinuating.

  14. Dan Says:

    Fair enough, Brad. The online rhetoric of APS led me to believe that he could handle a bit more of a blunt exchange without getting his knickers in a knot but I was obviously mistaken about that. I doubt that he would have answered my question regardless (if I asked it more… deferentially, perhaps?), so ya live ya learn. And like I said, I was only curious. From here on out, I’ll be sure to be more gentle when asking him any questions.

  15. Alex Says:

    For what its worth, I thought that comment came in as pretty random and aggressive.

  16. Brad Johnson Says:

    Dude, Dan. I’ve never had a problem with you. I’ve liked when we’ve talked books, etc., and desperately want you around so we might continue to do so from time to time. So don’t take this the wrong way: I’m neither privy to nor curious about which instances of Anthony’s rhetoric you’re thinking about, but I find myself strangely invested in this instance of you being a supreme dick. To the point, in fact, that if you find yourself banned this afternoon don’t blame Adam or Anthony, because it will been because of me. Note to you and all: we don’t need deference and we don’t need gentle. We don’t even need civility. But there is something about this particular exchange that is really pissing me off — and it takes a lot for an online exchange to do that. So, please, don’t reply to this or the remainder of this thread unless you can read my mind in such a way as to figure out how to avoid doing so more.

  17. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Now you’re even being a dick about the fact that you were being a dick.

  18. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I’d say that arguably asking “what are you personally doing to act out your opinions” is in violation of comment policy, simply as such.

  19. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    My, um, knickers (what’s with the hetero-normative rhetoric here? More poser than prophet today, Dan?) are completely untwisted. You can be blunt, but you being blunt doesn’t mean I automatically have to respect what you’re asking or implying. Some goes vice versa. Anyway, good review Adam.

  20. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I find arguments of the form “assholes have no right to get pissed off” unconvincing and self-serving. Many people have used it when heaping greater abuse on me than I would even imagine using against my worst enemy.

    And there’s no deep reasoning needed to know why American academics might react negatively when people ask them how they make a difference in the real world. We live in an anti-intellectual culture, and probably every academic in the world has heard that question from their relatives, friends, and often people they’ve met five seconds earlier. You might as well ask why feminists get tired of being asked whether they’re lesbians.

  21. Alex Says:

    Also, its a question that isn’t asked neutrally, but always aggressively in that way. “If you think your so anti-capitalist, what are you doing to actually do about it?” versus “How does your thought inform your living?”.

  22. dbarber Says:

    Can we please focus attention on the real topic at hand: what is the relation between a “sensitive squirrel” and a grey vampire?

  23. Daniel Lindquist Says:

    Sensitive squirrels are only grey per accidens. Grey vampires are grey by necessity.

  24. Dan Says:

    Okay, okay. You all actually know APS (I think), whereas I don’t know APS or any of you, so I’m willing to say that I’m the one who completely missed the boat this time around. It’s amazing what a difference it makes in reading a person’s rhetorical traits if or when you actually know that person (the whole hermeneutic of trust/hermeneutic of suspicion thing). Pardon the diversion and my apologies to Adam as well for distracting attention from a good review. I reckon all of this would have been much easier if we were sitting face-to-face in a pub drinking some of those delightful Trappist beers. So, look, if any of you ever make it to Vancouver, the first few rounds are on me. Discussion, even of the heated sort, is so much better in that sort of environment.

    (Also, if anybody ever wants to pick up on the ideals/lived life tension, I would be keen to hear how others negotiate it because it is the largest and most difficult tension in my life. Apparently I didn’t ask the question well before, but if anybody wants to run with it, that’s cool… but I won’t hold my breath, what with the comment policy and all.)

    (Second also: I’ve always appreciate good burns, even when I’ve been the target of them and I’ve gotta say that a few of the digs here made me laugh. For me, the point of not giving a fuck is not to be an ass to others — although that happens sometimes — but to be able to laugh at one’s self.)

  25. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Sure, beer, whatnot. Seriously though, what’s with Christians and saying “we should talk about this over a pint”?

  26. Brad Johnson Says:

    Would you prefer it be a carton of milk?

  27. Adam Kotsko Says:

    At the very least, adding beer into the mix is unlikely to make matters worse.

  28. Dan Says:

    I don’t know about the Christian thing (I haven’t really spent much time with those folks for a number of years now), but I’m not talking about “a pint.” I’m talking about twelve or thirteen pints.

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