Arts of the Political

New Openings for the Left

Arts of the Political

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 2 tables Published: March 2013

Author(s): Nigel Thrift, Ash Amin

Geography, Politics > Political Theory, Sociology > Social Theory

In the West, "the Left," understood as a loose conglomeration of interests centered around the goal of a fairer and more equal society, still struggles to make its voice heard and its influence felt, even amid an overwhelming global recession. In Arts of the Political: New Openings for the Left, Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift argue that only by broadening the domain of what is considered political and what can be made into politics will the Left be able to respond forcefully to injustice and inequality. In particular, the Left requires a more imaginative and experimental approach to the politics of creating a better society. The authors propose three political arts that they consider crucial to transforming the Left: boosting invention, leveraging organization, and mobilizing affect. They maintain that successful Left political movements tend to surpass traditional notions of politics and open up political agency to these kinds of considerations. In other words, rather than providing another blueprint for the future, Amin and Thrift concentrate their attention on a more modest examination of the conduct of politics itself and the ways that it can be made more effective.


“This is a fine and rousing book, and required reading for Messrs Miliband and Cruddas. What its heroic authors say is true, timely and damned difficult. But to outface the monster of corporate capitalism, protean, international but nonetheless fissiparous, often cowardly, always corrupt, Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift have contrived this novel and vigorous weapon of dissent, so much required to fight the rough beast of a new epoch now slouching towards Wall Street to be born." — Fred Inglis, Times Higher Education

“This book makes a much-needed attempt to revamp the Left’s struggle to ‘voice a politics of social equality and justice’. Problematizing the Left’s ongoing failure to capture and cohere people’s aspirations, to organize politically and to secure achievements, they focus on an essential and, as they rightly claim, neglected aspect of Left politics: the art of doing politics." — Jessica Schmidt, Radical Philosophy

Arts of the Political provides some significant intellectual insights and political challenges.” — Dave Featherstone, Society & Space

“One of the elements I enjoyed most about Arts of the Political is how Amin and Thrift engage with a range of contemporary political theory in a way that makes it relatively accessible. Part of this is because, while the book has a point and a political goal, it really isn’t polemical. . . . one of the reasons why I think this book is worthwhile is that even when it fails to mention a particular author or movement, the reader is able to use it as a way to better understand their own engagement in the world.” — Mark Trekson, Mobilizing Ideas blog

"This book is about what the Left should be proud of, what it can do to recapture the imagination of peoples to energize them into social action, and what horizons lay ahead in terms of actionable strategies. . . . [M]any of us interested in tipping the scales of justice on the side of integrity and dignity should be reading this wonderful and very useful book.”  — Eduardo Mendieta, City

"The authors of this provocative and insightful book promote an attitude of innovation and experimentation as a means to revive the fortunes of the western Left." — James Martin, European Political Science

 "A call for more experimentation and openended creativity balanced with political pragmatism and organisational drive." — Alan Toplisek, Political Studies Review

"The fundamental question of this exciting book is not 'What is the Left?' Instead, Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift provoke us to ask what are the new ways of being human in the twenty-first century and what are the new forms of political action to meet these challenges." — David Stark, author of The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life

"The Left urgently needs redefinition and rejuvenation during a time when the forces of the Right are highly mobilized, blowback from several nonhuman forces has intensified, and a progressive formation will take the form of a pluralist assemblage. Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift confront these issues in creative ways, as they explore the levels and modes needed to activate a progressive movement. This is a bracing and timely book." — William E. Connolly, author of A World of Becoming


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ash Amin is Professor of Geography at Cambridge University. He is the author of Land of Strangers and coauthor (with Patrick Cohendet) of Architectures of Knowledge: Firms, Capabilities, and Communities.

Nigel Thrift is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick. He is the author of Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect and Knowing Capitalism. Amin and Thrift are the authors of Cities: Reimagining the Urban.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Prologue ix

1. The Grounds of Politics 1

2. Leftist Beginnings 17

3. Reinventing the Political 39

4. Contemporary Leftist Thought 77

5. Organizing Politics 111

6. Eurocracy and Its Publics 135

7. Affective Politics 157

Epilogue 187

Notes 201

References 211

Index 227
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5401-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5387-4
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