Apocalypse forever?: Post-political populism and the spectre of climate change

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This article interrogates the relationship between two apparently disjointed themes: the consensual presentation and mainstreaming of the global problem of climate change on the one hand and the debate in political theory/philosophy that centers around the emergence and consolidation of a post-political and post-democratic condition on the other. The argument advanced in this article attempts to tease out this apparently paradoxical condition. On the one hand, the climate is seemingly politicized as never before and has been propelled high on the policy agenda. On the other hand, a number of increasingly influential political philosophers insist on how the post-politicization (or de-politicization) of the public sphere (in parallel and intertwined with processes of neoliberalization) have been key markers of the political process over the past few decades. We proceed in four steps. First, we briefly outline the basic contours of the argument and its premises. Second, we explore the ways in which the present climate conundrum is predominantly staged through the mobilization of particular apocalyptic imaginaries. Third, we argue that this specific (re-)presentation of climate change and its associated policies is sustained by decidedly populist gestures. Finally, we discuss how this particular choreographing of climate change is one of the arenas through which a post-political frame and post-democratic political configuration have been mediated. © 2010 SAGE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-232
Number of pages19
JournalTheory, Culture & Society: explorations in critical social science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Climate change
  • Environment
  • Populism
  • Post-democracy
  • Post-politics


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