Steven Vogel


My reply:

Dear Noah,

Thank you for these questions.  I always feel grateful for real and constructive questions that pose potential obstacles or problems to work through.  In the interest of keeping things concise and allowing for back and forth, I’m not going to try a comprehensive answer here but a first one.  If you wish, please reply back, and then the dialectic can work out more of the picture.

Rather than begin with a governance answer – which might be what we all expect – I would begin with an interpersonal and intrapersonal one.  Neo-liberalism teaches and trains us to be lone atoms.  And violence, which hovers in the background as the seeming confirmation of the lesson and appropriateness of the training, shapes our brains into defensive, isolated, exclusionary beings.  Another way to put this is that humans distrust each other because of violence and because of teaching and training that focuses on distrust.  The back and forth between control and abandonment that usually cycles in a discussion of trust only belies how bad the state of distrust really is.  The specter of people being oppressed, of not trying to compromise, of not seeing a common fate – all these things in that shadow – are part of the history of violence and the ideologies that support it.  I believe that if we want to make progress in the anthroponomic horizon that defines our moral and political obligations for our time, then we need to work on the intrapersonal and interpersonal conditions of distrust, in particular on the history and ideologies of violence.

That said, I just want to mark again that anthroponomy is a regulative ideal.  It must keep open critical space because it is fundamentally democratic, and my view of politics is that (a) it is ontologically democratic (even if ontically authoritarian) and that (b) no ontologically democratic thing can preclude the anarchic disruption of the regulative order in the name of those who have no part in it.  No system can close down critical space, because every system depends on our consent.  Here, for brevity, I refer to Rancière’s Disagreement.  The very reality of democracy implies openness to the part who have no part, which cannot be contained in advance.  Anthroponomy is no different.  It is not the world liberal state.  It is the pointed cry against the hegemony of the oligarchic, including the liberals who think that they aren’t oligarchic, but really are in their material conditions and insouciance.

As to your second question, once again violence gets in the way.  There is wide spread cultural overlap in the importance of being with our fellow beings on Earth, but this is always thrown under the economy in the guise of threat.  The issue is to see how this threat of violence works, pushing people back into the things they would not in a clear day ever wish for or say to or support for their kids.  I write from this perspective a lot in my many articles (and forthcoming book) around the risk of a mass extinction cascade.  I do not believe that anthropocentrism implies thoughtlessness with life – I believe it implies the opposite.  (See my 2006 book for an extended argument as to why the environmentalist take on anthropocentrism has got our sense of humanity profoundly wrong).  As always, the problem is the system of violence that is normalized in our political economies.  It isn’t really in people’s core beliefs.  If anything, it’s in our akrasia, not our thoughtfulness.

I agree with Steve Vogel that we are the speakers in politics.  But we can speak as trustees of Earth others.



The Reference Council: Clae 10 Years Of Innovation In Modern Footwear

Steven Vogel’s The Reference Council interview Clae founder Sung Choi as they highlight the footwear label on its 10th year of existence. Since bursting onto the scene, Clae helped pioneer a new form of footwear design that brought together the worlds of both casual and athletic-minded offerings with the aesthetics and refinement of traditional shoes. A selection of answers can be seen below while the full feature can be seen here.