The Political Imaginary after Neo- Liberalism: Populism and the Return of ‘Elemental Politics’

Neil Turnbull


In this paper, I claim that Carl Schmitt's enigmatic work Land and Sea provides contemporary philosophers and social theorists with important insights into what appears to be an emergent, post-neo-liberal, political imaginary. With theologico-political imaginary grounded in a conception of politics framed around elemental forces, Schmitt allows us to see that the slow retreat of neo- liberalism portends a return to early modern political imaginaries. In so-called ‘populist’ age, when the nation and nationalism seem to be returning to the political arean in transformed ways, Schmitt allows us to see that the geo- political imaginary of the land and the sea are again involved in this transition. I conclude with an examination of the challenges that any such elemental, ‘pre- Socratic’, political imaginary are likely to pose for extant democratic norms and values.

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Im@go. A Journal of the Social Imaginary - Biannual - Edizioni Mimesis