The Politics of Possibility: Symbol, Strategy and Power

Johnson, James (October 1994) The Politics of Possibility: Symbol, Strategy and Power. Former Series > Working Paper Series > IHS Political Science Series 15


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Abstract: In this paper I address, in a preliminary way, a problem of political theory that, while not new, has been brought home with special urgency by recent events. The problem is the predicament created by the imperative of coming to terms withthe subject of political possibility and the concomitant difficulty of doing so. The argument of this paper is circuitous. I first argue that grappling with the subject of political possibility requires that we examine the intimate relation of symbol and strategy in politics. I draw a crucial distinction between the ways that the ability to calculate probabilities and to entertain possibilities enters into social and political interaction. I than identify the mechanisms - attention and imagination - at work in the ways symbolic forms govern our ability to envision possibilities. I show how political possibility is implicated with power. And I sketch some of the constraints and vicissitudes that make the politics of possibility a precariousenterprise. I conclude by briefly connecting my preceding analysis to the theme of antipolitics.;

Item Type: IHS Series
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2014 10:36
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2019 16:22

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