Meet the “fast zombie” citizen of the current world. He is a rapid, brainless carrier of preference-driven consumption. His Facebook-style ‘likes’ replace complex notions of personhood. Legacy college admissions and status-seekers gobble up his idea of public education, and positional market reductions hollow out his sense of shared goods. Meanwhile, the political debates of his 24-hour-a-day newscycle are picked clean by pundits, tortured by tweets. Forget the TV shows and doomsday scenarios; when it comes to democracy, the zombie apocalypse may already be here.
Since the publication of A Civil Tongue (1995), philosopher Mark Kingwell has been urging us to consider how monstrous, self-serving public behaviour can make it harder to imagine and achieve the society we want. Now, with Unruly Voices, Kingwell returns to the subjects of democracy, civility, and political action, in an attempt to revitalize an intellectual culture too-often deadened by its assumptions of personal advantage and economic value. These 17 new essays, where zombies share pages with cultural theorists, poets, and presidents, together argue for a return to the imagination—and from their own unruly voices rises a sympathetic democracy to counter the strangeness of the postmodern political landscape.
Praise for Unruly Voices
“Mark Kingwell is a beautiful writer, a lucid thinker and a patient teacher … His insights are intellectual anchors in a fast-changing world.”—Naomi Klein, author of No Logo
“Examining such social and existential issues as the role of luck in accumulating political or other power and the way that “desirable objects” reinforce a sense of “class superiority,” Kingwell ranges far and wide. He cites not only to such philosophers as Plato, Heidegger, and Rawls, but also to such writers as Melville and literary critics such as Northrop Frye, not to mention such cinematic cult classics as Beyond the Valley of the Dolls … he is a perceptive and imaginative social critic.”—Publishers Weekly
“This broad-minded collection of essays carries its own anecdote. As Kingwell writes in his introduction, it is philosophy, along with poetry and art, that has the extraordinary power to ‘expand our ethical imaginations.’ A robust democracy will need both ground rules for civil discourse and citizens with imagination enough to understand the stakes of the game.”—The Rumpus
“Unruly Voices has insightful things to say about the corrupting influence of money on public discourse, including reference to the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling, which granted corporations the same right as people to free speech … The scourge of incivility might not be new, but it is more pervasive. And, as Kingwell warns, the cost to coherent debate is great.”—National Post (Canada)