Harald Pittel deposited Feelings without Structure: A Cultural Materialist View of Affective Politics in the group History on Humanities Commons 3 months, 3 weeks ago
The term ‘affective politics’ is sometimes used to dismiss political strategies as being directed merely at affects at the expense of rational analysis (Massumi 2015: 65f). While such uses are meant to criticize certain politics, appeals to the affects – and consequently, forms of propaganda or populism – do not have to be bad at all. The point here is that affects not only play a role for manipulative governments or populist movements, but are a crucial factor for the political in general, which in a post-modern world can no longer be naïvely understood as being grounded in nature or reason (Massumi 2015: VIIIf). So, if politics are always entangled with affects, when do political affects become problematic? This article will suggest that cultural materialism offers a few concepts that we can draw on to differentiate acceptable from harmful kinds of affective politics. More specifically, I am going to encourage a new reading of Raymond Williams’ concept of the structure of feeling and the way it is transformed in his later appropriation of Gramsci’s theory of hegemony.