By Janet Roitman

Problem is all over the place: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the Congo; in our housing markets, cash markets, monetary platforms, nation budgets, and sovereign currencies. In Anti-Crisis, Janet Roitman steps again from the cycle of quandary creation to invite not only why we claim such a lot of crises but in addition what kind of analytical paintings the idea that of predicament allows. What, she asks, are the stakes of "crisis"? Taking responses to the so-called subprime loan main issue of 2007-08 as her working example, Roitman engages with the paintings of thinkers starting from Reinhart Koselleck to Michael Lewis, and from Thomas Hobbes to Robert Shiller. within the technique, she questions the bases for claims to challenge and indicates how obstacle features as a story machine, or how the invocation of problem in modern money owed of the monetary meltdown permits specific narratives, elevating convinced questions whereas foreclosing others.

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The imperative to critique or even to sustain a critical relation to normativity ironically risks ontologizing the category of crisis. This is curious: Why should crisis, as a category, be so self-­ evident? 62 Although I cannot answer such a very broad question, it is worth noting that its effects are with us today. Indeed, even for those who renounce the possibility and duty of critique, crisis is self-­evident. Thus the very first section of Bruno Latour’s influential book We Have Never Been Modern (1993) is entitled “Crisis,” referring to “the crisis of the critical stance” but never problematizing the very grounds for the concept of crisis.

Crisis is just one distinction. 71 This basic operation allows some thing to become distinct and hence intelligible—the observation gives rise to a form, and thus meaning (Luhmann [1992] 1998, 46–55). Significantly, the concept of observation or distinction does not proceed from binaries or oppositions. For example, my claim is that it cannot be the case that there is crisis/noncrisis, which then permits observations. 72 As Luhmann says, “What can be distinguished by means of these distinctions will become ‘information’” (1990b, 131).

By the end of the eighteenth century, the grounds for such proof had shifted from natural law to the historical future: “The transformation from personal rule into rational custodianship may be empirically demonstrated: such an expected, contested, and anticipated liberation of human beings from human subordination, in other words, their redemption within history or the negation of alienation” (2002, my emphasis). 41 Koselleck’s (doubtless evident to my contemporaries) general point is that political utopianism entails a philosophy of history: the crisis demands — 27 morally just and rational planning of history coincides in a hoped-­for future, and the achievement of that future requires an interpretation of the relationship of the present to the past.

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