Critical Theory in Critical Times: Transforming the Global Political and Economic Order

This book was made possible by funding from the Buffett Institute's Edited Volume Conference and co-edited by faculty affiliate Cristina Lafont. 

The print edition, released in April 2017, was published by Columbia University Press. An online edition is also available. 


We live in critical times. We face a global crisis in economics and finance, a global ecological crisis, and a constant barrage of international disputes. Perhaps most dishearteningly, there seems to be little faith in our ability to address such difficult problems. However, there is also a more positive sense in which these are critical times. The world's current state of flux gives us a unique window of opportunity for shaping a new international order that will allow us to cope with current and future global crises.

In Critical Theory in Critical Times, eleven of the most distinguished critical theorists offer new perspectives on recent crises and transformations of the global political and economic order. Essays from Jürgen Habermas, Seyla Benhabib, Cristina Lafont, Rainer Forst, Wendy Brown, Christoph Menke, Nancy Fraser, Rahel Jaeggi, Amy Allen, Penelope Deutscher, and Charles Mills address pressing issues including international human rights and democratic sovereignty, global neoliberalism, novel approaches to the critique of capitalism, critical theory's Eurocentric heritage, and new directions offered by critical race theory and postcolonial studies. Sharpening the conceptual tools of critical theory, the contributors to Critical Theory in Critical Times reveal new ways of expanding the diverse traditions of the Frankfurt School in response to some of the most urgent and important challenges of our times.


Introduction: Critical Theory in Critical Times

Part I. The Future of Democracy

1. An Exploration of the Meaning of Transnationalization of Democracy, Using the Example of the European Union, by Jürgen Habermas

Part II. Human Rights and Sovereignty

2. Democratic Sovereignty and Transnational Law: On Legal Utopianism and Democratic Skepticism, by Seyla Benhabib
3. Human Rights, Sovereignty, and the Responsibility to Protect, by Cristina Lafont
4. A Critical Theory of Human Rights—Some Groundwork, by Rainer Forst

Part III. Political Rights in Neoliberal Times

5. Neoliberalism and the Economization of Rights, by Wendy Brown
6. Law and Domination, by Christoph Menke 

Part IV. Criticizing Capitalism

7. Behind Marx's Hidden Abode: For an Expanded Conception of Capitalism, by Nancy Fraser
8. A Wide Concept of Economy: Economy as a Social Practice and the Critique of Capitalism, by Rahel Jaeggi

Part V. The End of Progress in Postcolonial Times

9. Adorno, Foucault, and the End of Progress: Critical Theory in Postcolonial Times, by Amy Allen
10. "Post-Foucault": The Critical Time of the Present, by Penelope Deutscher
11. Criticizing Critical Theory, by Charles W. Mills