© 2018

Enlightenment in an Age of Destruction

Intellectuals, World Disorder, and the Politics of Empire

  • Formulates a new understanding of a common concept (enlightenment) by framing it as a trans-historical and cross-cultural phenomenon

  • Provides an alternative to current resistance theory in arguing for new modes of intellectual engagement in politics in an age of crisis

  • Contextualizes the practice of critical theory within contemporary political discussions on topics such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and war

Palgrave Macmillan

Part of the Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice book series (CPTRP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Eduardo Subirats
    Pages 1-25
  3. Christopher Britt Arredondo
    Pages 27-69
  4. Paul Douglas Fenn
    Pages 71-125
  5. Eduardo Subirats
    Pages 127-163
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 165-171

About this book


This book is about the ways in which modern enlightenment, rather than liberating humanity from tyranny, has subjected us to new servitude imposed by systems of mass manipulation, electronic vigilance, compulsive consumerism, and the horrors of a seemingly unending global war on terror. In a time when national democracies seem an imperial farce, it is not enough for intellectuals faced with all this destruction to blithely recommend resistance. Enlightenment in an Age of Destruction challenges resistance theory, providing a cosmology of enlightenment that regards it as an unstable epiphenomenon. The authors outline the current "English" enlightenment of Pax Americana, and provides an epistemological theory and demonstration: a derivative of Adorno's negative dialectics in a positive dialectic based upon intellectual participation in civil society. The book thus ties American, British, French and German theoretical traditions into a reflexive challenge to the notion of intellectual as critic, and argues instead for a trespassive tradition of cultural leadership.


Environmental Politics Francis Bacon Radical Politics Enlightenment Critical Theory imperialism American Imperialism Philosophy British Imperialism humanism British Politics us politics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Local Power Inc.Comptche, CAUSA
  3. 3.New York UniversityPrinceton, NJUSA

About the authors

Christopher Britt is Associate Professor at The George Washington University, USA. He is the author of Quixotism: The Imaginative Denial of Spain’s Loss of Empire (2005) and of Imperial Idiocy: A Reflection on Forced Displacement in the Americas (Forthcoming: 2017).

Paul Fenn is the leader of the Community Choice Energy movement to localize energy in the United States. He is the author of several hallmark U.S. laws (California AB117, 2002; Massachusetts Chapter 164; San Francisco Charter Section 9.107.8, 2001; Oakland Measure X, 1998); primary architect of implemented policies to localize and democratize energy (San Francisco, 2013, Sonoma County, 2014); and author of numerous published essays.

Eduardo Subirats is Professor at New York University, USA. He is the author of some forty books in Spanish, as well as many articles in Spanish, German, English, and Portuguese. His main books deal with topics of aesthetics, cultural theory, colonialism, and literary theory.

Bibliographic information