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Forum XXIII (Summer 2022)

The Politics of Pleasure

Efforts to green the economy and distribute wealth more equitably often sound like a program for joyless lives: make do with less and give up your pleasures. But what if “post-growth living” could be an opportunity for greater pleasure, not less?

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The Politics of Pleasure

Efforts to green the economy and distribute wealth more equitably often sound like a program for joyless lives: make do with less and give up your pleasures. To philosopher Kate Soper, this gets it all wrong. Leading this issue’s forum, she urges that we see “post-growth living” as an opportunity for greater pleasure, not less. A simpler life of “alternative hedonism”—built around local community and abun­dant free time—could make us happier and healthier while giving our overextended planet a new lease on life. Forum respondents, including Green New Deal economist Robert Pollin and Kenyan activist Nanjala Nyabola, embrace Soper’s call to remake society but question her prescription. The result is a wide-ranging debate about the limitations of lifestyle critique, the value of economic growth, and the kinds of alternatives that are possible.

Other contributions focus on the connections between pleasure and gender, including the joys of collective action and care work, the ordinary pleasures of Black motherhood, the misogyny of Pos­itive Psychology, and the links between good sex and democracy. Together they imagine what it will take to make a pleasurable life possible for everyone.


Editors’ Note

Deborah Chasman & Joshua Cohen


Forum

Alternative Hedonism

Kate Soper

 

Response: The Degrowth Economy

Robert Pollin

 

Response: The Fullness of Desire

Lida Maxwell

 

Response: Ecology’s Utopian Vision

Jackson Lears

 

Response: The Abundance Agenda

Will Rinehart

 

Response: Degrowth Is a Distraction

Jayati Ghosh

 

Response: A Bourgeois Revolution

Nanjala Nyabola

 

Final Response

Kate Soper


Essays

The Ordinary Pleasures of Black Motherhood

Jennifer C. Nash

 

Just Wear Your Smile: The Gender Politics of Positive Psychology

Micki McElya

 

How Capitalism Is Ruining Sex

Breanne Fahs

 

Pleasure Activism

adrienne maree brown

 

The Democratic Potential of Cruising

Jack Parlett

 

Lunchtime in Italy

Jonathan Levy

 

Pleasurable Work, Plentiful Leisure: William Morris’s Socialist Vision

Ben Schacht

 

The Utopian Pulse

Lynne Segal

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