RQ: Fritsch, “Democracy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice” (27-45)

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Keep the following questions in mind as you read Mattius Fritsch, “Democracy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice” (27-45) The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

According to Fritsch what is presentism?

Why is democracy, in comparison to other forms of political/social organization, more likely to prioritize the present over the past and future (30)?

How does modern society conceive of death?

How do notions of death, shape the ways that governments (what Fritsch calls sovereignty here) operate? How do notions of death enforce relationships between generations and relationships between humans and non-humans?

What is, according to Fritsch, “turn-taking” (28)? Why should democracy be “rethought as a matter of taking turns” (28)?

What does Fritsch mean by “Double Affirmation” (28)?

What “special power” does our generation have to affect the future (29)?

To what does the term Anthropocene refer (29)? What sorts of misconceptions does the renaming of the geological age in which we live force as to reconceive?

Why does Fritsch want to question the hard lines dividing life from death?

“What is the relationship between time and taking turns” (31)?

What model of sovereignty has the West always favored (33)?

What model of sovereignty does Fritsch favor?

What outlines several sets of what he calls “turn taking.” What are some relations expressed by his metaphors?

T1: Ipseity: sovereignty, rule of the people, has to be selfish, self-contained, closed, resistant to what’s to come, individual, unique—only part of the story

  • T1 (Double Turning/Temporal), i.e Continuity: “Political sovereigns, democratic or not, have to establish their continuation over time despite the fact that individual office holders die and give way to those born after them” (34).

T2: Difference: the sovereign cannot be all the things above in isolation: To affirm oneself as oneself is to affirm the context without which one could not be what one is, and that means to welcome unconditionally the future-to-come as an alterity within oneself” (33). Then the questions becomes, how far is this alterity to be extended?

  • T2 (Double Turning/Temporal), i.e., Hospitality to the future other, b/c the current government is gonna die and has to welcome in new people, which suggests this radical justice or peace, “Learning to live justly; no realpolitik can avoid having to come to terms with the others it cannot but welcome. Justice, in turn, is never restricted to one generation, but is an intergenerational issue” (35).
  • “Life involves exchanging positions and stations in life, as the young become the old and the unborn become the dead. The democratic assent to letting the others have their turn in governing is thus enabled by the turning nature of time” (35)
  • The incoming cannot be controlled; can extend to people but not restricted to them

Why address the sharing of governance with past and future generations as turn taking?

Why does the natural environment display “the indicators for sharing by turns” (38)?

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