8 essays
Compiled by Christian Rossipal

For many of us, the current pandemic raises the question of eschatology and the end—whether it is the idea of a looming apocalypse or the end of “the end of history,” which is to say the end of the neoliberal global order as we know it. The writers gathered here help us think with, against, and through the end of economy, history, and the world. They also remind us of radical care in the midst of ecological disaster; of how to live in and after catastrophe—not to reinstate a prior status quo, but to act in a renewed, mutual solidarity.

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Oxana Timofeeva
The End of the World: From Apocalypse to the End of History and Back
Originally published in June 2014

Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don’t tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist—I really believe he is Antichrist—I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my “faithful slave,” as you call yourself!
—Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Günther Anders
Apocalypse without Kingdom
Originally published in February 2019

Günther Anders (1902–92) is undoubtedly one of the most interesting, ignored, oppositional, radical, and nearly forgotten philosophers of the twentieth century. Having grown up in Germany, Anders (whose real name was Stern) and his wife Hannah Arendt had to flee the country in 1933. Via Paris, now divorced, Anders came to the United States, where he never really found his place; red-baiting and propaganda against the left made it difficult for him to find a job. In 1950 he decided to return to Europe, where he lived for the rest of his life in Vienna.

Franco “Bifo” Berardi
The Future After the End of the Economy
Originally published in December 2011

At the end of 2010, I finished writing a book about the cultural collapse of the most important mythology of capitalist modernity: that of “the future” and its associated myths of energy, expansion, and growth. While I was writing, I sensed a possibility that the economic crisis could be deepening. But what actually happened in the summer of 2011—the extraordinary crash of global financial capitalism and the beginning of the European insurrection that exploded in London, Athens, and Rome in December 2010 and then grew massive in England during the four nights of rage in August, and which I expect to spread everywhere in the coming months—this has pushed me to write something more. Alas, writing about the present is a dangerous thing when circumstances change so quickly. But I cannot deny the thrill of running alongside the disaster.

Jennifer Gabrys
Ocean Sensing and Navigating the End of this World
Originally published in June 2019

If Google Earth or a satellite view of the garbage patch proves to be an impossible undertaking, it is because the plastics suspended in oceans are not a thick choking layer of identifiable objects but more a confetti-type array of suspended plastic bits. Locating the garbage patch is on one level bound up with determining what types of plastic objects collect within it and what effects they have. Yet on another level, locating the garbage patch involves monitoring its shifting distribution and extent in the ocean. The garbage patch is not a fixed or singular object, but a society of objects in process. The composition of the garbage patch consists of plastics interacting across organisms and environments. But it also moves and collects in distinct and changing ways due to ocean currents, which are influenced by weather and climate change, as well as the turning of the earth (in the form of the Coriolis effect) and the wind-influenced direction of waves (in the form of Ekman transport). As an oceanic gyre, the garbage patch moves as a sort of weather system, shifting during El Niño events, and changing with storms and other disturbances. Ocean sensing then requires forms of monitoring that work within these fluid and changeable conditions.

Yuk Hui
What Begins After the End of the Enlightenment?
Originally published in January 2019

On the other hand, we may understand Kissinger’s end-of-Enlightenment claim as marking the full realization of a single global axis of time in which all historical times converge into the synchronizing metric of European modernity. It is the moment of disorientation—a loss of direction as well as of the Orient in relation to the Occident. The unhappy consciousness of fascism and xenophobia arises from this inability to orient: as a response, it offers an easy identity politics and an aestheticized politics of technology. More broadly, such a disorientation can be seen as a desirable and necessary deterritorialization of contemporary capitalism, which facilitates accumulation beyond temporal and spatial constraints. War is the technique of disruption par excellence, vastly more effective than Uber and Airbnb.

Paolo Virno
Déjà Vu and the End of History
Originally published in February 2015

When psychiatrists refer to déjà vu, they do not mean a known event of the past playing out again, accompanied by either euphoric amazement or bored condescension. Rather, here we have an only apparent repetition, one that is entirely illusory. We believe that we have already experienced (or seen, heard, done, etc.) something that is, in fact, happening for the first time at this very moment. We mistake the current experience for the very faithful copy of an original that never really existed. We believe that we are recognizing something of which we are only now cognizant. As such, we could also describe déjà vu in terms of “false recognition.”

Words by Franco “Bifo” Berardi
Illustrations by Andrew Alexander
The End of Prophecy
Originally published in November 2018

“Do not expect the nightmare to dissolve. Liberal democracy will not come back. It is the source of disaster.”

Irmgard Emmelhainz
Shattering and Healing
Originally published in January 2019

But what does vulnerability actually mean? Is it being able to acknowledge a state of pain or insecurity, embracing the feeling of coming undone? I feel that it’s something I’ve tried to hide from others and from myself. At the cost of headaches, a bloated stomach, the inability to articulate a sentence. A mental-physical feeling of paralysis. I now suspect that people spend a lot of time and effort hiding in this way. Could I overcome my terror of falling apart if I allowed myself to rely on others, on you? Or should I be a “cruel optimist” and create hopeful and positive attachments, in full awareness that they will not work out?

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