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LARPing at the End of History (Fantasy Politics 2/3)

August 4, 2021 at 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm PDT

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In this salon (the second in the three-part mini-series), Jake Orthwein will lead a discussion on the strange unreality of contemporary politics.

In The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama issued a qualification to his famous pronouncement that the ideological struggles of history had reached their culmination. He worried that the deep connection between ideological struggle and human meaning might form an obstacle to the stability of liberal democracy:

“Experience suggests that if men cannot struggle on behalf of a just cause because that just cause was victorious in an earlier generation, then they will struggle against the just cause. They will struggle for the sake of struggle. They will struggle, in other words, out of a certain boredom: for they cannot imagine living in a world without struggle. And if the greater part of the world in which they live is characterized by peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy, then they will struggle against that peace and prosperity, and against democracy.”

Thirty years later, these words sound prophetic. Social media posturing has removed skin-in-the-game from political advocacy. Emotions run high but sincerity is hard to come by. The extremes of both left and right compete with one another for sheer impracticality (Abolish the Police? Stop the Steal?). When the fantasy  does spill over into reality, as at the January 6th Riot or in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, the results look more like live-action role playing than genuine revolution — despite the violent consequences.

How can we serve the human need for struggle — even  violent struggle — amid conditions of relative peace and prosperity? Will the frontier of ideological struggle push into virtual worlds? Is fantasy a way of entertaining ourselves without the threat of real conflict? What happens when fantasy politics spill over into reality? Join us to discuss all of this and more!


Reading List:

Third Time as LARP by Antonio García Martínez

Anatomy of Deception and Self-Delusion: Walter Lippmann on Public Opinion, Our Slippery Grasp of Truth, and the Discipline of Apprehending Reality Clearly by Maria Popova

The Texas Lawsuit and the Age of Dreampolitik by Ross Douthat

How Trump Made the Fantasy Real by Ross Douthat



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August 4, 2021
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm PDT
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