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Cosmopolitan Risk, Neoliberal Un-Freedom: Transparency and Responsibility in John LeCarré’s The Constant Gardener

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      Abstract

      At the heart of both Kantian cosmopolitanism and liberal capitalism is the belief that they offer the best option for freedom from parochial curtailments of safety and liberty. On the one hand, a cosmopolitan federation of states provides the best option for freeing Europe (and, thus, the argument claims, the globe) from the violence that follows national affiliations and sovereignty. On the other hand, laissez-faire economics best ensures individual autonomy and freedom. While one focuses on the universal and the other on the individual, both understand freedom as best emerging from the disappearance of the nation-state. But, alongside both notions of freedom, cosmopolitanism and liberal capitalism both displace risk, by either attempting to eliminate it altogether in global geopolitical harmony or limiting it to an expression of personal decision-making and enterprise. As a result, the risks that accompany the expansion and operation of contemporary global capital tend to have no way to be expressed outside of historically familiar and paternalist colonial language of civilization and personal responsibility. This paper examines how John Le Carré’s The Constant Gardener provides a way to think about globalized risk and responsibility outside of the limitations of cosmopolitan and capitalist discourses by making visible the differential costs both cosmopolitanism and capitalism impose on bodies and places. I argue that the novel uses explicitly cosmopolitan rhetoric of global ethical and political responsibility to critique the self-centered entrepreneurial rationalism of contemporary neoliberalism and its implications for thinking about risk in a transnational context.

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      Most cited references 6

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      Risk and Responsibility

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        Resilience as embedded neoliberalism: a governmentality approach

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          The Class Consciousness of Frequent Travelers: Toward a Critique of Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Texas A&M University, US
            Contributors
            ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6155-7385
            Journal
            2056-6700
            Open Library of Humanities
            Open Library of Humanities
            2056-6700
            02 October 2018
            2018
            : 4
            : 2
            10.16995/olh.379
            Copyright: © 2018 The Author(s)

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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            Self URI (journal-page): https://olh.openlibhums.org/
            Categories
            Freedom after neoliberalism

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