Revenge of the Real

Benjamin Bratton


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  • Verso Books
  • 2021
  • ISBN 9781839762567
  • Hardcover
  • 19.9 × 13.8 × 1.6 cm

The global pandemic should be seen less as a „state of exception“ than a revelation of multiple preexisting conditions. As each wave swept over the globe, different countries experienced the stages of grief –from anger to acceptance — in predictable sequence, but each dealt with the crisis in very different ways, some successful and some catastrophic. This stark moment of ‚reality‘ enacted the largest control experiment in comparative governance in history. Can the world govern itself differently?

The Revenge of the Real envisions a post-pandemic politics based upon the imperatives that have revealed themselves during the emergency. It demands that we imagine an epidemiological view of society, on a planetary scale: the need to rethink how governments interact with each other and their populations, as well as how we live, work and, perhaps, thrive with each other. The lockdown has forced new norms – social distancing, models and curves, masks and quarantine – that we have to accommodate into everyday lives. How do these alter what it means to mean care for one another? How does they impact on our relationships with automation and „surveillance“? What kind of society do they portend? Bratton proposes a radical rethinking of what a post-pandemic politics could be, and should be, one that demands, rather than delays, a coordinated, pragmatic, equitable response to the biopolitical challenges that define the 21st century.