The Next Social Contract
Animals, the Anthropocene, and Biopolitics
Publication: Jun 17
Publication: Jun 17
Publication: Jun 17
6 x 9
A comprehensive, interdisciplinary analysis of the fate of animals in the twenty-first century Anthropocene eraRead Chapter 1 (pdf).
In his provocative book The Next Social Contract, Wayne Gabardi rigorously considers the fate of animals in the twenty-first century. He claims that if we are to address the challenges raised by the Anthropocene—the period where nonhuman beings tend to be mere extras, often subsumed under the umbrella notion of “nature”—we need to radically rethink our basic ethical outlook and develop a new, “more-than-human” social contract.
Gabardi’s wide-ranging and multidisciplinary analysis focuses on four principal battlegrounds of animal biopolitics in the twenty first century: the extinction of wild animals, the crisis of oceanic animals, industrialized farm animals and the future of industrial agribusiness, and the situation of contact-zone animals moving into human-occupied habitats.
In his recasting of the social contract, Gabardi envisions a culture shift in human-animal relations toward posthumanism that features the ethical and political prioritization of animal life so it is on par with that of human well-being.
" We are living in an epoch called 'The Age of Humanity.' I prefer to call it 'The Rage of Inhumanity,' and Wayne Gabardi provides numerous good reasons for this re-envisioning of the Anthropocene. In his wide-ranging, interdisciplinary, and forward-looking book, Gabardi considers the fate of nonhuman animals in the twenty-first century, who are wantonly used and abused by the billions daily and globally by humans in all sorts of venues. He convincingly argues for a new ethic—a new social contract—in which nonhumans and humans compete on more even terrain, where the interests of nonhumans are not routinely and thoughtlessly trumped, often brutally, in favor of the interests of humans. I only hope that this cultural shift is not too far off, because we simply cannot continue subjecting other animals to unfettered violence 'in the name of humans.' The Next Social Contract is a provocative book that deserves a broad and global audience."
—Marc Bekoff, author of Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence and co-author of The Animals' Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age
"Wayne Gabardi seeks to expand the scope of animal studies to include a wide variety of problems that are often overlooked. Among the chief merits of The Next Social Contract are Gabardi's wise focus on a broad range of human-animal relationships and his efforts to ground ethics in a rich, coevolutionary context. To build his argument, Gabardi marshals an impressive number of thinkers, texts, and traditions—from biology and ecology to analytic and continental philosophy. This synthetic approach represents the very best kind of work in the interdisciplinary field of animal studies. The Next Social Contract makes an essential contribution to the discipline."
—Matthew Calarco, Professor at California State University, Fullerton, and author of Thinking Through Animals: Identity, Difference, Indistinction
"In a rigorously transdisciplinary and theoretical text, Gabardi builds an argument for the inclusion of animals in considerations of political justice. To do this, the author begins with the Anthropocene hypothesis—a reframing of humans as drivers of epoch-level change that is as massive as other global catastrophes.... This is a challenging text with rich arguments based on ample theory across disciplines and will be best used for synthesized reading. Scholars in the field of animal ethics will find this book to be highly relevant and provocative.... Summing Up: Recommended."
"(T)he author presents the affirmative approach towards biopolitics and puts the main emphasis on the place of animals in the contemporary social systems.... Gabardi's book is a well-composed, exhaustedly thought though challenging and provocative work. It provides us with new ideas and demonstrates how much is yet to be done within the field of political theory."
—Kultura i Edukacja
"Gabardi's posthumanist social contract theory offers an important contribution to animal ethics.... Wayne Gabardi adopts the posthumanism standpoint and offers us 'six Rs' principles on how to co-live with animals. Viewing nonhuman animals as sentient beings, moral subjects, and cohabitants of our planet, he argues that we should include animals in a new social contract." —Environmental Philosophy
"The Next Social Contract seeks to... set out a type of evolutionary theory that already grounds ethics for humans and other animals, and, even more importantly, that ties together all living beings both ontologically and ethically. Such breadth is... the strength of this book, allowing it to integrate dimensions of analysis and disciplinary approaches that generally follow parallel tracks.... original and thought-provoking."
Table of Contents
Introduction • The Argument and Structure of the Book
1. The Anthropocene Hypothesis
2. The Plight of Animals in the Twenty-First Century
3. Posthumanist Ethics
4. The Next Social Contract
Conclusion • Animals, the Anthropocene, and Biopolitics: A Labor of Sisyphus