This is my response to John Ledger's Is 'Hauntology' Dead?
The double anxieties of which you speak are now in flux, or more precisely, the anxiety about 'tomorrow' has become a residing centripetal force on a societal level. This sharp focus has cut like a knife through everything sending the world into overdrive. It has both revealed the toxic failings of capitalism and also jump started the populist regimes to spew out even more damaging policies, laws and language. This language is itself hauntological. It reveals the inherent inequalities within society and the power relations which remain embedded in an historical class structure in the UK (this may exist in different states throughout the world, particularly in Western democracies).
The current rhetoric which is espoused by the UK government at large is haunted in and of itself by the ‘weight of history’. This was highlighted in Emily Maitlis’s now infamous opening remarks on the BBC’s Newsnight. Maitlis touched on the use of ‘misleading’ language in which the government used words like ‘strength of character’ and ‘fortitude’ would help the country ‘defeat’ Coronavirus. As she correctly pointed out this is factually bullshit. Yet, what is revealed is the trace of a history of war and patriarchal power play which haunts this Conservative populist government. They repeatedly evoke the spectre of Britain during WWII, which in and of itself has traces in empire, a romanticised view of ‘the Great British public’ united in beating back the invading enemy. A government, lead by a self-confessed Churchill superfan, playing out everything from the populist play book of nationalism. My argument is this, hauntology is not ‘dead’ because it cannot die. The current pandemic has revealed itself to be a socio-political crisis as well as a health emergency.
The populist response is always the same, to evoke the other- the other as a threat (which of course from a humancentric position it is, I am not denying this fact). However, I argue that this response is involuntary and predictable because the very ideology that has led to these forms of populism is itself a ghost in the machine of government.