The politics of irony, reconsidered

Grimwood, Tom ORCID logo ORCID: (2021) The politics of irony, reconsidered. Journal for Cultural Research, 25 (2). pp. 175-188.

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Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi concludes his analysis of tragedy in late capitalism with a bold call to arms: post-liberal dystopia must be faced and dissolved by irony. He argues for a renewed ironic autonomy, which emphasises the independence of mind from knowledge and the excessive nature of the imagination. Developing Berardi’s argument, I suggest there are three obstacles to theorising irony as a form of politics. The first is that a politics of irony is often accused of being either a fraudulent or amoral form of politics, which has itself allowed a post-liberal malaise to fester and grow. The second problem is that irony may no longer be simply an ambivalent tool of critique from the edges of political discourse, but instead a tool which perpetuates its very centre. The third problem is that theorising the performance and place of irony in relation to political critique often results in a slippage from the complexity of the second problem to the impasse of the first. I argue that Berardi’s ‘ironic autonomy’ is entirely possible, so long as the politics of irony is understood as depending on the different forms and media of interpretative space through which contemporary politics takes place.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Journal for Cultural Research
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group
ISSN: 1740-1666
Departments: Health and Society Knowledge Exchange (HASKE)
Institute of Health > Social Work, Children and Families
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any med-ium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Depositing User: Tom Grimwood
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 12:18
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2024 11:45


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