Roberto Unger Acceleration Theory Summary

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Roberto Unger’s proposals for the re-formulation of constitutional politics in Democracy Realized are reactions to the increased speed of the present. Acceleration, in the form of recombinant innovations and unanticipated cross-applications of technology, characterizes contemporary economics. The economic world is moving quicker than it ever has. Capitalism is the primary imperative for this acceleration. Reducing turnover time increases profit, and discovering a new innovation before competitors do can bring enormous profits. Speed’s shrinkage and division of the world, though, also makes the world more unpredictable. For Unger, the persistent slowness of politics is a problem. Slow constitutional politics, Unger argues, depress political …show more content…
The traditional liberal separation of powers is also a separation of time. The judiciary is retrospective: it deals with the past. The legislature deliberates and crafts prospective statues to manage the future. The executive deals with unpredictable situations that require rapid action in the present. The acceleration of contemporary economic life poses major problems for this organization of politics. Acceleration increases the temporal distance between a law’s creation and a law’s application, which makes statutory obsolescence much more likely.

Acceleration is contracting the present; reducing the amount of time for which the past reliably maps onto the future. New and unpredictable economic events are occurring at a faster clip. This dynamic is, for many scholars of acceleration, the essence of time itself. But it is not the case that every relevant political problem requires fast action. Some, in fact, might require slower deliberation. The choice to privilege the speed of economics will crowd-out the slower speed of human deliberation. Human politics might be best when given time to operate, and time to dwell in