Deep Politics

Written for Vertical Atlas anthology

Verticality has acquired a bad reputation. It is seen as an unwelcome symbol of oppression, domination, or control, with connotations of hierarchy or even coercion. However, I would argue that the very idea of verticality requires more critical appreciation than it usually receives. I am not referring to the commonplace declaration that a middle way is needed between horizontality and verticality, or that a combination of both principles is necessary in political organization and social vision. Instead, I want to make verticality relevant in the register of politics-to-come that is slowly being articulated in the Earth layer as an intersection between geophysics, geochemistry, geoeconomics, and geotechnology. This politics-to-come stems from a less geopolitical and more geological notion of verticality–the vertical axis of historical layers rather than that of the hierarchy of power. By uncovering this register, we may even come to realize that “politics” is a helplessly imprecize designation of what is going on. For the time being, however, I use the word “politics” in a vague and somehow equivocal manner to denote wildly different registers of normativity, which will be distinguished over the course of my argument. While I depart from the field of political ecology, my contention is that the very term “political ecology” simultaneously leads to my conclusion and prevents us from reaching it.

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