chapter  3
22 Pages

On Consent

ByJane Anna Gordon

Chapter 3 turns to the question of consent to suggest, following Carole Pateman, that there are at least two distinct ways of understanding “consent”: if difficult to realize, the latter approach is essential to the core aims of democratizing politics since it clarifies the achievements necessary to make “exits” available. Nowhere is this more evident than in cases that exemplify self-governance’s opposite, instances of enslavement, in which the aspiration is to render the consent of the enslaved man or woman wholly irrelevant literally by yoking him or her to the will of another. It argues that in a context in which the conditions for political subjecthood are already under assault, it is dangerous to casually write consent off as nothing more than a failed liberal fiction, even when there are many poststructural resources available for doing so. The chapter closes with discussion of the WoMin Collective’s conception of consent as challenging dominant models of development by locating crucial decision-making power at the level of local rural and peasant communities that typically lack voice in the national and international system. Crucially, these are communities that in saying “no,” are also saying “yes” to an alternative conception of development that frames the same contested resources as essential to the livelihoods, health, cultural heritage, and well-being of Global Southern communities.