Consent, Revolution, and the End of the World
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State of Nature
Pop Culture
American Political Thought

How to Cite

Consent, Revolution, and the End of the World: America’s Apocalyptic Fixation as Politics. (2024). The Political Science Reviewer, 48(X).


Americans have a complicated, obsessive relationship with what we term a political apocalypse: the idea of the destruction of civil society and subsequent return to a state of nature. Americans are at once terrified of and drawn toward this prospect, both real and imaginary. The purpose of this paper is to identify with clarity this salient but heretofore neglected theme and stimulate further research into this phenomenon. We bring together diverse sources and media to emphasize the American fixation with political apocalypse to expose the theme and provide evidence for its pull. American pop culture is replete with examples of this draw. We argue that ideas foundational to the American regime (i.e., the state of nature and consent-based government) help explain the nature of this fixation. By examining the writings of Locke, Tocqueville, and Lincoln, we conclude that the American urge to participate in the initial act of governmental consent partly manifests itself as a fascination with stories depicting the end of the US government.
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