The New Politics of Numbers: Utopia, Evidence and Democracy de Andrea MENNICKEN et Robert SALAIS (eds.) (2022)


  • Harro Maas


After reading The New Politics of Numbers: Utopia, Evidence, and Democracy, edited by Andrea Mennicken and Robert Salais, it is just impossible to open a newspaper or news site without being reminded of the themes addressed in this volume. This can be about an upward adjustment of the number of unemployed from about 250,000 to 350,000 by the Dutch statistical office CBS to comply with new EU regulations.2 Or a plea by (again Dutch) epidemiologists for competition between models to forecast the course of the covid pandemic to thus try to look “under the hood” of the official and for privacy reasons unpublished model and to promote an open debate about its assumptions and robustness.3 Or about a very interesting longread in The Guardian in which Ben Rawlence examined the damaging effects of the current climate crisis on the way of living of the Sami in the most northern province of Norway, Finnmark, where the changing natural conditions pit the state’s vision of reindeer as “a useful export” of a region otherwise considered as unproductive against the significance of reindeer to the Sami for whom reindeer represent not only economic, but also cultural and symbolic value. As Rawlence quotes one of his interviewees: “Reindeer are life. They are everything. Without reindeer, we die.”