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The Making of Global Inequality

A Conceptual History, 1945–1980

Christian Olaf Christiansen

Abstract

This article is a history of postwar discourse on an unequal world. This discourse was profoundly shaped by new influences: quantitative data and an expanding inequality research infrastructure, the “birth of development,” decolonization, human rights, the global Cold War, and theories of the world as one integrated global system. Examining academic journal articles written in English, this article traces the emergence of global inequality in the aftermath of the World Food Crisis of 1972–1975. Originally, global inequality was as much about power as about income differentials, mainly referring to multiple inequalities between the so-called Third World and the First. However, even as the late 1960s and the 1970s saw an increased politicization of the discourse on an unequal world, global inequality did not become a key concept in the 1970s.

Open access

Jean-Paul Gagnon, Hans Asenbaum, Dannica Fleuss, Sonia Bussu, Petra Guasti, Rikki Dean, Pierrick Chalaye, Nardine Alnemr, Friedel Marquardt, and Alexander Weiss

Abstract

This introductory article to Democratic Theory's special issue on the marginalized democracies of the world begins by presenting the lexical method for understanding democracy. It is argued that the lexical method is better than the normative and analytical methods at finding democracies in the world. The argument then turns to demonstrating, mainly through computational research conducted within the Google Books catalog, that an empirically demonstrable imbalance exists between the democracies mentioned in the literature. The remainder of the argument is given to explaining the value of working to correct this imbalance, which comes in at least three guises: (1) studying marginalized democracies can increase our options for alternative democratic actions and democratic innovations; (2) it leads to a conservation and public outreach project, which is epitomized in an “encyclopedia of the democracies”; and (3) it advocates for a decolonization of democracies’ definitions and practices and decentering academic democratic theory.

Open access

Phillip Becher, Katrin Becker, Kevin Rösch, and Laura Seelig

Abstract

Focusing on selected “Western” conceptions of democracy, we expose and normatively evaluate their conflictual meanings. We unpack the white democracy of prominent ordoliberal Wilhelm Röpke, which comprises an elitist bias against the demos, and we discuss different assessments of his 1964 apologia of Apartheid South Africa. Our critical-historical study of Röpke's marginalized meaning of democracy traces a neglected anti-democratic continuity in his work that is to be contextualized within wider elitist (neo)liberal discourses: from his critique of Nazism in the 1930s to the defense of Apartheid in the 1960s. We provide an alternative, marginalized meaning of democracy that draws on Marxist political science. Such a meaning of democracy helps explain why liberal democratic theory is ill-equipped to tackle anti-democratic tendencies re-emerging in liberal-democratic polities.

Free access

Part 2: After the Big Bang

The Fusing of New Approaches

Jan Ifversen

Abstract

In part one, I followed the debates and the scholars involved in the big bang of international Begriffsgeschichte. Part 2 takes us from the first encounters between the German and the Anglophone tradition within intellectual history to the more formalized efforts of establishing conceptual history on the international, academic scene. With more scholars joining the debate, the understanding of concepts in language and in context were both broadened and deepened. Case studies from a wider range of European languages added a stronger comparative and transnational perspectives to conceptual history, which would prepare the ground for a conceptual history beyond Europe.

Open access

Practicing Democracy from Childhood

Democratic Praxis in Te Ao Māori

Kylie Smith, Ksenija Napan, Raewyn Perkinson, and Roberta Hunter

Abstract

Democracy manifests itself in a range of ways and is an imperfect, dynamic struggle for collective decision-making. This article discusses the multifaceted processes of deliberative democratic praxis found in traditional Māori society. Central to decision-making in te ao Māori, hui provide formal and informal structures for deliberative democracy, precedent setting, learning, and transformation through consensus making, inclusive debate, and discussion across all levels of society. Rather than coercion and voting, rangatira relied on a complex mix of customary values and accomplished oratory skills to explore issues in family and community meetings and in public assemblies. Decisions made through inclusive deliberative processes practiced in hui established evident reasoning and responsibility for all community members to uphold the reached consensus. This article claims that practicing deliberative democracy as a fundamental way of life, learned through ongoing active and meaningful participation throughout childhood, improves the integrity of democratic decision-making.

Open access

The Prospects for Socialist Politics in South Africa

Global and Domestic Trends Following the Failed SRWP Experiment

Giovanni Poggi and Ongama Mtimka

Abstract

Our article endeavours to critically examine the prospects for socialist parties and socialist policy reform in South Africa. Firstly, we seek to provide an appraisal of modern socialist politics and policies globally. Secondly, we attempt to diagnose why South Africa has been as yet unable to fashion a suitable socialist workers’ party during the democratic epoch. In this, the article discusses the prospects of socialist parties and policy reform in South Africa after examining the failure of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party (SRWP) to make an impact at the 2019 polls. Using a combination of comparative methodology and critical inquiry, our study presents not only that socialist politics and policies are valuable to democratic systems, but also that socialist politics should have a more viable vehicle in South Africa. The prospects for deepened ideological development, particularly the formation of a successful socialist or workers’ party, remains quite weak in South Africa but there is considerable evidence to suggest that civil society both requires and desires a more vibrant relationship with modern socialism.

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Review

Conceptual Plasticity in Times of Urgency

Adrián Velázquez Ramírez

J. M. Bernstein, Adi Ophir, and Ann Laura Stoler, eds., Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018), 269 pp.

Full access

Something Happened to the Future

Reconstructing Temporalities in Dutch Parliamentary Debate, 1814–2018

Joris van Eijnatten and Pim Huijnen

Abstract

This article stands in Reinhart Koselleck's tradition of investigating the historical experience of time. It focuses on the manner in which the experience and conceptualization of the future changed in Dutch parliamentary speech between 1814 and 2018. Based on a quantitative analysis of a corpus of political texts of more than 800 million tokens spanning more than two centuries, we argue that the future transformed from something unknown but principally predictable into a synonym for change itself during the final quarter of the twentieth century. We contend that this resulted in unpredictability becoming the future's defining trait and the future, consequently, losing its character as a knowledgeable singular in a process of what can be called “de-singularization.”

Open access

Ndumiso Dladla

Even though the Pan Africanist Congress was formed in 1959 after departing from the African National Congress at a point marking out the irreconcilability of the Azanian ‘faith’ with the other interpretations of the struggle within the ‘broad church’ of the Congress Movement, it was only six years later, in 1965, that it modified its name to the PAC of Azania. The name Azania is supposed to have been suggested by Nkrumah at the All-African Peoples’ Conference in 1958 attended by the Africanists even before the inauguration of the PAC (Diaz 2009: 239; Hilton 1993: 5). The Azanian tendency in ‘South African’ history can arguably be said to have existed from the earliest times of resistance by the indigenous people against the unjust wars of colonisation (see Dladla 2020: 71–108).

Open access

Joel Modiri

Abstract

This article sets out a few key questions, themes, and problems animating an Azanian social and political philosophy, with specific reference to the radical promise of undoing South African disciplinary knowledges. The article is made up of two parts: The first part discusses the epistemic and political forces arrayed against black radical thought in South Africa and beyond. A few current trends of anti-black thinking – liberal racism, Left Eurocentrism, and postcolonial post-racialism – which pose challenges for the legibility of Azanian critique are outlined. Part two constructs an exposition and synthesis of key tenets of Azanian thinking elaborated upon under three signs: ‘South Africa’, ‘race and racism’, and ‘Africa’. The aim of the discussion is to illustrate the critical, emancipatory potential of Azanian thought and its radical incommensurability with dominant strands of scholarship in the human and social sciences today. The article ultimately defends the reassertion of black radical thought in the South African academy today and underscores in particular the abolitionist drive of Azanian political thought.