A useful way to approach the discourse of rights in African philosophy is in terms of Kwasi Wiredu’s (1996) distinction between cultural particulars and universals. According to Wiredu, cultural particulars are contingent and context-dependent. They fail to hold in all circumstances and for everyone (Wiredu 2005). Cultural universals are transcultural or objective (Wiredu 2005). Examples of cultural particulars include dress styles, religious rituals, social etiquette and so on. One example of a cultural universal is the norm of truth. One may imagine a society with different methods of greeting, dress, and raising children, but one cannot imagine a robust society which rejects the norm of truth as the basis of social practices.
African Philosophy and Rights
Motsamai Molefe and Chris Allsobrook
Political theorists, especially in the subfield of ideology studies, continue to draw insights from Begriffsgeschichte (conceptual history) to help them better analyze the morphology of political concepts over time. However, other aspects of Reinhart Koselleck’s work remain underutilized. This is especially true of the connections between Begriffsgeschichte and his development of a theory of history (Historik), dealing with the broader intersection of language, structure, and the experience of time. This article focuses on just one aspect of this intersection: on the potential relevance of Koselleck’s use of the concept of horizon to theorize a particular “horizonal mode” of the politics of time. After discussing some relevant features of the horizon metaphor, the article moves to reappraise Koselleck’s use of the concept before elaborating and expanding on it to claim that Koselleck helps to showcase the contestation of different temporal horizons as a core feature of political thinking.
Nationalism and Internationalism Reconciled
British Concepts for a New World Order during and after the World Wars
Antero Holmila and Pasi Ihalainen
The carnage of World War I gave rise to liberal visions for a new world order with democratized foreign policy and informed international public opinion. Conservatives emphasized continuity in national sovereignty, while socialists focused on the interests of the working class. While British diplomacy in the construction of the League of Nations has been widely discussed, we focus on contemporary uses of nationalism and internationalism in parliamentary and press debates that are more ideological. We also examine how failed internationalist visions influenced uses of these concepts during World War II, supporting alternative organizational solutions, caution with the rhetoric of democracy and public opinion, and ways to reconcile national sovereignty with a new world organization. The United Nations was to guarantee the interests of the leading powers (including the United States), while associations with breakthroughs of democracy were avoided. Nationalism (patriotism) and internationalism were reconciled with less idealism and more pragmatism.
In this article, I argue that individuals could be entitled to rights, outside those that are communally conferred, as part of the primary requirement of being ‘persons’ in the African communitarian set-up if the terms ‘person’ and ‘personhood’ are understood differently from the way they are currently deployed in the communitarian discourse. The distinction between these two terms is the basis of my thesis where clarity on their meanings could be helpful in establishing the possibility of ascribing rights outside those that are communally conferred. I argue that ontologically, a ‘person’ is prior to ‘personhood’ (understood in the normative sense) which is considered to find its fuller expression in a community and by virtue of this, I think that he or she is entitled to some rights outside those that are defined and conferred by the community. This is my point of departure in this article.
In classical African communitarianism, individual rights have tended to be accorded a secondary status to the good of the community. What is prioritised are the duties and obligations the individual has to the whole as opposed to the entitlements one can expect to derive from a community qua individual. I seek to show that this view, by its own standards and assumptions, is erroneous in framing rights as secondary to the good of the community. I attempt to show that individual rights are an inherent component of classical African communitarian accounts. Further, I seek to argue for a non-communalist view of African communitarianism which takes into full account the multiple factors that constitute modern African communities. Such a view, I suggest, will avoid the unnecessary dichotomisation of rights which has become synonymous with the classical African communitarian account.
Eugenia Gay, Philipp Nielsen, Emanuel Richter, and Gregor Feindt
Pablo Facundo Escalante
French republicanism is traditionally considered not only the logical outcome of the principles of 1789 but also their main political goal in the long term. Since the revolutionary outbreak, France would have been destined to become a republic, and the consecutive republican regimes that shaped its history seem to support that interpretation. However, considering the formidable weight of the centuries-old French royalist tradition, it is difficult to believe that the French gave up kingship once and for all in the span of the first three revolutionary years and that the First Empire, the Bourbon Restoration, the July Monarchy, and the Second Empire were political regimes imposed only by force, against the will of the French, who only wanted a republican form of government. Driven by these reflections, this article attempts to propose a different interpretation of French republicanism.
Sovereignty versus Influence
European Unity and the Conceptualization of Sovereignty in British Parliamentary Debates, 1945–2016
Teemu Häkkinen and Miina Kaarkoski
It is not a coincidence that perceptions of sovereignty were key reasons why the United Kingdom referendum on European Union membership ended in a victory for the Leave side. In this article, we will apply methods of conceptual history to parliamentary debates in order to trace the development of sovereignty as a political concept in Europe-related debates through studies of four periods between 1945 and 2016. We will show that both supporters and opponents of European unity deliberately used the British position on sovereignty in political struggles throughout the analyzed period. The concept was used above all to describe the traditional view of the supremacy of British parliamentary sovereignty, but it was also used for different purposes to create a perception of how sovereignty could or could not be modified in dealing with an integrating Europe.
Arendt on Kant and Aesthetic Judgment in Politics
Alex Donovan Cole
Hannah Arendt discovers a theory of politics in Immanuel Kant’s aesthetic treatise, the Critique of Judgment. However, the relationship between Kant and Arendt’s politics remains unfinished. This article seeks to present a syncretic view of Arendt’s work on politics with her work on Kantian judgment. Vital to Arendt’s politics is the concept of amor mundi, the love of the world. Yet, in order for amor mundi to resonate with groups and individuals in the world, one must view the world as beautiful and, in Arendt’s words, ‘a fit place for men to live’. In other words, one must love beauty to love the world and be prepared to execute judgment upon particulars in that world according to Arendt. Such use of this judgment, however, is likely to err in ‘dark times’. Thus, Arendt views the love of the world and beauty as an open-ended process.
On the Interrelation of Production and Reproduction
The Analytical Contribution of Marxist-feminism
Matthew J. Smetona
Contemporary social and political theorists generally recognise that Marx and Engels’ critical analysis of capitalist society centres on the production of value through the production of things. However, what is often unrecognised in considerations of Marx and Engels is how their analysis is based on the interrelation of production and reproduction. Nevertheless, the implications of this interrelation for feminist critique are explored in the writings of Marx and Engels only tangentially. These implications are developed from Marx’s analysis by Leopoldina Fortunati and Silvia Federici into a singular synthesis of the Marxist and feminist modes of critique. This development deserves greater recognition, and this essay will seek to articulate how the social implications of this interrelation (1) are expressed to a limited extent in the classical texts of Marxism and (2) are developed by Fortunati and Federici into the analytic framework of social reproduction as the core of Marxist-feminist revolutionary struggle.