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Motsamai Molefe

In this article, I motivate for the view that the best account of the foundations of morality in the African tradition should be grounded on some relevant spiritual property – a view that I call 'ethical supernaturalism'. In contrast to this position, the literature has been dominated by humanism as the best interpretation of African ethics, which typically is accompanied by a direct rejection of 'ethical supernaturalism' and a veiled rejection of non-naturalism (Gyekye 1995: 129–43; Metz 2007: 328; Wiredu 1992: 194–6). Here primarily, by appeal to methods of analytic philosophy, which privileges analysis and (moral) argumentation, I set out to challenge and repudiate humanism as the best interpretation of African ethics; I leave it for a future project to develop a fully fledged African spiritual meta-ethical theory.

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The Wrath of Thrasymachus

Value Irrationality and the Failures of Deliberative Democracy

Michael J. Thompson

I present a critique of deliberative democratic theory by arguing that deliberative and discourse-based theories of democracy suffer from what I term 'deliberative failures', which are the result of cognitive distortions of the capacity of individuals to articulate reasonable claims. I call value irrationality that condition where individuals express arguments and receive information biased by certain values and value-orientations that remain untouched by deliberative encounters. Values are irrational when any agent becomes unable to call them into question and when they come to bias the way we process information about the world as well as our own arguments. This results in what I term 'epistemological warping' or the systemic biasing of our epistemic capacities to evaluate information, the arguments of others, inhibiting our knowledge about the world, ourselves and others. I put forward an alternative direction for democratic theorists to move, back to the questions of social structure, forms of socialisation and their ability to shape the value-orientations of individuals.

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Tendayi Sithole and Paolo Cossarini

Violence in/and the Great Lakes: The Thought of V-Y Mudimbe and Beyond by Grant Farred, Kasereka Kavwahirehi and Leonhard Praeg (eds.) Tendayi Sithole

Radical Democracy and Collective Movements Today: The Biopolitics of the Multitude versus the Hegemony of the People by Alexandros Kioupkiolis and Giorgos Katsambekis (eds.) Paolo Cossarini

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Ibanga B. Ikpe

The debate as to whether the humanities is in decline is almost over. Statistics on declining enrolments, shrinking job prospects, dwindling funding and growing condescension from society add up to show that all is not well. Humanities scholars have, in the recent past, tried to discover what is wrong as well as do something to demonstrate that the humanities is still relevant to society. In this regard, many have suggested that the humanities should change to accommodate the needs of the marketplace, while others have argued that to do so will change the humanities so drastically as to render it unrecognizable. This article is about the current state of affairs in the humanities and the different views that have been expressed on it. It argues that rather than the humanities, it is actually society that is in decline, and as such changing the humanities to suit the needs of the marketplace would be a disservice to our long humanistic tradition. It acknowledges that humanities scholars need to engage more with society even as they continue in activities that have defined the humanities through the years and argues for humanities therapy as a way for the humanities to engage with a world that is increasingly enamoured with technê.

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Michael Jackson and Damian Grace

This article analyses the way in which the life and works of Niccolò Machiavelli are misunderstood and misconstrued by writers and scholars, in the fields of management, personality research and primate studies. While adjectives like 'Machiavellian' and nouns like 'Machiavellianism' have become part of the vernacular, these scholarly usages trade on, perpetuate and reinforce stereotypes of Machiavelli in (1) a host of books and articles in management, (2) an instrument to assess personality that has been administered to thousands of subjects around the world, and (3) authoritative studies of primate behaviours from the Netherlands to Japan. The distorted Machiavelli depicted in these fields is but a shadow of the deft, insightful and elusive Machiavelli of The Prince, The Discourses, Mandragola, The Art of War, The Florentine Histories and more. We suggest that colleagues should recognise and rebut these shadowy Machiavellis in teaching, scholarship and research. If specialists in history and political science ignore them, they will continue to obscure the reality.

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Not an Immigrant Country?

Non-Western Racism and the Duties of Global Citizenship

Adam K. Webb

The rise of non-Western societies, especially in Asia, to greater global influence demands greater scrutiny of how they engage the rest of the world. To date, every society with high levels of immigration is in Europe or a product of the European empires. The erosion of ethnically and racially inflected understandings of citizenship has also gone much further in the modern West than in East Asia or the Gulf States. Notably, however, liberal political theorists who make the case for a cosmopolitan opening of borders remain silent on such non-Western patterns of racial exclusion. Non-Western societies often claim that, because they are 'not an immigrant country', they should not be held to the same standards of openness and non-discrimination. International law, a product of the postcolonial moment, also has a blind spot on these issues. This article challenges such double standards. It suggests that the implicit normative argument for greater Western openness – collective guilt over the colonial experience and resulting racial stratification – leads in unexpected directions, implicating Asian societies in ways that they do not yet recognise.

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Yusuf Has

My aim in this article is to move the problematic of violence and its role in politics to a historico-ontological plane. I propose a perspective that breaks with the dominant subjectivist concept of human violence and its metaphysical foundations, which fail to distinguish this concept from that of aggression. According to this perspective, we are already in the field of violence in our everyday social existence, regardless of our personal choices or intentions, the sources of which are systemic. The ontological essence of this systemic violence lies in the fact that it is not external to human subjects but is engraved in their very social being by penetrating into the discourses, practices and frames of mind that make up their historical disposition, which makes it in many instances harder to escape than subjective violence. What I call from this ontological perspective the 'violence of closure' has the effect ultimately of suppressing the possibilities of social being open to human beings in their given historical situation, by normalising the existing way of social and political existence, and closing them off to alternatives. I argue that to this violence of closure must be opposed the violence of dis-closure, which, in its various particular intellectual and practical forms, can open up human social existence to its repressed possibilities.

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Ex Aqua

The Mediterranean Basin, Africans on the Move, and the Politics of Policing

P. Khalil Saucier and Tryon P. Woods

Within the annals of black studies, analyses of state power begin with a well-trod premise that policing is not a response to criminal behaviour; nor is it an extension of a criminal justice apparatus whose operations can be accounted for by political economy alone. Rather, the police power is foremost a cultural phenomenon irreducible to materialist conceptions of social control in a capitalist world system. More to the point, policing is a methodology for social organisation premised on antiblack sexual violence. We consider several recent events of state power in the Mediterranean basin – as in the Lampedusa boat victims – in order to ascertain the erotic authority governing the police power of state and civil society. By using the Lampedusa case and others, we highlight that police power in the Mediterranean is more than the interpersonal and the event, but instead manifests as a methodology of violence by the state and its regimes, as history, as legacy. The policing and murder of hundreds of Africans in the Mediterranean we contend are not single and episodic events or moments in time, but are situated in the accumulated violence against black people globally. Without an analysis of antiblackness in relation to policing as methodology, events such as Lampedusa can be seen and understood as moments of exception (i.e. bad FRONTEX policy) rather than a practice that fully follows racial slavery. Without understanding policing from this standpoint, the political reaction to Lampedusa and other events has the danger of promoting 'reform' and 'revision' rather than a more radical vision: a future where black lives matter.

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Fabricating the Color Line in a White Democracy

From Slave Catchers to Petty Sovereigns

Ben Brucato

Though states are founded in and dependent on successfully claiming a monopoly on the use of violent force and the certification of citizenship, these means suggest particular ends: the production of the social order. Police have the primary mandate to produce order and administer poverty. From a new abolitionist perspective, the particular social order of the U.S. is unique. The white race was founded through the production and maintenance of the color line and performed through a cross-class alliance of whites. Policing is deeply implicated in these processes. A historical account of police during the Herrenvolk era is provided. Finally, the persistence of racist policing is explained in light of a now officially color-blind political order, with officers functioning as petty sovereigns in a neoliberal era.

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Foucault

Critical Theory of the Police in a Neoliberal Age

Andrew Johnson

In Discipline and Punish the police is a state institution isomorphic with the prison. In his Collège de France lectures, Foucault unearths a 'secret history of the police' where greater attention is paid to public health, social welfare and regulating the marketplace than investigating and arresting criminals. This broad overview of Foucault's writings on the police exhibits a 'splintering-effect' in his modalities of power. To resolve this apparent contradiction, a nominalist reading that conflates Foucault's divergent paradigms of power results in a more multifaceted history and a ubiquitous mode of power with diverse and precise techniques. There are strengths and weaknesses in Foucault's theory when applied to modern neoliberal police. Foucault should not be employed for one-dimensional criticisms of modern police or as an analytical cure-all.