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Editorial

Research Article

Jean-Paul Gagnon and Selen A. Ercan

Democratic Theory's eleventh issue (6[1], July 2019) features four new research articles as well as an interview, a critical commentary, a practitioner's note and a book review. It begins with Stephanie Erev's article, which explains neoliberalism's assaults on democracy and nature. Working through Hayek, Erev suggests that opposing neoliberal extractivist culture from both the democratic and ecological standpoints “may offer the greatest promise for creative and collaborative struggles toward new worlds and new ways of life” today.

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Jonas Hultin Rosenberg

Abstract

The question of who ought to be included in the demos is distinct from, and yet related to, the question of how to distribute decision-making power among those who are included. Political equality is the most common answer to the former question within democratic theory. In democratic practice, it is usually realized through one person one vote. Within democratic theory, there is not as much agreement as to what the answer to the latter question should be. The answer that has attracted most attention within the scholarly literature is that all those who are affected should be included. However, prominent scholars have argued that this all-affected principle is incompatible with political equality and therefore an unattractive answer to the question of inclusion. This article challenges this critique and argues that it is based on a misconception of political equality and a narrow reading of the all-affected principle.

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Garry Rodan, Participation Without Democracy

Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia

Matthew David Ordoñez

Garry Rodan, Participation Without Democracy: Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2018), 281 pp., ISBN: 9781501720109.

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Little Phil

Changing the Relationship between Philanthropy and Democracy?

Joshua Murchie and Jean-Paul Gagnon

Abstract

This Practitioner's Note considers the disruptive function of Little Phil, a mobile app that seeks to democratize philanthropic giving. Although many of the cultural aspects of philanthropy – such as increased control over donation, tracking the impact of one's giving, and building interpersonal relationships with receivers – can be opened to any person with an app-hosting device and internet access, it cannot supplant the role of big philanthropy and solve Rob Reich's problem: how to domesticate private wealth so that it serves democratic purposes? Little Phil's disruption has in concept gotten us halfway to legitimizing philanthropy. Perhaps the uptake of citizens’ panels by large philanthropic foundations will cover the remaining distance.

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Powerlessness and Unfairness

A Letter to Jan Zielonka

Henri Vogt

Abstract

Jan Zielonka's Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe in Retreat (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a furious, worried pamphlet on the challenges that European democracies are currently facing, on the apparent rise of illiberalism. This article critically reviews the book and seeks to offer a somewhat different and perhaps more optimistic picture of the current predicaments of European politics. The main point of reference in this respect is Finland, a country whose political institutions have managed, by and large, to uphold a sense of coherence in society. A commitment to participatory, equality-based, and freedom-generating institutions can indeed be seen as a primary means to counter the decline of liberalism.

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Sectarianism and Recognition in Iraq

From Consociationalism to Deliberation?

Nicolas Pirsoul

Abstract

This article uses the theory of recognition to analyze sectarian conflicts in Iraq. After describing the sectarian and historical background of contemporary Iraqi politics, the article critiques the implementation of consociationalism and policies influenced by liberal multiculturalism in deeply divided societies. It argues that these policies lead to a dangerous reification of identities. The article argues that a progressive implementation of deliberative democracy practices could improve identity-related issues in Iraq and explains how democratic practices are legitimized by the most influential Islamic religious figure in Iraq.

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Between the Social and the Political

The Role of the Proto-Political Sphere in Political Participation

Pia Rowe and David Marsh

While Wood and Flinders’ work to broaden the scope of what counts as “politics” in political science is a needed adjustment to conventional theory, it skirts an important relationship between society, the protopolitical sphere, and arena politics. We contend, in particular, that the language of everyday people articulates tensions in society, that such tensions are particularly observable online, and that this language can constitute the beginning of political action. Language can be protopolitical and should, therefore, be included in the authors’ revised theory of what counts as political participation.

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Anna Schön

Kevin Olson, Imagined Sovereignties: The Power of the People and Other Myths of the Modern Age (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 230 pp., ISBN: 9781107113237

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Freedom from Democracy

Progressive Populism and the Rise of Global Corporate Power

Mary Walsh

This article examines what McKnight (2018) refers to as “progressive populism” and argues that the rise of progressive populism in contemporary western democratic societies is directly related to the emergence of neoliberal governance regimes and the rise of global corporate power. Utilizing insights from both scholarly literature and popular commentary it outlines the rising counter assault by global corporations and governments since the 1960s to reverse and impede the increase of democratic rights for previously marginalized sections of many western democratic societies. It is crucial not to dismiss the power of global corporations and the rise of neoliberalism at the expense of the collective security of societies as just another form of elitism attacked by ordinary people. Corporations want freedom from democracy by usurping capitalist economic systems. They represent a disfiguration of representative democratic principles that culminates in paradoxes of liberty that progressive populists are contesting.

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Adele Webb

Public ambivalence towards democracy has come under increasing scrutiny. It is a mood registered perhaps most clearly in the fact populist figures, from Trump to Orbàn to Duterte, appear to carry strong appeal despite the fact, or perhaps because of the fact, they pose a threat to democratic institutions and processes of governance. Are ambivalent citizens the grave threat to democracy they are often portrayed to be in media and academic discourse on populism? In this article, I contend that citizens’ ambivalence about democracy is a more complex, spirited and volitional idea than is acknowledged in the current discussion of populism. Drawing on psychoanalysis and critical social thought, I embrace a conception of citizens’ ambivalence in a democracy as both immanent and desirable. I argue ambivalence can be a form of participation in democracy that is crucial to safeguarding its future.