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Illness, Metaphor, and Bells

Campanology under COVID-19

Remi Chiu

Throughout 2020 and 2021, bells have rung in a variety of COVID-related rituals in the West, ranging from large-scale religious and civic rites, to ad hoc neighborhood and hospital initiatives, to anti-racist memorials that simultaneously spoke to the health crisis at hand. Taking stock of how these COVID bell-ringing rituals were formalized, their structures and actions, and the historical precedents from which they drew their meanings, this article investigates what the sounds of bells and the rituals of bell-ringing communicated about COVID, how they shaped our personal and collective experiences of the crisis, and what functions they were expected to serve during this liminal period. It reveals how, owing to the historical polysemy of bells on the one hand and the social uncertainties of living with COVID on the other, those rituals generated vivid symbolisms and mobilized powerful emotions that sometimes brought about unintended consequences.

Open access

Anthony Chinaemerem Ajah, S. J. Cooper-Knock, Josette Daemen, Douglas L. Berger, and Hayden Weaver

Uchenna Okeja, Deliberative Agency: A Study in Modern African Political Philosophy. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2022, 214 pp.

Gideon van Riet, Hegemony, Security Infrastructures and the Politics of Crime: Everyday Experiences in South Africa. London: Routledge, 2021, 224 pp.

Richard Grusin (ed), Insecurity. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2022, 272 pp.

Tao Jiang, Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021, xiii–xvi+556 pp.

Judith Butler, The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind. London: Verso, 2020, 209 pp.

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Catalysts for Change

Small Parties in the 2021 Bundestag Election

David F. Patton

In 2021, the small parties continued their electoral ascent in Germany. For the first time they received more votes than did the cdu/csu and the spd. Three finished with a double-digit result, and the combined vote share of the top two small parties exceeded that of the largest vote-getter. After the election, a novel three-party coalition arose at the national level. This resulted in a centrist alternative to grand coalitions and converted the electoral gains of the small parties into increased policymaking influence for the Greens and the fdp. This article considers the impact of the small parties, analyzes their success in 2021, and examines the campaigns, results, and prospects of Alliance 90/The Greens, the Free Democratic Party, the Alternative for Germany, and the Left Party.

Open access

Gregory Maxaulane

Following the footsteps of scholars who have made contributions to the debate about the question of method and analysis in Fanon’s work, this article explores the implications of his concerns with the link between madness and struggle on our understanding of the transformative role of radical political strategies in the colonial context and the contemporary world. The main argument it pursues is that Fanon regarded madness and revolutionary violence in the colonial context as effects of colonial alienation. Most importantly, this argument sets the article apart from the works which focus on how Fanon’s proto-structuralist analysis of the process of madness and the question of cure reveals his concerns with the conditions for the possibility of a politico-philosophical paradigm or a universal morality in postcolonial time or national liberation time.

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From Progression to Explosion

Historical Time and Revolutionary Change in Marx, Gramsci, Benjamin, and Fanon

Ludvig Sunnemark

Inspired by contemporary criticism(s) levelled against evolutionist conceptions of history present within much classical social theory, this article seeks to discuss alternative conceptions of historical time, modernity, and coloniality within the works of Marxist-inspired thinkers who have sought to tackle the problematic aspects of evolutionism and ‘historical progress’ head on – namely, Antonio Gramsci, Walter Benjamin, and Frantz Fanon. After discussing orthodox Marxism’s ambivalent relation to notions of historical necessity and human agency, the article turns to discussing Gramsci’s anti-economistic conception of hegemony and Benjamin’s and Fanon’s respective conceptions of the ‘dialectics of rupture’ in order to present alternative conceptions of historical time which partly or fully depart from orthodox Marxism’s tendencies towards evolutionism, albeit whilst retaining a focus on dialectics, power struggle, and revolutionary transformation.

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From Zero to Hero?

The Rise of Olaf Scholz and the SPD

Ed Turner, Davide Vampa, and Matthias Scantamburlo

Germany’s Social Democratic Party, the spd, was in government between 2013 and 2021, but until just weeks before the federal election of 2021, its electoral prospects seemed poor. The party was able to turn things around and surge, in the final period of the campaign, to a remarkable victory. This article sets out structural challenges faced by social democrats in Europe in general and in Germany in particular, focusing on policies and voters, coalition politics, and questions about party organization. It argues that in each area, the spd, with a mixture of sound strategic choices and good fortune, was to some extent able to extricate itself from the challenges it faced, and that its success owed much to the peculiarities of the 2021 election.

Open access

The IRR as False Witness

How the Institute of Race Relations Strategically Misinforms Us about Racism and Policy (as a Threat to Deliberative Democracy)

Phila M. Msimang

Historically, the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has been viewed as a reliable source of information given its near century-long work of compiling statistics and reports about race relations and the social conditions affecting different race groups in South Africa. I make the case that the IRR should not be considered a reliable source of information about race groups and their social conditions in contemporary South Africa because of how the IRR misrepresents the views of ordinary South Africans with the intention of influencing policy towards the IRR’s preferred ideological positions. Rather than presenting criticism of their ideological slant, I show how their policy proposals are not supported by their survey data or their interpretation. Furthermore, I argue that their misrepresentation of South Africans’ beliefs is damaging to democratic processes because what the public claims it wants from government has a significant impact on what government’s mandate from its citizenry is thought to be.

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Kanzlerwahlverein No More?

Failed Internal Coalition Building and the CDU/CSU’s 2021 Campaign

Matthias Dilling

In 2021, Germany’s Christian Democrats suffered their worst election defeat in a post-war federal election. This article looks at the campaign that preceded this downfall. While the cdu’s party congress in early 2021 showed favorable signs for a successful campaign, Armin Laschet, the newly elected party leader, missed the opportunity to unify the cdu’s different wings and consolidate a coalition backing his leadership. This resulted in a damaging clash with the csu over the chancellor candidacy and ongoing internal disunity. Laschet attempted to rectify this very late in the campaign, but his team failed to integrate the cdu/csu’s most important actors. The Christian Democrats were thus ill-equipped to respond to a difficult context and unexpected developments. Returning to its traditional factional integration will be paramount for the cdu/csu to rebound from this historic defeat.

Open access

Non-Ideal Philosophy as Methodology

The Case of Feminist Philosophy

Hilkje C. Hänel and Johanna M. Müller

This article argues that non-ideal theory is distinctive in its use of a certain methodology which is prior to specific topics (such as injustice, oppression, etc.), grounded in the idea of socially situated knowledge, and able to address ideological situatedness. Drawing on standpoint epistemology, we show that one’s social position within given power structures has implications for knowledge acquisition and that being in a vulnerable or marginalised position can be advantageous to knowledge acquisition. Following ideology critique, we argue that both marginalised and powerful social positions are embedded within a given ideology. As ideology is more than a mere set of attitudes or beliefs that social agents endorse or resist, situated agents and theorists cannot develop normative criteria that are not themselves situated. Hence, non-ideal theory has to be equipped with methods that are likely to make this situatedness visible. We close by presenting some diverse methods that already do so.

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Not a Single-Digit Party Anymore

The Central Role of Alliance 90/The Greens in a Changed Party System

Niko Switek

In the 2021 German federal election, Alliance 90/The Greens received its best result so far. The outcome was based in part on a popular party leadership, government participation in different coalition formats on the state level, and an increasing salience of environmental and climate policies with which the party is strongly associated. After the election, the Greens became part of a novel three-party coalition with Social Democrats and Liberals where the party finds itself in a more influential role than in its first federal coalition with the spd. The opinion polls placing Alliance 90/The Greens above 20 percent before the election and its continuously growing membership base indicate a new centrality of the party in the German party system, as well as the potential to further increase its vote share.