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What’s a Political Theorist to Do?

Rawls, the Fair Value of the Basic Political Liberties, and the Collapse of the Distinction Between ‘Ideal’ and ‘Nonideal’ Theory

Susan Orr and James Johnson

Abstract

John Rawls famously distinguishes between ideal and nonideal theory, according priority to the former. He depicts his own efforts to articulate the conception of justice as fairness as an instance of ideal theory. Subsequent political theorists have taken Rawls’s distinction as a template for how we should understand the tasks of political theory. Yet they also have struggled to clarify the underlying distinction with notable lack of success. We argue that Rawls himself does not abide by the distinction between ideal and nonideal theory and that this affords a good reason to set the distinction aside as a distraction.

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Whites Cannot Be Black

A Bikoist Challenge to Professor Xolela Mangcu

Keolebogile Mbebe

Abstract

Professor Xolela Mangcu argues in his article ‘Whites Can Be Black’ that Steve Biko’s philosophy of Black Consciousness would support the thesis that white people can become black. In this article I argue that this thesis is incongruent with the articulation of Black Consciousness in Biko’s book of collected writings, I Write What I Like. I show that, for Biko, Black Consciousness is possible only in the context of a non-white person’s experience of white racism that is not only a material experience but also a psychological experience based on the racist claim that there is a hierarchy of race. I contend that a correct analysis of Biko’s writings would show that white people self-identifying as Politically Black are acting from bad faith that results from a flight from the responsibility that accompanies their facticity.

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Affected Interests and Their Institutions

Amit Ron

Abstract:

The scope, complexity, and interconnectedness of modern society should prompt us to develop dynamic understandings of democratic modes of inclusion and exclusion. In particular, democratic theory is becoming more attentive to the mismatch between those who make decisions and those who are affected by them as well as to the need to account for the voice of the latter. In this article I build on James Bohman’s understanding of democracy as a rule by multiple dêmoi to develop a framework for studying and evaluating modes of democratic inclusion that are based on being affected. To develop this framework I turn to law and public administration and examine the democratic properties of different institutions and procedures that give a voice to those who are affected by a decision.

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The Challenges Faced by Contemporary Pan-African Intelligentsia in the Re-building of Africa

A Nkrumahist Perspective

Ezekiel S. Mkhwanazi

Abstract

The African intelligentsia played a pivotal role in the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle in Africa. Not only did it provide intellectual resources to the political struggle leaders but also took active part in the political leadership. Since independence, this role has diminished tremendously, as some of the intelligentsia are ‘silenced’ and others become ‘captured’ by the newly independent states. As a result, a wedge is driven between the intelligentsia and the political leadership. However, given that there is a deficit in efforts to reconstruct Africa, the pan-African intelligentsia are called upon to reinvigorate and reposition themselves to assist in developing organisations and institutions to serve African people worldwide. This call challenges them to take a creative, innovative role in the reconstructive task of Africa, thereby bidding farewell to intellectual isolationism. The article draws from Kwame Nkrumah’s ideas, thereby affirming the relevance of his political ideas in contemporary Africa.

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Contested Memory

Retrieving the Africanist (Liberatory) Conception of Non-racialism

Ndumiso Dladla

Abstract

South Africa since 1994 is widely represented as a society which has broken both historically and politically with white supremacy. One of the central discursive pillars sustaining this representation is the appeal to the most recent South African constitution Act 108 of 1996, the founding provisions of which declare that South Africa is founded on the value of non-racialism. The central argument of this article is that an examination of the philosophical underpinnings of the non-racialism of the constitution can give us a better understanding of why and how South Africa remains a racial polity despite the coming into effect of the constitution. We will conclude the article by considering the ethical and political demands which must be met before the actuality of non-racialism may be experienced.

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Critiquing Sub-Saharan Pan-Africanism through an Appraisal of Postcolonial African Modernity

Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi

Abstract

What vision directs pan-Africanism and which developmental model does it support and promote? To answer this question, the article evaluates pan-Africanism within the demands of African modernity and locates the extent to which pan-Africanism meets the aspiration of African modernity. It argues that pan-Africanism has what amounts to a north-bound gaze and supports development imperialism, and shows that for this reason it is not properly grounded on African realities, the consequence of which is the weakness of African modernity. The article suggests a re-articulation of pan-Africanism through the ideology of pro-Africanism, which holds that autonomy and self-will are two cardinal principles that are fundamental to African self-definition but which pan-Africanism is not in a position to provide because it amounts to a subordination of African difference. It concludes that a redirection of the African vision in this direction is a worthier ideological alternative to pan-Africanism.

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Dethroning Deliberation

A Response to Caspary

Jeff Jackson

Abstract:

This critical reply addresses William Caspary’s commentary on my use of John Dewey to elevate the theory of participatory democracy above deliberative democracy within contemporary democratic thought. In this reply I will defend my reading of Dewey against Caspary’s claim that Dewey is not the supporter of “nondeliberative” direct action that I take him to be. I will also explore the similarities and differences between my and Caspary’s views on the consonance of participatory democracy with practices of direct action, and I will expand on my own critique of deliberative democratic thought.

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Does Democratic Theory Need Epistemic Standards?

Grounds for a Purely Procedural Defense of Majority Rule

Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti

Abstract:

This article proposes a critical discussion of an increasingly influential strand of contemporary democratic theory that attempts to justify majoritarian institutions on the grounds that they are the most adequate “epistemic” means for discovering and implementing an objective standard of normative truth. The analysis is divided in two parts. In the first I show that the appeal to such epistemic standards is unnecessary because it is possible to justify majority rule on the “purely procedural” grounds that it is the best way of instantiating the values of freedom (as consent) and equality (as impartiality). In the second part I suggest that the appeal to epistemic standards is also undesirable because it conflicts with three key democratic values: autonomy (as self-government), inclusion (as lack of discrimination in terms of political competence), and pluralism (as fair representation of conflicting interests within the political process).

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Editorial

Mark Chou and Jean-Paul Gagnon

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Editorial

Some Senses of Pan-Africanism from the South

Christopher Allsobrook