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.
Campanology under COVID-19
Why Neo-republicanism Disregards Natural Rights
David Guerrero and Julio Martínez-Cava Aguilar
The first contribution of this article is a politico-philosophical map that, drawing upon two common sets of arguments against modern natural rights, might help to explain the prevailing neo-republican position on natural rights. Under the label ‘abstraction argument’, we explore the view that natural rights are a metaphysical construct that usually ends in a violent application of speculative principles to society. Under ‘self-interest argument’, we discuss the notion that natural rights endorse an atomistic and selfish conception of the human being. Second, we show how Cold War authors replicated these two arguments, conveying a biased, largely anti-republican and anti-democratic view of natural rights to the twentieth century. Third, drawing on these two arguments, we critically assess the narrow view of natural rights inherited by neo-republican scholars.
Feminist Dialogues and Republican Debates on Democracy
Ailynn Torres Santana
This article starts from the analytical disconnection between feminisms and republicanism and investigates the potential of an academic and political conversation between them. The text takes up some of the intersections between feminism and republicanism over the past few decades and draws attention to the greater interest that has been verified recently. Furthermore, the article proposes spaces where potential conversation between feminism and republicanism can take place: examining the relationship between material dispossession, dependence, and freedom; across the public, private, and domestic spheres; and the implications of extending autonomy to consider bodily autonomy. It ends with a brief reference to political participation as a feminist and republican virtue. Finally, the article stresses the need to produce a republican feminist revival.
Antonio Gramsci, the European Council Movements and the ‘Second Republican Revival’
Andreas Møller Mulvad and Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen
This article engages with socialist republicanism, which is preoccupied with extending freedom as non-domination, central to the neo-republican revival, from the political sphere of formal democracy to the economic sphere of capitalist production. Firstly, we discuss the transition from neo-republicanism to socialist republicanism. Secondly, we reconstruct the socialist republicanism of Antonio Gramsci, who was involved in the council movements in Turin in 1919–20. We argue that Gramsci applies the republican vocabulary of servitude to describe the capitalist workplace and analyse the workers’ councils as republican forms, allowing for popular self-determination in the economic sphere. Consequently, we contribute to the ongoing exploration of the historical, political, and conceptual affinities between republicanism and socialism and inscribe Gramsci as a key thinker in this endeavour.
M. Victoria Costa
This article considers why the influential neo-republicans Philip Pettit and Richard Bellamy tend to minimise or deny the role that natural or moral rights play in republican thought. It argues that their specific views about the theoretical role of such rights are motivated by methodological commitments. In Pettit’s case the commitments are to consequentialism and formalism, while in Bellamy’s it is to proceduralism. But these commitments get in the way of providing a fully adequate account of the value of freedom as non-domination: one that allows us to determine when citizens actually enjoy this kind of freedom. Finally, the article argues that a full explanation of what it means to enjoy freedom as non-domination must unavoidably appeal to normative notions.
Republican and Socialist Blueprints
Bru Laín and Edgar Manjarín
The conception of property is usually moulded upon diverting historical and political-philosophical frameworks. The current interest on the commons illustrates these divergences when they come up between a ‘pure’ public and a ‘pure’ private form of ownership. This conceptual triad misleads by conflating private property with an absolute property right while equating public property with a centralised political regime. This article traces the republican conception of property in order to show how it draws a legal and philosophical continuum around different forms of ownership, based on a fiduciary principle underlying the relationship between the sovereign or principal (trustor) and its agent (trustee). Despite modern socialism apparently left aside the question of the commons, the republican-fiduciary rationale was reformulated according to the modern industrial capitalist society.
What Role for Unconditional Basic Income?
David Casassas and Jordi Mundó
During the last two centuries, property understood as an exclusive and unlimited dominion became common sense. Before, the idea of property as a fiduciary relationship, which is still present in contemporary social constitutionalism, was closely linked to the view that the exercise of freedom entails the capacity to shape those property rights that channel socioeconomic life. Today, new ways to operationalise such an approach must be found. This article explores the scope of ‘direct strategies’ (the state as proprietor, democratically limited forms of private property, and common property) and ‘indirect strategies’ (the distribution of ‘social power’ through the introduction of unconditional public policy schemes such as basic income) in the recovery of the idea and the practice of collective fiduciary control over the economic realm.
Democracy, Property and Rights
David Guerrero, Bru Laín, and Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen
Over the last two decades republican thought has attracted a growing interest from political, moral and legal scholars. These contemporary theoretical syntheses of ‘neo-republican’ thought have been closely related to intellectual history and the idea of recovering an overshadowed tradition of political thought. In this vein, a classical set of historical moments and places (e.g., ancient Rome, renaissance Italy, civil-war England or revolutionary America among others) and specific political practices within those contexts appear to be the main source of what republicanism meant – and what it could mean today.
Plebeian Institutions and Anti-Oligarchic Rules
The article presents a plebeian strand of republican constitutional thought that recognises the influence of inequality on political power, embraces conflict as the effective cause of free government, and channels its anti-oligarchic energy through the constitutional structure. First it engages with two modern plebeian thinkers – Niccolò Machiavelli and Nicolas de Condorcet - focusing on the institutional role of the common people to resist oppression through ordinary and extraordinary political action. Then it discusses the work of two contemporary republican thinkers – Philip Pettit and John McCormick – and contrasts their models of ‘contestatory’ and ‘tribunician’ democracy. Finally, I incorporate a political economy lens and propose as part of republican constitutionalism not only contestatory and tribunician institutions but also anti-oligarchic basic rules to keep inequality and corruption under control.
A Conversation on Adorno, Baudrillard, Braidotti and Marcuse
Siphiwe I. Dube
This article provides an analysis of the way in which contemporary forms of intelligence discourse (Jean Baudrillard), in similar fashion to political art (Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse), function by delimiting critical thought. The intelligence discourse critiqued is extolled through things such as progressive intelligence acquisition (Flynn effect) and the supposed indispensability of Democratic reason (Hélène Landemore), amongst other qualities. In support of its argument, the article focusses specifically on Baudrillard's analysis of the notion of the intelligence of evil, as well as on the Frankfurt School's critique of massification. However, the article also notes limitations in these thinkers’ recovery and defence of critical thought in response to the delimitation posed by intelligence and massification, and argues for Rosi Braidotti's evaluation of thought as nomadic as a necessary corrective.