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Editorial

This issue of Theoria departs somewhat from the more conventional ‘issue-oriented’ character of the journal, with its concern to delineate, interpret and to theoretically apprehend major political, social and economic trends, tendencies and events. The focus in this ‘self-reflective’ issue is on aspects of the nature, and current state, of political science and political theory as intellectual projects that render possible the sustained, systematic reflection on these trends, tendencies and events.

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Book Announcements

The Dynamics of Democratization: Elites, Civil Society and the Transition Process, by Graeme Gill. London: Macmillan, 2000. ISBN 0-333-80197

History of Shit, by Dominique Laporte. Translated by Nadia Benabid and Rodolphe el-Khoury. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000. ISBN 0-2626-2160-6

An Introduction to Philosophy, by Jon Nuttall. Cambridge: Polity, 2002. ISBN 0-7456-1662-3

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Editorial

Conceptions of the ‘good life’ and the various accounts of human well-being almost always entail some reference—direct or indirect—to physical and psychic health. The very term ‘disease’ implies ‘disease’, an absence of that which renders the human condition agreeable. There are many dimensions to disease, and to its counterpoint, ‘good health’. These range from concerns with therapy and the therapeutic to the advance of our understanding—in the modern world through the natural and social sciences—of illness, and from the cultural significance of disease to the economic costs and implications of ill-health and its management. Under the conditions of ‘modernity’ the nature and meaning of illness and of disease, though still culturally contested, has changed. Modern science has rendered the previously ‘inscrutable’ open to scrutiny and explanation. The advance of therapy is now inextricably bound up with the explanation of illness at the microbial, molecular and genetic levels. One consequence of the modern science of medicine has been to underwrite a quest for cures—paradigmatically embodied in new surgical interventions and technologies as well as, iconically, in the quest for ‘magic bullets’ represented, to begin with, by Paul Ehrlich’s salvarsan and later extended to antibiotics and to new-generation ‘designer drugs’.

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Normalizing Testing--Normalizing AIDS

Edwin Cameron

Judge Edwin Cameron (South African Supreme Court of Appeal) makes a plea for a radical change of approach and of formal health policy in relation to HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Cameron delivered this lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Forum on 4 May 2006 as part of the Ronald Louw Memorial Campaign, 'Get Tested, Get Treated'. Ronald Louw was a Professor of Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, an AIDS treatment activist and co-founder of the Durban Gay and Lesbian Community Centre. He died of AIDS in 2005. Cameron, who was appointed by Nelson Mandela to the high court in 1994, is a high profile AIDS activist and gay rights advocate. He has written about the experience of his decision to make public his own HIV positive status in the book, Witness to AIDS (Tafelberg).

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Editorial

A comforting notion in much recent scholarly work on political regimes is that what, broadly, has come to be termed liberal democracy reflects the normative ‘telos’ of the modern world’s developmental trajectory. Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man stands as an almost iconic, if perhaps somewhat coarsely crafted, statement of this view. Przeworski, Alvarez, Cheibub and Limongi have, in Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950-1990, presented a nuanced, empirically well grounded case for the general relative superiority of liberal democracy as a political framework for richer economies, and as a framework that societies will tend to adopt, with fewer dangers of regression, as they become wealthier. Even the economies of poorer countries—contrary to some earlier views—appear to grow and prosper no better under authoritarian regimes than they do under liberal democratic dispensations, not least with regard to the efficiency of resource allocation. Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom bears eloquent testimony to the wider social, political and ethical virtues of liberal democracy. After all, liberal democracies promise greater individual freedoms, better protection of rights, and better mechanisms for public policy formation and assessment than do authoritarian or ‘totalitarian’ forms of state. They also do not go to war against one another.