South Africa's post-apartheid context and a mix of African and non-mainstream Western political theory is felicitous for a positive critique of the two now predominant Western accounts of democracy. The context highlights how deliberative and aggregative accounts of democracy fall short in their attempts to make universal claims regarding democracy; and it provides the theoretical basis for an account of political democracy that better associates democracy with freedom, power, representation, and domination. The article argues that freedom is power through political representation, and freedom obtains if and only if the existing forms of representation manage power relations in order to minimize domination and enhance political judgement amongst representatives and represented. The article submit that, unless radical institutional change is carried out, South Africa will not rid itself of the legacies of these Western models and will be unable to generate the freedom and democracy its attainment of political freedom has now long promised.
The South African Crucible
Anne Norton, On the Muslim Question (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013), 288 pp., ISBN: 9781400846351
Alfred Stepan and Charles Taylor, eds., Boundaries of Toleration (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 328 pp., ISBN: 9780231165679
Mehrzad Boroujerdi, ed., Mirror for the Muslim Prince: Islam and the Theory of Statecraft (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2013), 448 pp., ISBN: 9780815632894
Wael B. Hallaq, The Impossible State: Islam, Politics and Modernity’s Moral Predicament (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 272 pp., ISBN: 9780231162579
Ali Mirsepassi and Tadd Graham Fernée, Islam, Democracy and Cosmopolitanism: At Home and in the World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 225 pp., ISBN: 9781107053977
The Ebbing Wave in Southern Africa
Huntington's third wave of democracy was no such thing. It neither ushered in a democratic era nor was it a wave in any acceptable historical sense. What it did do was to highlight a contrast and competition among norms and values, so that what we automatically regard as undemocratic practice that is norm-free is no such thing. They might perhaps, and with a freight of contingencies, be bad norms—but they are still norms.
The article deals with Mohandas K. Gandhi's theory of democracy and its related civic practices. It indicates the relation between Gandhi's idea of civic duty and his idea of democracy, and argues that few would dispute that Gandhi was one of the most original and transformative thinkers of democracy. The article maintains that among his many notable contributions, Gandhi is rightly credited with emphasizing on the ideas of citizenship duty, truth in politics, genuine self-rule, and ethically enlightened democracy. In addition to advocating self-sustaining villages and communal cooperation, Gandhi developed an idea of non-liberal democracy reducing individualism, economic greed, and laissez-faire by insisting on a duty oriented and spiritually empowered participative democracy. Nearly seven decades after his death, Gandhi stands as one of the most significant and relevant non-Western theorist of democracy.
Mark Chou and Emily Beausoleil
A conventional story is often told about democracy. It is a story that begins somewhere in the West, some millennia ago. From there, or so this telling goes, democracy spread across the continents; traversing from the familiar epicenters of Western civilization—Athens, London, Washington, Versailles—to the exotic and sometimes alien cultural landscapes in the East. The idea that such a model of democracy, based on an essentially Western set of ideals and practices, could one day become universal was perhaps unthinkable to most democrats before the twentieth century. However, today there is very little doubt that democracy on a global scale is both assured and desirable. But there should be no confusion here: this story of democratization, and the projection of democracy’s global future, is one premised on “the export of democratic institutions, developed within a particular cultural context in the West,” that has as its culmination “the end of history” and the triumph of Western liberal democracy in all corners of the globe (Lamont et al. 2015: 1).
Black Thought and the Transformation of US Democracy
Nick Bromell, The Time Is Always Now: Black Thought and the Transformation of US Democracy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 200 pp., ISBN: 9780199973439
Daniele Santoro and Joseph Lacey
Alessandro Ferrara, The Democratic Horizon: Hyperpluralism and the Renewal of Political Liberalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 251 pp., ISBN: 9781107035515
Jane Mansbridge and John Parkinson, eds., Deliberative Systems: Deliberative Democracy at the Large Scale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 204 pp., ISBN: 9781107678910
Richard Avramenko, Lars Tønder, and Jeffrey Edward Green
Jeffrey Edward Green, The Eyes of the People: Democracy in an Age of Spectatorship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 296 pp., ISBN: 9780195372649
Hearing with the Gaze: Jeffrey Edward Green’s The Eyes of the People Richard Avramenko
Seeing and Being Seen: A Response to Jeffrey Edward Green’s The Eyes of the People Lars Tønder
Reply to Critics Jeffrey Edward Green
Democracy, Identification, and Embodiment
The significance of embodiment has long been overlooked in theories of deliberative democracy. Deliberation is characterized by inclusive and rational discussion that functions in an allegedly neutral and abstract space. This article draws attention to the bodies between which political interaction always occurs. Bodies have important yet unpredictable effects for political interaction and can extend or disorder the careful conscious conversation invoked by deliberative democrats. Identities are reproduced by bodies, and bodies may conform to or transform their identifications. Using Merleau-Ponty's notion of habitual knowledge, the article argues that bodies provide limitations, capacities, and opportunities for democratic politics. At the same time, bodies and their identifications are themselves transformed through deliberation and other types of political experience.
This article challenges the prevalent interpretation of John Dewey as a forefather of deliberative democracy, and shows how Dewey's theory can help turn democratic theory toward participatory democracy, which is widely seen as having been incorporated by deliberative democracy. I argue that Dewey would find deliberative principles to be abstracting from our unequal social conditions by attempting to bracket the unequal social statuses that individuals bring with them to the deliberation. Dewey traces the deficiencies of current political debate to these unequal social conditions, and he thus claims that democratic theorizing should focus on enacting effective plans for overcoming social inequality, plans that may require nondeliberative practices that compel concessions from advantaged social interests. Deliberative democrats have increasingly aimed to account for such practices, but I claim that participatory democrats can draw on Dewey to illustrate how their theory can more comfortably accommodate these practices that directly attack inequality than can deliberative democracy.