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Who Governs in Deep Crises?

The Case of Germany

Wolfgang Merkel

Abstract

The Berlin Republic of today is neither Weimar (1918–1932) nor Bonn (1949–1990). It is by all standards the best democracy ever on German soil. Nevertheless, during the COVID-19 crisis there was a shift from democracy as a mode of governance to what the controversial legal theorist Carl Schmitt (1922) affirmingly described as a “state of exception”; a state that is desired and approved by the people (through opinion polls). It was the hour of the executive. The parliament disempowered itself. There was very little, if any, contestation or deliberation during the first eight weeks of the COVID-19 crisis. This article reflects on the implications of this mode of governance on institutions and actors of democracy in Germany, and offers a way of assessing the wellbeing of democracies in times of deep crisis.

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Federica Stagni and Daryl Glaser

Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine, by Noura Erakat. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019. 331 pp.

Race, Class and the Post-Apartheid Democratic State, edited by John Reynolds, Ben Fine. and Robert van Niekerk. Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2019. 396 pp.

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Colonising ‘Free’ Will

A Critique of Political Decolonisation in Ghana

Bernard Forjwuor

Abstract

While colonialism, in general, is a contested concept, as are the conditions that constitute its negation, political decolonisation seems to be a relatively settled argument. Where such decolonisation occurred, political independence, and its attendant democratic system and the undergirding of the rule of law, signify the self-evidentiality of such political decolonisation. This article rethinks this self-evidentiality of political independence as necessarily a decolonial political accomplishment in Ghana. This critical enterprise opens the documents that founded the newly independent state to alternative reading to demonstrate how the colonial folded itself into the dictate of freedom.

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Deleuze's Postscript on the Societies of Control

Updated for Big Data and Predictive Analytics

James Brusseau

Abstract

In 1990, Gilles Deleuze published Postscript on the Societies of Control, an introduction to the potentially suffocating reality of the nascent control society. This thirty-year update details how Deleuze's conception has developed from a broad speculative vision into specific economic mechanisms clustering around personal information, big data, predictive analytics, and marketing. The central claim is that today's advancing control society coerces without prohibitions, and through incentives that are not grim but enjoyable, even euphoric because they compel individuals to obey their own personal information. The article concludes by delineating two strategies for living that are as unexplored as control society itself because they are revealed and then enabled by the particular method of oppression that is control.

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Gustavo H. Dalaqua

Abstract

This article seeks to contribute to the debate on how political representation can promote democracy by analysing the Chamber in the Square, which is a component of legislative theatre. A set of techniques devised to democratise representative governments, legislative theatre was created by Augusto Boal when he was elected a political representative in 1993. After briefly reviewing Nadia Urbinati's understanding of democratic representation as a diarchy of will and judgement, I partially endorse Hélène Landemore's criticism and contend that if representation is to be democratic, citizens’ exchange of opinions in the public sphere should be invested with the power not only to judge but also to decide political affairs. By opening up a space where the represented can judge, decide, and contest the general terms of the bills representatives present in the assembly, the Chamber in the Square harnesses political representation to democracy.

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The Future of Representative Politics

On Tormey, Krastev and Rosanvallon

Mihail Evans

Abstract

This paper examines claims made about political representation in recent work on global protest, focusing on two very different authors. Tormey champions the anti-representative claims of various radical movements while Krastev assumes the stance of those political insiders who deplore the failure of protesters to work within established representative institutions. Both turn to examples which seem to best support their positions. Tormey to anarchist inspired movements in Spain and Mexico, his argument being that political representation has been succeed by what he variously calls ‘immediate representation’ and ‘resonance’. Krastev's focus is Russia, Thailand and Bulgaria. His argument is that protest in these countries can be seen are ‘a collective act of exit’ by middle classes that no longer seek political representation. Using the theorisation of political representation in Rosanvallon's Counter Democracy, I suggest that the global waves of protest of recent years are nothing inherently novel but can be seen as part of the elaborate and complex process of representation that is argued to have always existed beyond and outside of official elected legislative bodies. In conclusion, I suggest that Macron's turn to citizen's assemblies can be seen as informed by just such an understanding of political representation.

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A Negative Theory of Justice

Towards a Critical Theory of Power Relations

Leonard Mazzone

Abstract

This article outlines the chief challenges concerning the philosophical theories of emancipation and clarifies the solutions provided by a so-called negative theory of justice. Besides highlighting the classic questions that every philosophical theory of emancipation is expected to answer, the article aims to highlight the link between this theoretical framework and an immanent critique of conditions of domination. Moreover, it sheds light on the main differences between this theoretical perspective and Honneth's theory of recognition, Fraser's three-dimensional conception of justice, and the critique of power relations recently advanced by Rainer Forst. The comparative analysis of these theoretical approaches will make it possible to highlight and appreciate the main merits of a so-called negative theory of justice that combines a multidimensional diagnosis of existing asymmetries of power with an immanent critique of their justifications.

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Against Analogy

Why Analogical Arguments in Support of Workplace Democracy Must Necessarily Fail

Roberto Frega

Abstract

This article asks whether the analogy between state and firm is a promising strategy for promoting workplace democracy and provides a negative answer, explaining why analogical arguments are not a good strategy for justifying workplace democracy. The article contends that the state-firm analogy is misguided for at least three reasons: (1) it is structurally inconclusive, (2) it is based on a category mistake, and (3) it leads us away from the central question we should ask, which is: What would concretely imply, and what is required, in order to democratize the workplace? I begin by offering an interpretation of the state-firm analogy which shows that use of the analogical argument in Dahl's justification of workplace democracy engenders excessive and unnecessary theoretical costs which bear negatively on his conclusion. I then proceed to examine more recent contributions to the debate and show that supporters and critics of the state-firm analogy alike do not advance our understanding of the analogical argument. In the last part of the article I provide a general theoretical explanation of why arguments based on the state-firm analogy are not good candidates for defending workplace democracy.

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Christian Ewert

Joseph Lacey, Centripetal Democracy: Democratic Legitimacy and Political Identity in Belgium, Switzerland, and the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 312 pp., ISBN: 9780198796886

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Book Reviews

On 20th Century Revolutionary Socialism, from Poland to Peru and beyond

Jean-Numa Ducange, Camila Vergara, Talat Ahmed, and Christian Høgsbjerg