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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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Book Reviews

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

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

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Decolonising Borders

Re-imagining Strangeness and Spaces

John Sodiq Sanni

Abstract

This paper seeks to address the problem of strangeness within the context of migration in Africa. I draw on historical realities that inform existing international and African discourses on migration. I hope to show that most African countries have unconsciously bought into international arguments that drive the legitimacy of building walls, visible and invisible, and the promotion of stringent migration policies that minimise the influx of African immigrants. I draw on political and philosophical positions of African thinkers like Kwame Nkrumah, among others, in my theorisation of strangeness and the need to dispel the potential negative conception of strangeness within Africa's migration policies. I juxtapose these positions with Western political theories with the hope of emphasizing African humanism as a key conception worth considering when decolonising borders.

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Francesco Maria Scanni and Francesco Compolongo

Abstract

The 2008 crisis and economic transformations (globalisation and financialisation) fuelled significant political phenomena, such as a deep distrust of politics, electoral volatility and the decline of bipolarity and/or bipartisanship in the face of growing outsider party affirmation. In this context, the dialectical model of the Gramscian ‘social totality’ provides an analytical tool capable of analysing those ‘transition’ phases characterised by a fracturing ‘dominant historical bloc’, in itself a precursor to an organic crisis of traditional political parties’ separation of social classes.

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Neoliberalism, Hedonism and the Dying Public

Reclaiming Political Agency through the Exercise of Courage

Grant M. Sharratt and Erik Wisniewski

Abstract

While the pursuit of hedonism is legitimated by neoliberal governmentality, its disciplining and isolating forces prevent individuals from being fulfilled by their pursuit of pleasure. Concomitantly, this hedonism (pursuing pleasure to avoid pain) causes individuals to withdraw from public political life. In this article we argue that, instead of attempting to pursue pleasure through the experience of material comfort, individuals ought to orient themselves towards membership in substantive political associations. Further, we argue that it is through such membership that one can attain genuine fulfilment, while simultaneously reclaiming agency, both on individual and collective terms. Though individuals must be willing to take on the risk of pain, their membership in substantive political associations provides genuine fulfilment, while also allowing for the construction of new worlds through political action.

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Professor Anna Stilz and Interviewed by Dr Christine Hobden

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Book Reviews

Hegelianisms without Metaphysics?

David James, Bahareh Ebne Alian, and Jean Terrier

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Book Roundtable

Discussion text: Chin, C. 2018. The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought.

Lasse Thomassen, Joe Hoover, David Owen, Paul Patton, and Clayton Chin

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Olusegun Steven Samuel and Ademola Kazeem Fayemi

Abstract

This article is a critique of Thaddeus Metz's modal relational approach to moral status in African ethics (AE). According to moral relationalism (MR), a being has moral status if it exhibits the capacity for communal relationship as either a subject or an object. While Metz defends a prima facie plausibility of MR as an African account of moral status, this article provides a fresh perspective to the debate on moral status in environmental and ethical discourse. It raises two objections against MR: (1) the capability criterion inherent in MR is not only exogenous to African thought but also undermines the viability of MR; and (2) MR cannot account for the standing of species populations. Both objections have severe implications for biodiversity conservation efforts in Africa and beyond.