Of late, resistance has become a central notion in political theory, standing at the heart of attempts to respond to the dilemmas of contemporary times. However, many accounts tend to ascribe to an idealised, heroic view. In this view, resistance represents a clear-cut action against injustice and stems from individuals’ conscious choice and their unwavering ethical commitment to the cause. Some liberal scholars, most notably Candice Delmas and Jason Brennan, have argued that citizens of democratic societies have a moral duty to resist state-sanctioned injustice. This resistance occurs either through ‘principled – civil or uncivil – disobedience’ or through ‘defensive actions’ (Delmas 2018: 5; Brennan 2019: 15). While acknowledging that pervasive injustice can compromise our cognitive and moral capacities, however, their articulation of our political obligation to resist refrains from a sustained examination of the moral dilemmas, uncertainties and risks that arise when fighting systemic oppression (Delmas 2018: 198–222; Brennan 2019: 28–59, 210–14).
Maša Mrovlje and Jennet Kirkpatrick
This article addresses the ambivalent role of violence in liberation struggles by staging a mutually enriching dialogue between Hannah Arendt and Frantz Fanon. It challenges the binary distinction between justifiable resistance that allows for only short-term, instrumental use of violence, and unwarranted resistance where violence is intrinsically justified as a creative, organic life-force of the oppressed. Instead, it discusses the constitutive role of violence as a condition of possibility of politics – highlighting the impossibility of separating the bloody moments of revolution from the constitution of the political community as a space of public freedom. The reconstructed debate on the relation between violence and freedom presents a fresh perspective on the justifiability and costs of violent resistance in circumstances of radical inequality and the extent to which liberation may remain an ongoing project to sustain the fragile achievement of freedom.
Exemplary Resistance and the Shadows of Complicity
What kinds of lessons can be learned from stories of those who resisted past abuses and injustices? How should such stories be recovered, and what do they have to teach us about present day struggles for justice and accountability? This paper investigates how Levi, Broz, and Arendt formulate the political role of storytelling as response to distinctive challenges associated with efforts to resist systematic forms of abuse and injustice. It focuses on how these thinkers reflected on such themes as witnesses, who were personally affected, to varying degrees, by atrocities under investigation. Despite their differences, these thinkers share a common concern with the way that organised atrocities are associated with systemic logics and grey zones that make people feel that it would be meaningless or futile to resist. To confront such challenges, Levi, Arendt and Broz all suggest, it is important to recover stories of resistance that are not usually heard or told in ways that defy the expectations of public audiences. Their distinctive storytelling strategies are not rooted in clashing theories of resistance, but rather reflect different perspectives on what is needed to make resistance meaningful in contexts where the failure of resistance is intolerable.
Interrupting the Gendered Representation of Betrayal in Resistance Movements
The article aims to expose and contest the gendered representation of betrayal in resistance movements. For a theoretical framework, I draw on Simone de Beauvoir's critique of masculinist myths of femininity in The Second Sex, combined with contemporary feminist scholarship on the oppressive constructions of female subjectivity in debates on war and violence. I trace how the hegemonic visions of virile resistance tend to subsume the grey zones of women's resistance activity under two reductive myths of femininity – the self-sacrificial mother and the seductive femme fatale – while obscuring the complexities of betrayal arising from women's embodied vulnerabilities. I demonstrate the political relevance of this theoretical exploration on the example of two representative French Resistance novels, Joseph Kessel's Army of Shadows and Roger Vailland's Playing with Fire.
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.
A Critique of Political Decolonisation in Ghana
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.
Updated for Big Data and Predictive Analytics
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.
Gustavo H. Dalaqua
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.
On Tormey, Krastev and Rosanvallon
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.
Towards a Critical Theory of Power Relations
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.