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Breaking Barriers and Coded Language

Watching Politics of Race at the Ballpark

Thomas D. Bunting

Drawing on recent literature on political spectatorship, I show how sport, and baseball in particular, can both illuminate and shape American politics. Following the history of racial segregation and immigrant assimilation in baseball, one sees that it mirrors American race politics on the whole. I argue that Jackie Robinson and the desegregation of baseball changed both American politics and the horizons within which citizens think. Although it is tempting to focus on this positive and emergent moment, I argue that for the most part, looking at the history of race in baseball shows instead coded language that reinforces racial stereotypes. This example of baseball and race shows how powerful spectatorship can be in the democratic world. Spectatorship need not be passive but can be an important sphere of activity in democratic life.

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Kyong-Min Son

This article suggests that a “crisis of democracy” can be understood not simply as a deterioration of specific representative institutions but as a repositioning of democratic politics vis-à-vis other principles of social coordination, most notably the capitalist market, and the attendant decline of democratic subjectivity—people’s attunement to claims appealing to the common good. I trace this process to the post–World War II era. I show that the crisis of democracy was shaped by the substantive imperative of fusing democracy with free-market capitalism. Many postwar democratic theorists believed that the welfare state could manage the tension latent in this fusion. But an analysis of Friedrich Hayek’s theory of neoliberal democracy, which recognizes that tension more acutely, reveals that the incorporation of free-market capitalism creates tendencies that undermine democracy from within.

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Jean-Paul Gagnon and Mark Chou

This issue begins with Peter Strandbrink’s argument that “standard liberal democratic theory should be pressed significantly harder to recognize the lexical and conceptual fact that civic political and cognitive participation in mass liberal democracies belong to different theoretical species.” It is by conflating both of these theoretical species, which Strandbrink sees as the dominant tendency in contemporary democratic theory, that we inhibit our ability to critically evaluate “epistocratic theoretical registers.” Further unsettling is Stranbrink’s view that, once separated from each other, neither the theories of civic political or cognitive participation offer much help in dealing with the rise of “alt-facts” or “post-truth” in liberal democratic societies today.

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Peter Standbrink

This article investigates civic-political and cognitive participation as they play out in democratic theory. Its core purpose is to develop a conceptual-normative critique of the presupposition in liberal democratic theory that these logics are mutually reinforcing and complementary. This misunderstanding of a theoretical ambivalence contributes to inhibiting constructive assessment of epistocratic*technocratic frameworks of democratic interpretation and theory. I demonstrate that these logics circulate contrasting views of democratic power and legitimacy and should be disentangled to make sense of liberal democratic theoretical and political spaces. This critique is then fed into a political-epistemological interrogation of post-truth and alt-facts rhetorical registers in contemporary liberal democratic life, concluding that neither logic of participation can harbor this unanticipated and fundamentally nonaligned way of doing liberal democratic democracy.

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Interview

Propaganda’s Role in Liberal Democratic Societies

Jason Stanley and John B. Min

Stanley and Min discuss how propaganda works in liberal democratic societies. Stanley observes that the inability to address the crisis of liberal democracies can be partially explained by contemporary political philosophy’s penchant for idealized theorizing about norms of justice over transitions from injustice to justice. Whereas ancient and modern political philosophers took seriously propaganda and demagoguery of the elites and populists, contemporary political philosophers have tended to theorize about the idealized structures of justice. This leads to a lack of theoretical constructs and explanatory tools by which we can theorize about real-life political problems, such as mass incarceration. Starting with this premise, Stanley provides an explanation of how propaganda works and the mechanisms that enable propaganda. Stanley further theorizes the pernicious effects that elitism, populism, authoritarianism, and “post-truth” have on democratic politics.

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Jean-Paul Gagnon

SUPPLEMENT A

2,234 Descriptions of Democracy: An Update to Democracy’s Ontological Pluralism

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Jean-Paul Gagnon

SUPPLEMENT B

2,234 Descriptions of Democracy: An Update to Democracy’s Ontological Pluralism

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Jean-Paul Gagnon

SUPPLEMENT C

2,234 Descriptions of Democracy: An Update to Democracy’s Ontological Pluralism

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War without Citizens

Memorialization, War, and Democracy in the United States

Stephen J. Rosow

Contestation over war memorialization can help democratic theory respond to the current attenuation of citizenship in war in liberal democratic states, especially the United States. As war involves more advanced technologies and fewer soldiers, the relation of citizenship to war changes. In this context war memorialization plays a particular role in refiguring the relation. Current practices of remembering and memorializing war in contemporary neoliberal states respond to a dilemma: the state needs to justify and garner support for continual wars while distancing citizenship from participation. The result is a consumer culture of memorialization that seeks to effect a unity of the political community while it fights wars with few citizens and devalues the public. Neoliberal wars fought with few soldiers and an economic logic reveals the vulnerability to otherness that leads to more active and critical democratic citizenship.

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Amit Ron

Abstract:

The scope, complexity, and interconnectedness of modern society should prompt us to develop dynamic understandings of democratic modes of inclusion and exclusion. In particular, democratic theory is becoming more attentive to the mismatch between those who make decisions and those who are affected by them as well as to the need to account for the voice of the latter. In this article I build on James Bohman’s understanding of democracy as a rule by multiple dêmoi to develop a framework for studying and evaluating modes of democratic inclusion that are based on being affected. To develop this framework I turn to law and public administration and examine the democratic properties of different institutions and procedures that give a voice to those who are affected by a decision.