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Book Reviews

Hegelianisms without Metaphysics?

David James, Bahareh Ebne Alian and Jean Terrier

The Actual and the Rational: Hegel and Objective Spirit, by Jean-François Kervégan. Translated by Daniela Ginsburg and Martin Shuster. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. xxiii + 384 pp.

Avicenna and the Aristotelian Left, by Ernst Bloch. Translated by Loren Goldman and Peter Thompson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. xxvi +109 pp.

Critique of Forms of Life, by Rahel Jaeggi. Translated by Ciaran Cronin. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018. xx + 395 pp.

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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

Discussion text: Chin, C. 2018. The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought. New York, Columbia University Press.

Respondents: Lasse Thomassen (Introduction), Joe Hoover (Reconstructing Rorty? Between Irony and Seriousness), David Owen (Practices of Political Theory), Paul Patton (Rorty’s ‘Continental’ Interlocutors), Clayton Chin (Rorty’s Pragmatic Political Theory: On Continental Thought and Ontology)

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Olusegun Steven Samuel and Ademola Kazeem Fayemi

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.

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Vittorio Bufacchi

The principle of non-maleficence, primum non nocere, has deep roots in the history of moral philosophy, being endorsed by John Stuart Mill, W. D. Ross, H. L. A. Hart, Karl Popper and Bernard Gert. And yet, this principle is virtually absent from current debates on social justice. This article suggests that non-maleficence is more than a moral principle; it is also a principle of social justice. Part I looks at the origins of non-maleficence as a principle of ethics, and medical ethics in particular. Part II introduces the idea of non-maleficence as a principle of social justice. Parts III and IV define the principle of justice as non-maleficence in terms of its scope and coherence, while Part V argues that the motivation of not doing harm makes this principle an alternative to two well-established paradigms in the literature on social justice: justice as mutual advantage (David Gauthier) and justice as impartiality (Brian Barry).

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Learning to Judge Politics

Professor John Dunn (Interviewed by Professor Lawrence Hamilton)

John Dunn and Lawrence Hamilton

In the first of a series of interviews conducted by members of Theoria’s editorial board with provocative political theorists and thinkers, Professor Lawrence Hamilton talks to Professor John Dunn in an exclusive interview at King’s College, Cambridge, held on the 28 March 2019.

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Neither Shadow nor Spectre

Populism as the Ideological Embodiment of the Democratic Paradox

Anthony Lawrence Borja

The beating heart of democratic politics is a set of paradoxes revolving around the issues of popular identity and sovereignty. Populist ideology appeals to the sovereign people, consequently engaging the democratic paradox in a manner akin to either moving an immoveable object or catching something in constant flux. Marginal consideration has been given by scholars to populism’s relationship with the democratic paradox, with current notions of the former seeing it more as a result of the latter. Thus, by recasting the democratic paradox as a question and analysing its relationship with populist ideology, this article seeks to clarify the supposedly ambiguous relationship between populism and democracy. In analysing the transformative processes within populism by using early Peronism and Italian Fascism as case studies, it argues that as the ideological embodiment of the democratic paradox populist ideology preserves and expresses the paradox in the public sphere.

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1. Introduction

'William L Queux, Master of Misinformation'

Ailise Bulfin and Harry Wood

The Introduction prefaces a double special issue of Critical Survey examining the work of controversial popular author, journalist and amateur spy William Le Queux from 1880 to 1920. Known as the ‘master of mystery’, Le Queux was prominent in transmitting exaggerated fears about British national security before, during and after the First World War. The Introduction provides a historical and literary framework for the special issue and outlines its central premises: that cultural production in Le Queux’s era was intimately connected with contemporary socio-political forces; that this relationship was well understood by authors such as Le Queux, and often exploited for propagandist purposes; and that the resulting literary efforts were sometimes successful in influencing public opinion. The Introduction also outlines the overall finding that Le Queux’s work tended to distort his subject matter, misinform his readership, and blur the lines between fact and fiction in pursuit of his defencist agenda.

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2. The Mysterious Mr Le Queux

War Novelist, Defence Publicist and Counterspy

Roger T. Stearn

This article presents what is widely considered to be the best biographical account of the life of the controversial popular author, journalist and amateur spy, William Le Queux. The article originally appeared in Soldiers of the Queen, the journal of the Victorian Military Society, and is reproduced here with their kind permission in order to bring it before a new audience. It documents Le Queux’s life, from the little that is known about his early career through to his high-profile involvement in defence scaremongering before and during the First World War to his subsequent lapse into postwar obscurity.

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3. 'At the Mercy of the German Eagle'

Images of London in Dissolution in the Novels of William Le Queux

Antony Taylor

In the years before 1914 the novels of William Le Queux provided a catalyst for British debates about the economic, military and political failures of the empire and featured plots that embodied fears about new national and imperial rivals. For Le Queux, the capture of London was integral to German military occupation. Representative of the nation’s will to resist, or its inability to withstand attack, the vitality of London was always at issue in his novels. Drawing on contemporary fears about the capital and its decay, this article considers the moral panics about London and Londoners and their relationship to Britain’s martial decline reflected in his stories. Engaging with images of anarchist and foreign terrorism, and drawing on fears of covert espionage rings operating in government circles, this article probes the ways in which Le Queux’s fiction expressed concerns about London as a degenerate metropolis in the process of social and moral collapse.

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4. Gauging the Propagandist's Talents

William Le Queux's Dubious Place in Literary History, Part One

A. Michael Matin

Shortly after the outbreak of World War One, Charles Masterman was appointed by Prime Minister Asquith to oversee a covert literary propaganda campaign in support of the British war effort. Although William Le Queux had been one of the most prominent British anti-German writers during the prewar years, he was not recruited for this governmental endeavour that included many of the nation’s best-known writers. Nonetheless, he continued on his own to publish anti-German propaganda throughout the war. These two articles assess Le Queux’s national security-oriented writings within that broader context, and they offer a methodology for gauging the potential efficacy of such texts based on recent developments in the field of risk-perception studies. Part One provides a historical and methodological foundation for both articles and assesses a number of Le Queux’s pre-1914 works. Part Two (published in Section II of this issue) examines Le Queux’s career and writings from 1914 through to his death in 1927.