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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

The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg. Volume III. Political Writings, 1: On Revolution 1893–1905, by Peter Hudis, Axel Fair-Schulz and William A. Pelz (eds). London: Verso, 2019. 592 pp.

In the Red Corner: The Marxism of José Carlos Mariátegui by Mike Gonzalez. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2019. 231 pp.

Indigenous Vanguards: Education, National Liberation and the Limits of Modernism, by Ben Conisbee Baer. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. 384 pp.

Here to Stay – Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology, by Paul Field, Robin Bunce, Leila Hassan and Margaret Peacock (eds). London: Pluto Press, 2019. 304 pp.

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Decolonising Borders

Re-imagining Strangeness and Spaces

John Sodiq Sanni

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

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

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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Anna Stilz and Christine Hobden

18 November 2019

CH: Thank you for agreeing to do this. The prompt for the interview was to talk about your recently published book, Territorial Sovereignty, but I thought before we got into that you could say something about your earlier work and how that led you to be interested in this particular project that you deal with in the book.

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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.