This article is an exercise in the interpretation of ordinary political language on the status of democracy. It is motivated by the desire to test how our theories of democracy help us make sense of what citizens think about their actual democracies
Frontier Wars, Public Debt and the Cape’s Non-racial Constitution
their rivers. Sandile, nevertheless, had been begging for peace since the war began, and when his unilateral suspension of hostilities failed to produce the desired effect, he even agreed to register his people as British subjects and to give up their
The Power Dynamics of Knowledge Production in Political Thought
Camilla Boisen and Matthew C. Murray
definition and detail that can address all those who they now face or know they must acknowledge facing. We argue that this realisation is necessary to achieve the kinds of reform in conceptual thought many desire, and it is something we as producers of
In his book Moral Reasons, Jonathan Dancy describes the problem of accidie as the most serious source of objections to cognitivist approaches to moral motivation. If weakness of will is possible, and Dancy himself finds it difficult to deny that it is, then it seems that the person suffering from weakness of will differs from the motivated person only in respect of his/her failing to share a desire to perform the action which is believed by both to be good. This, of course, entails that the desire to act does not necessarily follow from the fact that one holds the relevant beliefs. A cognitivist internalist is committed to (some version of) the claim that desire must indeed follow belief here and it is therefore commonly taken to be shown false by the phenomenon of accidie. For Dancy, however, accidie is not the problem for cognitivist internalists that it is normally taken to be. He argues that to suppose that it is involves making the unjustified (generalist) assumption that ‘if a state is anywhere sufficient for action, it must be everywhere sufficient’ (Dancy 1993: 22). Dancy wishes to argue that just because a state motivates in one case, it should not be presupposed that it will necessarily motivate in another (e.g. in the case of the person suffering from accidie). Therefore, he suggests, if we ditch the generalist assumption and recast our analysis of moral motivation in terms of new (particularist) notions we can rescue cognitivist internalism in ethics. In this paper I argue that Dancy’s particularist account fails to offer the independent support for cognitivist internalism that he thinks it does.
The Novelist as Cultural Hero of Modernity? On Richard Rorty’s New Pragmatism
Let us begin with a generalisation: Richard Rorty’s approach to literature is consistently – to use his own opposition – ‘solidarity-related’; what he calls the ‘other side’, literary self-creation, remains programmatically and intentionally undiscussed. One gets the impression that literature, and the novel in particular, is being burdened with an (‘unbearable’) heaviness of responsibility. Does the novel in Rorty’s reflections appear as a source of multifarious metaphors, of whole worlds born out of a writer’s imagination? Is there in it another dimension, where mundane obligations no longer bind the human being and where one can give rein to usually hidden desires and passions? The answer is in the negative.
The Case of Germany
The Berlin Republic of today is neither Weimar (1918–1932) nor Bonn (1949–1990). It is by all standards the best democracy ever on German soil. Nevertheless, during the COVID-19 crisis there was a shift from democracy as a mode of governance to what the controversial legal theorist Carl Schmitt (1922) affirmingly described as a “state of exception”; a state that is desired and approved by the people (through opinion polls). It was the hour of the executive. The parliament disempowered itself. There was very little, if any, contestation or deliberation during the first eight weeks of the COVID-19 crisis. This article reflects on the implications of this mode of governance on institutions and actors of democracy in Germany, and offers a way of assessing the wellbeing of democracies in times of deep crisis.
Rethinking Integration in the Fragmented Public Sphere
Jeffrey C. Alexander
In l974, after twenty years of relatively successful struggles for the expansion of American citizenship, efforts that began with Black Americans and expanded to include other racial minorities and women, a scholar named Peter Adler (l974:369-371) concluded a widely used anthology called Intercultural Communication by offering a definition of ‘multicultural’. Emphasising the ‘psychoculturally adaptive’, Adler portrayed a protean, ever-changing, integrative actor who had the desire and ability to put himself in the shoes of the other person in a relativising, cross-over, non-judgmental way. ‘Multicultural man’, he wrote, ‘maintains no clear boundaries between himself and the varieties of personal and cultural contexts he may find himself in’. He is ‘capable of major shifts in his frame of reference and embodies the ability to disavow a permanent character … He is a person who is always in the process of becoming a part of and apart from a given cultural context. He is very much a formative being, resilient, changing, and evolutionary’ (italics added).
Raphaël De Kadt
This edition of Theoria is being assembled at a time of war. The government of the United States of America is projecting, through force, its power in the Middle East. The invasion of Iraq has been presented as a war of liberation. Its principal declared purpose has become the emancipation of the Iraqi people from tyrannical rule. Whatever the pretexts, declared and imputed, for the decision to go to war – which have ranged from the desire to disarm Saddam’s regime of its weapons of mass destruction to securing control of Iraqi oil supplies – there is little doubt that this is primarily an attempt to politically ‘reengineer’ an entire region. As such it fits neatly with the doctrine, articulated by the neo-conservative authors associated with the Project for the New American Century, which presses for the creation of an enduring, twenty-first century pax Americana of global reach. In their view, it is imperative that the United States does not lose the military supremacy it currently enjoys. No superpower that might challenge it should be allowed to emerge. To this end, the present war entails an attempt to erect a ‘coercive carapace’ across the Middle East, stretching from Israel in the west through to Afghanistan or indeed perhaps even India – a potentially ‘natural’ ally – in the east. Iraq is the centrally located landmass on which this exercise will first be tested, and from which it will be extended. This bold endeavour is concerned, in its own way, to ‘make the world safe for democracy’ and, by extension, American interests.
Deleuze, Badiou, Rancière and Tahrir Square, 2011
How should one make theoretical sense of what has been called 'the miracle of Tahrir Square' – the fact that the Egyptian people successfully ousted a dictator in a peaceful manner, where militant groups had failed to do so by force? In this article it is argued that Deleuze/Guattari's notion of the subject in terms of desiring-machines, flows, schizophrenic production and the 'body-without-organs', enables one to theorise human subjectivity as being in process, and not 'self-identical', as mainstream thinking would have it. Deleuze's thought on societies of control further suggests the concept of rhizomatic lines of subversion of hegemonic networks from within the latter. Further, Alain Badiou's consonant conception of the subject – as one of multiple 'emplacements' – represents a spatial perspective on individual subjects which similarly eschews the pitfalls of an abstract notion of human subjectivity in favour of one that conceives of the subject as inescapably 'placed' in multiple spatial coordinates, as it were. In addition, Jacques Rancière's radicalisation of 'politics' in terms of 'equality' and 'dissensus' enables one to grasp the fleeting events of Tahrir Square as paradigmatic of 'true' democracy. In this way these theoretical positions provide a model that is commensurate with evidence that the 2011 Egyptian uprising avoided the trap of hierarchical thinking and practice, pursuing the goal of political liberation and (radical) democratisation along non-hierarchical, 'leaderless', complex, rhizomatic communicational networks instead. This avoided the paralysing tendency to think and behave on the basis of oppositionally conceived, mutually exclusive adversarial agencies – the 'us' and 'them' syndrome. The article explores the implications of this complex notion of subjectivity, on the one hand, in relation to the radical democratic practice displayed in Tahrir Square, on the other.
Towards a Frommian Critical Social Theory of Narcissism
authoritarianism, that is as a pathological orientation and way of ruling that are built on ‘sadomasochism’, therefore as a pathological symbiosis whereby sadistic and masochistic desires instigate a violent form of politics ( Fromm 1941: Chs. 5 and 6 ). 5 On this