Best known as political radicals and novelists, Mary Wollstonecraft and Thomas Holcroft each wrote a travel narrative: Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark ( 1987) and Travels from Hamburg through Westphalia, Holland and the Netherlands to Paris (1804), respectively. Despite their specific differences, both Wollstonecraft and Holcroft reconfigure travel as a politically inflected act of cultural encounter, resisting both the Grand Tour tradition of elite education and Romantic travel as an asocial and personal experience of the sublime. Although Wollstonecraft's account has been examined as a kind of feminine sublime or roman à clef, her political project has frequently been elided, seen as separate from the personal affect of her account. Holcroft's narrative is simply neglected. Reading these two travel accounts as products of late eighteenth-century British radical reform and developing Romantic sensibility enhances our understanding of eighteenth-century travel narrative and British Romanticism itself.
William D. Irvine
Scholars of Third Republic France have long assumed that the political spectrum was divided into a readily identifiable Right and Left, adhering to mutually exclusive positions. But this comfortable political taxonomy could, at times, to violence to political reality. The Right could at some periods in the history of the Third Republic be aggressively nationalistic; at other times it could be positively irenic. The Left was often pacifist, but not always and there were moments when it, or some fraction of it, could be quite bellicose. Neither anti-Semitism nor racism in general were the exclusive province of the Right. On critical issues, the Left could be more refractory to women's rights than was the Right. French fascism claimed to be neither right nor left and at least some French fascist movements could list as many former members of the Left among its leaders as former members of the Right.
Franz A. Birgel
Characterized by Siegfried Kracauer as "the first and last German film that overtly expressed a Communist viewpoint," Kuhle Wampe (1932) is also noteworthy for being the only film on which Bertolt Brecht collaborated from beginning to end, as well as for its controversial censorship in the tumultuous political context of the late Weimar Republic. When set against the background of the 1920 Motion Picture Law and the censorship of two other high-profile films—Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin and Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front—the political history of Kuhle Wampe highlights the indecisiveness, fragility, and fears of the German Left as the Nazis prepared to take power.
What marks the difference between modern and non-modern political philosophy? Such a question could be understood in two ways. On the one hand, it could be understood as a question concerning formal differences between modern and pre/non-modern modes of philosophising. On the other hand, it could be understood as a question about the changing nature of the object of the philosophical enterprise, namely a question concerning the historical differences between modern and pre-modern (domestic as well as international) politics. Contemporary political philosophy has focused primarily on meeting the first, formal, challenge. By failing to take proper account of the effects that major historical developments—especially the rise of commercial society and global market economy—have had on the character of political life, much of contemporary political theory tend to view its enterprise as essentially an extension to or an application of ethics. What is needed instead is a 'political economy'. Political philosophy must rise to this challenge if it wishes to help us contend with our present predicament. The final part of the article outlines a realist, non-moralistic, political philosophy which takes account of the interplay between human 'sentiments' and 'reason' in a commercial world order.
Like other major developments in political philosophy, John Rawls’s Political Liberalism (PL) has raised important issues for philosophy of education. Rawls’s defence of liberalism as a political doctrine whose principles do not depend on any one comprehensive moral or philosophical doctrine for their justification, against comprehensive liberalism, which by contrast expresses a particular conception of the good life, engages with current controversies in schooling policy in liberal democracies like the United States and the United Kingdom, and potentially in South Africa.2 In such societies there are groups which oppose what is seen as the tendency of liberal education, with its emphasis on the development of qualities like autonomy and individuality, to show intolerance towards particular ethnic, cultural or religious groups and to threaten their continued existence. Their objections appear to require a political rather than a comprehensive liberal approach to schooling.
Reel to Real: race, sex and class at the movies by bell hooks. New York and London: Routledge, 1997.
Seeing a Colour-Blind Future: The paradox of race. The 1997 Reith Lectures by Patricia J. Williams. London: Virago Press, 1997.
The Legacy of Richard Turner for Post-Apartheid Political Thought
In recent times South African politics has come to exhibit features typical of many post-colonial contexts, not least the rise of acrimonious and confrontational politics based around personalities and forms of populism. In such contexts rational dialogue and democratic deliberation become increasingly difficult to get going and to sustain. Drawing on Richard Turner's The Eye of the Needle, first published some forty years ago, the paper examines the role religion, and religious organisations, could play in returning such acrimonious public debate to more democratic and visionary grounds. The key point is that religion offers a form of transcendence from the divisive and bitter particularities that animate contemporary political conflicts. It does this through the spiritual affirmation of our shared human worth due to the love of God(s). From this recognition, achieved through spiritual appeals, the conditions for more rational and democratic debate can be retrieved. In addition, religious transcendence redeems the value of utopian thinking, and thus could help re-orientate public debate from a politics of blame for past wrongs to a politics of imagining of future rights.
Fanon, Marx, 'the Poors' and the 'new reality of the nation' in South Africa
In an earlier paper, written in reaction to those who argued that the African National Congress (ANC) had no alternative but to implement neoliberal economic policies in the context of the ‘Washington Consensus’, I discussed the strategic choices and ideological pitfalls of the ‘political class’who took over state power in South Africa after the end of apartheid and implemented its own homegrown structural adjustment programme (Gibson 2001). Much of this transition has been scripted by political science ‘transition literature’ and much of it is proactive, mapping out what should be done to establish a ‘pacted’, ‘elite’ democracy overseeing neoliberal economic policies (O’Donnell, Schmitter & Whitehead 1986). From another vantage point, I argued that Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth is perhaps one of the most perceptive critiques of the transition literature available. This paper continues the discussion.
Rethinking Democracy in the Context of Globalisation
Political communities are in the process of being transformed. Of course, transformation can take many forms. But one type of transformation is of particular concern in this paper: the progressive enmeshment of human communities with each other. Over the last few centuries, human communities have come into increasing contact with each other; their collective fortunes have become intertwined. I want to dwell on this and its implications.
The transition made by Sartre to an increasingly political brand of commitment after the Liberation proved to be one of the most challenging and difficult transitions of his career. L’Etre et le néant had been taken by many, both followers and critics alike, to be the fullest exposition of his world-view, but the type of commitment Sartre spoke of in this work did not seem to be an obvious candidate for reconciliation with a radical political agenda.