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What is populism? Who is the populist?

A state of the field review (2008-2018)

Jean-Paul Gagnon, Emily Beausoleil, Kyong-Min Son, Cleve Arguelles, Pierrick Chalaye, and Callum N. Johnston

Both “populism” and “populist” have long been considered ill-defined terms, and therefore are regularly misapplied in both scholarly and popular discourses.1 This definitional difficulty is exacerbated by the Babelian confusion of voices on populism, where the term’s meaning differs within and between global regions (e.g. Latin America versus Western Europe); time periods (e.g. 1930s versus the present), and classifications (e.g. left/ right, authoritarian/libertarian, pluralist/antipluralist, as well as strains that muddy these distinctions such as homonationalism, xenophobic feminism and multicultural neonationalism). While useful efforts have been made to navigate the vast and heterogeneous conceptual terrain of populism,2 they rarely engage with each other. The result is a dizzying proliferation of different definitions unaccompanied by an understanding as to how they might speak to each other. And this conceptual fragmentation reinforces, and is reinforced by, diverging assessments of populism which tend to cast it as either “good” or “bad” for democracy (e.g. Dzur and Hendriks 2018; Müller 2015).

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Paul Nursey-Bray

Within European debates on the left about the future of the socialist project, particularly within the United Kingdom, market socialism has been enjoying a certain vogue over the last decade. It represents one of a number of approaches that have been canvassed in pursuit of a Third Way that would steer a course between the old authoritarian, state-controlled socialism of Soviet and Eastern European practice and the untrammelled excesses of a free market capitalist approach. It has claimed some influential supporters, as well as vehement critics who aver that in surrendering to the market and the law of value market socialism vitiates its socialist credentials. But the issues raised in the European context have specific contextual characteristics. European economies and social structures are what we term developed or advanced. While large disparities of wealth exist between social strata and social classes, there is an absence of the fundamental development problems and crushing poverty that are the all too familiar features of the world of Africa. It may be suggestive therefore to consider the application of market socialism within an African setting, acknowledging that there will be a shift of emphasis. While the concerns for social justice and equality that are central to the evaluation of market socialism in a European setting naturally remain relevant in the case of Africa, there is also the question of development itself. Can market socialism be considered as a prescription for the disease of underdevelopment that continues to undermine the economies, the politics and the very life of African societies? We will begin with a review of the history and nature of market socialism before returning to this central question. In general I subscribe to the view that we should avoid dealing with “Africa” in a general way, since it ignores the need to recognize country by country differences and specifics. However, on occasion, a broad brush is useful. I believe it has utility here in a comparison and contrast between European and African experiences of socialism.

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Kathryn Robinson

In imagining Indonesia’s future, its character as a country with the world’s largest Islamic population emerges as a critical issue. In the post-Suharto period, some commentators have seen the emergence of Islamist politics as a threat to newly attained freedoms. No sooner had women been freed from the constraints of ‘state ibuism’, i.e., the official policy promoting the role of wife and mother (ibu) of the New Order (see Suryakusuma 1996), which endorsed patriarchal familism as a cornerstone of authoritarian politics, than they faced a new kind of patriarchal authority in the demands for the enactment of shari’a as state law. For example, during her 2005 visit to Australia, Indonesian feminist commentator Julia Suryakusuma raised the specter of Islam as the greatest current threat to gender equity and to women as social actors in civic life, whose rights in the domestic sphere are now protected by the state. The growing influence of Middle Eastern Islam in Indonesia, evidenced by funding for organizations, translations of publications, and the increase in Islamist rhetoric, has caused alarm among many observers. This apprehension draws on the stereotype of the Middle East as the source of all that is ‘bad’ about Islam, taken as an undifferentiated whole. But this view of Islam fails to acknowledge debates within Islam and diversity in Islamic practice, not the least of which are the varieties of Islam that can be found throughout the Indonesian archipelago. These diverse practices have emerged as local communities and indigenous polities responded in distinctive and often unique ways during the long period of Islamic conversion, beginning from the thirteenth century.

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Arte urbano, espacio público y subversión política

la revolución egipcia a través del graffiti

Pedro Buendía

*Full article is in Spanish

English abstract: The emergence of graffiti's urban subculture as a means of political expression has become a singular issue of the so-called Arab Spring. Graffiti and urban art, which had little to no relevance in the Arab world until now, emerged with unusual force in many countries, notably in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, and Egypt. This blossoming takes shape in tangent with the strengthening of a civil society and its rise as a decisive actor in the new political arena. In Egypt's case, graffiti achieved a leading role that reflected the milestones of civil disturbance, marking the walls with virtual snapshots of the popular sentiment. The proliferation of graffiti also had considerable resonance in international media because of the strategy of spreading rebellious and subversive slogans by means of the symbolic occupation of a public space, which, until now, was monopolized by authoritarian powers.

Spanish abstract: Un fenómeno singular de la denominada “Primavera Árabe“ ha sido la eclosión de la subcultura urbana del graffiti como medio de expresión política. De escasa o nula relevancia hasta ahora, el arte urbano de las pintadas ha surgido con una fuerza inusitada en varias zonas del mundo árabe, notoriamente en los Territorios Palestinos, el Líbano y Egipto. Dicho florecimiento cuaja en paralelo con la rearticulación de la sociedad civil y su irrupción irreversible como actor de los nuevos escenarios políticos. En el caso de Egipto, los graffitis han tenido un señalado protagonismo como reflejo de los sucesivos hitos de las revueltas, marcando los muros y paredes con verdaderas instantáneas del sentir popular. La proliferación del graffiti ha tenido asimismo una considerable resonancia en los medios internacionales, debido a la estrategia de ocupar simbólicamente el espacio público, -que hasta ahora estaba reservado al monopolio de los poderes autoritarios- para la difusión de consignas contestatarias y subversivas.

French abstract: Un phénomène singulier de la “printemps arabe“ a été l'émergence de la culture urbaine du graffiti comme un moyen d'expression politique. Avec peu ou pas d'importance jusqu'à ce jour, l'art urbain et le graffiti ont émergé avec une force inhabituelle dans diverses régions du monde arabe, notamment dans les Territoires Palestiniens, le Liban et l'Égypte. Ce e éclosion doit être mise en parallèle avec le renforcement de la société civile et son émergence comme acteur décisif dans le nouveau scénario politique. Dans le cas de l'Égypte, le graffiti a joué un rôle clé comme reflet des jalons successifs des révoltes, en marquant les murs avec des instantanés virtuelles du sentiment populaire. La prolifération des graffitis a rencontré aussi un écho remarquable dans les médias internationaux en raison de la stratégie d'occupation symbolique de l'espace public pour la diffusion des slogans rebelles et subversifs; un espace public qui était réservé jusqu'à aujourd'hui aux pouvoirs autoritaires.

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Democratic Procedures Are Not Inherently Democratic

A Critical Analysis of John Keane's The New Despotism (Harvard University Press, 2020)

Gergana Dimova

theory (in the way Keane implicitly draws on a novel conception of human nature). This review article seeks to elucidate the pillars of Keane's concept of the new despotism, and to situate it in the broader scholarship of democracy and authoritarianism

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Brian Callan and Giovanni A. Travaglino

concludes, are likely to persist into the foreseeable future. Moving to the dynamics of the East Asian Twittersphere, Dedman's and Li's (a pseudonym) article, “Digitally Dismantling Asian Authoritarianism: Activist Reflections from the #MilkTeaAlliance

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Garry Rodan, Participation Without Democracy

Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia

Matthew David Ordoñez

region do not exhibit conventional political systems or ideologies (from the Western gaze), this does not make the region devoid of ideology. Similarly, their authoritarian and illiberal characteristics do not necessarily render the citizenry devoid of

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Anti-social security

The changing contours of the hegemonic field in the twenty-first-century United States

Jeff Maskovsky

Smith's argument in Intellectuals about selective hegemony to think conjuncturally about the unstable settlements that have given rise to what I am calling a regime of antisocial security. This regime bolsters inequality, authoritarian rule, and hyper

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Lauri Rapeli and Inga Saikkonen

end of the Cold War and most formerly autocratic states adopted (at least de jure ) democratic institutions. Some of these new democracies have consolidated, but others have reverted to more authoritarian types of government. These autocratizing

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China’s New Silk Road

Autocracy Promotion in the New Asian Order?

Octavia Bryant and Mark Chou

Western analysts have begun questioning “the extent to which China, as its power grows, will seek to remake the world in its authoritarian image.” The fear is that countries under Beijing’s sphere of influence will begin to see the appeal of autocracy