These articles deal with the theme of revolutionary hope in Ron Aronson’s work. Jonathan Judaken looks at Aronson’s conception of the politics of everyday life, or existentialist politics, inspired by Herbert Marcuse’s Marxism, which offered an explanation for inequality, privilege, and other social evils, as well as pointing the way to a solution to those problems. Rebecca Pitt deals with Aronson’s activism and commitment to changing the world, contextualizing this in Aronson’s work: his book on Sartre’s Second Critique, as well as his most recent work on social progress and hope.
Jonathan Judaken, Rebecca Pitt, and Ronald Aronson
This article is a thought experiment. It constructs ideal types of political representation in the sense of Max Weber. Inspired by Quentin Skinner and others, the aim is to give a rhetorical turn to contemporary debates on representation. The core idea is to claim an ‘elective affinity’ (Wahlverwandschaft, as Weber says following Goethe) between forms of representation and rhetorical genres of their justification. The four ideal types of political representation are designated as plebiscitary, diplomatic, advocatory, and parliamentary, corresponding to the epideictic, negotiating, forensic, and deliberative genres of rhetoric as the respective ways to plausibly appeal to the audience. I discuss historical approximations of each type of representation and apply the combination of representation and rhetorical genres to the understanding of the European Union’s unconventional system of ‘separation of powers’. I conclude with supporting parliamentary representation, based on dissensus and debate, with complements from other types.
The consent theory of power, whereby ruling elites depend ultimately on the submission, cooperation and obedience of the governed as their source of power, is often linked to debates about the effectiveness of non-violent political action. According to this theory, ruling elites depend ultimately on the submission, cooperation and obedience of the governed as their source of power. If this cooperation is with-drawn, then this power is undermined. Iain Atack outlines this theory and examines its strengths and weaknesses. Atack argues that incorporating the insights of other theories of power, such as Gramsci's theory of hegemony and Foucault's views on 'micro-power', can provide us with a more sophisticated understanding of both the effectiveness and the limits of nonviolent political action than the consent theory of power. Gramsci's contribution deepens the analysis in terms of our understanding of the origins of individual consent in the context of larger economic and political structures, while Foucault adds a different dimension, in that his micro-approach emphasizes the ubiquity and plurality of power, rather than its embodiment or reification in large-scale structures.
Art and Political Crises in Between the Acts
Jane de Gay
In ‘Why Art Follows Politics’, published in The Daily Worker in 1936, Virginia Woolf remarked on a change in the conditions for creativity in the late 1930s. She wrote that the artist’s studio was now ‘far from being a cloistered spot where he can contemplate his model or his apple in peace’, for it was ‘besieged by voices, all disturbing, some for one reason, some for another.’ She characterised the developing political crisis in terms of auditory disturbance or interruption, including the noises of radio news; the voices of dictators addressing the public by megaphone in the streets, and public opinion, which, Woolf wrote, called for artists to prove their social and political usefulness. In extreme political systems, artists were forced to compromise and use their work for political purposes – to ‘celebrate fascism; celebrate communism’ – in order to be allowed to practise at all.
In the first part of this essay, in order to grasp the complex and ambivalent relation of Fanon with negritude, I will recover the context from which emerged the ideology of negritude by focusing on the views of Léopold Senghor and the ways in which these views determined Sartre's interpretation of the movement. I will also examine Sartre's Black Orpheus and the influence it had on Fanon, especially on his Black Skin, White Masks. In the second part, I will adumbrate Fanon's critique of the advocates of negritude, whom he refers to as 'men of culture', who fell back on archaic cultural practices far removed from the political realities of their colonized societies. In the third section, I will turn to Memmi's critique of Fanon with a view to establishing two points: first, Memmi misreads Fanon's rejection of negritude as a failure on the part of Fanon to 'return to self'; second, far from being an oppositional post-modern figure whose work is rife with contradiction, I will argue that the political project of Fanon is consistently Sartrean, despite his disagreement with Sartre on some issues.
Left Review appeared for forty-four monthly issues between 1934 and 1938, produced by a group of volunteer poets, novelists and critics. However exciting it may have been as literary criticism, it can also be seen as a model of cultural democracy. The general notion of how culture and politics come together often does not extend beyond the recruitment of prominent cultural figures to endorse political positions. Left Review’s editors had a more fundamental concern and were constructing a relationship between politics and culture that was active; through their activity as writers, of both imaginative writing and critical commentary, they were contributing to social change – they were not just interpreting the world but helping to change it. That meant a serious rethinking of the nature of literature and also of the nature of political processes.
This article looks back to the time of Radical Tragedy and Political Shakespeare, the political, historical and philosophical impetus behind those books, and the larger critical practice of cultural materialism, of which they were an expression. It also engages with a recent development in criticism, deriving from the evolutionary sciences, linking it with those earlier books and their concerns via the concept of human nature.
This article concentrates on asymmetrical civil war, one common type of contemporary conflict. My aim is to articulate some of the normative jus post bellum guidelines that should be followed in ending this kind of asymmetrical conflict, and the ideal of just peace that should inform the development of such guidelines. I argue that questions surrounding the just ending and aftermath of asymmetrical conflict should be answered relationally, that is by reference to the kind of relationship such efforts should seek to cultivate. Morally defensible political relationships, I claim, express the general moral values of respect for agency and reciprocity. It is these values, I claim, that processes for ending conflict must express and that inform the regulative ideal of just peace at the core of jus post bellum.
The Complex Legacy of Political Shakespeare
This article was delivered in the plenary session of the Shakespeare Association of America's annual meeting in St Louis, April 2014, alongside papers from Ania Loomba and Jonathan Dollimore, also for the first time published in this volume. The purpose of the panel was to commemorate and celebrate two important critical texts whose anniversaries fell at that time: Jonathan Dollimore's Radical Tragedy, published in 1984, and Political Shakespeare (1985), edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, which went into its second edition in 1994. This article discusses the impact and influence of Political Shakespeare, to which I was a contributor.
Fictions of Shakespeare the Deer Stealer
In fiction as in biography, Shakespeare's life is often politicised. Originally, the story of young Shakespeare caught poaching deer and forced to flee Stratford served to illustrate the role of fate in the creation of genius, while his irresponsible behaviour was downplayed. Later, the poaching was represented as rebellion against aristocratic privileges, and even as a deliberate political protest against enclosures of arable land. In more recent fiction, Shakespeare needs to be forced into a social awareness by the deer stealing episode, or even becomes a heartless landlord himself. Thus, Shakespeare's fictional lives reflect political developments in society, from class conflict to cultural levelling.