The aim of this article is to explore to what extent the rule of economics commonly known as Gresham's law (“bad money drives out good money”) can be extrapolated to verbal language (“bad concepts drive out good concepts”). Consequently, the goal of this article is twofold. First, for Gresham's law to be applied simultaneously to money and language, its unfortunate (“good”/“bad”) and obscure (“drives out”) wording should be clarified. Second, one should identify the contexts in which the validity of the law could be assessed best, and run a very preliminary test. For this purpose, the circulation of the adjective (“hard”, “strong”, or “stable” in Russian) in the word combination (“hard currency”) in use in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s was scrutinized.
Do “Bad” Concepts Drive Out “Good” Ones?
regional political surveys ( Latinobarómetro 2016 ). The 2017 Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index ( Economist Intelligence Unit 2018 ) presents a bleak picture of a world trending towards the solidification of new authoritarianisms, and declining
The Crisis of Venezuelan Democracy
The legacy of Hugo Chavez is contentious. Some lament the deterioration of Venezuelan democracy from one of Latin America's most stable political systems to a populist authoritarian regime. Others celebrate Chavez's participatory project of institutionalizing structures for community-driven development, redistributing oil wealth through welfare policies, and creating a political party closely linked to mass movements. This article provides an alternative assessment of Venezuela's democratic quality by drawing on deliberative democratic theory. I argue that Chavez's participatory project is incomplete because it fails to create structures for deliberative politics. Without these mechanisms, Venezuela remains vulnerable to crises brought about by “uncivil action,” such as military coups and violent protests, making deliberation an important component in averting crises in democratizing polities.
Propaganda’s Role in Liberal Democratic Societies
Jason Stanley and John B. Min
Stanley and Min discuss how propaganda works in liberal democratic societies. Stanley observes that the inability to address the crisis of liberal democracies can be partially explained by contemporary political philosophy’s penchant for idealized theorizing about norms of justice over transitions from injustice to justice. Whereas ancient and modern political philosophers took seriously propaganda and demagoguery of the elites and populists, contemporary political philosophers have tended to theorize about the idealized structures of justice. This leads to a lack of theoretical constructs and explanatory tools by which we can theorize about real-life political problems, such as mass incarceration. Starting with this premise, Stanley provides an explanation of how propaganda works and the mechanisms that enable propaganda. Stanley further theorizes the pernicious effects that elitism, populism, authoritarianism, and “post-truth” have on democratic politics.
Robyn Eckersley and Jean-Paul Gagnon
Modern environmentalism, whose genesis tracks mainly from the 1960s and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), has forced the anthropocentric emphasis of democracy to account. Nonhuman actors like trees, ecological systems, and the climate have increasingly become anthropomorphized by humans representing these actors in politics. Aside from challenges to the anthropocentric concepts of citizenship, political representation, agency, and boundaries in democratic theory, environmentalism has warned of apocalyptic crises. This drives a different kind of challenge to mainly liberal democracies. Scientists and activists are becoming increasingly fed up with the seeming incompetence, slowness, and idiocy of politicians, interest groups, and electors. Eyes start to wander to that clean, well-kempt, and fast-acting gentleman called authoritarianism. The perfect shallowness of his appearance mesmerizes like a medusa those that would usually avoid him. Serfdom increasingly looks like a palpable trade-off to keep the “green” apocalypses at bay. Democracy’s only answer to this challenge is to evolve into a cleverer version of itself.
The Case of Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi (1717–1771)
Ere Pertti Nokkala
The aim of this article is to explore the different uses of the state-machine metaphor in Germany during the 1750s and 1760s. It focuses on the debate around the ideal state and especially on the views of one central writer, Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi (1717-1771). It has been argued that in this debate the functionality of the state was measured according to the efficiency and simplicity of the machine and that the best form of state was that which provided the fastest and most precise implementation of the final cause (happiness) and encountered the fewest obstacles on its way. At the time, unlimited monarchy arose as the form of government that best fitted this description, with Fredrick II and Justi being usually referred to as the ideologues of this mechanical authoritarian order, often described as “enlightened absolutism.” However, the author argues that Justi's position in this debate must be reconsidered since his writings show that he never denied the possibility of constructing a complex state-machine based on the separation and balance of powers. In fact, he was an admirer of England's mixed government as described by Montesquieu. Ironically, then, the author who most contributed to the dissemination of the state-machine metaphor in Germany was also the one whose usage of it was most exceptional.
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).
A Critical Analysis of John Keane's The New Despotism (Harvard University Press, 2020)
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
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
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