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Democracy and Vietnam

Visceral Perspectives

Kim Huynh

This commentary considers proceedings from the workshop, “Can the Case be Made for Asian Democratic Theory or Practice?: Local Asian Perspectives,” held in Hanoi in February 2015. Particular attention is paid to the presentations of the two presiding professors, Pham Quang Minh and John Keane, both of whom argued that the Asian democracies of the twenty-first century would and should depart from the Western liberal democratic models of the late twentieth century. They also assuaged some of the visceral sentiments and tensions between the author (a boatperson who fled the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1979) and the local workshop participants (who were avid Vietnamese socialists).

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Marcos S. Scauso, Garrett FitzGerald, Arlene B. Tickner, Navnita Chadha Behera, Chengxin Pan, Chih-yu Shih, and Kosuke Shimizu


Liberal democracies often include rights of participation, guarantees of protection, and policies that privilege model citizens within a bounded territory. Notwithstanding claims of universal equality for “humanity,” they achieve these goals by epistemically elevating certain traits of identity above “others,” sustaining colonial biases that continue to favor whoever is regarded more “human.” The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these fault lines, unveiling once more the often-hidden prevalence of inequalities that are based on race, gender, class, ethnicity, and other axes of power and their overlaps. Decolonial theories and practices analyze these othering tendencies and inequalities while also highlighting how sites of suffering sometimes become locations of solidarity and agency, which uncover often-erased alternatives and lessons.

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Democratic Theory

The South African Crucible

Lawrence Hamilton

South Africa's post-apartheid context and a mix of African and non-mainstream Western political theory is felicitous for a positive critique of the two now predominant Western accounts of democracy. The context highlights how deliberative and aggregative accounts of democracy fall short in their attempts to make universal claims regarding democracy; and it provides the theoretical basis for an account of political democracy that better associates democracy with freedom, power, representation, and domination. The article argues that freedom is power through political representation, and freedom obtains if and only if the existing forms of representation manage power relations in order to minimize domination and enhance political judgement amongst representatives and represented. The article submit that, unless radical institutional change is carried out, South Africa will not rid itself of the legacies of these Western models and will be unable to generate the freedom and democracy its attainment of political freedom has now long promised.

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Mark Chou and Emily Beausoleil

A conventional story is often told about democracy. It is a story that begins somewhere in the West, some millennia ago. From there, or so this telling goes, democracy spread across the continents; traversing from the familiar epicenters of Western civilization—Athens, London, Washington, Versailles—to the exotic and sometimes alien cultural landscapes in the East. The idea that such a model of democracy, based on an essentially Western set of ideals and practices, could one day become universal was perhaps unthinkable to most democrats before the twentieth century. However, today there is very little doubt that democracy on a global scale is both assured and desirable. But there should be no confusion here: this story of democratization, and the projection of democracy’s global future, is one premised on “the export of democratic institutions, developed within a particular cultural context in the West,” that has as its culmination “the end of history” and the triumph of Western liberal democracy in all corners of the globe (Lamont et al. 2015: 1).

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Jean-Paul Gagnon

first was representation, the second universalization [in terms of franchise]). This intellectual movement interferes with current research in at least two important ways: it (1) redescribes democracy over-and-again which means measurement models must

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The Limits of Liberal Democracy

Prospects for Democratizing Democracy

Viviana Asara

aggrandizement” of welfare capitalist democracy ( Lessenich 2019, 122 ) is not sufficient to grasp not only, as Lessenich convincingly argues, its structural boundaries, but also, as I argue here, the structural limits inherent in liberal democracy, the model

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Leif Lewin

very different kind from national borders. Her choice is the NGOs or, in her vocabulary, a “stakeholder model of democracy” or, even more precisely—to underline the varying pattern in citizens’ relations to politics—a “multi-stakeholder model of

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Amit Ron

to dispel ourselves of models that assume some form of a metaphorical table where representatives of a strong demos with clearly formed collective will engage with representatives of affected interests that are independently formed. Instead, we need

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Avery Poole

democracy and human rights as regional norms ( Poole 2015a ). The adoption of references in the text of a regional declaration or statement does not necessarily mean that the organization emphasizes or upholds a particular “model” of democracy. As I have

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Jeffrey D. Hilmer and Max Halupka

remedy this deficiency in chapter 4 by recommending an alternative theory of democracy: oppositional democracy. This, he emphasizes, is not a “model of democracy” (3), but rather a theory of democracy as common action. Medearis writes, “By democratic