The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite
Beyond Explicit Motivations and Oppositional Actions
Sadiya Akram and David Marsh
Wood and Flinders re-center political participation on the idea of “nexus politics.” The effort is laudable because it contributes to other ongoing efforts at broadening our understanding of the nature of ‘political’ participation. Unfortunately, in our view, the authors misspecify new forms of political participation that have emerged by: (1) failing to take Henrik Bang’s work seriously; (2) focusing exclusively on motivation/intention, so that an action is “political,” only if the person acting sees it as “political”; (3) seeing all political participation as necessarily oppositional.
Reflections on Violence in the 'War on Terror'
Saul Newman and Michael P. Levine
The authors argue that the 'war on terror' marks the ultimate convergence of war with politics, and the virtual collapse of any meaningful distinction between them. Not only does it signify the breakdown of international relations norms but also the militarization of internal life and political discourse. They explore the 'genealogy' of this situation firstly through the notion of the 'state of exception'—in which sovereign violence becomes indistinct from the law that is supposed to curtail it—and secondly through Foucault's idea that politics is essentially a form of warfare. They suggest that these two ways of approaching the question of violence can only be understood through a racist dimension, which forms the hidden underside of the 'war on terrorism'. In other words, our contemporary situation is characterized by the mobilization not only of fundamentalist and conservative ideologies, but, increasingly, racial antagonisms and prejudices directed towards the Muslim other.
9/11 represents less a tear in the fabric of history, or a break with the past, than an inflection in ongoing historical processes, such as the continued expansion of capitalism that at some recent time has supposedly attained a level of globalization. This paper considers the relation of war and politics with respect to three instances arising in the wake of 9/11, including the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and finally the global war on terror (GWT). I argue that these wars are superficially dissimilar, but that on a deeper level they all relate to a single ideological position that is an important motivation in current US foreign policy, and that this position is further related to capitalism.
A Response to Flinders and Wood
Wood and Flinders posit that intentionality and motivation are critical sites of analysis when determining whether an act is, or should be made out to be, political or apolitical. I agree with this assertion—both the intention behind an actor’s act, for example, what motivates the action, must be taken into consideration before such classifications are made. Yet, intentionality and motivation are more complicated and problematic than the authors make them out to be—especially online.
The Conventional, Unconventional, and Alternative
What can be considered as political participation? This question remains central to contemporary political participation research (e.g., Collin 2009 ; Eklundh 2014 ; Flinders and Wood 2018 ; Grasso 2016 ; Norris 2002 ; Rowe and Marsh 2018
Watching Politics of Race at the Ballpark
Thomas D. Bunting
Drawing on recent literature on political spectatorship, I show how sport, and baseball in particular, can both illuminate and shape American politics. Following the history of racial segregation and immigrant assimilation in baseball, one sees that it mirrors American race politics on the whole. I argue that Jackie Robinson and the desegregation of baseball changed both American politics and the horizons within which citizens think. Although it is tempting to focus on this positive and emergent moment, I argue that for the most part, looking at the history of race in baseball shows instead coded language that reinforces racial stereotypes. This example of baseball and race shows how powerful spectatorship can be in the democratic world. Spectatorship need not be passive but can be an important sphere of activity in democratic life.
Simon Tormey and Jean-Paul Gagnon
to political scientists now and that reflect the topics many democratic theorists have been discussing of late. Both of these dimensions are given in Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy from the ending of his Gettysburg Address. Lincoln says to
Beyond the Conflict-Consensus Divide
Henrik P. Bang
This article examines the consensus-conflict divide within contemporary democratic theory as manifested in the works of Jürgen Habermas, Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, and John Rawls. It relates the democratic crisis diagnosis to the presence of this conceptual divide and suggests overcoming it by focusing on the work of Michel Foucault, especially his concept of the “rectangle of the good parrhesia.” Foucault's analysis goes beyond conflict-consensus through its positive and creative reconceptualization of political authority featuring a transformative capacity linked to the idea of telling the truth.
Conceptualizing Everyday Political Engagement
Matthew Flinders and Matthew Wood
Existing research on alternative forms of political participation does not adequately account for why those forms of participation at an “everyday” level should be defined as political. In this article we aim to contribute new conceptual and theoretical depth to this research agenda by drawing on sociological theory to posit a framework for determining whether nontraditional forms of political engagement can be defined as genuinely distinctive from traditional participation. Existing “everyday politics” frameworks are analytically underdeveloped, and the article argues instead for drawing upon Michel Maffesoli’s theory of “neo-tribal” politics. Applying Maffesoli’s insights, we provide two questions for operationally defining “everyday” political participation, as expressing autonomy from formal political institutions, and building new political organizations from the bottom up. This creates a substantive research agenda of not only operationally defining political participation, but examining how traditional governmental institutions and social movements respond to a growth in everyday political participation: nexus politics.