The French elections of 2012 resulted in an unprecedented and overwhelming victory by France's Socialist Party, which gained control of the presidency and an absolute majority in the National Assembly to go with the party's existing domination of most of France's regions and municipalities. But the Socialist Party remains a minority party in the French electoral body politic, its victory the result of a skewered two-ballot electoral system. The Socialist government, moreover, remains hampered in its action by its obligations toward the European Union and its participation in the zone of countries using the Euro as it attempts to deal with France's economic crisis. As a consequence of both of these phenomena the government may also be sitting atop a profound political crisis characterized by the alienation of a good part of the electorate from the political system.
Irwin M. Wall
A Revised Typology of Coercion and Repression in Liberal Democracies
This article addresses the problem of unclear usage of “coercion” and “repression” in literature concerning protest and repression in democratic and nondemocratic states. It questions the bases and conclusions of domestic democratic peace theory and discusses its consequences. The article proposes expanding definitions of coercion and repression in terms of timing, agency, and perceptiveness. Using vocabulary of poststructuralist discourse theory and the “logics” approach to analyzing social phenomena, it introduces the notion of hegemonic coercion and repression and describes their functioning. It argues that contemporary liberal democracies are not free from coercion and repression, but that the hegemony embodied in the state is able to sustain itself by means of hegemonic coercion with little use of direct violence. Consequently, the absence of state violence is not a criterion of a mature democracy, but can also be a characteristic of a totalitarian regime where ideological deviations are strictly and preemptively controlled.
Bringing the System Back In
Michael J. Jensen
The current crisis of democracy today is a crisis in the steering capacities of political systems as conventional representative institutions are seen as increasingly unresponsive. This has engendered a crisis of legitimacy as governing processes that affect daily life are seen as increasingly out of reach for citizens who find themselves with little or no influence over government administration, and increasingly globalized flows of markets and communication that belie the control of sovereign borders. The return to deliberative democracy as a response to the crisis has turned toward systems thinking within deliberation. Although this literature has primarily retained its normative language, approaching the crisis of democracy in terms of its empirical steering capacities is necessary to connect deliberation with its democratic aspirations. In addition to the language of steering capacities, these elements include an empirically-grounded account of the operation of power and authority as well the role of rhetoric as central rather than operating in the shadow of deliberation.
Changing the Relationship between Philanthropy and Democracy?
Joshua Murchie and Jean-Paul Gagnon
This Practitioner’s Note considers the disruptive function of Little Phil, a mobile app that seeks to democratize philanthropic giving. Although many of the cultural aspects of philanthropy – such as increased control over donation, tracking the impact of one’s giving, and building interpersonal relationships with receivers – can be opened to any person with an app-hosting device and internet access, it cannot supplant the role of big philanthropy and solve Rob Reich’s problem: how to domesticate private wealth so that it serves democratic purposes? Little Phil’s disruption has in concept gotten us halfway to legitimizing philanthropy. Perhaps the uptake of citizens’ panels by large philanthropic foundations will cover the remaining distance.
Testimony, Censorship, and Literacy among Early Quaker Women
In the tumultuous 1640’s amid the barely controlled chaos of the Interregnum, George Fox, the spiritually inclined son of an Leicestershire weaver, wandered up and down the local countryside in search of revelation, disputing with local ministers, debating theology with anyone who would speak with him. Years later, in his autobiographical Journal, Fox described the pivotal moment of his awakening: But as I had forsaken all the priests, so I left the separate preachers also… for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, Oh, then, I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition’, and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy.
The Lost Leader; Group Disintegration, Transformation and Suspended Reconsolidation
King Lear (1605–6) is the primary enactment of psychic breakdown in English literary history. It constitutes, also, the most spectacular instance of a controlled explosion of the formal ‘container’ in Western drama – such that it not only violated whatever Aristotle or Boileau might have to offer on the proper structure of tragedy but provoked, too, the very different sensibilities of Dr Johnson and Count Tolstoy. Set in its raw pre-Christian world, the play remains the major Shakespearean rebuttal of Sophoclean fearful symmetry (Oedipus Rex) – corrosive in its existential negativity, yet paradoxically fructive in spawning such twentieth-century ‘countertransferential’ progeny as George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House, Samuel Beckett’s Endgame or Edward Bond’s Lear. Keats, on rereading it wrote about the ‘bitter-sweet’ of being ‘consumèd in the fire’, with all the intensity of one closely associated with ‘Consumption’.
The ability to control where and how any given space will be occupied is a coveted but elusive privilege for the heroines of Jane Austen's novels. Though blessed with an admirable blend of independence of mind, spirit and moral fortitude, they are women for whom the privilege of space is often either an intangible desire or an oppressive reality. In Persuasion, Austen deliberately creates a problem with space. She purposefully contradicts what is expected in public and private behaviour by presenting a heroine who is at first constricted by her place; who begins to expand the number of spaces she is able to occupy; and then, finally, begins to defy her place. This article explores how this use of physical and psychological space in Persuasion evolves and how Austen involves her heroine in the discourse of social change through both narrative description and a new accessibility of psychological landscape.
Exploitation Without Interpersonal Domination
In this article, I query whether participation in the labour market can hinder neo-republican freedom as non-domination. I briefly present the view of Philip Pettit on the topic, based on the distinction between offering a reward and threatening a punishment. I compare it to the analysis of labour republicans, recently reconstructed by Alex Gourevitch, according to whom, the exclusion of a group of individuals from the control of productive assets represents a form of structural domination. Then, I explain why I take a position that is different from both. I hold that capitalist structural domination leads only to exploitation, not interpersonal domination. In doing this, I consider two objections that might be raised against my argument. The first one is based on incomplete contracts and on a possible ideal benchmark for job offers. The second one challenges the supposed arbitrariness of unequal property relations within the capitalist social system.
Norbert Elias on Globalization
Globalization presages an important new stage in the centuries-old 'civilizing process,' which Norbert Elias analyzed with such clarity and in such depth. At the root of the fundamental transformations of our world of nation-states are combined integrating and disintegrating tendencies, or centralization and individualization, which manifest themselves in a steady monopolization of the means of violence and taxation, an interventionist human rights discourse, and war as a means of democratizing and pacifying the planet. Elias' 'historical social psychological' approach offers new categories of analysis with which to both explain the effects of globalization and indicate how international interdependence fosters both control and resistance, both democratization and radicalization, and both integration and disintegration.
Virtuous Citizenship and Popular Sovereignty
What is virtuous citizenship? Is it possible to be a virtuous citizen whatever the form of one's state? Is it possible to be a virtuous citizen in the new South Africa? In this article I defend some Republican ideas on civic virtue and popular sovereignty, especially as found in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, to suggest that popular sovereignty is a necessary condition for active and virtuous citizenship. For it is only under conditions of popular sovereignty that the right kind of political agency is possible. I discuss these ideas in the context of modern constitutional democracies, and argue that constitutional democracy in South Africa is not an instance of popular sovereignty and thus does not provide the possibility for virtuous citizenship. I end the article with a proposal for addressing these deficiencies: effective citizen control over the constitution by means of a decennial plebiscite—a carnival of citizenship.