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Henry A. Giroux

This article argues that democracy is on life support in the United States. Throughout the social order, the forces of predatory capitalism are on the march—dismantling the welfare state, corrupting politics with outside money, defunding higher education, expanding the corporate-surveillance-military state, widening inequalities in wealth and income, and waging a war on low income and poor minorities. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from higher education to health care centers—there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. This article argues that given this current crisis, educators, artists, intellectuals, youth, and workers need a new political and pedagogical language centered around the notion of radical democracy in order to address the changing contexts and issues facing a world in which capital draws upon an unprecedented convergence of resources—financial, cultural, political, economic, scientific, military, and technological—to exercise powerful and diverse forms of control.

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What Should the Citizen Know about Politics?

Two Approaches to the Measurement of Political Knowledge

Lauri Rapeli

The aim of this study is to provide an empirical example of how an election-related empirical indicator of political knowledge can be constructed. Studies of political knowledge have shown that most citizens fall short of the democratic ideal in terms of their knowledge about politics. But according to critics it is unclear what the reference point for such conclusions has been. The critics say that indicators of political knowledge lack a transparent logic and connection to concrete political behavior. In this study two measures of political knowledge are compared: one is a general measure of political knowledge; the other is based on a specific analytical framework by Kuklinski and Quirk (2001). Both the aggregate distribution and the individual-level determinants of political knowledge are compared. The differences between the two measures are found to be minor. The findings suggest that although specific and theory-driven measures offer a nuanced view into the public's knowledge levels, general measures of political knowledge also provide a reliable understanding of what the public knows.

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John Keane

In this critical commentary, John Keane defends, extends, and reasserts the role of history in democratic theory through an articulation of seven methodological rules: (1) treat the remembrance of things past as vital for democracy’s present and future; (2) regard the languages, characters, events, institutions, and effects of democracy as a thoroughly historical way of life and handling of power; (3) pay close attention to the ways in which the narration of the past by historians, leaders, and others is unavoidably a time-bound, historical act; (4) see that the methods that are most suited to writing about the past, present, and future of democracy draw attention to the peculiarity of their own rules of interpretation; (5) acknowledge that, until quite recently, most details of the history of democracy have been recorded by its critics; (6) note that the negative tone of most previous histories of democracy confirms the rule that tales of its past told by historians often harbor the prejudices of the powerful; and (7) admit that the task of thinking about the past, present, and future of democracy is by definition an unending journey. There can be no Grand Theory of Democracy.

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Resist and Revivify

Democratic Theory in a Time of Defiance

Jean-Paul Gagnon and Emily Beausoleil

downgraded to a “flawed democracy.” Scholars researching contemporary populism have also recently reported that disaffection with the democratic status quo in countries, including the United States ( Foa and Mounk 2017 ) and the United Kingdom ( Webb 2013

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Paul Apostolidis, William E. Connolly, Jodi Dean, Jade Schiff and Romand Coles

course on democratic theory and US social policy, has paired up with one of the workers from Teamsters Local 556, which is hosting us today. The workers are immigrants from various parts of Mexico, and their travels north of the border have led them to

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Nancy S. Love, Sanford F. Schram, Anthony J. Langlois, Luis Cabrera and Carol C. Gould

considers the challenges of representation posed by transnational democracy, the need to supplement labor rights with international participation in workplace management, and the continuing limitations of regional and global democratic institutions. As even

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Nadia Urbinati

. Recent issues of two academic journals, the Journal of Democracy and Democratic Theory , have been dedicated to the analysis of the crisis or decline of democracy ( Ercan and Gagnon 2014 ; Plattner 2015) . Drops in electoral participation and citizen

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China’s New Silk Road

Autocracy Promotion in the New Asian Order?

Octavia Bryant and Mark Chou

less democratic” when dealing with the Chinese superpower. How much more so will this be the case with China set to resurrect its global Silk Road project for the twenty-first century? In this critical commentary, we explore this question with reference

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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

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Leif Lewin

“cult of incompetence” ( Faguet 1911 ). So runs the argument against political equality among both opponents and supporters of a democratic society. Even John Stuart Mill, the democratic pioneer and prominent advocate of popular rule, saw the lack of