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Gresham's Law, Conceptual Semantics, and Semiotics of Authoritarianism

Do “Bad” Concepts Drive Out “Good” Ones?

Kirill Postoutenko

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.

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Jennifer Ruth Hosek

The West Berlin anti-authoritarians around Rudi Dutschke employed a notion of subaltern nationalism inspired by independence struggles in the global South and particularly by post 1959 Cuba to legitimate their loosely understood plans to recreate West Berlin as a revolutionary island. Responding to Che Guevara's call for many Vietnams, they imagined this Northern metropolis as a Focus spreading socialism of the third way throughout Europe, a conception that united their local and global aims. In focusing on their interpretation of societal changes and structures in Cuba, the anti-authoritarians deemphasized these plans' potential for violence. As a study of West German leftists in transnational context, this article suggests the limitations of confining analyses of their projects within national or Northern paradigms. As a study of the influence of the global South on the North in a non-(post)colonial situation, it suggests that such influence is greater than has heretofore been understood.

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The “Moral Effect” of Legalized Lawlessness

Violence in Britain’s Twentieth-Century Empire

Caroline Elkins

From 1930s Palestine to Kenya in the years following World War II, systematized violence shaped and defined much of Britain’s twentieth-century empire. Liberal authoritarianism, and with it the “moral effect” that coercion had upon colonial subjects, gave rise to the systematic use of violence against colonial subjects. The ideological roots of these tactics can be located in the twinned birth of liberalism and imperialism, together with metropolitan responses to imperial events in the mid-nineteenth century. Despite copious amounts of empirical evidence documenting the evolution of liberal authoritarianism, and the creation and deployment of legalized lawlessness throughout the British Empire, Steven Pinker either ignores this evidence, or implicitly denies its validity. In reframing Britain’s civilizing mission, and challenging liberalism’s obfuscating abilities, this article critiques not only the British government’s repeated denials of systematized violence in its empire, but also Pinker’s reinforcement of the myths of British imperial benevolence.

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Lawyers against the Law

The Challenge of Turkish Lawyering Associations

Joakim Parslow

Despite increasing subordination of the judiciary to executive authorities, Turkish cause lawyering associations are more assertive than ever in their defiance of forced closures and legal persecution. Why would activist lawyers ‘play the game’ of law when the legal system is being undermined? Focusing on the historical genesis of Turkey’s oldest activist lawyering association, the Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği (ÇHD), I argue that Turkish legal activism results from not just clashing political causes but also the strategies attorneys are forced to adopt to effect change within an authoritarian-corporatist structure designed to constrict their activities. The ÇHD and similar groups are not merely extensions of the formal juridical order; they also constitute a grassroots engagement with the law that refuses to conform to the categories, narratives, procedures and ends of the state’s legal institutions.

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Radical Right-Wing Populists in Parliament

Examining the Alternative for Germany in European Context

Lars Rensmann

Founded just five years ago, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) represents the biggest opposition party in the German parliament. This article addresses three questions in European comparative perspective: What is the nature of the AfD as a relevant political party in the Bundestag? What explains its rise and popularity? What is the party’s behavior and impact in parliament, and on German politics in general? Examining platforms, the article first identifies programmatic and ideological shifts that have turned the AfD from a single issue anti-Euro party into the first radical right-wing (populist) party in parliament since the Nazi era. Second, voter analyses suggest that the AfD’s political radicalization has not undermined but increased its appeal. Third, the robust electoral support for radical positions makes it likely that the party seeks to further deepen political conflicts. Behavior in parliament shows that the party follows its European counterparts’ polarizing strategic orientations, reinforcing the Europeanization of a nativist sociocultural “counter-revolution.”

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Sean Kennedy

Beginning in the 1980s, several historians began to challenge the view that fascism was a marginal phenomenon in interwar France, a view dubbed "the immunity thesis" by one of its critics. Surveying a range of works on far-Right intellectuals and movements during the 1920s and 1930s, this article suggests that "the immunity thesis" has been increasingly challenged by a variety of historians since the mid-1990s. However, a consensus on the issue has not emerged, as a number of historians stress the need to differentiate between fascism and other forms of right-wing nationalism in the French context. At the same time, there are signs that scholars are beginning to move beyond questions of categorization and address other themes relating to the inter-war Right. These new agendas have the potential to broaden our understanding of the late Third Republic in general.

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Some Responses to Globalisation in Uzbekistan

State Authoritarianism, Migrant Labour and Neo-traditionalism

Laurent Bazin

Uzbekistan offers a case study of a country that has blocked the liberalisation of its economy and that is being marginalised in the world market as well as in the international community. Even still, two typical expressions of globalisation processes can be identified: first, an attempt to reconstruct the legitimacy of the state through the reinvention of a 'national identity', and, second, the elimination of a specific form of protected salaried work that had arisen during the Soviet era, along with a concurrent proletarianisation of the population, in particular in the rural areas. The research shows that political coercion and the inculcation of a nationalist ideology, on the one hand, and the economic degradation of living standards, on the other, result in the reinforcement of family ties and repression of individuality, in spite of huge labour migrations and a (minimal) introduction of the market.

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María de Lourdes Sierra Kobeh

*Full article is in Spanish

English abstract: In this paper the author makes a preliminary assessment of the course so far taken by the so called Arab Spring and the many obstacles and challenges it has faced. Despite the high expectations that these social protest movements have generated, especially for their transformative potential, she argues that real or meaningful reforms have not been achieved so far, despite the fall of several dictators and the persistent social protests. The author stresses in particular the conditions in each of the countries in this region and the increasing external interference in the affairs of this region that allow foreign powers to exploit domestic situations to their advantage, a phenomenon not new, dating from the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of modern nation-states in the Arab world. She proposes to analyze these movements in the light of a broader historical perspective to help us understand the full extent and complexity of the processes that are taking place in this strategic region, as these social protest movements have been present throughout the years, with periods of progress and setbacks, within a complex and long process marked by internal quarrels, regional rivalries, and strong external interference.

Spanish abstract: En este trabajo, la autora hace un balance preliminar sobre el curso que hasta ahora ha tomado la llamada “primavera árabe“ y los múltiples obstáculos y desafíos que ésta ya está enfrentando. Sostiene que, a pesar de las grandes expectativas que estos movimientos de protesta social han generado, sobre todo por su potencial transformador, no se han logrado hasta ahora reformas reales o significativas, a pesar de la caída de varios dictadores y la persistencia de las protestas sociales. Destaca en particular las condiciones existentes en cada uno de los países de la región y la creciente interferencia externa en los asuntos de la región que permite a las potencias extranjeras aprovechar las situaciones internas en su propio beneficio, un fenómeno nada nuevo, que data de la desintegración del Imperio Otomano y la conformación de los modernos Estados nacionales del mundo árabe. Propone, asimismo, analizar dichos movimientos a la luz de una perspectiva histórica más amplia, que nos ayude a comprender en toda su magnitud y complejidad los procesos que se están desarrollando en esta estratégica región, ya que estos movimientos de protesta social no son del todo nuevos. Han estado presentes a todo lo largo de estos años, con períodos de avances y retrocesos, dentro de un proceso complejo y prolongado, marcado por luchas internas, rivalidades regionales y una fuerte interferencia externa.

French abstract: Dans cet essai, l'auteur fait un compte rendu préliminaire sur le chemin pris par ce qui a été nommé « Le printemps arabe », ainsi que les multiples obstacles et défis auxquels ce phénomène à été confronté. Il met particulièrement en relief, les conditions dans lesquelles ce phénomène est survenu dans chaque pays de la région, ainsi que l'ingérence croissante des puissances étrangères dans les affaires internes des pays concernés et dont les agissements lors de la crise feront d'eux les principaux bénéficiaires. Un phénomène qui n'est pas nouveau et qui date de la chute de l'Empire ottoman et de la naissance des États-nation du monde arabe. En même temps, cet article se propose d'analyser ces mouvements sous l'angle d'une perspective historique plus étendue a fin d'offrir une meilleure compréhension de la magnitude et de la complexité des processus qui se développent dans ce e région stratégique, puisque tous ces mouvements de protestation sociale ne sont pas nouveaux. Ces mouvements ont été présents tout au long de ces années où il y a eu des périodes positives et aussi négatives dans le cadre d'un processus complexe et d'une longue durée, marqué par des lu es internes, des rivalités régionales et une forte intervention externe.

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Anthropological Reflections on Lebanese Art

How Empathy, the Human Rights Topos and Ideological Attitudes Interact with Aesthetic Perceptions

Gerald A. P.-Fromm and Bariaa Mourad

This article analyses attitudes of the art public related to subjects of the 2011 art exhibition 'Beirut', shown at the Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna. Some Lebanese artworks, especially those of the (pre-)war generation, were oriented towards utopias of their time and socio-political criticism, and still today revolve around the topoi of human rights. Socio-cultural milieux and institutions seem habited by adherents with congruent values. Art, science and education are thus particularly disputed fields since their common creative quests produce knowledge and, depending on the theme, ideology. We contextualise these topics and highlight a few empirically corroborated explanatory models developed by anthropology in order to elucidate the complex interplay between the individual and society. We appeal to those in academia, education and critical art to play a role in the debate on essential humanistic and ethical principles.

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Methodology Matters in Iran

Researching Social Movements in Authoritarian Contexts

Paola Rivetti

How can scholars conduct fieldwork in an authoritarian environment, engaging ‘dangerous’ topics such as social movements in Iran? How can they overcome the limitations imposed by the authoritarian state and win the trust of activists? This article reflects on the knowledge that scholars produce under such difficult circumstances, arguing that the deployment of non-mainstream research practices and methods can benefit the scholarship, exposing under-studied and overlooked aspects of the topic investigated. More specifically, the article elaborates on how methodological choices inform the knowledge we produce and how they can therefore be used to overcome structural limitations generating innovative and fairer scholarship.