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Making the Case for Kleptocratic Oligarchy

(as the Dominant Form of Rule in the United States)

Donald M. Nonini

Mainstream pundits, the media, and many academics represent the United States of America’s political system as a democracy, and the vast majority of its middle- and upper-middle-class citizens certainly think it is. I would like to argue against this idea, to propose instead that the US form of rule at present is not a democracy but instead an emergent kleptocratic oligarchy. According to the Webster’s Third International Dictionary (1976), this is “despotic power exercised by a privileged clique,” one moreover devoted at the most mundane level to kleptocracy, or rule while engaged in plunder of the public treasury. This emergent oligarchy is the undeclared alternative base of rule to the demos or ‘people’, whose organized governance constitutes a democracy. Although kleptocratic oligarchical rule is not entirely new to the US—the ‘Gilded Age’ from the 1880s to 1910, marked by corporate ascendancy and control of the US Senate, was very similar in many respects (Phillips 2004: 236–242)—I would argue that the contemporary American oligarchy has new strategies, organization, and objectives.

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A Mistrustful Society?

The Lack of Trust in Government Institutions in the Czech Republic

Nicole Horáková

discovered by the German sociologist Robert Michels as early as 1911. In his book Political Parties , Michels described, based on personal experience and empirical material, the so-called “iron law of the oligarchy”: “It is organization which gives birth to

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Pac'Stão versus the City of Police

Contentious Activism Facing Megaprojects, Authoritarianism, and Violence

Einar Braathen

: 1006–1069 ), a prism to understand the historical roots of an authoritarian state and society that is constructed by racialized and gendered hierarchies. Brazilian society is ruled by oligarchic elites with origins in the country's slaveholding

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Community—Coca-Cola Interface

Political-Anthropological Concerns on Corporate Social Responsibility

K. Ravi Raman

By critiquing corporate social responsibility (CSR) as discourse and practice, it is argued in this article that CSR conceals its own invention and intentions. CSR is found to be problematic as it is yet another legitimating discursive domain that serves only the colonization process of corporate, oligarchic power structures. The present article attempts to traverse the complex maze that currently constitutes the theory and practice of CSR through a juxtaposition of the expressed acceptance of CSR by one of the world's biggest oligarchic-corporate structures, the US-based Coca-Cola Company, and the lived experience of village communities that have borne the ill-effects of its operations in India.

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Oligarchic Corporations and New State Formations

Bruce Kapferer

Current configurations of global, imperial, and state power relate to formations of oligarchic control. A major feature of this is the command of political organizations and institutions by close-knit social groups (families or familial dynasties, groups of kin, closed associations, or tightly controlled interlinked networks of persons) for the purpose of the relatively exclusive control of economic resources and their distribution, these resources being vital to the existence of larger populations. For many theorists, the state, throughout history and in its numerous manifestations, was born in such processes and continues to be so. Moreover, the oppressive powers of state systems (e.g., the denial or constraining of human freedoms, the production of poverty and class inequalities) and the expansion of these in imperial form are a consequence of oligarchic forces.

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Natalya Khokholova


The article does not investigate the reason behind the recurring cases of missing children and young adults in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and does not offer an explanation for this phenomenon. Instead, it interprets this occurrence as a symptom of the oppressive histories and realities for indigenous groups residing on the territory of this part of the Russian Federation. Although the reasons for children going missing might seem obvious—the vast uninhabited territory of the region and poor infrastructure—the article argues that these cases of missing children are the result and evidence of neglect on behalf of parents and the state. The contributive value of this article is to voice the current precarious situation in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) under the “brotherhood” of the New Russians’ oligarchy and the way that communal cultural practices of the indigenous peoples of Yakutia resist this form of oppressive practice and the possibility of going missing, or extinct.

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Ofer Kenig

The selection methods of party leaders in Israel have gone through a gradual shift during the last 30 years. Like parties in several other democracies (Canada, United Kingdom, Japan), the major Israeli parties have changed their internal distribution of power to give their members a role in candidate and leadership selection. In Israel, as elsewhere, among the reasons for this reform was the desire to reduce the oligarchic tendencies of parties by creating a participatory revolution and by providing the rank-and-file members a chance to make a difference. This study maps the various methods used by Israeli parties for selecting their leaders and asks what the positive and negative consequences of the opening of the selection process are. The first section presents the various methods used by parties for selecting their leaders. The following three sections deal with the gradual process of democratization in leadership selection that occurred in the two major Israeli parties, and in other parties. The final section discusses the consequences of this democratization and tries to assess whether there is an ideal method for selecting party leaders.

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On Thinking New Times Philosophically

Daniel Herwitz

This is a paper about what it means to be early. Philosophy has been early from the moment of its inception in the west. Socrates was the first to have been ‘ahead of his time’. Thinking of himself under the sign of a midwife, he believed himself to be stamped with the project of giving birth to a new form of thinking which would in the first instance be critical of existing templates of thought and in the second grasp the essentially experimental character of the search for knowledge. To bring about a sea change in the young, to bring them to the brink of this questioning, experimental moment, to accommodate them to the whirl of a reality whose contours were unknown and whose design undiscovered was for him the task of education. This questioning spirit, meant to challenge the oligarchic and the complacent through a relentless cross-examination or ‘elenchus’, famously accepts that the wisest person is ‘the one who knows that he does not know’ and famously acknowledges the difficulty in achieving genuine knowledge of anything in this kaleidoscopic world.

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Garry Rodan, Participation Without Democracy

Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia

Matthew David Ordoñez

state deploys the party-list system, a limited allotment of representative seats in the legislative for supposedly marginalized groups. The system was eventually co-opted by the ruling oligarchy (chapter 6). Similarly, the oligarchy used patronage and

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Marie Paxton and Uğur Aytaç

responsiveness. Second, Jones's proposal to empower certain groups such as bondholders and more educated citizens is likely to maintain and escalate the oligarchic tendencies in contemporary Western democracies ( Arlen and Rossi 2018 ). In the case of education