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.
A Democratic Theory Inspired by Albert Camus
Democracy has come under pressure in many countries in recent years. Authoritarian tendencies, populism and the cult of leadership threaten pluralistic societies in Europe and other parts of the world. But democracy is more than just a method of finding a majority; it is inextricably linked to the fight against oppression and injustice in all contexts of life. Especially in times of democratic crisis, it is necessary to focus on its core aspects. The political thinking of French philosopher and writer Albert Camus, who died in 1960, offers the basis for a redefinition of democracy that is linked to and dependent on rebellion. From his reflections, a radical theory of democracy can be derived that is based on the absurdity of the world, its incompleteness, revolt and resistance to authoritarianism, on doubt, dialogue and foreignness.
Spinoza against Negri
Negri celebrates a conception of democracy in which the concrete powers of individual humans are not alienated away, but rather are added together: this is a democracy of the multitude. But how can the multitude act without alienating anyone's power? To answer this difficulty, Negri explicitly appeals to Spinoza. Nonetheless, in this paper, I argue that Spinoza's philosophy does not support Negri's project. I argue that the Spinozist multitude avoids internal hierarchy through the mediation of political institutions and not in spite of them; nor do these institutions merely emanate from the multitude as it is, but rather they structure, restrain and channel its passions. In particular, the required institutions are not those of a simple direct democracy. There may be other non-Spinozist arguments on which Negri can ground his theory, but he cannot legitimately defend his conception of the democratic multitude by appeal to Spinoza.
This essay considers whether legal rights remain a core resource for transforming the social situation of low-income workers in the United States. In particular, how does the recent expansion of the immigrant workforce in the US affect the prospects for workers to generate a symbiosis between legalist struggles and rank-and-file movement activism? I demonstrate that the migration narratives of Mexican immigrant union activists intervene in the law's formation of political subjects, such that the thorough disciplining of a docile subject by the law does not necessarily result from legalist activism. Instead, migration stories furnish alternative sources of identity that can mitigate these effects and spur the translation of legalist struggle into radical-democratic unionism. My analysis is based on interviews with immigrant workers who led a highly unusual movement of resistance from 1995-2005 at a large beef processing plant in Washington State.
Deleuze, Badiou, Rancière and Tahrir Square, 2011
How should one make theoretical sense of what has been called 'the miracle of Tahrir Square' – the fact that the Egyptian people successfully ousted a dictator in a peaceful manner, where militant groups had failed to do so by force? In this article it is argued that Deleuze/Guattari's notion of the subject in terms of desiring-machines, flows, schizophrenic production and the 'body-without-organs', enables one to theorise human subjectivity as being in process, and not 'self-identical', as mainstream thinking would have it. Deleuze's thought on societies of control further suggests the concept of rhizomatic lines of subversion of hegemonic networks from within the latter. Further, Alain Badiou's consonant conception of the subject – as one of multiple 'emplacements' – represents a spatial perspective on individual subjects which similarly eschews the pitfalls of an abstract notion of human subjectivity in favour of one that conceives of the subject as inescapably 'placed' in multiple spatial coordinates, as it were. In addition, Jacques Rancière's radicalisation of 'politics' in terms of 'equality' and 'dissensus' enables one to grasp the fleeting events of Tahrir Square as paradigmatic of 'true' democracy. In this way these theoretical positions provide a model that is commensurate with evidence that the 2011 Egyptian uprising avoided the trap of hierarchical thinking and practice, pursuing the goal of political liberation and (radical) democratisation along non-hierarchical, 'leaderless', complex, rhizomatic communicational networks instead. This avoided the paralysing tendency to think and behave on the basis of oppositionally conceived, mutually exclusive adversarial agencies – the 'us' and 'them' syndrome. The article explores the implications of this complex notion of subjectivity, on the one hand, in relation to the radical democratic practice displayed in Tahrir Square, on the other.
Michael C Behrent and Eugenia C. Kiesling
Warren Breckman, Adventures of the Symbolic: Post-Marxism and Radical Democracy Review by Michael C. Behrent
Hugh Dauncey, French Cycling: A Social and Cultural History Review by Eugenia C. Kiesling
Tendayi Sithole and Paolo Cossarini
Violence in/and the Great Lakes: The Thought of V-Y Mudimbe and Beyond by Grant Farred, Kasereka Kavwahirehi and Leonhard Praeg (eds.) Tendayi Sithole
Radical Democracy and Collective Movements Today: The Biopolitics of the Multitude versus the Hegemony of the People by Alexandros Kioupkiolis and Giorgos Katsambekis (eds.) Paolo Cossarini
the Mirror of History (Vol. 33, No. 2, 119) BOOK REVIEWS BEHRENT, Michael C . Adventures of the Symbolic: Post-Marxism and Radical Democracy by Warren Breckman (Vol. 33, No. 2, 143) DEACON, Valerie . What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in
Paul Apostolidis, William E. Connolly, Jodi Dean, Jade Schiff, and Romand Coles
oscillating current cogenerated by sudden “bursts of natality” and the protracted pulsations of “everyday democracy,” Coles, when characterizing radical democracy’s temporalities more generally, juxtaposes dual elements in creative friction. For Coles
A Revised Typology of Coercion and Repression in Liberal Democracies
coercion and repression are indispensable for the establishment and sustenance of ideological hegemonies. Finally, elaborating on Laclau and Mouffe’s concept of radical democracy, this article aims to show that a system employing exclusively nondirect and