Needs, States, and Markets

Democratic Sovereignty Against Imperialism

in Theoria
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One of the more intractable questions in the history of political thought is still around today: how can humans collectively control and enhance the development and satisfaction of their needs? This is a question about the nature of contemporary needs, about which and whose needs are developed and satisfied, and about the extant evaluative control over the generation of needs. That is, it is a question about the mechanisms and institutions that constitute and legitimize the generation, interpretation and satisfaction of needs, in particular, states and markets. And it is also a question about the possibilities and means of transforming these mechanisms and institutions. In this paper, I suggest conceptual means of thinking about the different parts of the question and their relation to democratic sovereignty. The suggestions are based on an account of human need that overcomes the current framework of rights and (utilitarian) preferences tempered by paternalist attention to state-defined human needs.


A Journal of Social and Political Theory


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