The secrecy of the ballot, a crucial basic element of representative democracy, is under threat. Attempts to make voting more convenient in the face of declining turnout – and the rise of the “ballot selfie” – are making it harder to guarantee secrecy. <p>Leading scholars James Johnson and Susan Orr go back to basics to analyze the fundamental issues surrounding the secret ballot, showing how secrecy works to protect voters from coercion and bribery. They argue, however, that this protection was always incomplete: faced with effective ballot secrecy, powerful actors turned to manipulating turnout – buying presence or absence at the polls – to obtain their electoral goals. The authors proceed to show how making both voting and voting in secret mandatory would foreclose both undue influence and turnout manipulation. This would enhance freedom for voters by liberating them from coercion or bribery in their choice of both whether and how to vote.</p> This thought-provoking and insightful text will be invaluable for students and scholars of democratic theory, elections and voting, and political behavior.
In this short book, Jacques Rancière takes stock of the state of contemporary politics and examines current developments in the light of his writings. Rancière takes issue with what he sees as the consolidation in recent years of an increasingly oligarchic class of professional politicians within the system of representative democracy, while simultaneously objecting to leftist animosity towards electoral politics. He discusses a wide range of contemporary political movements and figures, from Nuit debout and Marine le Pen to Occupy, Trump, Syriza and Podemos, and he offers a trenchant critique of a variety of ideas and thinkers associated with radical politics, such as the ideas of immaterial labour and cognitive capitalism and the concept of insurrection put forward by the Invisible Committee. But above all he talks about the time in which it makes sense to talk about all this, a time for which history has made no promises and the past has left no lessons, only moments to be extended as far as possible. In politics, there are only presents. It is at every moment that the bonds of unequal servitude are renewed or that the paths of emancipation are invented. <br /><br />Presented in the form of a dialogue between Jacques Rancière and Eric Hazan, this timely reflection by one of the most influential radical thinkers writing today will be of interest to a wide readership.
Our politics is intimately linked to the environmental conditions – and crises – of our time. The challenges of sustainability and the discovery of ecological limits to growth are transforming how we understand the core concepts at the heart of political theory. <br /><br />In this essential new textbook, leading political theorist Steve Vanderheiden examines how the concept of sustainability challenges – and is challenged – by eight key social and political ideas, ranging from freedom and equality to democracy and sovereignty. He shows that environmental change will disrupt some of our most cherished ideals, requiring new indicators of progress, new forms of community, and new conceptions of agency and responsibility. He draws on canonical texts, contemporary approaches to environmental political theory, and vivid examples to illustrate how changes in our conceptualization of our social aspirations can inhibit or enable a transition to a just and sustainable society. <br /><br />Vanderheiden masterfully balances crystal clear explanation of the essentials with cutting-edge analysis to produce a book that will be core reading for students of environmental and green political theory everywhere.
We live in an era of aesthetics. Art has become both pervasive and powerful – it is displayed not only in museums and galleries but also on the walls of corporations and it is increasingly fused with design. But what makes art so powerful, and in what does its power consist? <br /><br />According to a widespread view, the power of art – its beauty – lies in the eye of the beholder. What counts as art appears to be a function of individual acts of evaluation supported by powerful institutions. On this account, the power of art stems from a force that is not itself aesthetic, such as the art market and the financial power of speculators. Art expresses, in a disguised form, the power of something else – like money – that lies behind it. In one word, art has lost its autonomy. <br /><br />In this short book, Markus Gabriel rejects this view. He argues that art is essentially uncontrollable. It is in the nature of the work of art to be autonomous to such a degree that the art world will never manage to overpower it. Ever since the cave paintings of Lascaux, art has taken hold of the human mind and implemented itself in our very being. Thanks to the emergence of art we became human beings, that is, beings who lead their lives in light of an image of the human being and its position in the world and in relation to other species. Due to its structural, ontological power, art itself is and remains radically autonomous. Yet, this power is highly ambiguous, as we cannot control its unfolding. <br /><br />In this book, a leading proponent of New Realism applies this philosophical perspective to art to create a new aesthetic realism.
It should not surprise anyone that democracies can become dangerously illiberal; indeed, it was one of the classical critiques of ancient democracies. Is the contemporary backlash against liberal democracy merely the same old story, or are we witnessing something unprecedented? <br /><br />In this witty and engaging book, Aviezer Tucker argues that the contemporary revival of authoritarian populism combines the historically familiar with new technologies to produce a highly unstable and contagious new synthesis that threatens basic liberal norms, from freedom of the press to independent judiciaries. He examines how the economic crisis blocked social mobility and thereby awakened the dark, dormant political passions exploited by demagogues such as Orban and Trump. He argues that this slide towards ‘neo-illiberal democracy’ can be countered if we hard-headedly restore a ‘liberalism without nostalgia’ which institutes policies that can dampen down populist passions and strengthen liberal institutional barriers against them. <br /><br />Readers interested in current affairs, social science, history, and political and social theory will find Aviezer Tucker’s original theoretical and historical analysis incisive, innovative, and entertaining.
From obnoxious public figures to online trolling and accusations of “fake news”, almost no one seems able to disagree without hostility. But polite discord sounds farfetched when issues are so personal and fundamental that those on opposing sides appear to have no common ground. How do you debate the “enemy”?<br /> <br /> Philosophers Scott Aikin and Robert Talisse show that disagreeing civilly, even with your sworn enemies, is a crucial part of democracy. Rejecting the popular view that civility requires a polite and concessive attitude, they argue that our biggest challenge is not remaining calm in the face of an opponent, but rather ensuring that our political arguments actually address those on the opposing side. Too often politicians and pundits merely simulate political debate, offering carefully structured caricatures of their opponents. These simulations mimic political argument in a way designed to convince citizens that those with whom they disagree are not worth talking to.<br /> <br /> Good democracy thrives off conflict, but until we learn the difference between real and simulated arguments we will be doomed to speak at cross-purposes. Aikin and Talisse provide a crash course in political rhetoric for the concerned citizen, showing readers why understanding the structure of arguments is just as vital for a healthy democracy as debate over facts and values. But there’s a sting in the tail – no sooner have we learned rhetorical techniques for better disagreement than these techniques themselves become weapons with which to ignore our enemies, as accusations like “false equivalence” and “ad hominem” are used to silence criticism. Civility requires us to be eternally vigilant to the ways we disagree.
Less than a century old, the concept of totalitarianism is one of the most controversial in political theory, with some proposing to abandon it altogether. In this accessible, wide-ranging introduction, David Roberts addresses the grounds for skepticism and shows that appropriately recast—as an aspiration and direction, rather than a system of domination—totalitarianism is essential for understanding the modern political universe. <br /> <br />Surveying the career of the concept from the 1920s to today, Roberts shows how it might better be applied to the three «„classic“» regimes of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the Stalinist Soviet Union. Extending totalitarianism’s reach into the twenty-first century, he then examines how Communist China, Vladimir Putin's Russia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), and the threat of the technological “surveillance state” can be conceptualized in the totalitarian tradition. Roberts shows that although the term has come to have overwhelmingly negative connotations, some have enthusiastically pursued a totalitarian direction—and not simply for power, control, or domination.<br /> <br />This volume will be essential reading for any student, scholar or reader interested in how totalitarianism does, and could, shape our modern political world.
Is democracy the best form of government? What does it mean to be ‘free’? Why should we obey the government?<br /> <br /> In this highly accessible and engaging new introductory textbook, Pete Woodcock examines all these questions and more in a compact outline of the basics of political theory. He takes students step-by-step through the most important answers given by history’s most famous thinkers to the most fundamental questions in politics, covering topics ranging from liberty and justice to gender and revolution. <br /> <br /> This new 101 guide to the basics of political theory contains all the essentials for students starting out in political theory, while never being dull. It contains a range of features, including textboxes, study questions and activities, to help students learn effectively. It will be core reading for anyone doing an introductory course in political theory.
The question of migration has come to dominate the news agenda in many countries, but what does the word ‘migrant’ really mean today and how should we respond to those who are labelled ‘migrants’?<br /> <br /> In this short book Alain Badiou argues that our way of thinking about migration should be governed both by an ethical duty to welcome the migrant in the name of hospitality and also by the urgent need to put an end to the global capitalist oligarchy that has produced the migrant as a figure of contemporary crisis. For the ‘migrant,’ argues Badiou, is in fact a nomadic proletarian. Today, our homeland is the world, and any meaningful politics must include those who come to us and who represent the universal nomadic proletariat. <br /> <br /> Writing with the rigor, clarity, and polemical flair that have made him one of the world’s most influential philosophers, and drawing on a rich body of material including contemporary poetry and the words of an anonymous migrant, Badiou develops a powerful riposte to those who have stoked the fear of migrants and exploited the migration question for political ends.
A new edition of the bestselling guide to the study of philosophy: the ideal intellectual ‘toolkit’ for sharpening analytical skills and building philosophical acuity Whether used as a guide to basic principles or a resource for key concepts and methods, The Philosopher's Toolkit equips readers with all the intellectual ‘tools’ necessary for engaging closely with philosophical argument and developing fluency in the methods and language of philosophical inquiry. Featuring accessible explanations, practical examples, and expert guidance, this text empowers readers to understand traditional philosophical thinking and to engage with new ideas. Focuses on the practical methods and concepts necessary for philosophical inquiry Presents a versatile resource for both novice and advanced students in areas of philosophy, critical theory, and rhetoric Adopts a pluralistic approach to teaching philosophy, making this a suitable resource for many courses Delivers extensive cross-referenced entries, recommended readings, and updated online resources Covers an array of topics, from basic tools of argumentation to sophisticated philosophical principles Fully revised and updated to include new topics and entries as well as expanded recommended reading lists to encourage further study