Articles on Political theory

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The UK general election could go either way. The one certainty is that the numbers of seats won won’t match the votes for each party. AAP/Newzulu/Stephen Chung

UK election prediction: this week’s result won’t reflect the voters’ will

This week the "mother of parliaments" faces a general election in the UK. The 'first past the post' electoral system means we can't predict the result with certainty, nor expect it to match the vote.
At one climate change conference after another, leaders of the developed democracies solemnly pledge action, then return to the gridlock of political systems with 19th-century origins. EPA/COP20

Hidden crisis of liberal democracy creates climate change paralysis

Even as the challenges of climate change grow ever more obvious, what remains largely unacknowledged is the crisis in liberal democratic politics that is preventing an effective response.
On many major issues, Labor’s Bill Shorten and the Liberals’ Tony Abbott are essentially two wings of the same bird. AAP/Mick Tsikas

A challenged democracy: wicked problems and political failures

The crisis of public confidence in politics is not limited to Australia, but public disengagement, retail politics and lack of vision are crippling our ability to tackle long-term and wicked problems.
In the Anthropocene, human-driven forces are shaping the planet in ways that may risk the collapse of human civilisation. Damián Bakarcic/flickr

Anthropocene raises risks of Earth without democracy and without us

The Anthropocene, as an epoch of human-driven planetary change, poses huge environmental and political problems. But it could also force us to develop proper ecological and democratic accountability.
Under former president Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan was little more than a ‘vertically integrated criminal organisation’, according to a new book. EPA/Parwiz Sabawoon

Book review: Thieves of State – Why Corruption Threatens Global Security

Corruption can directly contribute to the growth of the very forces the world’s security agencies are desperately trying to contain and combat.
AAP/Nikki Short

Can democracy cope?

Even by recent standards, the last few weeks have seen new levels of dysfunction, volatility and even chaos within federal and state governments. As the voters of Queensland demonstrated, there is little…
With just eight MPs to back her campaign for government, Queensland ALP leader Annastacia Palaszczuk relied heavily on local community organising and decision-making. AAP/Dan Peled

‘New politics’ announces itself in Queensland and beyond

The “new politics” of 21st-century Australia is much clearer after the extraordinary result in the Queensland election on January 31. Australia’s new politics consists of three elements that they will…
John Howard sealed his fate by going too far with WorkChoices, but he got the balance right and succeeded with the GST reform. AAP/Andrew Brownbill

Why not listen to the people for a solution to the reform stalemate?

The distinction between the global and the local is collapsing under the pressure of climate change, economic restructuring, global migration and jihadism on the one hand and the populist and information…
A core problem for Treasurer Joe Hockey is that the public doesn’t share the Abbott government’s fervour for budget cuts and market policies. AAP/Mick Tsikas

What price the public good when governing parties bow to markets?

The recent losses of first-term governments in Queensland and Victoria suggests that some of the assumed verities of political process are being challenged. These results and the rapid shifting legitimacy…
Actor and activist Russell Brand’s solution for what ails us is nothing less than a revolution. EPA/Hannah McKay

Russell Brand: a hero for our times?

Three things about the present era are especially striking. First, problems persist. For those fortunate enough to have grown up in post-war Australia in particular, this is a somewhat surprising reality…
President Xi Jinping has a PhD in Marxism and recently directed more resources to the study of the works of Marx and Mao Zedong. AAP/Jason Reed

To make sense of modern China, you simply can’t ignore Marxism

How does one come to understand China? Many wish to do so, especially in light of China’s growing global influence. For some, language is the key that opens the door. With Chinese language, one is able…
The wealthy can ensure their voices are heard via advertising, publicists or lobbyists, by owning media outlets or even by setting up their own political parties. AAP/Julian Smith

If democracy is to give everyone a say, equality isn’t an optional extra

To have a healthy democracy, it is not enough to hold regular elections, or for every person to get one – and only one – vote. At the heart of democracy is the idea that by voting for a particular party…
Hong Kong’s digitally connected protesters are mounting a thoroughly modern campaign for democracy, but the state too has updated its mechanisms of control and surveillance. EPA/Alex Hofford

Connective action: the public’s answer to democratic dysfunction

In the closing decades of the last century, many political and business elites were swept up in a global wave of policies favouring free markets, deregulation of business and finance and privatisation…
Referring long-term issues to ‘depoliticised’ processes such as commissions of audit does not solve the challenges of political management for governments. AAP/Lukas Coch

To revive long-term democratic thinking we have to innovate

The 2014 federal budget was informed by the need to think long term and was accompanied by austerity rhetoric. Regardless of where you stand on the merit of austerity policy in affecting economic recovery…
Students who are marginalised from formal politics use what is left to them, their bodies, to protest against decisions that have direct impacts on their lives. AAP/Julian Smith

Slackers or delinquents? No, just politically engaged youth

Political participation is about more than voting. But when young people engage in politics their actions are deemed illegitimate. This is the supposedly apathetic generation that never gets off the couch…
Higher-income Americans are much more likely to vote than the poor, which reduces political parties’ incentive to tackle inequality. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Failing union of capitalism and democracy fuels rise in inequality

Recent weeks have been all about elections and broken promises: from early April to mid-May, half-a-billion Indians went to the polls in what many described an astonishing display of democratic prowess…
NSW premier Barry O'Farrell felt obliged to resign as a result of ICAC revelations when it wasn’t clear to all that he should. Daniel Munoz/AAP

Has monitory democracy spawned a monster in ICAC?

“Monitory democracy” refers to the extra-parliamentary, para-legal, post-bureaucratic institutions of scrutiny that emerged as recently as the 1970s in Australia. Their evolution has swept us along in…
Former prime minister Paul Keating argued governments need to use their political capital to drive reform. But this is becoming increasingly difficult in a poll-driven political climate. AAP/Paul Miller

Keating, reform and the difficult notion of ‘political capital’

Throughout Keating, a series of interviews that finished airing on the ABC earlier this month, the former prime minister makes reference to the notion of political capital in relation to the Labor government…

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