Articles on Political theory

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Starting out as a set of demonstrations against university reform, the French uprisings of May 1968 quickly gathered momentum. AAP/EPA/Prefecture de Police Museum

Be realistic – demand the impossible: the legacy of 1968

The protesters who took to the streets of Paris didn't know what they wanted: they just knew what they were against. But they did make us think that maybe there is another, better world.
The 2014 Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong against ‘Chinese-style democracy’ laid bare democracy’s contested meanings. Studio Incendo/flickr

If democracy is failing, why do so many lay claim to it?

Uncertainty is built into democracy, but we are seeing more talk of crisis and more attempts at redefinition. So where does this leave citizens who want to have a meaningful say in how they live?
In clinging to power, Nicolás Maduro, Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor, is steering Venezuela’s once-rich democracy to autocracy. Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Is Democracy Dead or Alive? What democracy exactly are we supposed to nurture?

Democracy takes many forms, some of them democracy in name only. Confusion and misappropriation complicate the public struggle for the democracy to come, but this challenge is always unending.
While some are declaring that democracy has had its day, others see this as a time to develop more truly democratic ways of living. Gustav Klimt, Death and Life, 1910

Is Democracy Dead or Alive? Democracy has a future, if we rethink and remake it

Is it really time to eulogise democracy, or are we rather on the cusp of a new phase in its long and varied life?
Alternative for Germany (AfD) co-leader Alice Weidel campaigns in front of a banner that reads: ‘Crime by immigration: a flood of refugees leaves its mark!’ Axel Schmidt/Reuters

The pathologies of populism

Current events show that the old problem of populism is making a comeback, and that populism is indeed an autoimmune disease of our age of monitory democracy.
Is populism a poison or a cure for democracy, or both, depending on the circumstances? Louis Boilly/Wikipedia Commons

Is populism democracy’s deadly cure?

We’re not sure if the cure, the populist outsider, will work and make life better. but we are willing to experiment as the old certainties of representative politics wither.
Wayne Swan has drawn a parallel between the the ALP’s ‘Laborism’ and New Labour’s ‘Third Way’ in the UK. Number 10/flickr

Was embracing the market a necessary evil for Labour and Labor?

While both parties may have set out to modernise and renew their ideologies, the ALP's and Labour’s attempts to marry the old and new instead precipitated two separate identity crises.
Voters might be quite rational in refusing to give the green light to those who wield power and benefit from the status quo. Mats Edenius/flickr

We frown on voters’ ambivalence about democracy, but they might just save it

Ambivalence among voters is reason to think about how democracy is working for us as a community. To keep democracy alive we need to be sceptical about the exercise of power and keep it in check.
Could a randomly selected tree make a better president than Donald Trump? Bruce Irschick/flickr

Democracy needs more trees and less Trump

If people are starting to look much worse in democratic terms, trees are starting to look much better. We are learning that plants engage in meaningful and, more to the point, truthful communication.
Donald Trump’s reinvention of the royal fiat as rule-by-tweet, or ‘twiat’, is anti-democratic and needs to be resisted. Twitter

Trump, the wannabe king ruling by ‘twiat’

Donald Trump is reinventing the royal fiat by novel means: the rule-by-tweet, or 'twiat'. This move is not an extension of popular democracy, but its enemy, and it needs to be resisted.
Thomas Piketty has demonstrated how inequality can be – and has been over time – fundamentally destructive of sustained economic growth. Reuters/Charles Platiau

If we are reaching neoliberal capitalism’s end days, what comes next?

The crisis confronting neoliberal capitalism suggests that its internal contradictions are now undermining its very foundations. What can we expect from a post-neoliberal world?
Just say no! Tyranny depends on mass subservience. Alek S./flickr

To resist Trump’s tyranny, just don’t comply

The origin of tyrannical power is irrelevant: whether by election, inheritance or force, if rulership is oppressive, it is tyrannical. And the way to beat it is deceptively simple: refuse to comply.

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