Articles on Political theory

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Others might be more inspired by American democracy if the US were widely seen to be a just and tolerant society and its leading politicians were not loudmouthed xenophobes. Justin Lane/EPA

Western democracy needs humility to step beyond its own shadow

The value of democracy needs to be restated and defended, rather than presumed. In doing so, there is value in adopting a more tempered stance, one that understands its worth but also its flaws.
Do outdated fantasies of anarchism simply play into the agendas of the rich and privileged? Nuit debout in Paris, 2016. Nicolas Vigier/flickr

Whither anarchy: the fantasy of natural law

Today’s anarchists should give up the fantasy of 'abolishing the state'. That simply plays into the agenda of the rich and privileged.
‘Ownness’ is a form of freedom that profanes institutions and acts as though power no longer exists. The Berlin Wall, November 1989. Reuters

Whither anarchy: ownness as a form of freedom

Between institutional collapse and false promises of utopia, people seek to define their own lives and their relations with others by thinking and acting as though power no longer existed.
Anarchism’s opposition to arbitrary power is often militant, but liberty is no simple thing. Transmetropolitan Review

Whither anarchy: perspectives on anarchism and liberty

Liberty is a political matter bound up with institutionalised struggles for equality among individuals, groups, networks and organisations. This is where the cult of the free individual falls down.
Anarchists once took constitutionalism very seriously and might well do so again to develop radical decision-making practices. Kim Davis/flickr

Whither anarchy: freedom as non-domination

If anarchists reject private property and the state, they need to devise alternative, radical practices of power-sharing. Republican constitutionalism offers one way to think about this.
Donald Trump is a spectre of things to come: of political performance in an age of projection rather than representation. EPA/Tannen Maury

Donald Trump: both the old crazy and the new normal

The faultlines in democratic politics are clear. On one side is a system of democracy that is bad at making people feel represented. On the other are anti-politician performers like Donald Trump.
There is no better alternative than the rise of the populist left for Europe and beyond. The People's Assembly Against Austerity

In defence of left-wing populism

The future of democracy depends on developing a left-wing populism that can revive public interest by mobilising political passions in the fight for an alternative to neoliberal de-democratisation.
Yu Keping: ‘The movement towards democracy everywhere is a political trend that cannot be reversed. China is no exception.’ Supplied

Crossing the river by feeling the stones: democracy’s advance in China

Opponents of democracy often raise the spectre of social disorder. Over the long term, it is only democracy and the rule of law that will provide for the long-lasting peaceful rule of the nation.
Populists are on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic – Donald Trump (right) has even been called ‘America’s Marine Le Pen’ (left). AAP/EPA

Trendy electoral superheroes: from the Americas to Europe, the populists confront us

Populist politicians are on the march, first in Latin America, then in Europe and the US. They are on both the left and right, and their policies vary, but their approach carries the same risks.
Has the American political system fallen so low that it requires a massive injection of anti-democratic behaviour to make it more ‘democratic’? Reuters/James Glover II

US democracy trumps all as a dysfunctional disgrace

The dwindling ranks of those who line up to defend America’s system are able to do so only if they view it through a prism of its lofty 18th-century ideals, rather than 21st-century realities.
President Xi Jinping and the rest of the Chinese leadership do not get to positions of national leadership without undergoing decades of trials to demonstrate their capacity to run a country. Reuters/Carlos Barria

Our democracy can learn from China’s meritocracy

The China Model features political meritocracy at the top, democracy at the bottom and experimentation in between. The West can learn from the best of Chinese leadership, even if it is authoritarian.
We know about the human democracy that was. We know the failings of the democracy that is. But the democracy to come is both uncertain and full of possibilities. Mitchell Nolte (2015), used with permission

Non-human Democracy: in the Anthropocene, it cannot be all about us

Democracy must evolve in response to the threats we pose to the environment and to ourselves. We can learn from how other species make collective decisions, solve problems and survive.
When our political institutions are market-driven, they risk becoming a democratic shell that no longer serves the people, as the European Union experience is showing. Theophilos Papadopoulos/flickr

Democracy that bows down to the market is a false compromise

Democracy’s problem is not the crisis but the triumph of capitalism. Democracy has become market-conforming, resulting in whole sections of society lacking meaningful representation.

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