Articles on Political theory

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Australia’s traditional reliance on multilateralism and alliances won’t be enough to negotiate the geopolitical rivalries of the Asian century. EPA/Barbara Walton

In Australia’s third century after European settlement, we must rethink our responses to a new world

For the past two centuries, Australia got many of the big calls on global engagement right. In our third century, there are worrying signs that we have not fully grasped what the rise of Asia means.
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are immortalised as political heroes, but both had personal issues that might have proved politically fatal today. AAP/Diana Plater

Why politics today can’t give us the heroes we need

Every culture needs heroes. So when our political system becomes incapable of giving us any, where does that leave us?
Industrial agriculture has created a food system that is inherently undemocratic in its disregard for human need. Shutterstock/Todd Klassy

Food democracy: why eating is unavoidably political

The global food production system is inherently undemocratic. Based on shared experiences of the adverse effects, the world's citizens need to intervene as democratic publics to transform a broken system.
EPA/Justin Lane

Is world government the only hope?

Surveying the current world order, one might be forgiven for thinking that it is essentially ungovernable. Chaos, conflict and crises seem to be the order of the day. The phrase “international order” seems…
This Occupy Toronto sign sums up the sentiment, but people are also moving on from capitalism in practice by such means as digitally enabled collaboration and the sharing economy. flickr/Eric Parker

After capitalism, what comes next? For a start, ethics

While some find it hard to imagine life after capitalism, the digitally connected people of the world have begun embracing a new set of ethical concerns requiring new types of economies.
‘Goddesses of Democracy’ in the 21st century: Thomas Marsh sculpted a replica (left) in Washington DC of the statue destroyed in Tiananmen Square in 1989; on the 21st anniversary of the massacre, Hong Kong students erected a statue on campus (centre) after police had seized a plastic replica. Flickr/DB King; Flickr/Ryanne Lai; Flickr/Ryanne Lai

Democracy needs heroes to champion the cause

Democracy – despite being considered by many as the only legitimate form of government – has no laureates to call its own.
Thomas Piketty’s book provides new tools to consider the property status of animals in contemporary society. Morgan Lieberman

Piketty’s Capital should force a rethink on animals as property

Should animals be treated like other forms of property such as land, machinery and “stocks”? What role do animals that are owned by humans play in the concept of global wealth?
The Abbott government has hid asylum policy behind ‘operational matters’ since it took office – starting with then-immigration minister Scott Morrison in 2013. AAP/Paul Miller

Boats secrecy leads to bad policy without democratic accountability

The withholding of information about government actions in asylum seeker policy undermines its democratic accountability to the Australian people.
Liberalism means something completely different in South Africa compared with the US and UK, and has racist connotations. shutterstock

Navigating South Africa’s loaded political lexicon

Liberalism is a dirty word for the majority of South Africans. This goes back to early colonialism. Liberals opposed apartheid but not the close relationship between capitalism and apartheid.
Nothing of what William’s subjects had in life escaped the Domesday Book. Today, more covertly, those in power are using mass surveillance to collect all the digital details of our lives. Flickr/Andrew Barclay

Digital Domesday: surveillance threatens us with a new serfdom

Almost 1000 years after their ruler demanded every detail of serfs' lives, the digital age and mass surveillance are creating a new and undemocratic imbalance between citizens and those with power over them.
The story of Johnny Depp’s dogs and their potential fate attracted global media attention. AAP/Dave Hunt

Johnny Depp’s dogs show evolving ideas of animal ‘citizenship’

Behind the uproar over Johnny Depp's dogs lies a serious and evolving idea: our animal companions have an important place in our lives that entitles them to rights akin to a sort of citizenship.
This Conservative Party leaflet kills three birds with one stone and is a classic example of Lynton Crosby’s campaign strategy. UK Conservative Party/Buzzfeed

Decoding the Crosby campaign: how to find voters and finish first

The British Conservative government’s re-election is the latest and perhaps most startling electoral triumph for Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby. So how did he do it?
‘What’s in it for me?’ is a common question today, but not one that necessarily produces the best answers for collective wellbeing. Shutterstock/iQoncept

Explainer: the greater good and why it matters more than ever

The concept of the greater good has made a comeback in Europe in an era of budget austerity, but in Australia too few of us are alive to its meaning – and to its vulnerability.
Ed Miliband’s Labour Party gained a swing twice as big as the Conservatives did but lost seats, leading him to resign. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Voting system gives Tories a result most UK voters didn’t want

Labour, UKIP and the Greens all gained much bigger swings than the Conservatives, but were election losers. The first-past-the-post system let the Tories pick up a swag of seats with a 0.8% swing.
It was a novelty when Conservative leader David Cameron had to enlist Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s support to govern, but Britons may have to get used to minority government. EPA/Andy Rain

What Westminster can learn from minority government in Australia

The UK is poised for another minority government, this time possibly with a hung parliament. Australia's long experience of such arrangements offers lessons in how to manage minority government.

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