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The racial prejudices of 1930s America were many, and included a common presumption that African American art was unoriginal – merely poorly copying white culture.
African-American novelist, anthropologist and essayist Zora Neale Hurston crushingly evaluated such assumptions in her 1934 essay ‘Characteristics of Negro Expression.’ While Hurston’s approach and premises seem in many ways dated to modern readers, the essay still shows an incisive mind carefully evaluating arguments and cutting them down to size. African-American art of the time did not – Hurston influentially argued – play by the same rules as white art, so it could not meaningfully be discussed by ‘white’ notions of aesthetic value.
Where white European tradition views art as something fixed, Hurston saw African-American art works as a distinctive form of mimicry, reshaping and altering the original object until it became something new and novel. In this way, she contended, African-American creative expression is a process that generates its own form of originality – turning borrowed material into something original and unique. By carefully evaluating the relevance of previous arguments, Hurston showed African American artistic expression in an entirely new light.
Political revolutions, economic meltdowns, mass ideological conversions and collective innovation adoptions occur often, but when they do happen, they tend to be the least expected. Based on the paradigm of 'leading from the periphery', this groundbreaking analysis offers an explanation for such spontaneity and apparent lack of leadership in contentious collective action. Contrary to existing theories, the author argues that network effects in collective action originating from marginal leaders can benefit from a total lack of communication. Such network effects persist in isolated islands of contention instead of overarching action cascades, and are shown to escalate in globally dispersed, but locally concentrated networks of contention. This is a trait that can empower marginal leaders and set forth social dynamics distinct from those originating in the limelight. Leading from the Periphery and Network Collective Action provides evidence from two Middle Eastern uprisings, as well as behavioral experiments of collective risk-taking in social networks.
Frederick Jackson Turner's 1893 essay on the history of the United States remains one of the most famous and influential works in the American canon.
That is a testament to Turner's powers of creative synthesis; in a few short pages, he succeeded in redefining the way in which whole generations of Americans understood the manner in which their country was shaped, and their own character moulded, by the frontier experience. It is largely thanks to Turner's influence that the idea of America as the home of a sturdily independent people – one prepared, ultimately, to obtain justice for themselves if they could not find it elsewhere – was born. The impact of these ideas can still be felt today: in many Americans' suspicion of "big government," in their attachment to guns – even in Star Trek's vision of space as "the final frontier." Turner's thesis may now be criticised as limited (in its exclusion of women) and over-stated (in its focus on the western frontier). That it redefined an issue in a highly impactful way – and that it did so exceptionally eloquently – cannot be doubted.
Mahmood Mamdani’s 1996 Citizen and Subject is a powerful work of analysis that lays bare the sources of the problems that plagued, and often still plague, African governments.
Analysis is one of the broadest and most fundamental critical thinking skills, and involves understanding the structure and features of arguments. Mamdani’s strong analytical skills form the basis of an original investigation of the problems faced by the independent African governments in the wake of the collapse of the colonial regimes imposed by European powers such has Great Britain and France. It had long been clear that these newly-independent governments faced many problems – corruption, the imposition of anti-democratic rule, and many basic failures of day-to-day governance. They also tended to replicate many of the racially and ethnically prejudiced structures that were part of colonial rule. Mamdani analyses the many arguments about the sources of these problems, drawing out their hidden implications and assumptions in order to clear the way for his own creative new vision of the way to overcome the obstacles to democratization in Africa.
A dense and brilliant analysis of the true nature of colonialism’s legacy in Africa, Mamdani’s book remains influential to this day.
Russia is reputed to be a country whose past constantly changes to suit the purposes and vision of its ruling elite. Yet few would dispute that Russian history is one of extremes. Over the past century alone Russia has lived through great achievements and deepest misery; mass heroism and mass crime; over-blown ambition and near-hopeless despair - always emerging with its sovereignty and its fiercely independent spirit intact. In this book, leading Russia scholar Dmitri Trenin accompanies readers on Russia's rollercoaster journey from revolution to post-war devastation, perestroika to Putin's stabilization of post-communist Russia. Explaining the causes and the meaning of the numerous twists and turns in contemporary Russian history, he offers a vivid insider's view of a country through one of its most trying and often tragic periods. Today, he cautions, Russia stands at a turning point - politically, economically and socially - its situation strikingly reminiscent of the Russian Empire in its final years. For the Russian Federation to avoid a similar demise, it must learn the lessons of its own history.
According to a commonplace narrative, the rise of modern political thought in the West resulted from secularization the exclusion of religious arguments from political discourse. But in this pathbreaking work, Eric Nelson argues that this familiar story is wrong. Instead, he contends, political thought in early-modern Europe became less, not more, secular with time, and it was the Christian encounter with Hebrew sources that provoked this radical transformation.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Christian scholars began to regard the Hebrew Bible as a political constitution designed by God for the children of Israel. Newly available rabbinic materials became authoritative guides to the institutions and practices of the perfect republic. This thinking resulted in a sweeping reorientation of political commitments. In the book s central chapters, Nelson identifies three transformative claims introduced into European political theory by the Hebrew revival: the argument that republics are the only legitimate regimes; the idea that the state should coercively maintain an egalitarian distribution of property; and the belief that a godly republic would tolerate religious diversity. One major consequence of Nelson s work is that the revolutionary politics of John Milton, James Harrington, and Thomas Hobbes appear in a brand-new light.
Nelson demonstrates that central features of modern political thought emerged from an attempt to emulate a constitution designed by God. This paradox, a reminder that while we may live in a secular age, we owe our politics to an age of religious fervor, in turn illuminates fault lines in contemporary political discourse.
"Socialism" is a word that is now habitually taken to refer to a particular social system that prevailed in different parts of the globe during the twentieth century. This system was defined primarily by single-party rule with public (mainly state) ownership of the means of production along with a centrally planned economy. Its material base was generalised commodity production. The spokespersons of this system claim that this socialism was derived from Marx. Paresh Chattopadhyay's Socialism and Commodity Production argues the falsity of this claim. On the basis of a comprehensive study of Marx's own texts, as well as a detailed engagement with a wide variety of theorists of socialist economics, it shows that Marx's socialism constituted an "Association" of free individuals in which private ownership, the commodity, wage labor and the state have no place.
John Rawls's A Theory of Justice is one of the most influential works of legal and political theory published since the Second World War. It provides a memorably well-constructed and sustained argument in favour of a new (social contract) version of the meaning of social justice. In setting out this argument, Rawls aims to construct a viable, systematic doctrine designed to ensure that the process of maximizing good is both conscious and coherent – and the result is a work that foregrounds the critical thinking skill of reasoning. Rawls's focus falls equally on discussions of the failings of existing systems – not least among them Marxism and Utilitarianism – and on explanation of his own new theory of justice. By illustrating how he arrived at his conclusions, and by clearly explaining and justifying his own liberal, pluralist values, Rawls is able to produce a well structured argument that is fully focused on the need to persuade.
Rawls explicitly explains his goals. He discusses other ways of conceptualizing a just society and deals with counter-arguments by explaining his objections to them. Then, carefully and methodically, he defines a number of concepts and tools―“thought experiments”―that help the reader to follow his reasoning and test his ideas. Rawls’s hypothesis is that his ideas about justice can be universally applied: they can be accepted as rational in any society at any time.
Torbjorn L. Knutsen introduces ideas on international relations
expressed by thinkers from the High Middle Ages to the present day
and traces the development of four ever-present themes: war, peace,
wealth and power. The book counters the view that international
relations has no theoretical tradition and shows that scholars,
soldiers and statesmen have been speculating about the subject for
the last 700 years. Beginning with the roots of the state and the
concept of sovereignty in the Middle Ages, the author draws upon
the insights of outstanding political thinkers - from Machiavelli
and Hobbes to Hegel, Rousseau, and Marx and contemporary thinkers
such as Woodrow Wilson, Lenin, Morgenthau and Walt - who profoundly
influenced the emergence of a discrete discipline of International
Relations in the twentieth century. Fully revised and updated, the
final section embraces more recent approaches to the study of
international relations, most notably postmodernism and
In the first of his annual series of lectures at the College de France, Foucault develops a vigorous Nietzschean history of the will to know through an analysis of changing procedures of truth, legal forms, and class struggles in ancient Greece.
The Politics of the Anthropocene is a sophisticated yet accessible treatment of how human institutions, practices, and principles need to be re-thought in response to the challenges of the Anthropocene, the emerging epoch of human-induced instability in the Earth system and its life-support capacities. However, the world remains stuck with practices and modes of thinking that were developed in the Holocene - the epoch of around 12,000 years of unusual stability in the Earth system, toward the end of which modern institutions such as states and capitalist markets arose. These institutions persist despite their potentially catastrophic failure to respond to the challenges of the Anthropocene, foremost among them a rapidly changing climate and accelerating biodiversity loss. The pathological trajectories of these institutions need to be disrupted by advancing ecological reflexivity: the capacity of structures, systems, and sets of ideas to question their own core commitments, and if necessary change themselves, while listening and responding effectively to signals from the Earth system. This book envisages a world in which humans are no longer estranged from the Earth system but engage with it in a more productive relationship. We can still pursue democracy, social justice, and sustainability - but not as before. In future, all politics should be first and foremost a politics of the Anthropocene. The arguments are developed in the context of issues such as climate change, biodiversity, and global efforts to address sustainability.
This is the first book to explain how to use key methods in analytical political theory. The methods discussed include contractualism, reflective equilibrium, positive political theory, thought experiments and ideological analysis. Many discussions of political theory methods describe and justify these methods with little or no discussion of their application, emphasizing 'what is' and 'why do' over 'how to'. This book covers all three. Each chapter explains what kinds of problems in political theory might require researchers to use a particular method, the basic principles behind the method being proposed, and an analysis of how to apply it, including concrete principles of good practice. The book thus summarizes methodological ideas, grouped in one place and made accessible to students, and it makes innovative contributions to research methods in analytical political theory.
"Powerful as well as highly engaging-a brilliant book." -Amartya Sen A Times Higher Education Book of the Week It may sound crazy to pay people whether or not they're working or even looking for work. But the idea of providing an unconditional basic income to everyone, rich or poor, active or inactive, has long been advocated by such major thinkers as Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill, and John Kenneth Galbraith. Now, with the traditional welfare state creaking under pressure, it has become one of the most widely debated social policy proposals in the world. Basic Income presents the most acute and fullest defense of this radical idea, and makes the case that it is our most realistic hope for addressing economic insecurity and social exclusion. "They have set forth, clearly and comprehensively, what is probably the best case to be made today for this form of economic and social policy." -Benjamin M. Friedman, New York Review of Books "A rigorous analysis of the many arguments for and against a universal basic income, offering a road map for future researchers." -Wall Street Journal "What Van Parijs and Vanderborght bring to this topic is a deep understanding, an enduring passion and a disarming optimism." -Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post
This accessible text offers a comprehensive analysis of the European Union (EU)-China relationship, as one of the most important in global politics today. Both are major players on the world stage, accounting for 30% of trade and nearly a quarter of the world's population. This text shows how, despite many differences in political systems and values, China and the EU have developed such a close, regular set of interactions at multiple levels: from political-strategic, to economic, and individual. The authors start with an historical overview of the domestic politics and foreign policy apparatus of each partner to show the context in which external relations are devised. From this foundation, each key dimension of the relationship is analysed, from trade and monetary policy, security, culture and society. The authors show the relative merits of different theoretical perspectives and outline what is next for this complex, ever-changing relationship. At every step, the success of each partner in persuading the other of changing their position(s) for key strategic interests is explored. What emerges is a multifaceted picture of relations between two sides that are fundamentally different kinds of actors in the international system, yet have many mutual interests and a common stake in the stability of global governance. The first major text to offer an accessible introduction to the multifaceted nature of EU-China relations, this book is an ideal companion for upper undergraduate and postgraduate students on Politics, International Relations and European Studies courses.
The collapse of the communist regimes at the end of the 1980s has radically changed European structures and has reshaped the context of European integration and European security. With the enlargement of NATO and EU on the agenda, old division lines are on the verge of being erased. The crucial question, of course is what place Russia will take in this new Europe. Will Russia act and be allowed to act as a full-fledged European partner? Or is there a risk that Russia might be isolated, which would mean that new, not necessarily iron, curtains might descend over Europe? Or is Russia a country which is only half-European as it covers the Eurasian land mass?
In this book eminent specialists answer the question "Is Russia a European Power?" in different ways. Their contributions focus on the historical and cultural background of the Russo-European relationship, on the perception and self-perception of Russia. Other authors focus on hot political issues: Russia's position in Asia, the significance of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the enlargement of NATO and EU, and the role of Russia in the Council of Europe. This wide horizon offers a solid context for a good understanding of current developments. For it is now that the foundations of the new, post-Cold War Europe are being laid.
Problems associated with cronyism, corporatism, and policies that favor the elite over the masses have received increasing attention in recent years. Political Capitalism explains that what people often view as the result of corruption and unethical behavior are symptoms of a distinct system of political economy. The symptoms of political capitalism are often viewed as the result of government intervention in a market economy, or as attributes of a capitalist economy itself. Randall G. Holcombe combines well-established theories in economics and the social sciences to show that political capitalism is not a mixed economy, or government intervention in a market economy, or some intermediate step between capitalism and socialism. After developing the economic theory of political capitalism, Holcombe goes on to explain how changes in political ideology have facilitated the growth of political capitalism, and what can be done to redirect public policy back toward the public interest.
In the three years since Donald Trump first announced his plans to run for president, the United States seems to become more dramatically polarized and divided with each passing month. There are seemingly irresolvable differences in the beliefs, values, and identities of citizens across the country that too often play out in our legal system in clashes on a range of topics such as the tensions between law enforcement and minority communities. How can we possibly argue for civic aspirations like tolerance, humility, and patience in our current moment? In Confident Pluralism, John D. Inazu analyzes the current state of the country, orients the contemporary United States within its broader history, and explores the ways that Americans can-and must-strive to live together peaceably despite our deeply engrained differences. Pluralism is one of the founding creeds of the United States-yet America's society and legal system continues to face deep, unsolved structural problems in dealing with differing cultural anxieties and differing viewpoints. Inazu not only argues that it is possible to cohabitate peacefully in this country, but also lays out realistic guidelines for our society and legal system to achieve the new American dream through civic practices that value toleration over protest, humility over defensiveness, and persuasion over coercion.
World orders are increasingly contested. As international institutions have taken on ever more ambitious tasks, they have been challenged by rising powers dissatisfied with existing institutional inequalities, by non-governmental organizations worried about the direction of global governance, and even by some established powers no longer content to lead the institutions they themselves created. For the first time, this volume examines these sources of contestation under a common and systematic institutionalist framework. While the authority of institutions has deepened, at the same time it has fuelled contestation and resistance. In a series of rigorous and empirically revealing chapters, the authors of Contested World Orders examine systematically the demands of key actors in the contestation of international institutions. Ranging in scope from the World Trade Organization and the Nuclear Non-proliferation Regime to the Kimberley Process on conflict diamonds and the climate finance provisions of the UNFCCC, the chapters deploy a variety of methods to reveal just to what extent, and along which lines of conflict, rising powers and NGOs contest international institutions. Contested World Orders seeks answers to the key questions of our time: Exactly how deeply are international institutions contested? Which actors seek the most fundamental changes? Which aspects of international institutions have generated the most transnational conflicts? And what does this mean for the future of world order?
Now published with a new preface explaining why The Great Deception is of the utmost importance today as it was when it was first published and to coincide with Great Britain's EU referendum in 2016, this book suggests that the United States of Europe and its edict of `ever closer union' have been based on a colossal confidence trick. The Great Deception tells for the first time the inside story of the most audacious political project of modern times: the plan to unite Europe under a single `supranational' government. From the 1920s, when the blueprint for the European Union was first conceived by a British civil servant, this meticulously documented account takes the story right up to the moves to give Europe a political constitution, already planned 60 years ago to be the `crowning dream' of the whole project. The book shows how the gradual assembling of a European government has amounted to a `slow motion coup d'etat', based on a strategy of deliberate deception, into which Britain's leaders, Macmillan and Heath, were consciously drawn. Drawing on a wealth of new evidence, scarcely an episode of the story does not emerge in startling new light, from the real reasons why de Gaulle kept Britain out in the 1960s to the fall of Mrs Thatcher. The book chillingly shows how Britain's politicians, not least Tony Blair, were consistently outplayed in a game the rules of which they never understood. But it ends by asking whether, from the euro to enlargement, the `project' has now overreached itself, as a gamble doomed to fail. Since their collaboration began in 1992, Christopher Booker, a Sunday Telegraph columnist, and Richard North, who worked for four years in Brussels and Strasbourg as a senior researcher, have won a unique reputation for their expertise on Britain's relationship to the European Union. Their previous publications included The Mad Officials (1994) and The Castle of Lies (1996). But they regard The Great Deception as the book they had been waiting to write for ten years. Christopher Booker's preface now adds up-to-date detail for the current era as Britain heads inexorably towards a possible `Brexit'.
The notion of the 'end' has long occupied philosophical thought. In light of the horrors of the 20th century, some writers have gone so far as to declare the end of philosophy itself, emphasising the impossibility of thinking after Auschwitz. In this book the distinguished philosopher Alain Badiou, in dialogue with Giovanbattista Tusa, argues that we must renounce the 'pathos of completion' and continue to think philosophically. To accept the atrocities of the 20th century as marking the end of philosophy is intolerable precisely because it buys into the totalising doctrines of the perpetrators. Badiou contends that philosophical thinking is needed now more than ever to counter the totalizing effects of globalised capitalism, which prescribes no objective for human life other than integration into its system, giving rise to a widespread sense of hopelessness and nihilism. To resist this degradation of human life, Badiou calls for a renewal of the idea of communism: the creation of new forms of collective organisation capable of challenging the logic of capitalism and enabling individuals to become self-determining subjects. This volume consolidates much of Badiou's thinking over the years and will appeal to the many followers of his philosophical project, as well as all those interested in contemporary philosophy and radical political theory.
The idea that war is sometimes justified is deeply embedded in public consciousness. But it is only credible so long as we believe that the ethical standards of just war are in fact realizable in practice. In this engaging book, Christopher Finlay elucidates the assumptions underlying just war theory and defends them from a range of objections, arguing that it is a regrettable but necessary reflection of the moral realities of international politics. Using a range of historical and contemporary examples, he demonstrates the necessity of employing the theory on the basis of careful moral appraisal of real-life political landscapes and striking a balance between theoretical ideals and the practical realities of conflict. This book will be a crucial guide to the complexities of just war theory for all students and scholars of the ethics and political theory of war.
In State-Sponsored Activism, Rich explores AIDS policy in Brazil as a lens to offer new insight into the impact of democratization and neoliberal reforms on state-society relations. In contrast to the view from traditional approaches that highlight the demise of corporatism, Rich argues that corporatism did not disappear but instead shifted to different sectors of the state, and to different segments of society. State-Sponsored Activism presents a new approach to understanding civic organization and mobilization at the start of the twenty-first century, and is a unique contribution to the literature on state-society relations. A rich examination of one the most influential movements in Latin America, this book argues that bureaucrats have helped to mobilize new national advocacy coalitions, and overall challenges the consensus view that corporatism is a relic of the past.
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