Posts Tagged

Politics

When political theorists debate the nature of the ‘political’, it strikes the ear as strange. Conventionally, we understand politics in a general sense to mean the practice of power relations, or the relationships between people and governing institutions, or the discursive distribution of power and resources, and although there are often disagreements about the precise definition, there is sufficient overlap that academics understand one another when they talk about politics as a subject of inquiry. However, when talking about ‘the political’, as it is so abstractly articulated in certain areas of the literature, there seems to be far more debate, with supposedly more at stake. ‘The political’ appears to denote some sort of primordial state of things, or an ingredient …

George Weah’s recent election as President of Liberia is not only noteworthy for being the first peaceful transition of power in the country since 1944. His victory is also “a lesson in how sports fame can help propel figures with humble beginnings to positions of great importance.” Weah is not the only former striker who has transitioned from scoring goals to winning votes. While there is no shortage of lists of former players-turned-politicians, a closer look at three of the game’s most popular players reveals how they have leveraged their fame, wealth and appeal to mount successful populist campaigns. George Weah: President of Liberia Playing for Paris St Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City, George Weah is the first …

Just under a decade ago, Archie Brown highlighted several factors that he thought limited the explanatory power of comparative politics as an academic discipline. Such factors included undue emphasis on studying democracies at the expense of autocracies, a lack of methodological pluralism, inadequate attention given to understanding political leaders, its separation of domestic and international relations, and its increased isolation from the “real world of politics” that the discipline sought to explain.[1] ‘The Myth of the Strong Leader’ is a book that addresses all of these criticisms demonstrating both erudition on behalf of Brown and a keen ability to practice what he preaches. This book may well be a significant point of reference to political scientists and the general public. …

Max Muir speaks to Lois McNay, Professor of Political Theory at Oxford University and Fellow of Somerville College, about her new book, ‘The Misguided Search for the Political’. She argues that radical democratic theorists, in their search for the abstract essence of politics itself, have ushered in a dangerous silence on the lived experience of inequality and oppression. Without addressing the ‘social weightlessness’ of their theories, these radical democrats find their emancipatory credentials seriously undermined. Max Muir: Hi Lois, thanks for chatting with us. Your new book is called ‘The Misguided Search for the Political’. Why exactly is that search misguided? Lois McNay:  The book is a reaction to something we’ve seen over the last twenty or thirty years in …

Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka, the husband and wife authors of the new book  Zoopolis: the political theory of animal rights, believe that not only should animals have basic rights but that they (or at least some of them) should be accepted as full citizens in our political communities. In doing so they move the ‘animal rights’ debate from ethics to politics. This is an intriguing topic with little application. It is a radical thesis which will appeal to almost no one. Indeed, some of its implications border on the ridiculous. Yet it is surprisingly hard to refute and will take the debate about the limits of liberal citizenship into radical new areas. The authors start from recent developments in citizenship …