Tag Archives: democracy

Alan Bradshaw: On the prospect of a Tory majority!

This post is part of a feature on the 2017 UK elections, moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling (SOAS, University of London).

As an Irishman living in England, I am struck by the total difference between how Brexit is discussed in both countries. In Ireland, it is clear that Brexit will bring economic disaster, but this can be mitigated against by significant planning and coordinated response by government and business. That even at this late stage, the form of Brexit is unknown is a source of great anxiety in Ireland. By contrast, in Britain to have any discourse of Brexit as impending economic ruination is simply unacceptable. Those who dare to utter prophecies of economic trouble are bullied into silence by a raging right-wing media. Brexit can only be allowed to be framed in the positive.

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Bruce Kapferer: Ideas on populism: The paradox of democracy and the rise of the corporate state

“All forms of the state have democracy for their truth, and for that reason are false to the extent that they are not democracy.”
— Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

“The power of the people is always greater than that of the people in power.”
— Wael Ghonim, a Google executive at the time of Egypt’s popular uprising against President Hosni Mubarak

When Hillary Clinton attempted to counter Donald Trump and his supporters’ populist attacks by explicitly branding them a “basket of deplorables, racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it,” she was hoist on her own petard. The chant “Lock Her Up” drew its enormous potency from her alleged corruption and from her being a figurehead of the ruling Washington elites who have leached the American state’s democratic egalitarian idealism. Calling Trump and his followers racist and sexist was waving a red rag to a bull. She played on a negative view of populism, an immanent antidemocratic elitism, which elicited outrage, making a mockery of her own populist appeal. The occasionally rank dominant-class prejudice that accompanies antipopulist sentiments (including those that assume it is a working-class phenomenon, when it is frequently cross-class) was egregiously apparent in a CNN pundit’s observation that Trump “was throwing red meat to the base” in his highly controversial travel bans.

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Marc Edelman: The nastiest candidate won: Now what?

In the end it was filmmaker Michael Moore who got it right. It wasn’t Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, with his sophisticated polling models, or Nobel Prize winning economist and liberal pundit Paul Krugman, who confessed on election night that “I truly thought I knew my country better than it turns out I did.”
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Joe Trapido: Elections, politics, and power in central and southern Africa

The conference “Elections in central and southern Africa, dynamics of exclusion and participation,” at SOAS on 26 June 2015, prompts me to some personal reflections. Elections in central and southern Africa are marked by a paradoxical dynamic of participation and exclusion. Ostensible rituals of mass participation and of legitimation by civil power, electoral processes in the countries of the region have often made recourse to forms of exclusionary violence during campaigns. This is not, of course, unique—elections in Africa should not be seen as sui generis events. This exclusionary dynamic is well understood as a regional variant on a wider theme.
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Nicolas Martin: Democracy subverted: Inequality, liberalism, and criminal politics in the Indian Punjab

A number of liberal scholars of India, ranging from Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze to James Manor, all broadly view democracy as the solution to a variety of social evils including poverty, inequality, corruption, crime, and even violent conflict. They all acknowledge that Indian democracy is at times a messy affair, but they share a common faith in its self-correcting potential. As they see it, democracy has fostered a more assertive citizenry that no longer accepts traditional hierarchies and that is less tolerant of abuses of power.
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Steve Reyna: Bloat and tents: Further thoughts on Timothy Mitchell’s Carbon Democracy

This brief note suggests some directions that a rising Marxist anthropology might consider taking. Sandy Smith-Nonini and Donald Nonini have done a wonderful job explaining why Carbon Democracy is a “brilliant” book that is “essential reading for anthropologists” (2014), especially for those concerned with the political economy of fossil energy. Elsewhere, I have reviewed Timothy Mitchell’s book (Reyna 2012) and offered some suggestions concerning an approach to the anthropology of hydrocarbons (Behrends, Reyna, and Schlee 2011), so I do not propose to discuss here either the substance of Mitchell’s argument or the emerging literature on the anthropology of oil. Rather, I will explore two implications of Mitchell’s work for the very nature of the anthropological project. These implications deal with bloat (conceptual) and tents (pup and big top).

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Sandy Smith-Nonini & Donald M. Nonini: Fueling the Neoliberal Turn: Why We Need to Engage Timothy Mitchell’s “Carbon Democracy”

A central, perhaps the central, question in political economy today is how forces of democracy, including organized labor and its allies, can regain a degree of control over corporate capitalism in the neoliberal era. Equally pressing (and related) is our need to confront climate change and replace fossil fuels with alternative energy resources. While the silos of academia have splintered political economy from studies of energy, the beauty of Timothy Mitchell’s Carbon Democracy lies in his eloquent and comprehensive study that merges these two essential aspects of industrial production and modern society into an integrated analysis.

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