Drinking to excess has been a striking problem for industrial and post-industrial societies – who is responsible when a ‘free’ individual opts for a slow suicide? The causes of such drinking have often been blamed on heredity, moral weakness, ‘disease’ (addiction), hedonism, and Romantic illusion. Yet there is another reason which may be more fundamental and which has been overlooked or dismissed, and it is that the drinker may act with sincere philosophical intent. The Existential Drinker looks at the convergence of a new kind of excessive, habitual drinking, beginning in the nineteenth century, and a new way of thinking about the self which in the twentieth century comes to be labelled ‘Existential’. A substantial introduction covers questions of self, will, consciousness, authenticity, and ethics in relation to drinking, while introducing aspects of Existential thought pertinent to the discussion. The Existential-drinker canon is anchored in Jack London’s ‘alcoholic memoir’ John Barleycorn (1913), where London claims he can get at the truth of existence only through the insights afforded by excessive and repeated alcohol use. The book then covers drinker-texts such as Jean Rhys’s interwar novels, Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend and John O’Brien’s Leaving Las Vegas, along with less well-known works such as Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes, Venedikt Yerofeev’s Moscow–Petushki, and A. L. Kennedy’s Paradise. The book will appeal to anybody with an interest in drinking and literature, as well as those with more specialised concerns in drinking studies, Existentialism, twentieth-century literature, and medical humanities.
Since the publication of Immigration and the Boundaries of Citizenship (1992) and Transnational Citizenship: Membership and Rights in International Migration (1994), Rainer Bauböck has been at the forefront of research on the political theory of membership. Bauböck's work is distinctive in at least three respects.
First, his approach to normative theorizing is grounded in empirical research concerning the membership practices of polities and the dynamics that shape these practices. The point of normative theorizing for Bauböck is to guide action by articulating ideals for a plausible world. We may think of this project as seeking to reconcile the liberal-republican ideals of constitutional democracy that have emerged within the modern state with the contemporary challenges posed by historical and current migration flows in ways that are sensitive to the varied types of polity and conditions for their stable reproduction as contexts of justice that compose our complex and multi-levelled political order.
Second, whereas the majority of the burgeoning literature on the political theory of migration focuses on the migrant as immigrant and on immigration as a democratic challenge, Bauböck has consistently pioneered a transnational approach to the political theory of migration that focuses on the migrant as both emigrant and immigrant who possesses civic statuses in two (or more) states. This phenomenon of overlapping membership or “transnational” membership is at the centre of Bauböck's reflections on the future of citizenship in an increasingly interconnected world.
Third, while theorizing citizenship is typically directed at reflection on the state, Bauböck's work extends the theory of citizenship across multiple levels of governance to encompass municipal membership and supranational citizenship as well as state membership not only to offer a more comprehensive theory but also, and perhaps more importantly, to draw out the salience of the type of polity for normative reflection on the terms of membership that are justifiable for it.
All of these features can easily be discerned in Bauböck's lead essay for this volume which marks the summation and synthesis of his normative inquiries since the publication of Transnational Citizenship and the fullest articulation thus far of the stakeholder principle which he has proposed as a response to the problems of political membership that characterize our contemporary political reality. At the same time, this principle is situated here within a much fuller discussion of current debates concerning the “demos problem” and Bauböck explores its distinct but complementary relationships to the all affected interests and all subjected persons principles as well as its differentiated implications for different types of polity.
Bauböck's debates with his interlocutors in this volume range across methodological, conceptual, normative and empirical issues, offering a rich dialogue on the stakes and challenges of theorizing democratic inclusion in our contemporary political landscape.