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David Rieff

established global order has been greatly exaggerated, then you will doubt that those changes are likely to pose any existential challenge to the humanitarian international, be it in terms of the efficacy of what relief groups do in the field or in terms of the political and moral legitimacy they can aspire to enjoy. But if, on the contrary, you believe that we are living in the last days of a doomed system – established in the aftermath of World War II and dominated by the US – then the humanitarian international is no more likely to survive (or to put

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Ian Scott and Henry Thompson

2 Politics Introduction The problem in America is that we don’t apologise, and we don’t learn. The protests against the Iraq War worldwide were enormous. I don’t think Americans got a sense of the protest or the damage in Iraq at all. The protests were not that big a story in the USA. The American press report on every story from an American viewpoint. It is what comes naturally to them. It’s not done out of malice; they don’t know any better.1 In his introduction to an episode of the PBS programme Open Mind, recorded in January 1992, host Richard Heffner

in The cinema of Oliver Stone
A guide for A2 politics students
Series: Understandings
Authors: Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

In liberal democracies there is a belief that citizens ought to take an active interest in what is happening in the political world. Political debate in modern Western democracies is a complex and often rowdy affair. There are three fundamental political issues: 'politics', 'power' and 'justice', which feature in almost all political discussions and conflicts. The book assesses the degree to which the state and state sovereignty are disappearing in the modern world of 'globalised' politics, economics and culture and new international institutions. The main features of the nation and the problems of defining it are outlined: population, culture, history, language, religion, and race. Different types of democracy and their most important features are discussed. 'Freedom' is usually claimed to be the prime objective of political activity. The book discusses equality of human rights, distributional equality, equality before the law, the claims for group equality on the grounds of race, gender, class. Rights, obligations and citizenship are closely associated. Ideology is the driving force of political discourse. The book also discusses nationalism's growth and development over the last two centuries with particular reference to its main features and assumptions. It outlines the development of conservatism as a political ideology and movement in Britain during the last two centuries. An overview of liberalism, socialism, Marxism, anarchism, and Fascism follows. Environmentalism and feminism are also discussed. Finally, the book talks about how ideological change occurs and stresses the importance of rationality in politics.

Open Access (free)

All political argument employs political concepts. They provide the building blocks needed to construct a case for or against a given political position. Justifications of oppression in the name of liberty are no mere products of the liberal imagination, for there are notorious historical examples of their endorsement by authoritarian political leaders. This book explores two approaches to rights: the interest-based (IB) approach, and the obligation-based or Kantian view. Both are shown to offer coherent justifications that can avoid turning all political concerns into a matter of rights. The concept of social justice emerged in both at the start of the twentieth century, and justified institutions for the democratic modification for market outcomes, on utilitarian, maximin or common good grounds. The book explores whether people do in fact have good and justifiable reasons for complying with laws that go beyond mere fear of punishment, and, if so, whether they are bound or obligated by those reasons to comply. It discusses national ties and how they are supposed to act as glue that holds the state together in the eyes of its citizens. The book also explores the link between the weakening of states and this change in criminal policies, and outlines their implications for individual rights. Theorists have used the idea of social exclusion to advocate an approach to social justice that sees increased labour-market participation as the key to equal to citizenship. The contemporary understandings of the public-private distinction and feminist critiques of these are also examined.

Open Access (free)
Andrew Feenberg’s critical theory of technology

This is the first monograph devoted to the work of one of the foremost contemporary advocates of critical theory, Andrew Feenberg. It focuses on Feenberg’s central concept, technical politics, and explores his suggestion that democratising technology design is key to a strategic understanding of the process of civilisational change. In this way, it presents Feenberg’s intervention as the necessary bridge between various species of critical constructivism and wider visions of the kind of change that are urgently needed to move human society onto a more sustainable footing. The book describes the development of Feenberg’s thought out of the tradition of Marx and Marcuse, and presents critical analyses of his main ideas: the theory of formal bias, technology’s ambivalence, progressive rationalisation, and the theory of primary and secondary instrumentalisation. Technical politics identifies a limitation of Feenberg’s work associated with his attachment to critique, as the opposite pole to a negative kind of rationality (instrumentalism). It concludes by offering a utopian corrective to the theory that can provide a fuller account of the process of willed technological transformation and of the author’s own idea of a technologically authorised socialism.

Open Access (free)
Graeme Kirkpatrick

Technical politics is the central concept of Feenberg’s critical theory of technology, the point around which everything else turns. Even the ontological dilemmas in his theory are resolved here, in his thinking of the technical as political. Whereas earlier critical theorists perceived technology as the most dense point in a system that smothered the human capacity for self-emancipation, Feenberg argues that it now presents openings for democratic intervention, and he puts forward a strategic, political conception of the kinds of dispute over technology

in Technical politics
Open Access (free)
Rex Martin

Introduction ‘Political obligation’ is a broad notion and covers many things. Some have said, for example, that the citizen has an obligation or duty to vote. Others have claimed that citizens may have a duty to serve their country and possibly even to fight in its defence. Most people who talk of political obligation, however, have one thing in particular in mind: the citizens’ duty to obey the laws

in Political concepts
Interpreting change
Author: Andrew Monaghan

This book focuses on the Western difficulties in interpreting Russia. It begins with by reflecting on some of the problems that are set in the foundations of Russia's post-Cold War relationship with the West. The book points to problems that emerge from linguistic and historical 'interpretation'. It looks at the impact of Russia's decline as a political priority for the West since the end of the Cold War and the practical impact this has had. It then reflects on the rising influence, especially, but not only, in public policy and media circles, of 'transitionology' as the main lens through which developments in Russia were interpreted. The book then examines the evolution of the West's relationship with Russia since the end of the Cold War, focusing particularly on the NATO-Russia relationship. It focuses on the chronological development of relations and the emergence of strategic dissonance from 2003. The book also looks at Russian domestic politics, particularly the Western belief in and search for a particular kind of change in Russia, a transition to democracy. It continues the exploration of domestic politics, but turns to address the theme of 'Putinology', the focus on Putin as the central figure in Russian politics.

Jamie Heckert

5 Jamie Heckert Sexuality/identity/politics1 Introduction At an anarchist discussion group, I confessed to working for the council. I explained that I felt justified because the sexual health programme in which I was involved was so incredibly progressive. The person to whom I had made this admission replied, rather haughtily, ‘I hardly think sex education is revolutionary.’ Putting aside the idea that something is only worthwhile if it will bring on ‘the revolution’, I was concerned with the apparent attitude that sex education cannot be ‘anarchist’. Perhaps

in Changing anarchism
Critical encounters between state and world

Recognition and Global Politics examines the potential and limitations of the discourse of recognition as a strategy for reframing justice and injustice within contemporary world affairs. Drawing on resources from social and political theory and international relations theory, as well as feminist theory, postcolonial studies and social psychology, this ambitious collection explores a range of political struggles, social movements and sites of opposition that have shaped certain practices and informed contentious debates in the language of recognition.