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Thinking the present

This book offers the first authoritative guide to assumptions about time in theories of contemporary world politics. It demonstrates how predominant theories of the international or global ‘present’ are affected by temporal assumptions, grounded in western political thought, which fundamentally shape what we can and cannot know about world politics today. In so doing, the book puts into question the ways in which social scientists and normative theorists diagnose ‘our’ post-Cold War times. The first part of the book traces the philosophical roots of assumptions about time in contemporary political and international theory. The second part examines contemporary theories of world politics, including liberal and realist International Relations theories and the work of Habermas, Hardt and Negri, Virilio and Agamben. In each case, it is argued, assumptions about political time ensure the identification of the particular temporality of western experience with the political temporality of the world as such and put the theorist in the unsustainable position of holding the key to the direction of world history. In the final chapter, the book draws on postcolonial and feminist thinking, and the philosophical accounts of political time in the work of Derrida and Deleuze, to develop a new ‘untimely’ way of thinking about time in world politics.

Michael Cunningham

This chapter considers how the apology relates to, and is compatible with, the major ideological traditions in Western political thought.

in States of apology
Who, we?
Catherine Kellogg

in the classical Greek city-state to the present moment. Based on this itinerary, I argue that Derrida’s contribution to thinking democracy can be summed up as follows: democracy is an impossible possibility, insofar as it is both enabled and ultimately threatened by what can never be brought under the sign of ‘we’. Derrida’s various attempts to define democracy within the history of Western political thought allows him to trace its fundamental aporias, most notably, the contradiction between freedom (qua unconditionality), on the one hand, and equality (which is

in Democracy in crisis
Partisan feeling and democracy’s enchantments

Enthusiasm has long been perceived as a fundamental danger to democratic politics. Many have regarded it as a source of threatening instabilities manifest through political irrationalism. Such a view can make enthusiasm appear as a direct threat to the reason and order on which democracy is thought to rely. But such a desire for a sober and moderate democratic politics is perilously misleading, ignoring the emotional basis on which democracy thrives. Enthusiasm in democracy works to help political actors identify and foster progressive changes. We feel enthusiasm at precisely those moments of new beginnings, when politics takes on new shapes and novel structures. Being clear about how we experience enthusiasm, and how we recognize it, is thus crucial for democracy, which depends on progression and the alteration of ruler and the ruled. This book traces the changing ways enthusiasm has been understood politically in modern Western political thought. It explores how political actors use enthusiasm to motivate allegiances, how we have come to think on the dangers of enthusiasm in democratic politics, and how else we might think about enthusiasm today. From its inception, democracy has relied on a constant affective energy of renewal. By tracing the way this crucial emotional energy is made manifest in political actions – from ancient times to the present – this book sheds light on the way enthusiasm has been understood by political scientists, philosophers, and political activists, as well as its implications for contemporary democratic politics.

Katherine Fierlbeck

purpose at all, is completely up to them. The history of western political thought does not immediately provide support for either account over the other; in most western democracies one can generally find examples of both types of reasoning. A jurisdiction may maintain, for instance, that one’s freedom of speech must be upheld despite the unpalatable nature of one’s words (thereby defending negative rights

in Globalizing democracy
Vittorio Bufacchi

political thought, originating in the work of John Locke, according to which citizens in a liberal society have a duty to do their best to hold beliefs that are true or very likely to be true. This duty has sometimes been called the ‘alethic obligation’, from the Greek term for truth, aletheia (ἀλήθεια). 15 If we accept our alethic obligation, then our responsibilities as believers increase rather than diminish. This is in stark contrast to the prophets of post-truth, who want to release us from our alethic obligations. Conclusion It is hard to see silver linings

in Everything must change
Abstract only
Alister Wedderburn

are produced, maintained, understood and contested by virtue of engaging not just with the ‘domain of the subject’, but also with the abjection that functions as its ‘constitutive outside’ – as well as with the dynamic, shifting boundary between the two. I proceed now to map this book’s course in more detail. I begin by making the case for an analytic focus on humour within IR. Noting what Bonnie Honig ( 2013 : 69) describes as the ‘uncontested privileging’ of tragedy within Western political thought, I argue that the discipline’s failure to think more widely

in Humour, subjectivity and world politics
Open Access (free)
Dana Mills

the possibility to dance a world in becoming. It is crucial to pause here and illuminate my use of the term ‘world’. The use of the term world does not correspond to a known ontological space from the so-called ‘canon’ of Western political thought. The argument starts from an awareness that what has been termed a ‘known’ world in political theory will tend to lapse into a white, middle-​class, male, Judeo-​ Christian world. My use of the term ‘world’ aims to do the opposite –​to look at diverse subjects who have mobilised their bodies to create systems of

in Dance and politics
A European education?
David Marquand

of politics – of politics as open debate, as mutual learning, as dialogue through which people learn from each other and from which they emerge as different people – fly in the age of the sound-bite, the tweet and Facebook? The only answer is that I don’t know. What I do know is that, like James Madison, John Stuart Mill, Amartya Sen, R. H. Tawney, and, above all, de Tocqueville, the greatest analyst of democracy in the history of western political thought, I have believed, ever since I can remember, that populism and pluralism are deadly enemies. It follows that

in Making social democrats
State, market, and the Party in China’s financial reform

Over more than thirty years of reform and opening, the Chinese Communist Party has pursued the gradual marketization of China’s economy alongside the preservation of a resiliently authoritarian political system, defying long-standing predictions that ‘transition’ to a market economy would catalyse deeper political transformation. In an era of deepening synergy between authoritarian politics and finance capitalism, Communists constructing capitalism offers a novel and important perspective on this central dilemma of contemporary Chinese development. This book challenges existing state–market paradigms of political economy and reveals the Eurocentric assumptions of liberal scepticism towards Chinese authoritarian resilience. It works with an alternative conceptual vocabulary for analysing the political economy of financial development as both the management and exploitation of socio-economic uncertainty. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork and over sixty interviews with policymakers, bankers, and former party and state officials, the book delves into the role of China’s state-owned banking system since 1989. It shows how political control over capital has been central to China’s experience of capitalist development, enabling both rapid economic growth whilst preserving macroeconomic and political stability. Communists constructing capitalism will be of academic interest to scholars and graduate students in the fields of Chinese studies, social studies of finance, and international and comparative political economy. Beyond academia, it will be essential reading for anyone interested in the evolution of Chinese capitalism and its implications for an increasingly central issue in contemporary global politics: the financial foundations of illiberal capitalism.