Chantal Mouffe: The future of democracy in a post-political age

Wendy Brown: Cultures of Capital Enhancement

Michael Sandel discusses “Why Democracy?” at Westminster

An interesting conversation between a philosopher, parliamentarians and the public on BBC Radio.

Chantal Mouffe: The future of democracy

An edited version…

Noah Feldman on the Nature of Evidence

A very interesting lecture on links between science, controversies, institutions and constitutions. Thanks to Synthetic Zero for posting.

Chantal Mouffe: Democratic Politics and Agonistic Public Spaces

Chantal Mouffe is the editor of Gramsci and Marxist Theory, Dimensions of Radical Democracy, Deconstruction and Pragmatism, and The Challenge of Carl Schmitt; co-author (with Ernesto Laclau) of Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (1985); and author of The Return of the Political (1993), and The Democratic Paradox (2000). Her latest work is On the Political published by Routledge in 2005.

She is currently elaborating a non-rationalist approach to political theory; formulating an ‘agonistic’ model of democracy; and engaged in research projects on the rise of right-wing populism in Europe and the place of Europe in a multipolar world order.


Anthropocene re-writes: democracy, economics, liberalism

Peter Brown, from McGill University, has published a couple of new pieces on, respectively, democracy and economics in the Anthropocene. These work in some interesting ways to the piece I noted earlier from Andrew Dobson on whether resource abundance wasn’t what allowed liberalism to become, as Immanuel Wallerstein put it, “triumphant”.

Here is the opening salvo from Peter’s article on democracy in the Anthropocene, it came out from the Center for Humans and Nature. The other is a pdf download on ethics and economics in Anthropocene that came out in the fall issue of Teilhard Studies.

“Contemporary science radically reframes a fundamental idea at the heart of democratic theory and practice: that each person is free to act as he or she wishes so long as that action does not harm other persons. Two important sources of this idea are John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1859). Locke held that our religious beliefs are internal matters and hence should be beyond the legitimate reach of the state, whose principal tasks are external—to secure “life, liberty, and property.” Mill held that the state has no right to interfere in what he called “purely self-regarding acts”—though interpreting this phrase has proved contentious, even for Mill. Despite the pedigree of these two philosophers, the assumptions their ideas contain have become problematical.”

Democracy and ecological crisis: the case of the climate

Today’s ecological crisis has long been identified as also a democratic one. Lynn White Jr.’s famous essay (“The historical roots of our ecological crisis,” Science 155 1203-07.) is often used to rail against anthropocentrism, but White starts out by arguing that:

Our ecological crisis is the product of an emerging, entirely novel, democratic culture. The issue is whether a democratized world can survive its own implications. Presumably we cannot unless we rethink our axioms.

For my part, it seems clear that democracy is not “entirely novel” since it has no essential format and has been around in various cultures for some time. But White was talking about a “democratized world”. Clearly then, something either remains ambiguous for White (since this was written during the Cold War and hence worldwide democracy was very far from existing, or even guaranteed) or White had something else in mind. The latter is more likely to be closer to the truth, since the article is about a particular way of constructing moral and political obligations within a new view of the world – an ecological one.

These quick thoughts are just a lead in to the set of publications from the Center for Humans and Nature that were recently released. Here they are:

Can democracy in crisis deal with the climate crisis?

In the wake of superstorm Sandy and an election process that all but ignored climate change, looks ahead.  As Obama begins his second term, our Scholars and Contributors initiate a critical discussion, reflecting on if—and how—the “last, best hope on earth” can tackle one of the most significant challenges the world faces. We invite you to join the conversation and share your thoughts on how we can reshape the democratic process and meet the climate crisis.

Senior Scholars Ben Barber and Carol Gould take the lead on this series.  Click here to read their essays.

Four other Contributors are also kicking off the conversation:

Bill McKibben: Currencies of Movement Are the Key

Robyn Eckersley: The Tyranny of the Minority

Tim Hayward: Why Taking the Climate Challenge Seriously Means Taking Democracy More Seriously

John Dryzek: Deliberative Democracy and Climate Change