A troubling portrait of democracy in US state legislatures.
State legislatures hold tremendous authority over key facets of our lives, ranging from healthcare to marriage to immigration policy. In theory, elections create incentives for state legislators to produce good policies. But do they?
Drawing on wide-ranging quantitative and qualitative evidence, Steven Rogers offers the most comprehensive assessment of this question to date, testing different potential mechanisms of accountability. His findings are sobering: almost ninety percent of American voters do not know who their state legislator is; over one-third of incumbent legislators run unchallenged in both primary and general elections; and election outcomes have little relationship with legislators’ own behavior.
Rogers’s analysis of state legislatures highlights the costs of our highly nationalized politics, challenging theories of democratic accountability and providing a troubling picture of democracy in the states.
"After the Nazi Racial State offers a comprehensive, persuasive, and ambitious argument in favor of making 'race' a more central analytical category for the writing of post-1945 history. This is an extremely important project, and the volume indeed has the potential to reshape the field of post-1945 German history."
---Frank Biess, University of California, San Diego
What happened to "race," race thinking, and racial distinctions in Germany, and Europe more broadly, after the demise of the Nazi racial state? This book investigates the afterlife of "race" since 1945 and challenges the long-dominant assumption among historians that it disappeared from public discourse and policy-making with the defeat of the Third Reich and its genocidal European empire. Drawing on case studies of Afro-Germans, Jews, and Turks---arguably the three most important minority communities in postwar Germany---the authors detail continuities and change across the 1945 divide and offer the beginnings of a history of race and racialization after Hitler. A final chapter moves beyond the German context to consider the postwar engagement with "race" in France, Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands, where waves of postwar, postcolonial, and labor migration troubled nativist notions of national and European identity.
After the Nazi Racial State poses interpretative questions for the historical understanding of postwar societies and democratic transformation, both in Germany and throughout Europe. It elucidates key analytical categories, historicizes current discourse, and demonstrates how contemporary debates about immigration and integration---and about just how much "difference" a democracy can accommodate---are implicated in a longer history of "race." This book explores why the concept of "race" became taboo as a tool for understanding German society after 1945. Most crucially, it suggests the social and epistemic consequences of this determined retreat from "race" for Germany and Europe as a whole.
Rita Chin is Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.
Heide Fehrenbach is Presidential Research Professor at Northern Illinois University.
Geoff Eley is Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Michigan.
Atina Grossmann is Professor of History at Cooper Union.
Cover illustration: Human eye, © Stockexpert.com.
In a range of politically inflected essays by philosophers, community activists, political scientists, sociologists, literary scholars, and cultural and postcolonial theorists—many of whom are diasporic or resident South Africans—this special issue of SAQ provides a critical look at the realities of black majority governance, at the African National Congress, and at the costs of ANC rule to the populace. One essay draws a condemning sketch of poverty and violence in the townships and the growing communities of squatters that continue despite the emergence of democracy. A philosophical piece contemplates the practice of human rights in a South African society grappling with the memory of apartheid abuses. The fiction and poetry in the collection explore sexual identity, including issues created by the AIDS epidemic, and offer critiques of government policies. Using comic strips, another contributor demonstrates the ability of South African popular culture to satirize the nation’s political status quo. Taken together, the essays in After the Thrill Is Gone open a sobering perspective on South Africa’s recent history, its present, and its future.
Contributors. Rita Barnard, Patrick Bond, Ashwin Desai, Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze, Grant Fared, Michiel Heyns, Shaun Irlam, Neil Lazarus, Michael MacDonald, Zine Magubane, Richard Pithouse, Lesego Rampolokeng, Adam Sitze
A New Statesman Book of the Year
A critical analysis of the transformation of constitutionalism from an increasingly irrelevant theory of limited government into the most influential philosophy of governance in the world today.
Constitutionalism is universally commended because it has never been precisely defined. Martin Loughlin argues that it is not some vague amalgam of liberal aspirations but a specific and deeply contentious governing philosophy. An Enlightenment idea that in the nineteenth century became America’s unique contribution to the philosophy of government, constitutionalism was by the mid-twentieth century widely regarded as an anachronism. Advocating separated powers and limited government, it was singularly unsuited to the political challenges of the times. But constitutionalism has since undergone a remarkable transformation, giving the Constitution an unprecedented role in society. Once treated as a practical instrument to regulate government, the Constitution has been raised to the status of civil religion, a symbolic representation of collective unity.
Against Constitutionalism explains why this has happened and its far-reaching consequences. Spearheaded by a “rights revolution” that subjects governmental action to comprehensive review through abstract principles, judges acquire greatly enhanced power as oracles of the regime’s “invisible constitution.” Constitutionalism is refashioned as a theory maintaining that governmental authority rests not on collective will but on adherence to abstract standards of “public reason.” And across the world the variable practices of constitutional government have been reshaped by its precepts.
Constitutionalism, Loughlin argues, now propagates the widespread belief that social progress is advanced not through politics, electoral majorities, and legislative action, but through innovative judicial interpretation. The rise of constitutionalism, commonly conflated with constitutional democracy, actually contributes to its degradation.
By closely observing the attachments that arise in families despite profound disagreements and incommensurabilities, Ferguson argues, we can imagine a political engagement that accommodates radical differences without sacrificing community. After examining how the concept of the family has been deployed and misused in political philosophy, Ferguson turns to the ways in which families actually operate: the macropolitical significance of family coping strategies such as silence and the impact that disability and caregiving have on conceptions of spatiality, sameness, and disparity. He also considers the emotional attachment between humans and their pets as an acknowledgment that compassion and community can exist even under conditions of profound difference.
In All International Politics Is Local, Gleditsch clarifies that isolating the domestic processes within countries cannot account for the observed variation in distribution of political democracy over time and space, and that the likelihood of transitions is strongly related to changes in neighboring countries and the prior history of the regional context. Finally, he demonstrates how spatial and statistical techniques can be used to address regional interdependence among actors and its implications.
Kristian Skrede Gleditsch is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.
America at Risk gathers original essays by a distinguished and bipartisan group of writers and intellectuals to address a question that matters to Americans of every political persuasion: what are some of the greatest dangers facing America today? The answers, which range from dwindling political participation to rising poverty, and religion to empire, add up to a valuable and timely portrait of a particular moment in the history of American ideas.
While the opinions are many, there is a central theme in the book: the corrosion of the liberal constitutional order that has long guided the country at home and abroad. The authors write about the demonstrably important dangers the United States faces while also breaking the usual academic boundaries: there are chapters on the family, religious polarization, immigration, and the economy, as well as on governmental and partisan issues.
America at Risk is required reading for all Americans alarmed about the future of their country.
Robert Faulkner is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. Susan Shell is Professor of Political Science at Boston College.
"America at Risk goes well beyond the usual diagnoses of issues debated in public life like immigration, war, and debt, to consider the Republic’s founding principles, and the ways in which they have been displaced by newer thoughts and habits in contemporary America. A critical book for understanding our present condition."
—Francis Fukuyama, Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
"In this penetrating book, the nation’s finest social and political thinkers from across the spectrum take a careful and no-holds-barred look at the dangers facing the American political system. The conclusions are more unsettling than reassuring---but that is because they are honest and real."
—Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
"In the midst of overwrought pundits, irate soccer moms, and outraged bloggers, it is difficult to distinguish genuine dangers from false alarms and special pleading. This book enables us to do so, in a way that helps us to actually think about, not just feel anxious about, threats to those features of American society that are worth cherishing. The authors range in ideology and expertise, but they are uniformly judicious, incisive, and informative. This is a fascinating book about issues that the political system usually ignores or exaggerates."
—Jennifer L. Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
A bold call to reclaim an American tradition that argues the Constitution imposes a duty on government to fight oligarchy and ensure broadly shared wealth.
Oligarchy is a threat to the American republic. When too much economic and political power is concentrated in too few hands, we risk losing the “republican form of government” the Constitution requires. Today, courts enforce the Constitution as if it had almost nothing to say about this threat. But as Joseph Fishkin and William Forbath show in this revolutionary retelling of constitutional history, a commitment to prevent oligarchy once stood at the center of a robust tradition in American political and constitutional thought.
Fishkin and Forbath demonstrate that reformers, legislators, and even judges working in this “democracy-of-opportunity” tradition understood that the Constitution imposes a duty on legislatures to thwart oligarchy and promote a broad distribution of wealth and political power. These ideas led Jacksonians to fight special economic privileges for the few, Populists to try to break up monopoly power, and Progressives to fight for the constitutional right to form a union. During Reconstruction, Radical Republicans argued in this tradition that racial equality required breaking up the oligarchy of the Slave Power and distributing wealth and opportunity to former slaves and their descendants. President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Dealers built their politics around this tradition, winning the fight against the “economic royalists” and “industrial despots.”
But today, as we enter a new Gilded Age, this tradition in progressive American economic and political thought lies dormant. The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution begins the work of recovering it and exploring its profound implications for our deeply unequal society and badly damaged democracy.
What is an Arab? Though many in the West would answer that question with simplistic stereotypes, the reality is far more complex and interesting. Arabs themselves have been debating Arab identity since pre-Islamic times, coming to a variety of conclusions about the nature and extent of their “Arabness.” Likewise, Westerners and others have attempted to analyze Arab identity, reaching mostly negative conclusions about Arab culture and capacity for self-government.
To bring new perspectives to the question of Arab identity, Iraqi-born scholar Nissim Rejwan has assembled this fascinating collection of writings by Arab and Western intellectuals, who try to define what it means to be Arab. He begins with pre-Islamic times and continues to the last decades of the twentieth century, quoting thinkers ranging from Ibn Khaldun to modern writers such as al-Ansari, Haykal, Ahmad Amin, al-'Azm, and Said. Through their works, Rejwan shows how Arabs have grappled with such significant issues as the influence of Islam, the rise of nationalism, the quest for democracy, women's status, the younger generation, Egypt's place in the Arab world, Israel's role in Middle Eastern conflict, and the West's "cultural invasion."
By letting Arabs speak for themselves, Arabs in the Mirror refutes a prominent Western stereotype—that Arabs are incapable of self-reflection or self-government. On the contrary, it reveals a rich tradition of self-criticism and self-knowledge in the Arab world.
Since Pakistan gained independence in 1947, only once has an elected government completed its tenure and peacefully transferred power to another elected government. In sharp contrast to neighboring India, the Muslim nation has been ruled by its military for over three decades. Even when they were not directly in control of the government, the armed forces maintained a firm grip on national politics. How the military became Pakistan's foremost power elite and what its unchecked authority means for the future of this nuclear-armed nation are among the crucial questions Aqil Shah takes up in The Army and Democracy.
Pakistan's and India's armies inherited their organization, training, and doctrines from their British predecessor, along with an ethic that regarded politics as outside the military domain. But Pakistan's weak national solidarity, exacerbated by a mentality that saw war with India looming around every corner, empowered the military to take national security and ultimately government into its own hands. As the military's habit of disrupting the natural course of politics gained strength over time, it arrested the development of democratic institutions.
Based on archival materials, internal military documents, and over 100 interviews with politicians, civil servants, and Pakistani officers, including four service chiefs and three heads of the clandestine Inter-Services Intelligence, The Army and Democracy provides insight into the military's contentious relationship with Pakistan's civilian government. Shah identifies steps for reforming Pakistan's armed forces and reducing its interference in politics, and sees lessons for fragile democracies striving to bring the military under civilian control.
When art hits the headlines, it is usually because it has caused offence or is perceived by the media to have shock-value. Over the last fifty years many artists have been censored, vilified, accused of blasphemy and obscenity, threatened with violence, prosecuted and even imprisoned. Their work has been trashed by the media and physically attacked by the public.
In Art & Outrage, John A. Walker covers the period from the late 1940s to the 1990s to provide the first detailed survey of the most prominent cases of art that has scandalised. The work of some of Britain’s leading, and less well known, painters and sculptors of the postwar period is considered, such as Richard Hamilton, Bryan Organ, Rachel Whiteread, Reg Butler, Damien Hirst, Jamie Wagg, Barry Flanagan and Antony Gormley. Included are works made famous by the media, such as Carl Andre’s Tate Gallery installation of 120 bricks, Rick Gibson’s foetus earrings, Anthony-Noel Kelly’s cast body-parts sculptures and Marcus Harvey’s portrait of Myra Hindley. Walker describes how each incident emerged, considers the arguments for and against, and examines how each was concluded. While broadly sympathetic to radical contemporary art, Walker has some residual sympathy for the layperson’s bafflement and antagonism. This is a scholarly yet accessible study of the interface between art, society and mass media which offers an alternative history of postwar British art and attitudes.
When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, Eastern Europe saw a new era begin, and the widespread changes that followed extended into the world of art. Art and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe examines the art created in light of the profound political, social, economic, and cultural transformations that occurred in the former Eastern Bloc after the Cold War ended. Assessing the function of art in post-communist Europe, Piotr Piotrowski describes the changing nature of art as it went from being molded by the cultural imperatives of the communist state and a tool of political propaganda to autonomous work protesting against the ruling powers.
Coming to terms with a new period of uncertainty when it is still replete with possibilities
This quick and engaging study clearly lays out the United States’ current democratic crisis. Examining the early stages of the Nazi movement in Germany, William E. Connolly detects synergies with Donald Trump’s rhetorical style. Tapping into a sense of contemporary fragility, Aspirational Fascism pays particular attention to how conflicts between neoliberalism and the pluralizing left have placed the white working class in a bind. Ultimately, Connolly believes a multifaceted democracy constitutes the best antidote to aspirational fascism and rethinks what a politics of the left might look like today.
Forerunners is a thought-in-process series of breakthrough digital works. Written between fresh ideas and finished books, Forerunners draws on scholarly work initiated in notable blogs, social media, conference plenaries, journal articles, and the synergy of academic exchange. This is gray literature publishing: where intense thinking, change, and speculation take place in scholarship.
On a summer night in 415 BCE, unknown persons systematically mutilated most of the domestic “herms”—guardian statues of the god Hermes—in Athens. The reaction was immediate and extreme: the Athenians feared a terrifying conspiracy was underway against the city and its large fleet—and possibly against democracy itself. The city established a board of investigators, which led to informants, accusations, and flight by many of the accused. Ultimately, dozens were exiled or executed, their property confiscated.
This dramatic period offers the opportunity to observe the city in crisis. Sequential events allow us to see the workings of the major institutions of the city (assembly, council, law courts, and theater, as well as public and private religion). Remarkably, the primary sources for these tumultuous months name conspirators and informants from a very wide range of status-groups: citizens, women, slaves, and free residents. Thus the incident provides a particularly effective entry-point into a full multifaceted view of the way Athens worked in the late fifth century.
Designed for classroom use, Athens 415 is no potted history, but rather a source-based presentation of ancient urban life ideal for the study of a people and their institutions and beliefs. Original texts—all translated by poet Robert B. Hardy—are presented along with thoughtful discussion and analyses by Clara Shaw Hardy in an engaging narrative that draws students into Athens’ crisis.
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