Throughout the seventies, the idea of being “pro-Israel” was traditionally equated with support for the Israeli government and was central to an understanding of American Jewish identity. It was so central, argues Marla Brettschneider, that even committed activists who took issue with such a monolithic stance were silenced by mainstream Jewish organizations. But during the 1980s, a change took place. An explosion of new Jewish groups intent on challenging the dominant definition of the pro-Israel attitude transformed an increasingly closed Jewish community into one more democratic and inclusive.
In Cornerstones of Peace, Marla Brettschneider skillfully combines a lucid review of contemporary Liberal political theory and its understanding of the role of groups in the political process, a sophisticated analysis of Hobbesian philosophy, and a rich history of “alternative” Jewish activist groups like Breira and Americans for Peace Now (APN) to ask: What can we learn about identity and democratic theory from the changes that have taken place in the Jewish community? Through an insightful exploration of how small, activist groups have reclaimed pro-Israel identity politics as a collective multilayered process, Brettschneider adds her voice to the growing number of political theorists envisioning a pro-diversity alternative to Liberal political thought. She theorizes about a new democratic theory, showing theorists and activists how to envision and enact more vibrant, inclusive democratic politics.
In this sweeping look at political and philosophical history, Linda M. G. Zerilli unpacks the tightly woven core of Hannah Arendt’s unfinished work on a tenacious modern problem: how to judge critically in the wake of the collapse of inherited criteria of judgment. Engaging a remarkable breadth of thinkers, including Ludwig Wittgenstein, Leo Strauss, Immanuel Kant, Frederick Douglass, John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, and many others, Zerilli clears a hopeful path between an untenable universalism and a cultural relativism that forever defers the possibility of judging at all.
Zerilli deftly outlines the limitations of existing debates, both those that concern themselves with the impossibility of judging across cultures and those that try to find transcendental, rational values to anchor judgment. Looking at Kant through the lens of Arendt, Zerilli develops the notion of a public conception of truth, and from there she explores relativism, historicism, and universalism as they shape feminist approaches to judgment. Following Arendt even further, Zerilli arrives at a hopeful new pathway—seeing the collapse of philosophical criteria for judgment not as a problem but a way to practice judgment anew as a world-building activity of democratic citizens. The result is an astonishing theoretical argument that travels through—and goes beyond—some of the most important political thought of the modern period.
One of the most far-reaching transformations in our era is the wave of digital technologies rolling over—and upending—nearly every aspect of life. Work and leisure, family and friendship, community and citizenship have all been modified by now-ubiquitous digital tools and platforms. Digital Technology and Democratic Theory looks closely at one significant facet of our rapidly evolving digital lives: how technology is radically changing our lives as citizens and participants in democratic governments.
To understand these transformations, this book brings together contributions by scholars from multiple disciplines to wrestle with the question of how digital technologies shape, reshape, and affect fundamental questions about democracy and democratic theory. As expectations have whiplashed—from Twitter optimism in the wake of the Arab Spring to Facebook pessimism in the wake of the 2016 US election—the time is ripe for a more sober and long-term assessment. How should we take stock of digital technologies and their promise and peril for reshaping democratic societies and institutions? To answer, this volume broaches the most pressing technological changes and issues facing democracy as a philosophy and an institution.
More than ten years after the worst crisis since the Great Depression, the financial sector is thriving. But something is deeply wrong. Taxpayers bore the burden of bailing out “too big to fail” banks, but got nothing in return. Inequality has soared, and a populist backlash against elites has shaken the foundations of our political order. Meanwhile, financial capitalism seems more entrenched than ever. What is the left to do?
Justice Is an Option uses those problems—and the framework of finance that created them—to reimagine historical justice. Robert Meister returns to the spirit of Marx to diagnose our current age of finance. Instead of closing our eyes to the political and economic realities of our era, we need to grapple with them head-on. Meister does just that, asking whether the very tools of finance that have created our vastly unequal world could instead be made to serve justice and equality. Meister here formulates nothing less than a democratic financial theory for the twenty-first century—one that is equally conversant in political philosophy, Marxism, and contemporary politics. Justice Is an Option is a radical, invigorating first page of a new—and sorely needed—leftist playbook.
A Preface to Democratic Theory explores some problems left unsolved by traditional democratic theory, Professor Dahl examines two influential "model" theories—the Madisonian, representing the prevailing American doctrine, and its recurring challenger, the populistic theory—and argues that they no longer explain how modern democracies operate. He then constructs a model more consistent with modern political science, and, in doing so, develops some unique views of popular sovereignty and the American constitutional system.
"A Preface to Democratic Theory is well worth the devoted attention of anyone who cares about democracy. For it will have an important influence on both theory about democracy and on actual practice in democracies round the world."—Bernard Barber, Political Science Quarterly
"The book is a must for democratic theorists."—J. Roland Pennock, Journal of Politics
Robert Dahl’s Preface helped launch democratic theory fifty years ago as a new area of study in political science, and it remains the standard introduction to the field. Exploring problems that had been left unsolved by traditional thought on democracy, Dahl here examines two influential models—the Madisonian, which represents prevailing American doctrine, and its recurring challenger, populist theory—arguing that they do not accurately portray how modern democracies operate. He then constructs a model more consistent with how contemporary democracies actually function, and, in doing so, develops some original views of popular sovereignty and the American constitutional system.
For this fiftieth-anniversary edition, Dahl has written an extensive new afterword that reevaluates Madisonian theory in light of recent research. And in a new foreword, he reflects back on his influential volume and the ways his views have evolved since he wrote it. For any student or scholar of political science, this new material is an essential update on a gold standard in the evolving field of democratic theory.
“A Preface to Democratic Theory is well worth the devoted attention of anyone who cares about democracy.”—Political Science Quarterly