28 September 2010

Article: What is Europeism?

Václav Klaus, the liberal-conservative President of the Czech Republic, is the author of an article titled "What is Europeism?" that forms part of a booklet, "What is Europeism, or What Should Not Be The Future For Europe" (by Václav Klaus, Jiří Weigl, Petr Mach Marek Loužek, and Jiří Brodský), published in 2006 by the pro-market public policy think tank Center for Economics and Politics (CEP) in Prague (pp. 7-20).

The booklet is available free of charge here:


Excerpts: "Europeism is a doctrine which hardly anyone advocates explicitly and, due to this, it is insufficiently specified or systematically formulated (de facto only some of its critics talk about it seriously). It is not possible to refer to any books and articles, from which it could be 'read'. [...] Europeists are [...] characterized by their clear stances in disputes about parliamentary democracy or civil society and in disputes about democracy or post-democracy. They do not prefer standard democratic processes. [...] It is also entirely obvious on which side the Europeists stand in the disputes about the importance of various post-democratic 'isms', such as multiculturalism, feminism, ecologism, homosexualism, NGOism, etc. [...] Europeists want, in their decision-making at the supranational level, to get rid of politics (because they dream about creating an apolitical society) and to introduce the system of decision-making which would be easy and uncontrollable. That is why they advocate post-democracy and graciously smile at the obsolete and old-fashioned advocates of the good old democracy and the good old 'political' politics. [...]

"The effort to emancipate politics and politicians from democratic 'accountability' is one of the primary objectives of the Europeists. They are not alone in this, but I am certain that never in history had the people with this type of thinking reached such success as through the creation of the EU. [...] These are the interests to get rid of the state as an unsubstitutable guarantor of democracy, as a basic political unit of a democratic system (in contrast to Reichs, empires, unions, leagues of countries), as the only meaningfully organizable arena of political life, as the biggest possible, but at the same time also the smallest reasonable, base of political representation and representativeness. Europeism is an attempt to create the Huxleyian brave new world in which there will be 'rosy hours', but not freedom and democracy. [...] They trust the chosen ones (not the elected ones), they trust themselves or those who are chosen by them. [...] They want to mastermind, plan, regulate, administer the others, because some (they themselves) do know and others do not. Even though we thought that after the collapse of communism all this was a matter of the past, it is not so. It is around us again." (bold removed)

27 September 2010

Article: Participatory Culture and the Assault on Democracy

Lee Siegel's article "Participatory Culture and the Assault on Democracy" was published in the contributed volume "New Threats to Freedom", ed. Adam Bellow (Templeton Press, May 2010: pp. 259-67):


Excerpt: "No spaces for the cultivation of our individuality exist between us and the media monopolies or the sham elected representatives. The essential liberal position is based on an idea – the idea of ever-expanding individual rights. It just so happens that the fantasy of a majestically sovereign and autonomous self is the heart and soul of American popular culture, a culture that is quintessentially liberal. The result is that the most serious threat to freedom in America today is the threat posed to democracy by the excesses of that culture. As our ever-expanding selves participate more in every cultural activity, the disinterestedness of play and of aesthetic pleasure gives way to crude self-assertion. And as everyone asserts their entitlement to participation, popularity replaces originality as a standard of excellence – you end up with what you might call an egalitarian antidemocracy, in which interactive crowds scorn and marginalize the democratic equalizer of true talent. That old bugbear of postwar sociology – the mob-self – is now a reality. In a participatory/popularity culture, the freedom to think and act for ourselves becomes harder and harder to achieve. The tyrannical majority so feared by Adorno, Foucault, Talmon, and others is all around us, and within us."

Lee Siegel, a book author and cultural critic for numerous US publications, is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University.

Article: Yanukovych no longer deserves benefit of doubt

The op-ed article "Motyl: Yanukovych no longer deserves benefit of doubt" by Alexander J. Motyl was published on 21 August 2010 on the website of the weekly "Kyiv Post", the leading English-language newspaper in Ukraine.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych [...] was given the benefit of the doubt by most Western and Ukrainian analysts (me included) and a significant portion of the Ukrainian electorate. [...] We believed that five years of opposition would have led Yanukovych and his authoritarian Party of Regions to shed their authoritarian inclinations and embrace democracy. [...] The vast majority of democratically inclined analysts and Ukrainians have now turned against Yanukovych – and with a vengeance. [...] Yanukovych and his party have proceeded to dismantled [sic] democracy [...] in just a few months. [...] Not moderates, but radicals act this quickly, this comprehensively, this fundamentally. Indeed, the comparison with Hitler’s Gleichschaltung in 1933 comes to mind. Recall that he too came to power in a fair and free election ..."

It isn't clear whether the article appeared in print too.

Alexander J. Motyl is Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University.

26 September 2010

Article: Asia's Dithering Democracies

On 1 January 2009, "Time" published on its website an article titled "Asia's Dithering Democracies", authored by the magazine's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief, Hannah Beech, who is of Japanese and American parentage.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "After the shackles of colonialism were overthrown, largely after World War II, the 21st century was supposed to herald the ascent of democracy in Asia. While parts of the region – from Burma and North Korea to Laos, Vietnam and China – are still governed by diktat, the past couple of decades have created a region that to all outward appearances is largely democratic. [...] Yet throughout 2008, many Asians appeared to progressively lose their faith in democratic politics. [...] In many ways, the challenges of Asian democracy are a reflection of its youth. Democracy in the West evolved over centuries – and, even then, its proponents understood its limitations [....] Asia, for the most part, has raced through the democratization process in just a couple of decades. [...] Growing pains may be forgiven in emerging democracies. But if the current political instabilities are allowed to metastasize, Asian nations could tire of the notion of democracy altogether because it's considered too messy, ineffectual or corrupt.

"In South Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines, a study by the governance-tracking Asian Barometer Project found that more citizens believed that the nations' recent democratic transitions had brought no improvement to their lives than those who saw positive changes. With time softening the memories of autocratic rule, nostalgia for overthrown dictators is spreading. Some are even calling for a resurgence of so-called 'Asian values,' a mix of paternalistic discipline and market economics that fell into disregard after the 1997 financial meltdown [...]. In [...] many parts of Asia, members of the educated élite bristle at the notion that Western-style democracy is a one-size-fits-all political system. [...]

"Although the Asian Barometer Project found that the majority of Asians say they support most democratic ideals, their commitment to limits on a leader's power is far lower than that of people polled in Europe or even sub-Saharan Africa. [...] This ruler-knows-best attitude can make Asians act more like subjects than citizens. Militaries – the other power pole in much of Asia – can meddle in politics without much public distress from the masses. [...] When Asians finally do react against their governments, it is often in extremis, anger spilling onto the streets in revolutionary-style rallies. [...] For frustrated farmers or construction workers or street vendors, it may be easier to imagine political change through a groundswell of antigovernment rallies rather than through checking one of many underwhelming candidates on a ballot. [...] The backlash against electoral politics by the very people who were recently its proponents may be the most troubling sign of Asian democracy under siege."

It is not mentioned whether the article appeared in print too.

25 September 2010

Article: Engaging Muslim Communities

Zeyno Baran's article "Engaging Muslim Communities" – an excerpt from a 2009 testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – was published in "Defining Ideas" (no. 1/March 2010), a quarterly journal of the Stanford-based conservative public policy think tank Hoover Institution.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "I have written extensively about the difference between Islam (the religion) and Islamism (the political ideology) and how we need to expose the extremists' cynical exploitation of the religion as a means of convincing the moderate majority of their fellow Muslims that the current conflict is religious in nature – and that the only solution is for Muslims to come together as part of a single nation (umma) following its own legal system (sharia) in pursuit of a new and antidemocratic world order. Why is Islamism a threat to democracy? Because, according to its interpretations, sharia regulates every aspect of an individual's life; moreover, because it is considered God's law, no compromises are possible. The holistic nature of Islamist ideology makes it fundamentally incompatible with the self-criticism and exercise of free will necessary for human beings to form truly liberal and democratic societies. [...]

"The Islamist movement is much stronger today than it was in 2001. And it will continue to get stronger over the next decade until we realize we are faced with a long-term social transformation project designed to make Muslims an angry and fearful people who can then be easily controlled. [...] Throughout the world, liberal democracy is once again being challenged as a political system and, more fundamentally, as an ideology and as a set of beliefs. Whether we like it or not, we are engaged in an ideological struggle – and the United States is losing ground. [...] Faced with authoritarian threats in both religious and secular forms, the United States should not be questioning whether to promote democracy but how to promote it. [...] If not, the United States and its allies will continue to grow weaker as their opponents strengthen.

"In general, the United States looks for short-term successes when a generational commitment is needed (as originally stated by the Bush administration). But because the United States had to demonstrate success quickly, it went for the 'low-hanging fruit' – at points even sounding as doctrinaire about democracy promotion as those who oppose democracy. [...] Since September 11, anti-American movements, groups, and leaders – from Russia to Venezuela – have come together in a shared hostility to the Western liberal system. [...] I believe having President Obama in office will grant the United States only short-term relief. Islamists are working on new narratives and searching for new grievances; their need to undermine the United States and its democratic vision is incredibly strong. [...] Clearly, the United States cannot do this cheaply, especially given how much everyone else is spending on antidemocratic agendas."

Turkish-born Zeyno Baran is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, DC.

Book: In Defense of Lost Causes

Slavoj Žižek, "In Defense of Lost Causes" (Verso, 2008):


Publisher's description: "In this combative major new work, philosophical sharpshooter Slavoj Zizek looks for the kernel of truth in the totalitarian politics of the past. Examining Heidegger's seduction by fascism and Foucault's flirtation with the Iranian Revolution, he suggests that these were the 'right steps in the wrong direction.' On the revolutionary terror of Robespierre, Mao and the bolsheviks, Zizek argues that while these struggles ended in historic failure and horror, there was a valuable core of idealism lost beneath the bloodshed. A redemptive vision has been obscured by the soft, decentralized politics of the liberal-democratic consensus. Faced with the coming ecological crisis, Zizekk [sic] argues the case for revolutionary terror and the dictatorship of the proletariat. A return to past ideals is needed despite the risks. In the words of Samuel Beckett: 'Try again. Fail again. Fail better.'"

Review: "Zizek [...] addresses the limits of liberal democratic approaches to politics and the possibility of benefit in totalitarian approaches to statehood. [...] Scholars of political theory and modern philosophy will find much here to consider and argue for or against." ("Library Journal")

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, and International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Matthew Sharpe's article "'Then We Will Fight Them in the Shadows!': Seven Parataxic Views, On Žižek's Style", which appeared recently in the online publication "International Journal of Žižek Studies" (4 [2], 2010), draws on this book.

The full text of the article can be downloaded free of charge here:


Excerpts: "Žižek's commitment to the egalitarian-revolutionary Idea places him on a continuum with the radical democratic political tradition with which his earlier work is usually associated. Democracy, rule of and by the people, implies some minimal commitment to egalitarianism, however conceived. Yet, following Badiou, and associating democracy with contemporary liberal-democracy, Žižek at several points indicates that faith in democracy today is the Enemy to be overcome: 'What, today, prevents the radical questioning of capitalism itself is precisely the belief in the democratic form of the struggle against capitalism.' (Žižek 2008, p. 183) [...] Žižek is unconditionally, or rather profoundly, attracted to [...] the utopian moment of radical negativity, in which the old regime is overthrown and suddenly we confront an indefinite, open future, shorn of any 'big Other' defining what is possible and impossible, permitted and prohibited ('Nothing should be accepted as inviolable in this new re-foundation, neither the need for economic "modernisation" nor the most sacred liberal and democratic fetishes' (Žižek 2008, p. 276)"

Matthew Sharpe and Geoff M. Boucher are the authors of a book on "Žižek and Politics: A Critical Introduction" (Edinburgh University Press, March 2010) that also seeks to highlight "Žižek's shift from his earlier, radical-democratic politics, to his later [that is, current], revolutionary, authoritarian vanguardism":


Publisher's description: "In Zizek and Politics, Geoff Boucher and Matthew Sharpe go beyond standard introductions to spell out a new approach to reading Zizek, one that can be highly critical as well as deeply appreciative. They show that Zizek has a raft of fundamental positions that enable his theoretical positions to be put to work on practical problems. Explaining these positions with clear examples, they outline why Zizek's confrontation with thinkers such as Derrida, Foucault and Deleuze has so radically changed how we think about society. They then go on to track Zizek's own intellectual development during the last twenty years, as he has grappled with theoretical problems and the political climate of the War on Terror. This book is a major addition to the literature on Zizek and a crucial critical introduction to his thought." (bold removed)

This book is fully searchable on Google Book Search (including table of contents):


Matthew Sharpe is a Lecturer in the School of International and Political Studies and Geoff M. Boucher is a Lecturer in the School of Communication and Creative Arts, both at Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Article: Neo-Liberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy

Wendy Brown, "Neo-Liberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy" ("Theory & Event", 7 [1], 2003: no page numbers given):


Excerpt: "For the American Left, the wake of 9/11, the War on Terrorism, practices of 'homeland security,' and the recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq together produce a complex set of questions about what to think, what to stand for, and what to organize. These questions are contoured both by our diagnosis of the current orders of power and rule and by our vision of alternatives to these orders. This essay aims to contribute to our necessarily collaborative intellectual effort – no single analysis can be comprehensive – at diagnosing the present and formulating alternatives by reflecting on the political rationality taking shape in the U.S. over the past quarter century. It is commonplace to speak of the present regime in the United States as a neo-conservative one, and to cast as a consolidated 'neo-con' project present efforts to intensify U.S. military capacity, increase U.S. global hegemony, dismantle the welfare state, retrench civil liberties, eliminate the right to abortion and affirmative action, re-Christianize the state, de-regulate corporations, gut environmental protections, reverse progressive taxation, reduce education spending while increasing prison budgets, and feather the nests of the rich while criminalizing the poor."

I had no access to the full text of the article.

Wendy Brown is Heller Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

24 September 2010

Book: Why we don't love democracy (in French)

Myriam Revault d'Allonnes is the author of "Pourquoi nous n'aimons pas la démocratie" (Why we don't love democracy; my translation), a book published in February 2010 by Seuil:


Publisher's description: "We remember Churchill's saying: 'Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time'. Obviously, we do not 'love' democracy. And yet we are all democrats ... This strange process of disenchantment is as virulent as it is old: already in ancient Athens, there was no shortage of critics of democracy. Myriam Revault d'Allonnes interrogates not only the criticisms or sarcasms levelled at democracy, but also the nature of the democratic experience, with its uncertainty, conflicts, incompleteness, inextricably linked to what opposes and threatens it. How should democratic man, confronted with this always problematic existence, not fall prey to dissatisfaction and permanent disappointment? Nevertheless, if we do not 'love' democracy, can we not desire to? Because it is the democratic experience that makes us ethical and political subjects, citizens who do not just want to be governed, 'not like that, not for this, not by them'." (my rough translation)

Myriam Revault d'Allonnes is Professor of Philosophy at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), Paris.

Book: Democracy Building and Democracy Erosion

Eberhard Kienle is the editor of a contributed volume on "Democracy Building and Democracy Erosion: Political Change North and South of the Mediterranean" (Saqi Books, October 2009):


Publisher's description: "Favouring transitions to democracy on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean was a key objective of the European Union and its member states when they prepared the Barcelona conference in 1995. But European Neighbourhood policies have failed to promote democracy. While the authors remain sensitive to changes that ultimately may translate into greater participation and respect for civil liberty, they also set out to explain why certain short-term goals of the EU are undermining its democratic principles. However, the crucial question – especially after 9/11 – is whether the erosion of democracy in the North has affected the promotion of democracy in the South. Failure of democracy in the South may well be linked to the erosion of democracy on a global scale."

The book includes chapters such as "Comparative De-Democratisation: Backsliding in the West, Sinking in the South" (Robert Springborn), "Absent Transitions from Authoritarianism in the South or Erosion of Democracy on a Global Scale?" (Eberhard Kienle), "Authoritarian Islands in Pluralist Democracies" (Gilles Massardier), and "Challenges to Established Democracies: The Italian Example" (Marc Lazar).

Eberhard Kienle is Research Director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

23 September 2010

Article: Toppling democracy

Thongchai Winichakul, "Toppling democracy" ("Journal of Contemporary Asia", 38 [1], February 2008: pp. 11-37).

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Abstract: "Thailand's 2006 royalist coup is best understood by reference to the historical context of democratisation. The dominant historiography of Thai democratisation is either a simplistic liberal view of anti-military democracy or a royalist one that is ultimately anti-democratic. This article offers a serial history of democratisation that allows us to see the long duration of layered historical processes. As democratisation is fundamentally a break from the centralised absolute monarchy, the monarchy and the monarchists, despite their up and down political fortunes, have probably played the most significant role in shaping Thai democracy since 1932. Despite that, their role and place in history has been overlooked due to the perception that they are 'above politics.' This article argues that, since 1973 in particular, the monarchists have assumed the status of the superior realm in Thai politics that claims the high moral ground above politicians and normal politics. With distaste for electoral politics, and in tacit collaboration with the so-called people's sector, activists and intellectuals, they have undermined electoral democracy in the name of 'clean politics' versus the corruption of politicians. The 2006 coup that toppled democracy was the latest effort of the monarchists to take control of the democratisation process."

Excerpts: "The fight against corruption and money politics seems indisputably a good cause. It should contribute to democracy with no harm whatsoever. In the context of Thai democratisation of the past thirty years, however, the repercussions and consequences of clean politics against elected politicians significantly contributed to the coup in 2006. [...] To understand the effects of the discourse of clean politics on democratisation, I shall elaborate its four constitutive discourses and point out how each of them has ramified to become anti-democratic. They are (i) politicians are extremely corrupt; (ii) politicians come to power by vote-buying; (iii) an election does not equal democracy; and (iv) democracy means a moral, ethical rule. [...] If a 'communist threat' was the usual reason for many military coups during the Cold War, corruption has been the usual reason for coups after the end of the communist threat in Thailand since the early 1980s. [...]

"From the 1980s, people have believed that vote-buying is rampant at every level of election. It is considered a political pandemic. [...] Given the distrust of politicians and parliament's assumed lack of legitimacy due to vote-buying, Thailand's democracy has been seriously undermined. The public as well as many intellectuals question the legitimacy of the election as a trustworthy means to democracy. [...] While these public intellectuals may support civic movements or people's power, the supporters of clean politics adopted the rhetoric to undermine the electoral and parliamentary system. During the political crisis in 2006, the royalists and the anti-Thaksin activists alike often called the Thaksin government an 'electocracy' and his rule 'monetocracy.' After the coup, as critics of the coup insisted on electoral legitimacy in democracy, the coup defenders and apologists, including the royalist activists, military leaders and many leading intellectuals, kept repeating that the staging of an election does not equal democracy. [...]

"The distrust of elections in fact goes a long way back and is deeper than the rhetoric above. It is rooted in the nationalistic conservatism that distrusts democracy for being alien to Thai culture which honours hierarchical relations and venerates the monarchy as the highest authority in the land. [...] These conservatives often remind us that a constitution, thereby democracy as well, is merely a Western object. It is not necessarily good for Thai political culture. [...] In 2005 and 2006, the anti-Thaksin movement called for the return of power to the monarchy, arguing that it fits Thai political culture, unlike electoral democracy, which is an alien political system. [...] Not only could politicians and elections not be trusted, but democracy itself is also suspect. This is the ideological basis for the royalist distaste of elections. It is compatible with the anti-electocracy discourse of liberal intellectuals, thanks to their shared distrust of the existing 'democracy.'"

Thongchai Winichakul is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

22 September 2010

Article: Urbanity, Class and Post-democracy in Thailand

Jim Glassman, "'The Provinces Elect Governments, Bangkok Overthrows Them': Urbanity, Class and Post-democracy in Thailand" ("Urban Studies", 47 [6], May 2010: pp. 1301-23):


Abstract: "Urban social movements are often associated with what are considered 'progressive' causes and most activists involved in such movements are inclined to describe themselves in such terms. The Thai coup of September 2006 poses problems for any such easy identification. Although executed by the military, on behalf of royalist interests, the coup was supported by an array of primarily Bangkok-based and middle-class groups, many of them associated with organisations such as NGOs and state enterprise unions. Although some of these groups claimed anti-neo-liberal political orientations, their support for the coup effectively placed them on the side of forces opposed to quasi-Keynesian policies and in favour of specific forms of neo-liberalism – at least for Thai villagers. This paper explores this development by focusing on the Bangkok/upcountry and urban/rural divisions in Thai politics, which, although socially constructed, have taken on political substance, in part because of their grounding in regionally differentiated class structures."

Excerpts: "I argue that the coup of 2006 and its sequelae represent a slide towards 'post-democracy' – a condition where democratic political forms achieved through previous social struggles (for example, a multiparty parliament) are subverted by both differential structural power (for example, the wealth and influence of royalist institutions) and overt attempts to reign in popular influence (for example, attempts to make much of the parliament appointed, rather than elected). This slide is driven in part by the interests of an embattled middle class, stronger in Bangkok than elsewhere in the country, which cannot consistently get all that it wants out of conventional parliamentary politics. [...]

"Confronted by the contradiction between a putative commitment to democracy and the reality of enormous social privileges which they attempt to maintain, many Bangkok groups – including some 'progressive' activists – have increasingly looked to conservative forces, chiefly the monarchy, to protect their interests and impose forms of development and social order. This tendency was already apparent before the 2006 coup, but became especially evident at that point. [...] Thailand seems to have entered a period of 'post-democracy', a situation in which there is still a functioning multiparty parliament but in which governments elected by the majority cannot effectively function or carry out policies because of Bangkok-based and royalist opposition. [...]

"Bangkok-based social movements and pro-coup middle classes have emerged on the side of 'post-democracy', utilising their disproportionate political power and media exposure to overturn these political decisions. In short, Bangkok is not a site of the most progressive democratic sentiment, while the countryside is neither a site of purely corrupt patronage systems nor of the romantic rural idyll. [...] [I]n the context of on-going divergence between the prospects of the Bangkok middle classes and other Thai social groups, Thailand seems for now to have entered a 'post-democratic' period in which Bangkok political activists and opinion leaders will continue their attempts to derail the political challenges emanating from outside the capital."

The article contains an extensive bibliography of relevant literature.

Jim Glassman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia.

21 September 2010

Article: Manifesto of Affirmationism

The leftist French philosopher Alain Badiou's "Manifesto of Affirmationism" (trans. Barbara P. Fulks) was published in the New York-based biannual journal of critical theory, art, and fiction "Lacanian Ink" (24/25, spring 2005: no page numbers given).

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "We cannot understand what is gripping us and causing us to despair if we do not return again and again to the fact that our world is not at all a democracy, but rather an imperial conservatism under the guise of democratic phraseology. What to say of today's world? A solitary power whose army is terrorizing the entire planet dictates its law of the circulation of capital and images and proclaims everywhere, with the most extreme violence, the Duties and Rights of everyone. [...] Under the imposed name of 'terrorism,' those most violently opposed to this hegemony of the brutal West, for which 'democracy' is spiritual ornament, are in reality part of it [...]: the fury of inspired barbarism against sated imperialism. [...] Romantic formalism has always been an artistic orientation of ensconced and terminal dominations. And it is thus in our time: that of a unique and multiform doctrine (economic liberalism and political electoralism), integrating for the first time the quasi-totality of human species in the distribution and constraint of its fortune.

"Yes, our time is that of the unique doctrine and of the consensus which is created around it under the strange name of 'democracy.' Any unique doctrine of this type is desperate, nihilist, because it only proposes to the human multiplicity the absurd perpetuation of its obscene order. And the artistic subjectivity that it leads to is that of this nihilism and of this obscenity. [...] The only maxim of contemporary art is to not be 'Western.' Which means also that it should not be democratic, if democratic means: conforming to the Western idea of political liberty. [...] Yes, the only problem is to know if the artistic imperative can be detached from the Western imperative, which is that of marketing and communication. Western democracy, in effect, is marketing and communication. Thus true art is that which interrupts marketing, that which communicates nothing. Immobile and incommunicable, this is the art we need, the only one that addresses everyone, not circulating according to any pre-established network and not communicating with anyone in particular. Art should augment in everyone the non-democratic strength of one's liberty. [...]

"A non-Western art is necessarily an abstract art, in the following sense: it abstracts from all particularity and formalizes this gesture of abstraction. In order to combat expressivity, to combat Romantic formalism, there is only the dynamic of abstraction. [...] The abstraction in art which is and which is to come does not consider any particular public [...]: it does what it says, without needing acceptance from anyone. We affirm that all sociological and institutional speculations about the audience for the arts must be abandoned. Sociology, and criticism itself, is only and always the auxiliary of Western democracy. [...] Convinced of controlling the entire extent of the visible and of the audible through commercial laws of marketing and the democratic laws of communication, contemporary power no longer needs censorship. It says: 'Everything is possible.' Which also might mean that nothing is. Abandoning itself to this authorization to jouir [enjoy, delight in] is the ruin of all art, as well as all thought. We should be our own pitiless censors. [...] It is better to do nothing than to work officially in the visibility of what the West declares to exist."

Alain Badiou was formerly chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris.

20 September 2010

Article: Democracy Still Matters

Roger Cohen, a London-based "International Herald Tribune" columnist, in an op-ed piece the "New York Times" today published on its website, eloquently paints a picture of the global "anti-democratic tide" that seems at once gradual and unavoidable. The title of the article, "Democracy Still Matters", subsequently cannot but ring untrue.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "One mystery of the first decade of the 21st century is the decline of democracy. It's not that nations with democratic systems have dwindled in number but that democracy has lost its luster. It's an idea without a glow. [...] Those who saw something of the blood expended through the 20th century to secure liberal societies must inevitably find democracy's diminished appeal puzzling. But there are reasons. The lingering wars waged partly in democracy's name in Iraq and Afghanistan hurt its reputation [...]. Given the bloody mayhem, it was easy to portray 'democracy' as a fig leaf for the West's bellicose designs and casual hypocrisies. While the democratic West fought, a nondemocratic China grew. It emerged onto the world stage prizing stability, avoiding military adventure and delivering 10 percent annual growth of which Western democracies could only dream. China's 'surge' was domestic. It was unencumbered by the paralyzing debate of democratic process.

"When the West's financial system imploded in 2008, the Chinese response was vigorous. A 'Beijing consensus' gained traction. The borderline between democracy and authoritarianism grew more opaque. The dichotomy between freedom and tyranny suddenly seemed oh-so 20th century. The new authoritarianism of China or Russia was harder to define and therefore harder to confront. 'Regimes like the one in Russia are stabilized by the fact that they have no ideology,' said Ivan Krastev, a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. 'There is really no ideological means to attack them.' They also derive resilience from the fact that their borders are open. 'The middle class is not interested in changing the system because if they don't like it they can fly to London,' Krastev noted. Having grown up in Communist Bulgaria, he believes democracy was oversold in the 1990's. All good things, at the Cold War's end, were shoveled into the democratic basket: prosperity, growth, peace. When democracy stopped delivering in these areas, it suffered. [...]

"Meanwhile technology kicked in with what the author Jonathan Franzen has called its 'trillion little bits of distracting noise.' People, synched with themselves, retreated into private networks and away from the public space – the commons – where democratic politics had been played out. Democracies seemed blocked, as in Belgium, or corrupted, as in Israel, or parodies, as in Italy, or paralyzed, as in the Netherlands. [...] Obama soon found himself caught in the gridlock of the very partisan shrieking he had vowed to overcome. [...] So what? So what if money trumped democracy and stability trumped open societies for hundreds of millions of people? So what if the rule of law or individual freedom was compromised, the press muzzled, and media-controlling presidents thought they could use 'democracy' to rule for life with occasional four-year breaks. So what if people no longer thought their vote would change anything because politics was for sale? Perhaps liberal democracy, along with its Western cradle, had passed its zenith."

As of now, the article seems not to have appeared in print in the "New York Times", though it may be included in a print edition of the "Times"-owned "International Herald Tribune".

19 September 2010

Article: Neoleninism in Post-democracy (in German)

Micha Brumlik is the author of an article titled "Neoleninismus in der Postdemokratie" (Neoleninism in Post-democracy), published in the monthly German magazine "Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik" (literally, "Pages for German and International Politics"; 8/2010: pp. 105-16):


Abstract in English (found online and apparently provided by the magazine): "What do Joachim Gauck's candidacy for German President and the 'Communism Congress' at Volksbühne Berlin [both in June 2010] have in common? Both represent the longing for alternatives in 'Post-democracy'. Micha Brumlik, Professor of Pedagogy at the University of Frankfurt on the Main and co-editor of the Blätter, criticises Alain Badiou's and Slavoj Zizek's undemocratic 'neo-leninism'."

Here too, I had no access to the full text of the article.

Article: The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy

Adrian Pabst, "The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy" ("Telos", 152, fall 2010: pp. 44-67):


Excerpt: "Is the neo-liberal era since the mid-1970s synonymous with a corporate capture of the state and the passage to 'post-democracy'? And if so, might the failure of neo-liberalism since the onset of the international economic crisis in 2007 and the state-sponsored bailout of global finance presage a return to the primacy of democratic politics over 'free-market' economics commonly associated with the post-World War II period? At the time of this writing, it is premature to analyze the aftermath of the Great Recession (2007-09), which could yet mutate into a twenty-first-century Great Depression. However, the current ..."

Unfortunately, the journal neither provides an abstract nor a more extensive excerpt. I could not access the full text of the article (which was published as part of a themed issue on "Religion and the Critique of Modernity").

Adrian Pabst is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Kent.

Article: Why Democracies Collapse: The Reasons for Democratic Failure and Success

Abraham Diskin, Hanna Diskin, and Reuven Y. Hazan, "Why Democracies Collapse: The Reasons for Democratic Failure and Success" ("International Political Science Review", 26 [3], July 2005: pp. 291-309):


Abstract: "Most studies of democratic stability are based within either the socioeconomic or the politico-institutional tradition, but usually not on both. This article combines the two approaches. In all, 11 variables associated with democratic stability are divided into four groups (institutional, societal, mediating, and extraneous) and examined in 30 cases of democratic collapse and 32 cases of stable democracies. Five variables prove to be the most influential on the fate of democracies. When a country scores negatively on four of these five variables it is almost doomed to collapse. Some of the variables prove to be correlated in an opposite way to that which has been suggested in the literature."

Unfortunately, I could not access the full text of the article.

Abraham Diskin is Professor and Reuven Y. Hazan is Associate Professor, both in the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Hanna Diskin, the Director General of Maggie Publishers, Jerusalem, also lectures in that department.

18 September 2010

Public forum: Power Grab: European Integration in the Post-Democratic Age

Policy forum "Power Grab: European Integration in the Post-Democratic Age", organized by The Cato Institute, F.A. Hayek Auditorium, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, USA, 8 October 2010, 12.00 noon-1.30 pm


Description: "The Lisbon Treaty of 2009 massively increased the powers of Brussels and gave the European Union its own resident and foreign service. Supporters of Lisbon claim that it will make the EU more efficient and effective. Critics say that the treaty, which was adopted in spite of its rejection in several national referenda, will further deepen Europe's 'democratic deficit.' Other events, including the violation of the legal arrangements prohibiting the recent bailout of Greece, raise questions about the EU's commitment to the rule of law. By transcending nationalism, the EU was meant to be the way of the future. Today, however, many associate it with an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy."

Participants include Frits Bolkestein (former European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services); John R. Gillingham (Professor in the Department of History, University of Missouri-St. Louis); and Angelos Pangratis (Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the United States).

Open to the public free of charge. Early arrival is recommended as seating is limited and not guaranteed. Business attire requested. Followed by a buffet luncheon.

To register for the event, please fill out the form on the website or send an e-mail with full details (name, affiliation, etc.) to: events@cato.org

Alternatively, the event can be watched live on the website.

The Cato Institute is a libertarian public policy think tank.

17 September 2010

Article: An alternative to the new wave of ecofascism

Micah White, a US activist and contributing editor at the Canada-based anti-consumerist magazine "Adbusters", is the author of an op-ed article titled "An alternative to the new wave of ecofascism", published on 16 September 2010 on the website of the British "Guardian" newspaper.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "It is time to acknowledge that mainstream environmentalism has failed to prevent climate catastrophe. Its refusal to call for an immediate consumption reduction has backfired and its demise has opened the way for a wave of fascist environmentalists who reject democratic freedom. One well-known example of the authoritarian turn in environmentalism is James Lovelock, the first scientist to discover the presence of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. Earlier this year he told the Guardian that democracies are incapable of adequately addressing climate change. [...] His words may be disturbing, but other ecologists have gone much further. Take for example Pentti Linkola, a Finnish fisherman and ecological philosopher. Whereas Lovelock puts his faith in advanced technology, Linkola proposes a turn to fascistic primitivism. Their only point of agreement is on the need to suspend democracy.

"Linkola has built an environmentalist following by calling for an authoritarian, ecological regime that ruthlessly suppresses consumers. Largely unknown outside of Finland until the first English translation of his work was published last year, Linkola represents environmentalism pushed to its totalitarian extreme. [...] His bold political programme includes [...] 're-education' in eco-gulags [...]. In Linkola's dystopian vision, the resources of the state are mobilised to clamp down on individual liberty. But there is no need to suspend democracy if it is returned to the people. Democratic, anti-fascist environmentalism means marshalling the strength of humanity to suppress corporations. Only by silencing the consumerist forces will both climate catastrophe and ecological tyranny be averted."

White calls for "the criminalisation of advertising" and "the possibility of death penalties for corporations". While he claims that this would be done "voluntarily and joyously", it is hard to see just how the measures he proposes are more democratic than those of the ecofascists. He too appears to be seeking to mobilize the resources of the (democratic) state to clamp down on consumerism.

Linkola, the son of a former Rector of the University of Helsinki and grandson of a former Chancellor of that same university, has had a "Fansite" dedicated to him:


On that site, he is quoted as saying (presumably originally in Finnish): "Any dictatorship would be better than modern democracy. There cannot be so incompetent dictator, [sic] that he would show more stupidity than a majority of the people. Best dictatorship would be one where lots of heads would roll and government would prevent any economical growth." / "A minority can never have any other effective means to influence the course of matters but through the use of violence." / "We will have to ... learn from the history of revolutionary movements – the [N]ational [S]ocialists, the Finnish Stalinists, from the many stages of the Russian revolution, from the methods of the Red Brigades – and forget our narcissistic selves." / "[D]emocracy and parliamentary system [...] are the most mindless and desperate experiments of the mankind ... [sic]"

The links on the website to other ecofascist resources and groups appear not to be working.

15 September 2010

CONF: The end of democracy

A debate on "The end of democracy" will be organized by the Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE), at the Fundación Mapfre, Paseo de Recoletos 23, Madrid, Spain, 22 September 2010


Description: "How has the financial crisis affected the credibility of democratic values? What is the impact of the increasing weight of other political systems, such as China and Russia's? Are democracy promotion policies still valid? Why does Spain not play a greater role in this area? Why has the number of democracies decreased worldwide during the last decade? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this debate".

Participants include: Pedro Solbes (former Deputy Vice President and Minister of Economy of Spain); Ana Palacio (former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank); Eduardo Serra (former Minister of Defense of Spain); and Fernando Vallespín (Professor of Political Science, Autonomous University of Madrid). The debate will be led by Richard Youngs, Director General of the Madrid-based "European think tank for global action" FRIDE and Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick.

Attendance is by invitation only.

For further information, please contact Richard Youngs: ryoungs@fride.org

(Update 2 October 2010: Contributions to this event, in Spanish, have been uploaded to the website as audio and video files.)

05 September 2010

Article: "Peak oil" may threaten survival of democracy, says German military

On 1 September 2010, the major German weekly news magazine "Der Spiegel" published on its English website an article by business editor Stefan Schultz titled "Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis".

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how 'peak oil' might change the global economy. The internal draft document – leaked on the Internet – shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis. The term 'peak oil' is used by energy experts to refer to a point in time when global oil reserves pass their zenith and production gradually begins to decline. This would result in a permanent supply crisis [...]. The issue is so politically explosive that it's remarkable when an institution like the Bundeswehr, the German military, uses the term 'peak oil' at all. [...] The study is a product of the Future Analysis department of the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, a think tank tasked with fixing a direction for the German military. The team of authors [...] warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the 'total collapse of the markets' and of serious political and economic crises.

"The study [...] was not meant for publication. The document is said to be in draft stage and to consist solely of scientific opinion, which has not yet been edited by the Defense Ministry and other government bodies. [...] According to the German report, there is 'some probability that peak oil will occur around the year 2010 and that the impact on security is expected to be felt 15 to 30 years later.' The Bundeswehr prediction is consistent with those of well-known scientists who assume global oil production has either already passed its peak or will do so this year. [...] 'In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse.' [...] The Bundeswehr study also raises fears for the survival of democracy itself. Parts of the population could perceive the upheaval triggered by peak oil 'as a general systemic crisis.' This would create 'room for ideological and extremist alternatives to existing forms of government.' Fragmentation of the affected population is likely and could 'in extreme cases lead to open conflict.'" (bold removed)

04 September 2010

Book: Political Institutions under Dictatorship

Jennifer Gandhi, "Political Institutions under Dictatorship" (Cambridge University Press, September 2008):


Publisher's description: "Often dismissed as window-dressing, nominally democratic institutions, such as legislatures and political parties, play an important role in non-democratic regimes. In a comprehensive cross-national study of all non-democratic states from 1946 to 2002 that examines the political uses of these institutions by dictators, Gandhi finds that legislative and partisan institutions are an important component in the operation and survival of authoritarian regimes. She examines how and why these institutions are useful to dictatorships in maintaining power, analyzing the way dictators utilize institutions as a forum in which to organize political concessions to potential opposition in an effort to neutralize threats to their power and to solicit cooperation from groups outside of the ruling elite. The use of legislatures and parties to co-opt opposition results in significant institutional effects on policies and outcomes under dictatorship."

Endorsements: "This book represents a major contribution to the resurgent study of non-democratic regimes. It is one of the first substantial pieces of modern social scientific analysis of the phenomenon, skillfully combining formal and quantitative cross-national analysis with country case studies. It will have a major impact in the study of modern authoritarian regimes." (Miriam A. Golden, UCLA)

"Her three kinds of dictatorship and two kinds of institutions produce a rich and informative empirical analysis in which she explains variation in the longevity, policy and performance of non-democratic governments." (William R. Keech, Carnegie Mellon University)

In 2009, the book won the triennial Award for Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Politics granted by the Research Committee on Concepts and Methods of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Mexico City.

Jennifer Gandhi is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Emory University.

Article: Enemies of democracy (in Nigeria)

Adamu Adamu, a columnist writing for various Nigerian newspapers, is the author of an article titled "Enemies of democracy" that was published in two parts on 26 July and 2 August 2010 in the "Peoples Daily".

The full text of the article can be read free of charge online:

Part I:

Part II:

Excerpts: "If, as they always say, democracy is rule of the people, by the people and for the people, what exactly will they call what has been happening in Nigeria? If they will be honest with themselves, they ought to admit that democracy here is simply a kleptocratic autocracy in which so-called elections are also held. [...] It shouldn't be surprising if those who don't believe in the essential equality of human beings hate the very idea of democracy. Nor will it be unexpected if those opposed to the principle of the rule of law become an obstacle to the instituting of democratic culture. [...] But democracy's most determined enemies are not, as you may suppose, kings and queens or Emirs and Chiefs, though they are by no means its friends; its most dangerous enemies are those who eagerly join its train, loudly espouse its name, greedily enjoy its dividends and then unwittingly – or all too wittingly – dig its grave. Thus, democracy in Nigeria will certainly not fail because of those who openly come out to oppose it; but it may disappear on account of those who hide and subvert its very essence from within.

"It is indeed the special misfortune of democracy in Nigeria that it has three powerful, determined, and well-placed enemies – the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. In other places, these are the three pillars upon which democratic rule is founded; but here these are the three weapons with which its very foundation is plundered. Instead of checking and balancing each other, they checkmate the system and outdo each other only in the race to help themselves to the spoils. [...] And as it is locally, so is it globally: at home, they swear by democracy even as they empty the national treasury without asking themselves whether democracy is compatible with thievery; abroad, they raise the cry of democracy even as they go about conquering the world, without asking themselves whether imperialism is compatible with democracy. In the name of democracy, the world's most formidable military machine is currently on the rampage in the Middle East, as it will soon be in certain areas of Africa with resources worth stealing.

"The function of the Legislature is to make laws for the good governance of the nation, while its other role in governance is to serve as a check on the exercise of the powers of the Executive. But we all know that the laws for the good governance of this nation are yet to be passed just as the exercise of executive power is yet to be checked. Instead of making laws, the majority of lawmakers spend their time out of the law-making chambers busy running around cornering contracts in ministries and departments, or playing Public Service Commission as they corner all appointments into all parastatal boards and government agencies for their candidates. But making laws is actually no bother at all. All you have to do is go to the internet and copy bills from other jurisdictions; or in fact you can have the entire dog work done for you by interested non-governmental organisations, or have it sponsored – hook, line, sinker and fish-knife – by foreign embassies.

"The only bills for which legislators show enthusiasm are the ones detailing their salaries and allowances [....] [W]hat the country should have are not these business-as-usual routine pseudo-democrats who only exploit democracy to create exclusive heavens for themselves even as the society sinks into further political and economic decline and deeper cultural decadence [...]. But with economic policy dictated by international financial institutions, diplomatic policy conducted out of fear of superpowers, [...] [p]erhaps impunity has really come to stay [...]: both the ruling party and the opposition parties are at heart undemocratic and can even be anti-democratic in equal measure [...]. When leaders or parties can't be voted out, the nation is saddled with politicians who will not cooperate to grow democracy in the country but can get together to fleece it for their own benefit. [...] Democratic victory was not obtained at the ballot box in all the past three elections; it was sold to the highest bidder. [...] And that is why there is no democracy in Nigeria today: too many enemies and no friend."

03 September 2010

Articles: Israel: Fascism is already here

The left-wing political commentator and columnist Yossi Sarid, a member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) for 32 years and former Minister of Education, Minister of the Environment, and opposition leader, is the author of an article titled "Fascism is already here" that appeared today on the English-language website of the influential Israeli newspaper "Haaretz".

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "Israeli democracy is mainly for decoration, like a tree grown for its beauty, not to bear fruit. Few people actually use it or the rights it affords. Many are merely happy that they can vote in the Knesset elections, and even this number is getting smaller. [...] But here we find a paradox: Those who fight against democracy in order to destroy it, to set up an alternative state in its place, are the very people who know how to exploit it to the full. The settlers know, as do the rabbis, who teach their students how their 'Jewish state' will look. During the past few months it appears as if fascism has already arrived here and is waiting just behind the wall. [...] They use democracy in order to toss it out."

Yossi Sarid, who is the author of six books, currently lectures at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.

Already on 23 July 2010, the British newspaper "The Guardian" published in its print edition (p. 28) and on its website an article by contributor Rachel Shabi titled "Israel turns upon its own".

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "Israel's liberal left has been warning about this for decades – and now those cautionary words seem like prophesies. Lines of Israeli authors, academics and campaigners have long said that the ugly occupation of the Palestinian people would corrode Israel and derail its democracy. Human rights advocates repeatedly warned that a nation capable of meting out such punishing discrimination to another people would eventually turn on itself. And so it has. The country is in thrall to such anti-democratic sentiment and mob rule racism, manifesting at such breakneck speed that it is hard to keep up. [...] The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Acri) lists 14 antidemocratic laws currently working their way through parliament, from the demand that Arab citizens pledge allegiance to a 'Jewish democracy' to attempts to gag Israeli rights groups. [...] All this has widespread support".

Rachel Shabi is a freelance journalist born in Israel to Iraqi-Jewish parents, but grown up in the UK. For the past few years, she has been based in Israel.

On the other hand, on 6 August 2010, "Haaretz" published an article online on "The real danger to Israel's civic society", written by Gerald Steinberg and Asher Friedman.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "In Russia, Venezuela, Egypt and other repressive societies, the activities of foreign-funded, non-governmental organizations promoting democracy are subject to police harassment and legal restraints. The Israeli environment for NGOs is the polar opposite, with thousands of these organizations, from across the political spectrum, operating freely. Taking advantage of this situation, a number of political-advocacy NGOs are leading campaigns that use the rhetoric of human rights, international law and humanitarian aid to delegitimize Israel and label its leaders as 'war criminals.' This has led to growing criticism of these organizations [...]. In response, these groups have launched a campaign, claiming that the criticism constitutes an assault on democracy. [...] Another element of the 'democracy under attack' argument focuses on Knesset draft bills that would allegedly 'damage in an extremely severe manner the basic principles' of democracy and human rights [...]. This multi-front counter-attack reflects anti-democratic tendencies among these NGOs. [...] Democratic values are threatened most when they are invoked to stifle the very debate that embodies the essence of these values. And this is the real danger to Israeli civic society."

Gerald Steinberg is Professor of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University and President of NGO Monitor. Asher Friedman is a Research Fellow at NGO Monitor.

I can't figure out whether the two "Haaretz" articles appeared in print too, either in the English or Hebrew edition of the paper.

01 September 2010

Book: Nineteenth-Century Nationalism and Twentieth-Century Anti-democratic Ideals

Ieva Zake, "Nineteenth-Century Nationalism and Twentieth-Century
Anti-democratic Ideals: The Case of Latvia, 1840s to 1980s" (Edwin Mellen Press, 2008):


Publisher's description: "This study analyzes political writings of the Latvian intellectuals who pursued the ideas of national identity and liberation, over a period of nearly one hundred and fifty years. In addition to providing a better general understanding of intellectuals' behavior and influence, it illuminates the largely neglected subject of the differences between the political, social, and cultural influence of Western and Eastern European intellectuals."

Endorsements: "One cannot help but be struck by the intellectual honesty of the author, who is unsparing in her critical analysis of the often provincial, intolerant, and undemocratic strains within Latvian Nationalist thought. ... At the same time, the author acknowledges the dedication of these educated men and women to national liberation and to the cultivation of cultural identity in often difficult circumstances."
(Nils Muižnieks, University of Latvia)

"Without doubt, this thoroughly documented and well researched book is an original and significant contribution to scholarship. It combines new historical information with important sociological and political analysis by a native of the area discussed." (Paul Hollander, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

"Providing the reader with a fresh outlook, based on a solid source base, the author offers an appealing examination of why, as was the case of many of the East Central European countries squeezed between colossal Russia and almighty Germany, nationalism at times seemed a synonym to liberation, and national culture safeguarding."
(Anna A. Mazurkiewicz, University of Gdansk, Poland)

Latvian-born Ieva Zake is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Rowan University in the USA.