59

Critique & Humanism | 35 | 2010 | Challenges to representative democracy today

Special issue, only English version: 5, 2010, p.366, ISSN: 1313-7751

Купи изданието

Agonistic politics between ethics and politics

Chantal Mouffe

 

In this paper I examine the differences existing between the diverse theorists who advocate an agonistic approach. After a brief presentation of the main tenets of my own view – which puts the emphasis on the ineradicability of antagonism – I distinguish it from those who envisage an ‘agonism without antagonism’ like Hannah Arendt, Bonnie Honig, and William Connolly. I argue that those theories do not offer an adequate conception of the political and that they should better be classified as ‘ethical’.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Carl Schmitt’s Nomos of the Earth and the evolution of his thought

Artemy Magun

 

 

Carl Schmitt’s definition of the political as distinction between friend and enemy has received a lot of attention and has been justly criticized as a normative theory that erases intermediate and borderline identities while privileging the figure of enemy at the expense of the figure of friend. The article analyzes the reproaches to Schmitt made by some of the greatest contemporary philosophers such as Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben. However, an attentive reading of Schmitt’s later work, particularly Nomos of the Earth, shows that the German thinker rethinks his concept of politics by giving it a historical turn. Distinction between friend and enemy depends on the existence of a sphere of indistinction between them, of a state of emergency which is provided by a historical event. The book should be read as an experience of self-criticism. Its argument is still pertinent today: it emphasizes that the ‘state of emergency’ is not simply a false imposition of order upon chaos but a provision that requires law to pay attention to reality instead of closing in itself and sanctioning anomie throughout the world (as Agamben justly sees it happening now). This anomie is a product of the abstractness of law, and emphatically not of a state of exception.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Between Sovereign Violence and Human Action. Giorgio Agamben and the Critique of Political Sovereignty

Boyan Manchev

 

Today, the ascertainment of a ‘crisis of the political’ (that is to say, not merely a particular political crisis but a crisis of the overall model of representative democracy dominating in the last decades and, therefore, of an array of generally established political principles of modernity that until recently appeared to be unshakeable) is shared by an array of radical political philosophers and to a great extent coincides, though with a reversed evaluation, with the neoliberal diagnosis of ‘the end of the political.’ There could hardly be any doubt about the fact that this crisis is part and parcel of a much more global transformation (parallel to the process which is obscurely called ‘globalization’) that affects the forms of production and exchange as well as the social structures and practices, and public space, reaching also the most intimate spheres of private being. This paper aims at proposing several theoretical hypotheses on the current crisis, which is undoubtedly connected to the crisis of modern conceptual modes of thinking of the political, through the prism of some radical interpretations of Walter Benjamin’s political theses by Giorgio Agamben. The unprecedented interest in the two volumes of Agamben’s Homo Sacer is unquestionably symptomatic of the critical thinking of the present. Hence, it is of particular interest to subject his theses to a detailed analysis in order to see where they succeed in grasping the symptom and where they fail to attain the level of a critical gesture and therefore become part of the symptom itself.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Democracy between the people and civil society

Momchil Hristov

 

The expert critique of populism is gradually de-legitimizing every reference to ‘the people’ in contemporary political discourses. Instead, civil society is coming to the front as a subject of legitimate democratic political action. But isn’t there a danger that civil society may unconditionally replace the people as a basis for democratic politics (as the etymology of the word ‘democracy’ indicates) and covertly reshape the possibilities for political disagreement on the order of power according to a liberal vision of civil society that has been in a position of hegemony since the 1990s? This text is an attempt to explore the history of the tense and complicated relationship between ‘the people’ and ‘civil society’ understood as principles which structure particular practices of governance and resistance in modern democratic politics. Two historical cases of conflict between those two principles are reviewed in brief: in post-revolutionary France and in contemporary counter-populist expert critique. Finally, an attempt is made to demonstrate a reasoned positive conceptualization of ‘the people’ in the philosophy of Jacques Rancière.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

On the strengths and weaknesses of academic social critique

Boyan Znepolski

 

 

This article intends to study the critical potential of critical sociology and pragmatic sociology – the two most influential forms of social critique in contemporary French sociology. Whilst in the 1970s sociologists like Pierre Bourdieu defined their position as critical sociology, in the 1980s some of their close followers, like Luc Boltanski, redefined their own position under the influence of pragmatism as pragmatic sociology. Sociology refused to play an overtly critical role and restricted itself to reconstructing the modalities of critique that social actors refer to in their everyday social practices. In his most recent publications, however, Boltanski has gone back to his first critical commitment, trying to rehabilitate the ambitions of critical sociology and leaving the impression that it could be more appropriate in the context of contemporary societies.

Our purpose is to make this two-sided transformation comprehensible by questioning the underlying methodological and political arguments. Pragmatic sociology seems methodologically stronger but politically weaker than critical sociology. Moreover, it seems more legitimate but less efficient in its critical effects. How could this dilemma of social critique, opposing requirements of legitimacy and requirements of efficiency, be solved?

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

The ordinary – The new metaphysical authority of critique

Milena Iakimova

 

 

This paper traces two versions of the ‘ordinary’ as it functions within radical social critique and within pragmatistically reinterpreted critique, both of them suspending the privileged status of theorizing, though the former not yet abandoning it. Radical critique refers to the ordinary in the sense of undefined, attributeless, unarticulated suffering. Thus the ordinary turns out to be equivalent to the figure of desire that should remain erotically unarticulated if it is to be an authentic source of resistance free of power relations. Pragmatist social critique, on the other hand, diagnoses the blindness of radical critique to the critical activities of the ordinary itself but runs the risk of uncritically reaffirming its claims. Why this is untenable is briefly demonstrated by reference to what the author calls ‘everyday nationalism’, which serves as a ‘critical moment’ in present-day Bulgarian society.

The paper draws upon Stanley Cavell and Luc Boltanski.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

What Is Ideology? An Attempt at Reactualizing a Category of Social Critique

Krassimir Stojanov

 

 

The main purpose of this paper is to show how the concept of ideology can be actualizted by using some methodological merits of contemporary analytic philosophy. The following four main features of ideological statements can be identified as а result of the attempt to reconstruct this concept in a new systematic way: (1) lack of dialogic openness; (2) secondary legitimations of pre-discursive opinions transporting particular political interests and power aspirations; (3) naturalizations of premises; and (4) concealment of the genetic link between the above-mentioned pre-discursive opinions, and particular political interests and power aspirations. These four main features of ideology are illustrated by an analysis of justification patterns used by members of the former communist secret services.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Feminism and the politics of our selves – Rethinking resistance

Amy Allen

 

 

This paper rethinks the question of resistance in feminist theory from the point of view of what the author calls, following Michel Foucault, ‘the politics of our selves’. The paper draws on the work of Foucault, Judith Butler, and Jürgen Habermas to illuminate both sides of the politics of the self: on the one hand, the way in which selves (including gendered selves) are constituted by power relations through the mechanism of subjection, and, on the other hand, the possibilities individuals have of critically resisting and deliberately transforming themselves. After sketching out my account of the politics of our selves, I discuss the ways in which this account can enable us to understand individual and collective resistance to gender subordination.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

On authority

Hristo P. Todorov

 

This article takes as its starting point Hannah Arendt’s understanding of authority according to which authority is a historically unique political phenomenon characteristic of ancient Rome, which disappeared with the downfall of Rome. Examining the non-political forms of authority, which Arendt considers to be insignificant, the semantic structure of the concept of authority is analyzed and a wider understanding of authority is formulated. The distinction between ‘epistemic’ and ‘deontic’ authority is used in the analysis to reveal the ambiguity of this concept. An overview is then presented of the critique of authority in Enlightenment philosophy and of the critique of this critique. Finally, a general understanding of authority, which can be applied also to political authority in the modern age, is formulated. At the heart of this understanding is the idea of the temporary and in principle contestable character of contemporary political authorities.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Do we need a right to democracy?

Stilian Yotov

This article deals with the problems related to the definition and explicit positivation of a possible human right to democracy. Against the background of minimalist political projects aimed at outlining a narrow bundle of human rights, and of wider moral projects where the conception of human rights includes also an adequate form of political participation, the crucial role is stressed of the principle of equality in the relevant decisions concerning such a right. The analysis of the internal logic of democracy and of rights, as well as of the interaction between them, leads to the conclusion that there is a need for a ‘cautious’ interpretation of the right to democracy as an implicit possibility rather as an explicit norm of the political order.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

The right to justification in an international context

Hristo Gyoshev

 

This text offers an analysis of a central conception in Rainer Forst’s political philosophy, the right to justification. I estimate the ability of that right to serve, due to its universality, as a single basic principle relevant to all spheres of social and political life, as I examine its applicability in contemporary political conditions. I argue then that, while the right to justification may claim validity in democratic societies, it is hardly possible to retain its normative meaning in the international political context, outside the scope of national democratic institutions. Here the moral constructivism advanced by Forst as a normative foundation for international justice loses its main theoretical advantage: that of the context-transcending and context-sensitive nature of the right to justification. The main reason for this is that, relying only on the moral core of justification, Rainer Forst is forced to replace the immanent process of discursive constructivism with ‘abstraction’ at the international level, thus violating another central concept – that of cultural integrity – which is not a possible way of establishing that right as a normative source for a universally valid set of human rights. A possible – although just preliminary – way of resolving the theoretical difficulties raised by this approach I see in the conception of exemplary validity, developed by Alessandro Ferrara. The idea of the fulfillment of humanity, defended in it as a ‘concrete universal’ capable of creating counterfactual identity in conflict situations, is a plausible alternative to the strict legal code, pursued by most contemporary political philosophers as a way of creating a common ground for political

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Biopolitics and Sovereignty – Toward the Question of the Limits of Juridical Rationality

Martin Kanoushev

 

This article questions the key premises of the juridical theory of sovereignty. In this perspective, law is understood not as a legitimacy that has to be established but rather from the point of view of the procedures of subjugation embedded in it. The aim is to avoid the issue of sovereignty and thus to allow the issue of domination to emerge. Instead of analyzing power by means of the juridical system of sovereignty, state apparatuses and social ideologies, it is better to analyze it by means of the methods of domination, the forms of subjugation, and real oppressions. We do not comply with the triple precondition of law, unity and subject, which postulates sovereignty as a source of power and as a fundament of institutions, but apprehend the triple point of view of methods of domination, of their diversity and of their consequences, which make them a foundation of power relations; in other words, we deal with a sociological analysis of the constitution of subjects rather than with the genesis of the sovereign.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Slavery, power, and legitimacy (fragments)

Albena Hranova

 

This article examines the concept of ‘slavery’ in nineteenth-century Bulgarian culture. Starting from the theoretical problems in abstracting and formalizing ‘slave’ and ‘slavery’ as unified terms and concepts, it examines their formalized metaphorization in nineteenth-century journalistic texts and institutional documents, as well as the social ‘encounters’ between the thematizations of the metaphor and the literal legal meanings of the term. The study focuses on the interpretations of the legitimacy of power in Bulgarian writing.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

The Right over the Weak. Two Fables about Sovereignty without a Sovereign

Todor Hristov

 

This paper proposes an approach to sovereign performatives capable of taking into account their ambiguous articulation as speech acts that are both self-empowering and bound to certain conventions. The basic idea of the approach is to develop a weaker interpretation of the concept of performative convention detachable from the normative example of legal rules and therefore applicable to common-sense speech acts where conventions are often unclear and underdefined. The advantages of this approach are demonstrated by a discussion of the performative constitution of the right against the weak, which is often invoked today by political actors insisting on the need to empower one or another enlightened and benevolent elite over the irrational multitude.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Everyday Practices and Practical Formalization – The Jurisdiction of Indifferent Everydayness

Kolyo Koev

 

This paper takes its starting point from the use of ‘Alltag’ and ‘Alltäglichkeit’ in Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit. Its main interest however is focused on a dimension of everyday life – namely, ‘indifferent everydayness’ – mentioned only incidentally in Being and Time, and on the possibilities it opens for overturning the very discussion on everyday life in contemporary sociology. With a view to such a perspective I repeatedly bind Heidegger’s viewpoint with the way ethnomethodology treats everyday life, coming up as a matter of fact against the totality of indifferent everydayness. Thus the ‘misreading’ to which ethnomethodology is subjected in the paper opens up a radical vision of everydayness behind ethnomethodological studies and this, on the other hand, throws a new light both on indifferent everydayness and on the sociological potential of the category of everyday life in general. Such a vision breaks with the ordinary comprehension of everyday life through the prism of institutional overcodifications and draws attention to the developing everyday practices in the whirlwind of which the elementary codifications of regularity are produced and stabilized. From such a perspective, special emphasis is placed on the relations between everyday practices and practical formalizations. Heidegger and the ethnomethodologists, though in a different way and in a different style, display a sensitivity to such a dynamic understanding of everyday life. This understanding, on its part, reveals considerable resources for interpreting power legitimation as an element of the immediate interactive practices of exercising power.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Performatives – Violence and demiurgic power

Dimitar Vatsov

 

This paper questions Habermas’s basic term ‘validity claims’. Conceiving of utterances as raising ‘claims’ presupposes a pre-set critical difference between what an utterance immediately says (the words) and what has been uttered by it (the intention, the state of affairs, or intersubjective norms). Habermas inherits this distinction from John Searle, where the difference between intention and illocutionary force, as well as the difference between propositional content and state of affairs are always already presupposed. But such differences, I argue, are not present in the actual performance; they are always only secondarily produced by further performative acts of questioning or contestation. With the help of Derrida and his analyses in the essays ‘Declarations of Independence’ and ‘Force of Law: The “Mystical Foundation of Authority”’, a basic level of speech can be revealed. Namely, the level of the immediate – demiurgic to some extent – constitution of I-Thou-world relations where no stable point is presupposed but all the points are directly affirmed within the actual performance itself. With respect to this level – which is in some sense decisionist, arbitrary, and violent – criticizing and grounding could be conceived as secondary aspects of communication. Far-reaching conclusions can be drawn from that: power is no longer merely a strategic action that should be erased from communication, it is an immanent part of the latter. Hence, intersubjective norms are not neutral, they are always sedimentations of power – and their validity and legitimacy depend not on the elimination of their power but on further actual recognition or non-recognition of their power stakes.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

The Right over the Weak. Two Fables about Sovereignty without a Sovereign

Todor Hristov

 

This paper proposes an approach to sovereign performatives capable of taking into account their ambiguous articulation as speech acts that are both self-empowering and bound to certain conventions. The basic idea of the approach is to develop a weaker interpretation of the concept of performative convention detachable from the normative example of legal rules and therefore applicable to common-sense speech acts where conventions are often unclear and underdefined. The advantages of this approach are demonstrated by a discussion of the performative constitution of the right against the weak, which is often invoked today by political actors insisting on the need to empower one or another enlightened and benevolent elite over the irrational multitude.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Austin and Mauss with Derrida: Gift and speech acts

Darin Tenev

 

If we assume with Deyan Deyanov that there is an essential link between the logic of gift (as developed by Marcel Mauss) and speech act theory, and furthermore if we focus on the non-classical problematic of what Todor Petkov has called ‘molecular performatives,’ we could re-inscribe the Derridean account of the gift in this problematic in order to shed some light on the process of constitution of molecular performatives. According to Derrida, the gift exceeds the gift-exchange (gift – counter-gift) and at the same time is constitutive for exchange in general. In its movement, it restricts itself, letting the very event it brings about be forgotten. Now, if we look at molecular performatives, we could analyze their inventiveness even at the everyday level; at the same time, due to our retrospective point-of-view, they will always seem to follow rather precise rules and conventions. Thus, while on the one hand, they seem to remain in the circle, on the other hand, they should have transcended the circle every time a performative series occurs. Derrida could help with the articulation of the immanent contradictory character of molecular performatives and with the retracing of the way they restrict themselves.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

The Central City Square as a Legitimation Resource: The Main Square of Socialist Sofia

Elitza Stanoeva

 

This paper analyzes one monumental city square in Sofia (Alexander I, later Ninth of September) as one of the key components in the (re)arrangement of the central urban space after the advent of socialism in Bulgaria in 1944. Though focused on the socialist period, the research outlines also the development of the site as a palatial square in the previous monarchic period as a plane of historical comparison. The analysis treats the square not merely as an artifact of urban planning but rather as a stage and a frame – and hence, a legitimizing symbol – of a historically particular political culture (state socialism), as a material manifestation of its ideology and a physical field of its public rituals. Therefore, the research scope is not limited to the square itself but covers also the urban development of its wider spatial context, the political centre of Sofia, and the architectonic structures around which public dynamics in the city centre gravitated spatially and symbolically. In regard to the architectural implementations in this fragment of the city space, the highlight is the Mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov and special significance is placed on the spatial tension and ideological opposition between the mausoleum and the former royal palace as a manifestation of the clash between two antagonistic political regimes (monarchy and people’s republic). Since the analyzed urban topoi were constitutive elements of the governmental centre of Sofia, the central urban space delineated by them is perceived as a visualization of power, and the architectural projects for its reconstruction – as expert solutions of a task that had primarily political importance rather than as autonomous creative ideas.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Democracy Live

Ivaylo Ditchev

 

In the age of new technologies today the political scene is ever more dominated by the imperative of live and immediate feedback from citizens. The dangers of such a radical democracy of opinion have been known since the times of Aristotle: the principal one is the incapacity of power to assume responsibility, if not, by and large, to rule.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Education in democratic societies: Challenge and solutions

Vanya Serafimova

 

This paper examines John Dewey’s notion of the relation of education and democracy in order to illuminate the Bulgarian education context today. It analyzes two essays from Dewey’s late period where he clearly explicates this relation, focusing on the challenge that democracy offers to education. Through the basic categories used by Dewey – information, knowledge, and intelligence – the analysis shows how the challenge of democracy can be met, especially in the specific context of education.

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR

Consumption, that object of political desire

Milla Mineva

 

This text focuses on the construction of a consumer culture as a political project. It aims at interpreting the uses of ‘consumption’ as a ‘soft’ weapon during the Cold War. The text analyzes one particular case, the construction of consumer citizens in socialist Bulgaria, aiming to present consumption as a field of civil rights and most importantly as a battlefield for negotiating public definitions of ‘common good.’

buy article

Author: HSSFoundation

Language: EN

Price: 3.00 EUR