We are living under the administration of fear: fear has become an environment, an everyday landscape. There was a time when wars, famines, and epidemics were localized and limited by a certain timeframe. Today, it is the world itself that is limited, saturated, and manipulated, the world itself that seizes us and confines us with a stressful claustrophobia. Stock-market crises, undifferentiated terrorism, lightning pandemics, “professional” suicides . . . . Fear has become the world we live in.
Voters often make irrational decisions based on inaccurate and irrelevant information. Politicians are often inept, corrupt, or out of touch with the will of the people. Elections can be determined by the design of the ballot and the gerrymandered borders of a district. And yet, despite voters who choose candidates according to the boxer–brief dichotomy and politicians who struggle to put together a coherent sentence, democracy works exceptionally well: citizens of democracies are healthier, happier, and freer than citizens of other countries.
Historical conflict no longer opposes two massive molar heaps, two classes—;the exploited and the exploiters, the dominant and dominated, managers and workers—between which, in each individual case, it would be possible to differentiate. The front line no longer cuts through the middle of society; it now runs through each one of us. . . "
Why do walls marking national boundaries proliferate amid widespread proclamations of global connectedness and despite anticipation of a world without borders? Why are barricades built of concrete, steel, and barbed wire when threats to the nation today are so often miniaturized, vaporous, clandestine, dispersed, or networked?
"Society no longer exists, at least in the sense of a differentiated whole. There is only a tangle of norms and mechanisms through which THEY hold together the scattered tatters of the global biopolitical fabric, through which THEY prevent its violent disintegration. Empire is the administrator of this desolation, the supreme manager of a process of listless implosion."
—from Introduction to Civil War
On the eve of its fifth decade, the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories can no longer be considered a temporary aberration. Israel's control over Palestinian life, society, space and land has become firmly entrenched while acquiring more sophisticated and enduring forms.
Thirty years of "crisis," mass unemployment, and flagging growth, and they still want us to believe in the economy. . . . We have to see that the economy is itself the crisis. It's not that there's not enough work, it's that there is too much of it.
—from The Coming Insurrection
On any given night cable TV news will tell us how polarized American politics is: Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Canada. But in fact, writes Peter Wenz in Beyond Red and Blue, Americans do not divide neatly into two ideological camps of red/blue, Republican/Democrat, right/left. In real life, as Wenz shows, different ideologies can converge on certain issues; people from the right and left can support the same policy for different reasons.
Democracy is not in steady state, and democratizations are open-ended processes; they depend on structures and functions in systemic contexts that idiosyncratically evolve in tone, tenor, direction, and pace over time. They affect and are affected by scores of determinants, both perceived and hypothetical. In interlinked chapters that span a number of disciplines, this volume reexamines the basic traits, the comparable outcomes, and the self-defining dynamics of some of the more widely attempted versions of democracy across the world.
This volume examines continuities and change in the normative underpinnings of both ancient and modern practices of political governance, public duties, private virtues, and personal rights and responsibilities. As such, it stands at the multi-disciplinary intersection between the practice of democratic citizenship and the exercise of political ethics.