Democracy in What State? — note on a new book

I just got this note from the publicity director of Columbia University Press — and the book looks well worth a plug!

Dear Gone Public,

Columbia University Press is pleased to announce the publication of Democracy in What State? by Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Daniel Bensaid, Wendy Brown, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Kristin Ross, and Slavoj Zizek.

A monumental collaboration among the world’s top philosophers on the nature and purpose of democracy in our time.

“Is it meaningful to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?”

In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Rancière highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it.

Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate.
Series: New Directions in Critical Theory

“Democracy in What State? is an extremely significant contribution to the critical debate on the current state of world politics and, more specifically, to the role of the term ‘democracy’ in political theory and practice. It includes invited contributions and interviews with a battery of intellectuals who possess a rare conceptual pedigree, including some of the most well-known living European philosophers, as well as the welcome contribution of two renowned American intellectuals.”
-Gabriel Rockhill, Villanova University

To read an excerpt or find out more about this work go to:

With best wishes,
Meredith Howard

On miniskirts, track suits, and the end of civilization

A high-ranking Russian Orthodox official has pinpointed the scourge of the current era.  It’s not obscenely paid Goldman Partners; it’s not climate change; it’s not Sarah Palin or high fructose corn syrup or Baby Doc or ObamaCare.

It’s women in miniskirts.

As the New York Times reported from Russia today,

A top official for the Russian Orthodox Church on Tuesday proposed creating an “all-Russian dress code,” lashing out at women who leave the house “painted like a clown” and “confuse the street with striptease.”

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin has angered women’s groups recently with his comments about female modesty. At a December round table on interethnic relations, he said a woman wearing a miniskirt “can provoke not only a man from the Caucasus,” the predominately Muslim region on Russia’s southern border, “but a Russian man as well.”

Hot damn, even the white boys can be undone by these harlots.

But what I love the most about this story — enough to cause me to resurrect this blog from its recent somnambulence — is the Archpriest’s attention to the danger that men might pose, too, depending upon their attire.

After he suggested that those scantily dressed woman who were drunk as well deshabille were  just an invitation to be raped, “feminists began to protest. Chaplin responded Tuesday, the NYT reports,  with a pungent letter, saying “provocative clothing led to ‘to short-term marriages, which are immediately followed by ratlike divorces, to the destruction of children’s lives, to solitude and madness, to life-catastrophe.’

According to the NYT, Chaplin “argued that clothing was not a private business, and that he hoped that Russia would soon be a place where scantily dressed women or men in track suits would not be admitted into public venues.”

Hell, yea.  Men in track suits in public are an abomination.

I’d prefer seeing them in Prada.

Mmm. Mmm.


Footnote: I was baptized Greek Orthodox, and I’ve seen my share of weird freak out stuff about women and their bodies there.