Another day, another 10 score drowned at sea

Another day, another 10 score drowned at sea. If this were a just world, and not just a world, there would have been a bus waiting on the other side of the border, a bus that would ferry to safety those traumatized so much that they must leave their home.  That someone would flee home would be evidence enough that some wrong was so grievous that sanctuary should be provided. No one should have to risk everything for a ride on a rubber raft in choppy waters.

But the problem is that we in the West have muted their voices, just as you might turn down the sound on the television. They are rendered “of no account in a relation of dependence on the oligarchs,” to borrow a phrase of Jacques Ranciere’s out of context (Disagreement, p. 22). Refugees at sea, they are victims of a “symbolic distribution of bodies that divides” people “into two categories: those that one sees and those that one cannot [or does not] see.” And we might add, those we can hear and those we do not, “those who have logos—memorial speech, an account to be kept up”—and those who are deemed as having no logos with which to reckon.

Another day, another crime against humanity.

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:
http://www.cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-15298-3/democracy-in-what-state

With best wishes,
Meredith Howard