OXFORD POLITICAL REVIEW
An Oxford-based publication focussing on issues of national and international significance
The dangers of
and the digital age
masculinity contests in a
time of pandemic
and Nikole Hannah-Jones
OXFORD POLITICAL REVIEW
When the inaugural issue of the Oxford Political Review was published in February, we anticipated that 2020 would be a landmark year. The UK had just withdrawn from the European Union after 43 years of membership, the largest field of Democratic nominees in recent history had put themselves forward for presidential office, and the trade war between the US and China had started to ease with the long-awaited phase one trade deal. Few could have predicted, however, just how much the world would change in the next five months. The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc across the world, claiming over 675,000 lives (as of 31 July) and infecting over 17 million individuals, with many others still untested. It has trapped us in our homes and brought our economies to a juddering halt. Unlike the flow of capital and goods, it has no regard for profit, only proliferation. Without the need for a passport, it swept across borders – by land, air, and sea. There is something unsettling about the rapid rate at which COVID-19 ascended onto the world stage. Once dismissed as a meager flu that circulated primarily within “less-developed” states, it is now widely seen as a deadly pathogen that got the better of even the most well-developed places. Cynics of democracy have eagerly leapt at the opportunity to vindicate their thesis: that liberal democracy is a governance system unfit for the challenges of a new and volatile
world. This is undoubtedly an historic moment to rethink our systems and how they function, but it is not the time to contemplate authoritarian alternatives. The world has experienced pathogens in more ways than one this year. The death of George Floyd in May threw into sharp relief another kind of disease: the odious racism that still plagues modern America. The subsequent activism of thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters across the democratic world has sparked much-needed conversations about race, injustice, and how former colonial powers engage with their problematic histories of slavery and empire. June was an especially turbulent month; India and China engaged in skirmishes over an ongoing territorial dispute in the Galwan Valley, while China passed a National Security Law in Hong Kong – a seeming culmination of over a year of vitriolic, embittered clashes between civilians and the police force. The weeks that followed have revealed some significant challenges to governments, old and new. The People’s Action Party in Singapore recently suffered an electoral setback, Syria’s parliamentary elections produced an extremely low turnout with war and poverty still looming large over Assad’s regime, and a British parliamentary report on widespread Russian interference has precipitated concerns over the UK’s national security.
The theme for our second issue pertains to “Globalisation and Its Discontents”. As custodians of the contemporary economic order, many amongst us have long extolled globalisation as a transformative force for the good. Indeed, globalisation has brought us ever closer, consolidated trade and economic ties, and facilitated unprecedented cultural exchanges. Yet globalisation has also rendered us increasingly vulnerable. From accelerating the rates at which capitalism exploits natural resources across the world, to expediting the spread of infectious diseases, globalisation is a double-edged sword. It is a process, now more than ever, that requires our attention and careful stewardship. In this issue, you will find three interviews that we believe suitably reflect the zeitgeist and the times we live in. First, in our interview with Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, and one of the most established public intellectuals of the past century, we discuss the future of American politics and this year’s US presidential election, as well as the tenability of anarchism. Second, we interview the Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, a renowned economist whose book is the namesake of our issue’s theme. With him we discuss the future of capitalism, the management of globalisation, and the limits to state power. Third and finally, in acknowledgment of her work as a pioneering journalist, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and an advocate for African-American
rights, we speak with Nikole Hannah-Jones, whose 1619 Project with the New York Times has critically re-examined the legacy of slavery in the United States. This issue also features the writings of a diverse body of undergraduate and postgraduate students, focussing on an equally diverse body of subject matters. Sharmila Parmanand pens an insightful article on the dangers of hyper-masculinity in political leadership, especially at a time of a national crisis. William Cashmore, Ameya Pratap Singh, and Dhruva Gandhi offer critical observations on how we, as governments and citizens, might reform our world after this pandemic. Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury and Gabriel Levie respectively examine the future trajectory of Indian security and the European Parliament. Ghida Ismail investigates the perennial question of the informal economy’s role in economic growth. Russell Clarke offers a more intricate and nuanced account of power in the digital age through Arendtian lenses. Finally, Nikita Gryazin brings us home, with an introspective reflection upon the implications of the UK Labour Party’s new Shadow Cabinet on future British foreign policy. Let voices be heard. We hope you enjoy OPR! Editorial team July 2020
The dangers of masculinity contests in a time of pandemic
Encouraging proportionality in Indiaâ€™s response to Covid-19
Ameya Pratap Singh & Dhruva Gandhi
PP. 15-18 The Indian security establishment: strengthening ties through counterterrorism cooperation Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury by
New Labour shadow Cabinet: what does it say about future UK foreign policy? by Nikita Gryazin
Informal economy: growth impediment or poverty reliever? by
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Power, disclosure, and the digital age
An interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones
PP. 32-34 A conversation with Prof. Joseph Stiglitz â€“ on globalisation and Its discontents by
PP. 27-31 Should a pan-European electoral constituency be used for the European Parliament? Gabriel Levie by
PP. 21-23 Covid-19, capitalist realism, and revolutionary time William Cashmore by
A conversation with Noam Chomsky â€“on the past, present, and future of hegemonic politics by OPR
The dangers of masculinity contests in a time of pandemic
Sharmila Parmanand by
Sharmila Parmanand is a PhD candidate in gender studies at the University of Cambridge and a Gates Scholar. She has a Master’s in gender and development from the University of Melbourne, on an Australian Leadership Award Scholarship.
Pandemics are political affairs, even if it is tempting to argue that politics must be set aside in favour of addressing immediate biomedical needs. Decisions around framing the problem, prioritising solutions, and increasing state powers need scrutiny. There is extensive literature on the politics of emergencies and the ‘tyranny of the urgent’. In this piece, I do not rehash the compelling arguments that have already been made against heavy-handed authoritarian approaches during pandemics and in favor of democratic engagement and collective civic efforts. I contribute to the conversation on the politics of public health emergencies by using a feminist lens to examine the performance of masculinity in several national leaders’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and suggest the ways in which this may structure the public conversation and the possibilities for action. 6
Masculinity in this case is not meant as essentialist or possessive. It is performative, or something speakers enact or do, often with consistency and repetition, and not something they inherently ‘are’.1 Idealised versions of masculinity are usually culturally constructed but may appear to be natural or biological. Masculinist political performances provide a framework for interaction between leaders and their publics in terms of mobilising support for specific projects, constructing heroes and villains, and influencing how people think and act in a pandemic. Populist leaders such as United States President Donald Trump, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who are known for their bravado, coarse language, and aggressive political styles, responded to initial reports about COVID-19 with confidence and denialism. Their responses evolved as death tolls rose and public pressure mounted. Trump and Duterte have since adjusted their rhetoric and implemented stronger measures to address COVID-19, with Trump seeking to reverse them shortly after enacting them. Nonetheless, there are lessons that can be learned from tracking the evolution of their responses. I therefore also look at the differences and shifts in the kind of masculinities they perform. VERSION 1:
The Invincible Man On March 11, the World Health Organisation characterised COVID-19 as a pandemic. Despite this, Trump and Bolsonaro complained about media ‘hysteria’ over COVID-19. Trump kept shaking hands, even during the press conference in which he declared a national emergency over COVID-19. On March 15, Bolsonaro held a large rally and defiantly shook hands and took selfies with supporters, despite being asked by the health ministry to self-isolate after being exposed to COVID-19 after a presidential trip to the US, where he met Trump, and they both made a show of shaking hands. In early March, the United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson declared that he was shaking hands with everybody in hospitals, including COVID-19 patients. He has since acknowledged the gravity of the pandemic, especially after having suffered a rough bout of COVID-19 himself. However, Bolsonaro continued to describe the coronavirus as a ‘little flu’ and walked around the capital to visit markets and shake hands with supporters.
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Their stubborn attachment to the handshake, even as it violates public health warnings, is not accidental. The handshake is an essential visual ritual in the performance of male strength. In business, handshakes are gendered: a firm handshake is a sign of confidence and a limp one is a sign of weakness.2 Despite the virus proving dangerous for people within their age range, Trump, 73 and Bolsonaro, 65, are defiantly shaking hands, signaling courage and virility, unlike their ‘weaker critics’ who are too scared of a virus. As Cauterucci writes, ‘Rejecting an outstretched hand, or failing to proffer one, would make Trump look like a scaredy cat, a sissy cowering in the face of a microscopic threat.’3 Submitting to health precautions in a very public way would be emasculating as it implied an admission of personal vulnerability.4 Trump’s February 28 rally in South Carolina, where he characterised COVID-19 as a hoax, and Bolsonaro’s continued public appearances, are an assertion of invincibility. In this vein of bravado, Bolsonaro proclaimed that his background as an athlete would keep him safe. In Asia, COVID-19 was already causing deaths outside China as early as January. On February 3 when WHO had reported 17,931 cases across 23 countries, Duterte held a briefing where he condemned the ‘hysteria’ of those who criticised his delay in imposing a travel ban on flights from China to the Philippines, which he did on February 2, after initially imposing a ban only on flights from Wuhan. Until January 29, with 6000 cases confirmed cases in China, Duterte’s official position was that a travel ban for flights to and from China was unnecessary. Duterte said, ‘Let’s start...by saying that everything is well in the country, that there’s nothing really to be extra scared of the coronavirus thing’, he said. He added that, ‘It has affected a lot of countries, but you know in one or two [cases] in any country is not really that fearsome’. Prior to the ban, there was an average of more than 300 flights between different cities of China and the Philippines every week, including two daily flights from Wuhan.5 On March 9, Duterte made the familiar declaration that he would not stop shaking hands and joked that he even preferred hugs to handshakes from women. Duterte, who has been the subject of health rumours over the last year, regularly cracks crass jokes in his public speeches and interviews, including about rape and murder. He also jokes about his sexual prowess and desire for women. When campaigning for president,
he threatened to ride a jet ski to a disputed island occupied by China in the West Philippine Sea to plant the Philippine flag. When the Taal Volcano was on the verge of an eruption, displacing many people and threatening their livelihoods, Duterte threatened to pee on the volcano and eat the toxic ash it spewed. In a press briefing on COVID-19, he mock-coughed several times during his speech and joked about looking for the virus, ‘because I want to slap it’. His jokes are often directed at threats to his authority, such as political opposition leaders and their supporters, international critics of his administration, including the UN and the European Union, and persons who use and sell drugs. An erupting volcano and a very contagious virus are no exception. Jokes are a way of diminishing or downplaying threats at hand: threats cannot possibly be too strong or too serious if they can be mocked or laughed off. The aggression and violence that is often the theme of these jokes enacts him as an active agent exerting dominance over these threats, propagating the myth of his personal greatness. He is simultaneously unbothered by them but personally capable of extinguishing them. Bolsonaro and Duterte not only rejected the possibility of their own physical frailty but also extended this conception of virility to the national body: On February 11, Duterte remarked that Filipinos will have to ‘rely on how strong the antibodies of the Philippines are’ and that ‘Filipinos don’t get sick easily. Bolsonaro, too, has declared Brazilian bodies to be superior. On March 27, when Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll reached 77 and 3000 cases were identified, Bolsonaro boasted about the immune systems of Brazilians, saying they can be dunked in raw sewage and ‘don’t catch a thing’. He also declared, without evidence, that many Brazilians had likely been infected in previous months and had developed antibodies to the disease, which would prevent an outbreak. These leaders reflect well-documented harmful health paradigms related to masculinity that associate preventive health care or visiting a doctor with weakness. Despite some cultural variance, men are less likely to self-examine, and seek medical care when they are ill or to acknowledge and report symptoms of a disease or illness.6 In the case of COVID-19, that meant avoiding the appearance of vulnerability by denying the threat until it became impossible to dismiss. They stigmatised public concern and caution by characterising it as a hysterical
overreaction. Hysteria is a charge historically levelled against women who spoke and behaved in ways that were deemed unacceptable for their sex. It is important to recognise that other incentives may be informing the responses of these leaders. Duterte’s pivot to China during his presidency may have led to the hesitation in declaring a travel ban. Indeed, some key officials in his government publicly raised concerns over the economic and diplomatic implications of offending China. For all three leaders, minimising the impact on the economy is an important consideration. Bolsonaro and Trump, who is up for re-election, have been explicit about wanting to avoid the economic losses that are inevitable in lockdowns. It has been shown that when leaders downplay threats, it may help prevent markets from crashing, maintaining investor confidence and encouraging general economic activity. Nonetheless, when comparing the trio to governments that have also avoid a lockdown, such as Sweden, which has rejected a lockdown strategy, or Singapore, which only imposed a lockdown in April but enacted strong preventive measures since January, there is still a meaningful difference. Leaders in Sweden and Singapore still presented their populations with a transparent transcript of their approach, while Trump, Duterte, and Bolsonaro chose to aggressively deny the problem and shame medical professionals who expressed concern. It is yet unclear if Sweden’s approach will be successful, and Singapore has recently experienced a spike in infections from an outbreak among migrant workers, whose living conditions have been historically dismal.7 Nonetheless, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong responded to the spike in cases with an acknowledgment of the contributions of migrant workers to Singapore and a commitment to caring for them. While the proof is in the pudding, this is still in stark contrast to Trump blaming the spread of the virus on immigrants and touting the Democrat policy of open borders as a direct threat to the health and well-being of all Americans. This is in line with the politics of anger and a fear of outsiders that Trump invokes and encourages as a core strategy of his campaign and presidency. His emphasis on ‘border control’ positions him as a dominant masculine protector of vulnerable Americans under attack by dangerous foreigners.8 There has been significant resistance to Trump, Bolsonaro and Duterte’s dismissive approach to
Figure 1: The Three Males Original via Creative Commons, Flickr - illustrated by Noorie Abbas
COVID-19, in their countries. Brazil’s Ministry of Health raised the emergency alert level for COVID-19 from 2 to 3, calling it an imminent threat. Governors of key states including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo imposed quarantines. Business leaders and long-term allies of Bolsonaro condemned his statements. Even drug traffickers and gang leaders imposed curfews in Rio favelas as a response to Bolsonaro’s inaction. Nonetheless, Bolsonaro remains steadfast in his denial of the risks. In January, Duterte was publicly challenged on his slow approach to the pandemic by the Philippine Vice-President, Leni Robredo, who urged him to impose a travel ban on flights from China and to not waste time in responding to the crisis. Duterte, who remains popular in the Philippines after his landslide election victory in 2016, had to walk back on his initial refusal to declare a travel ban. Trump, too, has faced strong pushback from many Democrats and some Republicans, the global media, scientists, and governors and mayors across the US. Nonetheless, a cult of personality exists around Trump, Bolsonaro, and Duterte and they have strong propaganda capabilities characteristic of populist leaders across the political spectrum. Thus, the initial (and ongoing) macho posturing of these leaders may have contributed to a sense of complacency within their populations and some state agencies. This can be seen in the relatively severe lack of COVID-19 testing capacity and
lack of protective equipment for health workers in their countries. The US, especially, has been repeatedly warned by public health experts, business leaders, and their own government officials about the inevitability of a pandemic and the need for more preparation based on many simulations, one of which was conducted to model the devastating consequences of fictional novel coronaviruses.9 Trump was not simply ‘representing’ an already existing public whose worldview completely aligned with his when he downplayed COVID-19. He was simultaneously instructing his audience and shaping their conceptions of the threats they faced. Right-wing pundits drew on his pronouncements to perpetuate the conception of COVID-19 as overblown and to ridicule anyone who thought otherwise, even some Republican leaders who had taken COVID-19 more seriously.10 Trump’s rhetoric also tapped into the militant Christian masculinity of the religious right. With a history of seeking to reassert a ‘muscular Christianity’, figures in the religious right have called for a return to traditional God-given masculinity in which followers of Christ idealised masculine leadership and fought ‘real wars’ and culture wars.11 Evangelical pastors of this persuasion are urging people to continue congregating and characterised other religious leaders who endorsed social distancing as ‘pansies’, and ‘losers’ who have ‘no balls’12 , feminising and stigmatising careful approaches to public health.
Health officials have warned that religious gatherings pose a high risk for COVID-19 transmission. VERSION 2:
Strongmen versus the pandemic As the death toll for COVID-19 rose and public pressure mounted, Trump and Duterte have had to shift gears. On February 28, Trump declared that he was certain COVID-19 would disappear. On March 17, he had a different line, ‘I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic’. On March 1, Duterte proclaimed that the virus would ‘die a natural death’. On March 12, however, with military and police officials on his side, Duterte announced a community quarantine for Metro Manila. Even Bolsonaro has cracked in his denialism, but held on to his macho style: ‘We’re going to tackle the virus but tackle it like fucking men – not like kids’, he said on March 29. In mid-March, Trump bragged about his ‘very early decision’ to close US borders to China, repeatedly referencing the ‘Chinese virus’ to give his invisible enemy a face. On March 18, Trump called himself a ‘wartime president’ willing to make difficult decisions such as shutting down the economy and invoking the Defense Production Act to commission US companies to produce essential equipment for
the US market, even at the expense of foreign countries.13 By invoking the war metaphor, Trump could also deploy the language of sacrifice. Indeed, he said that every generation of Americans has been called to make sacrifices... and now it’s our time’.14 He could also use nationalism to portray COVID-19 as a ‘foreign threat’ as opposed one that was made significantly worse by his administration’s underpreparedness. Most of Duterte’s public comments on COVID-19 highlight the role of security forces in maintaining order and punishing those who failed to comply with quarantine.15 Public health and social welfare mechanisms were generally underspecified in his speeches. He has metamorphosed from one masculine archetype to another: the invincible man to the tough protector of the nation. In both incarnations, his absolute authority was paramount. After he instituted a militarised lockdown, Duterte stopped accusing his critics of cowardice and hysteria in relation to the virus. In fact, he had displaced them to become the nation’s most valiant protector, and by questioning his rulings, they were the ones who stood between the nation’s life and death as it battled a deadly virus. Once more, they were the ones who had to be silenced. Their questions about the slow distribution of food aid to poor families, poor testing and contact tracing, and the selective implementation of lockdown rules were framed by his surrogates as a nuisance because
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Tsai’s government to exteriorise blame for COVID-19 and deflect inaction from her government. It was mobilised to encourage the Taiwanese people to fully follow health regulations, and refrain from hostility, panic, and fake news. Like Trump and Bolsonaro, Tsai draws on the rhetoric of freedom to describe her government’s response to COVID-19, but locates freedom not in the muscular sense of citizens being able to whatever they want, but in the public’s right to transparency of information and her government’s openness to criticism and within the parameters of ‘coming together’ to promote the collective wellbeing. Figure 2: Bolsonaro AP photo/Andre Borges
they punctured the nation’s united front in the war on COVID-19. VERSION 3:
The freedom-fighter Of the three, Duterte continues to recognise COVID-19 as a threat, albeit one that requires a militarised response. Bolsonaro has never acquiesced to any form of lockdown, and while Trump’s strong denial gave way to declaring a war on the virus, this was followed shortly after with a proclamation of victory, despite the U.S. death toll surpassing 100,000 and infection rates surging. After declaring that the US had ‘met the moment and we have prevailed’, Trump bragged about US testing capacities and unauthorised treatments. He shamed presidential rival Joe Biden for adhering to advice from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and wearing a face mask. Trump’s performance of masculinity is dependent on the ‘other’ to sustain itself, which is manifested in his attempts perpetuate a hierarchy of manliness, with himself above other men, such as Biden. Bolsonaro and Trump are once more on the same side in opposing lockdowns, and in doing so have fashioned themselves as heroic freedom-fighters. Trump’s public statements since mid- April have focused on people’s desire to have their ‘freedom’ restored, juxtaposed against Democrat leaders who are ‘anti-freedom’ for opposing the immediate lifting of lockdowns. ‘LIBERATE MINNESOTA! LIBERATE MICHIGAN! LIBERATE VIRGINIA,’ he tweeted. Bolsonaro joined demonstrators protesting quarantine orders issued by state governors, and presented himself as
the protector of freedom and democracy against a political establishment that has turned on it: ‘You must fight for your country. Count on your president to do what is necessary so that we can guarantee democracy and what is most dear to us, our freedom’. ‘Freedom is more important than life’, he declared. The framework of ‘freedom’ allows both to retain their warrior/ protector status, except that their enemy is not a pandemic, but the medical professionals and state officials who are denying people freedom. The valorisation of individual freedom is essential to the political manhood of many Trump supporters and even broader US society. It conjures up images of historical struggles where freedom was fought for and won by great men who were willing to give up their lives for a noble goal, which is how armed Trump supporters demanding a reopening of businesses present themselves.
Broader Perspective Some popular media comparisons suggest that female leaders are better than male leaders in handling pandemics, which may be a misleading simplification and disregards the relative successes of Vietnam, Greece, and South Korea, whose heads of state are male but do not perform masculinity in the same way as Trump, Duterte, or Bolsonaro. Instead, it might be worth highlighting that all leaders should be willing to adopt traits and strategies traditionally perceived as feminine, such as calmness, empathy, and humility, because these have demonstrably led to better outcomes such as the promotion of trustworthy science and accessible health care and the minimisation of suffering. It is
useful to compare the approaches of Trump, Duterte, and Bolsonaro with the more calm, technocratic, and caring approaches of leaders such as Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. All three unequivocally acknowledged the severity of the threat early on and provided an honest account to their publics of what is yet unknown about COVID-19, unlike the bombastic assertions of macho populists about the virus being non-threatening. Taiwan, despite its proximity to China, has managed to contain the spread of the virus within its territory and is lauded as a global success story. Before other countries took reports of a new virus seriously in December 2019, Tsai worked closely with Taiwan’s Vice President Chen Chien-jen, a trained epidemiologist who served as a top health official during the SARS crisis in 2003, to monitor the situation and secure the local supply of protective equipment. This is in stark contrast to Trump’s attempts to undermine Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Like in the US, nationalism undoubtedly animated the public discourse in Taiwan about COVID-19 especially in relation to China, with whom it has a difficult political relationship. As captured in Tsai’s public address shortly after being re-elected in May, ‘Although we were once isolated in the world, we have always persisted in values of democracy and freedom no matter the challenges ahead of us’, this nationalism manifests in self-defining as oppositional to mainland China, whose government responded to COVID-19 with denial, secrecy, and eventually, draconian measures. Unlike Trump, however, nationalism was not deployed by
Ardern announced a month-long nationwide lockdown on March 23, ahead of many Western countries. She explained that while New Zealand only had 102 cases at that time, they needed to act fast to give health services ‘a fighting chance’ and stressed the need for strength and kindness. Her government also released the modelling that informed their decision to lock down the country. The lockdown has been widely supported by the business sector, the political opposition, and the New Zealand population. In contrast to Ardern, Merkel’s rationality as a scientist has been emphasised in the media’s coverage of Germany’s approach to COVID-19. She has, in fact, displayed both scientific clarity and empathy in her addresses to the German public. When announcing tighter restrictions on movement, she drew on her experience growing up in communist East Germany to acknowledge people’s anxieties around giving up hard-won freedoms, but explained that as a scientist she also respects the facts.16 ‘This is serious — take it seriously,’ she said. She cautioned against hoarding, calling it ‘a complete lack of solidarity’ and reassured people that fresh supplies would be available. She also lamented every COVID-19 death as that of ‘a father or grandfather, a mother or grandmother, a partner.’ These counter-examples demonstrate that governance strategies grounded in transparency and a focus on public health are possible and can generate public trust and support. They also demonstrate the compatibility of caring and empathy with determination and political will.
New Labour Shadow Cabinet: what does it say about future UK foreign policy? ‘What we can’t do is go back to business as 1 usual’ Keir Starmer
Nikita Gryazin is OPR’s Deputy Editor for UK Politics and an MPhil student in International Relations at St Antony’s College, Oxford.
The Labour Party now has a new leader and a new Shadow Cabinet. As the opposition takes shape for the foreseeable future, should we expect visible shifts in foreign policy and efforts to influence the government’s own strategy? And if this Shadow Cabinet is to end up in government by 2024, how will that change the UK’s approach to foreign affairs? To answer these questions, it is necessary to analyse the stance and voting behaviour on Foreign Policy and Defence of the MPs responsible for foreign affairs decision-making in the new Shadow Government. I will attempt to thoroughly examine their stance on foreign policy issues in the following framework: working with the EU before and after Brexit, possibility and necessity of the UK military involvement in diverse conflicts overseas, building better bilateral relations with Israel and Russia. 10
EU and Brexit Senior decision makers within the shadow cabinet have always favoured further integration with the EU and were mostly against the idea of Brexit referendum in 2016. Quite obviously, they generally supported a right to remain for EU nationals already living in the UK. We could summarise that, according to their voting behaviour in the last few years, they were generally against Brexit.2 In terms of upcoming exit negotiations, we would expect that their stance towards the EU was and therefore will possibly be more positive and cooperative than Tories’ current approach. Their votes pro-EU and against Brexit are potentially leading to an at least soft version of Brexit which many UK citizens still hope for. It also means that in 2024 this Shadow Government has some chances to rule the country because it is going to represent the voices of Remainers who are almost forgotten by the Tories but still present. Looking at this story from the other angle, we can find out that it is not that simple. While many Labour MPs were against Brexit referendum, Keir Starmer voted for it. Moreover, now he is claiming that Labour’s Brexit stance in the general election was the ‘right policy’ even considering the fact that with this attitude the party lost 59 seats, giving a commanding majority to Conservatives. 3 Lisa Nandy, who has previously got the attention of the media previously with the suggestion the UK should ‘look to Catalonia’ for lessons on how to defeat the Scottish nationalism, ironically seems to have providing us with one of the most balanced and flexible opinions on Brexit within Labour.4 Citing her leadership campaign speech: ‘I know the truth is more complicated than that. My remain voting friends are not liberal elites and my leave voting neighbours are not racist little Englanders. If we fail to recognise that there are valid views on both sides, we let everyone down... Winning the argument for a confident, open, internationalist country will take leadership. Thinking big. Not playing it safe. Understanding that the referendum result was a call for more power and control – and that the response should not have been reduced solely to a technocratic debate about single market membership and the rights and wrongs of a customs union.’ 5 Her prominence in the Shadow Government as Foreign Secretary suggests the Party will aim for a
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more moderate, balanced and conciliatory approach to Brexit going forwards. Nobody can turn back time, and nobody within Labour can ignore the reality that the UK is leaving the EU. The problem they face now is to define their next steps on dealing with Brexit and building better relations with the European Union. At least we assume that with Labour’s previously positive attitude towards EU, this Shadow Cabinet would lead the country to the softest Brexit ever possible.
Military involvement In this field, Labour MPs were actually more divided. Generally, all of them voted for strengthening the Military Covenant, the mutual obligations between the nation and its Armed Forces. In simple terms, this amounts rewards, adequate compensation and fair treatment for those who served in the British armed forces. Labour Cabinet members did not support military action against ISIS (ISIL), particularly 2015 airstrikes in Syria. However, new Shadow Secretary of State for Defence John Healey voted for the Iraq war. As for the latter, many Labour MPs have consistently opposed investigations into the Iraq war, despite statements are saying otherwise. Keir Starmer was for his part prominently opposed, describing it ‘not lawful under international law because there was no UN resolution expressly authorising it’. 6 One of his pledges in the leadership campaign highlighted his dovish instincts:
— ‘No more illegal wars. Introduce a Prevention of Military Intervention Act and put human rights at the heart of foreign policy. Review all UK arms sales and make us a force for international peace and justice.’ 7 —
If Starmer in 2024 becomes a leader of the country, we could expect a more cautious approach towards any involvement in conflicts overseas while human rights issues and UN resolutions will possibly be accounted more than before.
Other members of the Shadow Cabinet have a more mixed record. Ed Miliband was against Iraq war as well, however, he backed Afghanistan and Libya interventions. Lisa Nandy voted for the establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya. Emily Thornberry opposed British involvement in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen,8 claimed that public support for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has been underestimated (thus refusing to denounce Russia for vetoing UN Security Council resolution) and condemned the actions of the US government after the killing of Qasem Solemani. 9 Moreover, Thornberry (together with Lisa Nandy) also opposed replacing Trident (UK nuclear programme) with a new nuclear weapons system, advocating for the money to be spent on the army rather than nuclear weapons.10 Meanwhile, other Labour MPs under our consideration did support Trident. In general, we cannot clearly measure whether Shadow Cabinet members were more for or against the use of the UK military forces in other combat operations overseas. That said, both the leader and deputy leader are generally against military intervention.
Bilateral relations Keir Starmer is openly committed to repairing relations with the Jewish community in the UK and all over the world. His pledges on Labour antisemitism have gained plaudits from Jewish organisations, who praised him for achieving ‘in four days more than his predecessor in four years’. 11 Labour seems likely to soften their stance towards Israel in light of this, focusing on a less strident and more bipartisan approach. For instance, Lisa Nandy was nominated by the Jewish Labour Movement, but also backed the pledges that include recognition of the Palestinian rights ‘to self- determination and to return to their homes’ that raised public concerns in the UK and international media. 12 Ed Miliband is highly supportive to closer ties with Israel but he claims that as a Jew and a friend of Israel he must criticise Israel when necessary, opposing the ‘killing of innocent Palestinian civilians’. 13 It is a different story when Labour MPs consider relations with Russia. Lisa Nandy expressed all the concerns about this country, perhaps broader than any other MP from the new Shadow Cabinet had done, in one of her Labour leadership
speeches: ‘At a crucial moment, we hesitated in condemning an authoritarian regime that supports Trump, invades its neighbours, steals its country’s wealth, interferes in elections in Europe and America, attacks minority communities and then used chemical weapons on the streets of the UK... We stood with the Russian government, and not with the people it oppresses, who suffer poverty and discrimination. We failed the test of solidarity. And as a result, we let the Tories get away with their own shocking weakness on Putin’s Russia.’ 14 All in all, it leads us to one important point: the diplomatic, political and economic relations with Putin’s Russia will remain stilted, possibly along with sanctions, perception conflicts and mutual accusations of meddling internationally. However, it is far easier to be critical of a major foreign power in opposition. This stance may have to thaw if Labour get into power, when working on an issue by issue, person to person level instead of government-to-government. At the end of the day the positive outcomes of this lower level of cooperation will spill over to the other spheres of political and socio-economic life as well, and possible Labour government in 2024 could do well to bear that in mind.
Conclusion It is indeed hard to predict the actions of the Shadow Cabinet at the moment and even harder to talk about them in four years’ time, in 2024. However, we are witnessing a visible shift in Labour foreign policy planning. The amount and quality of changes will depend on how the Labour party and a new Shadow Cabinet will respond to the new challenges. Even if Brexit remains Brexit for Labour and we do not expect anything ground-breaking there, in other fields like military involvement overseas and bilateral relations with other states, Labour stance is more mixed with regard to approaching armed conflicts. Moreover, it will surely support better relations with Israel but continue to contain Russia, perhaps more aggressively than before. The fact that the new leadership in the party acts as a visible alternative to the Tory mainstream and the previous leadership is a good sign for Labour and the UK’s foreign policy going forwards.
Encouraging proportionality in Indiaâ€™s response to Covid-19 Emergency powers have historically occupied a vexing position in constitutional democracies. For example, citing an extraordinary threat from insurrectionary citizens during the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln arrogated to himself all the executive, legislative and judicial powers he believed were necessary to preserve the nation.
Ameya Pratap Singh
Ameya Pratap Singh is a DPhil student in Area Studies at the University of Oxford. He previously read for a MPhil in South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge, and a Masters in International Relations at the London School of Economics.
Dhruva Gandhi is an advocate at the Bombay High Court. He previously read for a Bachelor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford and graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore.
Figure 3: Indian Supreme Court Original via Creative Commons, Flickr - illustrated by Noorie Abbas
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— ‘Insofar as the state of exception is ‘willed,’ it inaugurates a new juridico-political paradigm in which the norm becomes indistinguishable from the exception. The camp is thus the structure in which the state of exception—the possibility of deciding on which founds sovereign power—is realised normally. —
He claimed that these powers entitled him to break ‘fundamental laws of the nation, if necessary’1. More contemporarily, post-9/11, the US passed the Patriot Act2 , which legitimised practices of hypervigilance, reduced Judicial barriers to domestic surveillance, and curtailed individual rights. The US also set-up a regime of torture at Guantanamo that has, so far, detained around 780 individuals without any trial or charge3. Similarly, in the wake of 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, the Indian government amended several laws to augment the police’s powers of detention, and expanded the powers of the government to label a group as unlawful and criminalise its membership4. Thus, from Lincoln’s creation of a constitutional dictatorship in the 19th century to more recent enactments of anti-terror legislations, emergency powers have posed a direct challenge to the rule of law and exposed the fungible nature of state institutions. More importantly, the diminution of rights witnessed in the course of these emergencies was never fully reversed in ‘ordinary’ times. Admittedly, the Covid-19 pandemic that faces the world today is not a civil war, an act of terrorism or external aggression. The relevant comparison however, is with the relationship between emergency powers and the rule of law such emergencies tend to establish. Between March 25 and May 3, 2010, all of India’s 1.35 billion peoples were living under a government mandated nationwide lockdown. Even now, 130 areas classified as Covid-19 hotspots or ‘red zones’ continue to remain in a state of high alertness5. While there has been no formal declaration of emergency under Article 352 of the Indian Constitution, a slew of executive measures6 issued under the National Disaster Management Act (NDMA), 2005, and pre-constitutional and colonial legislations such as the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, and the Punjab Villages and Small Towns Act, 1918 have been used to administer a most unprecedented situation. The threats posed by emergency powers to the rule of law are writ large in this pandemic. This stands true for two reasons. First, this state of ‘informal’ emergency is likely to be prolonged. Since the average lifecycle of a vaccine requires years, if not decades, of research and development, the expectation of a quick-fix silver bullet to fight the virus is highly optimistic7. Therefore, considering the duration of extraordinary executive powers being in force, the question of individual rights assumes prominence. Secondly, and perhaps more
The sovereign no longer limits himself, as he did in the spirit of the Weimar constitution, to deciding on the exception on the basis of recognising a given factual situation (danger to public safety): laying bare the inner structure of the ban that characterizes his power, he now de facto produces the situation as a consequence of his decision on the exception.’ Figure 4: Streets of India Reuters
importantly, this crisis is being administered primarily through executive fiat. While one may agree on the necessity of emergency powers to ensure conditions of relative stability (in this case by protecting public health) in the long-term, there has been little deliberation on how the state can act in accordance with law whilst the crisis is being administered. As per legal theory, the relationship of the rule of law and an emergency can be understood in two ways. The first is to view the suspension of individual rights during this pandemic as ‘legitimate’ as long as this allows the executive to more powerfully challenge the underlying conditions that have produced the emergency in the first place. Assumedly, once an emergency is faced, the executive simply ‘switches-off’ the recourse to fundamental rights and then switches it back on once it has been overcome. We believe this position seems closest to the thinking of the Central and State governments in India at the moment. Interestingly, this position also resonates with what Carl Schmitt8, the German jurist infamous for his support for the Nazi Party, might have advocated. For Schmitt, the sovereign could
decide on the state of exception— a state in which the normative legal order was suspended to meet the threat posed to the political unity (i.e. the State). This temporary suspension was important to preserve the applicability of the legal order in normal times. A second way to understand the relationship between the rule of law and an emergency is to assert an irreducible quality for the rule of law—one which cannot be sacrificed at the altar of utilitarianism regardless of the material costs involved. In practice, both these positions are untenable. While one may accept that extraordinary executive action—such as a firm policy of social distancing or of requisitioning private doctors—may be necessary to deal with a pandemic, India’s constitutional ethos cannot be completely overrun. The rule of law becomes a myth if there exist these ‘black-hole’ moments where it can be turned ‘on’ and ‘off’ as per executive convenience. The power to turn it ‘off’ also carries with it a risk of creating a new norm, one in which there is absent a notion of basic human rights and checks on state power. This is captured poignantly by Giorgio Agamben9 in response to Schmitt:
Similarly, governments may need extra-ordinary powers to deal with emergency situations to protect the well-being of their citizens and ensure the long-term survival of the state. Therefore, what is required is an approach that offers more deference to the executive than in ‘ordinary’ times, while still considering the suitability and balanced nature of policy measures being enacted. As legal theorist Victor Ramraj argues, ‘emergency powers may be necessary to establish the political conditions upon which a liberal-democratic constitutional order can be built, provided that those powers are exercised proportionately and in a manner consistent with the establishment of such an order10.’ It is this concern for proportionality that has been lacking in India’s Covid-19 response. For instance, the NDMA11 has been invoked to ‘disproportionately’ curtail the freedom of movement for millions of migrant workers and to deny them their right to livelihood (guaranteed as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian constitution) during a national lockdown12 . While over 0.675 million migrant workers have been provided shelter by various State Governments and Union Territories13 and food is being provided to 2.2 million more14, the World Bank estimates
that the total number of internal migrants whose livelihood was affected by Covid-19 is likely to be 40 million15. While some managed to return home, millions still remain trapped in transit. As Justice A.P. Shah argues, ‘many of them would not have imagined that they would be left to starve, without access to food, shelter or transportation for an uncertain period16.’ How can such executive action be deemed proportionate in the absence of positive action by the state for all migrant labourers such as: (1) a countervailing basic income to meet sustenance needs, (2) provision of shelter, community kitchens and healthcare facilities, or at the very least (3) safe migration facilities to ferry migrant workers back home? Central and State governments have finally begun to more proactively address this problem by facilitating17 journeys home. But, it cannot be denied that the tardiness in the state’s response temporarily suspended complete access to some fundamental rights for migrant labourers during this emergency. There is also an issue of legality here. To cover the State’s failings, private corporations have been directed under the NDMA to compulsorily pay wages18 to contractual migrant labourers during the lockdown. There exists no statutory provision or ‘anchoring legislation’ under the NDMA to authorise such action. As Gautam Bhatia argues, this threatens to eliminate the need for laws entirely as the NDMA is generic enough to permit ‘just about any executive decree that the executive believes is required to tackle the disaster’19. In fact, the Kerala High Court stayed a state government notification for reduction in government employees’ salaries on precisely this basis20. This existence of ‘legality’ precedes our concern for ‘proportionality’ because there has to be a law that authorises the state to act, before the proportionality of that action can be argued. A comparable issue has been presented by the Indian government mandating the Aarogya Setu contact tracing application for all private and public-sector employees who go to their physical workplaces21, as well as for private citizens who stay within containment zones. While private employers have now been asked to encourage installation of the application on a ‘best effort basis’ 22 , it continues to be mandatory23 for all state employees, air travel passengers and several other categories of citizens. Yet again, there is no law which authorises such a notification. Moreover, this measure ‘disproportionately’ affects Indians’ right to privacy (also guaranteed as a fundamental
Figure 5: Indian Women PTI
of people to download an app that better guarantees their privacy has understandably been higher. Additionally, as the Internet Freedom Foundation report27 states, since ‘most of these protections have known techniques of circumvention,’ the only way to truly guarantee privacy is by valuing ‘consent’ and making the application voluntary. Such measures would allow users to regulate how and when their locations are being tracked, shared and stored. This is particularly relevant since the government has blanket immunity clauses inserted into its ‘service agreements and privacy policies’. There is also the risk to posterity. Terror emergencies for instance, such as 26/11, have seen India cede ground on rights of liberty and dignity (protection against arbitrary detention, among other human rights28). In its aftermath, India allowed for detention of the accused for a period of one hundred and eighty days without any trial or charge, as opposed to the normal standard of ninety days. Today, the prospect of detention for one hundred and eighty days is not considered as much of an exception. In fact, we see these laws being regularly applied to student protestors, leaving them with a smaller conspectus of rights than what criminal law would have otherwise conferred29. Similarly, this pandemic (which has also seen the use of geo-fencing and drone technologies) threatens to leave India’s citizens with a smaller shell of privacy rights.
is more urgent than ever before. Even if the executive is acting in good faith, people should not be deprived of a proportionate guarantee of fundamental rights. We accept that its full retention may not be possible, particularly considering how widely the Indian Judiciary has interpreted the remit of rights such as life and liberty. But, let us remember, that it is a ‘society’ which a government seeks to preserve from an emergency and not an anarchical grouping. Therefore, we must retain at least the essence of that which is being protected, invoking proportionality to maintain the rule of law. In the Puttaswamy case30, India’s Supreme Court accepted that the right to privacy was not absolute. However, the Court clarified that executive action infringing peoples’ fundamental rights would have to satisfy the requirements of legality, necessity and balance. It is time India extended this logic to the government’s general exercise of emergen-
The need for proportionality in the exercise of emergency powers
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The Indian security establishment: strengthening ties through counter-terrorism cooperation
Shantanu RoyChaudhury by
Shantanu RoyChaudhury is a Research Associate at Centre for Air Power Studies based in New Delhi, India. He has an MPhil. from the University of Oxford, St. Antony’s College where he focused on the International Relations of South Asia.
In an increasingly dynamic world, a nation’s defence and security policy plays an important role in building and strengthening both diplomatic and military relations. This can be done through joint military exercises and training personnel from foreign militaries amongst other ventures. In the Indo-Pacific region, India has been carrying out joint exercises across the three armed services across the region spanning from Qatar to Japan—exercises which explore the effects of warfare or test strategies without actual combat. Further, the Indian security establishment has also been successfully training foreign officers from around thirtyeight countries who participate in the higher-level defence courses. 15
This article will focus on how India can strengthen its ties with other countries and further its geopolitical agenda by increasing coordination on counter-terrorism. In today’s world, no nation is immune to the threat of terrorism—indeed, India is the seventh country most affected by terrorism according to the Global Terrorism Index 2019 (Institute for Economics & Peace, 2019). In 2018, there were 748 terrorist attacks in India and compared to other countries amongst the ten most impacted nations, India faces a wider range of terrorist groups with Islamist, communist, and separatist groups all active in the country. On a positive note, India’s rate of deaths per attack is the lowest among the top ten countries with the average number of deaths per attack dropping from 4.3 in 1998 to 0.5 in 2018, and 69 percent of attacks having had zero fatalities (Institute for Economics & Peace, 2019). One of the main reasons for these impressive statistics in a country as big as India’s is the security establishment’s capacity to evolve and adapt its counter-terrorism procedures over the years. It is therefore in India’s interests to draw on its expertise to increase counter-terrorism cooperation with other nations in the region in order to strengthen ties with them. Linking this to China’s increasing influence in the region, and the Indo-China rivalry in the Indian Ocean, while it is impossible for India to balance China on the economic front, India should leverage its expertise to train other countries in counter-terrorism as one of many means to strengthen ties across the region. This invariably will add an aspect that will help India further its geopolitical ambitions. The first section of this article will examine India’s counter- terrorism activities across regions and terrains to establish the breadth the Indian security establishment has to cover in this domain. The second will address the need for countries in the Indo-Pacific to increase their counter-terrorism capabilities. Finally, the third will argue how India imparting this training will help it strengthen ties with other countries.
1. CounterTerrorism in India India has faced widespread terrorism since its independence in 1947. The current threats include ongoing terrorism in Kashmir, terrorism in terms of the Maoist
Figure 6: Indian Security Original via Creative Commons, Alabama Maps - illustrated by Noorie Abbas
insurgency across central India, and secessionist movements in Assam and the Northeast region of India (Institute for Economics & Peace, 2019). These threats encompass a wide spectrum both in terms of motivations for terrorism and types of terrain they cover. Under the first schedule of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967, the Ministry of Home Affairs has 42 banned organizations (MHA, 2019), ranging from: the Lashkar-E-Taiba, Jaish-E-Mohammed, and other Islamist organizations challenging India’s sovereignty over Kashmir; the United Liberation
Front of Assam and People’s Liberation Army of Manipur separatist groups in the Northeast of India; the Khalistan Commando Force and other outfits propagating the independent Sikh country of Khalistan; and the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army seeking an independent nation for the Tamil people; as well as international terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Going by these banned organizations, although some more active than others, the breadth of terrorism the Indian security establishment has to cover encompasses the entire country, continuously evolve
to contain the threats. Furthermore, with different terrorist groups receiving arms and funds from more than one of India’s neighbours to create instability in the country, counter-terrorism in India has transcended borders—as was demonstrated by the recent bombings of Jaish-E-Mohammed facilities in Pakistani territory. However, there are still many gaps in India’s counter-terrorism efforts, including weak intelligence sharing by agencies and the limited resources of the National Security Guard. In all, this has led India to be third in the list of countries with the
greatest number of terrorist attacks (Institute for Economics & Peace, 2019). When taking into account the number of terrorist organizations operating within the country, combined with the easy access to sophisticated weapons and disruptive advances in technology, and the fact that in India ‘terrorism and violent extremism is also a manifestation of politico-religious violence, ethnic sub-regional nationalism, socio-economic conditions, and politics of identity’, the security situation within the country could be a lot worse were it not for the successes of the security establishment (Ahluwalia, 2017). To challenge the threat of terrorism, the government of India has implemented several successful strategies across various domains— including legislative, diplomatic, socio- economic, military, intelligence, technological, and civil society initiatives (Ahluwalia, 2017). This multi-dimensional approach to terrorism has also led to the establishment of a nationwide counter-terrorism database to keep an eye on the operations of various groups. Importance has been paid to the people-centric root causes exploited by terrorist organizations for recruitment, which include addressing skill development and creating job opportunities for the youth (Ahluwalia, 2017). Furthermore, the security forces have initiated measures to block infiltration routes, sources of funding, and the procurement of weapons by terrorist groups which has successfully choked organizations due to the lack of funds (Ahluwalia, 2017). The Rashtriya Rifles, an exclusive counter-insurgency force of the army was created in the early 1990s, has been highly effective in the Kashmir region due to their light and agile force structure along with speciality counter-terrorism training. The Rifles were created to ensure that the Indian army divisions along the Line of Control could do their job of engaging Pakistan, unhindered by guerrilla action (Global Security, 2011). The National Security Guard, the counter- terrorism unit headquartered in Delhi under the Ministry of Home Affairs has also been strengthened by establishing five additional hubs in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Gandhinagar to increase their response time and effectiveness (PTI, 2018). With a specific charter to investigate terror-related incidents, the National Investigation Agency was established after the terror attacks in Mumbai. At present, the agency is functioning as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforce-
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ment Agency in India having a conviction percentage of 91.3% (GOI, 2019). The agency also established a separate specialised cell known as the Terror Funding and Fake Currency Cell which maintains a database of terror financing and cases of fake Indian currency notes (Sahay & Garge, 2017). Additionally, in order to strengthen the training of the security establishment in states affected by insurgency and terrorism, twenty-one Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorism (CIAT) schools were approved to be established (MHA, 21 CIAT Schools Approved, 2012). From the above examples, the evolution of the Indian establishment’s terrorism- fighting capacities is clear. The widespread organizations across the country have led not only to national integration of resources and intelligence sharing, but each region has also adapted individually to the necessities and practices required to deal with terrorism and insurgency.
2. Terrorism in the Region Numerous countries in India’s neighbourhood and the Indo-Pacific region face similar terrorism threats and are just as if not more vulnerable than India, with 30% of attacks in 2017 taking place in South Asia (Rawat, 2019). This section will highlight the need for better counter-terrorism capabilities in the region by examining the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In April 2019, coordinated bomb blasts ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. These attacks killed at least 290 people and injured hundreds more (Rawat, 2019). With the attack being carried out by the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) and claimed by ISIS, Sri Lanka’s president at the time, Maithripal Sirisena stated that intelligence failings allowed the devastating Easter attacks to take place. Both the national police chief and defence secretary had been previously warned but did not inform the president (Constable & Perera, 2019). The attacks were preventable, but failures allowed them to happen Sri Lankan authorities failed to anticipate the threat from Islamist groups ignoring warning signs and failing to share information among themselves (Khalil, 2019). Furthermore, Indian and American intelligence officials had warned Sri Lankan officials about a potential plot against churches and
tourist sites in the country ( Jayasinghe & Hookway, 2019). To make matters worse, the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry had also handed a list of names and addresses of suspects for a potential plot, several of whom turned out to be the real attackers (Khalil, 2019). These lapses in security combined with the warnings about the NTJ from the Sri Lankan Muslim community paints a bleak picture of counter-terrorism in Sri Lanka (Marlow, 2019). Whilst it has been argued that the numerous warnings were not acted upon due to the division within the Sri Lankan government between the president and the prime minister, national security concerns and counter-terrorism needs to transcend the political scenario in a country. It is therefore clear that Sri Lanka critically needs to re- establish and strengthen its security and intelligence coordination. ISIS, through a local Islamist group called the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh ( JMB), had also earlier claimed an attack in 2016 in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka—there, a group of seven attackers burst into a popular restaurant and killed 20 people, many of them foreigners during a twelve-hour siege. While there have been isolated incidents against foreign nationals, secularists, and queer activists, this was the largest terror act Bangladesh had seen since independence in 1971 (Hasan, 2017). The country has its fair share of terrorist outfits, some who advocate a South Asian caliphate and aim to establish Sharia Law in the region. This attack, however, whilst claimed by ISIS, was denied by the government—which stated instead that the JMB was behind the massacre, and led to criticism for the denial of ISIS’ presence in Bangladesh. Furthermore, investigations revealed that the attackers were from well-off families, and had attended prestigious schools in Dhaka (Kalra & Quadir, 2016). This furthers the requirements for a stronger counter-terrorism establishment in Bangladesh as radicalization has not only attracted the stereotypical ‘unemployed youth’ from poorer backgrounds. The recognition of terrorist threats is also a major factor that needs to be assessed and tracked, whether it is local groups like the JMB or international terrorist organizations like ISIS which have succeeded in radicalizing Bangladeshis. Although these are just two of many incidents that have taken place across countries throughout the years, the South Asian region and wider Indo-Pacific are not immune to threats of terrorism.
With attacks taking place across the board, and multiple local and international terrorist organizations working in each country, terrorism is a grave threat to national security. It is therefore imperative that countries must engage more on counter- terrorism and learn from the experiences of others to prevent future crises. In learning from other countries, experienced nations like India can aid others.
3. Strengthening Ties through CounterTerrorism Cooperation India is far from having a perfect counter-terrorism model or doctrine. With the scope of terrorism expanding, countries need to keep up on many different aspects of fighting threats—most recently online, where organizations like ISIS have been successful in disseminating their propaganda and attracting followers across the globe. However, compared to some of the other countries in the region, India’s counter-terrorism and security establishment can be seen as more experienced than others. Cooperation on this front therefore currently does act and has the potential increasingly act as an important facet of bilateral relations. This can also be used to further India’s international political agenda by using this as a tool to garner support on anti-terrorism matters. With India recently setting up numerous counter-terrorism agencies and security forces, including databases and cyber teams, India and its security establishment can strengthen ties with other countries through counter-terrorism cooperation. For example, the Sri Lankan army chief has stated that India would provide assistance to fight Islamic terrorism in the country saying that ‘we have requested India for intelligence cooperation, bomb disposal assistance, cyber warfare assistance and assistance of training and equipment’ (Mohan, 2019). Both countries will benefit from such cooperation, and India can offer similar assistance to other countries in the region. On the wider front, India is set to work with Sri Lanka and the other Bay of Bengal nations for ‘early ratification of a counter- terrorism convention to step up cooperation against terror’ (Bhaumik, 2019). With terrorism transcending borders, and many organizations
Figure 7: Men with guns PTI
working across countries towards a common aim, it is imperative that intelligence sharing between governments and counter-terrorism establishments be strengthened. This would lead to an increase in sharing threat assessments and underlining the need for all countries to ensure that their territory is not used for terror activities against other countries (PTI, 2019). With respect to Bangladesh, India has agreed to share information on terrorists which would also increase bilateral understanding between the two countries (PTI, 2015). Furthermore, with reports of the JMB spreading into India, intelligence sharing would be a crucial aspect of bilateral relations to prevent the proliferation of terrorist organizations across borders (Sandu, 2019). With terrorism evolving, there is also a need for governments to establish new institutions or strengthen current ones to be able to adapt and counter threats. With India setting up a National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) to track any terror suspect and prevent terrorist attacks with real-time data, India can help other countries without such capabilities to move towards establishing centres. As stated this would not only allow real-time data but will also enable better coordination between the different government agencies. Subsequently, with Sri Lanka stating that they are moving
towards establishing an integrated intelligence system to ensure attacks like the Easter bombings do not take place again in the future, India can offer its expertise and assistance to strengthen counter-terrorism efforts in the region (Mohan, 2019). One of the main advantages of setting up an agency like the NATGRID is the ability to coordinate intelligence between agencies on time, an important aspect of the intelligence failure in the case of the Easter bombings. Further examining Sri Lanka, the country’s ‘institutions are now transitioning from combatting a national threat – namely the 26-year civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam– to a new transnational threat in the form of religious extremism’ (Solanki, 2019). India which has again dealt this religious extremism for years can impart knowledge to establish institutions to fight religious extremism, which could also be in the form of de-radicalization strategies. Although intelligence sharing and setting up institutions to combat terrorism are very important aspects, on the ground training is arguably the most important feature of counter- terrorism. It is the ground forces—whether they are part of the army, police, or any other paramilitary organization—which are at the forefront of fighting terrorism. With the In-
dian experience spanning decades and across regions and terrains, the Indian security establishment should help fight regional terrorism by imparting training to forces of foreign countries in this domain. In the Bangladesh attack, for example, the police shot dead a chef mistaking him for one of the gunmen. With better training in the future, hopefully, similar incidents will not occur. Through the above-mentioned ways in which India can help countries in the region to fight terrorism, there are also direct benefits for the government in New Delhi. Apart from improving counter-terrorism in the region which due to its pan-Asian nature has the potential to reduce terrorism and influence in India, there is also the potential for increased intelligence sharing across borders. This will increasingly allow countries where terrorist organisations and militants are hiding or seeking refuge to be notified about them in real-time, and allow forces to conduct counter-terrorism operations against them. From the Indian perspective, this would greatly help India’s counter-terrorism in the north-east region where many militants and organizations have sought refuge in Myanmar. Increased intelligence sharing and cooperation would allow either
the Myanmar forces to fight the terrorists, or allow Indian forces to cross the border in pursuit. Although this is not new, and such operations do happen, with India helping other countries with their counter-terrorism efforts the relationship with strengthen enabling easier manoeuvrability in situations. Furthermore, by helping set up institutions, training forces, and increasing intelligence sharing, the government of India can benefit from other countries in the region better understanding the terrorism scenario in India. This will help garner support on counter- terrorism in multilateral forums and organizations, and further one of one India’s global agendas to fight terrorism. Consequently, in a similar manner, where joint exercises by two nations militaries furthers understanding and enhances cooperation, similar effects will take place with India training other countries counter-terrorism forces. This military cooperation is an important aspect of bilateral ties, and improving such links should always be in New Delhi’s interests. While no one knows whether we are winning or losing the war against terrorism, greater coordination and the strengthening of ties certainly helps—and India has a central role to play.
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Informal economy: growth impediment or poverty reliever?
Ghida Ismail is a researcher in development economics currently based in Uganda. She is working with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and the World Bank on impact evaluations to better inform policy on effective poverty reduction approaches. Her research has covered diverse social and economic issues in East Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East.
Figure 8: Informal Economy Original via Creative Commons, Flickr - illustrated by Noorie Abbas
Irene, a 56-year-old Ugandan, sat on the side of the road in a colourful dress, attempting to sell fruits, biscuits and candies to the empty street in Kampala. In efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, most people in the Ugandan capital have been confined to their houses for the past weeks, rendering streets deserted and streets vendors without customers. ‘But I can’t stay home; how will we eat?’ she said. 19
Irene’s situation mirrors that of millions of street vendors worldwide, reliant on day-to-day commerce for survival. Losing their daily wages as a result of Covid-19 health measures has severely threatened their livelihoods. ‘We haven’t received sufficient support from the government, but this is not surprising, the government is good at international affairs, but never cared about us [street vendors]. We always need to fight hard to secure our needs,’ said Irene. While the current focus has been on establishing emergency measures for vulnerable populations, the crisis has highlighted the urgency to consider a long term regulatory framework, beyond the Covid-19 emergency measures, to protect the working poor in improving their livelihoods, strengthen their resilience and facilitate targeting them with necessary emergency and health measures and guidelines.
Working poor and Covid-19 relief measures In Uganda, employment in the informal sector is estimated to contribute to over 50% of GDP and employs 80% of its labour force1, largely formed by the urban poor. While, Uganda’s economy has been consistently growing over the last few decades, a substantial proportion of the population have not benefited from this growth2. Hundreds of thousands of poor Ugandans, with limited skills and education, have instead resorted to informal work, such as street vending, to make ends meet. Yet, despite its role in enhancing the livelihood of Ugandans, this work often faces limited social, political and legal support, rendering the working poor particularly vulnerable to shocks such as Covid-19. Covid-19 has simultaneously exposed their vulnerabilities and their systematic exclusion from existing urban processes. The government has rolled out food relief packages to support vulnerable groups, which the Ugandan president stated would include taxi/ boda drivers and market and street vendors. However, the exclusion of most of these working poor from existing databases implies that authorities don’t have an estimate of the number of working poor impacted, their exact locations and their level of vulnerability and needs. This has hindered the efficiency and the timeliness of identifying and targeting them with relief measures. In fact, many have complained of slow distribution. ‘The lockdown
was imposed two weeks ago, and we still haven’t received any food assistance,’ said Margaret, a young woman selling vegetables. Moreover, Kampala residents held demonstrations in certain neighbourhood to demand that government supplies them with food3. The working poor and vendors associations were not consulted in the food relief schemes, and those who received the food aid reported that the packages didn’t properly account for their needs to be able to stay home. ‘The food packages don’t include sugar or charcoal, how are we supposed to cook without these? Our only option is to keep working on the streets to get money to buy those,’ said Irene. This dissatisfaction in the relief packages reflects the persisting disconnect between the authorities, their schemes and poor workers’ needs and realities. To cover their basic needs, the working poor, particularly street vendors, have been forced to defy stay-at-home orders, face police threat and risk their health to keep working on the streets.
been easy to work on the streets of Kampala, even before the virus hit. ‘We need to hide from the KCCA [Kampala Capital City Authority] officers as they don’t allow us to work on the streets. We wish they could be nicer since we buy our goods from market vendors who pay fees to them,’ she added. In fact, market vendors from whom street vendors purchase their goods pay fees and/or taxes to authorities. Nonetheless, street vendors have been deemed illegal and the KCCA, which is the governmental entity responsible for the operations of Kampala, has cracked down on vendors, confiscated their goods and evicted them from the streets. ‘A few days ago, KCCA officers came and took all my goods and those of the other vendors on the streets claiming that we were not respecting social distancing. Before the virus, they would also do the same under the pretext that we’re not respecting sanitation standards,’ said Peace, a fruit vendor. ‘We understand it’s their duty to enforce regulations, however, instead of treating us violently, why don’t they give us clearer steps to follow?’ she continued.
Marginalization of working poor: Poverty reducer, not impediment Case of street to growth vendors Street vendors, representing informal vendors who operate in public spaces such as sidewalks, streets and lots are mainly formed of the urban poor. Historically, street vending has been perceived as unproductive and an impediment to countries’ development, and street vendors have often been blamed for congestion, and vehicle and pedestrian traffic obstruction. However, Marie, a young vendor who had still not received food aid and needed to sell bananas to feed her family, describes street vending as ‘a good and flexible business’ and a way for her to enrol her children in schools. ‘If I can have more capital, I can even buy more bananas to sell and make more money,’ she said. Usually street vendors buy their stocks from market vendors using previous days’ earnings. Accordingly, their productivity and ability to cover their needs depends on previous days’ productivity, and a decline in income as a result of Covid-19 could adversely impact the amount of money they could earn, even after health measures are lifted. Other vendors, manage to purchase the goods on credit in the morning and reimburse them in the evening4. Marie recognises that it has not
Authorities should acknowledge that the value of street vending, and most informal work, lie in its ability to create income generating opportunities for a sizeable number of citizens and to help them escape extreme poverty and starvation, especially when the formal economy presents limited opportunities. Rather than hindering the work of the working poor, facilitating the recovery from Covid-19 and resilience in face of future crisis will instead require supporting them. The Covid-19 crisis should indeed offer an opportunity to bridge the gap between unprotected informal workers’ needs and authorities’ actions, and to rethink support and inclusion mechanisms for these workers.
In July 2019, the KCCA proposed the Regulation of Street Trade Ordinance aimed at regulating street vendors through registering and providing them with licenses, identification numbers and uniforms5. However, street vendors were not involved in the drafting of the ordinance and it failed to properly account for their interests. It proposed annual license fees that most street vendors cannot afford, granted KCCA the authority to deny issuing a license without reason and didn’t
mention how vendors will benefit from regulations. ‘I haven’t heard of a proposed registration, however I think it might be useful if it will facilitate our work and we could face less problems,’ said Margaret. While registration could be beneficial for unprotected informal workers, it should not be focused on generating revenues for cities, but rather on protecting workers’ conditions and earnings, lowering their risk and ensuring they can be efficiently reached with information and health measures and guidelines, particularly in light of a pandemic. Accordingly it is important to guarantee that i) licenses fees are reasonable, particularly considering existing fees the vendors might be indirectly contributing to, ii) the process of applying for licenses is simple, clear and transparent and iii) the conditions of registration explicitly list protections and benefits entailed by registration. Benefits could include: 1. Facilitating workers’ access to loans, enabling them to increase their productivity and recover from shocks. 2. Allowing workers to operate freely in public spaces and ensuring they receive legal protection in case of harassment and exploitation. 3. Strengthening workers’ cooperatives and involving them in urban development dialogues. 4. Establishing channels of communication between workers and KCCA, enabling workers to relay grievances, and KCCA to share with workers information and guidelines. Moreover, to effectively design frameworks and schemes and overcome the disconnect between working poor and the authorities, it will be essential to i) involve them in the drafting process and ii) collect more data on them through regular representative surveys. In cities where unprotected informal workers form a large workforce, including street vendors, rickshaw pullers and waste pickers, development processes should include protecting their efforts to actively secure their livelihoods. As such, guaranteeing their basic social, political and economic rights and involving them in dialogues should be central to Covid-19 recovery strategy. For Irene, the most important aspect of the crisis is to learn from it, ‘People should learn to save and invest, but government should also support poor self-employed people’ she said.
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Covid-19, capitalist realism, and revolutionary time
William Cashmore is a recent PPE graduate of The Queenâ€™s College, Oxford. His interests lie in political theory, and philosophy more broadly. Particularly, he is interested in locating the work of Mark Fisher (1968-2017) in an intellectual tradition that seeks to establish collective subjects in an overdetermined world, including Rousseau, Marx, and Deleuze-Guattari. He will begin studying at Kingston Universityâ€™s CRMEP in September.
Figure 9: the New American Dollar Original via Creative Commons, Flickr - illustrated by Noorie Abbas
Has Covid-19 made imaginable a future beyond capitalism? I am not so optimistic as to think it has, or that it will. But I have found certain responses (notably this by Matt Colquhoun) frustrating in their affirmation that capitalist realism is not ending, and so there still is no imaginable future beyond capitalism.
The point is, I take it, that capitalist realism does not do anything. It is, rather, an assemblage that amounts to ‘the pre-emptive formatting and shaping of desires, aspirations and hopes by capitalist culture’ (Fisher 2009, 9). ‘Capitalist realism’ qua the ‘there is no alternative’ thesis may be a more or less popularly held belief, but if capitalist realism continues to format and shape desires, aspirations, hope, capitalist realism does not end. Still, I do not share the apparent pessimism of Colquhoun that ‘capitalist realism isn’t ending — it’s adapting to the times, as are we under its influence’. I agree that capitalist realism is not ending, but I do not think it is adapting: it is the job of realism’s opponents to bring about its end, to not allow it to adapt. So, let’s start with the reasons that capitalist realism might end. There seem to be two varieties of this kind of argument. Firstly, we might claim that COVID-19 has brought about a sufficient destabilisation itself. Discourse and practice have already had to change in a way that has forced the veneer of capitalist realism to shatter. We all have to isolate, the economy stops, and Johnson has said: ‘We really do live in a society’. Discourses change, people start to think of alternatives... and then something.
Alternatively, we might argue that COVID-19 has begun a chain of events that will end up bringing about the end of capitalist realism. We might even look at how the bubonic plague resulted in the construction of radically new discourses and practices (Federici 2014). So, we look at stratospheric rises in unemployment claims 2, and the thought that, as Marx famously predicts, the end of capitalism (thus presumably the end of capitalist realism) would precipitate from ever-worsening crises, and say that this is the crisis that is bad enough. So economic crisis, mass unemployment... and then something.
In both cases, the and then something is, I take it, where capitalist realism cannot reach. The idea is that COVID-19 breaks up the discourses and practices that orient various flows (desire, hope, money in profit-oriented directions. Actions are, supposedly, now more about survival, less about profit. The ideological apparatuses of capital (media, government, schools, hospitals) are beginning to be oriented in the direction of COVID-defence, not profit-making. We now value those on lower incomes more, since they are the ones doing the ‘essential’ jobs. This is what allows capitalist realism to break down. Or so the argument goes. Well, I don’t think either of these
arguments stick. They belie a Marxian faith in capital’s inability to cope with crises. We saw after both the world wars, 1929, and 2007 that capitalism is more than able to re-form in the wake of potential disruptions. All capital need do is make those disruptions, those instabilities, part of the profit-orienting assemblage. Briefly, it is worth me explicating the analysis of capitalism that Fisher borrows from Deleuze & Guattari:
— ‘Deleuze and Guattari describe capitalism as a kind of dark potentiality which haunted all previous social systems. Capital, they argue, is the ‘unnameable Thing’, the abomination, which primitive and feudal societies ‘warded off in advance’. When it actually arrives, capitalism brings with it a massive desacralization of culture’ (Fisher 2009).
This ‘desacralization of culture’ is the motions of deterritorialisation and decoding by which capitalism functions3. Deterritorialisation, for our purposes, can be thought of as the removal of a practice from its previous function. Decoding we will take as the removal of a discourse from its previous function. Suppose that everyone enjoys some object, call it Blod. Everyone has accesses to Blod, until a canny entrepreneur works out a way to limit access to Blod, and sell it for a profit. In this sense, capitalism has now deterritorialised people’s flows of desire for Blod, and reterritorialised it in a profit-oriented way. Similarly, criticisms of ‘corporate pride’ (Amazon sends you stuff in a rainbow package, or something equally asinine), are that the emancipatory discourses of LGBT+ movements have been decoded and recoded such that they now lose their emancipatory potential, and simply serve profit. Here, we can now begin to understand why COVID-19 will almost certainly not, by itself, bring about the end of capitalist realism. Capitalist realism, in this Deleuzoguattarian framework, must be thought of as capitalism successfully bring-
Figure 10: Unemployment rates in the US Vox
ing everything into its assemblage, such that no ‘outside’ to capitalism can be imagined. Given that capitalism has been able to effectuate such incredible territorialisation and coding thus far, it seems unduly optimistic to not think that it will do so now. Just observe how anti-COVID discourse is being directed away from claims that, perhaps, making all our practices and discourses about profit is actually not in many people’s interests. We now blame ‘the public’, rather than ‘the state’ – encouraging curtain-twitchers everywhere to have a go at their neighbour, rather than indicting a governing party so in thrall to capital that it systematically underfunded healthcare. Perhaps you think that the government has really done a good job. In which case, fine – I’m not here to convince you that you shouldn’t vote for the Tories. My point is really just that it is far too early to claim the ‘the end of capitalist realism’ or even (as I have seen in some places on social media!), the end of capital itself.
What potential? What potentialities? We have seen that capitalist realism is not yet ending, but it remains an open question whether it could end as a result of this virus. Recently, Peter Hallward (2020) recently called for a rapid and ambitious response. He is remarkably, perhaps admirably, ambitious that this is possible:
— ‘The problem is clear. The solutions are clear. What’s clearest of all, then, is that we live in a world ruled and dominated by
people who are unwilling both to prevent such problems and to implement such solutions’ —
Hallward, I take it, is referring to ‘solutions’ to the immediate problem of the pandemic, not ‘solutions’ at a broader, structural level. But it seems clear that he believes that the immediate problems can be adequately addressed through normative questions about ‘the world we want’: There is surely a great deal of truth in this, but I do not share the sense of implicit optimism that structural questions will be asked as a result of the pandemic, for the same reason that I do not think capitalist realism is now necessarily coming to its end, I do not even think that capitalist realism will now necessarily face greater opposition. Why think that capital cannot successfully reterritorialise the instability that results from this pandemic? But I think there is one key theme in Hallward’s piece, namely that COVID-19 appears to call for immediate action. The kind of temporal vertigo that comes with looking at exponential graphs every day seems to bring about a kind of reassessment of both personal and political priorities. I seem to have had several identical conversations, where, at various points in time, everyone I know had the same realisation: ‘it’s all getting a bit real now, isn’t it?’. If there is to be a ‘political’ correlative to this ‘personal realisation’, it will not be analogous. ‘Politics’ does not recognise anything, and neither does society. Nevertheless, I argue that COVID-19 marks the retemporalisation of structural politics, in a way that is anathema to the stability of capitalist realism, and so presents a potential escape from this all-pervasive phenomenon. To understand this, note one of Fisher’s features of capitalist realism, it
— no longer stages this kind of confrontation with modernism. On the contrary, it takes the vanquishing of modernism for granted: modernism is now something that can periodically return, but only as a frozen aesthetic style, never as an ideal for living’ (Fisher 2009). — This ‘freezing’ is not limited to the aesthetics of modernism. Capitalist realism, I submit, relies on a manipulation of temporality that presents an illusion of contingency, precisely to maintain its universality. But before I detail this, I wish to stave off an objection. In a point that has become almost trivial since Emily Maitlis’ section on Newsnight4, I, of course, do not think that COVID-19 is a ‘Great Leveller’, in the sense that it ‘makes everybody equal’. Social inequality persists through the pandemic and will no doubt be exacerbated by it. But it can still be true that the pandemic is a ‘leveller’ in the mode of making apparently necessary hierarchies seem contingent. It can, I will argue, reveal what appears to be impossible to be possible.
Capitalist Realism’s Contradictions of Temporality5 Modern capitalism presents itself as contingent in at least three ways. First, it provides a formal institutional mechanism by which, supposedly, it could be overcome. Electoral politics always promises an escape from whatever social, political, economic arrangement is given. Second, it presents a kind of intellectual contingency. The pre-eminence of debates about ‘free-speech’, and the recent success of a kind of crude liberal notion of freedom that goes with it, suggest that the given ideas and norms are always escapable through victory in civic debate. If our ideas are no good, supposedly this will mean we abandon them. Last, there is the kind of ‘cultural’ contingency that comes with increasing recognition of identities in civil society: name-
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ly the increasing ‘acceptance’ of LGBT+ identities, and recognition of distinct cultural, religious, and ethnic minorities. To be clear, when I say that modern capitalism presents these contingencies, I mean neither to say that they are not real, nor that they exist exactly as they are presented. It would be too strong to say that there is no contingency in electoral politics, civic debate, or these minority interests. For example, the formal ability to vote in a new government is certainly not enough to enact structural change, but it is still an ability. And it would be incorrect to argue that there is no possibility of, say, subversive gender performance, just as it would be incorrect to say that all genders and sexuality are accepted by capital. My argument is not that these contingencies are not real, but to say that it is precisely this contingency that maintains capitalist realism’s universality. It is this constant, real possibility of a break from capitalist realism that gives realism its legitimacy against a background of liberal principles. This is most clearly seen in the context of ‘free-speech’. When someone in the public sphere (let’s say Toby Young, since he just set up that Free Speech Union) demands that their ideas be debated in the public sphere, what is the content of this demand? What is it that they envisage? We must think that it is the constant discussion of their position, and the regarding of their position as always one worth discussing. When the right for transgender people to self-identify is to be ‘up for debate’ in this framework, this is a demand for the constant questioning of this right. What is the end-game of one of this discussion? Of course, there isn’t one. And that is the secret: this liberal principle of free speech reveals itself to be profoundly conservative, as it ultimately resists our ability to progress to a world with new ideas and norms through the constant demand to debate the same old positions on the same old questions. The demand for freedom of speech is a universal one, free discussion is presumed to be always of value. This freedom is, we have seen, also a promise of contingency. Thus, it is a claim of universal contingency. This contradiction between universality and contingency is endemic to capitalist realism, and anti-capitalists must pull on it to undermine its authority. This is where temporality becomes key to our analysis. Though, as Fisher famously remarks, the future has been cancelled, ‘the future’ is where capitalist realism must keep
its contingency to expel it from the present. And so the future must never arrive. We have seen that time and its cessation is integral to the functioning of capitalist realism, but it is now clearer why that is the case. ‘[If your ideas win the debate...] [if your ideas are popular...] [if you prove yourself worthy of political recognition...] then your demands will be met in the future.’ This indefinite postponement of the fulfilling of political demands allows capitalist realism to never have to present itself as the all- consuming entity that it is. The normative claims are of universal contingency, but the contingency is best thought of as a universalising contingency. In fact, a great deal of opposition to emancipatory movements manifests itself as the imperative to maintain this universalising contingency, though again the nature of these movements at the moment often tends toward a demand for a restructuration of governing norms, rather than of formal institutional mechanisms. So, the response to progress is to deem it a ‘threat to free expression’. This is mirrored in some ‘gender critical’6 feminists’ claims that they ‘do not have a problem with trans people, but rather with ‘transrights activists’’. I won’t dwell on this, since it is probably time to get back to discussing the pandemic, but the claim seems to be twofold. One side is that trans activists are ‘shutting down debate’ through calling anyone who disagrees with them ‘transphobic’; clearly, this is a similar argument as made by Toby Young et al. The other side is seen increasingly often, which is that there is a threat of these trans activists achieving a kind of political hegemony, and therefore telling young gay children who deviate from heteropatriarchal norms that they are not gay, but really trans. The ‘universalising contingency’, here, is again that though trans people should be allowed to exist, the acceptance or rejection of the demands of trans people must always be an open question. As such, cultural conservatism is again achieved through the presentation of contingency in social arrangements, postponing acceptance indefinitely into the future. What does this have to do with the pandemic, then? In its immediacy, its demanding of rapid solutions to the structure of society and the economy, COVID-19 brings temporality from the outside of capitalist realism. Some questions that were put into capitalism’s temporal outside can now be brought nakedly into the present: how do we organise public health? what sort of
economic equality do we think is acceptable? The real contingency in the solution to all these questions is breaking away from their universality, since if there is a time to address that sort of a question, the time seems to be now. There is now no empty ‘future’ into which capitalist realism can postpone its alternatives, we have only the pandemic present. We can see certain members of the media begin to recognise the radical potential of this contingency. John Rentoul, Chief Political Commentator for the Independent, has already expressed that 7he hopes ‘we don’t have an inquiry when this is over’, and claims of the left ‘politicising’ the pandemic seem to be growing in number, at least on Twitter. Of course, an event like COVID-19 will always be political, it is just rarely claimed that affirming the status quo is political. The response should be to relentlessly question the economic, social and political background that has facilitated the pandemic. So, capitalist realism’s contradictions of contingency and universality begin to present a potential decoding of discourses of contingency. We must affirm contingency’s pulling away from universality, and present that contingency as contingent itself. Agree that the existence of billionaires is up for a debate, and demand that we reach an answer. Agree that the existence of private property is up for a debate, and demand that we reach an answer. This universalising continency can be broken through the affirmation in discourse and practice of the reality of its contingency. Discourse will not be enough, mass political action will have to accompany these demands, lest the question becomes just a topic for the Observer’s comment section. The retemporalisation of politics, that is, the potential breakdown of strategies of indefinite postponement, is the real radical, anti-capitalist opportunity that comes with COVID-19. Hallward is right, COVID-19 requires the immediate asking of basic questions about the way society functions, but we must do this in the knowledge that this pandemic presents a truly radical opportunity to demand answers to these question. Capitalist realism has so far made a habit of letting us ask questions without providing answers. So, use COVID-19 as a way of undermining this atemporalising strategy, and demand answers. Surely, there will be more to do, but we must not pass up this opportunity for an escape from capitalist realism.
Power, disclosure, and the digital age
Russell Clarke is a 4th year undergraduate at Ryerson University studying politics and governance. His interests include political theory, macroeconomics, normative theory and existentialist philosophy. Particularly, his interests lay within the intersections of ideology, culture, and economics.
If you were to ask a panel of political philosophers to elaborate on their particular conceptions of power, you would be hard pressed to find one more unique and perhaps counterintuitive than that proposed by Hannah Arendt. Born to a Jewish family in Germany on October 14, 1906, Arendtâ€™s political theory defined power as constitutive of individual collectivism, fundamentally opposed to violence. In her work, The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt ponders the means by which the common person can demonstrate their individuality or in her terms â€˜distinctnessâ€™ through speech and action to others. She asserts the value of speech as a precondition for action as well as action being part of the essential nature of human uniqueness and humanity as a whole. In the selection, she invokes the history and merits of Greek social and political engagement as an ideal to impel broader political engagement in a contemporary and, I would suggest, atomised, society. 24
Early on, Arendt synthesises two significant aspects of human conduct. The first is what she describes as the ‘intangible web of human relationships’ where speech and action foster collective interests and galvanise individuals in general. The second lays out a complex argument for the individuation or ‘disclosure’ of each actor as a unique subject within the collective political realm. For Arendt, speech and action lay bare an agent but one who, being the character in the story, is neither the creator of the history or author of the story that encapsulates political and human life. One may ask what this means for the individual or collective in their relation to political engagement. Arendt articulates the notion that to act was not merely an occasional deed but was to emanate the very essence of human life; this emanation also found its quintessence in the political sphere. According to Arendt, one ought to live in action, not merely be conscious and participate in it occasionally. In the simplified Greek model, the Polis was the arena in which these deeds could occur. Removed from the perennial labours of individual Athenians, in this model, the occasion for political engagement was meant to facilitate disclosure within the arena, among others. Athenians were the polis.1 However, the Polis was historically relegated to native born men of Greece who were free and typically owned property. In contemporary societies which, through the passage of time, have garnered a more expansive notion of equality and political participation, Arendt’s conception of power and participation as power appears simply untenable. Yet, I argue that her idealised model of political emanation through action and speech is applicable to a much larger, diverse, and abstract social arena which, since the relatively recent emergence of social media, is an ever-increasing reality. For the Arendtian conception of the polis, distinct from that of Greek society, was conceivably amorphous and arose only by way of acting and speaking together for this purpose.2 To my mind, the essence of politics is a multifaceted ethic, for it is not exclusively to define power as a collective legitimacy as Arendt suggests, but that political legitimacy is definable by one’s disclosure within the realms of social and political engagement. That is, power is derived by the individual’s distinctness and then translated into Arendt’s conception of power, both by way of action and speech. If one takes this notion seriously, then it must necessarily be the case that for democracy
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to thrive, disclosure and power through action and speech ought to be as widespread as possible. Indeed, Arendt’s invocation of the Greek model appears unrealistic as a vision of political life in a contemporary society for a few reasons. The proximity and harshly narrow conception of equality and autonomy envisaged in the Greek model is inconceivable today. At the core of Arendt’s explication are numerous undergirding principles that was said to guide political life in Greek antiquity and, what I argue, instantiates disclosure in the digital realm, regardless of modern aspects of demography and conceptions of sociopolitical equality. Arendt describes this disclosure as the method of the individual, through speech, to reveal their uniqueness to the polis or the sociopolitical forum otherwise. In essence, the individual may be integrated into political life through the materialization of their distinctness in speech and action of one form or other. According to Arendt, one method of this disclosure in action was the production of artworks, namely, drama. Arendt’s description of the extent to which drama, as an art form, embodies the political is quite apt. The visual and oral manifestation of the relationship of individuals to one another demonstrates the body politic better than most others.3 This idea has major implications for Arendt’s conception of power and disclosure. For Arendt, what was at great risk is the diminution of one’s identity due to an absence of disclosure through action and speech in the political realm. She understood that not all could dwell in this abstraction all the time. And still, to be deprived of this engagement was ‘to be deprived of reality, which, humanly and politically speaking, is the same as appearance.’4 I believe social media, as an Arendtian tool, fosters political disclosure for creative endeavors. The artistic mediums of literature, visual arts, and most notably, film, coupled with their respective promulgation on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, present sustained and cogent spaces for the demonstration of Arendt’s web of human interrelations. They reveal a dual nature in their political intention of individual disclosure intrinsic to their promotion and the illustrative content out of which objective, as it were, collective interests and fascinations are extended and thus socialised and politicised via comments, likes, and shares. Creative works embody the political simply because it proclaims stories which encapsulate the dimensions of the social and political life, broadens its
scope and discloses its agentive and collective features.5 This modus operandi of disclosure is augmented by the social, and I dare say, democratic undercurrent provided by social media by its users. An approach taken by Arendt’s model is what I might venture to call the virtue ethic of political action. Diverging slightly, however, from an Aristotelian teleological view, Arendt asserted that one’s highest virtue called for individual disclosure through participation in the polis. She mentions that in antiquity, such rights to political action and engagement were relegated to citizenry. That is, property-owning men. Eventually, this right was granted, in equal, to ‘legislator and architect alike’ and this was due to the definitive (albeit intangible) space and structure being offered for this participation of virtue.6 In modern social life today, the perceived relegation of political engagement today seems, in the same way as in antiquity, to constrain, or rather to restrict the capacities of common individuals of different social and economic classes from political action as Arendt sees it and in the contemporary sense. What can and perhaps should be conflated with the cultivation of Arendt’s definitive space and structure out of which speech and action may flower into a politics of power? To my mind, the proliferation of abstract social and online media spaces can, if widely distributed and properly used, foster the collective engagement which Arendtian power calls for. Arendt saw equality and ideological as well as rhetorical plurality as necessary preconditions for human disclosure in the public sphere.7 Moreover, this intangible space she prescribes was essential for the individual to reveal ‘who’ rather than ‘what’ they are so as not to allow their intrinsic distinctness to dissipate into a mere character description.8 There are such structures for which the process of disclosure enforced by equality, common interests, and plurality of thought can accommodate the diversity and sheer vastness that we witness today What has, in part, made the Arendtian model of political life conceivable today is the development and increased use of social media forums and other media-and-communications technologies that enhance the capabilities for the speech engagement, and, therefore, disclosure of individuals and their speech and the pronouncement of collective interests. I think social media has rapidly become the virtual polis par excellence. There are innumerable ways in which sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram, and
so forth, epitomise the conceptions of speech and political engagement laid out by Arendt in the text. Twitter is of particular interest to me here. Arendt asserted early on that the precondition for action and speech is the surrounding presence of others. Political action arose directly from the mutual exchange of words and deeds.9 Moreover, her claim that the purpose of the polis was to ‘multiply the occasions to win ‘immortal fame,’...to multiply the chances for everybody to distinguish himself, to show in deed and word who he was in his unique distinctness’, has proven the crucial impetus for tweeting and posting alike. The general design of twitter (although somewhat lexically restrictive) is to offer the tool of speech in a massive echo chamber that has since become politically and socially salient. The general design of Facebook and Instagram are the same, with a specific focus on sharing images and YouTube and Tik Tok for creating and uploading videos. The idea of sending a tweet, posting a photo, or rather establishing an act is to be able to propagate speech, action, and art for the purpose of disclosing oneself. The individual, through this process has a heightened capacity to divulge their interests, their unique experiences, their sociopolitical views etc. What is more, users are granted the opportunity engage in conversations with others and have their own blocks of speech shared innumerable times via likes and/or retweets. One can imagine, even anecdotally, an instance where they or someone in close relation to them, even tweeting at them directly, were recognised and propagated by thousands or millions of others. An aggrandisement of topics ranging from politics to popular culture or even an individual’s own unique experiences or worldly perceptions. I do not believe these occasions ought to be taken lightly nor should we shy away from its Arendtian implications.10 In this way, one discloses their identity and imposes, if they wish, their social and political force in the forum and enhances their occasions for political action and fame while simultaneously interacting among one another. Arendt makes it clear that a polis could exist, properly speaking, not exclusively as a physical location or entity but rather as an organised, symbiotic body of disclosed individuals acting and speaking together. She declared the polis to be, ‘the space of appearance in the widest sense of the word, namely, the space where I appear to others as others appear to me.’11 Soren Kierkegaard once referred, rather pejoratively, to this organization of individuals as ‘the abstraction of the
Figure 11: Arendtian Power in the Digital Age Original via Creative Commons - illustrated by Noorie Abbas
crowd.’12 That is, the congregation of individuals into an organised body was an intangible, amorphous congregation of individuals in society and in Arendt’s case, the polis. The distinction to be made, however, is the disclosing quality of speech and action that Arendt says is inherent in this organization and essential for political and human life. For my part, I agree with this quality of disclosure offered by social media platforms. I believe that inadvertently, the purposive design of apps such as Twitter and Instagram align with Arendt’s delineation of speech and action as power. Admittedly, while Arendt could have never envisaged such platforms as facilities for political exchange, which she deemed the highest form of human action, these forums have become, for better or worse, fertile grounds with which political, social, and commercial disclosure and collectivization in equal, but distinct measure, may be emphasised. One need not search too far for hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter or #MeToo among a plethora of others that anyone can like and share effortlessly.13 This notwithstanding these forum’s inherently social rather than political functions. All of this can be easily achieved without physical proximity as Arendt mentions. In fact, it is hardly conceivable that the current volume of speech exchange we are witness to in modern communication-and-technology intensive
society would be functional for its purposes without its abstract, hyper-conceptual nature. It appears, then, that within the guise of social media we have conformed quite nicely to Arendt’s vision of power. The conceptual framework displayed in her model opposes the antiquated relegation of political activity exclusively to the citizenry as much as she opposes violence as a substitution for power. Arendt’s recognition of equality and participation in public discourse lay at the heart of her highly original conception of power which places the mutual and reciprocal character of speech, action, and collectivism at its very core. Formal exclusions or absence of speech in the arena, amounts to a profound loss in what Arendt saw as the essential political freedom and being. Over time, the intentions of social media, besides the clear motivation of socializing, has been to mirror the tenets espoused in this model. Notwithstanding the inherently political nature of speech, words and deeds are a method by which human beings portray relation and commonality on the one hand or animus and difference on the other. At any rate, as I have seen it, a key feature of social media has been to develop the relational and dialectical capacities of the rapidly increasing panoply of thinkers and social participants, between them. This manifests in the explosion of sociopolitical discourse in podcasts, tweets, conversations
generally speaking, and intellectual and creative expenditure within the purview of these discoursal acts. Suffice to say, one’s most cherished public intellectual is as easily found with a Twitter search as your best friend or Joe Rogan. To my mind, it has been the role of social media in contemporary society to engage with and accommodate nuanced, ever-evolving individual disclosure while bringing our political sensibilities to the fore as well. In doing so, I believe we have been able to rediscover the value and locution whereby words and deeds may translate into action and disclosure.
gers of unfettered empowerment offered to society in its technological and socioethical expansions, and the pathologies which social media give rise to individually and collectively.15 Given the way of our highly atomised and politically polarised social climate, it is not unimaginable nor a wholly novel prospect to witness the disclosure ideal become quickly tainted by disregard, distrust, or ill-intent aimed towards one’s neighbor. Needless to say, power, broadly or narrowly conceived, is inimical if untethered to a politics of responsibility and true social commitment, even Arendt’s.
As I have shown, speech and action culminate as both individual disclosure and Arendtian power. Individuals may relate to others within the polis precisely by virtue of disclosing their unchangeable identities through such speech and action. Arendt proclaims, ‘Power is always,...a power potential and not an unchangeable, measurable, and reliable entity...power springs up between men when they act together and vanishes the moment they disperse.’14 Luckily for us and Hannah Arendt, our polis in tweets and terabytes exists everywhere, all at once, and at the tip of our fingers. It bodes well for the democratic ideals many of us praise and that which was once envisaged in The Human Condition. As history as shown, however, ideals hardly ever stop at that. A growing number of thinkers warn about the dan-
I am nevertheless optimistic in my support of the conditions for which collectivization as a means of power can be readily configured and potent. This is so because this vestige of the modern polis I have described, enhance the capacity for individual disclosure and the fulfilment of collective social and political engagement, performed for its own actualization. In my view, little need be altered for the application of this model today, only realised and acted upon as I believe Arendt would have wished; informed nevertheless by her erudition of ancient Greek wisdom. As our ethics of equality and dignity have become gradually expansive, and our technologies and creative expression grow cleverer and more unstructured but widespread, it is undoubtedly the case that our modern society is ripening for power.
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Should a panEuropean electoral constituency be used for the European Parliament?
Gabriel is a second-year Masters student in Economics at the UniversitĂŠ Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. Born and raised in Belgium, Gabriel completed a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford after finishing high school in New Mexico, USA, at the United World College.
The nature of European democracy is often criticised. Some scholars have argued that the growing discontent among European citizens regarding the European Union and its legislative process illustrates the lack of democratic legitimacy of the European Institutions. Though the 2019 European Parliament elections were an exception, it is difficult to ignore the decline in participation in the European elections since their inception in 1979. Additionally, these elections, for those who do turn up (around half of the electorate in 2019), are often focussed on an approval/disapproval of the European project and partisan campaigns centred around national instead of European narratives. Electoral reforms are thus more than welcome to redress this reputation and improve the legitimacy of the European Parliament. An interesting proposal brought forward to address these issues suggests to alter the electoral process of the European Parliament. The idea is to set up, in addition to the existing national constituencies, a pan-European constituency through which a fixed number of seats of the European Parliament would be filled through proportional representation across the European Union.1 27
Is this idea of a pan-European constituency desirable? —
To answer this question, I shall first establish the pertinent evaluative criteria, provide a historical perspective on the proposal, and link it with the most significant reform of the European Parliament in recent years: the Spitzenkandidaten process.2 . Secondly, I shall assess the extent to which a pan-European constituency would contribute to the democratic legitimacy of the European Institutions. Finally, the effects of this electoral reform on the political narrative and on policy outcomes will be examined.
Setting the Context Evaluation Criteria: Input and Output Legitimacy Since it is a reform of the electoral system, if implemented, the pan-European constituency may change the nature of democracy within the European Union. Some argue that addressing the democratic deficit of the European Union should be the focus of electoral reforms. We would thereby be advised to examine the pan-European constituency with regards to how it improves the democratic legitimacy of European Institutions. Inspired by such remarks, and borrowing from the work of Fritz Scharpf (2003), I will examine this reform following two angles: Firstly, I shall evaluate the reform’s contribution to the ‘Input Legitimacy’ (government of the people) of the European Institutions. ‘Input Legitimacy’ refers to the democratic legitimacy of the system by which the European Institutions are formed. 3 This article will primarily focus on the contributions of this reform to the European Parliament, though it cannot neglect the Council and the Commission, and will acknowledge the links between these institutions. The democratic legitimacy of the European Union is indeed built on two pillars: the directly elected parliament representing the citizens on one hand, and the representatives of the peoples of the member states in the Council on the other hand. (Auel & Benz, 2007) If we characterise democracy in the European Union as the accountability of lawmakers to the demos, i.e. to the people expressing themselves through majorities emerging from free elections under universal suffrage, we may assess the formational democratic
legitimacy of the proposed electoral reform. ‘Input Legitimacy’ may thus be proxied by elements such as voter turnout, politicians’ correspondence to citizen views, and civic satisfaction with the democratic nature of the system. Whilst we should recognise the absence of a clear ‘demos’ in the European Union, the implications of which I will address in this paper, the examination of ‘Input legitimacy’ remains relevant. This is notably the case to ensure the ‘disciplining force of self-infliction’ of democracy on a European level: an electoral democracy, under appropriate circumstances, offers the best way for citizens to accept the authority (and decisions) of the rulers they chose and could change (Van Parijs, 2018). When citizens perceive a system as being democratic and accountable, they are more likely to abide by its laws. For Europe this argument could be extended to member states as well, who may be reluctant to follow European guidelines in the current system, and be more willing to collaborate if they deem the European institutions as legitimate. Considering the number of criticisms highlighting the link between the democratic deficit of the European Union and its low popular support, this is particularly important in the context of the complex supranational structure of the European Union. Secondly, the idea of a pan-European constituency should be evaluated according to its contribution to the ‘Output Legitimacy’ (government for the people) of the European Institutions. Though Scharpf (2003, p.4) defines ‘Output Legitimacy’ as the trust ‘that the policies adopted will generally represent effective solutions to common problems of the governed’, we can think of it as a bidimensional concept composed of the narrative used in political discussions and the policy decisions made by the relevant lawmakers. The former relates to the ‘civilising force of hypocrisy’ arising from democracy: through electoral campaigns, public discussions, and parliamentary debates, democracy obliges rulers and those aspiring to rule to appeal to the general interest of the population. (Elster & Przeworski, 1998) The latter is enhanced by democracy’s ‘educational force of vote fishing’: the electoral incentives push lawmakers to find out what problems the citizens experience, and to act accordingly (Van Parijs, 2018). This paper will assess to what extent, and if at all, a pan- European constituency, contributes to the ‘Output Legitimacy’ of the European Union.
The Spitzenkandidaten Process Despite the repeated failures, the idea of a pan-European constituency has remained on the table, and is still being advocated for. The Union of European Federalists, for instance, has suggested that the transnational lists could be combined with the Spitzenkandidaten process (Union of European Federalists, 2018). Very concretely, this would mean that the lists for this new constituency would be led by the candidate of each European political group for the Presidency of the Commission (Verger, 2018). If the pan-European constituency is combined with a Spitzenkandidaten process as defined by the European Parliament Research Service (cf. p.1), its implementation carries much more weight than before, and its influence on ‘output legitimacy’ would be tremendous: it would open up the possibility for all European citizens to directly elect the President of the European Commission. However, in reality things are slightly more complicated: though the Treaty of Lisbon states that the European Parliament ‘shall elect the President of the Commission’ (Article 14(2)), it also states that ‘taking into account the elections of the European Parliament, and after having held he appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission.’ (Article 17(7)). The responsibility for the appointment and selection of the Commission President as presented in the Treaty is thus a joint one shared between the Parliament and the Council. There is no automaticity between the candidates of the European Parties and the candidate brought forward by the European Council (European Council, 2018). This was very explicit during the last 2019 elections leading up to Ursula Von der Leyen’s Presidency. The ‘coup’ which led to Jean-Claude Juncker’s election as president of the Commission in 2014, after being the lead candidate of the largest party at the time, was not repeated in 2019. I will assume that the Spitzenkandidaten process is not guaranteed, and that we can definitely expect the European Council to continue claiming its prerogatives as set out in the Treaty. However, we cannot exclude and deny the overarching trend occurring over the last 20 years of the growing involvement of the European Parliament in the legislative process and the constitution of the executive. ( Jones & Menon, 2012) We should also keep in mind that president von
der Leyen promised to make a legislative proposal to strengthen the Spitzenkandidaten process, and that the Convention on the Future of Europe (when it happens) may spark a new push for its establishment. The distance between the European elections and the composition of the executive may thus potentially narrow in the future. Furthermore, as illustrated in past European elections, the European Parliament has the non- negligeable power to reject candidates and to influence the guidelines adopted by the Commission President.
Input Legitimacy & the ‘Disciplining force of self-infliction’ Robert Dahl was sceptical of the possibility that international institutions can ever be democratically legitimate: ‘My argument is simple and straightforward. In democratic countries . . . it is notoriously difficult for citizens to exercise direct control over many key decisions on foreign affairs.
— What grounds do we have for thinking, then, that citizens in different countries engaged in international systems can ever attain the degree of influence and control over decisions that they now exercise within their own countries?’ (Dahl, 1999, p.23)
Though he may be right, the democratic legitimacy of the European Union should not be assessed based on a utopia. In virtue of its transnational nature, the legitimacy of the European Union should rather be assessed based on its possibilities. Dahl would plausibly still agree that a pan-European constituency has the potential for increasing the ‘input legitimacy’ of the European institutions. For instance, the relationship between the European Parliament and the citizens need not pass through the member states. A reform that enables a more direct link between the composition of the European Assembly and its European citizens can be seen as responding to the provisions of the
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Figure 12: Evolution of voter turnout for the European election. 1979 – 2019. (% - EU). European Parliament.
Lisbon Treaty, whereby: ‘the functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy. Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament.
— Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.’ (Article 10(3))
The pan-European constituency would widen the voter choice, enabling citizens to express their preference for national and European parliamentarians. Many are bothered by today’s system because it means the parliamentarians who make legislative decisions within the European political territory are only elected by a small share of the electorate. They can consequently only be rewarded or punished electorally by the small share of the voters in the country they are from. Indeed, Van Parijs (1997) notes that a transnational constituency would lead to a shift from the demoi-cracy to the demos-cracy, a shift from accountability to the separate peoples of Europe to accountability to Europe as a whole. As expressed in 2018 by the Vice President of the Greens/European Free Alliance Group in the European Parliament, Josep-Maria Terricabras, this reform would ‘strengthen democracy, making our job more accountable’ (Terricabras, 2019). Proponents of the transnational constituency have argued that, by improving the relationship between the European voter and the European lawmaker, it would also
partly address the decline in participation in European elections. It is hard to deny the general declining trend (though challenged by the 2019 turnout) in electoral participation, as illustrated in the diagram below. If an electoral reform can help to redress this trend, this would be a positive outcome, particularly if it may ultimately mean that democracy’s ‘disciplining force of self- infliction’ is strengthened at the European level. Even beyond that, if we take the case in which the transnational constituency is combined with a formal Spitzenkandidaten process, then the Input legitimacy of the Union would be greatly enhanced. The head of the European Commission would then directly represent the views of the European electorate voting for ‘European’ candidates.4
— ‘A pan-European constituency leads to the over-representation of large Member States’ —
An objection often raised against the transnational constituency is that it involves a strong bias in favour of politicians from larger countries. There is a worry that the composition of pan-European lists would be heavily influenced by national delegations from the largest member states. This would go against the idea of limiting the power of large states in the European Parliament, as determined by the composition rules which limit the maximum of seats for one member state to 96, and establish a degressive proportionality based on the population size of member states. (Article 14(2) Treaty on the European Union) Indeed, Donatelli (2015) notes that when looking at the parliamentarians who took the floor during the plenary of July 7th 2011 to express their views on Duff’s proposal, 6 out of 9 from
medium-sized countries (i.e. with 20 to 49 seats in the Parliament at the time) and 7 out of 10 from small member states (i.e. with 6 to 19 seats in the Parliament at the time) expressed their disagreement with the transnational constituency. Aware of this worry, Bol et al. (2016) decided to test whether vote choice is affected by the presence of candidates from the subjects’ own country on the lists. They ran an online experiment in which they invited a few thousand respondents to report how they would vote on a pan-European ballot. They randomised the nationality of candidates appearing on the various party lists, and observed that a European voter has a between seven- and eight-times greater chance of supporting a candidate of their country, et ceteris paribus. They also found that European voters are more likely to support a list if there are co-national candidates on it. Even though their sample is skewed towards pro-European Union citizens, they hypothesise that the effects observed in their experiment are likely to be found within the European electorate as a whole. The transnational constituency thus presents the risk of skewing the Parliament towards the largest member states due to the importance of national identity in voting, and due to the risk of candidates from larger member states having greater chances of being known across Europe. Opponents see its implementation as a pro-Franco-German polity change which would undermine the representativeness of our European assembly. There are some aspects of the pan-European constituency proposal that have been brought forward to mitigate this problem. For instance, we may decide to adopt quotas to have geographically balanced lists. One form this may take, as presented by Andrew Duff in 2011, is to require that lists be composed of candidates drawn from at least one third of the Member States. Bol et al. (2016) present a different version, and recommend establishing a maximum number of candidates from each member state on the lists. Van Hecke et al. (2018), similarly, suggest to divide member states into four groups based on their populations, and to require the European party groups to select an equal number of candidates from each group. It seems to be the most robust and allows for greater flexibility in the selection of candidates. It ensures that all ‘types’ of member states by size are being considered equally, and that parties still have some leeway in their choice of candidates. However; none of these three options
would guarantee a compensation for the larger member states gaining a slight advantage in this transnational constituency. Two options seem to lie in front of us: either we aim to strongly compensate this advantage by implementing additional quotas, on top of the above mentioned, on the number of seats of the transnational constituency per member state, or alternatively we just accept that larger states would be slightly better off. At first sight I would be more favourable towards the second option, especially because the current seat allocation is disproportionately providing more representation to smaller states. Another way to adjust the transnational constituency to optimise input legitimacy is to determine the rules regarding the ‘openness’ of the transnational list. Traditionally, this is seen as opting for a ‘closed-list’ or an ‘open-list’ system, but I believe that a hybrid is most adequate for this context. With the former, citizens can only vote for the entire party list, and cannot influence the order of the list itself; with the latter, citizens can influence the order of candidates on the list, usually through preferential voting. Since we know that Europeans would give more positive votes to their co-nationals, an open-list system would enable the domination of pan-European seats by large countries. Closed list would thus appear to be preferable. However, though this may solve the issue of overrepresentation, it is subject to a trade-off with the flexibility awarded to voters. Indeed, when electoral lists are closed, voters are more subject to the top-down determination of candidates by parties instead of being given the ability to express their preferences for specific candidates. A closed list could actually also produce over-representation if it is topped by German and French politicians. This dilemma explains why countries like Belgium adopt a hybrid system of semi-open lists in which voters have the possibility to cast either party lists or preferential votes. A similar system thus appears desirable in case one implements the pan-European constituency. Other options include changing the weighting of votes, the number of seats allocated to the transnational ballot, or setting a threshold determining the support a European parliamentarian should receive from each sub-electoral constituency. Resultantly, there are sufficient solutions available to mitigate the issue of overrepresentation and still garner the benefits from the transnational constituency in terms of input legitimacy.
— ‘The distance between voters and parliamentarians is already significant’ —
Though proponents of the transnational constituency aim to increase input legitimacy by decreasing the distance between European citizens and the European institutions, some have argued that it is precisely this distance which is problematic. According to this view, the democratic nature of the system would be hurt if citizens who are already so removed from their own politicians would have to start voting and making judgements regarding politicians who may come from a country that is thousands of kilometres from their home country. Not only is the distance an issue, but as noted by Franck Proust, a French European People’s Party parliamentarian, transnational lists ‘would have complicated the voting system and clearly kept the citizens further from their representatives’ (Proust, 2018). Adding another representation system could complicate the institutional landscape for the voter, and could harm the efforts to increase voter turnout. Evidence suggests that voters engage more with a constituency which has a shape and size leading to easier identification between voter and candidate.5 (Frandsen, 2002) There is a real chance that for many citizens a constituency the size of the European Union is too large to properly identify themselves as being part of the transnational political community, and to express a substantive electoral preference on its candidates. This position is supported by the fact that many scholars see the true legitimacy of the European institutions as coming from the national democracies in the member states, forming the basis for the European Council, the Council of Ministers, the College of Commissioners, and the Presidency of the Commission. More importantly, there are numerous examples within European countries themselves (think of the German Bundesrat, the French Assemblée Nationale, or the Belgian Parliament among others) where the national assembly is constituted by representatives who are elected within specific sub-territorial constituencies. It is thus desirable that country-level attachments and representations are maintained to a certain extent. We should not forget that historically the languages spoken, the cultures and traditions adopted, and the religions practiced
in European countries have been very different. In fact, some say that arguing for a ‘demos’ that does not exist and that politicians from a particular part of the wide European territory may adequately represent all citizens would be ignoring the reality of deep cleavages between European societies, and the presence of multiple ‘peoples’ across the European continent. ‘Transnationalists’ may respond that in reality, within the European Parliament, the political groups form the decisive cleavages and organisations instead of national parties: they determine policy, they manage the agenda-setting, etc. The autonomy of parliamentary groups has been increasing steadily, and with it the distance with national parties on voting issues or decisions. Andrew Duff himself stated that in all his years in the European Parliament, ‘there has never been a meeting of the national cohort of British MEPs: such an event would be greeted with embarrassment and almost certainly end in tears.’ This reflects that within the assembly, national differences mostly vanished. Additionally, if history is used to criticise the idea of pan-European constituency due to the wide differences between ‘Demoi’, it can also be used to highlight that states have changed, borders have moved, and that nationalist movements have been used to strengthen national attachments within any given polity. Though indeed today nationalist sentiments prevail within the European Union, I see no reason why these could ultimately not be strengthened towards the European Union as well. Having some form of patriotism towards one’s own local community and country is not inherently be contradictory with a recognition that in many cases we are better off with an international approach to tackle given issues. The principle of subsidiarity ensures that local concerns are being addressed at local levels, and that wider concerns are being addressed at an international level. The formation of a ‘European identity’ or of a strong support for the European project may come with time as the European Union evolves and passes the continuous tests it faces due to the never-ending challenges of our time. ‘Electoral engineering’ may also be effective in contributing to the ‘input legitimacy’ of the European institutions, and may reduce the gap between the citizens and their representatives. As seen in countries such as Belgium and France, the ‘input legitimacy’ of sub-constituencies has been heavily criticised. The current suggestion advocating for part of the European Parliament to be elected via a pan-European constituency can be used in order to combine the advantage of closer voter-representa-
tive contact in small constituencies, and the higher proportionality of large, territory-wide constituencies, as noted by Lijphaart (1999).
‘Output Legitimacy’ & the narrative of political debate
majorities are built.6
— ‘No! An electoral reform cannot be used to support a given political opinion’ —
In today’s electoral system, the political battlefield preceding European elections is marked by the confrontation of various national interests and views attempting to impose their narrative on the collective European Project. Since they are only held accountable by voters in their own countries, European parliamentarians are incentivised to make strong statements towards the citizens of their own country, prioritising a discourse of polarisation instead of unity. Employing Moravcsik’s (2004, p. 348) words, ‘little discussion of European issues, let alone an ideal transnational deliberation, takes place.’ Following Hobbesian thought, if most people are attempting to impose their will on others, i.e. if national politicians are expressing views on how to get a bigger part of the European cake compared to the other member states, then we would all be lost (It could also be said that the cake may slowly start rotting whilst we all argue about its division and its ingredients). More specifically, since national parties select their candidates for the European elections, they are the ones largely determining the topics addressed, hence rarely making the latter on substantial European debates.
The most salient objection to this argument is that a legislative proposal for a different electoral system should organise the democratic competition of vote/support gathering in a value-neutral way; it cannot serve to give an advantage to a specific political opinion. In this case, for example, the transnational constituency would force parties to act in a different way and to adapt their message/content towards voters based on the new system they would be operating in. Instead of being based on the necessary reforms and the traction within today’s electorate, the substance of the electoral campaigning would have to change. It is probably not a coincidence that this electoral reform has mainly been proposed by Europhiles and proponents of further European integration, some of whom may even see it as a steppingstone for European federalism. The reform of the electoral system can thus be seen as going against the political will and opinion of nationalists who are content with the status quo in terms of competency-division and democratic legitimacy. It is important to emphasise the distinction between an argument for a more democratic assembly and an argument for more European cohesion. Whereas the former can easily be supported by most, the latter enters a more subjective and debatable realm.
In that regard, transnational manifestos established by European parties going across all member states would improve the quality of the narratives used in public debates, and would contribute to the formation of a European ‘demos’. Already in the Maastricht Treaty, the European community acknowledged that ‘Political parties at the European level are important as a factor of integration within the Union. They contribute to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union’ (Article 138a). Indeed, the ‘civilising force of hypocrisy’ arising from democracy would be enhanced since the nature of public debates would be more related to the important European topics at hand. The transnational constituency thus appears to contribute to ‘Output Legitimacy’, especially if these 25 additional seats would make a significant difference when
‘Transnationalists’, may point out that the establishment of an electoral system is always preceded by deliberation, and will thus always contain remnants of contemporary political views. Accordingly, the best way forward thus appears to be biting the bullet: this electoral reform, if implemented according to the parameters outlined in this paper, would contribute to European integration and more European-level discussions instead of the polarised national debates of today. Bearing in mind many of the European project’s objectives, and the need for international coordination to effectively manage some issues (e.g. climate change, trade, health crises, etc.) we may decide to take a stance and affirm that one of the aims of the transnational constituency is indeed to improve European decision-making, and to prioritise transnational debates on European issues rather than the current dis-
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Figure 13: Vote! Original via Creative Commons - illustrated by Noorie Abbas
cussions that are siloed by country. Though in the current form the electoral system may still be subject to majoritarian incentives coming from larger states and a focus on national discourses, a transnational constituency may be considered as a basis for change and further reforms of the European Union. This point may be touchier for some, but it does not seem too far-fetched to also state that nationalists and Eurosceptics may also benefit from a transnational constituency to voice their concerns via transnational lists. Resultantly, though the ‘Output Legitimacy’ of the reform is subject to stronger criticism, many would still be sensitive to the benefits the transnational constituency may bring.
‘Output Legitimacy’ & the outcome of policy Electoral incentives push politicians to gather votes by informing themselves on the problems faced by their constituents, and to promote policies accordingly. This ‘informational force of vote fishing’ that arises in a democracy may also apply to the ‘demoicracy’ of the European Union. The expansion of the constituency from a nation level to the un-
ion-wide level may lead to information gathering and vote-fishing to support the interests of all European citizens rather than only the national constituency. Roland et al. (1996) note that democratic institutions must be shaped so as to give political parties an interest in promoting a transnational solidarity that goes beyond their own national borders. This can be illustrated in times of crisis like the corona-pandemic today, where a European-wide solidarity and coordination of border management, health supplies logistics, and strong economic stimulus are of paramount importance. More particularly, the contribution to ‘Output Legitimacy’ would be even stronger in case the Spitzenkandidaten process is taken as linked with the Parliamentary elections, since the head of the European Commission has the exclusive right of initiative and oversees the executive. To evaluate this, I suggest having a look at the voting behaviour of European parliamentarians. If they diverge along national lines, then it would support the idea of making a transnational group in order to promote the reflection of these diverging interests within reserved seats of the assembly. However, if it appears that parliamentarians generally follow their European political group anyways, then the added benefit of a transnational group is lessened. Using the methodology of VoteWatch, a British
NGO that closely follows the European Parliament, we can analyse the cohesion of European political groups. Overall, it appears that cohesion within the political groups of the European Parliament is relatively high, with an average above 85%.7 This cohesion depends on the groups, with the ‘Europe of Free and Direct Democracy’ group (right-wing & Eurosceptic) only voting with each other 48% of the time, whereas the Greens/European Free Alliance Group vote together 95% of the time. (VoteWatch, 2019) Yet, there are some significant divergences across policy areas. For instance, Swedish parliamentarians are quite likely to vote against their colleagues in the Socialists & Democrats group (especially on agriculture). These findings corroborate work by Hix, Noury, and Roland (2007, p. 3), who examined 15,000 rollcall votes between 1979 and 2004 in the European Parliament. They observed a tendency towards more cohesion within European Parliament Political Groups: ‘voting along supranational lines gradually replaced voting along national party lines as the dominant form of behaviour in the Parliament.’ As such, the ‘Output Legitimacy’ does not appear to be greatly improved through the implementation of a transnational constituency in the European constituency. Though the outcome would be
even stronger in case the Spitzenkandidaten process is taken as linked with the European Parliament elections, the current voting behaviour of European parliamentarians indicates that pan-European constituency would not greatly enhance the ‘Output Legitimacy’ of the European institutions.
I contend that the implementation of a pan-European constituency would indeed be desirable for its contribution to ‘input legitimacy’, and the contingent benefits it may bring to ‘output legitimacy’ in terms of European political discourse. This is mainly so with the increased democratic legitimacy that it would offer to the European Institutions. Adjustments would have to be made to ensure the benefits of the expanded constituency and to limit the overrepresentation of larger countries. It is important to note that this reform’s contribution towards the legitimacy of European institutions would be significantly affected by the full implementation of the Spitzenkandidaten process. However, in its current form the latter lacks automaticity, and is not exempt from a substantial involvement by the European Council. For future discussions it may also be worth delving into electoral reforms that enter the realm of participatory democracy.
A conversation with Prof. Joseph Stiglitz on globalisation and its discontents by OPR
OPR: I just wanted to get straight into the Elephant in the Room – the COVID-19 outbreak is likely to fundamentally change how the global economy work, and in your recent article this is also something that you’ve highlighted. What is the most important lesson for us to draw from this crisis?
JS: There are actually several. One of them is that we underestimated the important role of government in every relevant aspect of the outbreak. We rely on government to protect us against disasters like this – that’s why we had a pandemic preparedness office, the Centre for Disease Control, national stockpiles. All these were eviscerated by the Trump administration, leaving us unprepared.
Figure 14: Joseph Stiglitz fronteirasweb via Flickr
The Oxford Political Review speaks with Professor Joseph Stiglitz, former Chief Economist at the World Bank, and Nobel Prize Winner in Economics. The interview has been edited for clarity and concision. The interview was conducted in April 2020.
The second thing is that markets don’t respond to this kind of thing in a timely way, which is why in the United States we have the Federal Emergency Management Federation (FEMA), and we give the government enormous power to recognise that markets just don’t respond in a timely way. And yet, the Trump administration again failed, in the sense that the market didn’t provide tests, protective gear, masks, all the things which the market could and should have done but then he didn’t respond to accelerate what was really needed. Finally, to the extent that we are going to deal with crisis, that we should base it on science. We know what’s causing it, we know a lot about creating vaccines and anti-viral drugs, all based on science and science supported by the federal government. Now, many of us are worried that the pharmaceutical companies will use this as a profit opportunity and we as a society are going to face huge trade-offs. Are we going to allow them to make billions of dollars and lose
thousands of lives as a result? So it has highlighted a critical aspect of our society, which I focused on in People, Power and Profits: Progressive Capitalism, that the balance between the market and the state has gotten out of kilter, and left us unable to deal with crises like this and the climate crisis. OPR: I think that’s a very fair point, especially what you highlighted about the imperfect nature of America and its market-driven state with respect to crisis. I just wanted to push you on that, because it seems to me that in the case of authoritarians like Trump who seek to centralise power and play the demagoguery game, when you have an ideologue who likes to play with slogans and populistic pandering rather than answering to the needs of the people, even if you have greater centralisation and state involvement, it might not always translate to better outcomes. So I wonder whether as a compromise between progressive redistributive state action and the centralised, often hierarchical and anti-redistribution elitism, we should end up with a more compassionate form of market-driven capitalism, rather than an authoritarian state or dictator would provide. It seems less to be a question of government or no government, and more a kind of market policy.
JS: First, I’d say we should step back for a moment and consider the limits of the market and the ways markets have not been working well, and then ask the question you’re posing; what are the circumstances in which government doesn’t work well, then how do we deal with the fact that all human institutions are fallible and how best to build a system which accounts for the limitations of both. On the market side, what we’ve seen is that markets are too short sighted. We saw that in 2008, we’re seeing it now. The economic system is not as resilient when it faces a shock. We saw this dramatically in 2001-2008. The neoliberal doctrine on markets leads to an economic system which is not adequately resilient. In terms of limitations on the government side, you are absolutely right that there is always a danger of authoritarianism and incompetence, which is why over time we have learned how to make government institutions work better with systems of transparency and the separation of power. These are still imperfect, and no one might have anticipated that the American electorate would have chosen someone of
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the incompetence of Trump. That election also exposed deep flaws – undemocratic flaws – in America’s political structure. Someone was elected with a minority of votes for the congressional, senatorial and presidential elections, and yet that minority has now seized the levers of power. There are issues to be remedied, but one of the lessons I take away from all this is that we need societal systems of checks and balances. The market needs to check the government, and the government needs to check the market. That’s why we use the word balance – if you end up with too much power in anyone’s hands, you end up with a problem. A critical aspect that I emphasise is that if you have too much inequality, in one way or another those with money end up dictating the solutions and what’s happened in America is that we have excessive economic inequality translated into an enormous level of political inequality. OPR: I think that’s a very rea-
sonable take. I was struck by reading the chapter in People, Power and Profits, where you talked about the limitations of regulating big pharmaceutical companies, and the way Big Pharma interacts with the government, ...there’s one thing I wanted to press you on then, which was the need, as you say, for the state to check the market and vice versa. When it comes to things like pandemics and epidemics, there are loads of largely divergent standards and regulations across individual states, and a lot of the paperwork involved – in theory necessary to check against unscrupulous practices – also seem to pose great hindrance to the efficacious deliverance of medical supplies. Now I’m no zealot for the free market, but what do you make of
Figure 15: Joseph Stiglitz fronteirasweb via Flickr, adapted by Noorie Abbas
the claim that certain selected deregulation could aid the distribution of medical relief even if the state has a role to play in certain (more important) sectors where the market does fail.
JS: Well, what we have learned is that there are complicated tradeoffs – you might be able to get drugs to market with fewer regulations, but you’d also have more people dying from unsafe drugs. The profit motive is very fun, but not directed necessarily towards wellbeing but to selling as much profit as it can. We saw that so clearly in the major epidemics we’ve had in the United States before COVID. We’ve had the opioid crisis, where drug companies pushed this addictive drug which resulted in hundreds of thousands of people dying unnecessarily. We have problems with diabetes, pushed by the food industry. If you don’t have good regulations, people will die. Now, sometimes in a case like this, regulations will become a hindrance, which may speak to the fact that regulations which work in normal times may not work so well in abnormal times, which seems to call for regulatory structures which allow for more expedited procedures on such occasions. We need a certain amount of fat, meaning the capacity to gear up when we need to. In normal times, we were very efficient at making sure we had no
empty hospital beds, but having no empty hospital beds meant that if we have a shock, we have no excess capacity. By analogy, taking spare tires out of your car is all well and good as long as you don’t have a flat tire. The nature of life is such that there are always these contingencies we have to deal with, and both the public and private sector failed to consider this issue of resilience versus short run efficiency and we put too much emphasis on the short run. OPR: I think that’s very fair, and
in particular when you talked about globalisation and the discontent it’s engendered, there seems a common worry that with distributive, welfare-led systems the ethos of the system may run against the interests of certain classes – the wealthier and more politically powerful – who, because of their own social and economic privileges, end up being very reluctant to engage in things like mass redistributive taxation programs, and therefore redirect the wealth elsewhere by exporting taxes, transporting assets, and using tax havens. So my worry there is that, given this is an obstacle across the world, what do you think the best strategy is for a progressive who is trying to make the case for a more egalitarian society, in striking a balance between the potential loss in net creation of welfare and the inequality highlighted there? Do you think this is a barrier which can be overcome, or is it a tension which is innate in redistributive systems?
JS: Well obviously there’s going to be some tension, but less than I think some people have highlighted. Partly because I believe – and it is widely held now – societies perform better in general when inequality is lower. Less egalitarian societies – say, parts of Latin America – have to live in gated communities and require constant protection moving around the city. Life is not very pleasant when everyone around you is worried about political instability, violence and so forth. The happiest societies are those that are the most equal. That’s true of people at the top as well as the bottom.
There’s a conception we have that a more equal society is a better society. The second point I’d make is that much of the inequality which exists is the result of what I’d call rent-seeking, zero sum activities where somebody gets wealthy at the expense of others. Curtailing that makes for a better society, and doesn’t subtract from economic performance and economic growth. For me, there is no good justification for allowing tax havens and the very rich to escape their societal obligations and what I find so grating are companies like Apple who become so wealthy out of the innovations which governments provided the resources for – the Internet, browsers! Somebody has to pay for this basic research, and for me it’s unconscionable that they work so hard not to make their contribution. Many employees in these companies has pushed to make them behave better. Over the long run, as we see the necessity of working together that COVID-19 has brought home we’ll see this mutual interest in making a society that works well. OPR: I think that mutual inter-
est argument is interesting, as in [Richard] Wilkinson and [Kate] Pickett’s ‘The Spirit Level’ and their discussion of income inequality’s effect on health and wellbeing, I certainly see supporting evidence. That said, if that is indeed the case [that inequality harms all in a society], it does make me wonder why the wealthy and middle class elect to maximise their own benefit in a rent seeking system. Surely, per your argument, the wealthy and the poor’s interests do align. For instance, you could argue that inequality should be minimised, such that you don’t see riots and protests on the streets fuelled by socioeconomic grievances. But this isn’t how the wealthy think. Do you think we may still have to confront a trade-off between the egalitarian prerogative and the libertarian prerogative, as presumably their our cases where you have to make the tradeoff between the two. The most equal society might make lots of people better off, but is not necessarily Pareto- optimal for everyone. So mightn’t there be a normative trade off in play here that ought to be considered?
JS: Well as I say, I’m very convinced overall that more equal societies perform better for almost everyone. Now let me make it clear, I’m not talking about a completely equal society but rather the extremes of inequality we see in the United States and some other countries. Do I think that eliminating all inequality would create incentive issues? Of course, but that’s not what anyone is talking about these
days. What we’re talking about is getting rid of the extremes of monopoly power, the peculiar situation in the United States whereby the very, very rich pay a lower tax rate. Warren Buffet pointed out how odd it is that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, and some of the wealthiest in society make their money running gambling casinos – is that really making our society more productive. Many of these extremes aren’t contributing to wellbeing in any way, and if we could do a better job of curtailing exploitation in all its forms then we will have a better society and less inequality. At the margin, where are today means we can have more growth, a better society and a better performing economy. OPR: As we’re nearing the end of
our conversation I just wanted to say that as I was reading Globalisation and its Discontents, I was struck by how pertinent many of the reflections and thoughts are today. Now Trump advocates ‘America First’, an inward-looking form of nationalism. In what ways do you think opposing globalised capitalism and corporatism means that we ought to reject globalisation, or should we find less trouble with globalisation and more with the type of globalisation prevailing over the past few decades, such that we need to reimagine how globalisation works as a process?
JS: We live in a globalised world – COVID-19 reminds us of that.
— This virus doesn’t have a passport, it doesn’t have a visa, it doesn’t recognise boundaries. Like it or not, we live in a globalised world. Climate change is exactly the same thing – greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S go all around the world. —
The truth is we live on a small planet, a world where there will be different value systems, people will differ. At the fall of the Iron Curtain, Francis Fukuyama wrote an influential book called The End of History, arguing we were all going to accede to liberal democracy. Now that seems outdated, and even he accepts that he was wrong.
We have very different kinds of political and economic systems around the world. One of the challenges is to figure out how we can take advantage of our strengths and weak-
nesses. Living together can make all of us better off. One problem in the past, was that the same kind of corporate dominance that drove domestic economic policy was even more important in driving the rules of the game internationally and so we ended up with the same kind of favouritism that drove inequality both in developing and developed countries, and that’s why you have this curious phenomenon where the advocates of globalisation said everyone would be better off and yet the proponents of it were angry about it. How could something that made everybody better off be so hated? The answer was that it was shaped in such a way as to make the majority, or at least a large number, worse off, and it certainly wasn’t driven by democratic processes. You see this in the United States corporate interest in the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and had it been adopted, it would have made accessing life-saving medicine all the more difficult, and what we realise in a crisis is that we need more access to drugs. This would have done the opposite. Why? Because the pharmaceutical industry got more profits, and the lives of those who would suffer were not weighed. So I think COVID-19 allows a real opportunity to consider how globalisation has been managed, and for whom it has been managed, and how we can manage it betteR.
gressive agenda, the vast majority of Americans support it. Vast majorities support universal access to healthcare, increasing the minimum wage by a factor of two, gun control, ending monopolies. I would say that Americans today, and in particular young people, favour the progressive agenda. What we have to do now is put it in a form which is widely acceptable. We may want to put universal healthcare through gradually, using what’s called the public option. Over time we’ll evolve there, but not overnight. The other issue, climate change, we might approach by having much more public investment in green technology and infrastructure leading the way towards a green economy. I’m certainly strongly of the belief that progressives have won the debate, and within the Democratic Party, the progressive voice is very loud and their views will be recognised in the next Democratic administration. Hopefully, that will be in 2020.
OPR: Just to close off our con-
versation today, I just wanted to ask, that now with Bernie Sanders out of the race, it seems that the US is heading into another familiar battle between two individuals – Biden and Trump – who have been massively respectively in favour of market liberalism and their conception of capitalism, and plausibly exactly the forms of inequality affecting capitalism you’ve mentioned. Collectively, these candidates seem to possess a significant amount of elite and popular support. Some say this is because left wing ideals have been demonised, others say it’s a rigging of the democratic system which has led to this [the exclusion of Bernie Sanders]. But given that it seems that progressivism, not just in the US but also in the UK, in Europe etc. is suffering a setback – what do you think are the structural issues progressives have to overcome to win back power?
JS: I think the United States is in a peculiar position because of Trump. The one thing that unites so many Americans is to get rid of Trump, and so in the debate in the primaries about where the Democratic Party should go is who is the most likely candidate to defeat Trump. But if you thought about it more broadly and think about the pro-
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A conversation with Noam Chomsky on the past, present, and future of hegemonic politics by OPR
Figure 16: Noam Chomsky jeanbaptisteparis via Flickr
The Oxford Political Review interviewed Prof. Noam Chomsky - acclaimed linguist, public intellectual, author, philosopher, and activist â€“ in February 2020. The interview has been edited for concision and clarity.
OPR: I want to start with a question on manufacturing consent and your thesis on it. You previously suggested that back when you wrote it, anti-communism and the war on terror were examples of filters employed as major social control mechanisms. What do you see as the primary social mechanisms in Western news today? And what do you see their counterparts as, in non-Western countries and democracies?
Noam Chomsky (NC): After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a sort of interim period – where there was a search for something new to be the pretext for military intervention and so on... And actually, that interim period is quite interesting, because the clouds were lifted and the pronouncements were very interesting and accurate. So you learn a lot about foreign policy by looking at those years. Historians unfortunately sort of avoid it but it’s very interesting. There was a consistent strand that straddled the George Bush Sr. and the Clinton administrations. That was, in the post-Cold War era, there wasn’t going to be any peace dividend – forget it, we have to maintain a system. Why? Because of the technological sophistication of third world countries. The West thought, we have to maintain our industrial base, which was a euphemism for high tech industry, which had largely been surpassed by the creative innovative work usually done by the public funded institutions in Asia and elsewhere... Furthermore, the thought was, we have to maintain intervention aimed at the Middle East... and then came an interesting phrase when the reasons for intervention had been laid at the Kremlin’s door. We’ve [the West] been lying to you for fifty years. It wasn’t the Russians that made us have intervention forces, it was what’s called radical nationalism. Those are the core principles that were enunciated in the interim period [post-Cold War, pre-2000 period], which was characterised by some new pretexts – one was the global war on terror... another was the concept of humanitarian intervention, which is used in very interesting ways.
ated; ‘We have to protect ourselves from the Iranian threat.’ – it’s a very interesting claim. There happens to be an extremely simple way to prevent any alleged threat of Iranian nuclear weapons. Very simple, straightforward. Just institute a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East. We’ve seen the effectiveness of inspections of the JCPOA, so how about moving to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone? Well is there a problem? Iran is strongly in favour – vociferously, in fact – the G77, the...about 130 countries in it are strongly in favour of it. One problem: the US won’t allow it. The issue comes up every five years, but the non- proliferation treaty review inevitably gets vetoed by the United States. OPR: Do you think a nucle-
ar-free-zone is likely given Russia and China’s new incentives with regards to not necessarily just aggression, but also their defensiveness in the region of the Middle East?
NC: Russia has supported the Assad government. Russia invaded a country in the Middle East. Has Russia done anything like what Britain did in invading Iraq? OPR: What do you think of the
claim that Russia might have played a role in the 2016 US elections then?
NC: There were high-level investigations by the National Academy and
others. They could find no detectable effect of Russian intervention. But the whole issue is very interesting. OPR: On the subject of elections – I agree with you that there’s an issue of lobbying and dominance of big money in American elections. Now let’s talk about the 2020 elections and what’s going on right now. What is your read on the Democratic field? How can the Democrats win against Trump?
NC: Well the first thing the Democrats have to do is to stop working for Trump. They’re his best ally. It’s incredible how they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Take this furore over impeachment. It was obvious from the first moment that the impeachment issue would be a huge gift to Trump. In order to get impeachment through the Senate you have to have two thirds of the vote. The Republican Party is in Trump’s pocket. They’re owned by Trump. The senators have zero integrity; they’re terrified of Trump’s base. It’s perfectly obvious they’re all going to vote to acquit Trump no matter what he does – that was obvious in advance. Therefore, it was plain that the outcome of the impeachment hearings would be a grand victory for Trump – acquittal, victory, defeated the deep state and so on. Furthermore, if you watch the impeachment hearings, they were a total farce from the first moment. They opened with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court... John
Roberts, solemnly swearing...each of whom pledged with their hand on their heart that they would vote on the basis of the evidence, with no partisan bias whatsoever. I think Roberts was trying very hard to keep a straight face because everyone knew that they were going to vote exactly along party lines and behave exactly on party lines as they did. So it began with a farce, continued with a farce and came to the predictable outcome – great gift for Trump. If the Democrats want desperately to have him win the election, they can keep doing that. The other thing they could to is to turn to the issues. It turns out most of the public supports Democratic positions – at least theoretical ones – on most of the issues. So turn to those – forget the nonsense of trying to impeach Trump on something for which he is probably guilty but nobody cares. In fact, if you look at his poll results – when the impeachment hearings started he had about 40% approval, which went up about 10% during the hearings – perfectly predictably. There is a choice, the Democrats have to make a choice between candidates like Bernie Sanders who have substantial popular appeal and support, and someone who will appeal to the Clinton Democrats kind of late New Labour – the conservative mainstream establishment Democrats...they have to make that choice. Sanders has the advantage of having a popular energised and mobilised organisation working for him with the young people which can do much of the groundwork for the election and there’s a lot of support for his policies. On the other hand, he’s hated by the establishment – not only the Democratic National Committee but also the media vilify him...and I think probably at the route there’s quite something quite similar. It’s not Sanders’ policies that infuriate the Establishment – whatever he calls himself his policies are basically extensions of the New Deal; it wouldn’t have surprised Eisenhower very much – but the threat that he poses is inspiring a mass popular movement that doesn’t show up every couple of years
Coming to the modern period, we have the enormous threat of Iran. That ‘Iran is the greatest global [threat]’ is constantly reiterFigure 17: Noam Chomsky Original via Flickr, illustrated by Noorie Abbas
to push a lever, it keeps working constantly to change policy; to influence what’s happening; to mobilise; to organise; to demonstrate; and that’s not the way the public’s supposed to act. OPR: How do you think Bernie could appeal to the mass public? Because it seems to a lot of us who do have sympathies towards him, that he needs to win over the centrist or median bloc – do you think that’s a myth, or do you think the swing voter does exist and should be appealed to in order to win the election?
NC: That’s a consideration that has to be taken into account, but it cuts both ways. Sanders will certainly, in fact does, alienate much of the Establishment – the kind of new Democrat centrists, they hate him – and there’s part of the population that don’t like his policies at all. On the other hand, his advantage of the only candidate who has massbased popular organisation. If he doesn’t get chosen, there’s a very good chance that this mass group will to a large extent either abstain or vote for Trump. On the other hand, Biden...would appeal to the more established and affluent centrist population, so there’s a decision to make and it’s not an easy one. OPR: You endorsed Sanders in
2016 – I was wondering if you would personally support Sanders again at this election.
NC: We’ll he’d be my favourite candidate, but there is the consideration you mentioned and you can’t disregard it. If Sanders runs, he will be subject to a campaign of vilification and denunciation and lies and hysteria which will be very hard to deal with. Actually, we saw this in the case of Corbyn. OPR: I would want to push back
against your analogy between Corbyn and Sanders, because as someone who is quite sympathetic to Bernie, I am less sympathetic to Corbyn in that I think he presents a platform for left wing views, which leads to not just self-defeat but also alienates individuals of particular ethnicities or particular views that he hasn’t necessarily spoken out for or defended. So I’m thinking of Jewish members of the Labour Party who felt alienated by Corbyn’s leadership. Whatever we think of his personal views, it seems that Bernie – unlike Corbyn – is more able to rally people around him, even if they come from different backgrounds. I think that’s a difference between Sanders and Corbyn.
NC: There are differences. Corbyn was very ineffective in responding
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to the streams of vilification and denunciation – he’s not a fighter. I think he’s a very decent human being but he’s not a political fighter. The other issue in England which doesn’t arise in the United States is Brexit, which pushed everything to the side and Corbyn’s vacillation on that cost him a lot. On the other hand, if you look at the polls, it seems that the 2017 policies are still quite popular and that analogy does hold in the United States. But I think it’s kind of an uncertain decision about popular support versus electability and mobilisation. Personally, I think that Sanders would be the best choice but if you want to see the kind of campaign that’s coming take a look at the liberal press. There’s an article in the Washington Post a couple of days ago from an unnamed liberal correspondent which was just a pernicious personal attack on Sanders – his clothes, the way he looks, the way he sits, his body language, anything they can attack...they have no limit. Take a look at the last Brazilian election a year ago. I happened to be there at the time. On the social media there happened to be an outpour of massive denunciation, vilification, lies about the local authority. It’s very hard to deal with a lot of this in Brazil, when much of the population gets their information from social media which is utterly swamped. I’m sure the Republican machine is gearing up to do the same thing and with the liberal media gearing up to attack Sanders it’s going to be pretty ugly proceedings. OPR: Just to wrap up this sec-
tion on US politics. There’s always been this defence in UK or US politics that a lot of left wing politicians are vilified by the media, but don’t you think that having an effective media strategy – possessing the ability to take to the media, to play to the media game whilst not losing the message... Isn’t that what a real left wing politician, in an age of social media, needs to be able to have, in order to overcome what really is just the part and parcel of modern politics?
NC: The best way to be able to respond to streams of vilification and denunciation and lies and so on is to give a simple and straightforward response, and then ignore them and turn to the major issues. For example, what we were discussing a moment ago about Iran is vastly more significant than anything we are now talking about. Let’s go back and think about it for a minute. The greatest threat to peace, the greatest threat we face is supposed to be Iranian nuclear weapons. There’s a very simple way to solve the problem. The government won’t do it because
they have to protect their nuclear arsenal. That’s an extremely important fact that nobody will talk about. What people prefer to talk about is Russian interference. But this is only one example of things that are greatly significant that the population would care about that solves our security problem. There’s nothing much more significant. President Trump in my opinion – this will sound outrageous but it’s true – is the most dangerous person in human history. Hitler wanted to kill six million Jews, homosexuals, thirty million Slavs, but he didn’t want to destroy the prospects for organised human life forever. Trump does. OPR: I would beg to differ: Hit-
ler certainly tried to destroy the basis of humanity and dignity by his systemic persecution and killing of Jews, whereas Trump – as much as I think he is dangerous and totalitarian – is not necessarily enacting a genocide or persecution of people to that scale, or anywhere near that extent and abhorrent intensity.
NC: I’m sorry – much greater. His climate policies are leading the way to the end of organised human life in any form that we know in the near future. First of all, not only is it the case that mostly the countries in the world – with a few exceptions - are trying to do at least something to deal with the very severe impending crisis... but Trump is alone in not only refusing to do anything, but working to accelerate the disaster, racing towards disaster. Just this morning, for example, once again – new fields were opened in oil exploration. He’s cut back all regulations, and he knows exactly what he’s doing. One of his bureaucrats put out a very interesting document – long detailed environmental assessment for the coming years – they concluded that by the end of the century temperatures will have risen four degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels. That’s absolutely catastrophic: take a look at the scientific evidence; that’s way beyond anything that makes human life viable. And they draw conclusions from it. They said that therefore we should not impose any regulations on emissions from cars and trucks. Why? Well we’re going over the cliff anyway so let’s have fun while we’re running out of time. Can you think of a document like that in human history? That’s the Trump administration. These are the worst criminals who have ever existed. This is not discussed at all. Take a look at the other major threats. Nuclear war. Very serious. You make have seen the doomsday clock setting a couple of weeks
ago. Scientists say it’s the closest we’ve ever been to midnight since 1947. What is Trump doing? Tearing the shreds of the remaining arms control agreements – he just destroyed the...agreement... He’s vastly increasing the dangers of even survival. Nobody talks about this but they talk about the Russians interfering. OPR: I just want to follow up on
that. I want to ask you for your thoughts on China’s rise, because given America’s declining role, or rather its dangerous behaviours as a global leader, what do you make of China’s possible takeover of the USA as maybe a counterbalancing force to the US – if not, does it provide an alternative mode of governance that is worse or better? What do you make of China?
NC: First of all, let’s talk about American decline. We’ve just seen a very dramatic illustration of America’s persisting influence. The Trump administration came out about a week ago with the ‘greatest deal of the century’ plan for Middle East peace. Suppose China had come out with a plan for Middle East peace. How would you have responded? How would anybody have responded? They would have yawned and turned to the next topic. But when the United States comes out with it, everybody heeds it. That’s the plan. The Lord has spoken. We now talk about how we can implement it or if it’s good or bad or so on. Is that decline? That’s a recognition on the part of the world that the US owns and runs the world. If China came out with a plan or Russia or German or anyone else, you’d barely wave your hand. American dominance of the world is overwhelming, and people can see that in, for example, the Joint Agreement on Nuclear Weapons with Iran. When Trump pulled out of the agreement, Europe theoretically stayed in but they immediately backed off and agreed with Trump because they have no choice. US power is so overwhelming and the US threat to the world is so extreme that everyone backs off. When the US imposes sanctions on a country – and notice that the US is the only country that can impose sanctions; China doesn’t impose sanctions, Russian doesn’t, Germany doesn’t - the US does all over the place because of its overwhelming power, and that’s taken for granted. But when the US imposes sanctions, they are not just sanctions on the country but on everybody. If anyone dares to violate US sanctions on Iran, Cuba, whoever though kept out of the international financial sys-
tem because the US controls... In comparison, China is a growing country; it’s a poor country; take a look at its ranking in the UN Human Development Index. it ranks about 90th poor country with very sever internal problems – ecological and many others – a global regime, expanding undoubtedly, but it’s so far behind the United States in just about every respect that talk of it’s taking over the world is like fantasies about Russia during the cold war. OPR: I just want to follow up
with a slightly unrelated question, which traces back to your theoretical works on anarchism and anarchy. I’m rather sympathetic to philosophical anarchism, to an extent. I subscribe to a lot of the arguments that A. J. Simmons or you provide concerning it. But what do you think are the preconditions required for anarchy to actually succeed, and do you think that anarchism would ever become the dominant mode of governance in a world as we see it today or in a hundred years’ time?
NC: If you had asked in the 18th century whether political democracy is possible, what would you say? We don’t know. First of all, you have to ask what anarchism is. At root, what it is, is the demand that structures of hierarchy and domination have to justify themselves – they’re not self-justifying – and, if they can’t justify themselves, they should be dismantled. To take a core example, wage labour. Should wage labour even be tolerated? I mean, what does wage labour mean? Suppose you get a job for some corporation. You’re entering tyranny – tyranny of a kind that goes way beyond any totalitarian government. Stalin didn’t try to tell people when you’re allowed to go to the bathroom or what clothes you have to wear or whether you can stop for a minute to talk to a friend. But if you take a job, you’re subjecting yourself to that tyranny. Is there any justification for that? Why should people spend most of their waking lives as subordinate creatures dependent under the order of masters. Actually, for almost all of human history that’s been regarded as an abomination, from Cicero in classical Rome up to the mid-19th century. For a pretty long time, that was regarded as totally intolerable. For Abraham Lincoln in the mid 19th century wage labour was equivalent to slavery except that it was temporary – you could get out of it and become an independent free person. From the early industrial revolution working people Figure 18: Noam Chomsky Original via Flickr, illustrated by Noorie Abbas
fought hard to try to create an industrial system in which the slogan was ‘those who work in the mills will own them’. It took a long time for this to be beaten out of their heads. Now, finally in the 20th century, most people accept that they shouldn’t. They should struggle against that: there is no reason at all to accept that form of hierarchy. Now will it end? Can’t tell. There are seeds of ending it all over the place. Some of them very substantial...can these spread and develop. We can’t predict. That would be one major step towards freedom and dignity and control over one’s life. It would be a step towards an enlightenment ideal... OPR: But with the advance-
ment of the mechanisation, do you think that this utopian ideal could be achieved, given that in an anarchist world of self-organisation, the reason people would come together and live peacefully is because of some degree of co-dependence. But if mechanisation and automation can take over the jobs of human beings in supplying these essential goods and services, wouldn’t that mean that we would stray further and further away from ever attaining that possibility of egalitarian co-dependence, because we can instead bank on machines and capital? That seems to me a massive threat to communal structures.
wrap up our discussion, I want to ask you: what would be your proudest legacy and achievement given your illustrious record and your extensive work? What is something you’re proudest of in terms of your theory and you’re research that you’d like to highlight?
NC: That’s for other people to decide. I’d like things I’m interested and concerned with to be pursued and developed in the future but that’s up to people like you – not for me to decide. OPR: Well I just want to thank
you again for your time. It was a real pleasure and an honour to be able to speak with you. How can we make democracy work again? Is it about going back to the fundamental issues that you said just then? Is it about fixing those problems right at the core of capitalism or is there even more that we need to start getting to do in order to
make democracy a polity for all?
NC: I think maybe one think to keep in mind is the slogan that Gramsci made famous: ‘pessimism of the intellect: optimism of the will.’ There are huge problems: people of your generation are facing questions that have never arisen in human history. Will organised human society and millions of other species survive in any recognisable form? And that question is urgent. It cannot be delayed. It has to be answered soon. Now there are solutions. For every problem you can think of there are easy solution. I mentioned one: the problem of Iranian nuclear weapons. Look at other cases: there are also answers. But you have to have the will to pursue them. They’re not going to be answered by themselves. That requires attention, engagement, understanding, dedication. Then the problems can be solved: otherwise we’re finished.
NC: First let’s once again separate fantasy from fact. There’s a lot of hype about the terrors of automation. But first of all, what’s happened? Is there any detectable effect of automation so far? We’ll know if only there’s an easy way to check that. If automation was having a great and new impact, we would see it in increase in growth in productivity...is there a growth of productivity? No, there’s a decline! Productivity growth is less than it has been during what is often called the golden age of capitalism in the ‘50s and ‘60s. So, we’re not seeing an effect yet, but there will be an effect sooner or later. How that effect plays out depends on the social and political conditions under which it develops. So automation could be used to undermine working people and their lives; it could be used to free them from onerous dangerous tasks that they don’t want to carry out; and free them for more creative independent lives. It could be a great boon; it depends on the conditions under which it takes place. OPR: Just to
OXFORD POLITICAL REVIEW
An interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones by OPR
The Oxford Political Review speaks with Nikole HannahJones, 2020 Pulitzer Award winner and New York Times journalist. Nikole’s research and reporting intersect questions of social justice, Black Americans’ civil rights, and American politics at large. The interview has been edited for clarity and concision reasons Oxford Political Review (OPR): I’d like to start with an
observation. America in 2020 seems to be at a breaking point today, where many structural issues – which have always been somewhat present yet latent have suddenly come to a head. From its dilapidated healthcare system, to structural violence confronting African Americans on a daily basis... what is your prognosis for America, and what are your thoughts for the upcoming six months including the presidential election?
Nikole Hannah-Jone (NHJ): We are a country that has been held hostage by this idea of individualism, where we’ve seen a real gutting of our public programs and our public services. A lot of this has to do with anti-Blackness and our foundation of slavery, and this belief that once black Americans got legal access to public spaces – which we saw happen decades ago – it’s OK for us to disinvest in public institutions including public health. We’re also seeing that [belief] played out in the handling of the coronavirus epidemic. We’re the only country where wearing a mask has become politicised. Once we saw the racial data start to come
out, on who was contracting and dying from Covid-19 at the highest rate which of course was black Americans and also Latinos, we began to see the issue of fighting coronavirus become politicised in this country. And that’s when you started to see significant numbers of white Americans publicly say they did not want to wear masks and that wearing a mask to save other people’s lives was impinging upon their freedoms. All of those things are kind of coming to a head right now. We have an epidemic that is completely out of control. We are the worst in the world – there doesn’t appear to be any real strategy to address the spread. Conservative-led Republican states – that denied that coronavirus was an issue – are now plagued by it. It’s because of this long history of both the sense of individualism, [and the] disinvestment in public programs and anti-blackness. OPR: And would you say that
the issues you highlighted there are in many ways manifest in the fact that the current Presidential race is being contested by two old white men, whereas a lot of the female candidates were eliminated earlier on in the race despite being arguably more qualified than those who
were left standing in the Democratic primary. And with respect to the Republican race, it strikes me that Donal Trump’s presence has really pushed the Republican Party not just to a rightward turn, but also a turn that has showcased the worst within the party and in America as well.
NHJ: I’m not going to say that the candidates are senile but certainly the election of Donald Trump who at this point is just an openly racist and white nationalist president speaks to a backlash that occurred following the election of the first black president. I believe that Joe Biden’s ultimately winning the nomination was realty about an understanding that the best way to defeat a president who has run on white nationalism is a candidate who is very similar to him racially – a white male – and we’ve seen how Donald Trump has really struggled to message around Joe Biden the way he messaged around Hillary Clinton and other candidates who were either racial minorities or women. He cannot find a good message around a moderate white male candidate. I feel that many Democratic voters didn’t feel like they actually had a lot of choice in this election. They wanted to defeat DonalS Trump and they realised that their best bet was to go to a safer, more white male candidate. So that’s where we are. OPR: It seems that one of the
root causes of the recent white supremacist surge is that there is just that some of the poorer and disenfranchised white working class have become disillusioned with the liberals or the progressives in their eyes - and therefore, in rebuking what they see as a failure of them, they turn to folks like Donald Trump, or Marine Le Pen in France a few years back, or Nigel Farage in the UK during the Brexit referendum. There’s an interesting dynamic at play here: if we want genuinely directly representative individuals – persons of colour, women who are qualified coming to elected office and power – we inevitably seem to occur backlash and retaliation from those folks who seem displaced and unsettled by this phenomenon. And that means that in order to prioritise electability it seems we have to default to the more moderate and more conven-
tional candidate. But doesn’t that undermine the very principles that the progressive movement should at least partially espouse? Or do you think that’s a false dilemma or dichotomy between these two objectives?
NHJ: I don’t think it was the kind of disaffected low-income white Americans who have sustained Trump’s support. In fact, when we look at the polling and research on this the typical Trump supporter was middle to upper class and educated. I think we have this dangerous idea that racism or discomfort of the ascendency of marginalised groups is in the purview of the uneducated lower classes. That is certainly not true. There are many elite white people who also espouse these views or who are also willing to accept a degree of racism so they can have lower taxes. I imagine that is also true in the European countries, that it was not simply a disaffected white working-class people who have sustained that type of support. In America we have a failing economy right now. We have the worst coronavirus break out in the entire world and Donald Trump’s support is not being sustained just because poor white people like him. We should also not take any comfort in the fact that it is just white working-class people. What we’re also seeing in the United States is that President Obama did not win with the majority of the white vote. He won with a multiracial coalition where he got a minority of the white vote but a vast majority of the Asian black and Latino vote. What you have seen in America in response to that is a wave of efforts to really proscribe the vote of Democrats. So you’ve seen voter suppression laws being passed; efforts to make voting more difficult; the closing of polling places in heavily black and Democratic areas; so there is an understanding that as our country becomes more diverse then power starts to shift and you don’t have to be held hostage to white conservatives. But what white conservatives have then done is try to restrict the vote and who has access to the franchise and that’s what
we’re suffering here. So I don’t think you can send the message that the only way progressives can win is to keep putting up moderate white men in the presidency or for the Senate, but there does have to be an organised effort against disenfranchisement which is the tactic of the Right as the country becomes more diverse. OPR: You’ve observed and
tracked the trends in voter disenfranchisement, that’s something you’ve also researched extensively into. If we look at the upcoming elections in November, given these structural problems, what would be the best campaigning tactics or ways more progressive candidates to reach out to those groups who are less disenfranchised or of relative privileged. Do you prioritise standing for or espousing genuine progressive ideals but distancing yourselves or losing support from those folks in the centre, or do you risk distorting your own agenda and try to appease them and tone down the purity of your agenda? That seems to be the difficulty that progressive would have to confront: would you say that’s the case?
NHJ: I think the research shows that America is a slightly centre-left country. We’ve been told that we are a conservative country, but don’t forget that Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote by some three million votes. She just didn’t win the election because of our archaic electoral system. If you look across the states – a place like North Carolina – Democrats have also won the popular vote in down-ballot elections but because of gerrymandering they have to win such a higher number of the majority in order to overcome Republican gerrymandering. Republicans secure more seats but they’re not actually getting more votes. What really has to be done is there has to be extensive organising around voter suppression and getting out the vote. I don’t think that Democrats can counter this by watering down their message and their platform because what that does is suppresses the vote within their own part. Democrats have to get high turnout and if you are not speaking to your base, you’re not going to get high turnout. I think that Democrats should stop being afraid of their message and should really try to get out the vote and help overcome the obstacles placed against their base in voting. And we need a renewed Voting Rights act and to continue with lawsuits that are challenging efforts to suppress the vote. But this idea that we are a conservative country is not backed by the electoral data.
OPR: There is interesting re-
search to suggest that gerrymandering may be something that is asymmetrically partisan, in that the Republicans ostensibly do it far more than the Democrats. Would it be strategic or advisable for the Democrats to engage in gerrymandering as an non- ideal response given non-ideal circumstances... given that attempts to reduce disenfranchisement seem to have stagnated over the past decades, since the early 1980s.
NHJ: Certainly, Democrats also gerrymander. But I don’t think the answer is for Democrats to also try to be unfair. Unfortunately, what that has meant is that if Democrats are not willing to play as dirty, they’re not winning as much. But I don’t know that that’s the answer; I think there should be less gerrymandering overall; that part of the reason the our politics in this country are so divided right now is that most districts are safely red and safely blue and politicians don’t have to compromise because they only have to speak to their party. So I don’t want to see more gerrymandering, I want to see our elections being more fair. If we truly believe in a democracy – and it’s becoming less and less clear that we do all believe in a democracy, where the vote is the most important way to exercise your citizenship - then we have to believe in protecting minorities but also if the majority of people vote for something or for a candidate then that person wins and that’s just not the case anymore.
OPR: Congratulations on being
awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for your incredible work on the 1619 project. What have been some of the difficulties and challenges when putting together the series and getting the collaborators on board?
NHJ: The greatest challenge for the project was the ambition of the project, given a very aggressive timeline to implement it. When you look at how the project went across platforms, it was the biggest project at the Times last year; we pulled it off in about eight months. We were trying to do something that really examined and shifted the way we understood something that was foundational to America but that most of us don’t learn about or are taught that is marginal. So the challenge was the timeline as well as the emotional challenge of not wanting to get it wrong; the pressure of representing this history right and not letting down the people for whom this project was going to be so important.
Also spending months and months just reading about these atrocities that black Americans have gone through and this constant 400-year struggle to be treated as equal citizens.... Finding the writers and the contributors – that was a dream; to be able to go out to the people whose work you have admired for years and ask them to contribute; the ability to collaborate on what stories should be told and how; and that we worked with artists, historians, journalists, writers and poets – that part was amazing. It was a lot to do in a short period of time, and it was a very intense 8 months. OPR: It must have also been a
very emotional experience for you and your team. Reading some of your previous interviews, there was a particular excerpt where you talked about how there is no such thing as the objective truth, and that in many ways, truth is innately subjectively projected and perceived. You also highlight that journalists have more than just a duty to report narrowly on the strict facts because they also have an activist component to your work. Is that something that you have any insight on, in terms of the relationship between the role of the activist and the journalist. Are they complementary or do they conflict?
NHJ: I think it should be made clear that I’m not arguing that there aren’t objective facts. There certainly are objective facts. What I am arguing is that the way we report the facts is not necessarily objective; which facts we choose to pay attention to and which we choose to ignore. What I’m saying is that the arbiters of the facts are not necessarily objective; every journalist, just like every human being, brings their own experience, their own lens; power dynamics and we look at facts and we determine what we think is important and what isn’t and what we think it means and what it doesn’t mean. I wanted to challenge the idea that the mainstream media is just objectively reporting the facts. That’s clearly not the case. Every newspaper has a police beat. Most newspapers don’t have a poverty beat. That’s not an objective decision that’s a subjective decision. Someone determined what was important to cover and what wasn’t. I think that we need to challenge those narratives because when things get left out of coverage people say ‘Well, I’m just reporting the facts’ – well, you’re reporting some facts or some version of those facts. In terms of the role of activism – I don’t see myself as an activist outside the tradition of journalism.
— As much as journalism is activism, then, I’m an activist. —
We understand in America the first amendment to our constitution is a right to a free press. We believe that a free press is a lynchpin of any democracy; that you need to have an informed citizenry that has a right to protest government and the press plays a huge role in that. When you go into the newsrooms the ideological sense of most organisations is to hold power accountable. That’s not a neutral position; that’s an activist position. Journalism in that role is activism but that’s not the same as someone who’s working for a civil rights or women’s rights organisation; that’s a different level of activism and sometimes our roles are complementary and sometimes they are not. OPR: You mentioned that the
role of journalism is to hold power to account. The worry I have is in terms of which powers to hold to account. We only single out or identify the state as a monolithic structure that we target as the most powerful actor and we’re at risk of potentially losing sight of the need to be more balanced in reporting but if we include a whole roster of not just the state but to use critical-theoretical language the ‘kyriarchy’ – the oppressive structures. If journalism is about holding these structures to account then that almost seems to be a ‘Mission Impossible’, because the very nature of the modern press is, as a corporate or commercial enterprise, dependent on some revenue stream or another... unless it’s crowdfunded. There is almost an innate tension between breaking even and keeping capitalism and holding corporate centres to account. Do you think that’s a tension you see?
NHJ: One would be naïve to pretend that that isn’t a tension. But there is also no revenue model to pay for journalism that wouldn’t involve a tension. You can go to a non-profit model but then you are relying on people of like minds who like your coverage to donate to you, or philanthropical organisations or millionaire philanthropists, and each of those people or organisations have their own agendas. You can go to a government model where the state pays and that’s clearly an obvious conflict of coverage, or a for-profit model where you’re getting advertisers to pay. There’s really not a way to fund journalism that won’t have an inherent conflict; you just have to try to put up firewalls
OXFORD POLITICAL REVIEW
and keep the business side as separate as possible from the editorial side. You’re not always going to do that well. I can say in my career, I don’t know of who the business side is courting as advertisers, and I don’t care who the business side is courting as advertisers. I pick the stories that I think need to be done and at least in my career I’ve never had a story that I haven’t done for fear of upsetting advertisers. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen but I don’t know how you get around a model that can’t be corrupted. OPR: The New York Times has come under attack for being an alleged echo chamber for monolithically progressive and liberal views. These attacks have been all the more apparent since the rise of Trump in American politics. What do you make of New York Times ideological diversity? Is it a fair criticism or is it disingenuous?
NHJ: All big elite institutions that are driving the way we think about our country and politics should be criticised and examined frequently. But I also think that that accusation really is about one’s own perspectives. Most black people I know do not think the New York Times is liberal or progressive and find the coverage to be quite conservative. A lot of people on the left find the New York Times’ coverage of the Trump Administration to be too conservative. I think that accusation is about the lens that those people who are making that accusation see the world through, because that’s not a universal sentiment. A lot of people don’t think the paper’s coverage is particularly progressive on certain things. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about that. There are clear facts about this administration. News organisations spent a lot of time trying to appear to be fair to the Trump administration and that meant that they were not accurately covering the ex-
Figure 19: Nikole Hannah-Jones Original via Flickr, illutrated by Noorie Abbas
tent of the corruption; of the incompetence; of the racism that was coming out; and I think it’s taken a long time for news organisations to cover that stuff accurately. That is also a biased decision that is worthy of critique. OPR: I would also add that
Trump tries to deflect a lot of the criticism levelled at him by saying the media are ganging up on him; that a lot of these criticisms or accurate reporting on what he’s doing are manifestations of a liberal bias within the media? Do you think there’s anything outlets can do to assuage those who are wavering and undecided about your stances and the coverage work you’re doing, that these accusations are groundless? At the end of the day it seems that to reach across the divide takes convincing those folks who are sitting on the fence that your outlet can deliver the most accurate coverage of what’s going on in the White House lest you alienate some of those folks you’re trying to get on board in order to get the truth out there?
NHJ: I feel like as a news organisation, one should always take criticism to heart and really examine whether or not that criticism is justified, and always examine coverage no matter where that criticism is coming from. I would never outright dismiss that criticism. But we have to try
to tell the truth as best that we can and we cannot be held hostage to this false sense of balance because we don’t want to be accused of being anti-Trump. There is truth here and it’s our duty to report that; and not try to make it even where it’s not. I think newspapers and other new organisations have really struggled with that, and do really take those accusations to heart. The one thing I think news organisations should do less of if they want credibility is less reliance on anonymous sources. There used to be a time where for the use of anonymous sources, it had to be a certain level of story; it had to such an important story that the negatives of not letting readers know your source were outweighed by the positives. We rely on anonymous sources far too much. We don’t need anonymous sources to say Trump watches reality TV all night or that he eats McDonalds a lot. That we have done that so much allows people to think that we are politicising coverage and to discount it, because in the end if our readers or listeners or viewers don’t trust us and they don’t feel like they can verify for themselves what our facts are and who we’re talking to and what are the motivations of the people we interview, all we have is our integrity; we cannot be successful if people don’t trust us, and I do think the reliance on anonymous sources for fairly superficial stories has hurt us. OPR: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay in The Atlantic [2014, ‘The Case for Reparations’] I found fascinating. But I also think that when it comes to actualising reparations in practice, it seems that we need far more than just financial or fiscal reparations; we need structural changes, transformations to politics, genuine empowerment. Out of all of these forms of amelioration or improvement through African-American rights in America which do you think is the most important
dimension, be it the economical or the political or the social. Which do you think we should focus on before moving on to other objectives?
NHJ: When I think about what will have the most immediate impact on what makes black lives so hard, it is clearly financial and economic justice. How does one change the entire structure of a society built on a system of racial caste? That is a centuries-long endeavour. But when you look at what keeps black Americans from being able to buy homes, go to college, move into neighbourhood with higher quality schools, get access to adequate healthcare, weather financial catastrophe, move away from environmental toxins. This is all about the lack of wealth that black Americans have, which is a result of 250 years of chattel slavery and 100 years of legalised discrimination in this country. A lot of times we forget that racism was created to justify a system of economic exploitation that allowed you to buy and sell human beings and work them to death for profit. Curing racism is just the after-effect of the true reason that racism exists, which is to exploit black people economically. In America a black family has one cent of wealth for every one dollar of wealth that white Americans have. The way that white Americans have largely maintained racial inequality in this country is through wealth inequality.
— Black people can’t move into certain neighbourhoods because they can’t afford to. They can’t afford to send their kids to certain schools because they can’t afford to. They can’t access certain consumer goods and lifestyles because they can’t afford to. —
Of course, we need a strong enforcement of our civil rights laws. We need targeted investment into under-resourced black neigbourhoods and schools – a lot of that will actually address what makes black lives the hardest which is a lack of wealth. I would certainly choose cash reparations as the thing that will have the most immediate effect.
Notes & Biography PP. 6-9
The dangers of masculinity contests in a time of pandemic
10. Jeremy Peters, ‘Alarm, Denial, Blame: The Pro-Trump Media’s Coronavirus Distortion,’ The New York Times, April 1, 2020, https://www.nytimes. com/2020/04/01/us/politics/hannity-limbaugh-trump- coronavirus. html.
1. Judith Butler, ‘Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,’ Theatre Journal 40, no. 4 (1988): 519-520. 2. Sheryl Hamilton, ‘Hands in Cont(r)act: The Resiliency of Business Handshakes in Pandemic Culture,’ Canadian Journal of Law and Society 34, no. 2 (2019): 347. 3. Christina Cauterucci, ‘The Masculine Bluster of Trump’s Coronavirus Hand-Shaking Tour,’ Slate, March 13, 2020, https://slate. com/news-and-politics/2020/03/ trump-still-shaking-hands-coronavirus- handshake.amp. 4. Ibid. 5. Shi Yinglun, ed., ‘Philippines expects to attract 4 mln Chinese tourists annually by end of 2022,’ Xinhua, December 20, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-12/20/c_138646442. htm. 6. Peter Baker, Shari Dworkin, Sengfah Tong, et. al., ‘The men’s health gap: men must be included in the global health equity agenda,’ March 6, 2014, World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/ bulletin/ volumes/92/8/13-132795/ en/. 7. Sallie Yea, ‘This is why Singapore’s coronavirus cases are growing: a look inside the dismal living conditions of migrant workers,’ The Conversation, April 29, 2020, https://theconversation.com/ this-is-why- singapores-coronavirus-cases-are-growing-a-look-inside-the-dismal-living-conditions-of-migrantworkers-136959. 8. Jamie Abrams, ‘The Myth of Enforcing Border Security versus the Reality of Enforcing Dominant Masculinities,’ California Western Law Review 56 (2019). 9 Uri Friedman, ‘We Were Warned,’ The Atlantic, March 18, 2020, https://www.theatlantic. com/politics/ archive/2020/03/ pandemic-coronavirus-unit-
11. Kristin Kobes du Mez, ‘Some evangelicals deny the coronavirus threat. It’s because they love tough guys.,’ Washington Post, April 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/04/02/ conservative-evangelicals-coronavirus-tough-guys/. 12. Ibid. 13. James Brady, ‘Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing,’ March 18, 2020, https:// www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks- president-trump-vice-president-pencemembers-coronavirus-task-forcepress-briefing-5/. 14. Ibid. 15. Ronald Holmes and Paul Hutchcroft, ‘A Failure of Execution,’ Inside Story, April 4, 2020, https:// insidestory.org.au/a-failure-of-execution/.
PP. 10-11 New Labour shadow Cabinet: what does it say about future UK foreign policy? 1. Walker,Peter.2020.’KeirStarmergivesLisaNandyforeignbriefonnewLabourfrontbench.’ The Guardian. April 5. https://www. theguardian.com/politics/2020/ apr/05/starmer- names-nandy-asshadow-foreign-secretary-as-hestarts-building-cabinet (accessed April 20, 2020). 2. ‘Keir Starmer Voting Record.’ TheyWorkForYou. Accessed April 19, 2020. https:// www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/25353/keir_ starmer/holborn_and_st_pancras/ divisions? policy= 6761 3. McGuinness, Alan. 2020. ‘Sir Keir Starmer: Labour’s Brex-
it stance in the general election was the ‘right policy’.’ Sky News. February 16. Https://news.sky. com/story/sir-keir-starmer-labours-brexit-stance-in-the-general-election-was- the-right-policy-11935475 (accessed April 20, 2020). 4. ‘Scottish independence: Labour candidate Lisa Nandy criticised for Catalonia remarks.’ BBC News. Accessed April 20, 2020. https:// www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-51139519 5. Rodgers,Sienna.2020.’Nandysetsoutstrongdefenceoffreemovementinkeyspeech.’ LabourList. January 15. https://labourlist. org/2020/01/nandy-sets-outstrong-defence-of-free-movement-in-key- speech/ (accessed April 20, 2020). 6. Starmer, Keir. 2015. ‘Airstrikes in Syria are lawful, but I’ll be voting against them.’ The Guardian. https://www.theguardian. com/commentisfree/2015/nov/30/ syria-airstrikes-legal-david-cameron-civil-war-flawed (accessed April 18, 2020). 7. Starmer, Keir. 2020. ‘My pledges to you.’ https://keirstarmer.com/ plans/10-pledges/(accessed April 20, 2020). 8. Mason,Rowena.2016.’LabourMPsfacebacklashoverfailuretovoteonYemencampaign.’The Guardian. October 27. https://www. theguardian.com/politics/2016/ oct/27/labour-mps-face-backlashover-failure-to- vote-on-yemencampaign (accessed April 20, 2020). 9. Osborne,Samuel.2018.’EmilyThornberryclaimspublicsupportforSyria’sBasharal-Assad has been ‘underestimated’.’ The Independent. May 17. https://www. independent.co.uk/news/ uk/politics/assad-syria-emily-thornberry-support-underestimated-jeremy-corbyn-russia- a8355241.html (accessed April 20, 2020). 10. Wheeler, Brian. 2016. ‘Emily Thornberry: Labour’s comeback queen.’ BBC News. January 6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ uk-politics-35234485 (accessed April 19, 2020).
11. Mason, Rowena. 2020. ‘Jewish leaders praise Keir Starmer for pledges on Labour antisemitism.’ The Guardian. April 7. https://www.theguardian.com/ politics/2020/apr/07/ jewish-leaders-praise-keir-starmer-for-pledges-on-labour-antisemitism (accessed April 20, 2020). 12. ‘Lisa Nandy backs Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s pledges, including right of return.’ The JC. Accessed April 20, 2020. https:// www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/ lisa-nandy-backs-palestine-solidarity-campaign-s- pledges-including-right-of-return-1.496849 13. Castle, Stephen. 2014. ‘British Labour Chief, a Jew Who Criticizes Israel, Walks a Fine Line.’ New York Times. October 23. https:// www.nytimes.com/2014/10/24/ world/europe/ milibands-embrace-of-jewish-heritage-complicates-criticism-of-israel-.html (accessed April 20, 2020). 14. Rodgers, Sienna. 2020. ‘Nandy sets out strong defence of free movement in key speech.’ LabourList. January 15. https:// labourlist.org/2020/01/nandysets-out-strong-defence-of-freemovement-in-key- speech/ (accessed April 19, 2020).
PP. 12-14 Encouraging proportionality in India’s response to Covid-19 All data included is from the time of writing, between May, 2010. 1. Belz, Herman. ‘Abraham Lincoln and American Constitutionalism.’ The Review of Politics 50, no. 2 (1988): 169-97. Accessed July 1, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/1407646. 2. PATRIOT Act, 2001. 107TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION. H.R. 3162. IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES OCTOBER 24, 2001. Received AN ACT II: To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes. https://epic.
org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.pdf 3. ‘Guantanamo by the Numbers’, October 10, 2018. Accessed July 1, 2020. https:// www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/guantanamo-numbers. 4. Human Rights Watch. ‘Back to the Future: India’s 2008 Counterterrorism Laws’. July 27, 2010. Accessed July 1, 2020. https:// www.hrw.org/report/2010/07/27/ back-future/indias-2008- counterterrorism-laws. 5. Jagran English. ‘Coronavirus Red Zones in India: Number of COVID-19 hotspot districts decreased from 170 to 130’. 02 May 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://english.jagran.com/india/ coronavirus-red-zones-inindia-number-of-covid19-hotspot-districts-decreased-from170-to-129- check-full-listhere-10011272. 6. Ameya Pratap Singh and Dhruva Gandhi. ‘COVID-19 and India’s Addiction to Colonial-Era Laws’. The Diplomat. April 17, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://thediplomat.com/2020/04/ covid-19-and-indias-addiction-to-colonial-era-laws/. 7. James Gallagher. ‘Coronavirus vaccine: When will we have one?’. BBC News. 18 May 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://www. bbc.com/news/health-51665497. 8. See Meierhenrich, Jens, Oliver Simons, and William E. Scheuerman. ‘States of Emergency’. In The Oxford Handbook of Carl Schmitt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. 9. AGAMBEN, GIORGIO. The Omnibus Homo Sacer. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2017. pp. 140. 10. Ramraj, Victor V., and Arun K. Thiruvengadam, eds. Emergency Powers in Asia: Exploring the Limits of Legality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 11. THE DISASTER MANAGEMENT ACT, 2005. https://www. ndmindia.nic.in/images/The%20 Disaster%20Management%20 Act,%202005.pdf. 12. Government of India issues Orders prescribing lockdown for containment of COVID- 19 Epidemic in the country. March 24, 2020. https://www.mha.gov. in/sites/default/files/ PR_NationalLockdown_26032020_0.pdf. 13 Press Trust of India. ‘Over 6.75 lakh migrant workers have received shelter in homes set up by
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state governments’. April 1, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https:// www.deccanherald.com/national/ over-675-lakh-migrant-workershave-received-shelter-in-homesset-up-by-state-govts-homeministry-820111.html. 14. Pandey, Geeta. ‘Coronavirus in India: Desperate migrant workers trapped in lockdown’. 22 April 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/ world-asia-india-52360757. 15. Press Trust of India. ‘Lockdown in India has impacted 40 million internal migrants: World Bank’. The Economic Times. Apr 23, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://economictimes. indiatimes.com/ news/politics-and-nation/lockdown-inindia-has-impacted-40-millioninternal-migrants-world-bank/ articleshow/75311966.cms? utm_ source=contentofinterest&utm_ medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst 16. Shah, A.P. ‘The Lockdown is a Dangerous Experiment, India’s Democracy Will Not Emerge Unscathed’. The Wire. 04 May 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://thewire.in/law/lockdowndemocracy-rights-india-supreme-court. 17. Jain, Bharti. ‘Migrants can go home; more curbs to be eased after May 3’. Times of India. April 30, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/75461216. cms? utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_ campaign=cppst. 18. DHINGRA, SANYA. ‘Don’t cut salaries or fire workers during lockdown — Modi govt. issues advisory’. The Print. 23 March, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://theprint.in/india/dontcut- salaries-or-fire-workers-during-lockdown-modi-govt-issues-advisory/386643/. 19. Bhatia, Gautam. ‘Coronavirus and the Constitution – XXI: The Mandatory Imposition of the Aarogya Setu App’. Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy. 2 May, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://indconlawphil. wordpress.com/2020/05/02/ coronavirus-and-the-constitution-xxi-the- mandatory-imposition-of-the-aarogya-setu-app/. 20. Times of India. ‘High court stays Kerala government’s pay cut order, says salary is not charity’. 29 April 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://timesofindia.in-
diatimes.com/city/kochi/highcourt-stays- kerala-governmentspay-cut-order-says-salary-is-notcharity/articleshow/75442497. cms. 21. The Wire Staff. ‘Home Ministry Says Aarogya Setu App to Be Made Mandatory for All Office Workers’. 1 May 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://thewire.in/ government/home-ministry- aarogya-setu-office-workers. 22. Mehrotra, Karishma. ‘‘100% coverage’ to ‘best effort basis’: Centre climbs down on Aarogya Setu’. The Indian Express. 18 May 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://indianexpress.com/article/ india/centre-backs-down-on-aarogya-setu-6414652/. 23. Tech Desk. ‘Aarogya Setu app compulsory for air, train travel and more: Full list’. The Indian Express. 19 May 2020. https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/tech-news-technology/aarogya- setu-app-mandatory-airtrain-travel-more-list-6413841/. 24. Ananth, Venkat. ‘Aarogya Setu’s not all that healthy for a person’s privacy’. The Economic Times. 15 April 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/ software/aarogya- setus-notall-that-healthy-for-a-personsprivacy/articleshow/75112687. cms? utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_ campaign=cppst 25. A comparison of the old and new privacy policies of Aarogya Setu available at: https:// www. medianama.com/wp-content/uploads/Aarogya-Setu-Privacy-Policies-Comparison.pdf. 26. Cristina Criddle & Leo Kelion. ‘Coronavirus contact-tracing: World split between two types of app’. BBC News. 7 May 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https:// www.bbc.com/news/ technology-52355028. 27. Internet Freedom Foundation. ‘Is Aarogya Setu privacy-first? Nope, but it could be-- If the government wanted. #SaveOurPrivacy’. 14 April 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https:// internetfreedom.in/is-aarogya-setu-privacyfirst-nope-but-it-could-be-if-thegovernment-wanted/. 28. Human Rights Watch. ‘Back to the Future: India’s 2008 Counterterrorism Laws’. July 27, 2010. Accessed July 1, 2020. https:// www.hrw.org/report/2010/07/27/ back-future/indias-2008- counterterrorism-laws.
29. Press Trust of India. ‘Delhi Police books Umar Khalid & Jamia students under UAPA for Northeast Delhi violence’. The Print. 21 April, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://theprint.in/ india/delhi- police-books-umarkhalid-jamia-students-underuapa-for-northeast-delhi-violence/406259/. 30. Global Expression of Freedom, Columbia University. ‘Puttaswamy v. India’. 24 August 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/puttaswamy-v-india/.
PP. 15-18 The Indian security establishment: strengthening ties through counter-terrorism cooperation 1 Institute for Economics & Peace, ‘Global Terrorism Index 2019,’ Institute for Economics & Peace, accessed 15 March, 2020, http://visionofhumanity.org/app/ uploads/2019/11/ GTI-2019web. pdf. 2. Ibid. 3. MHA, ‘Banned Organizations,’ Ministry of Home Affairs, accessed 15 March, 2020, https:// mha.gov.in/node/91173. 4. Institute for Economics & Peace, ‘Global Terrorism Index 2019.’ 5. Vijay Ahluwalia, ‘Terrorism & Successful Counterterrorism Strategies: The Indian Chronicle,’ Institute for Economics & Peace, accessed 17 March, 2020, http:// visionofhumanity.org/news/terrorism-counterterrorism-strategies-indian-chronicle/. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid. 9. Global Security, ‘Rashtriya Rifles,’ Global Security, accessed 17 March, 2020, https:// www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/ india/rashtriya-rifles.htm. 10. PTI, ‘Gujarat gets new NSG hub; fifth in the country,’ The Economic Times, accessed 17 March, 2020, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/ defence/gujarat-gets-new- nsghub-fifth-in-the-country/articleshow/58095713.cms?from=mdr. 11. GOI, ‘About Us,’ National Investigation Agency, accessed 16 March, 2020, https:// www.nia.
gov.in/about-us.htm. 12. C.D. Sahay, Ramanand Garge, ‘NIA is Fast Emerging as a Professional Investigating Agency,’ Vivekananda International Foundation, accessed 16 March, 2020, https:// www.vifindia.org/ article/2017/january/03/nia-isfast-emerging-as-a-professionalinvestigating-agency. 13. MHA, ‘21 CIAT Schools Approved,’ Press Information Bureau, accessed 17 March, 2020, https:// pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease. aspx?relid=83951. 14. Mukesh Rawat, ‘How South Asia emerged as hotbed for terror attacks since 1970,’ India Today, accessed 16 March, 2020, https:// www.indiatoday.in/world/story/ terror- attacks-sri-lanka-indiapakistan-south-asia-middleeast-1507353-2019-04-22. 15. Ibid. 16. Pamela Constable, Amantha Perera, ‘Sri Lanka’s president says intelligence lapse allowed Easter bombings to take place’ The Washington Post, accessed 17 March, 2020, https://www. washingtonpost.com/world/asia_ pacific/sri-lanka-leaders-promisesreorganization-of-security-services-in-wake-of-easter-bombings/ 2019/04/26/84beda66-6792-11e9a698-2a8f808c9cfb_story.html. 17. Lydia Khalil, ‘Sri Lanka’s Perfect Storm of Failure,’ Foreign Policy, accessed 17 March, 2020, https://foreignpolicy. com/2019/04/23/sri-lankas-perfect-storm-of-failure- bombings-government-mistakes-terrorism/. 18. Uditha Jayasinghe, James Hookway, ‘U.S., India Warned Sri Lanka Weeks Before Easter Terror Attacks,’ The Wall Street Journal, accessed 16 March, 2020, https:// foreignpolicy.com/2019/04/23/ sri-lankas-perfect-storm-of-failure-bombings- government-mistakes-terrorism/. 19. Lydia Khalil, ‘Sri Lanka’s Perfect Storm of Failure.’ 20. Iain Marlow, ‘Sri Lanka Muslims Had Warned Officials About Group Behind Attack,’ Bloomberg, accessed 16 March, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/ news/articles/ 2019-04-22/sri-lanka-muslims-had-warned-officialsabout-group-behind-attack. 21. Juthika Hasan, ‘The Aftermath of the Holey Artisan Bakery Attack in Bangladesh,’ NAOC, accessed 17 March, 2020, http:// natoassociation.ca/the-aftermath-
of-the- holey-artisan-bakery-attack-in-bangladesh/. 22. Aditya Kalra, Serajul Quadir, ‘Bangladesh says some restaurant attackers were well off and educated,’ Reuters, accessed, 16 March, 2020, https://www.reuters. com/article/us- bangladesh-attack-idUSKCN0ZJ01R. 23. Geeta Mohan, ‘Exclusive: India to provide counter-terrorism, warfare assistance, says Sri Lankan army chief,’ India Today, accessed 17 March, 2020, https:// www.indiatoday.in/world/story/ india-sri-lanka-counter-terrorism-warfare-army-chief- senanayake-1522828-2019-05-11. 24. Anirban Bhaumik, ‘India to work with Sri Lanka on counter-terrorism,’ Deccan Herald, accessed 16 March, 2020, https:// www.deccanherald.com/national/ national-politics/ india-to-workwith-sri-lanka-on-counter-terrorism-730130.html. 25. PTI, ‘India, Germany will boost cooperation to combat terrorism, extremism: Modi,’ Business Standard, accessed 18 March, 2020, https://www.business-standard.com/ article/pti-stories/india-germany-will-strengthen-cooperation-to-combat-terrorism- and-extremism-modi-119110101182_1.html. 26. PTI, ‘India Bangladesh Agree to Intelligence Sharing on Terrorism, Insurgency,’ NDTV, accessed 16 March, 2020, https:// www.ndtv.com/india-news/ india-bangladesh-agree- to-intelligence-sharing-on-terrorism-insurgency-1244383. 27. K.K. Sandu, ‘Bangladeshi terror group JMB spreading tentacles in India: NIA chief,’ India Today, accessed 17 March, 2020, https:// www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ modi-govt- not-game-changerbut-name-changer-cpi-m-tmchit-out-for-renaming-of-kolkataport-1636267-2020-01-12. 28. Mohan, ‘Exclusive: India to provide counter-terrorism, warfare assistance, says Sri Lankan army chief.’ 29. Viraj Solanki, ‘Sri Lanka and India address shared counter-terrorism challenge,’ IISS, accessed 18 March, 2020, https://www.iiss. org/blogs/analysis/2019/12/srilanka-and- india-address-sharedct-challenge.
PP. 19-20 Informal economy: growth impediment or poverty reliever? 1. https://sihanet.org/wp-content/ uploads/2019/09/The-Invisible-Laborers-of-Kampala.pdf 2. https://www.worldbank.org/en/ country/uganda/overview 3. https://twitter.com/newvisionwire/status/1252182487817752576 4. https://sihanet.org/wp-content/ uploads/2019/09/The-Invisible-Laborers-of-Kampala.pdf 5. https://www.newvision.co.ug/ new_vision/news/1503255/kcca-regulate-street-vendors
the witch. Second revised edition. ed. Brooklyn, New York: Autonomedia ;. Fisher, Mark. 2009. Capitalist realism : is there no alternative? Ropley: Zero Books.
PP. 24-26 Power, disclosure, and the digital age 1. Arendt, H. (1998). . The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 195 2. Ibid, p. 198 3. Ibid, p. 188 4. Ibid, p. 199
5. Ibid, p. 198
Informal economy: growth impediment or poverty reliever?
6. Ibid, p. 195
1. The Strategic Initiative for women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA Network), ‘The Invisible Labourers of Kampala’, August, 2018 2. The World Bank, Uganda Overview, March, 2020 https:// www.worldbank.org/en/country/ uganda/overview 3. https://twitter.com/newvisionwire/status/1252182487817752576 4. The Strategic Initiative for women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA Network), ‘The Invisible Labourers of Kampala’, August, 2018 5. Juliet Waiswa, ‘KCCA to regulate street vendors’, New Vision, July, 2019. https://www. newvision.co.ug/new_vision/ news/1503255/kcca-regulate-street-vendors Bilbiography Butler, Judith, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek. 2000. Contingency, hegemony, universality : contemporary dialogues on the left.Radical Thinkers. London: Verso. Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1972/2013. Anti-Oedipus : capitalism and schizophrenia. Translated by Robert; Seem Hurley, Mark; Lane, Helen.Bloomsbury revelations. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ---. 1980/2013. A thousand plateaus : capitalism and schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Paperback edition. ed.Bloomsbury revelations. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
7. Topper, K. (2011). Arendt and Bourdieu between Word and Deed. Political Theory, 39(3), 352–377. 8. Arendt, H. (1998). . The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 181 9. Arendt, H. (1998). . The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 198 10. Raffel, S. (2017). Twitter through the Prism of Hannah Arendt and Maurice Blanchot. Diacritics 45(3), 54-74 11 Arendt, H. (1998). . The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 198 12. Kierkegaard, S. (2010)  The Present Age: On the Death of Rebellion. New York: Harper Perennial, 30 13. Monica Anderson, Skye Toor, Lee Rainie, and Aaron Smith, ‘Activism in the Social Media Age’ pewresearch.org, Pew Research Center, July 11, 2018, https:// www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/07/11/activism-in-thesocial-media-age/ 14. Arendt, H. (1998). . The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 200 15. Henry George, ‘Does Loneliness Give Rise to Totalitarianism?’ merionwest.com, Merion West, June 6, 2018, https:// merionwest. com/2018/06/06/does-loneliness-give-rise-to-totalitarianism/? fbclid=IwAR2xZinFxY8bV6I_tFhWjqKaVZn49CJS2PKmHGKnmONEGugxyKck2eFC5dc
Federici, Silvia. 2014. Caliban and
PP. 27-31 Should a pan-European electoral constituency be used for the European Parliament? 1. Moving forward I shall assume that this number equates to the number of Member States in the European Union, i.e. 27, but this paper shall also address the question of size since it has an influence on the significance of the reform. The relevant legal procedure for the implementation of a transnational constituency requires unanimity within the EU Council, the assent of the European Parliament and the ratification of national parliaments. Constitutionalists are still debating on whether the Treaty would have to change, or if the current Treaty provisions on electoral procedures are sufficient. 2. The European Parliamentary Research Service itself defines the Spitzenkandidaten process as the ‘ procedure whereby political parties, ahead of European elections, appoint lead candidates for the role of Commission President, with the presidency of the Commission thereby going to the candidate of the political party capable of marshalling sufficient parliamentary support.’ (Tilindyte, 2019). 3. Scharpf (2003, p. 4) defines this specifically as ‘trust in institutional arrangements that are thought to ensure that governing processes are generally responsive to the manifest preferences of the governed’. 4. This will depend on the number of seats allocated to the pan-European constituency. The higher the number, the stronger the link between European voters and the president of the European Commission. 5. Though it must be said that this is mitigated by studies such as the one by Hajnal & Lewis (2003). 6. By extension, the higher the number of seats allocated to this pan-European constituency, the more potent this argument becomes. 7. It would be important to check the time period and the number of votes that have been examined in this study. Unfortunately this requires premium access to Vote Watch. Bibliography Auel, Karin, and Benz, Arthur. ‘Expanding National Parliamentary Control: Does It Enhance Eu-
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ropean Democracy?’ In ‘Debating the Democratic Legitimacy of the European Union’, B. KohlerKoch, B. Rittberger. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 2007. Bol et al. ‘Addressing Europe’s democratic deficit: An experimental evaluation of the pan-European district proposal.’ European Union Politics. Vol. 17, no. 4, 2016, pp. 525-545. Charlemagne, ‘Before the altar of Europe’, The Economist, 1 July 2010. Dahl, Robert. ‘Can International Organizations Be Democratic? A Skeptic’s View’, in Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordon (eds), Democracy’s Edges, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 19–36. Donatelli, Lorenzo. ‘A Pan-European District for the European Elections? The Rise and Fall of the Duff Proposal for the Electoral Reform of the European Parliament.’ Bruges Political Research Papers. 44/2015. Duff, Andrew. Post-national democracy and the reform of the European Parliament. Notre Europe. 2010. Elster, John, Przeworski, Adam. ‘Deliberative Democracy.’ Volume 1 of Cambridge Studies in the Theory of Democracy. Cambridge University Press.1998. European Council. 2018. ‘Informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government, 23 February 2018.’ < https://www.consilium. europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2018/02/23/> Accessed 25 April 2020. European Parliament, Committee on Constitutional Affairs, ‘Working document on a proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976’, 19 May 2010. European Parliament, Committee on Constitutional Affairs, ‘Report on a proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976’, A7-0176/2011, 28 April 2011, p. 32. European Parliament, Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Second Report on a proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 Septem-
ber 1976, A7-0027/2012, 1 February 2012. European Parliament. ‘The 2019 Post-Electoral Survey. Have European Elections Entered a New Dimension?’ Eurobarometer Survey 91.5 of the European Parliament. A Public Opinion Monitoring Study. <https://www.europarl. europa.eu/at-your-service/files/ be-heard/eurobarometer/2019/ post- election-survey-2019-complete-results/report/en-postelection-survey-2019-report.pdf> Accessed 25 April 2020. Frandsen, Annie Gaardsted. ‘Size and Electoral Participation in Local Elections.’ Environment and Planning: Government and Policy, vol. 20, no. 6, Dec. 2002, pp. 853–869.
sociale, décembre 1996. Scharpf, Fritz W. ‘Problem-solving effectiveness and democratic accountability in the EU’, MPIfG working paper, No. 03/1. 2003. Verger, Christine. ‘Transnational lists: A Political Opportunity for Europe with Obstacles to Overcome’, Europe a Power with Values, Policy Paper No. 216. Notre Europe, Institut Jacques Delors. Tilindyte, Laura. ‘Election of the President of the European Commission’. European Parliamentary Research Service. PE 630.264 – April 2019.
Hajnal, Zoltan, L. and Lewis, Paul G. ‘Municipal institutions and voter turnout in Local Elections.’ Urban Affairs Review, vol. 38, no. 5, Sage Publications.2003. Hix, S. A. G. Noury & G. Roland, Democratic politics in the European Parliament, Cambridge, Cambridge University press, 2007. Jones, Erik. and Menon, Anand. The Oxford Handbook of the European Union. Oxford University Press. 2012. Lijphaart, Arend. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. 2nd Edition, Yale University Press. 2012. Moravscik, Andrew. Government and Opposition. Blackwell Publishing. 2004. OSCE/ODIHR Expert Group Report, 2009. ‘Elections to the European Parliament.’ Warsaw. <https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/eu/38680?download=true> Accessed 10 May 2020. Press Release. MEP J-M Terricabras (Catalonia) 2018. ‘Pan European Electoral Lists.’ <https:// www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/ press/pan-european-electoral-lists/> Accessed April 25 2020. Proust, Franck. Politico. Maïa de La Baume. 2018. ‘Parliament votes down plan for pan-European MEPs.’ <https://www.politico.eu/ article/parliament-votes-downplan-for-pan-european-meps/ > Accessed 25 April 2020. Roland, Gérard, Vandevelde, Toon & Van Parijs, Philippe. ‘Repenser (radicalement?) la solidarité entre régions et nations’, Université catholique de Louvain: Chaire Hoover d’éthique économique et
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An Oxford-based publication focussing on issues of national and international significance. ISSUE 2 JULY 2020
The Oxford Political Review is a Oxford-based publication featuring works by young academics, professionals, and students on current affairs...
Published on Jul 31, 2020
The Oxford Political Review is a Oxford-based publication featuring works by young academics, professionals, and students on current affairs...