Category Archives: democracy

Lakhdar Ghettas: “The Tunisian revolution seven years on”

“Political transitions following bottom up upheavals are very difficult to navigate in that they bring to the surface all the contradictions that were suppressed by the authoritarian regime.”

Mohammad Ali Kadivar & Neil Ketchley: “Sticks, Stones and Molotov Cocktails: Unarmed Collective Violence and Democratization”

“The literature on civil resistance finds that nonviolent campaigns are more likely to succeed than violent insurgencies. A parallel literature on democratization poses mass mobilization as exogenous to political liberalization. Contributing to both literatures, we propose the category of unarmed collective violence to capture an empirically recurring form of unruly collective action.”

“Barrage to Catalonia”

“The Catalan crisis is indicative of the general collapse of democratic politics in Europe. … Historic party bases are dying, in favour of more confused webs of identity. Yet this takes place in a fragmented and superficial fashion, no longer based in class blocs or even the politics of national unity. The temporary coalitions of referendums are an agent of this process, helping to destroy the old collective forms while replacing them with nothing.”

“Myanmar, once a Hope for Democracy, is now a Study in how it Fails”

“Nearly a decade into Myanmar’s transition out of military rule, the country’s once-celebrated transition toward democracy is hardening into something very different from what activists and world leaders had hoped for.  Citizens select their leaders, but without the robust institutions or norms like pluralism, universal rights or tolerance necessary for democracy to function.  They express, in surveys and social media, desire for a strongman-style leader and raw majority rule. Democracy, many say, should be guided by religious strictures and nationalism.”

Lluc Salellas interviewed on “Catalonia: From Referendum to Republic?”

“The next step is the declaration by the Catalan parliament. We still don’t know exactly what it will entail but we hope it will be a proclamation of a republic.”

Paul Mason: “‘We are with you Catalunya’ – the revolt in Spain is bigger than flags and language”

“Two million Catalans braved the threat of a police boot in the face to demand independence. As with Scotland and Greece, this was a modern, cosmopolitan form of nationalism.”

Richard Youngs: ” What are the meanings behind the worldwide rise in protest?”

“The results of the current cluster of protests have been mixed. Some have succeeded in pushing presidents or corrupt ministers from power, or in getting governments to unblock political, social or economic reforms – like the protests against incumbent presidents in Burkina Faso, Gambia and Senegal, and in Guatemala and Korea. Conversely, some have failed more or less completely in meeting their declared aims and have simply invited harsher repression from governments and a restriction of the right to assembly – like in Bahrain and Cambodia. Probably the most common outcome is for protests to elicit some concessions from governments, but without bringing about profound, underlying change – either to governance patterns, economic relations of power imbalances. Recent revolts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Iceland, Jordan, Moldova and Morocco all won some positive responses from governments but far short of protestors’ demands and without any systemic breakthroughs in political or economic governance.”

Boaventura de Sousa Santos: “The Left and Catalonia”

“First, the relationship between law and democracy is dialectical and
not mechanical. Much of what we consider democratic legality in a given
historical moment started as illegality, as an aspiration to a better and broader
democracy. It is therefore imperative to evaluate the political processes in
terms of their overall historical dynamics. In no case can they be reduced to
conformity with the laws of the day.”

“Spain’s government moves to halt independence vote for Catalonia, sparking protests”

‘After years of largely ignoring Catalan separatism, Spain’s central government moved decisively Wednesday to halt preparations for an independence referendum in its Catalonia region, where memories of repression under the Franco dictatorship linger. … Catalonia held an independence poll in 2014, and voters favored secession. But turnout was low, and Catalan officials acknowledged it was nonbinding. This time, they vow to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours, if the “yes” votes win.’

Jacques Rancière: “Democracy, Equality, Emancipation in a Changing World”

“A free social space … is a space where assemblies can practice forms of direct democracy intended … to make collective decisions on concrete matters. In such a way a form of political action tends to be at the same time the cell of another form of life. It is no longer a tool for preparing a future emancipation but a process of invention of forms of life and modes of thinking in which equality furthers equality.”