Debt and Democracy

While this was written by Cicero in 44 BCE, after the assassination of Caesar and a year before Antony had Cicero murdered, the sentiment can be heard in today’s Republicans–particularly those associated with the Tea Party. Any attempt at redistribution, according to Cicero, threatens the very foundation of the republic, which, he points out, was … More Debt and Democracy

The Uses and Abuses of the Household Analogy

One of the most common ideological tropes employed by ‘austerians’ to rationalize the unprecedented defunding of the public sector in order to socialize the recent failures of finance capital has been to equate the state to a household. Like any common household, the argument goes, the state must live within its means. No household can … More The Uses and Abuses of the Household Analogy

The Politics of the 99%, a.k.a., ‘Democracy’

Prior to the eighteenth century, most commentators shared Aristotle’s definition of democracy as a constitution in which ‘those who are free and are not well-off, being in the majority, are in sovereign control of government.’1 By this, Aristotle did not simply mean that democracy was a simple case of the ‘rule of the majority’; rather, … More The Politics of the 99%, a.k.a., ‘Democracy’

On Tyrants, Despots and Dictators

The Roman Dictator Sulla In contemporary political discourse, there is not much difference between the tyrant, despot and dictator. All seem to be a variation of the same non-democratic or anti-democratic phenomenon. Alongside the non-democratic nature of these categories is the notion that they are all characterized by unlimited and arbitrary power. Dictator seems to … More On Tyrants, Despots and Dictators

Athenian Democracy and Politial Theory

There has been a long-standing tradition within political theory of characterizing Athenian democracy as a form of ‘positive’ or ‘ancient’ liberty in opposition to ‘modern’ conceptions of ‘negative’ liberty. This stems largely from Berlin’s critique of positive liberty and Constant’s critique of ancient liberty. The influence of these two thinkers has dominated much of the … More Athenian Democracy and Politial Theory

Capitalism, Liberalism and Democracy

    The current economic crisis is highlighting the tensions between capitalism, liberalism and democracy. In the Eurozone, unaccountable financial actors and institutions are imposing harsh austerity measures on member states that are seriously undermining the legitimacy of democratically elected governments. We are told that we must sacrifice the present in order to save the … More Capitalism, Liberalism and Democracy