Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."




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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A BRIEF RESPONSE TO ONE SMALL PORTION OF A COMMENT


Jerry Fresia writes, “I just don't see electoral office holding as the only way our life chances are authored.”  You are quite correct, Jerry, but if I may respond in the same metaphor, although they are not the only way our life chances are authored, they are a principal way in which those chances are published.  That is, in our country at this time, one way, indeed the most important way, in which life chances are transformed from demands or proposals into facts for large numbers of people is through their enactment into laws which then shape the actions of both people and bureaucratic structures.  Health insurance, union rights, auto emissions standards, workplace safety regulations, anti-war movements, voting rights protections, LGBT rights, and so forth.  All spring from demands of citizens [and others] and then are enacted into law by representatives responsive to those demands.  For those actually getting themselves elected, the office may be a career move, whatever their convictions, but they are vehicles for the translation of upswellings of demand into laws.  Not the only way, to be sure, but in our country at this time, a very important way.

2 comments:

Jerry Fresia said...

I think that works; everyone does what they can. Everyone plays their part.

BTW, I just read the endorsements (81) that Obama has made for 2018.

https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/here-are-81-candidates-obama-endorsed-2018-midterm-elections

Here's NC (no Congressional endorsements apparently):

Wiley Nickel (State Senate, District 16)

Ron Wesson (State House, District 1)

Terence Everitt (State House, District 35)

Julie Von Haefen (State House, District 36)

Sydney Batch (State House, District 37)

Rachel Hunt (State House, District 103)

RobinMcDugald said...

In relation to this discussion of electoral politics I’d like to draw attention to Pierre Rosanvallon’s new book, “Good Government: Democracy Beyond Elections” (Harvard, 2018). “Our regimes,” he begins, “are democratic, but we are not governed democratically.” His argument, as best I understand it, is that throughout the western world there has been a significant shift in power from representative legislatures to executives. He goes on: “The traditional representative function of parties began to erode in the early part of the twentieth century, and by the end had all but disappeared. . . . For the moment. because parties have distanced themselves from the world of everyday experience, their rhetoric, filled with grand abstractions having no point of contact with people’s daily lives, echoes into a void.” Or again, “parties have now become subsidiary structures of executive organs, they are no longer in a position to play an effective role in giving the governing-governed relation a proper democratic form.”

The book, part of a more extended inquiry into the character of politics in contemporary western societies, is too long to summarize and evaluate here. But, as I hope my quoted passages convey, what is being encountered is an exploration of the possibility that the social, cultural, and economic circumstances which underlay the political systems which are still presented as the norm have so altered that a different sort of politics has necessarily emerged—or at least is emerging.

If Rosanvallon is right, there is reason to doubt the democratic efficacy of elections. Elections ain’t, perhaps, what they used to be, no matter how much we wish they were.