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In my “Notes” in the March 2002 issue, I announced several modifications that we have introduced into the APSR's review process. Here I will simply refer again to two new procedures that are included in our “Instructions to Contributors”; I highlight these, not because they are the most important of the new procedures, but because they seem to have escaped the notice of many authors. First, when you submit a paper to the APSR, you are also invited to suggest the names of appropriate reviewers. Of course, we do not guarantee that we will follow your suggestions, but so far we have found these suggestions quite helpful. A second, and more mundane, instruction is to submit an electronic (i.e., diskette), anonymous version of your manuscript along with the requisite number of paper copies; having an electronic version on hand can greatly expedite the review process in certain circumstances.
The reassessment of Plato's stance toward democracy has made his understanding of the relationship between philosophy and politics a salient issue. To gain clarity on this issue, I examine the central passage of Plato's Theaetetus, which treats the conflict between the philosopher and the orator–politician. Located in a dialogue devoted to the meaning of knowledge and often dismissed as a digression, the passage has received relatively scant attention regarding this issue. A careful consideration of the passage and its context, however, shows that the question of the meaning of knowledge requires a consideration of the more comprehensive question of good and that this question is properly investigated through an examination of political life. Socrates thus focuses on politics not to guide political life but rather to vindicate the philosophic life. An appreciation of this motive should inform reflection concerning Plato's view of the relationship between philosophy and politics.
Building on the separation-of-powers approach in American politics, this article develops a new micro-level account of judicial decision-making in contexts where judges face institutional insecurity. Against conventional wisdom, I argue that under certain conditions the lack of judicial independence motivates judges to “strategically defect” against the government once it begins losing power. The result is a reverse legal–political cycle in which antigovernment decisions cluster at the end of weak governments. Original data on more than 7,500 individual decisions by Argentine Supreme Court justices (1976–1995) are used to test hypotheses about why, when, and in which types of cases judges are likely to engage in strategic defection. Consistent with the theory's predictions, the results of the analysis show a significant increase in antigovernment decisions occurring at the end of weak dictatorships and weak democratic governments. Examining subsets of decisions and controlling for several additional variables further corroborate the strategic account.
We theorize that if law matters in Supreme Court decision making, it matters not as a mechanistic force that dictates decisions, but as an institutional construct created by justices who possess political attitudes. Jurisprudential regimes identify relevant case factors and/or set the level of scrutiny or balancing the justices will use. These jurisprudential regimes have the potential to make a significant difference in the decisions of the justices. We identify a candidate jurisprudential regime, content-neutrality, which appears to govern the general area of free expression law. The Court applies the strictest standard of review to regulations of expression that target the content or viewpoint of expression. Relying on a series of statistical tests using logistic regression, we find that the justices take seriously this jurisprudential regime.
Why are government bureaus not necessarily organized to implement policy effectively? One view holds that a main culprit is political uncertainty. Elected officials know that they will not hold office forever, so they use “insulating” structures that constrain bureaucratic discretion, making bureaus less subject to sabotage but also less effective. I revise this theory by modeling how public officials choose administrative structures. I show that in systems with few veto points, groups will be most likely to act cooperatively on policy when political uncertainty is greatest. In contrast, in systems with many veto points, only electorally weak groups will insulate policies from future interference, therefore shifting focus from uncertainty to electoral strength. Because the conditions that lead to policy insulation are rare, electoral competition should not be thought of as a primary cause of bureaucratic inefficiency.
Political scientists normally discuss sovereign immunity in the context of international law and relations. The domestic effects of sovereign immunity are almost never examined, even though those effects are profound and implicate a range of issues of interest to political scientists. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FCTA) (1946) is a main waiver of federal sovereign immunity and is designed to allow people injured by government employees to sue for money damages. The FTCA has a number of exceptions, the most prominent of which is known as the “discretionary function exception.” This exception retains sovereign immunity for the United States when a federal employee acts “based upon the exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function or duty…whether or not the discretion involved be abused.” This simple exception expanded into a comprehensive tool of government that now confounds justice and federal governmental accountability.
American civic engagement soared in the mid-twentieth century, succeeding an era in which national government had become more involved in citizens' lives than ever before. I examine the effects of the G.I. Bill's educational provisions for veterans' subsequent memberships in civic organizations and political activity. I consider theoretical arguments about how public social programs might affect civic involvement and advance a policy feedback approach that assesses both resource and interpretive effects of policy design. Newly collected survey and interview data permit the examination of several hypotheses. The analysis reveals that the G.I. Bill produced increased levels of participation—by more fully incorporating citizens, especially those from less privileged backgrounds, through enhancement of their civic capacity and predisposition for involvement. The theoretical framework offered here can be used to evaluate how other public programs affect citizens' participation in public life.
American legislative studies in recent years have been occupied to a large degree with the question of the effects of political parties on the policy behavior of elected legislators, with most of the research focusing on the U.S. Congress. We undertake a comparative analysis of state legislatures for a window into the character and extent of party's effects. Specifically, we compare the impact of party on the partisan polarization and dimensionality of campaign issue stances and roll call voting in the Kansas Senate and the largely comparable, though nonpartisan, Nebraska Unicameral. This comparison offers us a nice quasi-experiment to assess the impact of party by establishing a baseline condition in Nebraska for what happens when party is absent. We argue that party lends order to conflict, producing the ideological low-dimensional space that is a trademark of American politics. Where parties are not active in the legislature—Nebraska is our test case—the clear structure found in partisan politics disappears. This works to sever the connection between voters and their elected representatives and, with it, the likelihood of electoral accountability that is essential for the health of liberal democracy.
One of the essential elements of an impartial press in the United States is the “wall of separation” between the editorial pages and the pages devoted to the news. While the political beliefs of newspaper owners and editors are clearly articulated on opinion pages, their views are not supposed to infiltrate the reporting of the news. The analyses presented in this paper raise questions about this claim. We examine newspaper coverage of more than 60 Senatorial campaigns across three election years and find that information on news pages is slanted in favor of the candidate endorsed on the newspaper's editorial page. We find that the coverage of incumbent Senators is most affected by the newspaper's endorsement decision. We explore the consequences of “slanted” news coverage by showing that voters evaluate endorsed candidates more favorably than candidates who fail to secure an editorial endorsement. The impact of the endorsement decision on voters' evaluations is most powerful in races receiving a great deal of press attention and among citizens who read their local newspaper on a daily basis.
Recent years have witnessed momentous political transformations across the globe. From Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union to South Africa, these changes are often described as transitions from state bureaucracies, party dictatorships, and authoritarian rule to liberal constitutional democracies and market economies. Andrew Arato, moving gracefully among the fields of political theory, sociology, history, constitutionalism, and comparative politics, redirects our attention to the originary moment of constitutional creation, when ordinary lawmaking recedes in favor of extraordinary politics and higher lawmaking. It is also a moment when fundamental constitutional norms emerge as the main point of contest within political debate and action. Combining empirical and descriptive analysis with normative considerations, Arato persuasively demonstrates how the mode of creation of new constitutions affects the democratic and institutional content of these transformations as well as the prospects for future consolidation of the newly developed constitutional norms.
This is a rich and rewarding book, weaving familiar themes in the literature on John Stuart Mill into a discussion of Mill's conception of power. Bruce Baum convincingly shows that Mill's liberalism requires more than toleration and individualism and invites a broader understanding of liberalism, one which goes beyond noninterference, rights, and neutral procedures. Meaning to show the “emancipatory possibilities of liberal political theory,” the author argues that Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls, and Robert Nozick focus too narrowly on negative freedom and do not sufficiently probe how power and freedom are related (p. 15). In contrast, Baum's liberalism aims at the self-development and self-governance of each member of a liberal society.
Wilson Carey McWilliams is certainly one of the great teachers of American political thought in his generation. The Idea of Fraternity in America (1973), as well as his series on presidential elections and many essays, has captivated both his students and his colleagues. There are, of course, many prominent figures who have addressed the complexity of political thought in America in recent years but few whose influence is acknowledged so centrally on these terms. Of course, it is sometimes difficult for those influenced by a master teacher to convey thoughts once they are removed from the electricity of the seminar or conference. McWilliams is a good example of this phenomenon. At one level his understanding of American political culture is Whitmanesque. McWilliams is not primarily a jeremiadic thinker and much of his writing has the same breezy celebration of America as Whitman's. Added to this perspective is an intense appreciation of Mark Twain's comedic iconoclasm. Both foci are juxtaposed with what is his central preoccupation, a deep attachment to the Puritan vision of the human experience. McWilliams generalized the latter in The Idea of Fraternity in America as a tradition of fraternal politics that was enriched by other European immigrants. Although “Puritanism…was here first,” (113) it was superceded, though not replaced, by the powerful symbols of “Enlightenment liberalism.” McWilliams' model of cultural dualism offered the first systematic critique of Hartz's liberal society thesis and has since been replicated and expanded by many others including Robert Bellah and Rogers M. Smith. In fact, there is some irony in his alternative to Hartz's single-factor explanation of American culture, since it returned the study of American political thought to the traditional dualist perspectives developed by Progressive scholars, who are villains in McWilliams' own reading of American political thought. Moreover, McWilliams' focus on Puritan conceptions of community has led him to an attachment to premodern conceptions of politics as well as to a decided antipathy toward the political world of the American founders.
At first, it may seem that Jane Bennett is attacking Max Weber. Against his famous assertion that modernity has disenchanted the world, rendering it potentially understandable and thus devoid of the power of transcendent meaning, Bennett engages in a traditionally theoretical explication and critique. She traces those thinkers who arise from this tradition, whether or not acknowledged, and addresses (and celebrates) those whose philosophies of the modern world provide alternative readings, most notably Kant and Deleuze.
Wendy Brown argues that the metanarratives of modernity stories of the historical march of reason, the rule of truth, the fruits of expanding freedom, the benevolence of growing equality, and the prospect of endless peace and progress have been undermined by the experiences of our times. These narratives once provided banisters for political thought and staircases for political life. They are now left in tatters, and there are no viable replacements. Politics Out of History explores the deformities of politics in these times. Despite the heralded triumph of liberal capitalism, the world does not appear to be blessed with an overabundance of stable, just, pluralistic societies in which poverty, environmental degradation, and social cleavages are but faint memories. Confronted with enduring problems and denied consoling ideals, denizens of the postmodernity are left to their own devices. They must negotiate a world where power is without logic, political life is deprived of teleology, nature has become contested terrain, and conviction often appears as a retreat to the indefensible.
There is a certain comfort, a certain ease, with which many contemporary political thinkers reach for an ideal they call “democratic citizenship” in response to a wide range of problems produced by relations of power: problems of social and political inequality, for instance, problems of injustice, problems of exclusion and marginalization. In The Will to Empower: Democratic Citizens and Other Subjects, Barbara Cruikshank undertakes the important task of disturbing that ease. “Citizen,” she argues persuasively, is not the atonym of “subject.” Instead, a citizen is a particular kind of a subject, a subject forged in ways that not only enable but also, unavoidably, constrain human social and political possibility. Those who would criticize relations of power need to examine, Cruikshank suggests, the ways in which citizens are made: what she calls the “technologies of citizenship” (for instance, the pedagogic programs, the social services, the social movements) through which modern democratic societies produce members capable of acting politically—and inclined to act politically—to advance their individual and their shared interests.
Of particular interest in the proliferating scholarship on Hannah Arendt is how her thought has recently attracted sympathetic attention in areas of theoretical inquiry once considered problematic for her. So, for example, the Graecophile Arendt, previously dismissed by many feminist thinkers for failing to take adequate account of the machismo and misogyny of ancient Greek culture, has inspired a volume of sympathetic feminist readings of her work (Bonnie Honig, ed., Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt, 1995). Respectful reconsiderations of the Eichmann controversy at symposia and in a recently published volume (Steven E. Aschheim's Hannah Arendt in Jerusalem, 2001) signal that the shadow once cast on Arendt's theoretical and personal integrity as an investigator of the nature and significance of modern Jewish identity has largely been lifted. To these efforts to engage sympathetically what were once considered the most problematic elements of Arendt's thought can be added Kimberly Curtis's highly interesting and rewarding book.
This thoughtful and innovative book seeks to locate the polarities between which the Western intellectual and political traditions move in terms of a struggle within Odysseus's soul between endless departures and explorations and burstings of limits and “homeward returns” to family and polity that register his awareness of the perdurability of limits. In the end, Odysseus identifies (however ambivalently) with those limits, and his struggles and resolutions as recounted by Homer help to establish a framework in terms of which Deneen locates and evaluates the debate between Martha Nussbaum and her critics concerning the attractions and deficiencies of cosmopolitanism as both an ethical and a political program and set of values.
Tocqueville observed, “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.” Moreover, he continued, “Freedom of opinion does not exist in America.” With the United States committed to a war (not to be called a crusade) against terrorism, these words from Tocqueville seem apt. If indeed the world changed on 11 September 2001, perhaps it became Manichean. Good versus evil, civilization versus barbarism, modernity versus medievalism, freedom versus fundamentalism, us versus them: These are the terms of political discourse. In the new order, you are either with the United States and the World or you are against it. Time to decide. War abhors ambiguity.
The relationship between economic redistribution and democracy has experienced a profound political shift in the past two decades, which we are only now beginning to analyze with any perspicacity or insight. This conceptual shift has consisted primarily in the ability of the administrations of Thatcher and Reagan, among others, to convince even the less well-off to support policies that seemed to widen the income gap, with the promise of securing greater absolute gains for all. Social reformers, who for the previous century had viewed democratic procedures and institutions as means of achieving a wider redistribution of wealth, were clearly flummoxed.
This is a brave, important book that identifies and responds to the black holes between scholarly discourses and across genres to explain why and how Mary Wollstonecraft's texts should be recognized as “interrupting the fraternal conversation of political thought” (p. 42) among the men she herself described as “canonized forefathers.” Reading carefully through selections from Wollstonecraft's writings—letters, educational treatises, novels, the Vindications—Wendy Gunther-Canada elucidates the continuum of Wollstonecraft's radical political theory about gender differences. Rebel Writer traces Wollstonecraft's transformation from “arguably the eighteenth century's most rebellious female reader [to] its most revolutionary feminist author,” as she contested the portrayal of women in Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Locke, Fordyce, and Gregory, struggling to devise a feminism characterized by “the powerful confrontations between woman and the word, between literature and philosophy” (p. 16).