International Law: Why Do Democracies Embrace it?

International Law and Democracies International is a riddle for the political theorist. It exists despite the absence of any formal state or government. So, not only is there no international body to enforce its edicts, but it lacks any formal institution to promulgate its laws. It bypasses the notion of sovereignty traditional democratic theory depended... Continue Reading →

Neoliberalism: A Podcast Primer

Neoliberalism as a Political Philosophy Neoliberalism is more than a school of economics. It incorporates a broad political philosophy surrounding its ideas about economics. The neoliberal package of reforms is often presented as a toolkit for economic development, but its earliest theorists associated free markets and capitalism with human freedom and liberty. They saw themselves... Continue Reading →

Elections as Democratic and as Authoritarian

Potemkin Villages Catherine the Great had many lovers. Grigory Orlov led the coup d’état that brought Catherine to power. Stanisław Poniatowski became the last King of Poland. Prince Zubov, the last of her lovers, was forty years younger than her. Some of them played a part in the governance of Russia, while others merely amused... Continue Reading →

Identity Formation in Political Theory

What is Identity? In recent years politics has become a contestation between different forms of identity rather than interests. Identity has an almost ideological connotation. It is easy to become lost in emotions and hyperbole without any awareness of its actual role in political theory. Indeed, the earliest political philosophers did not mention identity at... Continue Reading →

The State and Institutional Overlap

Military Coups On February 1st, the Tatmadaw arrested the Burmese State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, many other politicians from the National League of Democracy, and declared a state of emergency. The Tatmadaw has formally held power in Myanmar between 1988 and 2011. But it also held power informally as early as 1962. The recent... Continue Reading →

Jan-Werner Müller on Democracy Rules

Jan-Werner Müller joins the podcast to discuss his new book Democracy Rules. He is a professor of social sciences at Princeton University and the author of the well-known book What is Populism?   It really matters how you set up conflict and how you talk about the issue and above all how you talk about your adversary.... Continue Reading →

Norms in Democracies, Autocracies, and Institutions

Norms and Institutions The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) became law in 1996. It refused to recognize same-sex marriages at the federal level and allowed states to ignore marriage contracts between same-sex couples from other states. The law was never repealed, but was effectively overturned after the Supreme Court Decision Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.... Continue Reading →

Political Authority Explained

Why Do Bad Leaders Stay in Power? Last month Aleksandr Lukashenko intercepted a European airliner and ordered it to land in Minsk so he could arrest the dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend. The plane had not planned to land in Minsk nor had it planned to fly over Belarusian airspace. Belarus used a... Continue Reading →

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