Democracy and Pluralism: The Political Thought of William E. Connolly (Routledge Innovations in Political Theory)
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William E. Connolly’s political theory forms a distinct and influential contribution to contemporary debates about the nature and prospects of democratic life in the twenty-first century. His original conceptualisations of pluralism, naturalism, the politics of the body, religion, secularism and his daring incorporation of contemporary neurobiology into political theory and analysis, have opened new paths for intellectual enquiry. Connolly has brought an American tradition of pragmatist political thinking into fruitful conversation with the best of contemporary continental European philosophy and given to both a new energy and focus.
In this edited collection, a distinguished panel of political theorists from both Europe and the US provide a critical and nuanced assessment of his contribution to the discipline, especially in the field of democratic theory. They identify the sources of Connolly’s work, its connections to other ways of thinking about the political and they evaluate his continuing contribution to our understanding of the problems and promises of the present and to our appreciation of what it might mean to fulfil the promise of the democratic way of life.
The final chapter provides space for Connolly himself to reflect on his interlocutors and further develop his conception of a ‘world of becoming’ considering the links between political theory and the science of complexity while focusing on the immediate challenges facing both American and world politics.
Democracy and Pluralism provides a critical introduction to the work of William E. Connolly and to contemporary debates in political theory encompassing topics such as radical democracy, the body, religion, time and contingency.
consciousness’ (Connolly, 2006: 74). Connolly particularly focuses on the role that repetition plays in generating resentful associations, attitudes and beliefs towards minorities (Connolly, 2005b: 162). For example, he identiﬁes how Fox News Network (owned by Rupert Murdoch) promotes right-wing Republican views, repeatedly airing images and sounds that reinforce a nationalist and exclusionist politics (Connolly, 2005c). Fox News has been successful in de-legitimising academics of an alternative
role model and his work as a form of political activity. James Leadbitter is a UK-based performance artist also known as ‘The Vacuum Cleaner’. He created his act, ‘Cleaning Up After Capitalism’, as a response to Richard Branson opening up a Virgin store in Kuwait and his proposal of opening up another one in Baghdad once the war is over. Armed with an old-fashioned upright vacuum cleaner and wearing a ﬂuorescent yellow sleeveless plastic jacket with the words ‘CLEANING UP AFTER CAPITALISM’
pushed beyond the accepted limits of the species community. The aim of this chapter is not to prove the existence (or inevitability) of artiﬁcial intelligence or of newly emergent post-human forms of life, any more than to declare the end of man or join the chorus of doomsayers who predict 184 Jairus Victor Grove our demise. My aim is to consider the possibilities and limits of a moral order grounded in what we now call the human species. In the ﬁrst section of the chapter I will lay out some
Deleuze and Guattari, Connolly argues that one of the most basic assumptions of immanent naturalism is its commitment to ‘vague essentialism’ ‘essences that are vagabond, anexact and yet rigorous’ which are distinguished from ‘ﬁxed, metric, and formal essences’, yet still constitute ‘fuzzy aggregates’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987: 407, cited in Connolly, 2004a: 342). A paradigm case of the ‘volatile character’ of this ‘immanent ﬁeld of matter-energy’ is the human self, which is reconﬁgured as the
It continues: And a congregation of voices answered: ‘That blackness is most black, brother, most black … ’ ‘In the beginning … ’ ‘At the very start,’ they cried. ‘ … there was blackness … ’ ‘Preach it … ’ ‘ … and the sun … ’ ‘The sun, Lawd … ’ ‘ … was bloody red … ’ ‘Red … ’ ‘Now black is … ’ the preacher shouted. ‘Bloody … ’ ‘I said black is … ’ ‘Preach it, brother … ’ ‘ … an’ black ain’t … ’ ‘Red, Lawd, red: he said it’s red!’ (Ellison, 1995: 9, italics removed) 104 Sophia Jane Mihic ‘He’