Professor Seyla Benhabib of Yale University is one of the world’s leading political theorists of cosmopolitanism and human rights, and is currently visiting Cambridge as the Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professor at the Centre for Gender Studies. Kerry Mackereth sat down with her in February to discuss what Hannah Arendt might have made of Donald Trump’s refugee ban.
A procession of corruption scandals making the headlines around the world may be a good thing: they signal the public is less and less inclined to tolerate high-level graft. Yet despite the introduction of tough new legislation, the vast majority of corrupt officials, many of them in high office, get away with their crimes. Distasteful as it may sound to some, outsourcing the fight against corruption to private agencies may prove the most effective solution.
Predictions that Africa's largest economy may pull itself out of recession this year may be over-optimistic. Nigeria's failure to diversify beyond the oil sector during the good years has left the country ill-equipped to deal with the fall-out from the global downturn in energy prices.
The dynamic upheavals associated with globalization, technological developments in communication and information technology, and cultural disruptions have made it increasingly difficult for people to obtain meaningful work and establish a sense of stability in their lives. A key challenge for the year 2017 and beyond is to address the risks associated with precarious work and thereby provide the job and economic security that would enable the construction of orderly career narratives.
For New Zealand politics, the biggest earthquake of 2016 wasn’t Brexit or Donald Trump, or even the colossal 7.8 that hit Kaikōura in November – it was the resignation of our Prime Minister, John Key. His departure has transformed the landscape of the election campaign, which his successor, Bill English, has decided will culminate on 23 September (strategically situated on a Saturday that won’t conflict with an All Blacks rugby match). The last New Zealand general election in 2014 flew by under-the-radar in international terms. We’re a small, distant country, with 4.5 million people, and what most people understand about us is either Lorde or Lord of the Rings. Yet as in other countries, election year is when all the absurdities bubble to the surface.
The aftershocks of the EU referendum are likely to provide political scientists with rich pickings for years to come. In a timely new article, Chris Byrne, Nick Randall and Kevin Theakston have drawn on Stephen Skowronek's typology of US presidential leadership to characterize David Cameron as a 'disjunctive' leader, presiding over the disintegration of the neoliberal settlement established by Margaret Thatcher. Yet with the impact of Brexit still uncertain and the Conservatives riding high in the polls, this approach is deeply problematic. Cameron is better seen (in Skowronek's terms) as an 'orthodox innovator', who successfully repackaged Thatcherism for a new generation but struggled to cope with the internal tensions which his modernization project created.
“I think people in this country have had enough of experts”. In hindsight, Michael Gove’s sardonic comment captures much of the political sentiment of 2016. When John Prideaux, the US editor of The Economist, visited Cambridge just before Donald Trump’s election victory, he argued that a good political analyst has to do the gritty work on the street – making person-to-person contact and listening to the viewpoints of average citizens. Yet academics, journalists and policy-makers – the “experts” whom Gove riled against – are still scrambling to make sense of 2016. The experts didn’t see Trump coming.
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In The Long Run is a platform for political writing and policy analysis with a global and transgenerational perspective. It cuts through the ephemera of trending news to provide timely insight from leading academic voices in Cambridge and around the world.