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Political Theory and Partisan Politics

Adolf G. Gundersen, Edward Bryan Portis, Ruth Lessl Shively

Publication Year: 2000

Renowned theorists address the interconnections between those who engage in political struggle and those who study it. 'Political theorists typically define political action in terms of rational potential rather than conflict, and for this reason neglect the partisan nature of political experience. This volume redresses this neglect, focusing on the interrelated questions of whether the task of political theory is to find some means of containing partisan politics and whether political theory is itself separate from partisan politics. Each section of the book corresponds to one of three ways of conceiving the optimal or necessary relationship between political theory and partisan political struggle. The first section considers the extent to which partisan politics requires constitutional consensus and the degree to which such a consensus requires correct theoretical underpinnings. The second focuses on the compatibility of theoretical deliberation with partisan politics, and the third on the possibility that political theory is itself necessarily a form or means of partisan engagement. The end result is a theoretically diverse but focused debate on this important but neglected subject.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

All of the nine chapters that form the core of this book are derived from discussion papers that were originally presented to the "Political Theory Convocation" of the department of Political Science at Texas A&M University. We would like to thank the department of Political Science and especially its chairman, Charles A. Johnson, for ...

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pp. 1-12

By its very nature political theory must be more concerned with political potential than with the processes or means by which this potential, however conceived, might be realized. To theorize is to generalize, if not universalize, and the criteria by which satisfactory collective existence is assessed, because more general, have greater theoretical priority than ...

PART I: Political Theory and the Constitutional Foundations of Partisan Politics

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pp. 13-14

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1. Political Theorists on the Legitimacy of Partisan Politics

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pp. 15-32

A recent book on local city government by a leading political scientist argues that for the sake of social, economic and political development, partisanship is beneficial (Eldersveld 1995). The party structure ensures the competition necessary for democratic regimes to function and the training necessary for effective political leadership. ...

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2. Political Theory and Constitutional Construction

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pp. 33-50

Those who engage in political theory have a paradoxical relationship with those who engage in practical politics. On the one hand political theory, if it is to be successful, must rise above partisanship. On the other hand, since from its birth political theory has aimed at marrying justice with the exercise of power, it must be politically engaged and ...

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3. Constitutional Doctrine and Political Theory

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pp. 51-70

Like everyone else, political theorists tend to believe that what they do is important, that it potentially has far-reaching implications. For this reason, they are inclined to think that ideas matter and, therefore, that consensus on fundamental principles is an important requisite of public order. To say essentially the same thing in a different or at least a more ...

PART II: Theoretical Deliberation and Partisan Politics

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pp. 71-72

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4. Rationality in Liberal Politics

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pp. 73-96

The topic we are addressing is, in its generic form, one of the oldest and one of the most continuous issues of political theory and political practice: What is the role of reason in politics? Is politics, rightly understood and rightly practiced, an activity in which the cognitive powers play an important role? Or is it an arena in which the participants deploy only ...

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5. Deliberative Democracy and the Limits of Partisan Politics: Between Athens and Philadelphia

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pp. 97-116

In contrast to "deliberation," which means "the thoughtful consideration of alternative courses of action,"1 we might think of "partisanship" as "struggle to enact a fixed course of action." So defined, the differences between deliberation and partisanship are as obvious as they are profound: deliberation requires openness and the cooperative ...

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6. Working in Half-Truth: Some Premodern Reflections on Discourse Ethics in Politics

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pp. 117-146

The international association of writers (PEN) held its 61st World Congress in Prague in 1991, five years to the month after the "revolution of the Magic Lantern" and the whirl of events that marked the beginning of the end of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, and a rebirth of politics (Ash 1995, 34).1 The general political theme of ...

PART III: Political Theory as Politics

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pp. 147-148

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7. Secularism, Partisanship and the Ambiguity of Justice

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pp. 149-172

The self-destruction of Communist states, the internationalization of capitalist relations, the migration of former colonials to the centers of declining empires, the expansion of tourism, the globalization of communication media, the porosity of population flows across territorial boundaries, the re-intensification of contending nationalisms, the ...

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8. Political Theory and the Postmodern Politics of Ambiguity

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pp. 173-190

The theorists I address in this essay—those who answer "yes" to the question above—go by different names. They include in their ranks "militant" or "politicized" liberals like William Connolly and Richard Flathman, "virtu theorists" like Bonnie Honig, poststructuralist feminists like Judith Butler, "extravagance" theorists like William Corlett, ...

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9. Political Theory as Metapractice

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pp. 191-214

In his Notes Toward a Definition of Culture, T. S. Eliot evoked the dilemma of an anthropologist studying cannibals.1 I will embellish this image as a way, analogously and metaphorically, of entering an analytical and historical discussion of the relationship between political theory and partisan politics, and more generally, between (what I will ...


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pp. 215-220


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pp. 221-222


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pp. 223-226

E-ISBN-13: 9780791492574
E-ISBN-10: 0791492575
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791445914
Print-ISBN-10: 0791445917

Page Count: 226
Publication Year: 2000

Series Title: SUNY series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues