John Keane (political theorist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

John Keane is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin[1] In 1989 he founded the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in London. He is the Director of the recently founded Sydney Democracy Initiative.

Keane was born in southern Australia and educated at the Universities of Adelaide, Toronto and Cambridge.

Career[edit]

In recent years, he has held the Karl Deutsch Professorship in Berlin, co-directed a European Commission-funded project on the future of civil society and citizenship, and served as a Fellow of the London-based think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). He recently held a Major Research Fellowship awarded by the Leverhulme Trust and is a Fellow of the Fudan Institute for Advanced Study in Social Sciences in Shanghai.

During his many years of residence in Britain, The Times of London ranked him as one of the country’s leading political thinkers and writers whose work has “world-wide importance”.[citation needed] The Australian Broadcasting Commission recently described him as "one of the great intellectual exports from Australia".[citation needed]

His current research interests include China, the Asia and Pacific region and the future of global institutions; the twenty-first century enemies of democracy; fear and violence; religion and the history of secularism; philosophies of language and history; the origins and future of representative government; the history and politics of Islam;and (the subject of a forthcoming book) Power, Freedom of communication and media decadence in the digital age. In 2013, John Kean's decision to withdraw the invitation to host the lecture of the 14th Dalai Lama raised controversies and public protests. Following the protests that took place at the University of Sydney, IHDR reversed its decision on the invitation.

Monitory Democracy[edit]

The term monitory democracy is introduced in Keane's The Life and Death of Democracy (2009).[2] It claims that from around 1945 democracy entered a new historical phase.[3] In the age of 'monitory democracy', the language and ideals and institutions of democracy undergo many changes. For the first time in its history, democracy has grown familiar to people living within most regions of the earth, regardless of their language, nationality, religion or civilisation.[4] This process of 'indigenisation' helps explain why, again for the first time, there is an explosion of many different understandings of democracy (for many people, especially in poorer countries, it becomes synonymous with justice, electricity, sanitation and other public goods); and why there are references to 'global democracy' and much talk of democracy as a universal ideal.[5] Democracy becomes globally accepted as the political governing form par excellence. For the first time as well, racial prejudice is said to be incompatible with the ideals of democracy. In contrast to the age of representative democracy, which ended just prior to World War Two, many democrats consequently feel embarrassed or angered by talk of 'naturally inferior', or 'backward' or 'uncivilised' peoples.[6]

Synopsis[edit]

In the age of monitory democracy, less obviously, there are indications that the theory and practice of democracy are mutating, that its significance is changing because its institutions are being stretched into areas of life in which democracy in any form was previously excluded, or played only a limited role.[7] Once seen as the rule of the people, by the people and for the people, democracy is viewed more pragmatically, as a vital weapon for guaranteeing political equality against concentrations of publicly unaccountable power. That is what monitory democracy means: the ongoing public scrutiny and public control of decision makers, whether they operate in the field of government or inter-governmental institutions, or within so-called non-governmental or civil society organisations, such as businesses, trade unions, sports associations and charities.[8]

In the age of monitory democracy, in contrast to the earlier eras of assembly democracy and representative democracy in territorial state form, many new mechanisms are mixed and combined with new ways of publicly monitoring and controlling the exercise of power. Representative forms of government do not simply wither, or disappear.[9] Elections remain important and representative democracy within the framework of territorial states often survives, and in some countries it even thrives, sometimes (as in Mongolia, Taiwan and South Africa) for the first time ever.[10] Efforts to renew representative government are commonplace, as in the civic involvement and clean-up schemes (machizukuri) in Japanese cities such as Yokohama and Kawasaki during the past several decades. But, for a variety of reasons that are related to Public Pressure and the need to reduce corruption and the abuse of power, conventional representative forms of democracy are coming to be supplemented (and hence complicated) by a variety of democratic innovations that are applied to organisations underneath and beyond governments.[11] Others include public integrity mechanisms, congresses, blogging and other new forms of media scrutiny,[12] as well as cross-border parliaments and open methods of co-ordination,[13] of the kind practised in the European Union. These inventions are unique to the age of monitory democracy, and they fundamentally alter both the political geometry and dynamics of democracy. Democracy becomes nothing less but much more than electoral democracy. According to Keane, although its future is by no means guaranteed, monitory democracy is the most intricate, complex and dynamic form of democracy, a type of post-electoral democracy that has long-term consequences and disorientating effects upon political parties, parliaments, politicians and governments. He concludes that in the age of public monitoring of power, democracy can no longer be seen as a done deal, or as already achieved.[14] Monitory democracy is an unfinished experiment that both thrives on imperfection and requires fresh ways of thinking about democracy's virtues and its imperfections and failures.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (WZB). 
  2. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p.xxvii and part 3 of the book
  3. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. 688
  4. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. 676
  5. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. 852
  6. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. xxiii and p. 676
  7. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, pp. 709 – 710
  8. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, pp. 688–9
  9. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. 690
  10. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. xxvi
  11. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. xxvii
  12. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. xxvii
  13. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, pp. 689- 690
  14. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. xxxiii
  15. ^ John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy, London: Simon and Schuster, 2009, p. 866

External links[edit]