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Individual-Communal tension and argument for citizenship in ‘Islamdom’


Nawaf Salam, a Lebanese diplomat/scholar, claims that ‘Orientalist’ scholarship, including of course the work of Bernard Lewis I cited earlier on this blog, makes a mistake in claiming that Islam privileges communal over individual. Since modern notions of citizenship privilege individual liberty, it follows that a discourse puts premium on communal identity is in conflict […]

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Public Sphere as transient and contingent on action


More on public sphere, this time from Hannah Arendt [HA]. [The other related posts that you may want to see are this, this, this, and this.] HA deliberated much on public sphere and the idea of citizenship. Her book The Human Condition is worth laying your hands on if you are interested in debates related to public sphere […]

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The Meaning of Privatization


Most of us keep using the term ‘privatisation’ as if it has one meaning. The article that I link below is a fine informative piece on the ‘theory and rhetoric of privatisation’ in the Western societies. But we need to recognise that in some societies the state and politics worked to to protect the ‘private […]

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Public/Private distinction in Islam


The distinction between the public and private spheres is at the heart of modernity. Western political systems jealously guard and uphold this distinction. The Western political thought is organised around this duality and the debates typically focus on which aspects of individual, social and political experiences of the society are to be assigned to public […]

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MQM, the Empty Signifier?


The emerging rhetoric emanating from various sources in Pakistan in the wake of Karachi’s target killings is almost stunning in its unusual alignment against the MQM. TV Anchors, politicians [many of whom were otherwise at loggerheads with each other], civil society magnates, all of them seem aligned in their belief that MQM is on the […]

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A Libertarian’s Lament: Why Ron Paul Is An Embarrassment To The Creed | The New Republic


Below is an excerpt from Will Wilkinson’s TNR piece on Ron Paul’s version of Libertarianism.  I am posting it here because of its relevance to many existing [and future] conversations on this blog. A system of secure property rights is conducive to a society of peaceful cooperation that benefits even the least among us. The important […]

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Herbert Gintis on Amartya Sen


Recently I had come across Gintis’s review of Sen’s idea of justice on Amazon and posted it on the blog. A comment prompted me to read it again. I did, and hence this post. Sen’s case for a capability approach is based on a critique of both Utilitarianism and Libertarianism. I think both Gintis and […]

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The Empty Signifier of Bharashtachar


Bharashtachar [corruption] has become an ’empty signifier’ in India. Empty signifiers are terms that are empty enough to draw disparate people together in a chain of equivalence. Any term can become an empty signifier. When it does, it works as a surface on which otherwise disparate individuals and groups find themselves as standing in the […]

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Education as a Political Issue? (2)


This post continues the conversation started in a previous post on the topic of education as a political issue. In the last post, I had referred to Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen who lamented the absence of education from the political domain–or let us say the public domain. This post is about the rhetoric of […]

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Public Domain?


David Marquand on public domain: Public domain is both priceless and precarious—a gift of the history, which is always at risk.  It can take shape only in a society in which the notion of a public interest, distinct from private interests, has taken root; and, historically speaking, such societies are rare breeds. Its values and […]

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