The 2020 General Election results have raised expectations that Singapore will transition to a more competitive democracy. But this is far from preordained. Nor is there a clear societal consensus that the city-state needs this amid a pandemic and its deepest economic crisis since independence.
For now, the People's Action Party still controls all the levers of power. With the opposition still not ready to step up as an alternative government-in-waiting, Lee Kuan Yew's prognosis still applies: the PAP's internal dynamics will be the primary determinant of its continued viability.
PAP v. PAP expands on one dimension of this inner struggle: between a conservative attachment to what worked in the past, and a boldly progressive vision for the future. Cherian George and Donald Low argue that a reformed PAP — comfortable with political competition and more committed to justice and equality — would be good for Singapore, and serve the long-term interests of the party.
An adaptive PAP, buttressed with stronger democratic legitimacy, would also maintain one of Singapore's most important strengths: a strong consensus on the virtues of an expert-led, elite government. Only by strengthening democratic practices and norms can Singapore maintain its edge in a world pulled apart by identity politics, populist nationalism and nativism, and an erosion of trust in public institutions.
The anthology draws from the authors' many years of commentary on Singapore government and politics, and also includes new essays responding to the exceptional events of 2020.
The Smart Society offers a detailed blueprint for how the United States can recast its human capital policies to make all Americansnot just a privileged elitesmarter and more successful than ever before, at the same time stemming the size and cost of the nation’s safety net.” The spectacular, centuries-long success of the United States is based on its having determined, early on, to be a smart country, single-mindedly developing institutions and practices that enabled its native born citizens to maximize their economic and social potential, and welcoming opportunity-seeking foreigners to join them. Over the last four decades, however, the vaunted United States human capital machine has been breaking down, dimming the economic and social prospects of millions of Americans.If The Smart Society blueprint is followed, these trends can be reversed and the nation and its people can quickly regain their preeminence in the hyper-competitive and globalized world of the 21st century. This is a most topical issue today because the country's current heated political disagreements are not just about the proper size of government, but about how the United States can reverse its apparent decline and restore its historic economic and social vigorin other words, regain its place as the world’s smartest” nation.
Francis Fukuyama famously predicted "the end of history" with the ascendancy of liberal democracy and global capitalism. The topic of his latest book is, therefore, surprising: the building of new nation-states. The end of history was never an automatic procedure, Fukuyama argues, and the well-governed polity was always its necessary precondition. "Weak or failed states are the source of many of the world's most serious problems," he believes. He traces what we know—and more often don't know—about how to transfer functioning public institutions to developing countries in ways that will leave something of permanent benefit to the citizens of the countries concerned. These are important lessons, especially as the United States wrestles with its responsibilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond. Fukuyama begins State-Building with an account of the broad importance of "stateness." He rejects the notion that there can be a science of public administration, and discusses the causes of contemporary state weakness. He ends the book with a discussion of the consequences of weak states for international order, and the grounds on which the international community may legitimately intervene to prop them up.
Britain's welfare state, one of the greatest achievements of our post-war reconstruction, was regarded as the cornerstone of modern society. Today, that cornerstone is wilfully being dismantled by a succession of governments, with horrifying consequences. The establishment paints pictures of so-called 'benefit scroungers', the disabled, the sickly and the old.
In Cut Out: Living Without Welfare, Jeremy Seabrook speaks to people whose support from the state - for whatever reason - is now being withdrawn, rendering their lives unsustainable. In turns disturbing, eye-opening, and ultimately humanistic, these accounts reveal the reality behind the headlines, and the true nature of British politics today.
Published in partnership with the Left Book Club.
In ancient Rome, any citizen who had brought disgrace upon the state could be subject to a judgment believed to be worse than death: damnatio memoriae, condemnation of memory. The Senate would decree that every trace of the citizen’s existence be removed from the city as if they had never existed in the first place. Once reserved for individuals, damnatio memoriae in different forms now extends to social classes, racial and ethnic groups, and even entire peoples. In modern times, the condemned go by different names—“enemies of the people;” the “missing,” the “disappeared,” “ghost” detainees in “black sites”—but they are subject to the same fate of political erasure.Arthur Bradley explores the power to render life unlived from ancient Rome through the War on Terror. He argues that sovereignty is the power to decide what counts as being alive and what does not: to make life “unbearable,” unrecognized as having lived or died. In readings of Augustine, Shakespeare, Hobbes, Robespierre, Schmitt, and Benjamin, Bradley asks: What is the “life” of this unbearable life? How does it change and endure across sovereign time and space, from empires to republics, from kings to presidents? To what extent can it be resisted or lived otherwise? A profoundly interdisciplinary and ambitious work, Unbearable Life rethinks sovereignty, biopolitics, and political theology to find the radical potential of a life that neither lives or dies.
Two decades of commentary by the New York Times–bestselling author: “An electrifying political essayist . . . uplifting . . . galvanizing.” —Booklist From the Booker Prize-winning author of such works as The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, My Seditious Heart collects nonfiction spanning over twenty years and chronicles a battle for justice, rights, and freedoms in an increasingly hostile world. Taken together, these essays are told in a voice of unique spirit, marked by compassion, clarity, and courage. Radical and superbly readable, they speak always in defense of the collective, of the individual, and of the land, in the face of the destructive logic of financial, social, religious, military, and governmental elites. “Her lucid and probing essays offer sharp insights on a range of matters, from crony capitalism and environmental depredation to the perils of nationalism and, in her most recent work, the insidiousness of the Hindu caste system. In an age of intellectual logrolling and mass-manufactured infotainment, she continues to offer bracing ways of seeing, thinking and feeling.” —Pankaj Mishra, Time Magazine Praise for Arundhati Roy: “Arundhati Roy combines her brilliant style as a novelist with her powerful commitment to social justice in producing these eloquent, penetrating essays.” —Howard Zinn “One of the most confident and original thinkers of our time.” —Naomi Klein “The scale of what Roy surveys is staggering. Her pointed indictment is devastating.” —The New York Times Book Review
When a large group of rebels invaded Angola from a recently independent Congo in 1961, it heralded the opening shots in another African war of independence. Between 1961 and 1974, Portugal faced the extremely ambitious task of conducting three simultaneous counterinsurgency campaigns to preserve its hegemony of Angola, Portuguese Guinea and Mozambique. While other European states were falling over themselves in granting independence to their African possessions, Portugal chose to stay and fight despite the odds against success.That it did so successfully for thirteen years in a distant multi-fronted war remains a remarkable achievement, particularly for a nation of such modest resources. For example, in Angola the Portuguese had a tiny air force of possibly a dozen transport planes, a squadron or two of F-86s and perhaps twenty helicopters: and that in a remote African country twice the size of Texas. Portugal proved that such a war can be won. In Angola victory was complete.However, the political leadership proved weak and irresolute, and this encouraged communist elements within the military to stage a coup in April 1974 and lead a capitulation to the insurgent movements, squandering the hard-won military and social gains and abandoning Portugals African citizens to generations of civil war and destitution.
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