Movie Session 3: Docos for Politicos: The Illegal We do Immediately, the Unconstitutional Takes a Little Longer’
In this third movie screening session, two Johan Grimonprez movies, What I Will, (2013) and Shadow World (2016) were presented. Shadow World presented a provocative discussion surrounding the norms of the “war on terror”, Western Hegemony and the relationship they have with asymmetrical non-state actors. This bleak exposé granted visual potency to a widespread debate surrounding privatization within governance and political science. Described by some in the film as a corporate Coup d'état we have privatized the ultimate public function: war. To help facilitate discussion in a Q&A session along side director Johan Grimonprez was Prof. James Der Derian, Prof. Terrel Carver & Dr. Sarah Percy who shared a debrief of their thoughts.
A constant presence throughout the Docos for Politicos sessions Prof. Derian praised Johan’s ability to “marshal the world of art with the world of politics.” An ontological theme is present throughout Johan’s films that demand audiences to consider the representations of reality that we routinely accept as fact. An audience member lamented the state of affairs world politics seems to find itself, “a post-truth world” in which national intelligence agencies can act with impunity in the shadows. Prof. Derian, in reference to this question, wanted to highlight the fact that we need to “leave the nostalgia of one truth behind; the truth has always relied on the others right to speak and our obligation to listen, the truth has always been a relational construct.”
Prof. Terrell Carver offered a number of themes that came to mind after the session. Mainly Johan’s ability to pull out images, footage and photographs that force the past into our present, these images encourage us to think harder about how the grammar of the past is operating today and whether these constructs are truly competent. This became a consistent theme for discussion for audience members and discussants. One audience member highlighted the fact that this movie demands a re-definition of security, re-theorization of security thinking and how it affects the world. Dr. Sarah Percy agreed with this statement, she believed “that old concept and empirics don’t make sense in the contemporary world anymore … We are catching up with how we theorize security, however, this wider thinking needs to be extended.”
Dr. Sarah Percy felt the film clearly revealed the nexus between war and profit, while the historical trajectory of this reality has been consistent, this truth is often lost in the rhetoric of political discourse on the global stage. Dr. Percy explained that in today’s contemporary “world as a battlefield”, there is an immense amount of fluidity between “the black market, white market and state market for force.” She offered an evaluation of the different kinds of Private Military Companies operating in the film and within the world. While it is often the PMC’s that offer “soldiers of fortune” that reach the headlines, she exhorted Johan’s film for shining a light on more logistics-based companies such as former Vice President Dick Cheney’s company Halliburton; their subtlety allows their executives to function within the revolving door of Private and Public often without scrutiny.
Mr. Johan Grimonprez begun his debrief with an anecdote: as the story goes there was a cartoon picture hanging above Alfred Hitchcock’s desk, in this picture were two ghosts chewing on a reel of film, one is saying to the other “well I like the book better.” Johan wanted to highlight that his film only offers a glimpse of the masterpiece that is Andrew Feinstein’s book Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade and encouraged audience members to read it. While he admitted the film offers a sickening state of affairs, he hoped the film highlighted our need to “find a way out and resort back to that connection that ultimately we as humans all strive for.” The final shot was archival footage of the legendary Christmas Truce on the frontlines of the Western Front in the First World War in 1914. Despite the carnage of modern warfare and greed, this film ultimately reminds us that the human spirit not only begs for connection with one another, it relies upon it in order to survive.
A thoughtful Q&A session followed with questions from conference delegates representing different perspectives including Argentina, India, South Africa and the United States. A number of the conference delegates indicated that they plan to organize a showing of Shadow World (2016) in their respective academic institutions in order to discuss related security and public policy issues.
Plenary Session: President’s Plenary: Challenging the Borders of Liberal Democracy: The Global Rise of Populism
The third plenary session of the 25th IPSA World Congress was presented by the IPSA Past President (2016-2018), Prof. İlter Turan (Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Bilgi University, Turkey), and explored the rise of populism as a challenge to the borders of liberal democracy. This session brought together notable scholars from different regions of the world including Dr. María Esperanza Casullo (Associate Professor Universidad Nacional de Río Negro in Argentina), Prof. Duncan McDonnell (Professor in the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University), Prof. Ersin Kalaycıoğlu (Professor of Political Science, Sabanci University , Turkey), Prof. Leonardo Morlino (Professor of Political Science, Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli (LUISS), Italy, and Prof. Pippa Norris (Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at Harvard University, United States).
Prof. Morlino’s presentation, titled ‘New Populism and Protest Parties’ called out the key differences between the traditional populist parties with a strong leader and without intermediate structures and the new protest populist parties that mobilize the dissatisfaction and resentment of voters towards the political class, but also toward specific policies and policy issues (austerity, security, immigration) and/or institutions (parliament, government, parties, central banks), and international organizations. Prof Morino reminded the audience to distinguish between ‘extremist parties’ (or anti-system) and ‘radical parties’: the former have an ideology (total opposition) and strategies (high conflictuality) that are incompatible with existing systemic constraints; the latter increase the level of confrontation with other political forces and institutions (high conflictuality) because of their anti-establishment characteristics, but without a total rejection.
Prof. Pippa Norris delivered her presentation on ‘Tipping Points, Cultural Backlash and Rising Populism’. She noted the diverse range of leaders in different populist parties, however, argued that two things unite them: their anti-establishment beliefs and popular sovereignty. She continued to state that this opens the door for authoritarian values, including group security, group conventionalism, and group loyalty, arguing that populists are “reverting back to nationalism and isolationism.”
Prof. Kalaycıoğlu presented on ‘Democracy and Populism: The Achilles Heel of Democratic Government’ and spoke about how populism switched from being a left-wing movement to becoming a right-wing movement in the mid-20th Century. He acknowledged the difficulties in defining populism but discussed two common themes that run through most populist parties: firstly, the will of the people, and the direct relationship between the people and the leadership.
Prof. McDonnell, who spoke on ‘Respectable Radicals? Right-wing Populists and Mainstream Parties’, argued that the recent trajectory of populist parties has led to acceptance and recognition by both the public and mainstream political parties. This, he argued, is in direct contrast to the imposition of sanctions and prevalence of negative media coverage, as Austria was previously subject to. Additionally, right-wing populists are no longer embarrassed to acknowledge their similarities with other right-wing parties. This change in opinion is such that populist parties have increased their respectability, without them losing their radical nature or rhetoric.
Dr. Casullo’s presentation, titled ‘Populist Myths and Populist Bodies: Understanding Populist Representation’, focused on populist leaders as focal points in the “us vs them” antagonism, and both the producer and the symbol of the frontier between “us” and “them”. She argued that populist representation is created between both verbal and visual discourse, which combines the hero and villain, damage and redemption rhetoric with the body of the leader. In turn, the ‘body of the leader becomes a symbol that creates an image of the people’. Her point was succinctly made by using an example of the populist leader Donald Trump, eating KFC in a private jet – a good example of politician behaviour that is contrary to the norm.
Research Methods Café
During this café event, IPSA delegates had the opportunity to sit down with experts to learn more about a range of quantitative and qualitative methods. Academics from various universities led the discussions, providing an introduction to each method and answering questions from participants. Designed for researchers at any stage in their career, the café allowed participants to explore new research methods for the first time or to explore methods they were familiar with in more detail.
There was a mixture of methods to learn about, including well-established methods such as applying qualitative data and comparing survey results, and methods that are used less frequently in political science, such as visual analysis. Other topics included comparing international surveys and applying data. Participants were particularly interested in learning how to apply these methods to their own research in a way that would produce reliable, high-quality results that could be published. SAGE Publishing provided live demonstrations of their online resources, including a ‘Methods Map’ and ‘SAGE Research Methods’. These have been designed to assist researchers from the design stage of their work, through to the implementation and writing stages. To find out more about SAGE’s online resources for research, visit http://methods.sagepub.com/
2018 Global South Award Lecture and Ceremony
2018 IPSA Global South Award winner Meenakshi Bansal delivered an award lecture titled Transformational Changes in Participation of Women in India's Electoral Politics. After the lecture, the award certificate and prize were handed over to Dr. Meenakshi Bansal by Prof. Jørgen Elklit, the chair of the IPSA Committee on Organization, Procedures and Awards. Dr. Meenakshi Bansal works in the Post Graduate Department of Political Science at JVMGRR College (India). Dr. Bansal highlighted the importance of women’s participation in electoral politics and decision making as a fundamental pre-requisite to “equitable societies, effective governance, and improving development outcomes.” Her research stressed the importance of the upcoming Women's Reservation Bill, which seeks to reserve one-third of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, if passed, this would likely ensure a pathway forwards for equitable and participatory democracy.
Featured session: Digital Borders and Non-Borders
The morning’s all-female Congress Theme session was chaired by IPSA’s newly-elected President, Prof Marianna Kneuer on the topic of ‘Digital Borders and Non-borders’. Presenting in the panel were Prof Karen Mossberger, Prof Ariadne Vromen, and Prof Svetlana Bodrunova. The session aimed to explore the inclusivity of digital media and its effects on both political communication and the relationship between the public and private spheres.
Prof Mossberger of Arizona State University presented ‘Digitial Citizenship and Digital Inequalities’, which looked at internet access as a necessary tool for effective participation in democratic society and how this is a means of empowerment. Although the UN declared internet access a human right in 2012, Prof Mossberger noted that there are significant gaps between developed and developing economies as to how many people have regular access to the internet. It is theorised that these gaps are due to gender, economic performance, and education. The UN has tasked itself with getting half of the world’s population online by 2025, however Prof Mossberger argued that access to information is not enough to ensure effective digital citizenship: for example, clickbaiting, misinformation, proliferation of information, and online anonymity all pose similar problems for digital equality.
She was followed by Prof Vromen’s presentation on ‘Digital Participation to Digital Rights: A New Political Agenda in the Age of Platforms, Privacy and Surveillance’. Her presentation focused on digital rights and privacy and the borders between the public and private aspects of our lives, paying particular attention to the current issue of data profiling and monetisation. She discussed her research, including a survey and a focus group, and what the results of this research tells us about how concerned people are for their privacy and whether users are concerned about how companies, particularly social media organisations, use their private data.
Finally, Prof Bodrunova of St Petersburg State University presented ‘The Borders in the Public Sphere: Polarized Media for Fragmented Audiences’ regarding internet use in Russia and the hypothesis that the internet would repair divisions in Russian society. She explained Russia’s social structure, and how these discrete divisions are in fact mirrored by Russia’s use of the internet, despite initial hopes that the internet would become instrumental in repairing these dissections and become a sphere for public discourse.
The Australian Political Studies Association Presidential Panel
Australian Political Studies Association Presidential Panel focused on accountability, integrity and 21st Century constitutionalism. The panel was made up of three speakers: Prof. AJ Brown from Griffith University (Australia), Dr Grzegorz Makowski from Collegium Civitas (Poland) and Paul Heywood from the University of Nottingham (UK). The fourth member of the panel, Professor Fiona Wheeler, sent her regrets. Professor Katharine Gelber from the University of Queensland (Australia) was the panel’s Chair.
Prof. Brown opened the panel with his discussion on integrity within institutions. He asked, how are institutions evolving to include integrity? Is there virtue in trying to constitutionalize integrity? He explored the possibility of adding a fourth branch of government to the Australian Constitution dedicated to integrity alongside the current legislative, judicial and executive branches. However, there are some challenges associated with this. He explained that if an integrity agency were added, its independence would be as important as the independence of the judiciary.
It is also important to define exactly what integrity means, and understand the differences between personal and institutional integrity. While many other countries have audit institutions included in their Constitution, Australia does not. However, recent news reports suggest that we may be on the cusp of a new federal anti-corruption body. While this sounds like a positive step, it will be vital to understand how this will be rolled out, and how it will relate to parliament, executive and judiciary before a judgement on its value can be made. The fourth branch is only worthwhile if it works properly and can function in a truly independent manner.
Dr. Makowski approached the topic of institutional integrity from a Polish standpoint. In Poland, there are integrity institutions within the constitution - unlike in Australia. However, this does not mean that there is more integrity within Poland’s institutions. There are still problems when it comes to managing basic separations of power, and it is impossible to maintain democracy without well-functioning checks and balances.
Some people claim that this issue is so extreme that Poland is ‘back sliding’ into authoritarianism. Dr. Makowski disagrees, but does believe that there are serious issues with integrity. Without the basic features of liberal democracy, such as the separation of powers, corruption cannot be prevented. To explain his perspective, he compared the current situation in Poland to Baudrillard’s idea of the simulacra. Polish politicians claim that they do not want ‘democracy with adjectives’, such as liberal democracy. However, Dr. Makowski says that this is unsustainable: a nation must evolve into a liberal democracy or backslide into authoritarianism. Currently, the Polish government has institutions that make it appear to be a liberal democracy, but on the inside, many of these institutions are not performing the checks and balances that they should. For example, Parliament is not reflective or critical. Much of the civil service are nominated or elected by the ruling party, rather than hired on merit. The judges in the courts are selected based on their loyalty to the ruling party. These are just a few examples of the way in which democratic institutions remain only by name. This simulacra produces real consequences, including systemic corruption. The future may be grim: Poland risks backsliding to authoritarianism if it is pushed out of the EU or if the EU itself breaks down.
Paul Heywood wrapped up the speeches with his talk on the difference between integrity and anti-corruption. He asked, how should we understand integrity and how do we build it in a meaningful way within institutions? It’s important to note that what is often meant by ‘integrity’ is ‘not being corrupted’ rather than the actual definition of integrity. This works on the basis that if you get rid of corruption, you will have integrity. However, Professor Heywood disagrees with this assumption and calls it “minimum standards logic”: having integrity is more than just avoiding corruption.
While there is a lot of talk about integrity, many institutional leaders do not know how to maintain and build integrity in a practical way. Integrity has historically been seen as a characteristic of individuals, but it needs to be adapted to the public realm. As an alternative, Professor Heywood suggests that it is necessary to focus on building a robust disposition to act positively and pursue integrity at an institutional, rather than individual, level. This means focusing on duties to the public and moving away from minimum standards logic and vague appeals to moral values.
The panel was then concluded with a Q&A session from the audience, which delved into these topics in more depth.
AusPSA Awards Reception
On Tuesday, 24-July 2018 the Australian Political Studies Association held its 2018 awards ceremony at the Queensland Museum of Art in Brisbane Australia. The Master of Ceremony was A J Brown, Professor of Public Policy & Law at Griffith University. The event was held in the exquisite Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, around the Watermall water garden surrounded by the Amata Women’s Paintings, see https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/amata-womens-paintin…. The collection features Tjala Arts, a leader in the vibrant contemporary Indigenous Western Desert painting movement.
During the 2018 APSA dinner, a series of awards were given for the best postgraduate paper to Prudence Brown at University of Queensland, PhD Thesis Prize to Dr. Luke Kimber Craven, the Inaugural Thelma Hunter PhD Thesis Prize was awarded to Dr. Isobelle Barrett Meyering, and the APSA 2018 Crisp Prize was awarded to Dr. Peter Tangney for his monograph “Climate Adaptation Policy and Evidence: Understanding the Tensions Between Politics and Expertise in Public Policy (2017). APSA 2018 awards also included the Crisp Prize to Dr. Peter Balint, Mayer Journal Prize to A/Prof. Carolyn Hendricks, ANU, and the Academic Leadership in Political Science Award to Professor Ariadne Vromen from the University of Sydney.
A warm round of applause was offered to Katharine Gelber, Professor of Politics and Public Policy at University of Queensland, who served the Australian Political Studies Association for 8 years. Prof. Sarah Maddison was welcomed as the new APSA president. Prof. Maddison is a professor of social and political sciences at the University of Melbourne.
Again, be sure to see the amazing collection of Australian Indigenous artwork called the Amata Women’s Paintings, less than a 10 minute walk from the Brisbane Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Contributing Editors: Alex Rubino, Amelia Edwards, Bernadette Hyland-Wood, Isabella Fredheim and Molly Murphy.