Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Liberalism

Equality of Political Participation versus Equality of Political Capabilities: A Fundamental Dilemma at the Heart of Democratic Theory

I’ve written a piece for Isonomia on the tension between the democratic commitment to ensuring all citizens are able to participate in politics and the worry that some citizens are more capable of participating effectively than others. It’s a bit of a history of thought piece, albeit a bit zoomed out. I discuss ancient perspectives, 18th and 19th century liberal views, Marxist critiques, and 20th century attempts to bring these different commitments together. It was a really fun piece to write, and I hope it’s fun to read. There’s no paywall. You can read it here:

Also, if you haven’t heard, I have a book out. If you want to read it, the best deal is the paperback, available here:


I have a new piece out for Sublation on the failure of liberal and left-wing conceptions of citizenship to adequately protect citizens from denationalization. Prominent recent cases include Shamima Begum in the UK and Suhayra Aden in Australia. Both liberal and left-wing accounts increasingly center individual agency, and this emphasis makes it easy for states to deny the role they’ve played in creating the conditions for terrorism and to concretize this denial in the form of denationalization. There are discussions of Althusser and especially Balibar, whose book Citizen Subject is referenced in the title. It’s available here, with no pay wall:

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The Republican Model and the Crisis of National Liberalism

I’ve published a piece in Cosmos + Taxis about some of the tensions between nationalism and liberalism. Cosmos + Taxis‘ readership skews libertarian, and many of its readers are frustrated with the constraints nationalism imposes upon liberalism. There’s a lot of right libertarian interest in republicanism and federalism. I make the case that republicanism can only compete with nationalism insofar as republics offer citizens more extensive sets of rights–including economic rights–than they can have through nationalism. In this way, I pitch the libertarians on adopting more conventionally left-wing economic positions. It’s a sincere effort to make an argument that might be appealing to someone with a rather different set of starting points from my own. You can read the whole thing here.

On the State of the Left in 2022

This past weekend, I did a couple panels for the Platypus Society at the University of Chicago and Northwestern. These included two prepared ten-minute talks. The talks focus on the relationship between Marxism and liberalism, and on the degree to which the Millennial Left is and was Marxist. The scripts for those two talks are below. If you watched the panels live (or on YouTube), I did ad-lib a bit in places. This is not a transcript.

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Liberalism’s War on the Internet

Over the past few weeks, the occupation of the capitol building by pro-Trump demonstrators has legitimated a raft of security measures. The War on Terror is now the War on the Internet. In the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, liberalism has become aware of the danger posed to it by the internet. On the internet, discourse proliferates rapidly, in an uncontrolled and unmediated way. Many web users begin to develop positions which are incompatible with liberal pluralism, which paint their political opponents as enemies who must be comprehensively destroyed. During the 90s, 00s, and early 10s, the internet was not treated seriously by liberal theory. The triumph of the populists in the mid-10s forced liberalism to reckon with it. Now liberalism is trying to change the internet into something compatible with liberalism.

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