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Republican Freedom, Domination, and Ignorability – with Anar Jafarov in The Journal of Political Power

Some argue that republican freedom is impossible because since it is always possible that a person or a group of persons possesses arbitrary power to interfere with individuals, no one is free to do anything. To avoid this challenge, in their recent article, Sean Ingham and Frank Lovett invoke the notion of ignorability in terms of which they offer a moderate interpretation of republican freedom. On their view, B is free from A to φ if A’s possible types who prefer to intervene with B’s φ-ing are ignorable. They also try to show that freedom is not determined by the probability of an intervention. However, we argue that they fail to do this and that freedom as non-domination is not entailed by ignorability.

For a reply by Lovett and Ingham, click here.

“Thoreau and the Idea of John Brown: The Radicalization of Transcendental Politics” – The Pluralist

Henry David Thoreau’s defense of John Brown has been interpreted as an inconsistency in his political philosophy. Since Thoreau was best known for his commitment to civil disobedience, his critics argued that his support for Brown constitutes a break in Thoreau’s political thought. However, I argue that A Plea for John Brown should be seen as a radicalization of Thoreau’s transcendental politics rather than an inconsistency in his writings. Understanding this decade-long process of radicalization requires an analysis of Thoreau’s four main essays from Resistance to Civil Government in 1849 to The Last Days of John Brown in 1860.

“Academic Freedom and University: The Case of Azerbaijan” – La liberté académique: Enjeux et menaces

I argue that Azerbaijani universities are a façade masking an ulterior motive. I examine the difficult relationship between authoritarian power and the university in Azerbaijan through the study of coercive policies put in place by university administrators preventing free thought and hampering the freedom of academics. My central thesis is that a university is a place where researchers should be able to teach and conduct their research freely, without any hindrance from their administrators. However, in authoritarian countries, such as Azerbaijan, academic freedom suffers from regular interference and restrictions on the part of those administrators who, arguably due to the nature of the regime, assume that academics are not supposed to criticize the society, politics or universities in which they work. These administrators, who are often academics themselves, mistakenly believe that university priorities should be at the service of the regime at the expense of knowledge. I submit that the rigid discipline of Azerbaijani universities and the unfree relationship between high-ranking administrators and scholars – a relationship based on the domination of the former over the latter – do not only stymie academic discussions and development but also squelch the liberty and creativity of scholars.

“Halted Democracy: Government Hijacking of the New Opposition in Azerbaijan” – with Altay Goyushov in Politik und Gesellschaft im Kaukasus: Eine unruhige Region zwischen Tradition und Transformation

We argue that while the new opposition in Azerbaijan between 2005 and 2013 did not realize all the goals set, it influenced a new generation of young activists who became the loudest supporters of democratic and secular values in Azerbaijan. This grassroots activation of the youth brought noticeable changes to some parts of Azerbaijani society by questioning the authority of traditional values. Many young people, especially students found a platform to discuss their problems concerning everyday basic issues such as intimate relationships as well as their freedom to live in accordance with their personal choices and desires without the family interference in the light of theoretical questions such as the importance of liberal democratic values, individual liberties, and the rule of law. The successfully established connections between material problems and transcendental ideals encouraged some young people to participate in the open discussions and seminars organized by the new opposition. Because of the emergence of this new generation of active youth, the government was forced to incorporate some elements of this new discourse at least by making some cosmetic changes within its structures. The government became successful in its attempts of weakening the new opposition by hijacking its ideas and creating similar but pro-government organizations; neutralizing or buying some well-known opposition figures such as writers and journalists; and finally, persecuting the leading members of the youth organizations.