Andrew Poe

Aug 12, 2022

Political Enthusiasm

Partisan Feeling and Democracy's Enchantments

Manchester University Press 2021

Enthusiasm has long been perceived as a fundamental danger to democratic politics, with many regarding it as a source of instability and irrationalism. Such views can make enthusiasm appear as a direct threat to the reason and order on which democracy is thought to rely. But such a desire for a sober and moderate democratic politics is perilously misleading and ignores the emotional basis on which democracy thrives.

Enthusiasm in democracy works to help political actors identify and foster radical changes. We feel enthusiasm at precisely those moments of new beginnings, when politics takes on new shapes and structures. Being clear about how we experience enthusiasm, and how we recognize it, is thus crucial for democracy, which depends on the sharing of power and the alteration of rule.

In Political Enthusiasm: Partisan Feeling and Democracy's Enchantments (Manchester UP, 2021), Dr. Andrew Poe traces the shifting understanding of enthusiasm in modern Western political thought. The book explores how political actors use enthusiasm to motivate allegiances, how we have come to think on the dangers of enthusiasm in democratic politics, and how else we might think about enthusiasm today. From its inception, democracy has relied on a constant affective energy of renewal. By tracing the way this crucial emotional energy is made manifest in political actions - from ancient times to the present - this book sheds light on the way enthusiasm has been understood by political scientists, philosophers, and political activists, as well as its implications for future democratic politics.

This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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Miranda Melcher

Miranda Melcher (Ph.D., Defense Studies, Kings College, London) studies post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with deep analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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