What We Are Reading Today: Setting the People Free by John Dunn

Updated 25 October 2018

What We Are Reading Today: Setting the People Free by John Dunn

  • John Dunn examines the differences and the extraordinary continuities that modern democratic states share with their Greek antecedents

Why does democracy— as a word and as an idea— loom so large in the political imagination, though it has so often been misused and misunderstood? Setting the People Free starts by tracing the roots of democracy from an improvised remedy for a local Greek difficulty 2,500 years ago, through its near extinction, to its rebirth amid the struggles of the French Revolution. 

Celebrated political theorist John Dunn then charts the slow but insistent metamorphosis of democracy over the next 150 years and its apparently overwhelming triumph since 1945. 

He examines the differences and the extraordinary continuities that modern democratic states share with their Greek antecedents and explains why democracy evokes intellectual and moral scorn for some, and vital allegiance from others. Now with a new preface and conclusion that ground this landmark work firmly in the present, Setting the People Free is a unique and brilliant account of an extraordinary idea.

John Dunn is professor emeritus of political theory at King’s College, University of Cambridge.


Sole DXB highlights: Melody Ehsani’s latest sneaker collaboration inspired by Egypt

Streetwear designer Melody Ehsani takes inspiration from Egypt for latest sneaker collaboration. Supplied
Updated 07 December 2019

Sole DXB highlights: Melody Ehsani’s latest sneaker collaboration inspired by Egypt

  • Los Angeles-based Melody Ehsani recently debuted her hotly-anticipated Air Jordan 1 sneaker in collaboration with Nike
  • The recently-debuted sneaker was inspired by a recent trip to Egypt in March

DUBAI: In recent years, the market for women's streetwear has grown, however, the category is still largely dominated by the male market, as well as male designers. But one designer hoping to change that is Los Angeles-based Melody Ehsani, who recently debuted her hotly-anticipated Air Jordan 1 sneaker in collaboration with Nike.

The streetwear designer, who is of Iranian descent, is the latest woman to collaborate on an Air Jordan sneaker, and one the first women to design a shoe for the Nike-owned brand, alongside the likes of Aleali May, a stylist and model who was the first person to create a unisex Jordan Brand shoe.

As part of the brand’s “Fearless Ones” holiday collection, the shoe boasts an eye-catching detail — a removable gold watch set to the time 2:30, a nod to the basketball legend Michael Jordan. But the iconic basketball player isn’t the only one that Ehsani decided to honor in her collaboration.

In fact, the sneaker was inspired by a recent trip to Egypt, when the law-student-turned-designer accompanied her husband, Red Hot Chilli Pepper bassist Flea, during the band’s unforgettable performance in Giza in March.

The shoe boasts an eye-catching detail — a removable gold watch set to the time 2:30, a nod to the basketball legend Michael Jordan. Supplied

“The pyramids are the most obvious inspiration,“ Ehsani shared with Arab News. “I know it sounds cliché, but once you are there and you realize what the actual scale of them is it’s incredible. Those stones look so small in photographs, but in reality each of them is several stories tall,” she mused.

“Just being in the presence of them made me feel so insignificant and served as a reminder that the world is so much bigger than us,” she added.

Ehsani, who visited Egypt for the first time several years ago, reveals that her second trip to the North African nation was a very special experience.  "I had gone seven years earlier and there were a million tourists, but this time I went with my husband and we got to go on private tours of the pyramids and it was a different and very special vibe.”

Meanwhile, the footwear’s multi-colored red, pink, orange, green and blue panelway was actually inspired by her rainbow manicure during the trip.

Additional details include a hand-written message in marker on the midsole that reads, “If you knew what you had was rare, you would never waste it,” a piece of advice she’d gotten from one of her best friends.

Additional details include a hand-written message in marker on the midsole that reads, “If you knew what you had was rare, you would never waste it.” Supplied

“I was so inspired by that quote that I just wanted to share it with the world,” revealed Ehsani. “Whenever I come across something that’s really inspiring to me, I tend to use my products as a platform to share that information.”

Before the sneakers were released, they had already had a resale price worth $480. To put that into perspective, the original retail price was $130. The high demand served as proof that there is a great market for women who love sneakers, and it’s finally starting to get acknowledged. 

 “Growing up, there was so many things I wanted that just didn’t exist, and shoes were a part of them,” she stated. “A lot of times I had to buy kid’s sizes or the stuff that’s available to women always feels like an afterthought. There’s a whole ‘shrink it and pink it’ phenomenon when it comes to women’s footwear.”

However, the accessories designer is hopeful. “But what’s really great is that since I started eleven years ago, there’s been a dramatic shift in that people are finally starting to identify that there’s a problem. It’s almost like we were asleep on the couch, but now we’ve woken up.”

The sought after footwear, which debuted on Nov. 15, is available for purchase at Dubai’s premiere streetwear festival Sole DXB, which wraps up on Dec. 7.