The Limits of Liberal Democracy

Prospects for Democratizing Democracy

in Democratic Theory
View More View Less
  • 1 Institute for Multi-Level Governance and Development, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria viviana.asara@wu.ac.at
Restricted access

Abstract

This critical commentary discusses Stephan Lessenich's recent work on democracy. It argues that—to understand the structural boundaries of welfare capitalist democracy—we must critically unearth the limits of liberal democracy. This article first maintains that the absence of an economic democratization dimension is an outcome of liberal democracy's shrinking of the meaning of the political. It next claims that defining democracy in terms of rights does not duly consider how these unfolded historically and recently, nor clarifies their relation with negative freedom. The article then contends that the environmentally destructive dialectic of democracy and the belittlement of reproductive work stem from the constitution of a narrowly defined economic sphere, from which “reproductive activities” are excluded. Finally, the text reflects on what “democratizing democracy” should entail.

Contributor Notes

Viviana Asara is assistant professor at the Institute for Multi-Level Governance and Development at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. She is a social scientist working at the interception between social, political, and environmental issues. Her work focuses on democracy and state theories, degrowth and social-ecological transformation, social movements, and movement-parties. E-mail: viviana.asara@wu.ac.at

Democratic Theory

An Interdisciplinary Journal

  • Agamben, Giorgio. 2014. “La democrazia è un concetto ambiguo. Intervista al Red Notebook e agliEνθματα της Αυγής [Gemme dell'Alba].” Doppiozero. http://www.doppiozero.com/materiali/interviste/giorgio-agamben-la-democrazia-percentC3percentA8-un-concetto-ambiguo. Accessed July 25, 2018.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Asara, Viviana, Emanuele Profumi, and Giorgos Kallis. 2013. “Degrowth, Democracy and Autonomy.” Environmental Values 22: 217239.

  • Barns, Ian. 1995. “Environment, Democracy and Community.” Environmental Politics 4(4), 101133.

  • Biesecker, Adelheid, and Sabine Hofmeister. 2010. “(Re)productivity: Sustainable Relations Both Between Society and Nature and Between the Genders.” Ecological Economics 69: 17031711.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Blühdorn, Ingolfur. 2013. “The Governance of Unsustainability: Ecology and Democracy After the Post-Democratic Turn.” Environmental Politics 22(1): 1636.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bobbio, Norberto. 1984 [2014]. Il futuro della democrazia. Torino: Einaudi.

  • Bobbio, Norberto. 1990 [2014]. L'età dei diritti. Torino: Einaudi.

  • Bobbio, Norberto. 1995 [2009]. Eguaglianza e libertà. Torino: Einaudi.

  • Bovero, Michelangelo. 2016. “Diritti deboli, democrazie fragili. Sullo spirito del nostro tempo.” Diritto e questioni pubbliche 16 (2): 1121.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brand, Ulrich, and Markus Wissen. 2012. “Global Environmental Politics and the Imperial Mode of Living: Articulations of State–Capital Relations in the Multiple Crisis.” Globalizations 9 (4), 547560.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brown, Wendy (2015). Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution. New York: Zone Books.

  • Castoriadis, Cornelius (1996). La montée de l'insignifiance. Les carrefours du labyrinthe 4. Paris: Éditions Seuil.

  • Costa, Pietro. 2010. “Diritti e democrazia.” In La democrazia di fronte allo stato, ed. Pizzorno. Milano: Feltrinelli.

  • Crouch, Colin. 2004. Post-Democracy. Cambridge: Polity.

  • Dahl, Robert A. (1971). Polyarchy. Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press.

  • Dardot, Pierre, and Christian Laval. 2013. The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society. London: Verso.

  • Della Porta, Donatella. 2013. Can Democracy Be Saved? Cambridge: Polity Press.

  • Diamond, Larry, and Leonardo Morlino eds. 2005. Assessing the Quality of Democracy. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

  • Dobson, A. 1990 [2008]. Green Political Thought. London: Routledge.

  • Ketterer, Hanna and Karina Becker ed. 2019. Was stimmt nicht mit der Demokratie? Eine debatte mit Klaus Dörre, Nancy Fraser, Stephan Lessenich und Hartmut Rosa [What's Wrong with Democracy? A Debate with Klaus Dörre, Nancy Fraser, Stephan Lessenich and Hartmut Rosa,]. Berlin: Suhrkamp.

  • Eckersley, Robyn. 2004. The Green State. Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty. London: The MIT Press.

  • Gallie, W. B. 1956. “Essentially Contested Concepts.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56: 167198.

  • Geiselberger, Heinrich ed. 2017. The Great Regression. Cambridge: Polity.

  • Held, David (2006). Models of Democracy. Third edition. Cambridge: Polity Press.

  • Kelsen, Hans (1955). “Foundations of Democracy,” Ethics 66(1/2): 1101.

  • Laclau, Ernesto (2000). “Identity and Hegemony: The Role of Universality in the Constitution of Political Logics.” In Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left, ed. Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek, 4489. London: Verso.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lalatta Costerbosa, Marina. 2014. La democrazia assediata. Saggio sui principi e sulla loro violazione. Roma: DeriveApprodi.

  • Lessenich, Stephan. 2019. The Dialectics of Democracy. Drawing and Transcending Boundaries in Welfare Capitalism. In: Was stimmt nicht mit der Demokratie? Eine debatte mit Klaus Dörre, Nancy Fraser, Stephan Lessenich und Hartmut Rosa [What's Wrong with Democracy? A Debate with Klaus Dörre, Nancy Fraser, Stephan Lessenich and Hartmut Rosa,] ed. H. Ketterer and K. Becker.

  • Macpherson, Crawford B. 1977. The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Manin, Bernard. 1997. Principles of Representative Government. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Mellor, Mary. 1997. “Women, Nature and the Social Construction of ‘Economic Man’.” Ecological Economics 20: 129140.

  • Mellor, Mary. 2006. “Ecofeminist Political Economy.” International Journal of Green Economics 1(1/2): 139150.

  • Mitchell, Timothy. 2011. Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. London: Verso.

  • Muraca, Barbara. 2012. “Towards a Fair Degrowth-Society: Justice and the Right to a ‘Good Life’ Beyond Growth.” Futures 44(6), 535545.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Offe, Claus. 2012. “Democracy in Crisis: Two and a Half Theories About the Operation of Democratic Capitalism.” OpenDemocracy. http://www.opendemocracy.net/claus-offe/democracy-in-crisis-two-and-half-theories-about-operation-of-democratic-capitalism.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pateman, Carole. 1970. Participation and Democratic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Pellizzoni, Luigi. 2018. “Responsibility and Ultimate Ends in the Age of the Unforeseeable: On the Current Relevance of Max Weber's Political Ethics.” Journal of Classical Sociology 18(3), 197214.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Plumwood, Val. 1995. “Has Democracy Failed Ecology? An Ecofeminist Perspective.” Environmental Politics 4(4): 134168.

  • Rancière, Jacques. 2005. La haine de la démocratie. Paris: La fabrique éditions.

  • Salleh, Ariel. 2010. “From Metabolic Rift to ‘Metabolic Value’: Reflections on Environmental Sociology and the Alternative Globalization Movement.” Organization & Environment 23(2): 205219.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schumpeter, J. A. 1976. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. London: Allen and Unwin.

  • Steiner, Hillel (1994). An Essay on Rights. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Streeck, Wolfgang. 2013. “The Crisis in Context: Democratic Capitalism and Its Contradictions,” in Politics in the Age of Austerity, ed. Armin Schäfer and Wolfgang Streeck. 262286. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wood, Ellen M. 1995. Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Young, Iris Marion. 2011. Responsibility for Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 324 324 96
Full Text Views 247 246 1
PDF Downloads 196 196 0