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The Limits of Liberal Democracy

Prospects for Democratizing Democracy

Viviana Asara

aggrandizement” of welfare capitalist democracy ( Lessenich 2019, 122 ) is not sufficient to grasp not only, as Lessenich convincingly argues, its structural boundaries, but also, as I argue here, the structural limits inherent in liberal democracy, the model

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Democracy's Conceptual Politics

Liberalism and Its Others

Christopher Hobson

, conceptions of democracy were inchoate; it was not yet clear how it could be translated into a viable form of rule for nation-states. In time, this uncertainty was resolved with the development of liberal democracy, which proved to be remarkably effective at

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Nagas as a ‘Society against Voting?’

Consensus-Building, Party-less Politics and a Culturalist Critique of Elections in Northeast India

Jelle J. P. Wouters

: 59 ), ‘ultra-republican’ ( Kumar 2005: 12 ), even as the very ‘symbol of the republic’ ( Singh 2004: 12 ). This home-grown ‘Naga democracy’, the argument goes, became ruptured and shattered by the arrival of formal, liberal democracy. Udayon Misra

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Brent E. Sasley

like in practice via a discussion of three major concepts in Political Science—the state, democracy, and liberal democracy. None of these are particular to the Israeli context, but they all form a critical basis for thinking about Israel and comparing

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Palmer and Furet

A Reassessment of The Age of the Democratic Revolution

Marvin R. Cox

The article argues that Robert R. Palmer's venerable, neglected study of the Atlantic Democratic Revolution offers a means for transcending misconceptions in the now canonical writings of François Furet. First, Furet conceived of the French Revolution as a purely politico-cultural phenomenon. Palmer, by relying on Tocqueville and rejecting Marxist postulates, shows that it was a non-capitalist bourgeois revolution. A second, and more important, argument is that Palmer's case for the place of the French Revolution in the history of liberal democracy is stronger than Furet's. Furet maintains that in France a viable democratic regime became possible only when leaders of the Third Republic repudiated the Revolution and its legacy. Palmer demonstrates that the first French Republic set precedents for the Third, and for liberal democracy throughout Europe, by surviving for eight years against anti-democratic forces and by serving in its last years as a school of democratic politics.

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Democracy after ‘the end of history’

Vietnamese diasporic liberalism in Poland

Grażyna Szymańska‐Matusiewicz

This paper traces the evolution of discourse about liberal democracy among Polish‐Vietnamese pro‐democracy activists, since their original mobilisations in the 1990s until today. Documenting what I call the two waves of Polish‐Vietnamese activism, I describe how their ‘diasporic liberalism’ shifted from a stance of opposition to communist ideology, and from a belief in the ‘end of history’, to an approach focused on bottom‐up democratisation and embrace of transnational frames of environmentalism, rule of law, rights and ‘civil society’. Such evolution of activists’ discourses and networks ultimately tracks the transformation of Western liberalism itself, both in terms of the ascendancy of neoliberal imagery of ground‐up citizenly empowerment and, more recently, the emergent right‐wing challenge to liberal‐democratic order in Europe, in response to neoliberal dislocation of the traditional working class. Analysing the activists’ shifting engagements with Polish liberal thought and Vietnam’s socialist democracy, this paper makes the case for thinking of liberalism as lacking an original or essential form. Rather it can be thought of in diaspora‐like terms, as a ‘globally mobile category’, brought into existence in varied, situated ways through ongoing mobilisation.

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Bad parrhesia

The limits of cynicism in the public sphere

Natalie Morningstar

This paper examines the limits of Cynical parrhesia. Based on fieldwork with artist‐activists in post‐recession Dublin, I recount their fraught efforts to use adventurous artistic expression to provoke a critical awakening in an audience of strangers, who instead respond with derision. My focus is thus on a narrow but prevalent feature of artists’ work and lives, and the public’s experience of challenging genres of provocative public criticism: the encounter with unintelligibility and alienation in the public sphere. I thus deploy ‘bad parrhesia’ as a tool through which to consider the factors that mitigate against artists establishing the desired critical relationship with audiences. Nevertheless, though these parrhesiastic encounters do not succeed, I argue that they do not yield an absence of social relations but relations of an anti‐social kind. Departing from readings of parrhesia as a form of individualism, corrosive to relationality, or a playful reaction against the failures of liberal democratic politics, I make a case for framing parrhesia as a relationship of contestation over which kinds of public criticism are judged to be intelligible and valuable responses to moments of cultural crisis in northern liberal democracies.

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Peter Hudson

This article compares and contrasts liberal democracy and national democracy. It attempts this by focusing on each of these as specific state forms with an effectivity or 'tilt' of their own which includes a determinate preconstruction of the category of the People. It is argued, inter alia, that internal to national democracy is a conception of colonialism (and anti-colonialism) and that the national-racial reference is thus internal to the national democratic conception of equality. In conclusion it is proposed that the tilt of a state form is expressed via the distinction of grammatical mood between the imperative and the subjunctive and that the 1994 South African Constitution, when read in this way, is more liberal democratic than national democratic.

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Tenuous Belonging

Citizenship and Democracy in Mozambique

Jason Sumich

This article examines changing ideas of who constitutes a 'deserving' and 'full' citizen in Mozambique, from independence in 1975 to the present. I argue that the leadership of the ruling Frelimo Party attempted to occupy a position above society where it could determine the practices and behaviors that made one a loyal citizen and, conversely, those that made one an 'alien' or enemy. The adoption of liberal democracy in 1990 undermined the party's right to define what a 'true' or 'good' Mozambican is, but not the underlying structural grammar. Thus, the meaning of citizenship is increasingly a floating signifier. To be designated an 'outsider' is to be an enemy, but it is no longer clear who has the power to define who is a 'true' Mozambican and who is not.

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From Schmitt to Foucault

Inquiring the Relationship between Exception and Democracy

Sara Raimondi

Current academic debates and empirical evidence unveil an alarming portrait of the status of contemporary politics. Increasingly, we find ourselves entrapped in a variety of emergency measures that creep into the life of our liberal democracies, be