Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy

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But when political factions compete over the right to act in "the people's" name, who is to decide?

Emergency Politics Paradox Law Democracy

Although the problem is as old as the great revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, events from the Arab Spring to secession referendums suggest that today it is hardly any closer to being solved. This book defends a new theory of democratic legitimacy and change that provides an answer.

Christopher Meckstroth shows why familiar views that identify democracy with timeless principles or institutions fall into paradox when asked to make sense of democratic founding and change.

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Solving the problem, he argues, requires shifting focus to the historical conditions under which citizens work out what it will mean to govern themselves in a democratic way. The only way of sorting out disputes without faith in progress is to show, in Socratic fashion, that some parties' claims to speak for "the people" cannot hold up even on their own terms.

Meckstroth builds his argument on provocative and closely-argued interpretations of Plato, Kant, and Hegel, suggesting that familiar views of them as foundationalist metaphysicians misunderstand their debt to a method of radical doubt pioneered by Socrates.

Emergency politics: paradox, law, democracy

Recovering this tradition of antifoundational argument requires rethinking the place of German idealism in the history of political thought and opens new directions for contemporary democratic theory. Those who oppose executive branch enhancement often turn instead to law, insisting on the sovereignty of the rule of law or demanding that law rather than force be used to resolve conflicts with enemies. But are these the only options?


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Or are there more democratic ways to respond to invocations of emergency politics? Looking at how emergencies in the past and present have shaped the development of democracy, Bonnie Honig argues that democracies must resist emergency's pull to focus on life's necessities food, security, and bare essentials because these tend to privatize and isolate citizens rather than bring us together on behalf of hopeful futures.

Emphasizing the connections between mere life and more life, emergence and emergency, Honig argues that emergencies call us to attend anew to a neglected paradox of democratic politics: that we need good citizens with aspirational ideals to make good politics while we need good politics to infuse citizens with idealism.

Honig takes a broad approach to emergency, considering immigration politics, new rights claims, contemporary food politics and the infrastructure of consumption, and the limits of law during the Red Scare of the early twentieth century.

Emergency politics : paradox, law, democracy

Taking its bearings from Moses Mendelssohn, Franz Rosenzweig, and other Jewish thinkers, this is a major contribution to modern thought about the challenges and risks of democratic orientation and action in response to emergency. Many of our ebooks are available through library electronic resources including these platforms:.


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Home Emergency Politics. Add to Cart. More about this book. Introduction [PDF].