Vol. 6, No. 3




Jakub Franěk Editorial
Asger Sørensen Approaching Political Philosophy through the Critique of Liberalism
Abstract Understanding political philosophy as practical implies reflecting on principles as well as on material matters, on justice as well as on government. Liberalism is the main challenge to political philosophy, since its optimistic laissez faire attitude denies the legitimacy of political government. Even the modern political liberalism reflects these basic traits of liberalism. However, liberalism returns again and again, since it makes sense for human beings, who need to trust and have a capacity to imagine, but find themselves deceived by political authority. The conclusion is that we must overcome liberalism to be able to do politics and political philosophy in the way presented here.
Neomal Silva Emancipation through the Use of Liberal Democratic Values?
Abstract Liberal democracies today face a number of challenges. One arises from the fact their citizens often have different philosophical and religious convictions. How can a liberal de- mocracy draw up a constitution that all of them can accept in spite of those differences? Political liberalism is Rawls’ solution to this. Feminists like Susan Okin and Iris Marion Young point out that liberal democracies face another – arguably much more potent – challenge from their citizenries. Citizens differ not just in terms of their religious and philosophical convictions, but also in terms of class, gender, race, sexuality, and other socially-salient traits. Those traits structure how each citizen perceives her society. They shape her day-to-day experience of it. Can all citizens accept a liberal democratic constitution despite their socially‑salient differences? Rawls thinks that his political liberalism can meet this challenge. Yet it is nonetheless unclear whether everyday folk – i.e. non-philosophers in civil society – are able to voice their concerns wholly in terms of the political values – values like equality, reciprocity, liberty, etc. – engendered by his political liberalism. Indeed, history reveals that women (and structur- ally oppressed people in general) often expressed their concerns using alternative commu- nication forms – such as stories, oral history, and rhetoric. I recommend that political liberalism incorporate a stage during which people can express their concerns using alternative communication forms. Society is thence more likely to detect more people’s political concerns in the first place. Each of those concerns can then be “translated” into one or more of the liberal democratic values that could capture and express gender difference.
Jakub Franěk Arendt and Foucault on Power, Resistance, and Critique
Abstract The present article compares Hannah Arendt’s and Michel Foucault’s critique of typically modern forms of power or domination, as well as the modes of resistance against such domination these authors envision. It also touches upon their reflections on the status of their own critical thinking or their stance vis-à-vis modernity. Its principal aim istwofold. First, to reveal various connections between Arendt’s and Foucault’s political theories and thus demonstrate that they are much closer to each other than usually appears. Second, to use the comparative analysis of their works to resolve some apparent paradoxes associated with their respective theories.
Babrak Ibrahimy Schmitt and Mouffe on the ‘Ontology’ of the Political
Abstract This paper addresses the issue of ‘ontology’ in Schmitt and Mouffe. Two related questions are important in this regard. First, it is of interest to see whether Schmitt considered the political in its ontological form, specifically in his The Concept of the Political. By ontologi- cal I mean that the political has had a particular form throughout history, without room for other manifestations than the known friend/enemy distinction. Second, I will propose that the ‘ethical dimension’ present in the treatise informs the relation and the tension of the political in its ontological form. By focusing on passages on neutrality and pacifism in Schmitt’s treatise, my claim is that the content of the political as friend/enemy distinction cannot solely be articulated in antagonistic form, which is Mouffe’s position.
Pelin Ayan Musil Does Antagonism Precede Agonism in Challenging Neoliberalism? The Gezi Resistance in Turkey
Abstract Mouffe argues that the effective way of challenging the power relations in liberal demo- cratic capitalism is to embrace agonism, not antagonism. That is, the left should acknowl- edge the contingent character of the hegemonic configurations in liberal democracies, and in order to put liberty and equality into practice, it should similarly adopt hegemonic tac- tics. Such tactics include the disarticulation of existing practices as well as creation of new discourses and institutions. Yet, by stating that ‘the task of democracy is to transform the antagonism into agonism,’ Mouffe also implies that antagonism should precede agonism and thus contradicts her very position of how to challenge the neoliberal order. Indeed, the anti-neoliberal movements that occurred in Latin American countries in 1990s as well as in New York, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere during the occupy movement in 2010s show that without the emergence of antagonism, there is no room for the development of democracy in an agonistic way. In defense of this argument, this article conducts a within case research in Turkey in order to attain a deeper analysis of how the rise of a social movement can transform the con- flicts and power relationships in neoliberalism from being hidden to being visible: The social movement in Turkey helped in the discursive construction of a left-wing identity that represented ‘everything but the repressive and authoritarian government’ and thus acted as the neoliberal government’s constitutive other. Prior to the appearance of the social movement, yet, the hegemonic articulations of the neoliberal order prevented agonistic politics from arising in the first place. This article thus argues that the agonistic approach of democracy can only emerge following an open antagonistic construction of the we/they relation in a neoliberal order.
Emanuele Leonardi Populism as Adaptation: Critical Notes on Ernesto Laclau’s Interpretation of the Northern League (Italy)
Abstract In On Populist Reason (2005), Ernesto Laclau revisits in a profoundly original way the philosophical meaning of the notion of populism. The root of Laclau‘s formulation is the following: an idea of people as a contingent yet formally repetitive political construction. Against every temptation of sociological descriptivism, populism represents a performative act of nomination which is at the very same time necessary and yet unable to fully saturate the ontological split that marks the social field. Thus, in Laclau‘s view the notion of populism perfectly overlaps the political field: there is no politics other than populist politics. The present paper critically reviews Laclau’s discussion of Italian populist formations presented in Chapter 7 of his work, in particular his thesis about the deep continuity between the “national task” claimed by the Italian Communist Party under Italy’s First Republic and the creation of a fictitious country (“Padania”) by the Northern League in the 1990s. The main argument is the following: although such a philosophical continuity might help in analysing certain aspects of the Northern League, it is very problematic in historical terms and ultimately fails to assess the crucial link between processes of local governance in Northern Italy and transnational circuits of valorization as fostered by global neoliberal networks.
Marc Woons Power, Justice, and National Culture in an Expanding European Union: An Unjust Dilemma for Potential Member States
Abstract The ever-expanding European Union (EU) presents the potential member states (PMs) with a difficult choice: adopt its values to join the EU or miss out on the benefits that come with the membership. From the perspective of the EU, a state’s decision to join depends on the democratic and voluntary will of its people. However, from the perspective of potential member states, the EU’s “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude might be seen as the root of an unjust dilemma. On the one hand, joining the EU promotes increased wealth and redistribution, particularly in the case of less-developed eastern states. On the other hand, joining demands the future member states to sacrifice certain aspects of their culture. This dilemma largely rests on the EU’s unwillingness to fairly negotiate with PMs. In practice, member states must often weigh socio-economic benefits against the loss of the state’s national culture(s). While Norway, celand, and Switzerland are strong enough economically to avoid this dilemma, less powerful PMs face a tougher choice. This paper primarily aims to explain the nature and extent of the dilemma within Europe. This is followed by a discussion of three normative positions one can take on the matter, namely accept, compensate for, or minimize the dilemma. It is suggested that while the EU enlargement has so far largely combined the first two approaches, there may be benefits to minimizing the dilemma.
Mihai Dinescu EU Democratic Deficit and the Civil Society: A Theoretical Perspective on European Democracy
Abstract The European Union has long been trying to find a remedy for its so-called ‘democratic deficit’. In the absence of other means for a direct relation with the citizens, as only the Eu- ropean Parliament is elected by all European citizens, the European Commission assumed its role of the ‘guardian of the Treaties’ and implemented a greater openness towards civil society in the early 2000s in compliance with the values of democracy in Europe. In this context, I propose a closer look at the origins of EU’s democratic deficit and, more broadly, at the current status of democracy in the European Union mostly based on a historical comparative analysis between the birth of the EU and the classical model of American federalism as the most appropriate state model for a broad representation of interests. Moreover, the very nature of the most influential political regime during the initial stages of the European integration process – France’s Fifth Republic – contained elements that were bound to sooner or later lead to a crisis of democratic representation and legitimacy, and subsequently to a crisis of liberal thought. In the long term, Europe needs to address this issue through an authentic constitutional debate in order to reflect the Europeans’ wish on how this project shall develop in the future, although nobody ever asked them about it before.