Thursday, February 05, 2004

Radical Democracy Against the State

Erstwhile Rousseau scholar and current coeditor of the Journal of Democracy, Marc Plattner, has written an excellent essay on the fate of the state in Europe. Among this piece's highlights is a paraphrase of Pierre Manent's view that democracy itself winds up turning against the state. The reason for this is that the boundaries and limits of particular states cannot be justified on democratic principles. Not only are physical boundaries the results of accidents, wars, and other historical contingencies, but there is no democratic way to delimit or define culturally the people who are supposed to be sovereign. The distinction between citizen and outsider begins to appear arbitrary and ultimately unjust.


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