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As part of the DVPW Congress 2021 on the theme “We have the choice!”, Lucas von Ramin and I are organizing panel 185 Transformations of the Political. New perspectives on radical democratic theory. We welcome proposals for papers to be submitted via the Congress website (see below) by February 28.

The 2010s have been a bleak decade for liberal democracies, with the enormous rise to power of right-wing populist parties and tendencies toward authoritarianism challenging the liberal democratic consensus. The radical theories of democracy emphasize the fundamental conflictuality and contingency of the political and have proved particularly useful for analyzing and criticizing depoliticization processes in Western parliamentarism. They predicted that conflicts displaced from everyday politics would blaze a trail in the form of fundamentalist opposition to the democratic project. In the course of the political developments of the 2010s, such a dynamization of the political has occurred, but it includes not only left-wing and ecologically motivated movements, but right-wing populism in particular. This raises the question to what extent theories of radical democracy still help to describe and support emancipative and resistant politicization. For on the one hand, the corpus of theory seems to be confirmed by developments and is therefore urgently needed for analyses of the present; on the other hand, its normative and politico-practical helplessness also becomes apparent in view of the increasing attacks on the liberal order: is it still timely to deconstruct the liberal order when it is in any case being challenged by a disproportionately more powerful opponent from the right who is attempting to carry out the authoritarian turn by deliberately dismantling liberal institutions? How do radical democratic theories position themselves on parliamentary institutions and the rule of law? Can they remain true to their radical normativity only by criticizing any structures of domination, or does a realist radical democratic theory need a more affirmative notion of liberal institutions? By negotiating these questions, the panel will develop approaches to updating radical democratic theory for the 2020s.


We ask that abstracts be submitted to by 2/28/21.

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