This book presents an innovative analysis of the nature of democratic theory, focusing on the prevalence of pious discourses of democracy in contemporary politics. Democracy is now promoted in religious terms to such an extent that it has become sacrosanct in Western political theory. Rather than accepting this situation, this book argues that such piety relies on unsophisticated political analysis that pays scant attention to the complex conditions of contemporary politics. Little contends that the importance of conflict is underplayed in much democratic theory and that it is more useful to think instead of democracy in terms of the centrality of political disagreement and its propensity to generate political violence. This argument is exemplified by the ways in which democracy and violence have been conceptualised in the war on terrorism. Fighting against democratic piety, this book contends that it is vital to understand the inevitable failure of democratic politics and thus promotes a theory of democracy founded on the idea of 'constitutive failure'.
Challenges democratic piety through the application of key contemporary approaches in political theory: complexity theory, post-structuralism and the idea of radical democracy
Uses the work of theorists such as Jacques Ranciere, William Connolly, Chantal Mouffe, Judith Butler, Slavoj Zizek, Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin and Alain Badiou to interrogate the discourses of democracy which characterise contemporary political debate
Grounds the theoretical analysis of democratic discourse with examples from contemporary politics including the war on terror, the process of indigenous reconciliation in Australia, the struggles for recognition of refugees and asylum seekers, the plight of the Sans-Papiers in France, and the problems in Northern Irish politics over the last ten years.
This book was donated by the Edinburgh University Press.