By Alexander S. Kirshner
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Extra resources for A Theory of Militant Democracy: The Ethics of Combatting Political Extremism
Adam Michnik’s example attests to this. Opponents of nondemocratic regimes must determine whether to publish a critical essay, to contest an unfair election, to join a protest or even an insurgency. But nondemocratic regimes create uncertainty about what is and isn’t allowed. And they attach oppressive costs to a vast array of political activities, generating an intense, narrowing pressure. In the face of this pressure, many if not most individuals will cede their political autonomy, in effect surrendering a portion of themselves.
There is, however, another important reciprocity-based argument we need to investigate, a second way to contend that those who detest democracy possess no legitimate interests in participation. 37 Given this tension, one might argue that those who reject others’ legitimate claims lack meaningful political rights. I will explore the feasibility of this argument by briefly examining Joshua Cohen’s influential reciprocity-based conception of deliberative democracy. In an early iteration of his theory, Cohen argues that participants in an ideal deliberative procedure share “a commitment to coordinating their activities within institutions that make deliberation possible and according to norms that they arrive at through their deliberation.
On the basis of the participatory principle, I argue that preventive intervention cannot be democratically legitimate. By democratically legitimate I mean consistent with the ideal that individuals should have a say in the decisions that affect them. Nonelected militant democrats, such as the Turkish generals and judges I discuss in chapter 5, cannot coherently justify why they, in particular, possess the right to intervene in the democratic process. Yet, referring to the example of those who take it on themselves to establish democracies, I maintain that when faced by a comprehensive threat to representative government, democrats can eschew the legitimacy of democratic procedures for the value of democratic ends.
A Theory of Militant Democracy: The Ethics of Combatting Political Extremism by Alexander S. Kirshner