By Alexander S. Kirshner
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Extra info for A Theory of Militant Democracy: The Ethics of Combatting Political Extremism
The concept of a self-limiting revolution turns on the idea that individuals cannot be secure in their basic personal and social interests without political liberty, the right, broadly speaking, to participate. A crucial element of the argument for a self-limiting revolution and of the argument I will press in this work is that opponents of democracy possess morally important interests and, as a result, participatory rights. Though this work explores the justification of radical measures such as the banning of parties and the forceful removal of an elected head of government, its perspective is intentionally conservative and nonutopian.
45 No one, of course, should mistake polyarchy for fully democratic government. Democrats should continue to strive for a more perfect regime by working in the context of representative institutions, by mobilizing in the public sphere, or by engaging in justified civil disobedience. But if the principle of limited intervention holds, militant democrats will not treat political exclusion, full or partial, as a means of realizing a democratic utopia. When Is It Legitimate to Limit Participation?
As I argued in chapter 1, defenders of democracy, like democratic rebels, aim to achieve representative regimes in which individuals can safely pursue their political ideals, and they also face the danger that their activities will be self-defeating. Because of this parallel, Michnik’s analysis and reanalysis of the ethics of struggling for self-government shed light on the ethics of defending it. To be clear, Michnik’s considerable intellectual and moral authority does not validate the approach I defend, but that approach is thoroughly informed by his account of what it means not just to fight for democracy, but to fight well.