Beyond hegemony

Beyond hegemony: Towards a new philosophy of political legitimacy

Darrow Schecter
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Beyond hegemony
    Book Description:

    Since the Enlightenment, liberal democrat governments in Europe and North America have been compelled to secure the legitimacy of their authority by constructing rational states whose rationality is based on modern forms of law. The first serious challenge to liberal democratic practices of legal legitimacy comes in Marx’s early writings on Rousseau and Hegel. Marx discovers the limits of formal legal equality that does not address substantive relations of inequality in the workplace and in many other spheres of social life. Beyond Hegemony investigates the authoritarianism and breakdown of those state socialist governments in Russia and elsewhere which claim to put Marx’s ideas on democracy and equality into practice. The book explains that although many aspects of Marx’s critique are still valid today, his ideas need to be supplemented by the contributions to social theory made by Nietzsche, Foucault, the critical theory of the Frankfurt School as well as the libertarian socialism of G.D.H. Cole. What emerges is a new theory of political legitimacy which indicates how it is possible to move beyond liberal democracy whilst avoiding the authoritarian turn of state socialism. Schecter points out the weaknesses of the many extra-legal accounts of non-formal legitimacy now on offer, such as those based on friendship and identity. He then argues that the first step beyond hegemony depends on the discovery of forms of legitimate legality and demonstrates why the conditions of legitimate law can be identified.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-389-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Since the recent consolidation of what is often referred to as the linguistic turn of social and political thought and the related rise to academic and cultural prominence of postmodernism, it would appear that the modernist aspiration to elaborate an updated version of the Enlightenment has failed. Many observers regard the collapse of Soviet state socialism in 1989–90 and the subsequent globalisation of both capitalism and anti-capitalist protest movements as symptomatic of the irreversibility of the modernist capitulation to postmodernism in economics, politics, international relations, art and philosophy. According to this line of interpretation, the term modernism indicates a...

  5. Chapter 1 Liberalism and discourses of legality: limiting human agency in the name of negative liberty
    (pp. 13-43)

    This chapter seeks to shed some light on a somewhat contradictory situation. The priority of legality over legitimacy which lies at the heart of liberalism from Kant to the present is both the source of liberalism’s critical power and its crucial weakness. This separation is the source of liberalism’s critical power insofar as it provides the adherents of the doctrine with the possibility of insisting on formal and legal conceptions of freedom and justice against various populist notions on the political right and left of an extra-legal conception of communitarian well-being which is ostensibly bridled by legal formality. The strategies...

  6. Chapter 2 Democracy and discourses of legitimacy: liberating human agency from liberal legal form
    (pp. 44-83)

    In chapter 1 it is argued that attempts to institutionalise some essential notion of the truth or political legitimacy are likely to reproduce authoritarian dogma in epistemological inquiry and in politics. It is also suggested that the liberal tradition from Kant to the present is the most consistent in remaining sensitive to the link between non-dogmatic epistemology and non-authoritarian politics. The preservation of this link owes a great deal to the liberal priority of legality over legitimacy, even if this priority is problematic in its liberal articulation. For liberal idealists like Kant, ideas are real and rational in the sense...

  7. Chapter 3 Inside the liberal machine
    (pp. 84-114)

    Although it is true that liberal democracy in practice has been hegemonic without ever being legitimate in the epistemological sense used here, liberalism is rarely perceived to be authoritarian by a large majority of citizens in liberal democracies. Moreover, the fact that it has proven to be almost impossible to enact non-authoritarian alternatives to liberal democracy contributes to the continuing hegemony of global neo-liberalism and ideological myths about the end of history.¹ Why has it proven to be so difficult to create more legitimate political institutions than liberal institutions which are not authoritarian in practice? One hypothesis raised in the...

  8. Chapter 4 Idealism, legality and reconciliation with external nature
    (pp. 115-152)

    There are two threads uniting the various arguments in this book. The first is the thesis that, since the Enlightenment and the discovery of modern forms of rationality, only law that reconciles is legitimate law. Law that does not reconcile regulates, albeit on the basis of a wide variety of disciplinary techniques and subtle epistemological hierarchies that tend to be as different from régime to régime as the ones found in liberal democracy compared to those used by state socialism. The second thesis is that the possibility of legitimate law in this specifically reconciliatory sense is closely bound up with...

  9. Chapter 5 Materialism, legitimacy and reconciliation with human nature
    (pp. 153-181)

    In the preceding chapter the five central strands of the theory of critical idealism articulated over the course of this book are woven together. The first appears for the first time in the introduction. It is indicated there that the most radical route to reconciliation between the various factions of humanity, and hence to positive freedom for citizens, can be ascertained by comparing the different forms of knowledge-yielding mediation between humanity and nature. This is the somewhat paradoxical idea that the most direct path to understanding between humans is not to be sought by studying humanity’s interaction with other humanity...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 182-185)

    Chapter 5 shows why nature in humanity is both human and non-human, and that understanding the mediated non-identity between the human and the natural non-human is the legitimate epistemological and political alternative to humanist appropriation of nature and/or positivist distance from nature in systems-theoretical or other guises. It is not difficult to discern that humanist appropriation and positivist distance are in fact two sides of the same reified coin. In this context reification is broadly synonymous with subjectification and incomprehension of otherness in humanity, nature and objects. Liberal democratic and radical modernist attempts to realise the promise of Enlightenment by...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 186-194)
  12. Index
    (pp. 195-204)