Talk at the conference “Transformations of the Political. Radical Democratic Theory for the 2020s”
The conference aims at the critical revision of theories of the political and a re-actualization of radical democratic approaches for the 2020s. Right-wing populism and authoritarianism, cleavages over “identity politics”, the digitalization of public debate, and the power of conspiracy theories are leading to processes of profound social, cultural, and political transformation in liberal democracies. For understanding these transformations, the “theories of the political” and the related concept of “radical democracy” are particularly suitable, as they analyze the fundamental fragility of the liberal order. In view of escalating conflicts, however, it has become questionable whether the radical democratic call for a disruption of the liberal order is the right response to the transformations described above. The conference addresses four thematic fields: 1. Revision of the Basic Concepts; 2. Normativity, Institutions, Law; 3. New Political Movements and Identity Politics; 4. Digital Transformations of the Public Sphere.
The conference is organised by Karsten Schubert, Georg Spoo, Lucas von Ramin and Vincent Gengnagel.
In my talk, I analyse different kinds of expectations towards theories in general and theories of radical democracy in particular. I argue that some of them force defenders of theories of radical democracy to advance a different understanding of theory, making a distinction not unlike that between critical and traditional theories. That, however, leads to massive complications, I content.