Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs

Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs
Open Access

ISSN: 2332-0761

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Democraziness: Reading Claude Lefort in Baghdad

Ignaas Devisch and Christopher Parker

Given the ongoing political turbulence worldwide, it is more than necessary for us to reconsider the question of democracy. This question has been posed by French philosopher Claude Lefort for many years, but it has assumed a renewed urgency. Although in Iraq the first danger of democracy, totalitarian dictatorship, was tackled, the liberators clearly had not thought about the other risk when dealing with democracy: the complete implosion of society into a pure formless collection of atomic individuals. Since democracy is a particular political regime, Lefort says, it comes down to understand the formal differences between totalitarianism and democracy. In democracy the place of power is symbolically empty; this place of power can be refigured into a totalitarian power, but can also be actually empty, when a regime falls apart into factions and fractions, all fighting for their own interests and idea(l)s. It is therefore not sufficient to bring democracy by dethroning the king. Although the source of legitimacy in a democratic regime is the people, the people remains indeterminate. This indeterminacy and thus also vulnerability is a core principle of democracy in Leforts theory. Ultimately, the craziness of democracy lies in its vulnerability.