Liberal Democracy and “Other” Democracies

The following paper was presented at the conference “After the End of Revolution: Constitutional Order amid the Crisis of Democracy,” co-organized by the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute and the National Research University Higher School of Economics, September 1–2, 2017, Moscow..

The idea of liberal democracy only makes sense because of a basic contradiction between liberalism and democracy. As a description of a form of government, democracy designates a government by the people, whose decision-making power would not be restricted by any higher authority. The power of democracy derives from its ability to mobilize a majority of the members of a political order for collective goals. This rule by popular will can also entail a freedom from higher authorities, including such entities like monarchs and aristocrats, but also ecclesiastical or moral authorities that would establish basic values for guiding decision-making. Since democracy alone would lack constraints on the popular will, liberalism, as a set of principles that include protection of minorities and freedom of expression, is needed to provide the limitations on democratic decision-making that protect democracy from erratic and changes in the public mood. As such, liberalism sets a limit on democratic power, and the basic contradiction between democracy and liberalism maintains a dynamic equilibrium between popular will and liberal principles that can be stabilizing due to its flexibility.

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Call for Papers: The 2017 Telos Moscow Conference

Twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, there is arguably a crisis of democracy: not only has the transition from totalitarian communism failed to bring about liberal market capitalism, but politics in mature democracies has been becoming post-democratic. Models of authoritarianism and state capitalism are spreading in different parts of the world, while countries with long-standing democratic traditions are characterized by a rejection of the political mainstream and a turn to extremes on the far left or the far right.

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David Pan on Upcoming Telos-Paul Piccone Institute Research Projects and Conferences

Speaking at the 2017 Telos Conference in New York, David Pan, Executive Director of the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute, discussed some of the Institute’s upcoming research projects and conferences, which will explore the topics of asymmetrical warfare and constitutional theory.

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The 2017 Telos Conference in New York: Steven Metz on Future Conflict and the Conceptual Prison of Asymmetry

At the 2017 Telos-Paul Piccone Institute Conference, held this past weekend in New York City, Steven Metz delivered a keynote address entitled “Future Conflict and the Conceptual Prison of Asymmetry.” We are delighted to present the full video of the address below.

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Sacrifice and the Crypto-theologies of Management

Sacrifice, or at least the discourse of sacrifice, is a recognizable aspect of popular management discourse and management scholarship of the “post-bureaucratic” variety, especially popular in America from the 1980s to the 2000s. The absence of bureaucratic structures of command necessitates other forms of authority, and notions of sacrifice form part of the symbolic armory of the post-bureaucratic chief executive—though, of course, post-bureaucracy is itself a symbolic myth more than a practical solution. In this talk I will set out some aspects and suggest, playfully, that there are crypto-theologies at work in management discourse and scholarship; I will finish by connecting these to the sacrifice and excess inherent in neoliberal forms of organization.

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Become a Member of the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute

The members of the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute are the primary supporters of its activities. They participate in Institute events and allow the Institute to continue and expand its programs. Members have the opportunity to join the discussions that shape intellectual debates on contemporary issues.

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