By Alexander S. Kirshner
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Extra info for A Theory of Militant Democracy: The Ethics of Combatting Political Extremism
36 One reciprocity-based argument against the participation of antidemocrats holds that when opponents of democracy take part in the democratic process, they are not really committed to obeying the outcomes of that process. Antidemocrats who play the game of democracy, on this view, act deceptively or in bad faith. By implication, democrats need not respect the rights of antidemocrats. As I argue at some length in chapter 4, the argument from bad faith fails. Those who oppose democracy are not offered a choice about the kind of regime they would like to live in.
Together, these principles constitute a self-limiting theory of militant democracy. The idea of a self-limiting theory of militant democracy is drawn from the theory of “self-limiting revolution” formulated by intellectuals aligned with the Polish labor movement Solidarity. In this chapter I pay special attention to the essays of one prominent member 26 Self-Limiting Theory of Militant Democracy of Solidarity, the historian and journalist Adam Michnik. Participants in democratic revolutions aim to unseat antidemocrats and to establish representative institutions.
Similar dynamics are in play with respect to the second and third questions: How should democracy be safeguarded, and who should safeguard it? Let’s return once again to Dworkin’s example. Imagine a sizable group of citizens who are committed to excluding members of certain races from holding political office. On balance, would it be democratic for the legislature to hinder these racists by, for example, stopping them from receiving public funds or even from voting? What steps should be taken to ensure that efforts to stop the racist group from gaining power are not simply attempts by a legislative majority to exclude their political competition?
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