By Alexander S. Kirshner
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Extra resources for A Theory of Militant Democracy: The Ethics of Combatting Political Extremism
But Michnik also found more immediate exemplars of self-defeating and corrupted idealism. These local precedents included the Polish national icon General Józef Piłsudski. The general, a hero of the First World War and a onetime social democrat, helped found Poland’s democratic Second Republic in 1918. Piłsudski eventually grew tired of the republic’s ineffectiveness, its instability, and its right-wing governments. 13 Finally, of course, Michnik had an intimate familiarity with Eastern Europe’s Marxist governments.
36 By emergency powers I mean the special institutional prerogatives that democracies can use when they face urgent and exceptional challenges, such as an attack from abroad. As a general matter, militant democracy is not usefully categorized as being exceptional. The evaluation of emergency measures will share the same structure as the evaluation of militant measures: we need to use measure X to preserve regime Y, but will employing measure X actually undermine regime Y? Despite this important similarity, citizens who reject democracy are not akin to foreign enemies; successfully defending democracy depends not on defeating antidemocrats, but on reincorporating them into the political community.
If all this is plausible, if democracy’s opponents have a variety of interests and concerns, then one will not be 41 Self-Limiting Theory of Militant Democracy able to deny their claims simply by pointing out that their preferred political system is objectionable. 35 Reciprocity and the Claim to Participation Antidemocrats who participate in the democratic process appear to have a shockingly underdeveloped sense of reciprocity. And people are often puzzled by the claim that they have a duty to respect the rights of those who would deny them the very same rights.
A Theory of Militant Democracy: The Ethics of Combatting Political Extremism by Alexander S. Kirshner