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Democracy and the Politics of the Extraordinary: Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and Hannah Arendt [Paperback]

Andreas Kalyvas

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Book Description

May 29, 2009 0521133416 978-0521133418 1
Although the modern age is often described as the age of democratic revolutions, the subject of popular foundings has not captured the imagination of contemporary political thought. Most of the time, democratic theory and political science treat as the object of their inquiry normal politics, institutionalized power, and consolidated democracies. The aim of Andreas Kalyvas' study is to show why it is important for democratic theory to rethink the question of its beginnings. Is there a founding unique to democracies? Can a democracy be democratically established? What are the implications of expanding democratic politics in light of the question of whether and how to address democracy's beginnings? Kalyvas addresses these questions and scrutinizes the possibility of democratic beginnings in terms of the category of the extraordinary, as he reconstructs it from the writings of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and Hannah Arendt and their views on the creation of new political, symbolic, and constitutional orders.

Editorial Reviews


"Weaving together strands from the writings of Weber, Schmitt, and Arendt in a novel and sophisticated manner, Kalyvas shows how these thinkers can help to illuminate the founding of democracies. Despite their own skepticism about mass democracies, Kalyvas creatively uses their insights about the category of the extraordinary and the politics of founding to develop a highly original theory of democracy with radical intent. His interpretations are fresh and thought provoking. This is an exciting and major theoretical contribution to rethinking of radical democratic politics."
-Richard J. Bernstein, New School for Social Research

"In this remarkable and original study, Andreas Kalyvas emphasizes the importance of asserting the distinction between extraordinary and normal politics. Central to Kalyvas' endeavor are iconoclastic readings of Weber, Schmitt, and Arendt as theorists of origins. In opposition to Agamben and his followers, Kalyvas reads Carl Schmitt's notion of the exception or the extraordinary as the condition of possibility for popular sovereignty, the moment when the people emerge - become visible - as the constituent power that determines the form of political life. Schmitt's Constitutional Theory, then, serves Kalyvas as the challenge to democratic theory to think 'the people' not just as the origin of the constitution and not just as the dutiful liberal citizen within the constituted order, but as the slumbering yet ever-present sovereign that collectively manifests its legitimate power outside of legal channels in the public life of the community."
-William Rasch, Indiana University

"Taking up the well-know question of modern democratic foundings, Kalyvas radically reconfigures the relationship of the old to the new in ways that go beyond our normal understanding of revolutionary change. In deeply thoughtful readings of Weber, Schmitt, and Arendt, Kalyvas presses us to rethink not only how it is that new beginnings are possible but also how the 'revolutionary spirit' can be sustained in the course of normal everyday politics. Relocating the critical political energy associated with the extraordinary event of revolution in the everyday life of self-reflective citizens, Kalyvas powerfully illuminates the creative political potential inherent in quotidian forms of democratic practice."
-Linda Zerilli, Northwestern University

"Democracy and the Politics of the Extraordinary is a brilliant study of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt. It comes at a propitious moment in American politics. Most scholars have presented the enlarged sphere of executive discretion within the Bush presidency as a legal problem. Andreas Kalyvas sees it for what it is: a question deeply rooted in the politics of democracy, and specifically those 'extraordinary' moments outside the settled and normal. This book should be read by everyone concerned about the political constitution of the modern state."
-Ellen Kennedy, University of Pennsylvania

"Kalyvas' book is much more than intellectual bricolage. Kalyvas creatively and imaginatively arranges his Weberian-Schmittian-Arendtian elements into a compelling and coherent Kalyvasian understanding of democratic extraordinary politics. For anyone interested in politics--and everyone should be--Kalyvas provides a remarkable, original, and compelling understanding of the politics of the extraordinary."
German Studies Review, Robert Weldon Whalen, Queens University of Charlotte

Book Description

Using the writings of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and Hannah Arendt, Kalyvas explores a democratic politics of the extraordinary that integrates the "how," "when," and "by whom" a constitutional government is created, in order to enlarge our understanding of democracy, radical politics, popular sovereignty, and political freedom.

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