196 pages | 1 B/W Illus.
Democracy and extremism are usually considered as opposites. We assume that our system (in the UK, the USA, the Netherlands etc.) is democratic, and extremists try to destroy our system and introduce some kind of dictatorship, if not chaos and anarchy. Yet in many cases, the extremists seem sincere in their attempt to construct a more democratic polity. Hence, they can be called democrats and yet also extremists, in so far as they strive for a regime with characteristics that are more extreme in a significant sense.
This book analyses radical and extreme democratic theories and ideas in their historical context, interlocked with critical descriptions of historical institutions and experiments that help to evaluate the theories. Cases range from ancient Athens to recent experiments with citizen juries and citizen assemblies, from the time-honoured Swiss Landsgemeinde to contemporary (and controversial) workers’ councils in Venezuela and participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre. Among the theorists discussed here are familiar names as well as relatively unknown persons: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx, Murray Bookchin and John Burnheim, William Godwin and Barbara Goodwin, Anton Pannekoek and Heinz Dieterich. Whereas the extreme ideas do not seem to work very well in practice, they do indicate ways by which we could make existing political systems more democratic.
This book will be of interest to students of Politics and Current Affairs, as well as inspiration to political activists and reformists.
1. Definitions of extremism 2. Revolutionary or libertarian municipalism 3. Varieties of radical democracy 4. Radical Democracy in Action I 5. Radical Democracy in Action II 6. Conclusions
This series covers academic studies within the broad fields of ‘extremism’ and ‘democracy’, with volumes focusing on adjacent concepts such as populism, radicalism, and ideological/religious fundamentalism. These topics have been considered largely in isolation by scholars interested in the study of political parties, elections, social movements, activism, and radicalisation in democratic settings. A key focus of the series, therefore, is the (inter-)relation between extremism, radicalism, populism, fundamentalism, and democracy. Since its establishment in 1999, the series has encompassed both influential contributions to the discipline and informative accounts for public debate. Works will seek to problematise the role of extremism, broadly defined, within an ever-globalising world, and/or the way social and political actors can respond to these challenges without undermining democratic credentials.