Democratic Extremism in Theory and Practice

All Power to the People

By Paul Lucardie

© 2012 – Routledge

196 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415603126
pub: 2013-11-20
US Dollars$140.00
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About the Book

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.

Table of Contents

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

About the Author

Paul Lucardie was affiliated with the Documentation Centre on Dutch Political Parties at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, from 1979 till 2011. He has done research on Dutch parties, and especially new and extreme parties, as well as on ideologies.

About the Series

Extremism and Democracy

This new series encompasses academic studies within the broad fields of 'extremism' and 'democracy'. These topics have traditionally been considered largely in isolation by academics. A key focus of the series, therefore, is the (inter-) relation between extremism and democracy. Works will seek to answer questions such as to what extent extremist groups pose a major threat to democratic parties, or how can democracy respond to extremism without undermining its own democratic credentials?

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POL000000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / General