Democracy without Solidarity
This chapter offers a sceptical view of the search for a theory or source of bounded solidarity underpinning democratic theory and practice. Political coexistence rests on no deeper underlying commonality, whether cultural or civic, national or ideological. The myth that it does tends to undermine justice, calling forth attempts to suppress internal pluralism and dissent, and to sharpen external boundaries and barriers. There is no need to imbue political coexistence with deeper normative or psychological importance, or to look for hidden unity behind apparent political plurality. A proper understanding of solidarity underlying political membership shows that we can’t have it, shouldn’t want it, and don’t need it. Drawing on realist political theory, contestatory democratic theory, attention to political parties, and an adaptation of the political thought of Augustine, the chapter argues that our understanding of political life should recongize that fellow citizens are strangers merely facing common circumstances.
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