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Post Sovereign Constitution MakingLearning and Legitimacy$
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Andrew Arato

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755982

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755982.001.0001

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Political Theology, Populism, and the Constituent Power

Political Theology, Populism, and the Constituent Power

(p.269) 6 Political Theology, Populism, and the Constituent Power
Post Sovereign Constitution Making

Andrew Arato

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines political theology—the preservation and imposition of concepts and figures of thought in political theory, inherited from monotheism. It argues that positive reliance on political theology not only can have a profoundly authoritarian meaning, but is also helpful in misrepresenting that meaning, and that political theology can be thematized in order to go beyond it—a notion drawn from Claude Lefort, whose concept of democracy as the empty space of power clearly draws the line of distinction with not only totalitarianism, as he stressed, but with all modern forms of dictatorship. Additionally, the chapter explains that a political conception can be deeply theological by providing a critique of populist politics as described by Ernesto Laclau. The chapter concludes by presenting one attempt to justify populist constitution making in Latin America, one that also uses radical democratic ideology to disguise the authoritarian danger that the conception cannot eliminate.

Keywords:   political theology, political theory, authoritarian, Claude Lefort, democracy, populist politics, Ernesto Laclau, populist constitution making, radical democratic ideology

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