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Hope in a Democratic AgePhilosophy, Religion, and Political Theory$
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Alan Mittleman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199297153

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297153.001.0001

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Conclusion: Towards a Politics of Hope

Conclusion: Towards a Politics of Hope

(p.258) Conclusion: Towards a Politics of Hope
Hope in a Democratic Age

Alan Mittleman

Oxford University Press

This concluding chapter reflects on the potential role that the Jewish and Christian constructions of biblical hope could play in the liberal societies, particularly in the United States. Modern liberal politics is very much a politics of hope. It seeks to secure the support and consent of the governed not through the prospect of self-government but through the provision of goods and services, entitlements, and expanding rights. Citizens' assumptions of the duties of self-governance are exchanged for presumptive rights to benefits, entitlements, and liberties to pursue the project of selfhood within expansive borders of privacy. What sort of hope is appropriate and necessary to persons living in such a social world? Can a reengagement with the sources of hope renew the prospects for responsible citizenship and life-sustaining civil society? Can hope count not only as a private virtue but as a civic virtue for democratic citizens? This chapter argues that a chastened, non-eschatological hope, which focuses on conserving meaning-preserving institutions, is most appropriate to democratic civil society.

Keywords:   biblical hope, liberal politics, goods and services, entitlements, rights, self-governance, liberties, citizenship, virtue, civil society

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