All Power to the People
To Be Published October 1st 2013 by Routledge – 208 pages
Series: Extremism and Democracy
Democracy and extremism are usually considered opposites. We assume 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. Oddly enough, however, many contemporary groups that are described as extremists by political scientists, claim to defend democracy. Only here and there some fringe groups still reject democracy and argue for an authoritarian regime. Are the other (supposedly) extremist groups merely hypocrites and opportunists who pay merely lip-service to democracy? Sometimes this may be the case; for example, when Marxist-Leninists call for restoration of a Soviet-style regime controlled by one (Communist) party; or when rightwing groups advocate a strong presidential regime. Yet in many other 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. It may be a good idea to take the claims of these democratic extremists seriously, and subject them to a critical examination. Does democratic extremism constitute a coherent project – or a variety of projects – in theory and in practice? Is democracy (in this sense) feasible and desirable? This is the central question of the book.
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
Paul Lucardie is Professor of Politics at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.