By Alexander S. Kirshner
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Extra resources for A Theory of Militant Democracy: The Ethics of Combatting Political Extremism
But the use of those tools must be part of a broader effort to defend representative institutions, and it must be justified on the basis of its consistency with the broader ends of militant democracy. Finally, I want to address why I offer a specifically democratic account of the challenges posed by antidemocrats. It is a long-standing 22 Introduction criticism of democracy that democratic regimes, because they are open, facilitate their own demise. Individuals who are committed to democratic practice and principles, it is said, must forbear as antidemocratic groups tear down self-governing regimes.
A self-limiting revolution would not fully transform society’s social fabric or even its political power structure. The movement aimed to achieve tangible evolutionary gains in individuals’ ability to make decisions about the issues that affected their lives. If democracy at the level of the state was out of reach, then a democratic society would be built among the people out of doors, from the bottom up. And once the transformation of the state became a possibility, the leaders of Poland’s democratic movement did not hold out for a political promised land.
If all this is plausible, if democracy’s opponents have a variety of interests and concerns, then one will not be 41 Self-Limiting Theory of Militant Democracy able to deny their claims simply by pointing out that their preferred political system is objectionable. 35 Reciprocity and the Claim to Participation Antidemocrats who participate in the democratic process appear to have a shockingly underdeveloped sense of reciprocity. And people are often puzzled by the claim that they have a duty to respect the rights of those who would deny them the very same rights.
A Theory of Militant Democracy: The Ethics of Combatting Political Extremism by Alexander S. Kirshner