Liberal Democracy in Crisis: Redefining Politics and Resistance through Power
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This thesis seeks to create a more robust concept of resistance that may respond to the crisis of liberal democracy in contemporary neoliberal society. The crisis comes as a result of increasing dissatisfaction with the liberal democratic institutions, which are viewed by citizens as unrepresentative and unresponsive to their political demands. I argue that the post-2008 wave of protest movements represents an important attempt at challenging neoliberalism through the political project of radicalising democracy. Drawing upon different post-Marxist and poststructuralist approaches in contemporary political theory, the key theoretical contribution of the thesis is to elucidate the relationship between radical politics of protest movements and the existing political institutions. I suggest that the relation between the two is antagonistic largely due to the tension in liberal democracy between liberal institutions and rights and popular sovereignty. To this end, I argue that the political project of theorising radical democracy needs to be complemented with a political economy analysis. The political project of radicalising democracy responds to the limitations of the pluralist-elitist conception of politics in contemporary democratic theory and points towards social movement and new radical left literature as a fruitful way for constructing an alternative model of democracy. In response to the objection to power in parts of the radical left, I maintain that a more nuanced understanding of resistance is needed, which accounts for the structural relation between resistance and power. Finally, to properly account for the structural conditions and obstacles facing the radical left in the struggle against neoliberalism, the thesis also provides an economic-institutional analysis, which explains the ideological relationship between liberal democracy and neoliberalism from a historical perspective. The different theoretical contributions together help elucidate the empirical case of radical politics in Southern Europe and the challenges lying ahead.
- Theses