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Privatizing Democracy

Global Ideals, European Politics and Basque Territories


Jule Goikoetxea

Democratization is a process of collective emancipation through self-government. Continuous political contestation is essential for emancipation but, in order to know which strategies and conditions will emancipate us, we also need to know which ones subjugate us. Political mechanisms with the capacity to modulate our individual and collective bodies and make them docile tend to be close relatives of those which make us equal and free.

Drawing on the latest theories concerning globalization and democracy, this book argues that postnational and postsovereign multilevel governance regimes, including the European Union, should be understood as mechanisms of global capitalism aimed at privatizing democracy. Through a detailed applied analysis of the Basque case, the author illustrates how democratization is closely linked to ideas about territory, collective empowerment and institutional political capacity.

Democratization always takes place partially: it never «ends». Contrary to the dominant thinking, this book argues that the incomplete nature of democratization is a positive aspect, with perpetual conflict leading to perpetual change. This is precisely what allows, and obliges, each generation to shape its own forms of emancipation.


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Part II


Chapter 4 Territory, political economy and the nation-state Introduction Through an applied analysis of the Basque territories, we will illustrate how certain territorialities, public structures and institutional political capacities make democratization available. In Chapter 5 we will empha- size the significance of having (Basque) politico-juridical and territorial- ized structures and in Chapter 6 the role of state structures, institutional capacities and technologies of power. To recap what was stated in our theses: national, popular and state sovereignty have been rejected by most liberal thinkers as a mechanism for democratizing the current world. We will argue that the set of public structures we call the state, along with the theory and practices of popular and state sovereignty are fundamental for democratization, amongst other things, because the less institutional and constitutional power a political community has, the less sovereignty that community will be able to acquire and hence the less reproductive power it will have for maintaining itself across time and space as a democracy. It will be seen how and why these new local territorial assemblages we call demoi require sovereignty, understood as the institutional and territorial- ized political capacity a community has for self-government. Sovereignty may be divisible, but it cannot disappear, since a community without political capacities (material sovereignty) and an unchallengeable site of authori- tative judgement (formal sovereignty) cannot govern itself in accordance with its own political decisions (Thesis 1). The bounded politico-institutional space we call territory matters because the bodies of the majority of individuals are attached...

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