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Creative Crises of Democracy


Joris Gijsenbergh, Wim De Jong, Saskia Hollander and Tim Houwen

The «crisis of democracy» is as old as democracy itself. From the first democracy in Athens up until western democracy in the twenty-first century, criticism and complaints about the deficiencies of democracy have recurred. Pessimistic accounts typically focus on the destructive potential of these crises.
This collection of essays takes an alternative approach and draws attention to the creativity inherent in these «crises of democracy» – the potential for renewal and adaptation.
In the volume, historians, philosophers and political scientists from the Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden and Austria tackle the three key questions prompted by this perspective: what moments of creativity can be discerned during crises of democracy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; how does democracy adapt during moments of crisis; and how does the notion of a democratic crisis affect political reality and vice versa?


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PART IV CREATIVITY IN THE PRESENT CRISIS 353 Public Spheres in a Globalizing World How the Global and the Political Shape and Reshape Public Opinions Peter BAL In his book The Life and Death of Democracy John Keane1 describes how, during its long history, democracy has suffered and died under several “bad moons”, but also how it has renewed itself time and again. Democracy’s history thus makes any proclamation of “la fin de la démocratie”2 or, alternatively, “the triumph of liberal democracy”3 seem premature. Keane traces democracy’s resilience partly to its capacity to democratize itself by inventing new democratic mechanisms and institu- tions. In that sense, the recurring crises of democracy – or bad moons so to speak – may be considered creative crises that have stimulated re- newal in democratic thought and practice. In this cycle of life and death some say that another “bad moon” is now rising over democracy: glob- alization.4 Although this suggestion is arguably rather one-sided, people do indeed make frequent reference to globalization when trying to explain a sense of discomfort about the present performance and future of democracy. Confronted by forces of globalization, citizens increas- ingly feel powerless and also claim that political actors are insufficiently accountable to them. 1 Keane, John, The Life and Death of Democracy, London, Simon & Schuster, 2009. 2 Guéhenno, Jean-Marie, La fin de la démocratie, Paris, Flammarion, 1993. 3 Fukuyama, Francis, The End of History and the Last Man, London, Penguin, 1992. 4 Globalization is...

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