Politics, democratic action, and solidarity

Inquiry 38 (1 & 2):99 – 108 (1995)
Abstract
I agree with the critique of rationalism proposed by Spinosa, Flores, and Dreyfus in ?Disclosing New Worlds?. Today the defence of democracy requires us to understand that allegiance to democratic institutions can only rest on identification with the practices, the language?games, and the discourses which are constitutive of the democratic ?form of life?, and that it is not a question of providing them with a rational justification. My comments are developed in two directions. First, as a development of their thesis concerning the centrality of practices, I suggest that in order to grasp the present crisis of democratic forms of individuality we can learn a lot from Nietzsche's analysis of ?nihilism?. Second, I point to a dimension which I consider to be missing in the perspective put forward in the article. It fails to take account of the fact that the constitution of a ?we? always requires the determination of a ?them?. This, in my view, has important consequences for the relation between solidarity and politics. I conclude by arguing for the need to introduce an agonistic element in the view of solidarity, and for the crucial role of the category of the adversary in a pluralist democracy whose aim is to transform antagonism into agonism
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