Constellations 4 (1):1-18 (1997)

In the intellectual confusion prevailing since the demise of Marxism and “marxism”, the attempt is made to define democracy as a matter of pure procedure, explicitly avoiding and condemning any reference to substantive objectives. It can easily be shown, however, that the idea of a purely procedural “democracy” is incoherent and self‐contradictory. No legal system whatsoever and no government can exist in the absence of substantive conditions which cannot be left to chance or to the workings of the “market” but must be posited as objectives of political activity. The confusion results from a deficient understanding of what makes a society and an empty idea of “freedom”. The objective of politics is not happiness, an affair to be left to the individuals, but it certainly is liberty understood as participation in the governance of the polity; it is also the pursuit of the common good, defined as the sum of the prerequisites and facilitations of individual autonomy depending on collective action, and as the realization of commonly agreed collective goals
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DOI 10.1111/1467-8675.00032
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