Elected Extremists, Political Communication and the Limits of Containment

Topoi 42 (2):583-591 (2023)
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Abstract

The paper examines the complex relation between anti-democratic forces (“the extremists”) and the broader liberal-democratic institutional environment. The task of containing extremists is analysed both from a theoretical standpoint and in terms of its practical feasibility. I argue that the realities of political communication and the character of political argumentation make containing extremism in practice a much more daunting proposition than is usually understood in the literature. Insights from political philosophy, political science and communication theory are brought together to press these points. As a result, extremists often cannot be stopped from running for office even if the state possesses tools to ban extremist parties. Moreover, once extremist politicians become members of legislative bodies, several democratic and procedural considerations start to apply to them so that it becomes difficult to limit their influence. Their elevated status (given their positions as legitimate representatives of the people, together with the increased media and argumentative platform they gain) complicates attempts at stopping the proliferation of their views. The last part of the paper briefly sketches possible (remnants of) a strategy of containment, arguing that only a combination of informal sanctions can be (partially) successful, including deplatforming, refusal to engage with them, and a pariah status in the legislative assembly.

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Matej Cibik
University of Pardubice

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References found in this work

Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Inclusion and Democracy.Iris Marion Young - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
IX.—Essentially Contested Concepts.W. B. Gallie - 1956 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56 (1):167-198.
Perfectionist Liberalism and Political Liberalism.Martha C. Nussbaum - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (1):3-45.

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