The Criminal Is Political: Policing Politics in Real Existing Liberalism

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (4):485-502 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The familiar irony of ‘real existing socialism’ is that it never was. Socialist ideals were used to legitimize regimes that fell far short of realizing those ideals – indeed, that violently repressed anyone who tried to realize them. This paper suggests that the derogatory concept of ‘the criminal’ may be allowing liberal ideals to operate in contemporary political philosophy and real politics in a worryingly similar manner. By depoliticizing deep dissent from the prevailing order of property, this concept can obscure what I call the legitimation gap. This is the gulf between (a) liberal accounts of state legitimacy, and (b) the actual functioning of liberal states. Feminists have long pointed out that the exclusion of what is deemed ‘personal’ from political consideration is itself a political move. I propose that the construction of the criminal as a category opposed to the political works similarly to perpetuate unjust forms of social power.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,698

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

80 (#207,223)

6 months
18 (#191,831)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Koshka Duff
Nottingham University

Citations of this work

Radicalizing realist legitimacy.Ben Cross - 2019 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 46 (4):369-389.
How radical is radical realism?Ben Cross - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):1110-1124.
How radical is radical realism?Ben Cross - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):1110-1124.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
White Ignorance.Charles Mills - 2007 - In Shannon Sullivan & Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. State Univ of New York Pr. pp. 11-38.

View all 16 references / Add more references