This article analyses the rhetorical legitimation strategy of post-Soviet Uzbekistan under Islam Karimov as an authoritarian state. I show that the most important mode of legitimation in this case is neither the consequentialist appeal to stability, order or welfare, nor a direct appeal to guardianship, i.e., special knowledge. Rather, Karimov and his court intellectuals seek to advance a conception of 'ideology' as the comprehensive pre-political consensus of the political community. Their concept of 'ideology' is used to advance a political logic whereby the nature of the political community, the purpose of the state, the unifying political telos and the present regime are fused into a single entity. This ontological fusion is presented as a hegemonic reality and occurs at the pre-political level, resulting in the vanishingly small space left over for politics that characterizes authoritarian systems. I then suggest that such analysis of the hegemonic strategy of authoritarian regimes, and above all the teleological conception of politics it advances, is a superior approach to authoritarian legitimation than the search for explicit 'consequentualist' versus 'principled' arguments.
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