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Artigo em portugues: Politics as a continuation of liberty: Hannah Arendt and her critique of liberal democracy

08/01/2012

Politics as a continuation of liberty: Hannah Arendt and her critique of liberal democracy

João Henrique Ribeiro Roriz

Abstract

Liberalism as a historical phenomenon is closely articulated with the history of modern democracy. If no consensus exists about what is liberal and democratic in liberal democracies, at least there is agreement regarding the fact that liberalism is precisely the criterion which distinguishes liberal democracy from non-liberal democracies. This criterion was used by us as an orientation guide, allowing us to trace the basic assumptions of this trend of political thought and, at the same time, allowing us to identify the close ties between liberalism and democracy. The central issue discussed here concerns the conflict between freedom and power, as presented in the studies on liberal democracy. Considering such inconsistency, it was possible to understand the reasons that led Hannah Arendt to question the representative system and to deny the separation between freedom and power, as advocated by proponents of liberal democracy. Through this study it is also possible to learn, in the light of Arendt’s conception, that power is intrinsically linked to public liberty and is not effective outside human action, depending, therefore, on the coexistence among men in public space. By questioning the limits and difficulties experienced by the representative system advocated by liberal democracy, we came to the realization that, as proposed by Arendt, it is possible to expand the meanings of democracy. Thus, if Arendt’s fundamental concern is the decline of public space, which is vital for politics and the conduct of human affairs, her critique is the most appropriate, as it faces the apathy and conformism that characterizes mass society. The rescue and rehabilitation of the political public sphere would be the precondition to rethink the foundations of democracy and the liberal principles that sustain it.

Key words: liberal democracy, representative system, freedom, power, Hannah Arendt.

In Portuguese. PDF download: click here

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