Democracy and complete security cannot exist in the same society. This harsh reality fundamentally challenges the future of democracy in America. I make this bold assertion aware that Jeff has a more positive view.
In some of his recent posts, Jeff has acknowledged some of my criticisms of the current state of American democracy. Although he considers them to be relevant, he nonetheless also considers them to be somehow exaggerated, since democracy is not in such a peril, according to him.
Moreover, I admit to having been particularly harsh on Obama, to which Jeff has responded with accurate and fair points. As Hannah Arendt used to say however–exaggerating can serve a good purpose: it highlights the point you want to make.
And my point is that in the United States the political order has become much less democratic than many of us, including Jeff, would like to admit. Inspired by that motto, I will now address another dimension of the current state of the regime that I consider to be in serious need of critical inquiry: what the war on terror has done—not to the Iraqis, not to the Afghans, not to the hundreds, probably many thousands, of extra-legally detained since 9/11—but to the American political regime itself.
Building again on Claude Lefort’s notion of democracy—a normative point of view I consider particularly useful as an ideal type against which to contrast American actually existing democracy: modernity is characterized by the dilution of the markers of certainty proper to pre-modern forms of society. This modern dilution of the markers of certainty means that equality has become the generative principle of society; social roles, positions, and boundaries are no longer permanently distributed and assigned (a central characteristic of social orders based on the generative principle of hierarchy). What I thus want to suggest here is that certainty regarding personal and collective security is one of those “markers” diluted in modern societies.
In modern democracy, there can be no certainty that there are no risks and no threats to be confronted . . .
Read more: Security versus Democracy in America