The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

Goya’s enigmatic drawing seems to contain a message which is reverberating down the centuries to sound a cautionary note in our current political environment. The slow but steady rise of authoritarian nationalism in Putin’s Russia, Kaczyński’s Poland, Orban’s Hungary, Erdogan’s Turkey, Wilder’s Netherlands, Kjærsgaard’s Denmark, Le Pen’s France, Brexit Britain; now crowned by President-elect Donald Trump as the leader of the free world poses potentially serious challenges to our contemporary politics. However what is at risk in these developments is not garden variety politics – whether to build an opera house or a football stadium – or even reasonable disagreements, and pluralistic worldviews about the good life or questions of justice, but rather it relates to the basic primordial deeply-rooted values upon which our interactions are based – capital ‘C’ Constitutional politics. The rise of authoritarian nationalism seems to question (not for the first time in history) the very basis upon which we relate to each other as free and equal and how we increasingly relate to those outside of the state of our citizenship or residence as free and equal. Whereas these ideas predate the ‘post-war consensus’, they have arguably received their most powerful expression and protection in this epoch which is under threat of unravelling completely due to contemporary authoritarian trends.

Part of the malaise surrounding our contemporary world is a tendency to view constitutional politics, to borrow Goethe’s metaphor, as architecture rather than music; as fixed and immutable rather than a dynamic phenomenon which requires the ongoing assertion and reassertion of the key values and terms of engagement of our mutual interaction with each other and with authority ...

Zum vollständigen Artikel

Cookies helfen bei der Bereitstellung unserer Dienste. Durch die Nutzung erklären Sie sich mit der Cookie-Setzung einverstanden. Mehr OK