Sovereign Democracy: Why Not?

2 posts

" In constructing the intellectual justification of the model of sovereign democracy Kremlin's ideologues turned to the intellectual legacy of continental Europe - the French political rationalism of Francois Guizot and Carl Schmitt's 'decisionism'.

Guizot and Schmitt surprisingly emerge as the intellectual pillars of Kremlin's idea of sovereign democracy. What attracts Surkov and his philosophers in the legacies of Guizot and Schmitt is obviously their anti-revolutionism and their fundamental mistrust towards the two concepts of the present democratic age - the idea of representation as the expression of the pluralist nature of the modern society and the idea of popular sovereignty that defines democracy as the rule of the popular will. Anti-populism and anti-pluralism are the two distinctive features of the current regime in Moscow.

Following Schmitt (1888-1985), the theorists of sovereign democracy prefer to define democracy as "identity of the governors and the governed" (see Jan-Werner Müller, A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-War European Thought , Yale University Press, 2003 ). And, following Guizot, the sovereign for them is not the people or the voters but the reason embodied in the consensus of the responsible national elites (see Pierre Rosanvallon, Democracy Past and Future , Columbia University Press, 2006 ).

In the Kremlin-made mixture of Guizot's anti-populism and Schmitt's anti-liberalism elections serve not as an instrument for expressing different and conflicting interests but in demonstrating the identity of the governors and the governed; not an mechanism for representing people but one for representing power in front of the people.

Schmitt's definition of the sovereign as "he who decides on the state of exception" perfectly fits the almost metaphysical role of the figure of the president in the Russian political system today. Schmitt's definition of democracy in the terms of identity and not in the terms of representation does not allow a meaningful distinction between democracy and dictatorship. And this could also count as an advantage in the eyes of Kremlin's theorists of democracy."
Niccolo and Donkey