Andreas Beck Holm: Democracy and Legitimacy: Rancière and the Criticism of Deliberative Democracy

What constitutes the legitimacy of democratic rule? In this paper it is argued that the answer to this question is the repression of an original exercise of power, which cannot be legitimate, because its function is to delimit and define the demos. Every type of government is based on a similar moment of illegitimacy, and every type of government seeks to make this invisible by inventing a myth of origin – in the case of democracy, this myth is the demos as a pre-existing entity. The paper traces this myth, first in Rousseau’s concept of general will, then in Gutman and Thompson’s contemporary version of a democratic narrative as ‘deliberative democracy’. The common denominator is that these narratives work only as a function of a constitutive void, which both constitutes and disqualifies them. Finally, it is argued that Rancière presents us with an alternative, making it possible to formulate a concept of democracy that does not need a legitimizing myth.

Keywords: Democracy, legitimacy, Rousseau, deliberative democracy, Rancière

Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen: The Public Sphere as Deliberation or Decision-Making? On Democracy, the Public Sphere, and The Constituent Power in Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt

The article investigates Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt’s theory of the constituent power. By comparing Schmitt and Arendt’s notions of democracy, the people and the public sphere, the article seeks to establish an alternative to deliberative democracy’s conceptualisation of the relation between democracy and the public sphere. By pointing to the differences between the debating and legitimating public sphere inherent in deliberative democracy on the one hand and the lawgiving and constituting public sphere in the works of Schmitt and Arendt on the other, the article investigates Schmitt’s notion of plebiscitary democracy and Arendt’s idea of a federal republic of councils. These political modes of organizations attempt to overcome the hierarchical relation between representatives and represented and seek to envision the people as able, when gathered together in public, to give laws themselves, and not only play the role as electors or debaters.

Keywords: constituent power, democratic theory, deliberative democracy, Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt

Bertel Nygaard: Fenrir let loose: N.F.S. Grundtvig and revolutionary democracy in 1830

Often characterized as the founding father of Danish national culture and democracy during the 19th century, N.F.S. Grundtvig also formulated remarkably radical and explicit criticisms of democracy as a revolutionary and ungodly principle, against which he defended principles of strict hierarchical social order and unflinching obedience towards the absolutist monarch. These thoughts were expressed most clearly in his pamphlet Political Considerations regarding Denmark and Holstein, published in 1830-31 as a polemic against the July Revolution in France and its supporters in the Danish public sphere. However, this pamphlet also contained significant elements of unresolved contradictions pointing towards very different political modes, including democratic modes of legitimization.

Keywords: Grundtvig, democracy, revolution, public sphere, July Revolution 1830

Anne Engelst Nørgaard: The Democratic-Monarchic Rhetoric of the Peasant Movement in the Battle for the Danish Constitution

The article studies the rhetoric of ’Bondevennernes Selskab’ an organized peasant movement in the constitutional battle of 1848-49 in Denmark. Through an analysis of speeches held on the constitutional assembly by members of the peasant movement, the article concludes that the movement’s call for democracy was supported with a rhetoric that used the absolutist king as a legitimizing figure. Through the principle of popular sovereignty, the concept of democracy was connected to the concept of ‘people’ and ideas of a strong monarch. This rhetoric was used to legitimize the status of the peasant movement as speaking on behalf of the people and in claiming political agency for the peasantry.

Keywords: Democracy, popular sovereignty, constitutions, conceptual history, monarchy

Anna Friberg: The People’s Home Democracy – an analysis of the rhetoric on democratic participation in The Swedish Social Democratic Party

This article investigates the role that civic participation played for the formation of the concept of democracy, by surveying the language of The Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP) in the 1920s. During the first half of the decade, the SAP outlined various forms of participation for the citizens. Having adopted the traditionally conservative concept of the People’s Home, the party increasingly used it as a metaphor for the fully democratized society. This, however, created a tension between the Social Democratics’ arguments about the importance of civil participation in a democratic society, and the idea of the state building the People’s Home for the citizens. Using theoretical insights from conceptual history as the point of departure, this article addresses this tension by showing that according to the SAP, the fully democratic society could be realized at two levels: both by the state and by the citizens themselves.

Keywords: civic participation, conceptual history, democracy, Social Democracy, the People’s Home

Stig Thøgersen: Political participation under authoritarian control: "consultative democracy" and China's state-controlled public sphere.

This article looks at policies implemented in China under the heading of ”consultative democracy”, and at how the Internet challenges authoritarian one-party rule. It argues that it is still difficult to see a distinct Chinese model of democratization emerge from these trends, but that the combination of social conflicts, quickly rising levels of education, better access to information and increased political participation through local elections makes the future trajectory of political reforms unpredictable.

Keywords: China, political reforms, democracy, consultations, public sphere

Christina Fiig:  The Vital Voices of the Debate on Enfranchisement – Public Sphere Perspective

This article approaches the struggles for enfranchisement within a perspective of a public sphere as conceptualized by Jürgen Habermas and Nancy Fraser. It focuses on one Danish suffragette organisation and its membership magazine, Kvindevalgret (1908-1915), as an exemplification of a type of opinion-forming public. In so doing the article is informed by the assumption that this type of public is a central democratic arena in which the process of deliberation has intrinsic value. The case demonstrates how participants in such a public can use a public arena as a means of politicising their situation, of democratic learning and of constructing political identities – in this case as mature, capable female voters. This was a controversial identity formation in the historical period of strong Conservative forces. The suffragettes’ in the debate were inspired by the contemporary philosophy of John Stuart Mill, in particular his liberal and utilitarian thinking on women as mature adults and as contributors to society’s well being.

Keywords: gender, enfranchisement, suffragettes, opinion-forming public sphere, women’s organisations

Erik Mygind du Plessis: Whistleblower Systems: The Public, Critique and Risk Management

This article outlines how whistleblowing is understood and facilitated in an organizational context, with special emphasis on so-called ’whistleblower systems’, which have become increasingly widespread during the last decade. The main argument of the article is that these whistleblower systems represent an innovation in the interpretation of the term ‘whistleblowing’ in an organizational context. Whereas the term since the 1970’s has been interpreted in light of concepts stemming from western political tradition such as critique, individual freedom, enlightenment and the public, and thus represented an attempt to enhance the public’s knowledge of organizational activities, whistleblowing is today also increasingly interpreted as an organizational tool for risk-management aimed at avoiding public exposure and ensuring the smooth and effective running of the organization. To support this argument, the article draws on descriptions of whistleblower systems from the databases of the Danish National Data Protection Agency (Datatilsynet) as well as from external operators who provide Danish organizations with solutions for establishing and operating these systems.

Keywords: Whistleblowing, whistleblower systems, risk-management, critique, the public

Mikkel Thorup: ‘The truth shall set us free’ – Conspiracy theory as democratic practice

This article explores conspiracy theorizing as a way to exercise democracy by highlighting the difference between the official face of power and the hidden hand of actual use of power. Situating contemporary conspiracy thinking within a broader paradigm or value of transparency and accountability the article asks about the connections between conspiratorial questionings of the powers that be and transformations in the way democracy and the public are organized and valorised.

Keywords: conspiracy theory, truth, knowledge, transparency, power


Luise Li Langergaard: Should the public sector be innovative? 

The article unfolds a critical analysis and discussion of innovation as a concept of change in the public sector on the basis of the prevalent understandings of innovation found in research literature and political strategies. It is demonstrated that existing concepts of innovation deemphasize the particular public and democratic dimensions of the public sector, and it is argued that this is problematic from a democratic perspective. The article encourages a rethinking of the innovation concept in a way that breaks with the inheritance from economic innovation theory and a formulation of an innovation theory that has political philosophical concepts such as rights, due process and democracy in focus.

Keywords: Public sector, innovation, democratic public sphere, deliberative democracy