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Adventures of the SymbolicPost-marxism and Radical Democracy$
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Warren Breckman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231143943

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231143943.001.0001

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Democracy Between Disenchantment and Political Theology

Democracy Between Disenchantment and Political Theology

French Post-Marxism and the Return of Religion

Chapter:
(p.139) Chapter Four Democracy Between Disenchantment and Political Theology
Source:
Adventures of the Symbolic
Author(s):

Warren Breckman

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231143943.003.0004

This chapter examines Claude Lefort's rejection of the Marxist reduction of the political to the social in favor of the modern concept of the rights of man as the foundation of a radical democratic politics. In particular, it considers Lefort's idea of the symbolic dimension of the political and how it relates to an expansive conception of democracy as a social experience. Lefort praised democracy “not [for] what it does, but [for] what it causes to be done.” Entanglements of theology and politics in Lefort's thinking are explored in his 1981 essay “The Permanence of the Theologico-Political?” The chapter also considers the theologico-political problem in Lefort and Marcel Gauchet in light of the collapse of revolutionary politics in France and the accompanying reorientation of progressive French intellectuals. Finally, it discusses Gauchet's hypothesis that autonomy is to be explained through the process of leaving religion.

Keywords:   religion, Claude Lefort, Marxism, rights of man, democratic politics, symbolic, democracy, theology, Marcel Gauchet, autonomy

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