The Inner Enemies of Democracy

The Inner Enemies of Democracy

3.78 (85 ratings by Goodreads)
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Tzvetan Todorov is one of the leading intellectuals in France today. In this book he argues that the biggest threat to democracy today is not the supposed external enemies of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism: rather, the biggest threat is internal to democracy itself: it's what the Greeks called 'hubris'.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 200 pages
  • 152 x 229mm
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 0745685757
  • 9780745685755

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Table of contents

1 Democracy and its Discontents 1

The paradoxes of freedom 1

External and internal enemies 4

Democracy threatened by its own hubris 7

2 An Ancient Controversy 12

The main characters 12

Pelagius: will and perfection 14

Augustine: the unconscious and original sin 19

The outcome of the debate 22

3 Political Messianism 29

The revolutionary moment 29

The first wave: revolutionary and colonial wars 33

The second wave: the Communist project 37

The third wave: imposing democracy by bombs 45

The Iraq war 48

The internal damage: torture 50

The war in Afghanistan 53

The temptations of pride and power 57

The war in Libya: the decision 59

The war in Libya: the implementation 62

Idealists and realists 67

Politics in the face of morality and justice 71

4 The Tyranny of Individuals 78

Protecting individuals 78

Explaining human behaviour 81

Communism and neoliberalism 87

The fundamentalist temptation 91

Neoliberalism's blind spots 97

Freedom and attachment 101

5 The Effects of Neoliberalism 104

Blame it on science? 104

The law retreats 109

Loss of meaning 113

Management techniques 116

The power of the media 125

Freedom of public speech 128

The limits of freedom 134

6 Populism and Xenophobia 139

The rise of populism 139

Populist discourse 142

National identity 147

Down with multiculturalism: the German case 150

Britain and France 153

The debate about headscarves 156

One debate can hide another 162

Relations with foreigners 166

Living together better 168

7 The Future of Democracy 173

Democracy, dream and reality 173

The enemy within us 179

Towards renewal? 184

Notes 189

Index 197
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Review quote

One of the great intellectuals of our time.
Stanley Hoffmann, Harvard University

This is a voice to be listened to attentively, for our shared planetary home's and all its residents' sake.
Zygmunt Bauman, University of Leeds

Now, of all times, there is a need for cool heads, such as Todorov, who approaches the limits of free speech with admirable dexterity.
The New York Review of Books

A coherent, relevant work in which intelligence and sincere humanism do battle D a world away from the slippery moralizing of intellectual fence-sitters.
Le Nouvel Observateur

Todorov?s work is that of a sage, a man who has read the great texts, who has lived through two political regimes, and who dares to express an idea that may seem at odds with his fervent defence of freedom and democracy: freedom for its own sake, freedom that forgets its duties and responsibilities, is self-destructive. What he writes is never ordinary, but always tolerant and life affirming.
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Rating details

85 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 28% (24)
4 39% (33)
3 21% (18)
2 7% (6)
1 5% (4)
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