Abstract and Keywords
This chapter introduces the book's main arguments. It presents current thinking about democracy across the humanities and social sciences and argues that within it, literature's contribution to the history of democracy has not been fully acknowledged. Literature has helped us to imagine what democratic life might be, not least when it has been afraid, and/or critical, of democracy. More than that, literature has been important to the history of democracy for a more particular reason, namely because under democratic regimes the concept of “experience” comes to play a key role. And the novel form in particular was and is an instrument for depicting experiences in society. So the novel is the genre in which democratic life is most concretely and richly imagined.
Literature and democracy? It's a topic that only a few years ago would have seemed remote from what was most urgent in the academic humanities. But the situation has changed. Democracy in particular solicits our attention. The perennial stream of books and articles across various disciplines addressing democracy's successes and failures has become a flood.1 Republicans, associationalists, classical liberals, social democrats, and conservatives have all registered their sense that democracy needs to be reconstituted (Balibar 2010, Gauchet 2007, Hirst 1994, Runciman 2005, Skinner 1998). Influential radical European philosophers have also been actively engaged in retheorizing the concept, for the most part by defining it as a name for a regime in which all identities and substances whatsoever are open to political inspection and discussion (Badiou 2006,Rancière 2006, Derrida 2006). In the wake of this outpouring of commentary, it has become clear that democracy engages us so urgently today because it is at a transformative (and perhaps culminating) moment in its history.
(p.2) We can think of this moment under two aspects.2 From the one side, over the last few decades, political democracy has become almost wholly reconciled to capitalism. The possibility of a democratic system that might nationalize large swathes of the economy for good has disappeared. No viable political agenda proposes radically to redistribute wealth. Spirited, anticapitalist, organized activism has vanished: interventions like John. L. Lewis's defiance of Franklin D. Roosevelt (when, under sustained attack from the media, the politicians, and the big trade unions, he organized a coal strike in the middle of World War II) are now all but inconceivable in any developed or developing country (for Lewis, see James 1993, 269). Which is to say that, despite important national and regional differences in how governments and markets interact with one another, democratic processes are increasingly an instrument of “market states” the world over.3
As such, contemporary democratic state capitalism (as we can peremptorily call the system as a whole) is marked by the unprecedented degree to which its components have become technologically and ideologically integrated.4 These components include the market, including the operations of finance capital; the forces of material, intellectual, and cultural production, especially the media, the Internet, and educational institutions; the machinery of welfare and social security; juridical and penal systems; and, indeed, religion, perhaps not least in the modernizing force of global Pentecostalism.5
The historical forces that are propelling the integration of these diverse domains are too various and multileveled to be currently fully available to analysis, although the arguments behind Joseph Schumpeter's Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942) remain suggestive. Schumpeter predicted that, in the postwar era, liberal capitalism would in effect merge with democratic socialism and that the “institutional framework” of the high-bourgeois liberalism inherited from the nineteenth century would be shed (Schumpeter 1950, 150ff.). In making his case, he pointed out that innovation and social reform were both becoming “automatic” (that is, bureaucratic and administrative rather than political and charismatic) and that finance capital was coming under the control of corporations and associations like pension funds rather than of individuals. From within capitalism, ownership and control of the means of production was effectively being democratized and integrated into the state. Today it is important to recognize that that integration is also required to manage what the German ecologist and sociologist (p.3) Ulrich Beck, in his prescient book Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity (1986), called “reflexive modernization,” by which he meant the continually shifting demand imposed upon modernizing forces to manage the social and environmental damage and risk that they cause to nature and themselves (Beck 1992, 12–15). Democratic state capitalism has become so tightly integrated partly to protect itself from the world and the world from itself.
At the same time, the political system appears incoherent. Official purposes have become radically disjunct from actual effects. In particular, as policy options for political parties have narrowed (and, in the United States though not elsewhere, as party discipline was weakened by administrative reforms in the 1970s), they have become largely detached from the histori-cophilosophical beliefs that originally (at least supposedly) inspired them.6 Their traditional constituencies can be decreasingly taken for granted. Most often, parties, which nonetheless find consensus as difficult to achieve as ever, scheme to win power from one another by attempting to manipulate a mediascape only intermittently attentive to formal politics—and rarely to policy itself. To use the lexicon of the eighteenth century, interests are (once again) swamping principles. Yet the issues at stake in the political process still involve questions of life and death for large numbers of people (as in debates over immigration or how health care should be funded and organized). In this wash of forces and interests, the political processes and institutions in which parties enact their differences are perceived as insensitive to actual social wants. They appear to many to have been effectively dedemocratized. This situation has been named “postdemocracy” or “democracy against itself” (Dunn 2005, 186–187; Rancière 1999, 95–121; Gauchet 2007, 14).
On the other side, democracy—or, better, democratization—has become compulsory. Democracy is now, as John Dunn notes, the only “legitimate basis for political authority,” backed by those historians and sociologists who affirm an essential link between democratization, historical emancipation, and modernization (Dunn 2005, 15; for the democracy-equals-modernization argument, see Inglehart and Welzel 2005, Sen 2000, Tilly 2004, and Keane 2009). Alternatives to democracy—theocracy, say, from the radical right, or autonomism from the radical left—are granted neither legitimacy nor presence: they are practically impossible.7 So most of the actually existing critics of democracy are democrats who call for “radical (p.4) democracy” or “redemocratization”8 (Surin 2009, 15). Or for more democracy: Bruno Latour, for instance, even calls for a new modality of democracy that extends to “things”—by which he means a political system that sufficiently acknowledges the social agency of the inorganic and technological (Latour 1993, 12). Democracy here exceeds the human.
One reason that democracy has become our primary political standard is that it now functions to legitimize the incoherent system as much as to govern it (see Canfora 2006, 227, for a version of this argument). Democratic state capitalism tightly binds parts that adhere to universal norms of justice to those parts that don't. And democracy is as much a promise and an imagined idea with its own traditions and genealogies as it is a governmental arrangement, and it is as an idea that it fulfills the system's need for legitimization. It has become a talisman: its own self-generating, constituting force. Nonetheless, it is the system's practical or promised ability to extend (or even just to maintain) prosperity and security, which belongs as much to the market as to the state, that effectively allows democratic state capitalism to bury the possibility of thoroughgoing structural transformation.
Because no alternative system can be realistically worked toward, let alone achieved through revolution, we can think of the system as “endgame capitalism,” too (During 2010, 131–160). As far as it is possible to see, democratic state capitalism is now, bar paranoia, seriously threatened only by sovereign nature. It stands presented as global society's final horizon. But this does not mark the end of history as progressivism imagined it. It cannot be claimed that either emancipation or human potential has now been maximally achieved. It cannot be persuasively supposed that the democratic idea joined to capitalism will ever in fact order a society as just and good as we can imagine a society to be.
So it is difficult to accept Theodor Adorno's claim (made in 1956) that “the horror is that for the first time we live in a world in which we can no longer imagine a better one” (Adorno and Horkheimer 2010, 61). The problem is not imagining a better society; the problem is realizing it. After all, endgame capitalism cannot be reconciled to the bourgeois secular theodicy tradition that began with Leibniz in the seventeenth century, for which history delivers us the best possible social system.9 It is not, as I say, a Hegelian condition of posthistoire, in which rational universal norms have been implemented, or even a Kojèvean one, for which the divisive reign of desire has been supplanted by the peaceful reign of mere satisfactions (p.5) and interests. Rather, our polity seems to be under the sway of that “neutralization” which Carl Schmitt believed to characterize social democracy, a condition in which struggles between rival constitutional and economic systems—struggles for which lives are willingly staked—has given way to policy debates predominantly carried out by experts, as well as to politics delivered over to those who in the 1950s came to be called the “mass persuaders” (Schmitt 1996).
In effect, democratic state capitalism ends history prematurely. Or rather: it propels us toward living without strong historical hope. For all that, however, I do think that it is useful, in a somewhat Hegelian spirit, to regard endgame capitalism as (for itself) fusing the laws of nature with the order of history, since it is as if, as Michel Foucault has argued of nineteenth-century liberalism, contemporary society—legitimized by a democratic idea seconded to the commitment to capital growth—understands itself as an expression not so much of God's mandate for the world but rather as of the way things are, whether rationally or ontologically or merely historically (Foucault 2008, 15–16). It belongs to the “natural order of things,” as Adam Smith said of the historical development of commerce (Smith 1993, 230). Or as John Dewey put it in a moment of metaphysically ambitious democratic enthusiasm, “Nature itself, as that is uncovered and understood by our best contemporaneous knowledge, sustains and supports our democratic hopes and aspirations” (cited in Westbrook 1991, 320). Here Dewey invokes nature (against reason) as democratic society's absolute ontological ground, and it is the echo of that kind of understanding, however faint, that today seals history's premature end.
At the same time as democracy has come to monopolize political norma-tivity, it has expanded into cultural, domestic, and sexual life. Since the end of World War II, and especially since 1968, propelled by both market and political forces, the various social zones in which we can engage in free and personal practices of self and that shape the mood and protocols of everyday life have been further subjected to democratization. There has been a melting of inherited structures and habits, a broader distribution of self-confidence, and a firmer resistance to judgments that hierarchize and discriminate. Pretty much any social identity whatsoever can be recognized and granted rights. In sum, we are involved in what Karl Mannheim long ago named “fundamental democracy,” democracy that is maximizing its reach into culture and civil society (Mannheim 1940, 53ff.). Perhaps most (p.6) prominent among democratic fundamentalism's various trajectories has been the democratization of manners and culture—the overcoming of deference and rank markers in ordinary social exchange (which I will call “conversational democracy”) and the belief that all cultural forms have equal value and should invite equal access (which I will call “cultural democracy”).10
Democratization also imprints itself on experience itself, where we think of experience both as personal existence's lived feel and meaning and as the constitutive, nondivisible particle of a philosophical anthropology. That philosophical anthropology, which was worked out by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke in the seventeenth century, imagines consciousness as the combination of various kinds of experiences (as “sensations,” “impressions,” “ideas”), some present, some remembered, some imagined, some private, some social or conversational. Experience becomes the center of democracy theory when further analyzed by thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, and John Dewey, in a tradition for which it becomes nothing less than nature's vehicle of self-revelation (see Dewey 2008, 12–13). The category is so attractive to democrats because experiences seem to precede tradition, learning, hierarchies, and morality.11 In particular, while knowledge hierarchizes, experiences do not, and while morality divides and limits (some people will always fail its tests), experiences do not. It is in these terms, for instance, that the eighteenth-century English novelist Henry Fielding, writing for an expanding reading public and for commercial booksellers, famous for a life “spent in promiscuous intercourse with persons of all ranks,” as a friend remarked, in Tom Jones nominates “Experience” as one of the novel form's indispensable muses (Battestin 1989, 145). Furthermore, experiences, which just are and which happen (it appears) serially, more or less contingently, are like democratic citizens who enter into their privileges simply by being born, one after another, in a particular place at a particular time, and who need share little. From within this logic democracy goes further, and it tends to offer experience itself as a basic criterion of value, as if societies are good just to the degree that they deliver rich and full experiences rather than to the degree that, say, they encourage virtuous living or offer social order or unity or purpose. This is possible because experiences can be understood as valuable whether or not they serve any universal purposes or instantiate any universal structures, or whether or not they have particular relations to other experiences or even (p.7) to the world. Taken to its limits, as William James does at the beginning of the twentieth century, a philosophy of “pure experience” supports (or as James put it, “harmonizes best with”) the radical democratic pluralism that has become the most solidly sanctioned form of political organization, at least for academic intellectuals (James 2000, 336). Closer to our own time, Richard Rorty has made a similar case, arguing that a democracy self-directed toward the future as contingency, democracy with no project in view and appealing to no established and static principle or authorities, is the political expression of a philosophy that has abandoned all metaphysics. It is the political correlate of a philosophy whose only touchstone is accumulated experience (see Rorty 1998, 1–39). American democracy (at any rate in its idealized form) becomes the instantiation of this minimalist philosophic rationality.
What is the relation between compulsory and fundamental democracy? It is clearly mediated by the market and the state, especially the massification of the education and media spheres and the implementation of equal-opportunity legislation. The relatively wide sharing of affluence (by historical standards) that enables sustained economic growth, backed by the industrial production of consumer goods, also produces a certain cultural flattening, through mechanisms that need no spelling out.12 At the same time, however, we can easily imagine a historical condition in which democracy and capitalism are regarded as the only legitimate or natural arrangements of society that nonetheless remains oligarchic and that in which, further, the rich classes are marked off from the rest of society by their self-ascribed higher culture, their more civilized manners, their more refined sensibilities, and their capacities for subtler, deeper experiences. Close to the beginnings of political theory as a philosophic mode, Aristotle believed such a combination of oligarchy and democracy to be definitive of life in the city (that is, the polity), and indeed, incoherently, we today still live in such a regime. If we did not, then a sociological analysis such as Pierre Bourdieu's in Distinction (1979), which argues that only elites have the capacity to appreciate objects aesthetically, would not acquire its plausibility. So the relation between compulsory and fundamental democracy would appear to be neither quite necessary nor quite contingent. We might say that it is subject to complex and mysterious connections and rhythms that aesthetic models best catch. In particular, whatever else it is, the relation between various democratic drives is mimetic. The idea of equality especially is (p.8) emulated, tried out, as if by contagion, across different social and cultural zones, where it fits better sometimes than others. Or, if you prefer, democracy and equality vibrate from one zone to another in a fitful Pythagorean music of secular spheres.
Even democracy that is becoming fundamental is bounded. It needs to limit itself in order to maintain itself. Thus—to offer two concrete examples—at the level of the state itself, it's not undemocratic to withdraw judicial appointments from democratic processes or for electoral boundaries to be decided nondemocratically, to avoid gerrymandering. But, more important, democratizing processes fall short in major social sectors. In civil society, democracy halts in the family: relations between parents and children can't be wholly governed by principles of liberty and equality and can't simply be ordered by appeal to the equality of experiences qua experiences, either. The legal system, too, is rarely ordered by democratic principles. Democracy also, and increasingly, halts in workplaces, especially in bureaucracies and large corporations (and in universities as well), as Schmitt contended against Max Weber and Hans Kelsen in the 1920s and as Harry Braverman demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt in the 1970s (Schmitt 1985, 24–25; Braverman 1974). At the same time, the unimpeded market tirelessly de-creates and re-creates inequality. To state this argument in general terms: democracy is often contained by institutional, economic, and mundane life. Indeed, it can be argued, as does Pierre Rosanvallon, that “counterdemocracy”—the persistent, more or less institutional distrust of democracy—forms, and always has formed, a constitutive element of modern democracy itself (Rosanvallon 2008b). It could also be more radically argued that democracy's monopolization of political legitimacy provides cover for actual dedemocratization.
A form of counterdemocracy extends into the experiential itself. As Ellen Meiksins Wood has noted, “huge expanses of our human life—in fact most of our daily experience” happens “outside the ambit of democracy, even in principle, let alone in practice” (Wood 1991, 176). While experience may be shaped by and shape democracy, while experience may be ontologically analogous to democratic citizenship, while experience may now function both as a telos and as a norm, and while democracy may become experience and affect's vehicle (about a century ago, the German phenomenologist Max Scheler invented a name for this—moody democracy, or Stimmungsdemokratie), while all this is the case, nonetheless (p.9) experience's modes—of love and hate, hope and fear, violence and compassion, need and content, grief and joy, trust and betrayal, ambition and desire, ascesis and abandon, will and submission—are also other to democracy (for Scheler, see Mannheim 1956, 175). Whether feelings and consciousness bind or separate us, they neither free us nor make us equal in any politically or socially applicable way as feeling and consciousness. I suspect that it is because they intuit this experiential resistance to democracy that some contemporary theorists—Anthony Giddens, for instance—have called for a “life politics” to institute a “democracy of the emotions in everyday life,” that is, to install democratic decision-making processes that explicitly include emotions as well as opinions and reason (Giddens 1994, 16). However that may be, there remains a residual tension between democratic subjectivity and the democratic idea, or, to state this more accurately, between everyday life under democracy and the democratic “ethos,” where, along the lines spelled out by Foucault, we think of that ethos as the affective and/or discursive structure that underpins and maintains democratic societies as democratic (for “ethos,” see Foucault 1994, 571–578; also, Geuss 2005, 153–161).
It's remarkable that the combination of (I) the disappearance of strong rivals to democratic capitalism as a political good, (2) the de- or nondemo-cratization of many actual governmental and business institutions, and (3) the simultaneous expansion of and check to democratic norms into the life-world have occurred simultaneously across much of the developed world. Where—as notably in China—liberal political democracy is rejected (though not ideals of popular sovereignty and egalitarianism), legitimacy is still ascribed by referring to how much democratic potential across a range of life zones the system shelters (see Wang 2003). Where democratic state capitalism as such is not in place at all—in North Korea, for example—the global community withholds legitimacy and, often, material support, unless such states (for example, Saudi Arabia) happen to be U.S. clients. The so-called Arab Spring, which occurred as this manuscript was finished, is, I think, to be understood as an event in which revolutions from below are drawing some such states into the system of democratic state capitalism on the high, “free,” Western model, further extending that model's reach.
By my reckoning, only a careful historical narrative sensitive to national and regional differences as well as to the play between structure and contingency, in which the relatively recent dates 1945, 1968, 1989, 2001, and 2008 (p.10) would figure prominently, can account for this shapeless conjuncture. It cannot be adequately explained theoretically or structurally, since what is required to understand it is an immersion in the situations out of which fundamental democracy in particular has been and is being constructed, and an immersion from a particular and accounted-for position at that. (See Gauchet 2007, 12–13, for a similar point.)
In this book, I want to clarify how democratization, understood in the terms that I have been outlining, works historically in relation to high culture and, in particular, in relation to literary high culture, leaving aside, for the moment, the question of what we might actually mean by “literary high culture.” And in broaching this topic, we soon make a surprising finding. Although insights like William Blake's that all men “are alike in the Poetic Genius” do help organize moments both in modern democracy and in modern literature, those moments play a relatively minor role. As the French literary critic Alfred Thibaudet recognized early in the twentieth century, literature has positioned itself against more than with democratization (Thibaudet 1913, 5). Up until 1945, in Europe at least, few canonical writers and literary critics were democrats, and many were democracy's avowed and, in this context, conservative enemies. But, as I will suggest, this literary conservatism seems to have encouraged democratization as much as it impeded it.
We can crudely outline the larger logics of this connection between literature and democracy like this: Serious literature was, and is, mainly written and read by the educated and the relatively rich and powerful, and therefore it has been allied, albeit loosely, to dominant social fractions who have tended to resist the processes of egalitarianism in particular. So it often draws its energies both from those spheres of society and everyday life where democracy does not govern as well as from memories of a nondemocratic past. At the same time, under democratization, literature too became more and more focused on experiences as such. This creates another tension. After all, literature aims to bring us sublimity or hard-won truths and insights, or a picture of an ideal order, or a brush with transcendence, or signal passions and sympathies—serious literature aims to be exceptional—and, for that reason, it fears and seeks to evade supersession by democratic ordinariness. Modern literature may indeed, as Jacques Rancière argues, inaugurate a “democracy of the letter”—that is, an indifference to old hierarchies of genre, style, and topic—but that kind of literary democracy (p.11) contains no particular relation to political or social democracy. Indeed, as Rancière himself recognizes, in writers like Flaubert literary democracy understood this way may be positioned against political democracy (Rancière 2009b, 504). In the end, even modern, dehierarchized literature still strains toward aesthetic or experiential exceptionality. More than that, there remains a sense in which no regime can be imagined as less hospitable to, less able to read, literature than one that is fundamentally democratic, a situation that writers like Maurice Blanchot, for example (as we will see), can choose to embrace. We can think of it like this: that the arts could only flourish in conditions of substantive freedom was a commonplace of classical thought (Tacitus, Longinus), and, from that point of view, and given that our current social system cannot provide the leisure, carefreeness, and freedom enjoyed by, for instance, the citizens (not the inhabitants) of Athens or republican Rome, how can we today expect to recognize and admire art and literature's full force? At any rate, even as it too joins the democratizing stream, the flow from artistic and literary representations to the idioms of democratic everyday life and back is often guarded and frictional, if not always so.
In sum, twentieth-century literary high culture, in particular, was largely shaped in the rhythms and forms through which it adapted to and resisted its translation into and out of mundane experience as ordered in (sometimes merely emergent) democratic state capitalism. Yet images of democratic life are rarely thicker than they are in good literary writing; the possibilities for new and different pathways for democratic contagion, for new (dangerous or not) democratic relations, can rarely be presented more concretely than in imaginative literature. So the democratic idea itself often becomes vivid, imagined into the realm of experience, through the work of its victims, critics, and enemies (especially its “intimate enemies,” to use Ashis Nandy's term) as well as of its friends. That's one important way in which democracy is literary conservatism's child too.
It is on the basis of this understanding of democracy, and also because I sense that we don't have enough democracy where we need it and too much where we don't, that I want to use terms such as “compulsory democracy,” “democratic fundamentalism,” and “endgame capitalism” as gestures to a future that extends beyond democracy, even if that future can only be anticipated from a position almost without content, that is to say, by emptied social hope. It's from that contentless place that I want to explore certain (p.12) moments in democracy's literary history. This claim also immediately articulates a further relation to conservatism (as I will spell out in more detail in Chapter 3), since it is an important effect of democracy's monopolization of politics and the life-world that would-be dissidents so quickly find themselves in conservatism, conceived of as an attachment to what is being lost under modernizing processes. What's left, otherwise, except more democracy? So it is important to recognize that, in the epoch of compulsory democracy, conservatism cannot be reduced to the programs of the political right.13
As will already be apparent, Against Democracy combines intellectual history, political theory, and literary criticism as brought together under a particular understanding and judgment of contemporary society. Perhaps a little oddly, it becomes more directly concerned with literature as it proceeds. That's just because I have felt that the difficult question of how to position oneself critically in regard to democracy today requires not just extended working out but careful historical and institutional placement. This is the task of my next three chapters, each of which focuses on a specific relation between democracy and the literary humanities in particular. The following three chapters turn more directly to creative writers and texts.
In Chapter 2, I begin by arguing the case for the cogency of a particular politicoethical position—a bicameral or split one that simultaneously refuses compulsory democracy and at the same time works to reform it—and I use my affirmation of this position as a springboard to describe chapters of the intellectual/literary history that have made such a position all but invisible among academic theorists and critics. I concentrate first on Michel Foucault's lectures on the 1940s origins of neoliberalism and, next, on twentieth-century philosophical antihumanism, especially in Maurice Blanchot's work, as Blanchot's revolutionary ultra-right politics of the interwar period mutated into an influential model of the literary itself. My third chapter turns away from the reform/revolution opposition to the concept of critique, and in doing so makes the case that, in the wake of critique's failure, conservatism hails us. It makes this case by examining two early twentieth-century theories of conservatism, Karl Mannheim's Conservatism: A Contribution to the Sociology of Knowledge and Carl Schmitt's Political Romanticism, each of which focuses on literature and culture. Chapter 4 (p.13) stays with a certain conservatism, since it offers a revisionary description of modern literary criticism, which, I contend, was aimed largely toward discriminating between experiences in a situation where, so the critics thought, experience itself was being debased by democratic modernization. At the beginning, literary criticism attempted to install a counterdemocratic relation to culture into the democratic state itself. This chapter is important to the book's overall argument, since not only do I remain in qualified sympathy with that original mode of modern literary criticism but, in the following chapters, also see it as indirectly shaping later literature itself.
It is at this point that I turn to literature more properly. Chapter 5 examines the period when literature (in Alexis de Tocqueville, Benjamin Disraeli, and George Eliot) first encountered the general realization among European writers and intellectuals that democracy was inevitable. The sixth chapter examines a particular moment in democracy's interaction with literature—the moment when liberalism and so-called mystical democracy each intersected with social democracy in E. M. Forster's Howards End (1909). I argue that Howards End is not to be thought of as a liberal novel but as one that charts a distance between the emerging social democratic polity and a democratic ethos understood in something like Walt Whitman's terms. The last chapter turns to Saul Bellow's work—Herzog (1964), in particular—as a moment that illuminates a penultimate stage of literary culture's democratization and that also constitutes a new (delirious) stage in conservatism's accommodation to, and flight from, democratic experience and the democratic ethos.
(1.) One reason for this increased attention is that the Soviet Union's collapse in 1989 loosened restrictions on expressing dissatisfaction with our democratic system.
(2.) The next couple of pages, like the opening pages of the next chapter, are interspersed with revised passages that first appeared in chapter 7 of During (2010), but now in the service of a different argument.
(4.) My choice of name should be obvious from what follows. In terms of its history, George Gissing long ago used the term “democratic capitalism” against socialism (see Gissing 2009, 563); for the Marxist concept of the “capitalist state,” see Jessop (2002); for the slightly different concept of “state capitalism,” see Pannekoek (1936).
(6.) For the loss of faith in political democracy from the 1970s on, see Rodgers (2011, 88). But for a convincing account, which makes the case that historically in the United States parties were very rarely based on principles, see Laski 1949, 72ff.). This too is less true elsewhere in the West.
(7.) In the West, China is thought of as antidemocratic, but its current political system is more properly to be considered as just another mode of democratic state capitalism. It is also ideologically attached to popular sovereignty and equality, but its “democracy” component happens not to be organized as a liberal system in which different groups or interests are represented in the legislature via political parties. Nor does it make a hard, nondemocratic distinction between the legal and political branches of government.
(8.) Dissidence to democracy on the left, albeit an ambiguous dissidence, seems largely confined to antistatist autonomist groups, who inherit versions of political anarchism and associationalism and who combine a commitment to (p.150) equality with a rejection of state governmentality (see, e.g., Raunig 2010). Wholehearted right-wing antidemocratic thinking is today rarely expressed in public.
(10.) Other ways of conceiving of cultural democracy are possible, of course. In particular, there is the argument that the cultural uses of the modern media and the Internet extend social participation in ways that themselves constitute a mode of democratization, or at least of what John Hartley calls “democratainment” (that is, the fusion of entertainment and democratic participation). See Hartley 2007, 132ff.). And for a persuasive critique of his position, see Turner 2010, 44–46). My thanks to Catherine Driscoll for drawing my attention to this literature.
(12.) For the evidence that inequality hinders growth, see Wilkinson and Pickett (2009).
(13.) An illuminating defense of a left conservatism is to be found in Gerald Cohen's “A Truth in Conservatism: Rescuing Conservatism from the Conservatives,” which I recommend reading in its original lecture form, easily findable on the Web. Although echoes of his wonderful turns of phrase may be heard in this introduction, I am not persuaded of his implied thesis that it is in itself conservative (even with a small c) to resist instrumental reason and to endorse “particular things.” Rather, conservatism endorses particular patterns, traditions, institutions, habits, and so on. The “particular thing,” however, often worth defending against improvement or utility, is a shibboleth, rather, of a certain liberalism.