By William E. Scheuerman.
For Chantal Mouffe and a growing number of postmodern writers, the liberal idea of a universal rational consensus resting on free discussion is implicitly authoritarian; because Schmitt was purportedly such an insightful critic of liberalism, radicals now should build on his friend/foe "concept of the political" as an alternative to liberalism. Mouffe seems to forget that pluralism itself always presupposes some minimal shared agreement to respect "difference." Furthermore, she is disturbingly unmoved by the fact that Schmitt's own attack on the Enlightenment and political liberalism culminated in radical nationalism, virulent racism, and a romanticization of violence. In her view, the real totalitarians are John Rawls and Jurgen Habermas, and the menace they present to "difference" everywhere can allegedly only be defeated if we join hands with the best-kept secret of twentieth-century intellectual history: meet Carl Schmitt, theorist of radical pluralist democracy.
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