- Weaving the Fabric of Communality: On Identity Construction in Contemporary Democratic Orders
- Book title
- Constructing Identity in an Age of Globalisation
- Pages (from-to)
- Ex Modio
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Unlike in pre-modern communities, we consider our democracies to be rationally constituted. We believe our contemporary communities differ from pre-modern mythical communities because we no longer can or want to consider them as the result of a particular divine or cosmological development. Although this is true to a certain extent, the opposite can be also defended, namely that our contemporary political communities are above all based on a mythical structure. Since democracy principally implies an act of self-representation, the founding of a democratic community is an imaginative deed, the creation or invention of what is not yet a given. Seeing as there is no external, trancendent agency that can authorize this deed, our communities thus have to pull themselves out of the swamp by their own bootstraps like Baron von Munchausen. That is, as Claude Lefort states, the 'we' that undertakes this representation, is not a pre-existing group, but only exists as such with that representation, with the letter and the spirit of a treaty that draws the boundary line between those who are part of that 'we' and those who are not. Altough the original decision that lies at the foundation of this boundary could also have been different, in order to legitimise this decision it is presented - by means of a particular instrumentalist political logic - not as a accidental but as a decision that could not have come out any differently. It can therefore be said that our modern democratic communities are, in the end, as mythical as pre-modern ones. This contribution aims to state that our assumption that we can function without a mythological structure it is the greatest myth of contemporary politics.
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