The silence of political liberalism – Regina Kreide

By Regina Kreide

Europe is convulsed by terrorist attacks and surrounded by theatres of war. Refugees are dying at the external borders of the continent or being herded together in camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Yemen, or – and this applies only to the very few – in countries in Europe. The financial crisis seems harmless in comparison: annoying but transient, like a cold.

The beautiful, peaceful world in which we have arranged our lives so comfortably is showing its repressed, violent side. Yet established political theory is silent – perplexed, incredulous, and helpless – in the face of these problems. Is this because the circumstances are beyond explanation? Or is there a problem with political theory itself? What has happened to the discipline that claims to be able to tell us about the legitimacy of political systems? To paraphrase Kant, is it dreaming the sweet dream of perpetual peace? In the following, I develop three theses in order to explain this silence. Before doing so, however, I will offer a brief sketch of recent key developments in political theory.

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