The article is intended as a contribution to contemporary discussions of the character of liberal democracy and liberal-democratic citizenship. According to Mouffe, who is inspired by Carl Schmitt, liberal democracy is beset by a fundamental paradox which consists in the incompatibility of liberalism and democracy. In contrast to Schmitt, however, Mouffe attempts to show that acceptance of this paradox does not necessarily lead us to the rejection of liberal democracy as a viable regime, but on the contrary may lead to its reinforcement. Crucial to the her whole argumentation is Schmitt’s emphasis on the necessity of homogeneity in democracy. Homogeneity is a shared property which, by determining who belongs to the demos establishes the basis of democratic equality. This, however, is in conflict with the liberal conception of equality which aims at universal inclusion. Liberal democracy is thus subject to a contradiction between the conflicting logic of inclusion and exclusion. Mouffe attempts to show that ignorance of this liberal-democratic paradox is the cause of the failure of current conceptions of cosmopolitan and deliberative democracy. Important for Mouffe’s position is that she does not question the aims which these conceptions embrace, but rather she attempts to show how they cannot fulfil them. The theoreticians of cosmopolitan and deliberative democracy, in Mouffe’s view, have not understood the necessity of exclusion in democracy, and attempt to mask it with talk of cosmopolitan citizenship and rational consensus without exception. Mouffe asks us to give up the illusion of the possibility of a harmonious reconciliation between liberalism and democracy and, on the contrary, to understand every coming to terms with their contradictory logic as, in fact, a hegemonic articulation which must be subject to doubt.
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