04 January 2010

Article: The New Antidemocrats

"The New Antidemocrats" is an article by Bruce Gilley, published in the journal "Orbis" (50 [2]: pp. 259-71) in 2006.

From the abstract: "Democratization has lately received new rounds of criticism from antidemocrats on both the right and the left. As the prevalence of democracy throughout the world has surpassed that of dictatorship and other forms of undemocratic government, nostalgia for authoritarianism has blurred the realities of the depredations of dictatorship. Increasingly, the new antidemocrats suggest that the problems of democracy require nondemocratic solutions."

Some excerpts: "[A] mere glimpse into current thinking in mainstream scholarly and policy journals reveals the deep skepticism that has been reborn about democracy in the midst of democracy's global spread. To some extent, the new antidemocrats have revived old critiques about democracy. In other respects, however, they have found new angles from which to challenge popular rule – the new leftwing critique related to cultural diversity, for example, or the new rightwing critique premised on risks to national interests. [...]

"Antidemocratic thought has thus shifted from a conservative warning of change in a largely undemocratic world to a radical agitation in favor of change in a largely democratic world. Antidemocratic thinkers have become dissidents rather than reactionaries, although they are found on both left and right. [...] The division, of course, is not neat. Antidemocrats have a way of borrowing freely from the views of the entire political spectrum."

Which seems quite logical since "left" and "right" only make sense while thinking within the categories of democracy and the democratic spectrum of politics.

Despite Gilley's open hostility toward what he calls "the new antidemocrats" – to the point where one almost wonders who is not an anti-democrat in Gilley's eyes –, a useful resource for the study of current anti-democratic thought and criticisms of democracy.

The journal and article can be found in electronic databases, for example here:


Bruce Gilley is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Portland State University. At the time of writing this article, he was Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at the New School in New York.

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