Chapter

Friends and Enemies, Slaves and Masters: Fanaticism, Wendell Phillips and the Limits of Agonism

Joel Olson

in The Politics of Radical Democracy

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633999
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652723 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633999.003.0009
Friends and Enemies, Slaves and Masters: Fanaticism, Wendell Phillips and the Limits of Agonism

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This chapter explores fanaticism from the perspective of radical (or agonistic) democracy. Despite its accent on conflict, radical democracy, the chapter contends, struggles to understand fanaticism because it operates with too narrow a conception of agonism, namely as contestation within a shared liberal framework. As such it cannot see struggles over the framework itself as democratic struggles. To rectify this shortcoming, the chapter turns to the work of nineteenth-century orator and abolitionist Wendell Phillips and the latter's idea of ‘talk’. Here Phillips deploys a friend/enemy distinction, similar to that used by Mouffe. The chapter concludes that in conditions of irreconcilable discord, fanaticism may aid democratisation.

Keywords: radical democracy; fanaticism; agonism; Wendell Phillips; discord

Chapter.  8582 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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