The Closed Promise: The Authoritarian "Grip" of Democracy

Montaño, Emilio Allier and Bloom, Peter (2014). The Closed Promise: The Authoritarian "Grip" of Democracy. Theory & Event, 17(3)

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Abstract

This work investigates democracy using a Lacanian psychoanalytic perspective to understand its role for repressing ideological and political competition. Drawing on the case of the 1999 controversial Mexican election and its long term political consequences, it reveals democracy as a fantasy “gripping” subjects in support of specific regimes and exhibits its potential role for legitimizing particular hegemonies. Democracy, like all politics, appears sustained by a narrative which demands for its survival the creation of a demonized “other” containing in this way the seeds of exclusion. Importantly, this analysis gestures toward the often closed characteristic of contemporary democracy contra more optimistic accounts such as Derrida’s “democracy to come.” Through exploring the case study of Mexico’s ongoing democratization process, this work suggests how democratic aspirations can play a role in sustaining diverse political hegemonies, even those historically characterized as authoritarian.

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