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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stalking horse bites straw man, 3 April 1999
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This review is from: Passions and Constraint: On The Theory Of Liberal Democracy (Paperback)
Holmes makes a paradoxical defense of a simple argument, that freedom requires rules, for instance, a constitution is not a straitjacket but the double yellow lines that keep traffic flowing. But what is the alternative? The only thinkable alternative is anarchy, and surely no one would defend that. Conservatives often attack the desiccation of substantive democracy by procedural democracy, but according to Holmes procedural democracy is the grease on the skids of substantive democracy. But if the only alternative to Holmes arguement is the formlose Formende of Schmittian soccer-stadium democracy, then he makes a trivial argument to discredit a non-sensical one. He seems to find endless fascination in the paradox of a freedom engendered by rules and the paradoxes of self-binding, but more interesting and paradoxical is the fact that rules often take on a life of their own and encumber the very freedom they were instituted to safeguard, like the alarm clock which rings on Saturday morning. The argument is a stalking horse because he is not defending procedural democracy, which no one would attack (who loves the constitution more than conservatives?), but rather the regulatory and welfare state, which is not bound by rules but in fact conceals bureaucratic authoritarianism under the guise of democratic proceduralism.
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Passions and Constraint: On The Theory Of Liberal Democracy
Passions and Constraint: On The Theory Of Liberal Democracy by Stephen Holmes (Paperback - 10 July 1997)
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