A problem not only amongst American liberals but increasingly amongst the Left throughout the West: identity versus citizenship. Differences amongst people became more important than what they have in common. The Identity Politics created a vacuum which the radical right took over, says Mark Lilla in his book “The Once and Future Liberal”.
Alessandro Ferrara, University of Rome Tor Vergata23 March 2015
Along with the idea of "secularization", the theory of "modernization" has been recently questioned as yet another by-product of the Englightenment linear view of history. Drawing on Max and Alfred Weber's comparative work, on Karl Jaspers' notion of an axial age which encompasses a plurality of ancient civilizations, Shmuel Eisenstadt, Johan Arnason, Jan Assman, Björn Wittrock and a number of other leading social theorists have put forward a new framework for making sense of global history, known under the heading of "multiple modernities". In this paper, I will highlight some of the questions that the "multiple modernities" approach can generate in the specific field of political philosophy. Assuming that we can distinguish formal democracy as a set of procedures that can merely ritually be paid lip service to from "democracy with a democratic spirit", can we disentangle the "spirit of democracy" from its original roots in the culture of radical protestantism and envisage a plurality of "cultures of democracy" anchored to various civilizational bedrocks? Are "multiple democracies" genuinely viable versions of the same model of political order, or are they way-stations towards the Western modern form of liberal democracy?