HSSA Colloquium Lecture: New Authoritarianism

Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk


All over the world we can observe an uptick in right-wing politics, or what Wendy Brown (2018) calls 'new authoritarianism.' What appears to be unique about these authoritarian movements is that they do not solely exist alongside, but on the basis of democratic values and institutions. For example, for the first time since World War II a far-right party was able to establish nationwide support in Germany and in 2017 was further elected into parliament. Their exclusionary, racist practices are authorized through democratic processes. By returning to Hannah Arendt’s notion of authority this paper aims to investigate this daunting interconnectedness. Arendt’s critique of “What is Authority?” (2006) deconstructs a dominant understanding of authority in order to expel the Platonic aspect of an absolute that serves as a supplement (Derrida). I argue that what makes Arendt’s analysis valuable for current political theory is the temporal structure in the Roman understanding of the concept which she evokes in her essay. According to that, authority relies on re-iteration and thus involves a democratic moment. This can be utilized to shed a new light on the complexity of authoritarian movements which arise within and from democratic regimes.
Period2 Dec 2019
Held atUniversity of California at Berkeley, United States
Degree of RecognitionInternational