On the political theology of "illiberal democracy"
The rise of right-wing ‘populist’ parties has generated considerable anxiety over the future of liberal democracy in countries ranging from India and Turkey to Israel, Hungary, Brazil, and the United States, among others. This talk will attend to the political-theological dimensions of what has variously been called post-liberalism, illiberal democracy, or populism (a usage the speaker will contest) by considering the ways in which champions of the post-liberal project understand the relationship between three fundamental political concepts: the law, the state, and the people. Looking in particular at the work of the American scholar Patrick Deneen and the Israeli thinker Yoram Hazony, it will outline the central attributes of the post-liberal vision: a natalist understanding of political community, the denigration of individual freedom, the displacement of ‘the law’ by ‘the people’ as the central legitimating concept, and the embrace of counter-majoritarian and authoritarian measures to enforce the desired moral order. The state, in this schema, is paradoxically required to support and sustain the supposedly organic and homogenous nation that precedes it and indeed justifies its existence. In this way post-liberals differ markedly from libertarian conservatives and represent a new chapter in relations between virtue and the state.