The Janus Face of Democracy: Emancipation and Resentment in Dutch Politics

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Abstract

In recent years Dutch society has been stirred by waves of anger and resentment. What are the sources of this discontent and resentment? Populist parties like those of Pim Fortuyn and Geert Wilders are not so much the cause of this resentment but the skillful exploiters of an underlying discontent which is endemic to modern democracies in general. The central claim of this article is that if we want to understand this underlying discontent we need to reconsider our conception of democracy. Instead of seeing democracy exclusively as the realization of the good life and the battleground for the emancipation of disadvantaged groups, we should focus more on the enduring tension between equality and inequality and the resentment this tension produces. Democracy has a Janus face: one face shows democracy as the source of empowerment and emancipation, the other face shows democracy as the source of resentment. Using the work of Nietzsche, Scheler, Rawls, Ferro, and Sloterdijk the nature and social consequences of resentment are discussed.

Translated title of the contribution The Janus Face of Democracy: Emancipation and Resentment in Dutch Politics
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)33-61
Number of pages29
JournalTijdschrift voor filosofie
Volume75
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Keywords

  • Scheler
  • democracy
  • populism
  • resentment

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