Immunitarian Democracy

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Immunitarian Democracy 1. Does "community" refer to democracy? If not, could it or is it too deeply embedded in the conceptual lexicon of the Romantic, authoritarian and racist Right? This is the question, one already asked by American neo-communitarianism, that is emerging again in Europe at the precise moment when, some, especially in France and in Italy, are risking thinking community anew. At issue is not only a legitimate question, but in some ways even an inevitable one, in which democractic culture deeply examines its own theoretical precepts and future. This doesn't change the fact though that it's the wrong question or that it's badly put. Wrong or badly put because it takes as its term of comparison -- in order to be related to the category of community - a concept, that of democracy that is utterly incapable of "understanding" it, not only because its modern meaning at least, arrives much later, but also because it is flatter and increasingly overwhelmed in a dimension that is entirely political and institutional. With respect to this lack of depth and substance of the politicological notion of democracy, community has a very different semantic width, both on the vertical level of history and on the synchronic one of meaning. This isn't the place to attempt a complete reconstruction, though my recent research beginning with the etymological origins of the term communitas and even more before that of munus in Latin does confirm the historical and semantic richness of the concept (R. Esposito, 1998). What we can infer from the above discussion, however, is that the correct question isn't whether the community can become a part of the democratic lexicon, but whether even democracy can be a part or at a minimum acquire some of its meaning in the lexicon of community. Without wanting to show my hand too quickly, a first step is required, which focuses more on the second term. Here we aren't helped at all by the conceptual dichotomies with which 20th century philosophy has tried to define community, one that lost along the way the original meaning of community. I'm not talking only of the one constructed by the so-called American communitarians with respect to their presumed adversaries, the liberals, who constitute rather their exact interface in the specific sense that they unconsciously share the same subjectivist as well as exclusively partisan lexicon, applied not to the community but to the individual (where communities like individuals are distinguished between them, one from the other).

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