What does it mean for democracy to fail? How can trust in democratic government be restored and malfunctioning democratic institutions be repaired? And what should one do if a democratic system breaks down and one finds oneself in a non-democratic society? What should dissenting individuals do when normal democratic channels of expression are diminishing or non-existent?
My research project considers this set of questions by re-examining mid-twentieth-century thinkers’ and writers’ work in light of the recent debate over the ‘end of democracy’. This generation commands our attention because it was in the middle of the last century that the question of democratic crisis acquired unparalleled urgency. In particular, I focus on Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, Judith Shklar and Masao Maruyama who together represent a diversity of responses to democratic crisis. Examining this eclectic group of philosophers, writers and political scientists, my research pays special attention to the diversity of ways in which democracy can collapse or deteriorate, problematizing the all-too-tempting fixation on the Weimar tragedy.
Kei Hiruta’s work lies at the intersection of political philosophy and intellectual history. He received his D.Phil. in Political Theory from Oxford University and has previously held research and teaching positions at Oxford University, Paris Institute for Advanced Study and Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York City. His recent publications include Arendt on Freedom, Liberation, and Revolution (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).