PRAVNI ZAPISI • Year IV • No. 2 • pp. 399-418
MILITANT DEMOCRACY AND AUTONOMY
Mr Tripković Boško
Istraživač, Evropski univerzitetski institut u Firenci
Pravni zapisi, No. 2/2013, pp. 399-418
militant democracy; autonomy; liberalism; human rights; political rights; constitution; freedom of speech; the prohibition on political parties
The concept of militant democracy – understood as the restriction of rights in order to protect the democratic form of government from authoritarian threats – is fraught with tensions. The main one is this: is it possible for a democracy to limit democratic rights at its ontological core and still remain a democracy? The essay reviews Violeta Beširević’s edited volume Militant Democracy – Past and Present and in so doing endeavors to answer this question. In the first part, the author evaluates the contributions to the volume. The volume will be a point of reference for all future debates and research on militant democracy – it aptly deals with philosophical, sociological and legal issues, constantly reflecting on both the theoretical and practical implications of the main tension that haunts militant democracies. The essay concludes that Militant Democracy – Past and Present has an immense educational potential for all the relevant political and legal actors in contemporary Serbian society, and should be on their reading list in years to come. In the second part, the author analyzes the claim that recognition of equal autonomy exhausts the value of democracy, and that militant democracy is unjustified to the extent to which it restricts such autonomy. The claim needs refinement and a more nuanced understanding of both democracy and autonomy: it neglects the contingent character of democratic government and the distinction between the value and reality, and therefore leads to a paradoxical conclusion that no democracy is really a democracy; it also pays insufficient attention to the fact that the democracy is the only framework for achieving equal autonomy, and that the protection of democracy necessarily implies the protection of equal autonomy. The essay argues for an understanding of democracy as a system that maintains the conditions for flourishing of autonomy. It contends that the state should not sacrifice its duty to protect and preserve valuable autonomy for the sake of neutrality. The author concludes that the state can restrict invaluable autonomy to protect democracy, and that militant democracy is neither paradoxical nor necessarily unjustified.