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In: Axial Civilizations and World History

Abstract

The aim of this article is to explore the contemporary situation around the question of political representation through the works of Eric Voegelin. While the theme of representation takes up little space in Voegelin’s works, being restricted to The New Science of Politics, there its role is central, and is combined with the modern Gnosticism thesis, explaining both the major success and resounding actuality, but also controversiality of the book. The article explores the link established there between these two concerns, focusing on the discussion of Hobbes and Puritanism, and complements Voegelin’s ideas by some affine approaches, like the works of Bernard Manin, Hasso Hofmann, and Alessandro Pizzorno. It then sketches the manner by which political representation, a medieval idea, in modern mass democratic politics became first a secularized principle, and then a mere trick.

In: Democracy and Representation
Eric Voegelin-Studies: Yearbook publishes peer-reviewed, scholarly articles related to Eric Voegelin in the areas of political theory, history of political ideas, civilization history, sociology, philosophy, literature, and theology. Articles are accepted from various sources, including the Annual Conferences of the Eric-Voegelin-Gesellschaft and of the Eric Voegelin Society.
The Meaning of Eric Voegelin’s Theory of Representation
The current crisis of liberal democracy has become the focus of constitutional, historical, philosophical, theological, and political analysis. Populism and the growing antipathy toward political elites and their dominance in popular representations are increasingly calling into question the nature of representation and the relationship between representation and democracy. The threat posed to representative democracies by authoritarian political leaders was described by the famous political scientist Eric Voegelin (1901–1985) after the overcoming of fascism in Europe with the words: “If a government is nothing but representative in the constitutional sense, a representative ruler in the existential sense will sooner or later make an end of it; and quite possibly the new existential ruler will not be too representative in the constitutional sense”.
Eric Voegelin-Studies: Supplements flankiert als wissenschaftliche Buchreihe das 2022 startende Eric-Voegelin-Jahrbuch und bietet ein ideales Forum, spezifische Aspekte der dort erscheinenden Beiträge weiter auszuführen. So entstehen Spielräume für kleinere oder größere Monografien sowie Publikationen mehrerer Autor:innen. Wie das Yearbook sind die Supplements als internationales und interdisziplinäres Projekt konzipiert. Sie sollen den wissenschaftlichen Austausch und die internationale Zusammenarbeit über Voegelins Werk erweitern.
Eric Voegelin-Studies: Supplements offers an ideal forum to further elaborate on specific aspects of the contributions in the Yearbook. This creates scope for smaller or larger monographs as well as publications by several authors. The Supplements are conceived as an international and interdisciplinary project. They are intended to expand scholarly exchange and international collaboration on Voegelin’s work.