Liberal brutality : the illusion of difference within liberalism

Simon, G 2007, Liberal brutality : the illusion of difference within liberalism , PhD thesis, Salford : University of Salford.

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Hobbes argues that liberal orders protect individual freedom and enable subjects to live in different ways, but he is clear that only certain differences are tolerable: those who challenge the legitimacy and solidity of the order are not just different but radically different, they must be classed as 'enemies' and treated violently. Since Hobbes, however, liberal thinkers have emphasised diversity, not violence. Whilst they rarely advocate a fully inclusive order in which even liberalism's enemies can live freely, they do claim that liberalism enables differences to flourish. This thesis aims to demonstrate the illusory nature of this claim. It shows that post-Hobbesian thinkers offering liberal visions of flourishing diversity conceal the number of subjects who will be classed as radically different and are likely to experience exclusion, assimilation and normalisation as a consequence. It explains first that Locke, Mill and Rawls privilege rational, deliberative individuals in their ideals but ignore the subtle violence experienced by those who diverge from this model of subjectivity. However, the thesis focuses on three more radical theorists: William Connolly, Bonnie Honig and Chantal Mouffe. They admit that liberalism cannot escape radical difference and violence, but they attempt to limit this violence by theorising a liberal order invigorated by institutions for 'agonistic contest,' into which those who differ can channel their resistance and through which they can create spaces for difference. However, it is shown that, despite their aims, these theorists, in different ways, also conceal the number of subjects who will be treated violently in their visions because they diverge from liberal subjectivity. The thesis thus reveals that even radicalliberals claiming to acknowledge and confront liberalism's violence conceal the number of subjects treated violently behind an illusion of difference. It concludes by exploring the potentially devastating implications of this analysis for liberal political theory and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Simon, D (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for European Security
Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2012 13:34
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2022 11:24

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