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Title: Towards a conceptual history of the present: Democracy, rights, and freedom in the recent Catalan conflict
Authors: Wagner, P.
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
Citation: Wagner P. Towards a conceptual history of the present: Democracy, rights, and freedom in the recent Catalan conflict / P. Wagner. — DOI 10.1177/0539018418818399 // Social Science Information. — 2018. — Vol. 57. — Iss. 4. — P. 588-615.
Abstract: Reinhart Koselleck showed that the decades around 1800 witnessed a major transformation of political language. Around 1800, the horizon of expectations gained distance from the space of the experiences that human beings were making, and thus possibilities for the future opened up widely. In particular, the future would be the time during which ‘peoples’ would gain their capacity for self-determination, called popular sovereignty. This would occur in two particular versions that crystallized in the course of the 19th century, namely as ‘nations’ that would unify or liberate themselves from monarchical and/or imperial domination to form the polities proper to them, or as a ‘class’ that embodied the universal interest of humankind and would assert itself in a second revolution, following up on the French Revolution. Political concepts acquired during that period the meaning that they still had in the late 20th century, i.e. the time when Koselleck developed his approach to the history of concepts, but they may be challenged in the present time, and with them the entire self-understanding of modern polities. The recent Catalan conflict serves to better understand this challenge. ‘People’ and ‘nation’ are there used in ways that are reminiscent of this politico-conceptual tradition, but in a highly ambiguous way. On the one hand, they are employed in exactly their historical meaning: the Catalan people and nation are seen to be finally fulfilling their historical role of reaching political self-determination. On the other hand, these concepts are re-deployed to place them in the current context of existing democratic commitments and institutions as well as high interdependence between polities, all the while claiming that Catalan independence opens up a new normative horizon of democracy, rights, and freedom. This article will try to show that this undeclared ambiguity is characteristic of our current situation in general. This is a situation in which the historically created political concepts have sedimented in institutions, and thus appear to have ‘consolidated’ and moved beyond their historicity. At the same time, they remain impregnated with particular historical experiences that can be re-interpreted to be mobilized in political struggles of the present. To assess the validity and acceptability of any such re-interpretation requires explicit reflection about the persistence of historicity in political concepts. © The Author(s) 2018.
Access: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
SCOPUS ID: 85059068480
PURE ID: 9807401
ISSN: 5390184
DOI: 10.1177/0539018418818399
Appears in Collections:Научные публикации, проиндексированные в SCOPUS и WoS CC

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