On Militant Democracy, (Un)Civil Disobedience, and the Right to Resistance

34 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2024

Date Written: March 20, 2024


Through a critical reconstruction of Jan-Werner Müller’s theories of (I) civil disobedience, (II) uncivil disobedience, and (III) resistance, I argue that his effort to frame popular resistance as militant democracy helps us bring to light one of the key problems behind recent theories of the latter: Such theories neglect or underestimate the persistence of democratic exclusion along racial lines and the threat it poses to the democratic order. The failure to address this issue reveals a general problem with theories of militant democracy, which are based on a conception of what democracy is and what counts as threats to the democratic order that does not consider the political challenges that minorities face. This problem is especially salient in Müller’s democratic theory because of its focus on the justification of social protest as a means of protecting democracy. Müller contradictorily restricts the exercise of political protest and resistance in contexts where militant democracy is said to be urgently necessary and where minorities such as African Americans suffer from structural democratic exclusion.

Suggested Citation

Souza dos Santos, Eraldo, On Militant Democracy, (Un)Civil Disobedience, and the Right to Resistance (March 20, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4765599 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4765599

Eraldo Souza dos Santos (Contact Author)

Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne ( email )

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