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Photo: “Election posters for EU Parliament election in Luxembourg, various“, by Bdx, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Ingimundarson, Valur and Sveinn Jóhannesson. Liberal Disorder, States of Exception, and Populist Politics. Routledge, 2020.


Liberal democracy is in trouble. This volume considers the crosscutting causes and manifestations of the current crisis facing the liberal order.

Over the last decade, liberal democracy has come under mounting pressure in many unanticipated ways. In response to seemingly endless crisis conditions, governments have turned with alarming frequency to extraordinary emergency powers derogating the rule of law and democratic processes. The shifting interconnections between new technologies and public power have raised questions about threats posed to democratic values and norms. Finally, the liberal order has been challenged by authoritarian and populist forces promoting anti- pluralist agendas. Adopting a synoptic perspective that puts liberal disorder at the center of its investigation, this book uses multiple sources to build a common historical and conceptual framework for understanding major contemporary political currents. The contributions weave together historical studies and conceptual analyses of states of exception, emergency powers, and their links with technological innovations, as well as the tension-ridden relationship between populism and democracy and its theoretical, ideological, and practical implications.

The book will be of interest to scholars and students of a number of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences: history, political science, philosophy, constitutional and international law, sociology, cultural studies, anthropology, and economics.

Table of contents

  • Introduction
    Valur Ingimundarson and Sveinn Jóhannesson
  • Part I
    • Carl Schmitt’s conception of sovereignty, the UN Security Council, and the instrumentalization of the “state of exception”
      Hans Köchler
    • Right, might, and technopolitics: the problem of republican dictatorship from James Harrington to James Madison
      Sveinn Jóhannesson
    • Exception as alibi: rhetorics of emergency and bare life in the War on Terror
      Alexandra Moore
    • Tactics of battle, strategies of state: Hurricane Katrina and the counterterror exception
      Jennifer Ross
    • Exceptional biometrics
      Peter Hitchcock
  • Part II The liberal state: populist, authoritarian, and corporate challenges
    • A theory of populist democracy
      Nadia Urbinati
    • The populist right: anti-liberal politics and conservative temptations
      Valur Ingimundarson
    • Public engagement: an outline of a critical conception
      Jón Ólafsson
    • Corporatism and economic performance
      Juan Vicente Sola and Gylfi Zoega

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.