Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Democracy and the Politics of the Extraordinary
Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and Hannah Arendt

$37.99 (P)

  • Date Published: May 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521133418

$ 37.99 (P)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Although the modern age is often described as the age of democratic revolutions, the subject of popular foundings has not captured the imagination of contemporary political thought. Most of the time, democratic theory and political science treat as the object of their inquiry normal politics, institutionalized power, and consolidated democracies. The aim of Andreas Kalyvas’ study is to show why it is important for democratic theory to rethink the question of its beginnings. Is there a founding unique to democracies? Can a democracy be democratically established? What are the implications of expanding democratic politics in light of the question of whether and how to address democracy’s beginnings? Kalyvas addresses these questions and scrutinizes the possibility of democratic beginnings in terms of the category of the extraordinary, as he reconstructs it from the writings of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and Hannah Arendt and their views on the creation of new political, symbolic, and constitutional orders.

    • A novel perspective on what drives corruption, which differs from most current literature on this topic
    • A mixture of aggregate cross-national analysis and survey data from transition countries
    • Statistical evidence mixed with an easy-to-read writing style
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    “Weaving together strands from the writings of Weber, Schmitt, and Arendt in a novel and sophisticated manner, Kalyvas shows how these thinkers can help to illuminate the founding of democracies. Despite their own skepticism about mass democracies, Kalyvas creatively uses their insights about the category of the extraordinary and the politics of founding to develop a highly original theory of democracy with radical intent. His interpretations are fresh and thought provoking. This is an exciting and major theoretical contribution to rethinking of radical democratic politics.”
    -Richard J. Bernstein, New School for Social Research

    “In this remarkable and original study, Andreas Kalyvas emphasizes the importance of asserting the distinction between extraordinary and normal politics. Central to Kalyvas’ endeavor are iconoclastic readings of Weber, Schmitt, and Arendt as theorists of origins. In opposition to Agamben and his followers, Kalyvas reads Carl Schmitt’s notion of the exception or the extraordinary as the condition of possibility for popular sovereignty, the moment when the people emerge - become visible - as the constituent power that determines the form of political life. Schmitt’s Constitutional Theory, then, serves Kalyvas as the challenge to democratic theory to think ‘the people’ not just as the origin of the constitution and not just as the dutiful liberal citizen within the constituted order, but as the slumbering yet ever-present sovereign that collectively manifests its legitimate power outside of legal channels in the public life of the community.”
    -William Rasch, Indiana University

    “Taking up the well-know question of modern democratic foundings, Kalyvas radically reconfigures the relationship of the old to the new in ways that go beyond our normal understanding of revolutionary change. In deeply thoughtful readings of Weber, Schmitt, and Arendt, Kalyvas presses us to rethink not only how it is that new beginnings are possible but also how the ‘revolutionary spirit’ can be sustained in the course of normal everyday politics. Relocating the critical political energy associated with the extraordinary event of revolution in the everyday life of self-reflective citizens, Kalyvas powerfully illuminates the creative political potential inherent in quotidian forms of democratic practice.”
    -Linda Zerilli, Northwestern University

    “Democracy and the Politics of the Extraordinary is a brilliant study of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt. It comes at a propitious moment in American politics. Most scholars have presented the enlarged sphere of executive discretion within the Bush presidency as a legal problem. Andreas Kalyvas sees it for what it is: a question deeply rooted in the politics of democracy, and specifically those ‘extraordinary’ moments outside the settled and normal. This book should be read by everyone concerned about the political constitution of the modern state.”
    -Ellen Kennedy, University of Pennsylvania

    "Kalyvas' book is much more than intellectual bricolage. Kalyvas creatively and imaginatively arranges his Weberian-Schmittian-Arendtian elements into a compelling and coherent Kalyvasian understanding of democratic extraordinary politics. For anyone interested in politics--and everyone should be--Kalyvas provides a remarkable, original, and compelling understanding of the politics of the extraordinary."
    German Studies Review, Robert Weldon Whalen, Queens University of Charlotte

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521133418
    • length: 340 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 155 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface: the extraordinary and political theory
    Part I. Charismatic Politics and the Symbolic Foundations of Power: Max Weber:
    1. Revisiting Weber's concept of the political
    2. Charismatic politics
    3. Disavowing charismatic politics
    Part II. The Exception and Constitutional Politics: Carl Schmitt:
    4. The popular constituent sovereign and the 'pure' theory of democratic legitimacy
    5. Toward a theory of democratic constitutionalism
    6. The extra-institutional sovereign
    Part III. Taming the Extraordinary: Hannah Arendt:
    7. Extraordinary beginnings I: Arendt's critique of Schmitt
    8. Extraordinary beginnings II: Arendt's response to Schmitt
    9. The republic of councils: beyond democracy and liberalism?
    Conclusion: a democratic theory of the extraordinary

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Crisis of Modernity
  • Author

    Andreas Kalyvas, New School for Social Research, New York

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.