PUBLICATION DATE

2015-11-27

AUTHORS

Dan Demetriou

TITLE

Civic Immortality: The Problem of Civic Honor in Africa and the West

ISSUE

3

VOLUME

19

ISSN (print)

1382-4554

ISSN (electronic)

1572-8609

ABSTRACT

From Thomas Hobbes to Steven Pinker, it is often remarked that cultures of honor are destabilizing and especially dangerous to liberal institutions. This essay sharpens that criticism into two objections: one saying honor cultures encourage tyranny, and another accusing them of undermining rule of law. Since these concerns manifest differently in established as opposed to fledgling liberal democracies, I appeal to Western and African examples both to motivate and allay these worries. I contend that a culture of civic honor is perfectly capable of offering those with soaring ambitions all the civic distinction they could hope for—including civic immortality—without tempting them to seize undemocratic levels of power. And as for rule of law and public order, an “irrationally” defiant response to the indignity of state-sanctioned oppression has often animated citizens to resist illiberal regimes despite great peril. Thus, cultures of civic honor are not only compatible with, but sometimes necessary to, founding and maintaining liberal institutions.

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1 articles:822023b3f42a22066567419278848666 sg:abstract Abstract From Thomas Hobbes to Steven Pinker, it is often remarked that cultures of honor are destabilizing and especially dangerous to liberal institutions. This essay sharpens that criticism into two objections: one saying honor cultures encourage tyranny, and another accusing them of undermining rule of law. Since these concerns manifest differently in established as opposed to fledgling liberal democracies, I appeal to Western and African examples both to motivate and allay these worries. I contend that a culture of civic honor is perfectly capable of offering those with soaring ambitions all the civic distinction they could hope for—including civic immortality—without tempting them to seize undemocratic levels of power. And as for rule of law and public order, an “irrationally” defiant response to the indignity of state-sanctioned oppression has often animated citizens to resist illiberal regimes despite great peril. Thus, cultures of civic honor are not only compatible with, but sometimes necessary to, founding and maintaining liberal institutions.
2 sg:articleType OriginalPaper
3 sg:coverYear 2015
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20 sg:language English
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22 sg:pageEnd 276
23 sg:pageStart 257
24 sg:publicationDate 2015-11-27
25 sg:publicationYear 2015
26 sg:publicationYearMonth 2015-11
27 sg:scigraphId 822023b3f42a22066567419278848666
28 sg:title Civic Immortality: The Problem of Civic Honor in Africa and the West
29 sg:volume 19
30 sg:webpage https://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10892-015-9206-5
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