13.2 Displacement of Individualist Liberty through Feminist Republican Reconstruction of Intersectional Political Liberty

Dr. Jackie F. Steele

This Roman republican form of intersectional feminism proposes a rejection of the hyper-individualist liberal interpretation of liberty towards a holistic eco-system approach for designing a praxis of co-authoritative, and radically representative self-determination of and by an intersectionally diverse political community. In so doing, representative democratic institutions from local to national would be seen as the symbolic performative evidence of the ethos and praxis of democratic liberty and self-government. Distinct from most gender/politics scholars (Mansbridge, 1999; Mouffe, 1993, 2005; Philips, 1998; Williams, 1998; Young, 1998) who prefer the use of voluntary quotas, I argue in favour of legal power-sharing mechanisms as the proscriptive solution with democratic legitimacy to ethically institutionalize egalitarian power-sharing relations as a means of reconstructing an ethical use and praxis of personal and public liberty in service to the political community and its constituent parts (Steele, 2009; 2014b).

Grounded upon democratic foundations favouring the fair and equal access of all core stakeholder groups to contribute to the competition of ideas generating our public policies and our holistic rules of togetherness, I suggest that the rule of law can and must be used to intentionally break up the corruption, collusion, and nepotistic hegemonies that hold our public offices and our parliaments hostage to pre-democratic status-privileges. The use of intersectional, power-distributing legal quotas mechanisms is the democratic solution we have avoided, I suggest, due to liberal assumptions that political liberty was “present” if there was “less government interference” (Steele, 2009). This has left our most sacred political competitions largely unregulated by democratic law. Advocacy of this “deregulated space” has been defended by political party leaders who would prefer to retain complete and selfish license to choose not from the full intersectional diversity of human excellence and experience present within the population, but from the narrow and nepotistic social affinity groups who support the private agendas and partisan control of existing party elites over the levers governance.

This is an untenable position that Machiavelli would describe as “corrupt” because allowing “private interests” to take precedence over the ethical role of electoral offices being used in the service of public liberty, and therefore of parliamentary institutions being taken hostage in ways that prevents open and free competition of ideas sourced from all constituent and co-authoritative parts of the political community as co-equal and co-authoritative voices of liberty. Through intersectional feminist electoral systems designs, we can implement a legally-binding diversification strategy that intentionally displaces anti-democratic manifestations of informal social power that cannibalize the sanctity of our political parties and our parliamentary institutions. As the intermediaries of electoral democracy, this radical democratization of democratic institutions and of the political parties gatekeeping access to political representation as a site of public liberty would pave the way for a radically self-representative democratic politics.

In its place, we would instead begin to see public performances of intersectional power-sharing, self-advocacy, and self-representation as a sacred practice of liberty that is both personal and publicly constituted. In the realization of this model of intersectional feminist republican liberty as self-government, the vigorous competition of ideas that animates elections every 4–5 years would no longer be exceptional. It would be the mere continuation of the robust and agonic competition of ideas animating all self-determining decision-making bodies and spaces across heterogeneous publics as a matter of general practice of relational, civic liberty. These very practices of co-authoritative self-determination would continue until the point at which the old anti-democratic norms will have lost all meaning against the reconstructive practices of substantive co-authority, co-equal voice, and political liberty invested anew in all types of diverse bodies, in all previously disenfranchised social groups, and all forms of corporeal liberty constitutive of the political community.

All types of diverse corporealities would be “normalized” as having ethical, legal, and moral standing as “the good representative” (Dovi, 2012) within such a political community. As a displacement politics that radically constitutes political equality through public practices of co-authoritative self-representation, this feminist republican reconstruction of relational political liberty would normalize power-sharing modalities of political representation as the regulated, democratic praxis of self-determination and public liberty. This praxis of relational and intersectional political liberty would become supported in all power-sharing modalities of self-representation, within all levels of electoral competition, from local to national, as well as within all heterogeneous publics and deliberative decision-making bodies. It would discursively and materially displace the purchase of liberal-individualist “liberty” by offering a democratically dynamic and substantively emancipatory process of de/reconstructive late modern representative democratic politics.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Political Ideologies and Worldviews: An Introduction Copyright © 2021 by Dr. Jackie F. Steele is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book