Die Nötigung zur Öffnung

„Demokratische Iteration“, Öffentlichkeit und praktische Notwendigkeit


  • Viktor Kempf


Öffentlichkeit, Migrationsgesellschaft, Neo- und Postnationalismus, immanente Kritik, systematisch verzerrte Kommunikation

Key words:

Public Sphere, Transnationalization, Neo- and Post-Nationalism, Immanent Critique, Systematically Distorted Communication


English version

Seyla Benhabib’s concept of “democratic iteration” is able to truly reconcile the principle of popular sovereignty with moral claims of migrants. She is successful in philosophically doing this work of reconciliation inasmuch as “democratic iteration” is understood by her as an ongoing process of deliberation and contestation within the public sphere. The concept of the public sphere is crucial here, because, understood properly, the latter denotes a constitutively open realm of communication in which discourses about the democratic “we” of “the people” always already involve the voice of “the other”. The constitutive openness of the public sphere has already been theorized by John Dewey, Hannah Arendt, and Jürgen Habermas, who thereby begin to expose the transnational dimension that is from the beginning implied and aspired by the concept of the public sphere. Against the backdrop of recent attempts to reinforce borders of all kind against migration, the question emerges whether the concept of the public sphere is more than just a normative ideal that is ultimately powerless vis-à-vis those developments. This article argues that this is not the case, because the concept of the public sphere can be reconstructed as an idea in a Hegelian sense. That means that one can reconstruct a necessitation to open up that is immanent to social praxis itself and that can only be suppressed by causing disintegrating effects. By bringing together insights from communication theory (Habermas) and radical democracy (Rancière), I am going to demonstrate that the practical necessity to open up is caused by (post-)migrant counterpublics. This necessitation in turn is objectified by the crisis-prone structure of “systematically distorted communication” (Habermas) that is brought about by attempts of maintaining the exclusion of those counterpublics.



Kempf, V. (2022). Die Nötigung zur Öffnung: „Demokratische Iteration“, Öffentlichkeit und praktische Notwendigkeit. Zeitschrift für Praktische Philosophie, 9(1), 41–76. https://doi.org/10.22613/zfpp/9.1.2