Volume 28, Issue 2, 2018
Spinoza’s Defense of Dynamic and Inclusive Democracy
Spinoza’s defense of a dynamic democracy arises from his account of finite beings, and shifts from finite beings to ever more complex bodies, such as the human individual and the artificial individual of the state. In this account, he challenges political authority to be responsive to the insight that our power arises out of rather than in spite of our multiplicity. Spinoza’s conception of social power provides a critical understanding of democratic organization that requires the incorporation of marginalized voices. In this essay, I argue that Spinoza’s defense of democracy sets the framework for political theorizing that rejects hierarchical structures of domination and demands substantial inclusivity in the service of empowered and peaceful social relations. In conceiving autonomy relationally and individual power collectively, Spinoza poses a critical challenge to the contemporary models of democracy and social orders that resist rather than harness the strength of social multiplicity in the preservation of empowered peace.