A Politics of Dissensus
Edited by Barbara Saunders, David Haljan
The attempt to make democratic processes more inclusive has led to the problematic notion of "multiculturalism." It is based on a new principle that 'all voices should be heard' and 'equal respect' has become the irreducible core of the liberal state. However mere dialogue is not enough. First, it tends to privilege those who are already privileged. To change this needs active, exploratory listening that is allowed to challenge everyone's picture of the world. Second, since the tensions and ambiguities are here to stay, practical ways to cope and negotiate have to be found, although it's not at all clear what is involved.
The contributors to this volume explore both dimensions and in particular point to what it means when the language game of dialogicality meets its limit. However, as they point out, the limits are not absolute, but can be the entry to more complex language-games. The authors in this volume, from Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and Britain bring a vast repertoire of resources and interpretative frames to bear on the task of opening up what might be understood by the political-ethical-aesthetic notion of 'multiculturalism'. In these contributions one can hear a plea for an enhanced conception of democratic dialogue, for the need to embrace different ontological aesthetic-moral assumptions, and for an ethics and politics which are more generous and receptive.