Friday 6 November 2020

Northeastern Political Science Association 52nd Annual Conference

The 52nd Annual Conference of Northeastern Political Science Association goes virtual on Saturday, November 7, 2020. I will have a lecture in Theory and Politics Today panel on November 7, 3:45 to 5:15pm EST (9:45 to 11:15pm CET).

Ever since the time of Plato and Aristotle, political philosophers have wrestled with the political, social and economic issues of their days as they sought to define a better polity. Drawing on scholars from ancient and classical political thought, American political thought, and modern political thought, this panel will apply theory to politics today.

Chair: Jonathan Keller, Manhattan College
Discussant: Andreas Avgousti, Simon Fraser University

Forgotten Conservatives: The Liberty League and the Origins of Modern American Conservatism
Aaron Quinn Weinstein, Fairfield University

Aristotle’s Defense of the Multitude, Reconsidered
John Hungerford, Two Six Labs

Religious Toleration or Religious Freedom? John Locke’s Debate with Edward Bagshaw
Tianhong Ying,  Michigan State University

The Mortality of Republics: The Fragility of Freedom in American Republicanism
Christopher Brennan, Columbia University

The Rise of Executive Power: Authoritarian Populism and Unitary Executive Theory
Attila Antal, Eötvös Loránd University


There is an emergence of executive power in the world which means on the one hand that the executive power is extremely strengthened, on the other hand the theory of separation of powers has totally been redesigned and this has a huge impact on the landscape of democracy. I am arguing here that the contemporary strengthening of executive power cannot be seen as the classic presidentialization in normal state of the politics, because the governments and their leaders are about to create a new political landscape in which politics is not subordinated to the law. It is interesting that the reconfiguration of executive power has become dominant at the period on both sides of the Atlantic. In the USA the Unitary Executive Theory (UET) tried to justify the expansion of presidential power, in Europe and other parts of the world the rise of right-wing Authoritarian Populism (AP) reinforced the political leaders. In this paper the theoretical bases of UET and the AP are investigated and the main common theoretical foundation here is Carl Schmitt and his theory on the political sovereignty and the state of exception. Given these facts, UET and AP has been investigated here in the framework of presidentialization in the time of state of exception. I am trying to critically investigate the rise of the executive branch in the West is held in the framework of democracy and in the East this phenomenon is blamed as a new rise of totalitarianism. I will point out that expansion of executive power is an inevitable danger, because the representative and parliamentary democracy has become empty by that the executive leaders pretend as the main political representative of their political communities. Upon the case of COVID-19 crisis the dangers caused by UET and AP have been reinforced each other, because the governing right-wing populist autocracy is based on executive leadership and the UET cannot be maintained without populism.