What militant democrats and technocrats share

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In their efforts to prevent democratic backsliding, militant democrats have traditionally been sympathetic to technocratic arrangements. Does this sympathy imply a logical congruence? Comparing theories of militant democracy and epistemic technocracy (aka epistocracy), I discover a common approach to basic aspects of representative democracy. Both theories see voters as fallible or ignorant instead of capable political agents; and they both understand political parties to be channels of state rule rather than democratic expression. This shared suspicion of grassroots political agency explains why they employ non-democratic means to pursue their goals. But the two theories appear to be also analytically co-extensive. Like militant democrats, epistemic technocrats polemicize antidemocrats inasmuch as the latter are proxies for epistemically foul decision-making. Conversely, militant democrats try to block ‘incorrect’ decisions as long as these lead to democratic subversion, thereby producing a distinct type of militant technocracy. The article ends by drawing the implications of this symbiosis of epistemic and militant democratic ideas for contemporary democratic theory.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • political theory, militant democracy, epistocracy, conception of voters, political parties
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (CRISPP)
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020 Jun 16
Publication categoryResearch