The Pretense of Consent
What terms of engagement are appropriate for people who don’t even agree on what terms of engagement are appropriate? The question is not cute. It’s a real question at heart of human condition. So many theories represent political authority as grounded in consent, which leads them to define consent in insufferably attenuated and abstract ways. By contrast, if we start with actual politics—from the idea that disagreement is an inevitably central feature of our lives together—then the objective becomes to make it safe to live among people with whom we fundamentally disagree. On this view, the point of politics is not to reach consensus so much as to create realms where people are not a threat to each other, and in which minding one’s own business is a concretely available and genuinely palatable option.