Keywords: democracy, contemporary political theories, civil engagement, value-freedom (Wertfreiheit).
The point in common of mainstream political theory over last decades has been the discussion on John Rawls' A Theory of Justice. But neo-contractualism, communitarism, multiculturalism, republicanism and libertarianism do not seem to offer frameworks that are useful for addressing the return of forms of plebiscitary authoritarianism, masked under the veil of forms of democracy closer to its citizens. The call for «civic engagement» that characterizes these theories echoes like a declaration of powerlessness. If value-freedom is to stay the point of reference of scholars, it should not become a pretext for closing one's eyes on the mortal risks that open societies confront. The author questions whether we should not abandon the rhetoric of civic virtues and go back to the thought of Marx and Foucault for a better understanding of our time.