Hatred of Democracy
Jacques Ranciere was a student of Althusser before he famously turned against his mentor; now, he's regarded as one of the major thinkers of our age. In his new book, he examines how the West can no longer simply extol the virtues of democracy by contrasting it with the horrors of totalitarianism.
As certain governments are exporting democracy by brute force, and a reactionary strand in mainstream political opinion is willing to abandon civil liberties and destroy collective values of equality, Ranciere explains how democracy—government by all—attacks any form of power based on the superiority of an elite. Hence the fear, and consequently the hatred, of democracy amongst the new ruling class.
In a compelling and timely analysis, Hatred of Democracy rediscovers the ever-new and subversive power of the democratic idea.
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... as the State devouring society, have quite simply become the properties of
democracy, conceived as society devouring the State. If Hitler, whose major
concern was not to spread democracy, can be seen as the providential agent of
that expansion, this is because what the antidemocrats of today refer to as
democracy is the same thing that yesterday's zealots of 'liberal democracy'
referred to as totalitarianism: the same thing turned upside down. What was only
recently denounced as ...
On the one hand, it meant burying an earlier critique of consumer society, namely
that undertaken in the 1960s and 1970s when pessimistic and critical accounts of
the 'era of opulence' by the likes of J.K. Galbraith or David Riesman were
radicalized by Jean Baudrillard in a Marxist mode. The latter denounced the
illusions of a 'personalization' entirely subjugated to market imperatives, and it
saw in the promises of consumerism the false equality that masked 'absence of
Jacques Rancière. reaffirming the belonging of anyone and everyone to that
incessantly privatized public sphere. This is exactly where the much-commented-
on duality of man and citizen came into play. This duality has been denounced by
critics from Burke to Agamben, via Marx and Hannah Arendt, in the name of a
single logic: if two principles are required for politics instead of only one, it must
be because of some deceit or vice. One of the two principles must be illusory, if
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Rancière produces a theory of democracy that is both constraining and destabilizing. He scathingly counters critics of the unrestrained liberty of democratic politics, of political action without any claim to legitimacy. Rancière claims that those who seek to foundationalize politics in ethics or reason are in fact afraid of unpredictable democracy and if they seek to maintain an illusory authority, then perhaps they should be.
Politics or the Lost Shepherd
Democracy Republic Representation
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