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Hatred of Democracy

“A piercing essay on the definitions and redefinitions of the term ‘democracy.’”– Times Higher Education Supplement
In this vehement defence of democracy, Jacques Rancière explodes the complacency of Western politicians who pride themselves as the defenders of political freedom. As America and its allies use their military might in the misguided attempt to export a desiccated version democracy, and reactionary strands in mainstream political opinion abandon civil liberties, Rancière argues that true democracy—government by all—is held in profound contempt by the new ruling class. In a compelling and timely analysis, Hatred of Democracy rethinks the subversive power of the democratic ideal.

Reviews

  • “This tastily sardonic essay is partly a scholarly sprint through the history of political philosophy, and partly a very enjoyable stream of insults directed at rival penseurs.”
  • “A piercing essay on the definitions and redefinitions of the term ‘democracy.’”
  • “In our time of the disorientation of the left, Rancière’s writings offer one the few consistent conceptualizations of how are to continue to resist.”

Blog

  • Representation Against Democracy: Jacques Rancière on the French Presidential Elections

    For the philosopher Jacques Rancière, France’s strange presidential election campaign is no surprise. He thinks that a French system that entrusts all power to professional politicians mechanically churns out candidates who claim to represent a "clean break." Éric Aeschimann spoke to Rancière for the 9–15 March 2017 edition of L’Obs. Translated by David Broder.


    Emmanuel Macron at a March 2017 press conference. 

    From François Hollande’s decision not to stand, to François Fillon’s legal woes, the current presidential campaign has been a succession of dramatic twists. And you, Jacques Rancière, are a unique observer of this spectacle. For years you have denounced the impasses of representative democracy, which you see as incapable of producing a genuine democracy. How would you analyse what is happening?

    "Representative democracy" is a more than ambiguous term. It conveys the false idea of an already-constituted people that expresses itself by choosing its representatives. Yet the people is not a given that pre-exists the political process: rather, it is the result of this process. This or that political system creates this or that people, rather than the other way around. Besides, the representative system is founded on the idea that there is a class in society that represents the general interests of society. In the minds of the American founding fathers, that was the class of enlightened landowners. This system creates a people that identifies its legitimate representatives as coming from within this class, periodically reconfirming as much at the ballot box. The representative system gradually became an affair for professionals, who then reproduced themselves. But in so doing this system generated its own reverse, the mythical idea of a people not represented by these professionals and aspiring to provide itself with representatives who really do incarnate it. This is the piece of theatre — of constantly declining quality — that each election now reproduces.

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  • Jacques Rancière and Étienne Balibar: Solidarity with the Tolbiac Occupation

    Jacques Rancière and Étienne Balibar expressed their solidarity with students protesting Hollande's labour reforms. The students have occupied the Tolbiac Faculty of the Pantheon-Sorbonne University since 22nd March. Workers, Students, High-Schoolers, Intellectuals – All Together!

    A convergence of struggles, and a meeting of minds as well. Such was the dual constellation shining over Wednesday night’s meeting at the Tolbiac Faculty [in Paris, occupied by students since 22 March]. 

    Two of the messages that were read out particularly caught the attention of the packed-out auditorium: those sent by Jacques Rancière and Étienne Balibar. 

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  • "Time is nothing other than intervention"—Jacques Rancière on Alain Badiou’s Being and Event

    Jacques Rancière, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris-VIII, provides a critical analysis of Alain Badiou's classic work Being and Event. Rancière's books include: The Intellectual and His PeopleStaging the People, and The Emancipated Spectator.


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