Hatred of Democracy

A vehement defense of the principle of democracy against neoconservative repression.
Jacques Rancière argues that 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, Rancière 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 rethinks the subversive power of this democratic ideal.


  • “Ranciere critiques the political stance in the west that pours scorn on mass protests and popular culture at home, yet promotes the spread of democracy by force throughout the world. ... But Ranciere eschews polemic in order to show the confusion in our political discourse. He challenges what he sees as the widely held view that democratic life is synonymous with 'the apolitical life of the indifferent consumer.'”
  • “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' ... the present catastrophe in Iraq provides more than ample proof of Ranciere's bold assertion that we need to rethink the relationship between democracy and power before setting in motion any more wars in the name of 'freedom'.”
  • “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.”
  • “One of the most compelling thinkers and writers in France since Michel Foucault and Gilles Delueze.”


  • 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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  • Getting Beyond Hatred: An Interview with Jacques Rancière

    The philosopher Jacques Rancière reviews the causes of the identitarian (and more particularly religious) drift we are currently seeing France. This is a catastrophe that must be fought with politics. Interview by Éric Aeschimann, published in L’Obs 28/01/16, translated by David Broder.

    One year after the Charlie Hebdo shootings and two months after the attack on the Bataclan, how do you see the state of French society? Are we at war?

    The official discourse says that we are at war because a hostile power is waging war against us. The attacks perpetrated in Paris are interpreted as the operations carried out by detachments executing acts of war for the enemy, in our own country. The question is one of knowing who this enemy is. The government has opted for Bush’s logic, that of a war that is simultaneously both total (aimed at the destruction of the enemy) and circumscribed to a precise target, namely the Islamic State. But according to a different response, related by certain intellectuals, Islam has declared war on us, and is implementing a global plan to impose its own law across the planet. These two logics converge insofar as in fighting Daesh the government has to mobilise a national feeling, which is an anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment. The word ‘war’ itself speaks to this conjunction.

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Other books by Jacques Rancière Translated by Steve Corcoran