Tag: Democracy

What does ‘the crowd’ Want? Populism and the Origin of Democracy

The liberal critique of the recent rise of populism reveals an uneasiness toward ‘unruly’ emotional crowds and their leaders’ anti-democratic postures – albeit these figures have captured political power through democratic means.[i] Trump, Le Pen, Modi, and Erdogan have indeed stirred nationalist emotions and collective energies in explosive directions. Erdogan’s purge of the Turkish state…

The Podemos Wave


Podemos is is a new kind of party, a movement-party, or rather a party-movement; the end result of a learning process from the South that made it possible to creatively channel the outrage on the streets of Spain. Can a Podemos wave spread to other countries? The countries of Southern Europe are extremely diverse, both…

The Democracy To Come: Notes on the Thought of Jacques Derrida


Key Concept“The democracy to come” (la démocratie à venir) is perhaps the most enduring principle that emerges from Derrida’s later work. This difficult little syntagm is developed in a number of books, articles and interviews, most notably in Spectres of Marx (1993) and The Politics of Friendship (1994), finally given its fullest elaboration in Rogues:…

Saying ‘We’ Again: A Conversation with Jodi Dean on Democracy, Occupy and Communism


Biebricher & Celikates (‘B&C’): You argue that democracy is so intimately tied up with what you call ‘communicative capitalism’ that every attempt from the left to re-appropriate the term, to give it a more radical meaning and to distinguish it from the electoral regimes of representative democracy has to fail. This seems difficult to accept for many people on the left.

Jodi Dean (‘JD’): There are a couple of reasons why I take this position. First, and most broadly, democracy is not a category of contestation anymore. Right and left agree on democracy and use a democratic rhetoric to justify their positions. George Bush claimed to be defending democracy all over the world by bombing all sorts of people. If that is democracy, then that is not a language that the left can use to formulate an egalitarian and emancipatory potential or hope. A second reason, which is a repercussion of the first one, is that democracy is a kind of ambient milieu, it’s the air we breathe, everything is put in terms of democracy nowadays. And this relates to the third reason: the rhetoric of democracy is particularly strong now in the way in which it is combined with the form of capitalism I call ‘communicative capitalism’, where ideals of inclusion and participation, of making one’s voice heard and one’s opinion known are also used by TMobile and Apple. Participation ends up being the answer to everything. If that’s the case, referring to it is not making a cut with our dominant frame, it’s just reinforcing it. If governments and corporations are encouraging one to participate then leftists don’t add one thing that’s not already present if they say that what we need is to make sure that everyone is participating and included—that’s already what we have. For the left to be able to make a break we have to speak a language that is not already the one we’re in.

Civil Disobedience — Between Symbolic Politics and Real Confrontation


Some consider civil disobedience too radical; an attempt to procure political power under the mantle of moral principles or a one-sided renunciation of the duty to obey and uphold the law, and that is not to be tolerated. Citizens in functioning democracies must limit themselves to the legally sanctioned possibilities available to them for expressing dissenting views and influencing the political process. From this perspective, civil disobedience is little more than political blackmail. Others consider it an impotent expression of a reformist yearning for cosmetic changes within the given system; as a socially permissible and harmless protest of well-intentioned citizens that remains purely symbolic and only contributes to stabilizing prevailing relationships.

This essay attempts to show that both of these widespread views fail to fully address the specific characteristics of civil disobedience as a genuinely political and democratic practice of contestation. To present these specifics in detail, it is first necessary to define civil disobedience. Second, I situate this form of political practice between the opposing poles of symbolic politics and real confrontation. In a closing remark, I briefly examine the role of civil disobedience in representative democracies.

The People Cometh: From Popular Existentialism to Anarchy


Abstract The undertaking of this article is to assemble an ethical and political meaning of the people as necessary to any legal order that reputes itself democratic. The challenge is then set to think difference and multiplicity not from legal orders but from the democratic abyss, antagonism not from constitutional law but from constituent power.…

Human Rights for Corporations: The Death of Democracy?


Miraculous you call it babe You ain’t seen nothing yet They’ve got Pepsi in the Andes McDonalds in Tibet (Roger Waters, Amused to Death) In the case of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010) the United States Supreme Court, its highest jurisprudential authority, recognised corporations as persons with human rights, over-ruling…

The End of Politics and the Defence of Democracy


In this month of the ‘Greek passion’ one thing is certain. The country will never be the same again. But while the commentators, academics and ‘experts’ discuss endlessly the economic crisis, the deep political malaise has gone unnoticed. The three ‘waves’ of ‘stability’ measures have befallen Greece like an evil tsunami which will turn the…