Democracy in What State?

Democracy in What State?

by Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Daniel Bensaid, Wendy Brown
     
 

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"Is it meaningful, as far as you are concerned, to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?" In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy and its critical weaknesses. They also reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense

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Overview

"Is it meaningful, as far as you are concerned, to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?" In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy and its critical weaknesses. They also reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, while Jacques Rancière highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Žižek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who hope to do without it.

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Editorial Reviews

Todd May

Democracy in What State? is timely, represents a wide variety of thinkers, and displays the political themes that are of concern to these thinkers. This allows the reader not only to have access to a general progressive critique of current political practice but also to compare different approaches to progressive thought and action, particularly (although not exclusively) in the contemporary French scene. If I saw it on a bookstore shelf, I would undoubtedly reach for it with one hand while reaching for my wallet with the other.

Muslim World Book Review

The slim but hugely incisive volume, Democracy in What State?, in which well-known intellectuals articulate their radical critique of the democratic theory, its philosophical impasse and its logical conundrums, provides a convenient access to the current debate on democratic theory and its discontents.

Marx and Philosophy Review of Books

A timely and thought-provoking collection that shows that radical thinking and the politics of dissent are more than ever necessary in order to create a different kind of politics. Perhaps what most makes this book admirable is its attempt to start the dialogue that will rattle the sacrosanct cage of liberal democratic thinking.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231152983
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
01/17/2011
Series:
New Directions in Critical Theory Series
Pages:
144
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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What People are saying about this

Gabriel Rockhill

Democracy in What State? is an extremely significant contribution to the critical debate on the current state of world politics and, more specifically, on the role of the term democracy in political theory and practice. It includes invited contributions and interviews with a battery of intellectuals of a rare conceptual pedigree, including some of the most well-known living European philosophers, as well as the welcome contribution of two renowned American intellectuals.

Todd May

Democracy in What State? is timely, represents a wide variety of thinkers, and displays the political themes that are of concern to these thinkers. This allows the reader not only to have access to a general progressive critique of current political practice but also to compare different approaches to progressive thought and action, particularly (although not exclusively) in the contemporary French scene. If I saw it on a bookstore shelf, I would undoubtedly reach for it with one hand while reaching for my wallet with the other.

Todd May, Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of the Humanities, Clemson University

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