Hatred of Democracy (Radical Thinkers)
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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.
means, in this sense, the impurity of politics, the challenging of governments’ claims to embody the sole principle of public life and in so doing be able to circumscribe the understanding and extension of public life. If there is a ‘limitlessness’ specific to democracy, then that’s exactly where it lies: not in the exponential multiplication of needs or of desires emanating from individuals, but in the movement that ceaselessly displaces the limits of the public and the private, of the political
obligations that difference entails: why raise women differently to men, or separately, for different professions? Put them all together in the same system, and in the same scientific, historical and geographical broth, in the same exercises and make the same careers available to them equally … The anonymous individual, asexual, without ancestors, without traditions, without milieu, without bonds of any sort, this – as Taine had foreseen – is the man of false democracy, the one who votes and
chose publique by a solid alliance of State oligarchy and economic oligarchy. We see why those who despise ‘democratic individualism’ do not reproach this system of predation of the public interest and public goods for anything. In fact, these forms of over-consumption of public functions do not come within the province of democracy. The evils of which our ‘democracies’ suffer are primarily evils related to the insatiable appetite of oligarchs. We do not live in democracies. Neither, as certain
more weight in the forming of public opinion, though the ambitions of some were not to be contented merely with the number of places on offer, and others never saw the interest the government professed to have in their ideas translated into concrete measures. This group today remains firmly in place; it is integrated into the managing of dominant opinion, and omnipresent in the media, though without any influence on the government’s decisions – showered with benefits, it is humiliated in its
inegalitarian form of relation obtaining between the one who knows and the one who learns. It was imperative, then, to reaffirm the vocation of School that had been historically embodied in the republican School of Jules Ferry.19 The debate therefore seemed to bear on the forms of inequality and the means for achieving equality. The terms of the debate were nonetheless very ambiguous. That the standard-bearing book for this tendency was De l’École by Jean-Claude Milner attests to this ambiguity.