Democracy Against Representation: A Radical Realist View

by Paul Raekstad

Abstract: 

In recent years, radical movements from the Arab Spring to Occupy and beyond have been calling for “democracy.” These movements also claim to reject representation—a keystone of many contemporary liberal understandings of democracy. How can we make sense of this? There is ongoing debate about this in these movements and their descendants, part of which consists in figuring out what we should take “democracy” to mean. This article tries to contribute to this process of collective self-clarification by reconstructing one notion of what we could take “democracy” to mean. Thereafter, we will see how we can use this concept to make sense of the critique of representation in many contemporary radical movements and how useful it can be for helping to guide social change and the practices seeking to bring it about. I will thus argue that a coherent conception of democracy can be found, and that it can be a powerful tool both for understanding and critiquing the shortcomings of contemporary societies and for guiding our efforts to overcome them.

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Lively Up the Dead Zone: Remembering democracy’s racist state crimes (Ashe)

– by Janine Jones –
A critique of political thinking in Africana thought brings us to a crossroads. At this intersection, passing trajectories meet. Moving in opposite directions, they send contradictory messages concerning democracy, racism, and political violence. One trajectory pursues the accomplishments of Africana intellectual, artistic, economic, and political elites… The other trajectory tracks the misery of local and global black masses. It also traces minority group repression by global capitalism, as well as the potential and real possibilities of racial democracies through state violence and neglect. The intersection of these two diverging lines produces a conceptual dead zone, one that is marked by the absence of analysis engaging antiblack racism and genocide in Western democracies and the resilience of elite thinkers to disavow such analyses.

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Authoritarianism in America: A Call for Resistance

– by Henry A. Giroux –
Authoritarianism has now become viral in America, spreading its toxic ideology into every facet of American life. The threat of totalitarianism with its legions of alt-right political zombies has now exposed itself, without apology, knowing full well that it no longer has to code or apologize for its hatred of all those who do not fit into its white-supremacist and ultra-nationalist script.

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