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Volume 13, Issue 1, Spring/Printemps 2009

Todd May
Pages 3-21

Democracy is Where We Make It
The Relevance of Jacques Rancière

How might we think about equality in a non-hierarchical fashion? How might equality be conceived with some degree of equality? The problem with the presupposition of liberalism is that, by distributing equality, liberals place most people at the receiving end of the political operation. There are those who distribute equality and those who receive it. Once you start with that assumption, the hierarchy is already in place. It’s too late to return to equality. Equality, instead of being the result of a political process, must be conceived as the presupposition of those who act. It must be the expression of political actors rather than the possession of a political hierarchy. In the formulation of Jacques Rancière, whose ideas form the framework of my thinking in this paper, “Politics only happens when these mechanisms are stopped in their tracks by the effect of a presupposition that is totally foreign to them yet without which none of them could ultimately function: the presupposition of the equality of anyone and everyone.”

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