This course focuses on the concept of radical democracy. It will introduce students to various formulations of the radical democratic project (absolute democracy, true democracy, agonistic democracy, constituent democracy, democracy to come, etc...) and examine debates over the radical content and meaning of democracy. Although the main emphasis is on the modern advent of democracy brought about by universal suffrage, popular mobilization, the collapse of ultimate foundations, and the experience of contingency, the course will also engage with ancient discussions on the incipient tension between democracy and authority, freedom and its excesses, equality and difference, power and law. Thus, along with the ancient accusation that democracy is anarchy, we will scrutinize the modern encounter between democratic and revolutionary politics. Thus, we will consider the promises and paradoxes of sovereignty and collective self-rule; the tense and contested relationship between democracy understood as a form of government and as a practice of resistance to domination; being versus becoming, that is, the conflict between state and democracy. We will discuss the challenge of representation and the problem of the scope and limitations of democratic action as articulated in constitutional language. Finally, the course will explore the challenges posed by pluralism, capitalism, and globalization and investigate the dilemmas of exclusion by probing into at the possibilities de-territorialized citizenship and the transnational democracy form below. Readings include Plato, Spinoza, Locke, Paine, Hamilton, Madison, Marx, Lenin, Schmitt, Castoriadis, Lefort, Ranciere, Abensour, Laclau and Mouffe, Derrida, Wolin, and Negri.
This course is co-taught with Professor Stathis Gourgouris, Columbia University and its location will rotate weekly. Registration is limited and by permission only.