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The Constructivist Turn in Political Representation$
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Lisa Disch, Mathijs van de Sande, and Nadia Urbinati

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442602

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442602.001.0001

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Don Alejandro’s fantasy: radical democracy and the negative concept of representation

Don Alejandro’s fantasy: radical democracy and the negative concept of representation

(p.141) 9 Don Alejandro’s fantasy: radical democracy and the negative concept of representation
The Constructivist Turn in Political Representation

Oliver Marchart

Edinburgh University Press

Starting from a short story by Borges, this chapter discusses the role that representation may play in a project of radical democracy, defined as a ‘collective will’ aiming at expanding the democratic horizon of freedom, equality and solidarity, as established in the democratic revolution. It is radical not in the sense of referring, with these terms, to a particular ground or foundation of democracy, but to the ultimate absence of such ground. This implies that we have to see radical democracy as an emancipatory project of expanding the democratic idea of representation – as a relation of mediacy and self-alienation – to more and more social fields. The chapter takes its lead from Claude Lefort, Ernesto Laclau and Frank Ankersmit, to claim that representation should be understood as, precisely, a relation of non-identity between represented and representative, as only then it attests to the ultimately ungroundable nature of the democratic regime. These points are exemplified by analyses of the case of Bosnia, where the democratic, non-identitarian form of representation was replaced by an identitarian one, and that of the anti-representational ideology of the assembly movement of 2011, which fell into the self-delusionary trap of a fantasy of presence and immediacy.

Keywords:   Claude Lefort, Ernesto Laclau, Frank Ankersmit, Radical democracy, Borges, Bosnia, Assembly movement, Political representation

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