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The Rule of the People: Arendt, Archê, and Democracy

  • PATCHEN MARKELL (a1)
Abstract

This article presents a novel critical account of a key concept in democratic theory, “rule,” via an unorthodox interpretation of Hannah Arendt's work. Many theorists treat democracy as one type of regime; others, stressing the importance of unruliness to democratic politics, challenge the reduction of democracy to a form of rule. Although this debate remains caught within conventional oppositions between order, closure, and continuity; and interruption, openness, and novelty, Arendt shows this whole matrix of oppositions to be an artifact of the dominance of a hierarchical understanding of rule. Her unusual critique of rule and her distinctive account of the meaning of “beginning” draw attention to an important dimension of political activity that lies off these axes of opposition, shedding new light on democratic agency and the forces that obstruct it.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Patchen Markell is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago, 5828 South University Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637 (p-markell@uchicago.edu).
References
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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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