In Praise of Rebellion: Constituent Power, Democracy, and the American Revolution
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There seems to be a consensus today that representative democracy is facing a period of severe crisis. Contemporary scholars and popular commentators from the most diverse backgrounds and political leanings seem to agree with this diagnosis. Voting, party membership, trust in politicians, and interest in mainstream politics, the most celebrated indicators of political scientists to measure representative democracy’s “health,” are all under great stress in several countries. However, a closer look at the history of what we today call “representative democracy” would reveal that the current crisis (although perhaps one of the most severe) is not really original. On the contrary, representative politics has been time and again plagued by the explosion of crisis. To address this vexing question, this dissertation adopts the following strategy. Initially, it situates its analysis within the context of the American Revolution. Since the American Revolution represents one of the most important events for the emergence of the project of “representative democracy,” the examination of aspects of this episode can provide insight for understanding the frequent crises of representative politics more generally. In addition, this dissertation examines the dispute over the concept of constituent power (and democracy) that erupted throughout the American Revolution between the Federalists and the dissident strands of the Revolution. The investigation of this dispute has two main goals. The first is to present an alternative path for the dominant view on constituent power (and democracy). The second is to provide insights for the reflections on the limits of representative democracy. On this latter point, I argue that the alternative perspective of constituent power can function as a potent tool to address the recurrent crisis of democracy.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/23845
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