Contemporary Political Movements and the Thought of Jacques Rancière

Contemporary Political Movements and the Thought of Jacques Rancière: Equality in Action

Todd May
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 168
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Contemporary Political Movements and the Thought of Jacques Rancière
    Book Description:

    In this book, Todd May shows how democratic progressive politics can happen and how it is happening in very different arenas. He takes an intensive look at a range of contemporary political movements and shows how, to one degree or another, they exemplify the political thought of Jacques Rancière. May's easy, clear writing style means that no philosophical background is required.Following an essential overview of Rancière's thought he considers the following groups: the Algerian refugee movement in Montreal for citizenship, the first Palestinian intifada, the politics of equality and identity politics in relation to the Zapatista movement, a local food co-op in South Carolina and an anarchist press in Oakland.Essentially this book shows how political theory and practice can enlighten one another and in an age of cynicism, fear and despair, Todd May suggests there is hope for the possibility of progressive democratic action. It will appeal to Rancière students, scholars and political activists alike.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4165-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Preface
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. 1 Thinking Politics with Jacques Rancière
    (pp. 1-28)

    It is the task of the left to think and act upon democracy. In many ways, it has always been the task of the left to do so, even though we have often failed at that task. Conservatism by its nature seeks to resist change, or at best to allow change to happen slowly. Change, for conservatives, must always happen within the parameters of tradition. But democracy has never been on the side of tradition. Tradition favors those in power. Democracy is about everyone, not simply those in power. Democracy almost always is a challenge to tradition. That is why...

  5. 2 Equality among the Refugees: Montréal’s Sans-Statuts Algerian Movement
    (pp. 29-45)

    On May 12, 2002, three or four dozen people gathered in a small hall in Montréal. They heard several speakers discuss the recent years of their lives. One of those speakers was a young woman named Amel, who had three children. She had arrived in Montréal in 1999, during the height of the Algerian civil war. Like thousands of other Algerians, she had asked for refugee status. She explained to the gathering that, “I had two addresses in Blida, two of my children were born in Algiers. I lived in Blida but my passport was issued in Algiers. This sufficed...

  6. 3 Subjectification in the First Palestinian Intifada
    (pp. 46-71)

    For those who have been involved in progressive struggle, there is very little more exciting than to watch an egalitarian movement grow. One can see it on people’s faces. Listlessness and despair give way to hope and a sense of direction. Solidarity replaces gossip and pettiness. People begin to believe in themselves and in one another, not merely to survive but to thrive. The future takes on a new meaning. Involvement in the struggle allows one to see these changes from the inside, even if one is not necessarily a “member” of the struggling group. Although I was not witness...

  7. 4 The Zapatistas: From Identity to Equality
    (pp. 72-100)

    In 1910, campesino leader Emiliano Zapata decided to take up arms against the corrupt Mexican regime of President Porfirio Diaz. Zapata had been campaigning in the south of Mexico for land reform and against Diaz’s economic policies, which concentrated land in the hands of large landowners. He adopted the slogan “land and liberty” (tierra y libertad). Mexican campesinos needed land to work and freedom from state policies that disenfranchised them. These demands were codified in the Plan de Ayala, a document that called for free elections and return of land from the landowners to local municipalities and the campesinos who...

  8. 5 Institutions of Equality
    (pp. 101-133)

    Progressive movements have a mixed history of creating change. Sometimes they do, other times they don’t. Often they create a lesser change than the one they had envisioned. Workers around the world fought for socialism; they got better hours and better pay. Women are in the labor force and in the public space (at least in some countries), but the limitations of what they are permitted remain evident. African Americans can vote, but economic equality eludes them.

    It should not be surprising that progressive movements often fail, or that their gains are only partial. After all, progressive struggles are struggles...

  9. 6 Democratic Politics Now
    (pp. 134-160)

    We come now to the question that has driven this book. It is a question that haunts our time. What, if any, possibilities are there for a democratic politics? In an age of dispersed globalization, where can our hope for democratic movements lie? How can we create them, or at least, where and how can they be created? In short, can there be a democratic politics in the time in which we live?

    It may seem that we have already answered these questions, insofar as they can be answered. Can there be a democratic politics? Yes. We have seen examples...

  10. Index
    (pp. 161-162)