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Fugitive DemocracyAnd Other Essays$
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Sheldon S. Wolin and Nicholas Xenos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691133645

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691133645.001.0001

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Agitated Times

Agitated Times

Chapter:
(p.438) Chapter 25 Agitated Times
Source:
Fugitive Democracy
Author(s):

Sheldon S. Wolin

, Nicholas Xenos
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691133645.003.0025

This chapter discusses the notion of agitation. Agitation suggests a politics of premeditated spontaneity and of varying but controlled tempos. However, this represents an older understanding, one that is close to the cooptation and normalization of agitation, agitation as the contrived outrage of orthodoxy. A contemporary conception might evade cooptation by adopting an understanding of agitation as inspired intervention, sudden, short-lived, dramatic, disruptive, unco-optable. But does this last conception, in its concern to avoid entrapment in institutional processes, deprive action of any staying-power and of democratic legitimacy? The chapter then attempts to clarify what is at stake by contrasting two ideal-types of politics and their tempos. One conception represents agitation as disruptive, energetic intervention whose results include a large element of the unpredictable and perhaps some element of the anarchic; the other is represented by an ideal of action as orderly, stylized, shaped, and limited by prescribed processes, procedures, even time-tables, that are designed to produce predictable (i.e., consistent) decisions or results.

Keywords:   mass protests, demonstrations, political theory, democracy, agitation

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