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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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Transgression, Equality, and Voice

Transgression, Equality, and Voice

(p.53) Chapter 3 Transgression, Equality, and Voice
Fugitive Democracy

Sheldon S. Wolin

, Nicholas Xenos
Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the question of what kind of democracy it is where equal rights are formally guaranteed but where wealth and power are no less concentrated than poverty and powerlessness. It does so by way of a contrast between Athenian democracy, in which the demos was the major actor, and a democracy called “electoral democracy,” or a democracy without the demos. It argues that contemporary democracy contradicts Aristotle's fundamental principle for identifying the distinctive character of a democratic politeia, that each citizen should be on an equality with the rest. Moreover, contemporary democracies are also in contradiction with modern conceptions of democracy, as seen in the adoption of popular sovereignty as its first or defining principle.

Keywords:   Athenian democracy, electoral democracy, unequal treatment, political theory, equal rights, demos, equality, soveriegnty

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