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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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Norm and Form

Norm and Form

The Constitutionalizing of Democracy

Chapter:
(p.77) Chapter 4 Norm and Form
Source:
Fugitive Democracy
Author(s):

Sheldon S. Wolin

, Nicholas Xenos
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691133645.003.0004

This chapter considers the political uses of “democracy” in relation to two diametrically opposed notions that symbolize two equally opposed states of affairs. One is the settled structure of politics and governmental authority typically called a constitution, and the other is the unsettling political movement typically called revolution. Constitution signifies the suppression of revolution, while revolution signifies the destruction of constitution. The two notions, though opposed, are connected by democracy. The English revolution of 1688, the American one of 1776, and the French of 1789 are generally considered major milestones on the road to modern democracy. The first two have long been interpreted as culminating in constitutional settlements that, in effect, justified and fulfilled the prior revolutions. In contrast, the French continue to look back on their revolutionary past with far more ambivalence than either the British or Americans.

Keywords:   democracy, constitution, revolution, political theory

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