In this book review symposium, Jan Biba, Jeffrey Edward Green and John P. McCormick take on the work of democratic theorist, Nadia Urbinati. In Democracy Disfigured: Opinion, Truth and the People, Urbinati argues for what she calls a ‘diarchic’ conception of democracy, whereby opinion and will formation must not collapse into one another (hence diarchy rather than mono-archy). This has implications for how we think about issues such as representation and pluralism. It also means that Urbinati is sceptical of populism, whether of the left or the right. The problem with populism is that opinion and will formation collapse in the figure of the people. Accordingly, for Urbinati, the people can and should be understood as a plurality, as never one with itself and only existing through representations of it. Her argument also has implications for the question of equality. As she argues, in a diarchic version of democracy, political equality is to be valued very highly, and she argues for the importance of campaign finance reform. Thus, with Urbinati’s diarchic democracy we get a conception of democracy that is liberal, pluralist and representative, but also highly critical of actually existing forms of democracy.
Published in European Political Science, Advance Online Publication, 20 March 2015, http://www.palgrave-journals.com/eps/journal/vaop/ncurrent/index.html#20032015
Contents of the Symposium:
(1) Lasse Thomassen, ‘Introduction: democracy disfigured’, European Political Science advance online publication 20 March 2015; doi: 10.1057/eps.2015.12, www.palgrave-journals.com/eps/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/eps201512a.html
(2) Jan Biba, ‘Ιs representative democracy without disfiguration possible?’, European Political Science advance online publication 20 March 2015; doi: 10.1057/eps.2015.13, www.palgrave-journals.com/eps/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/eps201513a.html
(3) Jeffrey Edward Green, ‘Figuring out democracy’, European Political Science advance online publication 20 March 2015; doi: 10.1057/eps.2015.14, www.palgrave-journals.com/eps/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/eps201514a.html
(4) John P. McCormick, ‘Nadia Urbinati’s polemical defence of representative democracy: populism, athenian democracy and roman republicanism’, European Political Science advance online publication 20 March 2015; doi: 10.1057/eps.2015.15, www.palgrave-journals.com/eps/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/eps201515a.html
(5) Nadia Urbinati, ‘An answer to my critics’, European Political Science advance online publication 20 March 2015; doi: 10.1057/eps.2015.16, www.palgrave-journals.com/eps/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/eps201516a.html