Active Equality: Democratic Politics

Todd May

in The Political Thought of Jacques Rancière

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780748635320
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671922 | DOI:
Active Equality: Democratic Politics

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This chapter discusses the work of the French historian and thinker Jacques Rancière in order to build a framework for political thought that relies on active equality rather than passive equality. Rancière reworks the presupposition, and in reworking it, changes its inflection from passive to active. For him, passive equality is not politics; it is policing. Rancière's use of the term police is not exactly the same as Michel Foucault's. Rancière rightly distinguishes between democratic action and the consequences of that action. He often privileges the linguistic character of the intellect when addressing the equality of intelligence. He also offers the equality of intelligence not as a conclusion to an argument, but rather as a starting point for politics. The concept of equality serves as a transhistorical concept in Rancière's work. The African American community of Clemson was unable to operate on the presupposition of equality.

Keywords: active equality; Jacques Rancière; policing; democratic action; intelligence; African American community

Chapter.  18006 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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