Contestation, disagreement and contingency in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s democratic theory

GT 1.7 Política, agonismo y deliberación : el lugar del conflicto y el consenso en las democracias contemporáneas

Es necesario que unos de los autores/coautores realice la inscripción.
Sesión 2
Día: viernes,20 de septiembre de 2013
Hora: 09:00 a 11:30
Lugar: E10SEM04

Proposal for the Workshop on Politics, Agonism and Deliberation: The Place of Conflict and Consensus in Contemporary Democracies 

This paper will seek to explore the importance of disagreement and contestation for Rousseau’s conception of a democratic community of equals. Rousseau has frequently been characterised as a thinker of transparency and presence whose social theory targets a state of complete consensus free from ambiguity, and questioning. In this characterisation, his thinking seeks a state of political closure, to transcend, in Chantal Mouffe’s terms, the antagonistic dimension of the political.  By contrast, I argue that far from aiming to close the political, his thinking stresses the absence of any natural or ultimate ground for society; that absence presupposes his conception of a democratic people always free to determine and redetermine the terms by which they coexist. A state of complete consensus would cancel out the need for popular agency, for the continual willing of the general will. The lack of any definitive social grounding does not destroy the question of what grounds society but makes that question the more urgent because it reveals how any social organisation is forever partial and therefore contestable. Like modern political theorists, such as Laclau and Mouffe, Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière,  Rousseau’s theory conceives the foundation of politics as paradoxically the lack of foundation; that lack keeps alive the possibility of radical transformation; it supplies the affirmative condition of our freedom to reject the current order and its determination of social reality.     

Palabras clave: Rousseau, the political, disagreement; democracy