The Democratic Illusion

Deceptive Origins

It is customary to date the embryo of democracy back to the 2nd millennium BC, when the Babylonian “King of Justice” Hammurabi (1810-1750) drafted the 282 articles of the Code of Laws1 which protected the people and largely inspired the Greeks and then the Romans. However, the rule of law is undoubtedly a necessary condition for democracy, but certainly not a sufficient one. In this case, Hammurabi’s people had no power at all, and etymologically, democracy would have it.

Greece was no better, with equal justice for all (Dracon, c. 621 BC) or civic equality (Solon, 640-558), but no equality in politics, reserved for the rich. On the other hand, Clisthenes of Athens (c. 560-c.500) can be considered the founder of democracy, with the establishment of a representative assembly, the boulè, endowed with powers counterbalancing those of the aristocrats, before, thanks to a clever “electoral redistribution” (before its time), diluting the weight of the aristocrats, the boulè replaced them. Nevertheless, while women, metecrats and even slaves enjoyed civil rights, only men over the age of thirty had political rights, i.e. 16% of the population2. What’s more, the need to be available for unpaid duties meant that aristocrats retained all magistracies.

The main point, however, is that a certain degree of power-sharing exists, thanks to the drawing of lots, among all those capable of exercising it.

Modern Pseudo-Democracies

The Middle Ages were no better, whether we’re talking about Iceland’s Alþingi in 930, a 63-member parliament elected by landowners alone, or the aristocratic Federal Republic of the Two Nations (1569-1795), or the English Parliament of Magna Carta (1225), convened at the King’s pleasure, or the Parliament of Montfort (1265), elected by less than 3% of the voting population. In terms of their influence on the rest of the world, we should mention the so-called English, American and French democracies, all three of which began with a revolution.

In England, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 led to the Bill of Rights (1689), which increased the power of Parliament and heralded today’s “facade” monarchy. Here we speak of a “parliamentary democracy” within a kingdom, in which power has gradually shifted from the king to parliament, then to the political parties, and now “rests essentially in the hands of the leader of the majority party in the Commons, the one entrusted with the office of Prime Minister”3: the “elected monarch”4 of the Kingdom.

Then came the American Revolution against the British colonizer, with the War of Independence (1775-1783), the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Constitution (1787) and the Bill of Rights (1789, ratified in 1791) : freedoms of press, speech, religion, assembly; rights to own property and bear arms… Because of slavery and the genocide and ethnocide of Native Americans (thanked nonetheless by Thanksgiving), which are at the roots of the country’s constitution, rights are more about freedom than equality, which is marked by the current claimed appellation of liberal democracy. The word “democracy” was never used by the Founding Fathers, who excluded women, natives, the poor, slaves and the young from the vote, so that all “the rich, the well-born and the able” could take their place in the national assemblies, but especially not the people, “the worst conceivable (… since) they can neither act, nor judge, nor think, nor will”5. According to the fourth president of the United States, James Madison Jr. (1751-1836), considered to be the Father of the Constitution, the idea from the outset was to establish a plutocracy6 that we see today: the Senate is intended to “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority”7 If the representative system was later described as a democracy, it was only because election candidates, out of pure electoral populism, knowingly called themselves “democrats” to win the vote of the poor. And it was with the founding of the Democratic Party that Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) finally won the presidency (1828)8.

The French Revolution, inspired, like the American one, by the Enlightenment9, seems, at first glance, to bring other elements to the notion of democracy, particularly the reference to universal principles and a strong separation of powers: legislative, executive and judicial, each limiting the others. However, as in the United States, democracy as such is to be avoided. Indeed, Spinoza, Montesquieu and Rousseau rightly contrasted democracy with elections, the latter simply being akin to aristocracy – even if elected rather than hereditary. But it’s an elected “representative” government that’s about to be put in place. As the co-editor of the French Constitution, Abbot Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès (1748-1836), put it so bluntly:

France must not be a democracy, but a representative regime. (…) the great majority of our fellow citizens have neither enough education nor enough leisure to want to deal directly with the laws that should govern France; they must therefore limit themselves to appointing representatives […] they have no particular will to impose. If they dictated wills, France would no longer be a representative state; it would be a democratic state. The people, I repeat, in a country that is not a democracy (and France cannot be one), the people can only speak, can only act through their representatives.10

Thus, the possibility of personal participation in law-making was quickly removed from the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen:

Law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to participate personally, or through their representatives, in its formation” (art. 6, emphasis added).

The word “personally” was never used again in subsequent Declarations.

With the rejection of universal suffrage in favor of censal suffrage reserved for wealthy citizens, the political system of the French republics was also directly – and constitutionally – aristocratic and plutocratic. As in the United States, we wanted a “country governed by landlords”11. Naturally, the mid-19th century in France also saw the word “democracy” maliciously associated with that of “republic”, in order to win over the poor, and without the deception being spotted by anyone to this day.

From deception to illusion.

To call regimes based on elections “democracies” was the great deception of the second half of the 19th century; to believe today that our republics are democracies is an illusion. Thus, presidents proclaim with envy: “Long live the Republic!”, none has ever dared to say: “Long live democracy!”, a vow that seems reserved for the Ligue des droits de l’homme12. It’s easy to see why.

This democratic illusion, which is often denounced, consists in believing that political decisions, thanks to elections, reflect the general will, whereas this is rarely the case (tax levels, abolition of the death penalty, failure to take into account blank or invalid votes, marriage for all, etc.). Yet it is this general will that constitutes the sovereignty of the people, except that this general will is not representable (legislative), but only delegable (executive), according to Rousseau.

If we imagine that “democracy” consists, on the one hand, of decisions taken in agreement with the majority and, on the other, of legitimate power based on elections, Western regimes are far from being such.

We might mention the Maastricht Treaty, rejected in France by referendum, but nevertheless accepted by a vote of both chambers in Versailles (which is, of course, constitutionally legal). Here, the democratic illusion consists in believing that representatives represent.

As for the elections, you only have to take into account the number of citizens not on the electoral roll (12%), abstainers (42%) and blank or invalid votes (7%), to discover that the person who seems to be elected at 65%, is in fact elected by less than a third of citizens entitled to vote. Elected at 51%, he would be elected by less than a quarter. We understand the need for legitimacy, but we also realize the artifice and limitations of the free vote. This is why the right to vote for some has become a duty for others, but without resolving the problem of the election as such. Here, the democratic illusion consists in believing in the legitimacy of power or, at the very least, in its legitimization through the election of a few by a few.

Finally, if we were to take an example from the inaugural principle of “democracy”: identical justice for all in a state governed by the rule of law (Hammurabi and Dracon, emblematically)13, the simple case where justice itself announces an “exemplary judgment” or “by example” denies isonomy. It would certainly be less elegant to change the law according to the circumstances of the crime perpetrated (insofar as law could be retroactive – but there are precedents for this), but the formula remains incompatible with the sacrosanct isonomy proclaimed by the same Justice.

Athenian democracy was not a democracy, because it excluded a large part of the population according to its class division (Solon): the Eupatrides (the richest landowners), the Gemoroi (the other landowners, the farmers), the popular class (the rest of the population) and the slaves (who were only property). On the other hand, it showed that what mattered was not the false idea of a supposed representation of “the people” by delegates, but the method of recruitment itself. Thanks to the drawing of lots, each citizen is in turn both governed and governing, “commanding and obeying in turn” (Aristotle). Now that’s political equality! And in the Serenìsima Repùblica Veneta of the Renaissance, social cohesion was the result14.

Suffrage by lot is democratic, election is aristocratic15. This is nothing new, and this opposition of terms was well understood, each in their own way, by Guicciardini (1483-1540), Harrington (1611-1677) or Montesquieu (1689-1755), in favor of representation16, and Rousseau as well, but in favor of direct “democracy”.

While we might see progress in the fact that an ever-increasing proportion of the population enjoys civic rights and the right to vote, this is the deception – and the illusion of democracy – as power remains de facto confiscated by one class thanks to the maintenance of “representation”. This is pure demagoguery, which consists in believing and/or making people believe that they have any power whatsoever (other than taking to the streets, going on strike, or blocking traffic circles with Yellow Vests – French movement in 2018). This is a far cry from the Montagnard Constitution of 1793, which was never applied, but which proposed that “the sovereign people [should be] the universality of French citizens” (art. 7), adding to direct universal suffrage the adoption of the most important laws by referendum. In other words, it made citizens the legislators!

In fine, with its confiscation of (legislative) power, the “democracy” we know “is no longer a means of controlling [executive] power, but of framing the masses”17. To achieve this, the all-important “elite” class must manipulate public opinion and “manufacture the consent” (manufacture of consent) from the masses18 “Public opinion does not exist”, said Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002), because pollsters, relayed by the press, “make opinion” by claiming to measure it19. This is how a “postdemocracy” emerges20, a so-called “consensual” system in which the rule of law ends up merging with the rule of opinion. The absurdity of such a drift is illustrated when citizens are polled on questions where they have no competence, for example: “Do you believe that chloroquine is an effective treatment against covid-19?”21. Shouldn’t they also be asked whether they think the missile guidance system recently developed for the French army is reliable, or whether they believe there’s a miscalculation in the latest report by the Cour des Comptes? The high response rate to this type of inane poll suggests that many of those polled believe they are participating in a democracy.

Democratic Impossibility

Once the illusion of democracy has been dispelled, it remains to agree that democracy is impossible. This is illustrated by the failure of “alterdemocratic” attempts, such as the Zapatista rebellion (EZLN22 in Mexican Chiapas (1994), the Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization meeting (1999), the first World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre (2001), even the French “Nuits debout” (“Night Standing”) (2016) or the current global Climate Marches (2019).

The Right of Peoples to Self-Determination?

A first key impossibility lies in the rejection of the “right of peoples to self-determination”, which is so strongly affirmed23, but which excludes this right from the Corsican, Basque, Catalan, Kabyle, Acadian, Québécois, Hawaiian, Greenlandic, Uyghur, Papuan, Baluchi, Tamil, Sikh, Faroese, Andalusian, Sicilian, Venetian, Tibetan, Welsh and Scottish peoples, to name but a few. In other words, with the rare exception of an authorized referendum, once a state is in place, it can only be amended by a coup d’état. The violent steadfastness of a few or a majority, representing the State and not the people, can only be met with active violence. Of course, we understand the importance of stable rules, but if they are forever unchangeable, where is democracy? Seen another way, this means that, once historically constituted, a nation is condemned to manage its political regimes as best it can within the established perimeter. The de facto impossibility of democracy is no different.

Economic Power.

A second major impossibility seems to be linked to the close association between politics and economics (as Miguel Abensour and André Gorz have clearly seen) in their joint hold on society, whether in the form of Chinese capitalism, Anglo-Saxon liberalism or other forms. Yet the economy is rarely seen as democratic, resting solely on maintained differentials: lender-borrower, labor cost differentials (and social dumping), manager-employee, enslavement of the South to the West, shareholder-worker… This is well illustrated by the free movement of goods and capital, but not of people, and even, on the contrary, by the mortifying failures of communist societies.

This conjunction of political and economic authorities is inseparable from Western-style productivist and consumerist societies and their globalized, standardizing context. Other strategies are possible. From this point of view, Pierre Clastres (1934-1977) has shown how, in certain cultures, the subsistence economy (surplus production or production for others is excluded) is associated with political equality. Contrary to popular belief, mastery of nature and innovation are far from absent from these subsistence economies, and chiefs are strong on generosity, oratory and the ability to settle conflicts peacefully; their authority is symbolic, they don’t give orders24! More precisely, we can deduce that there is an order in this conjunction of the political and the economic.

the political relationship of power precedes and founds the economic relationship of exploitation. Before it is economic, alienation is political, power comes before work, the economic is a by-product of the political, the emergence of the state determines the emergence of classes25.

Pierre Clastres

In any case, this is why the political regimes in place are never called democracies, but republics, monarchies or military dictatorships. Most republics have a parliamentary system (Germany, Italy, India…), a presidential system (USA, South American countries…), a semi-presidential system (France, Poland, Algeria…) or a one-party system (China); monarchies are constitutional (the monarch exercises power and the parliament, if it exists, has weak powers: Morocco, for example), constitutional with a parliamentary system (the monarch does not exercise power: United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, Japan…) or absolute (Saudi Arabia).

If “democracy” is used to designate the country, as in the People’s Democracies of the USSR, we end up with totalitarian regimes, and adding “popular” to “democratic” is no guarantee of democracy, as in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea! The fact remains that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is probably more democratic than the German Democratic Republic (GDR) ever was. From this point of view, the United States has preserved the historical opposition between republic and democracy in the names of its two main parties: the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, although the latter has retained its original image of duplicity.

In short, if democracy doesn’t exist anywhere, it’s because it’s impossible.

Diacracy, What “Democracy” Meant

We are reminded of the picture painted by Aristotle26. In the latter, only three cases are distinguished:

1. Only one has power: this is monarchy (kingship, as Aristotle calls it) and its deviation, if it is no longer the common good or the general interest that is aimed at, is tyranny ;

2. Many have it: this is aristocracy, and its deviation is oligarchy (“predominance of the rich”);

3. The majority have power: this is the republic (politeia or constitutional regime) and its deviation is demagogy (in the specific meaning of “predominance of the poor to the exclusion of the rich”).

Note: democratia in Greek had both the current positive meaning of “democracy” and the pejorative meaning rendered here as “demagogy” (B. Saint-Hilaire), which may have given rise to some misunderstandings. This is not the case with Polybius (L. VI), where, less forcefully, “kingship, aristocracy, democracy” are corrupted by “monarchy, oligarchy and ochlocracy [tyranny of the crowd, or mass as we would say today]”. Aristotle also sometimes uses “ochlocracy”, in the sense of a democracy deviated into a tyranny of the poor (the most numerous).

After 2,500 years of varied experience, this picture deserves to be completed in several ways. We can do so by starting with the number of individuals in whose hands power lies, and with the two current meanings of anarchy: nobody has it, it’s an ucarchy27 and probably chaos, or everyone has it, it’s then a “panarchy”28 and, we might think, a possible democracy. Five cases should be considered29.

1. Nobody has power: this is anarchy (“a” privative) or, to avoid the double meaning of “anarchy”, “ucarchy”, the consequence would be disorder, confusion. “Would”, because an ucarchy is impossible, sociologically and metaphysically.

  • Sociologically, as far as a native homo politicus is concerned, whether in traditional societies with diffuse authority (as shown by Pierre Clastres30 for example) or societies with larger populations and more pronounced authorities, were the beginnings of the rule of law (as early as before Hammurabi, well before Solon), a broader extension of family or parental principles, and we can no doubt, with Aristotle, think that homo conjugalis et familias precedes homo societatis31. – and it’s easy to see why Aristotle didn’t specify this case.
  • Metaphysically, insofar as authority is one of the consequences of the human will.

2. One: monarchy, or even “enlightened despotism” à la Machiavelli.

3. Several: aristocracy, i.e. etymologically, the best, which is still an excellent idea! From this comes the post-revolutionary notion of “natural aristocracy”, which will be homologated as “elected aristocracy”, via an “aristocracy of enlightenment”32. Hence, too, today’s self-proclaimed “elites” and the problematic “reproduction of elites” (Bourdieu). After the plutocratic oligarchic drift of the early days (election on the basis of censal suffrage by the wealthiest), we now have the invention of a meritocracy (“good studies” would replace money), in the illusion of “equality of opportunity” (Rawls). In the end, our elected aristocracies retain the image – usurped or not, and in part certainly deserved – of a “mafia”, a kleptocracy, which a reading of the Cour des Comptes reports is far from denying33. When a minority imposes its decisions on everyone else, it’s totalitarianism. Of course, if the decisions are aimed at the common good, the term will seem outrageous, but then we’ll have to rewrite the dictionaries.

4. The most numerous: it has become difficult to call democracy the only electoral garb used to legitimize the oligarchy of elected representatives. They only represent the theatrical version of the word, at work mainly in pre-election phases, or even in the context of pension reform or the covid-19 crisis. Laws that do not reflect the general will bear witness to this. Moreover, such pseudo-democracy is singularly and widely denounced as the “tyranny of the majority”, from Benjamin Constant (Principes de politique, 1806) to Friedrich Hayek (La Constitution de la liberté, 1960), via Tocqueville34, Herbert Spencer35, John Stuart Mill36 or Isaiah Berlin (Éloge de la liberté, 1958). Admittedly, this tyranny is, at best, limited by a constitution, but who wrote it, who revises it, who interprets it?

5. All: That’s where democracy comes in. In its second sense, anarchy would more accurately be called “panarchy” (or “omnicracy”). Admittedly, such a regime remains to be ordered and orchestrated, but theoretically it’s the only one that would be truly democratic.

More precisely, it’s not a question of everyone having power at the same time, but of power being shared between all, in the most appropriate way; in turn, for example; from this point of view, we should speak of a diacracy37.

As we can see, we’d be better off abandoning the term “democracy”, which is now far too polysemous, with realizations that are far removed from (or even contrary to) what those who think about it more seriously have in mind.

What, then, would be the general elements that would characterize a “diacratic panarchy” (insofar as this is not a pleonasm)?

1. As a human society, a “democracy” is “both a form of socialization […] and a form of political institution of the social” (Miguel Abensour)38. Such a society is by nature “anti-authoritarian” (Pierre Leroux) and thus a perpetual “movement against the State” (Clastres, Abensour39, especially if the State drifts into an apparatus of domination (Marx): plutocracy, kleptocracy. Thus, against Hobbes, it does not abandon its collective sovereignty, but with Locke (after Aristotle and distantly Hannurabi) recognizes, as a minimal basis and far from the account (Abensour), a State of law. If sovereignty is not abandoned, it is because the general will cannot be represented (by a legislative body), it can only be delegated to an executive (Rousseau). Supported by Kant and many others (Harrington, Guicciardini or Montesquieu), the representative regime, on its own, is not democratic, as American or French constitutionalists (Madison Jr., Sieyès) have clearly seen, knowingly and explicitly promoting it. This system, which has a precise and partial usefulness (Rousseau), needs to be improved (Leroux), and supplemented by appropriate draws (Plato, Aristotle and many others today40.

2. The separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers (Montesquieu), each limiting the others, is essential, but if these three powers are subordinated or controlled by higher, less limited powers (economic or media), this separation alone is insufficient. It spoils this outline of diacracy. For example, Jürgen Habernas’s idea of “public debate” disappears behind the power of the media, which has gone from “instrument of liberty” (Tocqueville) to “watchdog” (Serge Halimi), in the service of a “manufacture of assent” (Walter Lippmann).

3. Marked by divisions, divergent opinions and conflicting interests, a democracy is intrinsically unfinished (Lefort, Delecroix), inventive and thus “wild” or “savage” (Claude Lefort). Consequently, it needs to develop an “institutionalization of conflict” (Lefort) – but not too much! Conflicts must not be made to disappear through procedures that annihilate them. Freedom is intrinsic (Bakunin) to a society of Associates or Friends (Leroux), or even brothers (Plato); “in a free political regime, freedom is its own end” (Abensour). We must therefore stop being “afraid of the masses” (Étienne Balibar) and stop trying to control them (Jacques Ellul).

4. Ultimately, “savage democracy” means renouncing democracy. Starting with the word itself, whose etymological meaning is irrelevant (power to the most numerous, in Aristotle’s sense), followed by what has been done with it since the American, English and French revolutions (confiscation of power) and, finally, by the demagoguery that is definitively associated with it.

Panarchy is savage, it throws itself into the void, accepts the unknown, the unpredictable, the indeterminate and renounces the quest for harmony or unity at all costs, but simply advances according to the diacratic principle: power belongs to no one (Lefort), it is shared, in time and space, as man is made to command and obey in turn (Aristotle).

Footnotes

  1. Codes of laws had indeed been drafted earlier, such as that of Ur-Nammu (c. 2000 BC). However, even though this code already aimed to protect the weak (poor, widows, orphans) against the powerful and to punish crimes and misdemeanors, it only contained 37 articles, which Hammurabi would have copiously supplemented.[]
  2. In France, the electorate made up 77% of the population in 2018 (51.8 out of 66.9 million inhabitants), but 12% of this body was made up of those not registered on the electoral rolls. Source: INSEE. It is 78% in the USA – 261/333 millions inhabitants, Statista 2023[]
  3. André Émond, “Le parlement de Westminster : une brève histoire de la démocratie anglaise”, Revue de droit parlementaire et politique / Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law, no. 9, Toronto: Carswell, 2015, pp. 255-256.[]
  4. Cf. F. W. G. Benemy, The Elected Monarch: The Development of the Power of the Prime Minister, London: Harrap, 1965.[]
  5. It was the second President of the United States, John Adams (1735-1826), who spoke out and also specified: if it’s normal to be a Democrat at 20, at 40 it’s not serious.[]
  6. Political system in which financial and economic power is preponderant (CNRTL). From ploutos: (God of) wealth, plutocracy is money in power, i.e. in the hands of those who have it.[]
  7. Quoted in Robert Yates, Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787, Taken by the Late Hon Robert Yates, Chief Justice of the State of New York, and One of the Delegates from That State to the Said Convention, printed for G. Templeman, Washington, 1886 (online). The idea was to protect landowners from possible agrarian reforms by letting them take part in government.[]
  8. Francis Dupuis-Déri, “The political power of words: The birth of pro-democratic discourse in the 19th century in the United States and France”, Political Studies, vol. 52, March 2004, pp. 118-134.[]
  9. Most notably, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) was inspired by the philosophical doctrines of the 18th century, Montesquieu (1689-1755), Diderot (1713-1784), Voltaire (1694-1778), Rousseau (1712-1778)… []
  10. François Furet, Ran Halévi (dir.), Les Orateurs de la Révolution française, t. I , Paris : Gallimard, 1989, pp. 1025-1027.[]
  11. François Furet, Denis Richet, La Révolution française, Paris: Fayard, 1973, p. 259. Boissy d’Anglas was the emblematic defender of this ideology[]
  12. Resolution adopted on June 5, 2017 by 278 votes for, 23 against and 27 abstentions. Cf. https://www.ldh-france.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/ RESO-VIVE-LA-DEMOCRATIE-DEF-6-June.pdf.[]
  13. That said, democracy is “very quickly, too quickly identified with the rule of law”; Miguel Abensour, “Utopie et démocratie”, Raison présente n° 121, 1st trim. 1997, p. 29. Indeed, while the rule of law is a necessary condition of democracy, it is by no means a sufficient one.[]
  14. Cf. Bernard Manin, Principes du gouvernement représentatif, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1995.[]
  15. This has been understood for some time: Aristotle, Politics, IV, 9, 1294-b.[]
  16. That is, in view of the current result, of the constitution of an “institutionalized political elite”, Moses Finley, Démocratie antique et démocratie moderne, Paris: Payot, 2003, p.. 75.[]
  17. Jacques Ellul, L’Illusion politique (1965), Paris: La Table Ronde, 2004, pp. 218-219.[]
  18. Cf. Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (1922).[]
  19. Cf. Patrick Champagne, Faire l’opinion, le nouveau jeu politique (“Opinion-forming, the new political game”), Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1990.[]
  20. Cf. Jacques Rancière, La Mésentente : Politique et philosophie, Paris: Galilée, 1995.[]
  21. Cf. Christine Mateus, “Covid-19 : 59% des Français croient à l’efficacité de la chloroquine”, Le Parisien, 5/4/2020.[]
  22. Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, Zapatista Army of National Liberation.[]
  23. United Nations Charter, art. 1 & 2, upheld by the International Court of Justice.[]
  24. Pierre Clastres, La Société contre l’État (“Society versus State”), Paris: éd. de Minuit, 1974, pp. 27, 133-136 & 164. Especially among Amerindians[]
  25. Ibidem[]
  26. The Politics, Book III, ch. 5, § 1-5 (trans. Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire), 1279a & b. Drawn by all from Herodotus, the same division of governments is found in Plato (Republic, L. I), but it was Aristotle who systematized thinking around this classification, common at the time. The method is found in Spinoza (Traité Théologico-Politique, 1670), Montesquieu (De l’Esprit des Lois, 1748), even if he only considers the “one” and the “many”, Machiavelli (Discours sur les Décades de Tite-Live, 151-1519, L. I, ch. II), Rousseau (Du contrat social, 1762, L. III, ch. III and X), Hobbes (De Cive, Imperium , ch. VII, § 3)…[]
  27. “Ucracy”, on the model of “utopia” is already used by the Ukratos movement (currently supported by the “rational humanist” association). In front of a vowel, the Greek “or” (from oûdén = not one, i.e. nobody) becomes “oukh“; we’ll simplify ukharchy to ucarchy.[]
  28. We’re not talking here about that apolitical, a-territorial and rather anarchic panarchy of Paul-Émile De Puydt (1810-1888).[]
  29. On the basis of the same reflection, see Francis Dupuis-Déri, “L’anarchie en philosophie politique. Réflexions anarchistes sur la typologie traditionnelle des régimes politiques”, Les Ateliers de l’éthique, vol. 2, n. 1, Spring 2007; “Monarchy, aristocracy, democracy and anarchy: Reflections on different political regimes (by Francis Dupuis-Déri)”, partage-le.fr, 2014.[]
  30. Cf. Pierre Clastres, La Société contre l’État, Paris: éd. de Minuit, 1974.[]
  31. “Man is a being inclined to form a couple, even more than to form a political society, insofar as the family is something prior to the city and more necessary than it”, Nicomachean Ethics, VIII, 14, 1162 a 15-20 (trans. J. Tricot, Vrin, 1990.[]
  32. Auguste Comte, Cours de philosophie positive, t. 4, p. 59 (CNRTL).[]
  33. The Cour des Comptes/’Court of Audit’ in France is a government institution responsible for financial oversight and accountability[]
  34. Le “despotisme de la majorité”, Alexis de Tocqueville, De la démocratie en Amérique (1835), t. 1, Paris: Flammarion, 1981, p. 230.[]
  35. “The domination of the few by the many is tyranny too” (cf. Le Droit d’ignorer l’État, 1850).[]
  36. De la liberté (1859), Paris: Gallimard, 1990, pp. 65-66.[]
  37. To share is said metekhein or metalambanein in Greek, but it’s the prefix “dia” that best indicates distribution.[]
  38. Miguel Abensour, op. cit., p. 35.[]
  39. Cf. his book: La Démocratie contre l’État. Marx et le moment machiavélien (“Democracy versus the State. Marx and the Machiavellian moment”), Paris: éd. du Félin, 2012.[]
  40. For example: Manuel Cervera Marzal and Yohan Dubigeon, “Démocratie radicale et tirage au sort, au-delà du libéralisme”, Presses de Science Po, Raisons politiques, 2013, no. 50; Olivier Dowlen adds “preselection” (The Political Potential of Sortition: A Study of the Random Selection of Citizens for Public Office, Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2008). We can imagine candidates being submitted to recognized specialists, who are themselves selected by lot… This reinforces the idea that the drawing of lots could not exist without other modes of selection: cooptation in particular. The advantage these days is that you don’t have to create a society from scratch.[]