Philosophy and Social Criticism 46 (2):224-246 (2020)

What gives representation its democratic essence? The recent democratic theory literature, particularly spearheaded by Nadia Urbinati, defends representative mediation as a facilitator of ongoing democratic contestation and revision. While I agree with this agonistic defence, I take issue with how Urbinati construes it. For her, representative contestation works in the teleological sense of testing opinions over time and sublimating them into ideological forms as a safeguard against the threat of immediacy. This article locates the traces of such presentism within Urbinati’s own teleological framework, which I see as compromising her commitment to the agonistic vein in representative politics. When our relationship to the future is imagined from such a teleological angle, I argue, the scope of our representative options becomes significantly narrowed down and the possibility of beginning anew looks quite slim. I develop this critique by tapping into Jacques Derrida’s affirmation of untimeliness.
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DOI 10.1177/0191453719839452
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