A belated introduction. In some ways, a symposium on democracy at Long Sunday has been a long time coming. Various discussions between contributors, here and at associated blogs, have hovered around or dealt with this theme over the last year or so. And, it seems, this current symposium on democracy follows a thread through previous LS symposia: from Walter Benjamin's considerations of violence, written between the Treaty of Versailles and the electoral ascendancy of the National Socialists to government in Germany – to the symposium on Mario Tronti, who in his recent writings argues that the critique of democracy is the most urgent of tasks – to Gayatri Spivak and the play of differences that remain irreducible to universal tendencies – and, not least, the most recent symposium on Carl Schmitt, for whom democracy is not commensurate with liberalism but, instead, the sovereignty of the people (ein Volk). Indeed, does it not also relate to previous discussions of solidarity and populism?
This is in no way to suggest that all of the contributions to the series of Long Sunday symposia have explored these threads, although some have. It is, however, to suggest that there is something of a conversation here, undertaken in quite different ways and from different perspectives, that nevertheless has, at this time, turned to the question of democracy as a question.
Is this because this is a time in which the military export of democracy coincides with the recourse to democratic principles in the very critique of that war or, from another perspective, when – as Agamben puts it – the threshold between democracy and the state of exception blurs into indistinction. But this, of course, is only to raise one aspect of what is at stake or seen to be so.
Given democracy is such an immense topic, we envisaged that each of the contributions would take a text or writer on democracy, using it as a point of departure or simply providing a reading of what the text or writers brings to a conversation on democracy. To that end, the provisional schedule of posts, at this stage is:
Friday: Jodi (Zizek) | Saturday: Jon (Ranciere and/or Laclau) | Sunday: Adam K (Nancy); IT (Badiou/Marx) | Monday: Eric (Marx) | Tuesday: Carlos (Brown) | Wednesday: Matthew C (Derrida and/or Levinas); Adam T (Blanchot/Derrida) | Thursday: Nate (Althusser and/or Ranciere) | Friday: Craig (Lefort) | Saturday: Angela (?).
There are three other contributors who have yet to schedule in their posts: CR (on Forster's Howard's End), Brett, and Matt (on Derrida) - but, as with previous symposia, the schedule is tentative and likely to sort itself out as the week proceeds. Contributions on Arendt, Agamben, Mouffe, Tocqueville - or any other text (theoretical, literary or without deferral to such distinctions) - that is of relevance to the discussion on democracy would also be appreciated. (If you're interested, drop in a comment here - and the same goes for administrative queries, timeswapping, etc.)
We hope the contributions spark discussion, debate, musings and meanderings.
[Craig + Angela]