Concentration or representation : the struggle for popular sovereignty

Hallward, Peter (2017) Concentration or representation : the struggle for popular sovereignty. Cogent Arts & Humanities, 4(1390916), ISSN (online) 2331-1983


There is a tension in the notion of popular sovereignty, and the notion of democracy associated with it, that is both older than our terms for these notions themselves and more fundamental than the apparently consensual way we tend to use them today. After a review of the competing conceptions of 'the people' that underlie two very different understandings of democracy, this article will defend what might be called a 'neo-Jacobin' commitment to popular sovereignty, understood as the formulation and imposition of a shared political will. A people's egalitarian capacity to concentrate both its collective intelligence and force, from this perspective, takes priority over concerns about how best to represent the full variety of positions and interests that differentiate and divide a community.

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