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Politics on the Edges of Liberalism

Difference, Populism, Revolution, Agitation

Benjamin Arditi

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An innovative exploration of ways of thinking and doing politics that challenge liberal assumptions.

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Introduction: the edges as an internal periphery
1. The underside of difference and the limits of particularism
• Semiotics and some programmatic consequences of the culture wars
• A postmodern society? Vattimo’s wager
• A more cautious optimism
• The underside of disorientation
• The underside of multiplicity
• Universals, the discourse of rights and liberalism
2. Populism as a spectre of democracy
• Populism and democracy
• The gap between faith and scepticism and the elusiveness of populism
• Spectral recurrences
3. Populism as an internal periphery of democratic politics
• The verbal smoke surrounding populism
• Populism as a mode of representation
• Populism as a symptom of democratic politics
• Populism as an underside of democracy
4. Stirred and shaken. From ‘the art of the possible’ to emancipatory politics
• The realist coding of the possible..
• The impossible as supplement
• Agitation as unveiling/translation
• Emancipation, revolutionizing and the interstitial region of politics
5. Talkin’ ’bout a revolution: the end of mourning
• The mourning after
• Polemicizing the limit: how radical does a radical change have to be?
• The play between the promise and the figure
• Revolutionary realism as enthusiasm for the impossible
• Figures of the promise and the iterability of revolution
• Postcards of a socialist imaginary

About the Author

Benjamin Arditi is a Professor of Political Theory at the National University of Mexico. He is the author of Polemicization (EUP, 1999) and editor of Fidelity to the Disagreement: Jacques Ranciere and Politics (2006). He is co-editor (with Jeremy Valentine) of Edinburgh University Press’s ‘Taking on the Political’ series.


Arditi is developing a unique project, located between classical political thought and viral resistance. Politics on the Edges of Liberalism should be viewed less as a compromise between the two, and more of a stepping stone towards a radical synthesis of some sort
At the cutting edge of contemporary theory.
- Professor Terrell Carver, University of Bristol
In the best sense of political philosophy as understood by Gilles Deleuze … Arditi invents new concepts … he has the extraordinary ability to achieve clarity while dealing with very arcane and sophisticated aspects of political thought.
- Professor Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawaii
The arguments and conclusions of Politics on the Edges of Liberalism boil down to a mature and compelling distillation and synthesis of Laclauian and Rancierean insights... Arditi is a theorist of political activism. This book is extremely well-versed in both traditional and radical Continental and Anglo-American political and cultural theory, so it will be of interest and importance both to political theorists and to political activists... Arditi surveys, analyses and takes what is best from any political theory and deploys it in the development of new concepts that will stimulate action and activism in academic theory as well as cultural and political practice.
- Paul Bowman, Culture Machine
'The interest and value of Arditi's position is that he does not jump directly from this opening possibility oc citizenship-as-creativity to a theory of nomadic action taking plae at the grassroots level of the virtual. Instead he routes these ideas through the concept of populist politics - a gesture which saveshis project from becoming just the latest spin on Deleuze-Guttari and political theory… Arditi is developing a unique project, located between classical political thought and viral resistance.' -, posted 13 February 2007
Arditi navigates skilfully between Continental philosophy and political theory by critically engaging with major figures from both fields. His approach is thoughtful and provocative... On populism, in particular, he is brilliant. This book is essential reading for those who are interested in democracy, emancipatory politics, radical alternatives, and critical thinking. It is political theory at its best.
- Andreas Kalyvas, The New School for Social Research
Arditi's work is an admirable and worthwhile addition to the theory of the liberal-democracy and its 'edges'.
- J. Maggio, University of Florida, Theory & Event