• Clayton Crockett
  • Jeffrey W. Robbins
Part of the Radical Theologies book series (RADT)


To speak of politics from the perspective of a new materialism we must insist on a fundamental distinction between the concept of the political and politics as such. And together with this distinction comes another between politics as a state-form and the political power that belongs to the people. In the case of both of these important distinctions, our primary concern is with the second of the two terms. In short, therefore, this chapter will be about politics as the exercise of political power, or the material negotiation of living bodies whose prepolitical cooperation is the basis of politics as such. And our thesis, which we have adapted from two radical democratic theorists, Jacques Rancière and Antonio Negri, is that democracy is the very principle of politics—not that democracy is the least bad system of politics, or that democracy is one governing system among others first defined in the taxonomy of Aristotle’s Politics, but that it is only by the quintessentially democratic rejection of the prerogative to rule or the entitlement to govern that politics is born by the coming to power of the people.1 This notion of politics-as-democracy insists that it is the people that are the material lifeblood of politics, that no matter how alienated, how disenfranchised, or how exploited they may feel or they may be, that without the people’s consent—whether avowed or disavowed, tacit or expressed—the system would wither and die without their life-giving force. There is revolutionary power in this recognition alone.


Autocratic Regime Political Theology Political Neutralization Comprehensive Immigration Reform Democratic Basis 
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  1. 1.
    For the clearest summation of this thesis, see Jacques Rancière, Hatred of Democracy (New York: Verso, 2006)Google Scholar
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    Hent de Vries, “Introduction: Before, A round, and Beyond the Theologico-Political,” in Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World, ed. Hent de Vries and Lawrence Sullivan (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006), p. 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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© Clayton Crockett & Jeffrey W. Robbins 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clayton Crockett
  • Jeffrey W. Robbins

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