Exploded Democracy

July 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I recently came upon the following abstract of a paper we presented at the Sutures Conference in the University of Toronto back in 2003.  I was intrigued by the continuing relevance of the concept and how these ideas continue to inform my work:

Thought, Practice, Experience: the concept of exploded democracy.

Nicolas Mounier, Gibran Rivera (Tufts), Saman Wickramasinghe (UofT)


We propose that lives should, collectively and individually, be works of art.  What we mean by this is that lives can in themselves be a perpetual stylization of thoughts, experiences and practices.  Here the question of being is treated as inherently antagonistic and therefore political.  From this platform the notion of radical democracy as it is currently articulated must further be tweaked in order for it to capture and serve this agenda.  We suggest an ‘exploded’ concept of democracy and the political can more fully be understood, pursued and experienced with tools produced and provided by a practico-theoretical framework grounded in social and political theory. The following is a reflective paper taking as its material of inquiry the authors’ current political activities and experiences in a grass-roots democratization movement in Boston and in a progressive health promotion organization based in Sri Lanka. This reflection is informed by certain aspects of Pierre Bourdieu’s social theory and the radical democratic experimentalism of Chantal Mouffe and Roberto Mangabeira Unger.  The authors point to a new direction for democracy

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  • Sara Oaklander says:

    Makes me think of Frances Moore Lappe’s work on power and democracy that she is pursuing through the Small Planet Institute (http://www.smallplanet.org/). She says, “Democracy is not merely a set system of government, something done to us or for us. It is the way we interact and experience democratic principles such as transparency, mutual accountability and the dispersion of power throughout our lives.” Read more at http://www.smallplanet.org/democratic-life

  • Are you going to post the article, Gibran? I’d like to read it. The abstract reminds me of a reading from a “Video Praxis” course I took at The New School. I’ll send it your way.

  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    Ditto. It would be great to see the whole paper. Looking forward to exploring what “exploded” democracy looks like. I agree with Sara about democracy being way more than a system of government or even a principle about how governments are created. That’s why US attempts to bring democracy to other places are so fraught with difficulty. I think democracy is about a constellation of principles and concepts about how we live as a society.

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