Jacques Rancière | Identifications of the People

The people has always been a double figure. At the time of the French revolution, it emerged in the opposition between subject of sovereignty and actual population: miserable people or ignorant and fanatic populace. But this duality is still much older. Aforetime the demos in Athens referred to both the sovereign people of the Assembly and the clutter of common people. Democracy is first of all a sobriquet invented by the Athenian elites to designate this inconceivable government of common people. Each time the people is declared sovereign, the same fundamental paradox, under diverse forms, makes the scene. […]