When I initially proposed this topic, I made a strange but perhaps sig-
nifi cant mistake.1 Outlining a discussion of the antinomies of citizen-
ship, I left out the word “democracy.” Th e reader could conclude that in
my view the notion of citizenship is what counts, and that “democracy”
represents only a qualifi cation to which we can retrospectively attribute
more or less importance in its defi nition. Such hierarchical— or, as Rawls
would say, “lexicographical”— considerations are by no means second-
ary. Th ey go to the heart of debates that oppose a republican (or neo-
republican) conception of politics to a (liberal or social) demo cratic
conception of politics, and in a sense the very understanding of po liti cal
philosophy, and therefore of its critique, depends on it, as Jacques Ran-
cière and Miguel Abensour, each in his own fashion, have recently un-
derlined.2 Not only do I not want to subordinate the consideration of
democracy to that of citizenship. I maintain that democracy— better
still, the “demo cratic paradox,” according to Chantal Mouff e’s felici-
tous formulation— represents the decisive aspect of the problem around
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