Alan N. Shapiro, Autonomy in the Digital Society

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Claude Lefort, Political Philosopher, by Alan N. Shapiro

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Politics as it is practiced in America is obsolete. It is a simulation of democracy. It seems to have very little to do with democracy any more.

How do we get back to (or, more accurately, move forward to) being a real democracy?

Here’s my answer: By understanding the lifework of Claude Lefort, the greatest thinker of democracy of our time.

By understanding Lefort’s writings.

Lefort died on October 3, 2010 at age 86.

Lefort was both a radical and a liberal; a socialist and a democrat.

He received a lot of recognition during his lifetime, but it should have been much more. He didn’t get as much recognition as the famous so-called “postmodernist” French thinkers like Baudrillard and Barthes. I have ranked Lefort #5 on my list of the Top 100 Post-World War II French thinkers, just behind his mentor, the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and just ahead of Baudrillard. Lefort edited Merleau-Ponty’s great posthumous work The Visible and the Invisible.

Lefort correctly pointed out that political philosophy is something entirely separate from philosophy.

During the intellectual adventures of my youth, I first came into contact with the radical side of Lefort’s political philosophy. Later I came into contact with the liberal side. Both are extremely important…

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