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Nadia Urbinati on Democracy Disfigured

Is democracy being disfigured and why does it matter? An interview with Nadia Urbinati

by Mariya Chokova

nadia urbinatiIs democracy failing to live up to our expectations as the most trust-worthy and reliable political system? Or are there other factors specific to our contemporary reality that impede the smooth and unproblematic application of the democratic principles from the Classic period today’s political scene? In Democracy Disfigured Nadia Urbinati, Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies at Columbia University, argues that democracy as we know it today has been subject to three major disfigurations that have considerably affected the making and the healthy functioning of the democratic process.

Urbinati insists that it is essential to understand the specificity of the term “figure” in its linguistic and figurative relation to the political. She claims that although the analogy of the physical “body” in political philosophy has a long-standing history to be traced back to Antiquity, it is nevertheless still a valuable and illuminating simile for the understanding of how and why democracy malfunctions in certain conditions and circumstances.

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