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Rahel Süß is the author of Experimentelle Demokratie (forthcoming 2024) which presents a new paradigm of empowered democracy; Politique de la Provocation, a vision of democracy as a practice of critique; Demokratie und Zukunft, a framework of a future-oriented democracy; and Kollektive Handlungsfähigkeit, a philosophical investigation of emancipatory action.

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LaPolitique

PROJECTS

DEMOCRATIC FUTURES

What are we actually talking about when we talk about democracy today? The entire complexity of this question is revealed in the current hype surrounding democracy. Yet, while global technology companies willingly monitor our future in the name of democracy and authoritarian groups lament the loss of a national future, movements such as Fridays for Future and Open-Source advocate for a plurality of futures. They also emphasize that the future of democracy can only belong to a culture of democratic experimentation.

DIGITAL DEMOCRACY

 

Democracy and new digital technologies are twin objects of deep, though ambivalent attachment in the contemporary liberal imagination. What, then, is “digital democracy”? My current research project explores two central questions: (1) How have liberal ideas shaped and limited the way we think of both democracy and digitalisation? (2) What might a radical democratic conception of both terms involve? I begin from the assumption that democracy lives not as a lofty abstraction but through its material forms: and ours is a digital age. In speaking of digital democracy, then, I argue that we must understand each term through the other. Liberals imagine digital technology through their understanding of democracy, and increasingly understand democracy through their encounter with technology. My claim is that when liberals imagine digital technologies as democratic, they obscure forms of power that constitute those technologies, in their ownership, design, and control. Therefore, we must ask the question: How might a radical alternative to liberalism understand both democracy and digitalisation differently, and use the encounter with each to reshape our understanding of both?

COLLECTIVE AGENCY

Working with the concept of "collective agency" holds practical, not just theoretical significance: it's not only about clarifying and problematizing a concept, but about realizing the potential to act by identifying those potentials through which collective actors can bring about ruptures and discontinuities in the common sense. The project on "collective agency" is a philosophical investigation of emancipatory action in the hegemonic theory of Gramsci, the critical psychology of Holzkamp, and the democratic theory of Mouffe and Laclau.

EXPERIMENTAL DEMOCRACY

This project unfolds a new paradigm of democracy that updates democratic politics for the era of digitization. I identify the threat to democracy in a technocratic experimental society that, with its vision of a fully predictable future, avoids politics at its core. From this central thesis, I develop a model of experimental democracy as a future-opening democracy. Such a determination responds to a narrow understanding of democracy in most liberal theories and shifts the focus from freedom to its mode of enactment, namely liberation.

In the Sinneswandel podcast, I present key ideas of the project in conversation with Oliver Nachtwey.

POLITICS OF PROVOCATION

 

A vibrant democracy depends on a politics of provocation, challenging the notion that democracy is a static concept and instead embracing it as a dynamic process. This perspective diverges from the liberal belief that political power primarily operates through fair procedures aimed at rational problem-solving. Yet, to prevent democracy from becoming overly rational and focused on public – and more recently, algorithmic – reasoning, we need to reassess this premise. Overlooking the fact that democracy's openness stems not only from norms but also from ongoing questioning of its boundaries, we must recognize that binding democracy to future-opening action transforms it into more than just a tool for problem-solving; it becomes a practice of problematization. Consequently, democratic societies must continually generate new political agendas to address societal exclusions and explore previously overlooked alternatives. This requires seeing social norms as adaptable and questioning their assumed naturalness. In this context, a politics of provocation highlights the importance of fair procedures that ensure inclusion and influence in political decisions, but also the necessity for mechanisms to organize democratic and collective power.

"ENGAGED LITERATURE"

I founded and co-edited the international journal engagée for political and philosophical interventions. The title of the journal was inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre's concept of littérature engagée (en: engaged literature). engagée was an independent journal and project that operated until 2022, situated at the intersection of politics, philosophy, and art. The project placed particular emphasis on addressing current political issues, disseminating critical analyses, and presenting theoretically informed interventions. Over the course of its tenure, we released ten issues and published one book. Additionally, we organized more than ten events, ranging from discussion rounds to performances and installations, held in cities such as London, Rome, Berlin, and Vienna. I also took on the responsibility for the design aspect of the project.

SELECTED PPUBLICATIONS

BOOKS

 

"Experimentelle Demokratie", (forthcoming, Springer VS, 2024).

 

"Politique de la Provocation - La révolte contre les échecs démocratiques", Eterotopia France, Paris, 2021.

 

"Demokratie und Zukunft. Was auf dem Spiel steht". Edition Konturen, Wien 2020.

 

"Kollektive Handlungsfähigkeit. Gramsci – Holzkamp – Laclau/Mouffe". Preface by Oliver Marchart. Turia + Kant, Wien, 2nd edition 2016.

EDITED VOLUMES

 

Süß w/ engagée collectif (ed.), "Villes Radicales. Du droit à la ville à la démocratie radicale". Eterotopia, Paris 2019.

 

Mark, Heissenberger, Schramm, Sniesko, Süß (ed.), "Uni brennt: Grundsätzliches – Kritisches – Atmosphärisches". Zweite erweiterte Auflage. Turia + Kant, Wien 2010.

 

 

BOOK CHAPTERS

 

"How the Politics of Provocation is Shaping Democratic Futures." In: Miessen, Markus (ed.): Agonistic Assmblies: On the spatial politics of horizontality. Sternberg Press, April 2024.

 

"Democratic Practices". (Rahel Süß in conversation with Francelle Cane, Marija Maric, Markus Miessen, and Cesar Reyes). In:  Miessen, Markus (ed.): Agonistic Assmblies: On the spatial politics of horizontality. Sternberg Press, April 2024.

 

"Demokratie ist radikaler Experimentalismus". In: Rajal/Marchart/Buero-trafo.K/  Landkammer/Maier (ed.) (2019): Making Democracy – Aushandlungen von Freiheit, Gleichheit und Solidarität im Alltag. transcript.

 

"Elemente einer radikalen Demokratietheorie des Experiments". In: Vey, Leinius, Hagemann (ed.) (2019): Handbuch Poststrukturalistische Perspektiven auf soziale Bewegungen: Ansätze, Methoden und Forschungspraxis. transcript.

 

“Theorie und Praxis”In: Comtesse, Flügel-Martinsen, Martinsen, Nonhoff (ed.) (2019): Handbuch radikale Demokratietheorie. Suhrkamp.

 

Kolioulis; Süß, "Villes Radicales. Du droit à la ville à la démocratie radicale". In: engagée collectif (ed.) (2019), "Villes Radicales. Du droit à la ville à la démocratie radicale". Eterotopia.

 

“Hegemonie und kollektive Handlungsfähigkeit in der Vielfalt gesellschaftlicher Widersprüche. Über die Schwierigkeit eines linken Mosaikprojekts”. In: Hawel, Kalmring (ed.) (2016): Wie lernt das linke Mosaik? Die plurale Linke in Bewegung. VSA.

 

“Denken Hilft”. In: Heissenberger, Mark, Schramm, Sniesko, Süß (ed.) (2016): Uni brennt – Grundsätzliches, Kritisches, Atmosphärisches. Turia + Kant.

 

 

ARTICLES, REVIEWS, INTERVIEWS

 

Who is the Digital Sovereign? In: Democratic Theory, 2023.

 

Radikale Demokratie für das Klima. In: Luxemburg, October 2022.

 

Gerbaudo; Süß, "Democracy from the Bedroom: How the internet politicized our most intimate spaces." In: Logic Magazine, August 2022.

 

Revolutionary Mathematics and Democratic Dreams. In: Verso Blog, March 22, 2022.

 

Book Review: "Book Review: Digital Technology and Democratic Theory edited by Lucy Bernholz, Hélène Landemore and Rob Reich", LSE Review of Books, March 18, 2020.

 

Pour une politique de la provocation. In: Le Grand Continent, June 24th, 2021.

 

Horizontal experimentalism: rethinking democratic resistance. In: Philosophy and Social Criticism.  2021 (online first).

 

Kolioulis; Süß, "Why does finance care so much about students?", Greater Manchester Housing Action, September 28th, 2020.

 

Book Review: "Reactionary Democracy: How Racism and the Populist Far Right Became Mainstream by Aurelien Mondon and Aaron Winter", LSE Review of Books, July 21st, 2020.

 

Kolioulis; Süß, (Interview w/ Adam Greenfield), "Disobedient Technologies". In “Disobedient Futures”, engagée 9, June 2020.

 

“Provozierte Demokratie”. In “Disobedient Futures”, engagée 9, June 2020.

 

Book Review: "In the Shadow of Justice: Postwar Liberalism and the Remaking of Political Philosophy by Katrina Forrester", LSE Review of Books, November 22nd, 2019.

 

Book Review: "Critique of Forms of Life by Rahel Jaeggi", LSE Review of Books, October 4th, 2019.

 

Kolioulis; Süß, "Alien Futures’, Thoughts on The Xenofeminist Manifesto". engagéeBlog,  January 12th, 2019.

 

Kolioulis; Süß, “The circular horizon of municipal movements: democracy, capital and radical politics”. In “Radical Cities”, engagée 6/7, May 2018.

 

Kolioulis; Süß, “Radical Democracy and Municipal Movements. A conversation with Jeremy Gilbert”. In “Radical Cities”, engagée 6/7, May 2018.

 

Kolioulis; Süß,Circularity. A new strategic horizon”. Open Democracy, 15 January 2018.

 

Book Review: "Reflections on Trevor G. Smith’s Politicizing Digital Space: Theory, the Internet, and Renewing Democracy”. In: Journal Triple C Vol 15, No 2 (2017)

 

 

 

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