Representing the People in a Republic: Perspectives on the First Plebeian Secession

I opened this conference by referring to the medical metaphor within which we have framed the question of democracy in order to point toward two paths for understanding this metaphor and to plead for the practice of both medicine and politics, not as mechanical sciences but as healing arts. In the following paper I would like to provide an example of the kind of artistic practice I have in mind by looking at two case histories of revolutionary movements from below, one success and one failure. What I would like to show in both cases is that the path to success lies in understanding the problem of democracy, first, as a problem of metaphor and thus of representation in the aesthetic sense and, second, as a problem that involves intervention in a developing metaphorical dynamic.

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