“The political” is a concept that was originally put forward by Carl Schmitt in the 1930s. It is related to his concept of sovereignty (i.e., “the one who decides in the state of exception”) and refers to “the original instituting act of every political-institutional order” (p. xvii). The notions of sovereignty and the political have had a postfascist theoretical revival during the past few decades in the work of a number of philosophers and social theorists, including Reinhart Koselleck, Giorgio Agamben, and Jacques Rancière, to name a few, because of their utility for understanding contemporary violence, democracy, cultural crisis, the state of exception, and the rule of law.

The author of the book under review, Elías Palti, is one of Latin America's most theoretical and philosophically oriented historians. In this short but expansive book, he puts forward the idea that “the realm...

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