Cabezas’ A-Positional Freedom. By Alberto Moreiras

“No infrapolitics without exploitation; no exploitation without infrapolitics.”   The Introduction to Oscar Cabezas’ Postsoberanía: Literatura, política y trabajo begins by stating that post-sovereignty would be the condition of capital’s “absolute sovereignty,” that is, a capitalism without restrainer.   The hypothesis, or thesis, is that such is the regime of rule today, in virtue of which there is no limitation to the slavery imposed by capital. Post-sovereignty would describe the political terrain of globality, understood as the political terrain of exploitation.

But in the first chapter we read that there is no formal or real imposition of sovereignty, as the history of modernity shows, without the simultaneous production of a “judaizing remainder” (22), the organizer of the marrano figure, or register, as a radical exception to the sovereign community.   The marrano exception is an error or errancy as such, and marks or provides the “enigmatic experience” of something that, interpellated and informed by the law, is never quite subordinate to the unity of command” (23): an overflowing or desbordamiento “before the law.”

If the “community,” certainly in its modern form as national community, but presumably beyond that, is always an invention of power, even of inquisitional power (in the same way that the marrano is a figure within the law that exceeds the law itself, its counterpart, the Inquisition, or inquisitional logic, is “a power within the state superior to the state itself,” in Henry Charles Lea’s definition), then the marrano marks a decommunitarian option or position that, towards the end of the chapter, Cabezas will indicate as an a-positional position, an exodus from position (81).

Cabezas corrects Heidegger’s Parmenides by insisting that it is not the Germans, precisely, who could mark the very possibility of a non-Roman, non-imperial understanding of the political, but rather the marrano, as inquisitional excess.   He links this to Derrida’s messianism without the Messiah, hinting at, without fully developing, the idea that Derrida was the first to thematize political de-capitalization for a properly counterimperial, non-Roman thinking of the political.

But I wonder whether, within the confines of this chapter at least, Cabezas’ move is really towards counterimperial politics and not rather towards infrapolitical decapitalization.   Perhaps the most moving pages in the chapter are the central ones, the section entitled “Sovereign T-error, Exile’s Truth.” In them Cabezas pursues notions such as “subjectivity without subjection,” “apátrida thought,” “erratic language,” and “sovereignty without sovereignty” in order to affirm that it is only in them that a possible “relation to freedom” opens up in modernity and beyond modernity (43).   The radical sadness of exile, of ex-communication, of de-communitarization, is a condition of freedom under every regime of sovereignty, which the marrano abhors.

But can a radical opposition to sovereignty be identified as a political position? The language of the marrano is always a losing language, a language of loss or in loss (51). “Only a language of unity turned sovereignty can fulfill the function of union” (51). There can be no union under a marrano register, only separation.   But this then means, “the marrano condition of language” (61) is never political, and can only be infrapolitical. Cabezas says “clandestine,” “subterranean,” “invisible,” that is, it never rises, because it can never do, to heliotropic regions.

Marrano a-positionality is always already infrapolitical, which is its condition of freedom.   Freedom is never defined, only invoked.   So this chapter powerfully raises a question that it is not easy to come to terms with: the answer would be, there is no political freedom, in the same way there is no good community in community. But there is something like infrapolitical freedom, invoked, never defined.

Cabezas concludes: “Exile unbinds freedom doubly, as an experience in the open, but also as the impossibility for it to take place in the name of any modern genealogy of sovereignty or its criollo variations. Freedom is the experience of exile, and the whisper of a marrano who blows into your ear the destruction of the images of idols” (91).


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