Felipe Martínez Marzoa 2:  The Principle of General Equivalence in Civil Society.  By Alberto Moreiras.

 Civil society, or the modern State, couldn’t care less about “intrinsic legitimacy.”    Behavior is not to be judged, or valued, although it can be enforced coactively.   Civil society enforces only one consensus: that there should be no consensus.   There is only one kind of general agreement which is the conditio sine qua non:  “to create and maintain conditions so that one can live not having to agree on anything or to commune with anything” (“Estado y legitimidad,” 88). 

 This seems unreal, Marzoa anticipates.  No State has ever done that.   But one needs to think, again, by finding a point of contrast: say, State against the Church, or the State against any “natural” community.   The function of the State, in Modernity, is to establish “a sphere within which consensus and communion be dissolved and cease being binding” (89).   At that point, when the State maximally reduces resistance to itself, there may come a point when it is seized by a panic attack—and a rush to “seek reconciliation and synthesis with all the other things” (89).   We are not there yet.  Or perhaps we are.  

 So, that sphere is constituted by the renunciation of any valorization—nothing is binding, except the fact that nothing is binding.  That means, nothing is really mine, everything is alienable.   Everyting is exchangeable for something else, including myself.  I am myself alienable, because I am in principle equivalent to anybody else.  This is the principle of general equivalence, which sets every thing as a commodity, since everything has the value of exchange value.   This is the tendential law of civil society: if not everything is exchangeable, then there is no principle of general equivalence.  The principle of general equivalence is overwhelming and dissolves the binding character of every thing.  There are commodities only if everything is a commodity.   (Nothing is exchangeable in principle for anything else if something is not exchangeable for anything else.)

 This of course draws a non-physical objectivity that we could or should call structure.  That structure is civil society: the system of things as commodities.  It simply exists.   Whenever it goes beyond existing into thinking or saying, then it becomes the State, right, or the laws. 

 And the State, right, or the laws have no choice, since they have given up on any valuation of intrinsic legitimacy, and can only seek to enforce coactive power, but to let every one do as they will or would, which does not mean there are no norms, since it is every one, not some yes but not others, that must be able to do as they wish, that is, I must be able to do as I wish provided everyone is able to proceed likewise.   This is a mere logical conclusion from the principle that says that the State moves into no evaluation of intrinsic legitimacy.   The State, right, the laws, are formal protection of the right of every one to do as they wish, provided that right stays in place for every one. 

 Only the common substance, with money as its manifestation as patent means of exchange (but money is only the common substance, the structure of civil society as such), makes it possible.   And money measures and regulates time as exchange.   Money is the general exploitation of time.   And the condition of my own general exchangeability.   [The condition, therefore, of my mobility, also of my freedom.  Which is everyone else’s.   Civil society is the end of masters and slaves, it is the end of history, according to a certain understanding.] 

 And all of this is the warranty of the State’s legitimacy as well as the warranty of any critique of the State.  I can only critique the State in the name of the system of liberties that the State itself institutes—there is no outside, as there are no binding ties that can constitute such an outside.    I can invent them, I can appeal to them, I can claim communities or naturalness—which means I am having a panic attack and seek a reconciliation and synthesis with that which is not given to me. 

 But then?  Marzoa ends with the following words:  “nihility must by all means avoid self-recognition, must constantly fabricate instances from which to benefit, and that is because precisely the recognition of nihility would be the only non-nihilistic [thing, or possibility]” (100).

If so, then the full assumption of nihilism, the full assumption of total distance and total separation, the full assumption of unboundedness—but is that not infrapolitics?   As the hyperbolic condition of democracy? 


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