Is There an Infrapolitical Dignity Worthy of the Name? By Gareth Williams.

Rome dignitas

Geoffrey Bennington, Scatter 1: The Politics of Politics in Foucault, Heidegger and Derrida. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016.

My presentation is framed as a question, but is simply an attempt to think alongside scatter, with no definitive response to the question itself. I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to Alberto Moreiras for this gathering, and my admiration to Geoffrey Bennington for Scatter 1, which, via the “politics of politics” in Foucault, Heidegger and Derrida, posits a thinking not of the political per se, but of a certain autoimmune distance from the political, which is, of course, a distance from politics understood as the dialectical orientation and administration of force. Bennington proposes a dismantling of the hermeneutics of the political, and, as such, a deconstruction of the originary polemos/polis relation. He does this in such a way as to unveil—that is, to loosen and scatter—just some of the originary concealments that lie at the heart of the political. Bennington presents us with what one might call, perhaps a little inappropriately, a form of anticipatory resoluteness that is extended, however, not in the name of power over Dasein’s existence, as in Heidegger’s not so surreptitious decision, but in the name of autoimmunity. This movement uncovers a “modest falling short of the transcendental”; the potentiality of a turn toward a thinking of autoimmunity that traces the contours of a thinking without mastery; an opening to a certain environmentality within thinking that remains at a significant remove from the dialectic of reason and the certainties of political consciousness that animate every teleology.

We could understand Scatter1, therefore, as a protocol of reading that highlights, and animates, a certain trembling at the heart of the political; a trembling that is covered over, concealed, and systematically rendered oblivious in the name of teleology. Bennington’s is a protocol that is extended with a view to dispersing all fugitive Self-Other concealments. This is obviously not the work of a card carrying Heideggerian, however. Quite the contrary, the author proposes the detours of scatter in such a way as to open up a task for thinking that does not regurgitate Heidegger’s troublesome metaphorics of proximity and gathering; a metaphorics that Derrida in May ‘68 (“The Ends of Man”), but also in his lectures from a few years before On the Question of Being and History, had already outlined as a thinking of “simple and immediate presence, a metaphorics associating the proximity of Being with the values of neighboring, shelter, house, service, guard, voice and listening” (“Ends, 130). As Derrida highlights in reference to Heideggerian metaphorics, this is “not an insignificant rhetoric” (130).

With this in mind, Scatter 1 takes aim at the underlying problems of the “moment of vision” (Augenblikt), which Heidegger developed with a view to anchoring and holding together the factical and the transcendental, the existential and the existentiell; the gathering together of all thrownness, dispersal and ek-sistence. In contrast to Heidegger’s moment of vision, Bennington invites us to approach the politics of politics in the absence of such a problematic metaphorics, in the process raising the question of metaphoricity in general, and along with it the very conceivability of plurality, coexistence and simultaneity.

Echoing Derrida’s “differance”, Scatter 1 offers its readers the tomb of the proper, the death of the tyranny contained in Heidegger’s metaphysics of gathering and proximity (Derrdia, 1972, 4). As such, the politics of politics unveils an economy of death that lies at the heart of the metaphorics of the familial and the proper. Rather than positing presence, scatter loosens, breaches and breaks open in a movement toward the politics of politics; politics in its autoimmune self-difference, or alter. The politics of politics marks not the sign politics, but the sign of the sign, and therefore the opening to the unveiling trace of the erasure of the trace itself. As a result, Scatter is the movement of an autoimmune destitution of political presence that moves in the name of an economy without reserve, always preceding and differentiating itself from the political.

In these movements the politics of politics governs nothing. If it is anything, scatter is the name for that which “lingers in the expanse of unconcealment” (Derrida,”Ousia and gramme), and, as such, in the expanse of the trace of the erasure of the trace. Scatter is a thought of lingering and of falling short. Making the unveiling of oblivion the issue not of politics, but of the politics of politics, scatter suspends teleology from the start, in the name of always, humbly, and necessarily, falling short of gathering. As such, it remains at all times without a kingdom and without an epoch; as Derrida observes in reference to differance, which remains at all times the underlying movement of scatter, it is an “affirmation foreign to all dialectics” (27). As a result, there is no philosophy of bios and zoe available to us here; there is no affirmative biopolitics in scatter. Rather, it is thinking in the name of blind tactics, empirical wandering (Derrida, 7), and the circumventing of the willful politics of the decision, of any specific political consciousness, and of the operation or action of a subject on an object. In scatter sovereignty is nothing and the only democracy worthy of the name would be an-archic.

This is, of course, a fundamental project for our times, understanding our times as our atrocious, forced familiarity with a seismic shift in the coordination of teleology and eschatology that we have come to call globalization. Half a century ago, in “The Ends of Man”, Derrida first approached the question of dignity and democracy, highlighting the following limit: “What is difficult to think today is an end of man which would not be organized by a dialectics of truth and negativity, an end of man which would not be a teleology in the first person plural” (121). Fifty years later our phrasing would have to be slightly different, since that limit evoked by Derrida has been displaced by the globalizaton of techne and the determination of humanity as standing reserve. In these dire circumstances, we might now have to say that what is difficult to think is an end of man that could possibly be organized by a dialectics of truth and negativity, an end of man that could possibly be a teleology in the first person plural, other than that which leads to the eschaton of complete nomic collapse, of course.

It is in this context that Bennington returns to Derrida’s approach to, and distancing from, the Kantian stipulation that a dignity “worthy of the name” be returned to politics, in such a way that a new politics—a repoliticization, another concept of the political—be forged in which rational beings are treated always as an end, “and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will” (Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals). What is ultimately at stake (and this is inevitable in this proposition) is the aporia of a political re-instrumentalization of man as an end in itself, rather than as a value, even though dignitas is only ever an expression of value—of a certain auctoritas—and, as such, the expression of a certain property of the State. The question of force still, and perhaps only ever, haunts this attempt to make room for, and to distance oneself from, dignity in the politics, property and titles of the State.

Bennington asks: “Is it possible to think of a dignity that is not bound up in (and, one might be temped to say, compromised by) the teleological structures of the Kantian Idea?” It is this question that leads to the question of the structure of (in)dignity—the constitutive indignity—that upholds “the supposed dignity of [all] metaphysical concepts”. From an infrapolitical, rather than from a classical political perspective, what is at stake here is how to try to make room not for dignity in real politics, and therefore in the administration of force (auctoritas), but to let the dignity of a remove from the metaphysics of force (that is, a constitutive indignity) be involved in existence. With this question of constitutive indignity in mind, we are left to wonder if there is an infrapolitical inflection—an inflection that is without doubt akin at all times to the protocols of deconstruction, but that is not necessarily bound by the protocols of deconstruction—; I repeat, is there an infrapolitical inflection available to us that might allow us to reckon with the distance from auctoritas, from the property titles of the State or the dignity of metaphysics, from a site other than that of the Kantian inheritance that Derrida reckons with from “The Ends of Man” (1968) all the way through to the end itself in 2004?

At this point I will merely offer an example, and that, precisely, is the weakness of everything that follows (though in Specters of Marx Derrida notes that “an example always carries beyond itself; it opens up a testamentary dimension” (41). I wonder, then, whether in the example there lies the problem and possibility of an infrapolitical inflection that turns away from the political, and turns in the direction of allowing that the dignity of a remove from force be involved not in politics, but in existence.

Of all people, it is Cicero the elderly statesman who might exemplify such an inflection. In a brief essay published in 1960, the Oxford classicist J.P.V.D. Balsdon recounts Cicero’s return from exile and ultimate political capitulation in 56BC, when, in the face of “the prolonged triumph of gangsterdom which followed his exile” (49), Cicero found himself obliged to turn his back on the dignity and prestige of a public life. He had become an ineffective pariah in the motley world of populist resentment. What is at stake in Balsdon’s treatment of this moment in the history of the Republic are the slight shifts in Cicero’s uses of the terms dignitas and otium, together, at this particular time of capitulation and relinquishment.

In general, the term otium referred to the private or retired, as opposed to active public, life. However, in public life otium could also refer to peace and freedom from disturbance, or relief after war and internal disorder (47). It referred to a form of serenity or harmony in the wake of war. Upon Cicero’s political capitulation, Balsdon says, “the opening remark of the De Oratore, [signaling pseudos] which was finished in 55, introduces the new conception ‘cum dignitate otium’. ‘Otium’ is now retirement, the condition of the elder statesman who turns his back on the political. His active political life, his consulships and proconsulships are at an end (49). “Battling through the stormy seas of popular agitation”, observes Balsdon, Cicero had to “make for a different harbor . . . ‘cum dignitate otium’” (50). For the classicist Balsdon this is a harbor of studious relief from disturbance, freedom from agitation, and relief after war and internal disorder, for “persistence in opposition which was doomed to ineffectiveness would not, for the Roman world at large, promote “cum dignitate otium’” (50).

Learning to turn one’s back on the political in order to exist “cum dignitate otium”, learning to be without or in the absence of the dignitas of auctoritas, and, as a result, detouring back toward the constitutive indignity of the pre-political, and doing so while understanding at all times the agitations of the world of force, Cicero would have confronted and suffered the weight of a dignity uprooted from all titles of community. This would have been a dignity without dwelling in political life, and therefore not entirely worthy of its name, since at the same time it would have been a return to a constitutive indignity that was destined to always fall short of the political metaphysics of gathering, of majesty, or of any harbor.

Surely Cicero would have lived it as a “sad or sober pragmatic renunciation of some fuller version of dignity”, as Bennington puts it at the end of Scatter. But perhaps one could speculate that it is here—“cum dignitate otium”, in the infrapolitical turn back to a constitutive indignity that is exposed to real and symbolic death itself—that one could learn to exist, think, and write in an infrapolitical rather than a political fashion. It is there that one might have to learn to live with the without, in such a way as to exist not in the name of dignity or of a future politics or communal title anchored by the sublime or the general structure of “going beyond”, but in the name of a without that nevertheless lets the dignity of the remove from the public world of force be involved in existence. Perhaps it is cum dignitate otium’s passive movement of allowing to be involved in existence—of a care for that which comes at a remove from the biopolitical orientation and administration of forcethat forges the possibility not of a new democratic form, of a re-democratization built liberally on the logics of inclusion and exclusion, but of an infrapolitical scatter of mastery and title that casts freedom from among the ashes.

A partir de Marranismo e inscripción…, de Alberto Moreiras, Madrid: Escolar y Mayo, 2016. Por Juan Carlos Quintero Herencia.


La toma del tiempo

“¿Te gustó el libro, te parece que funciona?” me preguntas. Cuando contesto que sí, que me gustó, siento que la afirmativa es, de inmediato, la tachadura de toda la incomodidad e intensidad asociadas a los libros que he disfrutado. Y éste, como otros que me han gustado, me tomó tiempo. Los que me gustan, me toman tiempo, necesito acompañarlos —por razones que no sé ni quiero explicar— con otras lecturas, con otros textos. Por eso me tardo. Hace tiempo, mucho antes que se pusiera de moda la lentitud académica o universitaria, que abracé las consecuencias y la singularidad de mi “tardarme”. No hay nada que hacer. Además, evité leer las reseñas hasta haber terminado de leer el libro. No quiero que me dañen la película, ni me predispongan, ni me lo cuenten en ninguna dirección.

Ya que se trata de un libro eminentemente autográfico, me gustaría acompañar tu gesto en Marranismo e inscripción con las condiciones, algo del contexto desde donde te vengo leyendo hace un tiempo. Consignar aquí todo el ruido que tengo que poner al lado para poder leer(te).

No creo que nos hayamos dado las manos. No recuerdo un estrechón de manos. Es probable que hayamos coincidido en los pasillos de alguna conferencia profesional y recuerdo algunas fotos colgadas en un panel en el último LASA en Washington, DC. Tu nombre fue primero una cita, una referencia, un pasaje —de hecho recuerdo el uso de The Exhaustion of Difference (2001) en el libro de Juan Duchesne Winter, Fugas incomunistas (2005)— luego devendría parte de esa suerte de epicentro polémico, de chismes e incesantes rumoreos académicos. Esta última situación, de hecho, se convirtió en un escena que precisamente estorbaba o neutralizaba cualquier lectura o comentario mío sobre tus textos. Cuando en medio de alguna conversación con amigos —intelectuales, escritores o universitarios— mencionaba alguno de tus textos, en demasiadas ocasiones, se instalaban rostros, “peros” y muecas. La plantilla de adjetivos, juicios (morales), calificativos o descalificaciones que de inmediato procedían, tenían el efecto (en mi) de abrir ese estúpido “disclaimer” que no me interesaba mediar, que quién carajos va a saber lo que sucedió, que no sé lo que en verdad allí pasó, ni me interesaba, etc., etc. Este gesto mío tampoco ayudaba a mantener la continuidad de la conversación, pues pocos o casi ninguno parecían haberte leído o querían hacerlo. Para muchos, a pesar o quizás debido a su filiación o endeudamiento disciplinario, decir cosas como “ese tipo es un_____________” o “esa tipa es una _____________” es parte de una carga y descarga afectiva y moral que acompaña y firma su labor crítica, aunque dejen esto para el cotilleo y el aparte entre panas. Quería y quiero hablar de otras cosas que no pasan por ahí. ¿De qué estamos hablando, de los textos, de la labor de pensamiento que allí se despliega o de la “estatura moral de las personas envueltas”, de cuán humildes, simpáticos o arrogantes son? No creo que en estos asuntos existan víctimas y victimarios absolutos, impolutos. Ni me importa. En fin.

Creo que el “affaire en Z” o el ground zero que estalló con el “subalternismo” y “post-subalternismo” tiene los visos de un concurso de popularidad, de torneo político-institucional ante los administradores y ganaron los más astutos, los mercadeables, quizás “los más agradables”, los instrumentalizables, los que hablan o hablaron un mejor “Decanish” (la lengua del decanato). Me consta haber sentido y escuchado la “sospecha”, el pasarle la cuenta, el goce ante el —entonces— extraño “latinoamericanista”, al “antipático” español que para colmo no visitaba los santos lugares de la diferencia o la identidad “latinoamericanista”. Nada de lo que aparece entre comillas ni lo afirmo, ni me interesa desmentirlo, porque nada de esto, repito, me consta, ni me parece relevante, ni mucho menos ando por ahí buscando versiones o contra-versiones. De la misma manera, ya se pasea con nuevas vestiduras la “sospecha” y la paranoia ante el deseo infrapolítico por hablar de la esquemática histórica heiddegeriana de cara a América Latina.

Siempre he dicho que me parecen mucho más retadores e estimulantes los lugares de tu enunciación y algunos de tus textos que cualquiera de los textos de tus “enemigos”, adversarios o sus epígonos. Incluso los disfruto más aunque difiera de ellos o cuando todavía no los “entiendo” del todo. Para mi esta es la marca de un texto que “funciona”. By the way, la discursividad decolonial se me cae de las manos porque telegrafía, le sirve la mesa a la simplificación y reduce la diferencia o la complejidad desde la salida. Todo termina cayendo en su sitio y desde la salida se sabe cómo y qué se va a “concluir”.

Creo que mi distancia y desconocimiento íntimo asociados a los días convulsos en “Z” me ha permitido escapar tanto de la moralina institucional, del torneo citacional sectario, de la verbosidad teórica, como del fisiculturismo discursivo o del craso anti-intelectualismo que nuclea, en ocasiones, el bochinche sobre lo que pasó en “Z” y sus consecuencias. Con lo anterior ni niego, ni dudo de los dolores y sufrimientos realmente vividos durante esos años, como subestimo la “realidad” de movidas y maquinaciones que pueden “testimoniar” o negar cualquiera de sus participantes o testigos. En verdad, Alberto, me aburre el tema. Igual me siento como quien se asoma a una escena obscenamente íntima y no tiene manera de salir de allí. Esto en particular ni lo celebro, ni lo agradezco, lo doy por recibido. Sobre el sujeto que escribe Marranismo e inscripción este relato sobre “Z” parece una herida sin sutura. Espero, sin embargo, que esto sea lo menos discutido, leído o comentado de Marranisno e inscripción. O que por curiosidad malsana permita que otros lectores se acerquen al libro. Si se va a convertir en otra re-edición del dime-y-direte entre los que son y los que no son (algo), paso. Las reseñas que he leído ya enfatizan lo que me parece importante del libro.

Creo que la mejor funcionalidad de este libro, es esa funcionalidad averiada que tan productiva y dialogante me parece y que firma lo que me atrevería a subrayar como una singularidad de lo literario y, borgianamente, de lo teórico. Algunos de los aspectos me parecen contribuciones del libro son: 1) la inscripción decisiva del daño y regocijo anti-teórico que plaga la academia contemporánea. Necesitamos asediar la hegemonía de la pulsión anti-intelectual, anti-teórica que regentea la universidad tal y como la conocemos hoy. Fue toda una sorpresa, más que estimulante, leer en las páginas dedicadas al episodio en “Z” el espejeo de un momento efervescente en el campo intelectual puertorriqueño del pasado fin de siglo. Me refiero a las discusiones y debates, además de las histerizaciones de algunos ante el denostado corpus “post-moderno” en el Puerto Rico universitario de finales de los 1990’s y comienzo de los 2000’s, 2) la puesta en discusión de las posibilidades e imposibilidades críticas de la “infrapolítica como una crítica del giro político” (33) y 3) el abandono de la secundariedad intelectual, del enmarcado cientista de la labor crítica, en tanto ficción crítica o ficción teórica. La voluntad escritural, literaria del libro lo coloca serenamente, si se me permite, entre “nuestros extraños libros” latinoamericanos. Nada de esto merece meramente aplausos, sino discusión y deliberación amplios.


Asociaciones libres y preguntas. Asocio y pregunto recordando las palabras de mi madrina santera quien me decía, cuando veía venir una pregunta sobre el secreto: lo que se sabe no se pregunta. También porque aquí, tal vez, expongo, no sé, algunas de mis resistencias o confusiones ante MI. Uso MI autorizado por el gesto indigerible, indigesto con el que Brett Levinson presentaba la performance de tu pensamiento en Marranismo e interpretación: “Marranismo e inscripción, henceforth MI, is both a performance and explanation of its own undigestibility, which is to say, the undigestibility of Moreiras within Hispanism as well as within, let us call them, the theoretical humanities.” Recordé que MI es también la abreviatura utilizada por los productores de la película-franquicia de acción y espionaje Mission Impossible protagonizada por Tom Cruise. Y más que cualquier extrapolación efectista o el relleno del vacío que desaloja lo imposible con la proeza visual, me gustaría seguir pensando el carácter imposible de tu crítica al “latinoamericanismo del yo” y el “llamado de una lengua no metafórica”.

En tu lectura del “latinoamericanismo del yo”, éste parece ser consecuencia de una movida cartográfica, de haber padecido una “cartografía” donde se te convirtió en personaje capturado por dicho mapa. Más o mejor que una concepción cartográfica del “yo” ¿podríamos repensar lo “yoico” desde otras coordenadas? Que al igual que la resistencia a la experiencia psicoanalítica se manifiesta con ese “psicoanalizarse es lo que siempre necesita el otro”, también pudieramos evitar la trampa de que “más yoico eres tú” y responsabilizarnos por ese estar implicados hasta el tuétano en la opción de la primera persona. Creo que MI expone un “yo”, tal vez indigesto pero también en vías de fuga, abandonándose a otros placeres y por lo mismo, ojalá, camino a otra interlocución. Ahora bien, más o menos que el diseño o una captura cartográfica lo “yoico” me parece un privilegiar, un totalizar la presencia y el actuar del “yo”, volverlo escenario y protagonista indispensable de la labor crítica, la reducción de lo personal o de lo íntimo a la primera persona. ¿El “no hay un nosotros” que exhibe la infrapolítica sería una marca de su carácter post-yoico, infrayoico, su posibilidad imposible?


La espalda de lo imposible-lo posible del pensar (:) Deconstruir, desmetaforizar, desnarrativizar ¿des-equivalenciar? “Despertar en el pensamiento”

“No sabemos lo que podría ser una vida sin metáforas, pero sabemos o podemos intuir lo que la metáfora traiciona. Marranismo e inscripción (135)

Me consta, por varias instancias, lecturas e intercambios por Facebook, tu deseo reflexivo por continuar o asumir la tarea de-constructiva derrideana como un despertar del sueño sonámbulo del metafísico —a diferencia del, pero relacionado con el sonámbulo poético (sobre el cual dices poco)— pues el sonámbulo metafísico es quien sueña “sin romper el carácter metafórico de la lengua” o citando a Derrida  despertar como la escucha de la «llamada de una lengua no metafórica imposible» (278).” Es casi seguro que aquí y ahora pulse mi condición crónica, poética, o mi inhabilidad para elucidar, o habitar la lucidez del sujeto de la luz (si se me perdona la redundancia) que ha despertado. Romper la metáfora es producir otra metáfora o al menos suspenderla por un instante. ¿Qué haría posible políticamente esta lengua-no-metafórica-imposible? ¿Con qué tipo de oído escuchas ese “llamado”? ¿O escuchas tal vez el llamado desde una viscosidad literalizante en la que creerías como escritor, como marrano y que nunca deviene discurso en tanto expondría tu secreto? ¿Por qué no lidiar, des-obrar con ese tacto, con el pálpito con “lo real” que también recorre lo meta-phorein como escape de lo dicotómico, como transferencia a otro o cualquier lugar?

Si la metáfora “traiciona”, falta o delinque, sino es leal, ¿cuál es el problema de este “sueño”, cuál es la naturaleza de su deslealtad y qué o quién decide su “politicidad? A veces me parece —puedo, sin duda, equivocarme colosalmente— que si “desmetaforizar es deconstruir” bajo el signo de lo imposible, este des-obrar el trabajo de la metáfora tal vez arrastre una noción muy específica, quizás muy parcial o limitada de lo metafórico que todavía transporta un binario y sólo percibe y reconoce espasmódicamente la potencialidad múltiple, abierta de lo metafórico. ¿La infrapolítica “sospecha” de toda voluntad, más bien de la inevitabilidad-potencialidad metafórica? ¿Insiste alguna voluntad equivalencial, alguna ideologización en el trabajo de la metáfora?

Espero que estas notas (menores) te hayan sacado de las “ascuas”, de allí donde mis salidas o silencios en el pasado te habían colocado.

Gracias por el libro y en cuanto me lleguen ejemplares de La hoja de mar te paso uno firmado. Un abrazo.

Juan Carlos Quintero Herencia

20 de marzo de 2017, Silver Spring, Maryland

Ius imperii: on Roberto Esposito’s The Origin of the Political: Hannah Arendt or Simone Weil? By Gerardo Muñoz.

Vicenzo Binetti and Gareth Williams’ translation of Roberto Esposito’s The Origin of the Political: Hannah Arendt or Simone Weil? (Fordham U Press, 2017) fills an important gap in the Italian thinker’s philosophical trajectory, connecting the early works on the impolitical (Categorie dell’impolitico, Nove pensieri) to the latest elaborations on negative community and the impersonal (Terza persona, Due, Da Fuori). Origins is also an important meditation on the problem of thought, and Esposito admits that had he written this work today, he would have dwelled more on this question central to his own philosophical project up to Da Fouri and the turn to “Italian Thought” (pensiero vivente). Nevertheless, The Origin of the Political is a unique contribution that crowns a systematic effort in mapping the rare misencounter and esoteric exchange between two great Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century: Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil.

In a sequence of thirteen sections, Esposito dwells on the question of the origin of the political in light of western decline into nihilism, empire, and modern totalitarianism. He is not interested in writing a comparative essay, and this book could not be further from that end. Rather, Arendt and Weil are situated face to face in what Esposito calls a “reciprocal complication”, in which two bodies of work can illuminate, complement, and swerve from instances of the said and unsaid (Esposito 2). Albeit their dissimilar intellectual physiognomies and genealogical tracks, which Esposito puts to rest at times, the underlying question at stake is laid out clearly at the beginning. Mainly, the question about the arcanum or principle of the political:

“Does totalitarianism have a tradition, or is it born of destruction? How deep are its roots? Does it go back two decades, two centuries, or two millennia? And ultimately: is it internal or external to the sphere of politics and power? Is it born from lack or from excess? It is on this threshold that the two response, in quite clear-cut fashion diverge.” (Esposito 4).

Whereas for Arendt the causes and even the texture of the political is extraneous from the totalitarian experience that took place in the war theaters of the central Europe, Weil’s response solicits a frontal interrogation of the ruinous catering of the political, going back at least to the Roman Empire. But Esposito does not want to exploit differences between the Weil and Arendt too soon. In the first sections of Origins he brings them to common grounds. First, Esposito notes how important Homer’s Iliad was to both Arendt and Weil in terms of the question of “origins”. In fact, the Iliad does not only represent a ‘before of history’, a poem that cannot be reduced to the narrative of the event; it is also an artifact that allows for truth. Esposito writes: “It is precisely the defense of truth through the name of Homer that most intimately binds our authors” (Esposito 8). Whereas totalitarianism emerges once politics is only a legislative instrument for seeking ends, truth for the an-archic Homeric poem praises both accounts; that of the victor and the defeated. Thus, any an-archic (beyond or before origin or command) is always, necessarily, a history of the defeated, which remains a demand in the order of memory. This is what Arendt’s admires and defends in “Truth and Politics” regarding the Homerian telling of both Hector and Achilles. But it’s also what Weil in her pre-Christian intuitions accepts as the survival of the Greek beginning in the commencement of Christianity without mimesis. To recollect truth in history beyond arcana (origins and commanding force) is to take distance from the force of philosophy of history, and its salvific messianic reversals. This is far from the negation of history; it is the radicalization and the durability of the historical, which Esposito frames with a cue from Broch:

“How can something conceived in terms of a caesura lay the foundations for something enduring? How can one derive the fullness of Grund from the emptiness of Abgrund? How to stabilize and institute freedom when it is born literally from the “abyss of nothingness” This is the question that returns with increasing intensity in Arendt’s essay on revolution…However, revolution cannot be an inaugural caesura and constitutio libertatis simultaneously” (Esposito 17-18).

This explains, perhaps only implicitly (Esposito does not say so openly), Arendt’s convicted defense of the American Founders over the Jacobinism of the French Revolution, which has only been an achievement in history due to the enduring progressive force of living constitutionalism. Esposito does not take up the fact that, Weil also responded critically to the Jacobin rule in her influential “Note sur la suppression générale des partis politiques” (1940). Esposito does claim, however, that any historical an-archy, insofar as it remains incomplete and evolving, must not resolve itself in genesis or redemptive messianism of the “now-time” [1]. This clearing allows for a passage through the origin that brings to bear the proximity of war to politics, which for Arendt delimits the antinomy of polemos and polis, as well as the difference between power and violence elaborated in her book On Violence.

Esposito lays down three different levels of Arendt’s positing of the origin of the political: a first one predicated on the space of the polis for the action of the citizen (polis becoming a theater); a second one, in which the agon is manifested without death; and a third, a Romanization of the Greek physis into auctoritas. For Arendt, Rome becomes a sort of retroactive payment for what was lost and destroyed. It is an after Troy in order to experience “beginning as (re)commencement” (Esposito 31). Rome is the possibility of another polis after the incineration, a tropology for amnesty within the historical development of stasis or social strife. Once again, the hermeneutics of memory over forgetting is placed above a philosophy of history that absolutizes the valence of the political. But it is in this conjuncture where Weil’s thought announces itself as an interruptive force in Arendt’s ontological conversation of the polis.

Esposito immediately tells us that for Weil the “origin” of the political does not run astray due to accumulation of historical catastrophe. According to Weil, the Fall is already original in the sense of being grounded in the event of creation (Esposito 36). Here Weil’s neoplatonic Christianity carries the weight. Weil posits an understanding of contradiction in Christian Trinitarian thought, although unlike the Carl Schmitt of Roman Catholicism and Political Form (1923), she does not substantialize this split through the reciprocity of its division into decision in the name of legitimate order. Weil, as it is well known, affirms a moment of creation grounded in its own abnegation. This revolves in the concept of de-creation that Esposito defines as: “a presence that proposes itself in the modality of absence, as a yes to the other expressed by the negation of self in an act fully coincident with its own renunciation” (Esposito 39). Conceptually consistent with Eckhart’s kenosis and later in modernity with Schelling’s philosophy of revelation, decreation is the Weil’s stamp of unoriginary foundation.

At stake here is the question of impersonal life, which in different ways, Italian thinkers as diverse as Giorgio Agamben, Elettra Stimilli, Davide Tarizzo, or Roberto Esposito himself have articulated in multiple ways in a debate that has come to us under the label of biopolitics. To the extent that decreation is an an-archy of this neoplatonic theology, Weil remains a thinker of the non-subject or of the trace of the finite that is irreducible to any modality of the political [2]. At this point, Esposito exposes the problem of force. Without fully embarking on a phenomenology of the concept in Weil’s reading of the Iliad, Esposito notes that force has the character of a total encompassing sensation that strips life unto death, belonging to no one, and viciously bypassing all limits. Here Weil cuts away from Arendt’s agonistic impulse of the polis.

The maximum distance with Arendt also emerges at this point: whereas Arendt conceived the Iliad of glory and claritas, for Weil it is “a nocturnal canto of mortality, finitude, and human misery” (Esposito 52). The uncontained force, the true and central protagonist of Homer’s epic, unfolds a negative community that Esposito calls, after Jan Patočka, a community “of the front”. Although Weil’s utmost divergence from Arendt becomes effective in the question of Roman politicity, which for her amounts to a juridical idolatry and a theologico-political glorification, as well as a prelude for the modern totalitarian experiment. In a key moment of this treatment of Weil’s critique of Roman law, Esposito writes:

“But what is even more significant for Weil’s arguments, and this is in contrast to Arendt, is that Roman law – ius, whose intrinsic nexus with iubeo drags the entire semantic frame of iustitia far from the terrain of the Greek dikē – is annexed to the violent sphere of domination. While the latter alludes to the sovereign measure that subsides parts according to their just proportion, the Roman iustum always belongs to he ho stands higher in respect to others who for this very reason are judged to be inferior, or, in the literal sense of the expression, “looked down upon”. This is the principle of a “seeing” that in the roman action of war is always bound to “vanquishing”…” (Esposito 56).

For Weil, Rome was representative of imperium and ius that subordinated the transcendence of its uncontested rule above citizenship equality, such as it existed in the Greek polis through isonomia. Devoid of citizenship, the Roman ius imperii is necessarily a dependent on slavery. Esposito notes that Weil’s anti-roman sense is more consistent with Heidegger’s critique of the falsum of the Roman pax as well as with Elias Canneti’s understanding of roman perpetual war, than with the Romantic anti-roman verdict. In its decadence, Roman politics as based on fallare opens up Christian pastoral power in a long continuum that later reproduces the basis for supreme hegemony. At the same time, Rome never truly stands for war, since it negates by declining conflictivity to peace in the name of domination. That is why for Weil the greatest discovery of the Greeks was to abide by strife as the mother of all things, while realizing its destructive nature. This makes Weil, as Esposito is aware, a figure of ignition, and a “combative thinker”. There is a sense in which the imagination of warring also colors Weil’s reading of Love in Plato’s Symposium, which positively informs her deconstruction of Roman ius.

But is this enough to leave imperial legislative domination? Should one accept Love as contained in war, as a form of warring and as a sword? (Esposito 72). The question that emerges at the very end of the Origins is whether Love can be at the center of a elaboration of a third dimension of the political, traversing both Weil and Arendt’s thought, and establishing perhaps a new principle for politics. It is to this end that Esposito argues: “…justice – love and thought, the thought of love – requires that what appears to others be sacrificed to what is, even if it remains obscured, misunderstood, or despaired (and this is precisely what Weil’s hero also proposes)” (Esposito 77).

Esposito writes just a few pages before that perhaps only Antigone succeeded in facing this differend, but only at the highest possible cost of destruction. It is at this crossroads where we find the last attempt to reconnect Weil and Arendt. However, love (eros) stops short of being a legislative antinomy and premise for a politics of non-domination beyond sacrifice or the payment with one’s own life. One should recall that Arendt’s doctoral work on Saint Augustine and love sheds light on Weil’s pursuit of love in facticity of war [3]. And if love always retains a sacrificial and Christological trace, then it entails that at any moment the condition of eros could dispense towards the very falsum that it seeks to undue. Could there be a politics predicated on love as an origin, capable of obstructing imperial renewal?

This is the question that Esposito’s book elicits, but that it also leaves unanswered. While it is surprising that the question of ‘the friend’ goes without mention in The Origins of the Political – the last twist in the book is on the figure of the hero or the antihero – it begs to ask to what extent friendship, not love, becomes the “deviation of the political” into an post-hegemonic region irreducible to the negation of war? This region is not possible to subsume in the impersonal reversal of the lover, the enemy or the neighbor. Perhaps the “He” that Esposito analyzes in Kafka at the very end of the book cannot be properly placed as an amorous figure, since the friend always arrives, quite unexpectedly, at the game of life. We abide to this intimate encounter beyond ethical and the political maximization. Moreover, we care for him, even when we do not love him. It is the friend, in fact, a figure that finds itself in a hospitable region, in a city like Venice so admired by Weil, where “he can rest when he is exhausted” (Esposito 78). This is a region no longer ruled by imperial politics, nor by its exacerbated modern perpetuity.





  1. The target here is messianism as represented mainly by Walter Benjamin and other representatives of salvific philosophies. Esposito notes that Hannah Arendt was critical of Walter Benjamin’s messianism in her “Gnoseological Foreword” of Benjamin’s Origin of German Tragic Drama. For a devastating critique of messianism and philosophy of history as a dual machine of political theologies, see Jaime Rodriguez Matos’ Writing of the Formless: José Lezama Lima and the End of Time (Fordham U Press, 2016).
  2. For the non-subject, see Alberto Moreiras’ contribution to the debate of the political in his Línea de sombra: el no-sujeto de lo político (Palinodia, 2006).
  3. Giorgio Agamben makes the claim that love in Heidegger, as informed by Arendt’s early work on St. Augustine, stands for facticity. See his “The Passion of Facticity”, in Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy (Stanford U Press, 1999). 185-205.

Retreating from the Politics of Eternity: on Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. By Gerardo Muñoz.

snyder-on-tyrannyWe often cite James Madison’s acute observation from Federalist 10: “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm”. Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017), is written keeping this political conviction in sight, so indispensable to the democratic aspiration of the framers more than two centuries ago. Snyder, however, is no messenger of good news. In line with those that have taken seriously the rise of presidentalism, and the expansive politization of the executive branch in recent decades, Snyder is making the case for a timely warning against a potential threat for tyranny in the wake of Donald J. Trump victory at the end of last year.

On Tyranny is informed by Snyder’s expertise and research as a historian of Eastern Europe and the Holocaust, which have resulted in landmark contributions such as Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (2012), and Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015). In both of these books, Snyder has shown quite convincingly, how the erosion of institutions and the rule of law, due to both communist and fascist planning and dismantling over the control of the eastern region, paved the way for absolute anarchy and systematic destruction that made the Holocaust a juridical and political reality. Snyder does not mean to say, by way of an easy equivalence, that Trumpism amounts to a repetition of this historical period. Rather, On Tyranny is a precise warning on two levels: on one hand, it is a plea to rethink the necessity of institutions in the times of the rise of what Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called the imperial presidency; and secondly, to learn as much as we can from History, particularly from the historical evidence that confirms that every republic has always combated and affirmed itself against a latent imperial drift. Snyder’s thesis, presumably informed from a historiographical position, also suggests a political anthropology. In other words, the battle against an empire solicits an abandonment of the voluntary servitude that only feeds the incremental force of reaction. Our present shall not be indifferent to this.

After the 2016 election what is really at stake is whether the Federalist warning against the rise of factions is enough to contain an unprecedented alignment of vertical hegemonic power. There have been scholars, such as constitutional lawyer Eric Posner in The Executive Unbounded (2013), who have said farewell to Madisonian democracy in light of the exceptional upsurge of the executive branch [1]. On Tyranny does not go this far, but it is obvious that its purpose is not to engage in the aporias and intricate developments of constitutional law in order to render feasible an argument in favor of a retreat from hegemonic politics. Non-hegemonic politics always entail breaking the spell of a given set of coordinates that have produced an impasse. Snyder provides an array of historical examples: Rosa Parks in 1955 or Winston Churchill in the darkest moment when Hitler materializes his territorial expansion. It is in these perilous moments that the retreat from hegemonic politics does not mean renouncing political action. It means, first and foremost, abandoning the hyper-political consistency that defines the eternity and enmity of the political. But I do not want to get ahead of myself while briefing Snyder’s book. Havel, Parks, Churchill, Arendt, these are names that metonymically index Snyder’s plea for a politics of vocation in a time when rhinoceros are roaming through the landscape. The reference here is, of course, Ionesco’s well-known 1959 play Rhinoceros, which Snyder introduces when discussing the submission to politics of untruth:

“Ionesco’s aim was to help us see just how bizarre propaganda actually is, but how normal it seems to those who yield to it. By using the absurd image of the rhinoceros, Ionesco was trying to shock people into noticing the strangles of what was actually happening. The Rhinoceri are roaming through our neurological savannahs….And now, as then, many people confused faith in a hugely flawed leader with the truth about the world we all share. Post-truth is pre-fascism” (Snyder 70-71).

The rhinoceros are the political converts, which are always one step too close to the work of hegemony and its delirious power. It is then entirely consistent that Snyder also makes the claim for the protection of a new sense of privacy (sic) that could contain the boundaries between oikos (private) and the polis (public) against the drift towards totalitarianism (Snyder 88). Tyrannical politics is also a politics without secrets. It does not necessarily emanate from this position that a new egotist sense of privacy will act as a modality in an existence that is now beyond risk, guarding its own skin from the wild beasts. Snyder recognizes that there is no politics without factions, as Madison would have also said. Hence, there is no real politics without a minimal corporeal investment (Snyder 83-85).

But we have moved away from the level of hegemonic thirst for domination, conceiving a relation with politics that is not exhausted in the singular existence. Or put in different terms, only in existence could a politics of lesser domination be allowed to emerge against the threat of factions. Politics should not be oriented towards the end of the administration of life, which always amounts to a biopolitics. A republicanist politics is the orgazanition of public and social life that prevents both, the intensification and nullification of life in the polis.

What becomes troublesome, as Snyder makes clear, is that the administration of politics is today justified under the name of terror. In fact, Snyder states: “Modern tyranny is terror management” (Snyder 103). This is, indeed, an actualization of the schmittian withholding of the state of exception now normalized at the heart of democratic systems. Hence, the new danger is not just juridical, although it is also that. Snyder presses on the fact that current governments and parties – from Putin’s Russia to Le Pen’s Front National to Trump’s populist rallies in Florida or North Carolina – are borrowing props and gestures from the 1930s, a decade that Steve Bannon has labeled “exciting”. It is no surprise to anyone that we are currently living in times justified by exception in the name of the “crisis”. It is this time of excitement that provides a grammar of historical teleology and inevitability, and further, of judgment. However, the passage from inevitability to something darker is what Snyder calls the politics of eternity, which is really the core of his book, and the sign under which neo-fascism abides:

“…the politics of eternity performs a masquerade of history, though a different one. It is concerned with the past, but in a self-absorbed way, freed from with any real concern with facts….Eternity politicians bring us the past as a vast misty courtyard of illegible monuments to national victimhood, all of them equally distant from the present.” (Snyder 121).

If there is no real concern with facts, it is because all politics of untruth are politics to cover the Real, or what Jaime Rodriguez Matos has recently called the formless thing [2]. And for Snyder, national populists of the far right are eternity politicians providing a form that at the end of the day is just sending signs of smoke (Snyder 122). What is being covered is the void that leads to a point of no return: mainly, that there is no “greatest moment to return to”, since it is impossible to resurrect Empire. This inevitable untruth provides illusory grounds to radical right rhetoric in Europe. Although, we must infer that this is also the moment where Trump appears in its maximum existential danger to us.

It is uncertain if the institutions of the West will withstand this immanent threat. Although it is in this conjuncture that the rule of law becomes as central as ever before, and to discard it, is perhaps one of the greatest acts of moral decrepitude. It is here where we awake from the sleepwalking of eternal politics, as we are confronted with the historical sense that gives us the phantasmatic company of those who have perished, and that have suffered more than us (Snyder 125). It is in this affirmation, we agree with Snyder, that we find a substantial push against all tyrannies.






  1. Eric Posner & Adrian Vermeule. The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  2. Jaime Rodriguez Matos. “Politics, Trace, Ethics: Disciplinary Delirium—On Trump and Consequences”. Paper Read at USC Conference, November, 2016.

Entrevista a Bruce Ackerman en CTXT. Por Gerardo Muñoz.


Esta  semana entrevisto al Prof. Bruce Ackerman (Yale University) para el medio español ctxt. Reconocido como uno de los constitucionalistas más importantes en los Estados Unidos, Ackerman es autor de dieciocho libros, entre los que destacan su serie We The People, en tres volúmenes, un trabajo monumental que reconstruye el desarrollo histórico del constitucionalismo del país, el cual propone una interpretación del ‘espíritu de vivencia’ de la Constitución norteamericana contra la exégesis originalista y el centralismo de las cortes. Recientemente en España se ha publicado el primer volumen, bajo el título We The People: Fundamentos de la Historia Constitucional Estadounidense (Traficantes de sueños, 2015). Conversamos sobre Trump, Podemos, y las posibilidades para la reinvención de una agenda progresista para el siglo veintiuno. Leer la entrevista aquí.

¿Qué significa la unidad post-Vistalegre II? Por Luis Villacañas de Castro.

No es lo mismo perder que quedar sentenciado. Si bien era previsible que el errejonismo perdiese en Vistalegre II, no era necesario que quedase sentenciado. A mi entender, esto último sucedió a partir del momento en que la palabra coreada por los asistentes (la que acabó cifrando el mensaje oficial del congreso) fue “unidad” y no “diversidad”. Creo que la diversidad sería lo propio de quienes se tratan, a pesar de todo, como aliados. De haber reclamado diversidad, los asistentes a Vistalegre II hubiesen lanzado un mandato al ganador para que integrase al aliado que quedaba por debajo. Porque la diversidad se organiza, forzosamente, en torno al que pierde, o de lo contrario no habría posiciones diversas que conservar. La unidad, en cambio, sólo puede tener como eje al ganador (sería un contra-sentido crear unidad alrededor del perdedor). Al corearla, el pabellón de Vistalegre II no sólo aclamaba ya al Secretario General, sino que enviaba un claro mensaje a aquéllos que habían acabado siendo su alternativa: dimitid o sumaos a la corriente ganadora, pero no cuestionéis su proyecto. Sólo así podrían evitar ser enemigos internos.

Ahora queda entender en qué va a consistir esta unidad. Permitid que me acerque al tema de una manera indirecta.

Creo que alguien ya lo dijo alguna vez: cuando miramos las fotografías trucadas del estalinismo, sin duda ocurre algo raro. Las más frecuentes son aquéllas en las que Stalin se va quedando solo a medida en que antiguos dirigentes y compañeros de fatigas van desapareciendo de su lado. Donde antes había un grupo (por lo general, retratado en blanco y negro) al final sólo existe Stalin (en ocasiones, a todo color). Pero el raro fenómeno al que me estoy refiriendo no es éste, sino el siguiente: cuando uno mira estas imágenes con atención, no puede sino percibir que los rasgos de los desaparecidos permanecen, de alguna manera, en la cara del Stalin que queda. No sé si se trata de una modificación real, de un efecto simbólico o de un mero automatismo del recuerdo, pero es imposible ignorar esta sensación. Por medio de un proceso que Zizek a buen seguro asociaría con la dialéctica de Hegel, Stalin parece incorporar de forma vampírica al menos un rasgo físico de cada uno de los individuos que fue borrando de su lado, sobre la foto y en la realidad.

Así, la desaparición de un hombre con bigote se traduce, en la figura de Stalin, en un renovado vigor de su mostacho. Y cuando desaparece un dirigente más joven, es Stalin quien entonces aparece más lozano y, además, copiando su peinado. En la última foto de una famosa serie, el gran líder ya aparece solo, tras haber convertido a tres camaradas en fantasmas, y se muestra a pleno color y plenamente humanizado. Parece una oruga que, tras una ardua metamorfosis, se hubiese convertido en mariposa. Sin duda, se trata de una experiencia singular.

La función política y propagandística de todo ello era obvia: promover la visión de que el gran líder lo hizo todo y, además, sin ayuda. Ni siquiera en los buenos tiempos hubo diversidad, y precisamente por eso el discurso oficial podía decir que tampoco hubo enemigos internos. Como lo prueban las fotos, Stalin siempre estuvo solo. Lo verdaderamente interesante, sin embargo, es que, al adoptar los rasgos de aquéllos que va derrotando, Stalin no sólo rescribía el pasado sino que lograba lo más difícil: que el ojo de quien miraba no echase de menos el cambio. Pues parte de los rostros que el observador busca al aproximarse a la foto los encuentra, de alguna forma, incorporados e integrados en el rostro de Stalin. Aunque sabe que ocurre algo raro, el observador ve sus expectativas parcialmente satisfechas y se convence a sí mismo de que aquello que falta jamás estuvo verdaderamente ahí. Así que debió ser verdad: Stalin lo hizo todo y, demás, sin ayuda. Así se reparaba la unidad simbólica que había quedado dañada al acabar con los aliados del pasado.

No traigo a colación esta práctica propagandística para hablar sobre purgas. Esto sería de mal gusto e improcedente. Lo único que pretendo es sugerir por dónde creo que va a ir la futura unidad de Podemos, ahora que la diversidad ha sido derrotada. Pues, si Iglesias es el líder maquiavélico que quiere ser, entonces, a partir del lunes, hará exactamente lo que decía Errejón que había que hacer, pero sin Errejón ni el errejonismo. Lo de menos es que estos últimos se queden o se marchen, se suman o dimitan. Porque el equipo de Iglesias va a vampirizar su discurso para que el errejonismo pierda su razón de ser, presente, pasada y futura. No sólo se les va a derrotar sino que les va a expropiar el suelo que los mantenía en pie. Los mismos que ayer gritaban convocando a la lucha en las calles de la clase obrera no van a tardar ni dos días en abrazar la moderación discursiva y la transversalidad. De pronto, va a haber unidad hasta en el pasado, cuando Iglesias recuerde que él desde siempre fue transversal (y es cierto que en algún momento lo fue; como cierto es que de pronto dejó de serlo, ahora sabemos con qué cálculo).

Lo más paradójico de todo es que este viraje hacia un errejonismo sin errejonistas se habrá hecho gracias al apoyo interno de la militancia más pablista, la cual, empachada de victoria, tardará algún tiempo en entender lo que está pasando. A saber: que Iglesias se ha apoyado en ellos para sentenciar aquello a lo que, a partir de ahora, se acabará pareciendo. Tras sentenciar la Transversalidad como alternativa (tras proteger su flanco derecho), asumirá su discurso para crear su propia unidad simbólica.

Hasta ahora el argumento ha sido paradójico. Pero me temo que será trágico a partir de ahora, cuando se descubra que todo este proceso ha sido catastrófico desde el punto de vista electoral.

Podemos, ¿en nombre de qué? Transversalidad y Democracia. (Gerardo Muñoz)

En el artículo “Una patada en la mesa”, publicado el pasado 17 de Mayo, el pensador David Soto Carrasco pone sobre la mesa dos estrategias fundamentales para acercarnos sobre lo que viene acechando a la política española (aunque para los que estamos interesados en pensar la política más allá de un caso nacional, España es solamente un paradigma de la tarea central para el pensamiento político). Primero, Soto señala, contra los críticos convencionales tanto de la derecha como de la izquierda, que el nuevo acuerdo entre Podemos-Izquierda Unida no es una radicalización ultraizquierdista de la nueva fuerza política de Pablo Iglesias. Y segundo, sugiere que el nuevo acuerdo tampoco es un “acto de resistencia” en el sentido de una mera filiación para mantenerse a flote en la escena de la política nacional.

Soto Carrasco nos dice que se trata de un acto político de madurez que convoca a la ciudadanía española a través de una táctica de transversalidad. La alianza con Izquierda Unida, de esta manera, no estaría implicada en arribismo hegemónico, sino en nuevas posibilidades para “dibujar líneas de campo” y enunciar otras posiciones por fuera del belicismo gramsciano (guerra de posiciones). Soto Carrasco le llama a esto “sentido común”, pero le pudiéramos llamar democracia radical, o bien lo que en otra parte he llamado, siguiendo a José Luis Villacañas, deriva republicana. Conviene citar ese momento importante del artículo de Soto Carrasco:

“En política, la iniciativa depende fundamentalmente de la capacidad de enunciar tu posición, la posición del adversario pero también de definir el terreno de juego. Si se quiere ganar el partido, no solo basta con jugar bien, sino que hay que dibujar las líneas del campo. Dicho con otras palabras si se quiere ganar el cambio hay que recuperar la capacidad de nombrar las cosas y redefinir las prioridades. Generalmente esto lo hacemos a través de lo que llamamos sentido común. Para ello, la izquierda (como significante) ya no es determinante” [1].

El hecho que los partidos políticos y sus particiones ideológicas tradicionales estén de capa caída hacia el abismo que habitamos, es algo que no se le escapa ni al más desorientado viviente. Contra el abismo, el sentido común supone colocar al centro del quehacer de la política las exigencias de una nueva mayoría. Pero esa gran mayoría, en la medida en que es una exigencia, no puede constituirse como identidad, ni como pueblo, ni como representación constituida. La gran política no puede radicarse exclusivamente como restitución de la ficción popular bajo el principio de hegemonía.

En los últimos días he vuelto sobre uno de los ensayos de Il fuoco e il racconto (Nottetempo 2014) de Giorgio Agamben, donde el pensador italiano argumenta que justamente de lo que carecemos hoy es de “hablar en nombre de algo” en cuanto habla sin identidad y sin lugar [2]. La política (o el populismo) habla hoy en nombre de la hegemonía; como el neoliberalismo lo hace en nombre de la técnica y de las ganancias del mercado, o la universidad en nombre de la productividad y los saberes de “campos”. Hablar desde el mercado, la universidad, o el gobierno no son sino un mismo dispositivo de dominación, pero eso aun no es hablar en nombre de algo. Agamben piensa, en cambio, en un habla abierta a la impotencia del otro, de un resto que no se subjetiviza, de un pueblo que no se expone, y de una lengua que no llegaremos a entender. El mayor error de la teoría de la hegemonía es abastecer el enunciado del ‘nombre’ con fueros que buscan armonizar (en el mejor de los casos) y administrar el tiempo de la vida en política.

Por eso tiene razón José Luis Villacañas cuando dice que el populismo es política para idiotas (Agamben dice lo mismo, sin variar mucho la fórmula, que hoy solo los imbéciles pueden hablar con propiedad). Podríamos entender – y esta sería una de las preguntas que se derivan del artículo de Soto Carrasco – el dar nombre, ¿desde ya como función política que abandona la hegemonía, y que contiene en su interior el rastro poshegemónico? ¿No es ese “sentido común” siempre ya “sentido común” de la democracia en tanto toma distancia de la hegemonía como producción de ademia? Si la democracia es hoy ilegítima es porque sigue dirigiendo las fuerzas de acción propositiva hacia la clausura del significante “Pueblo” en nombre de un “poder constituido”.

En este sentido estoy de acuerdo con Moreiras cuando dice que la poshegemonía “nombra” la posibilidad de cualquier posible invención política en nuestro tiempo [3]. Es una brecha del pensamiento. Lo que siempre “nombramos” nunca habita en la palabra, en el concepto, o en prefijo, sino en la posibilidad entre nosotros y la potencia de imaginación para construir algo nuevo. Y eso es lo que pareciera constituir el olvido de los que permanecen enchufados a la política de la hegemonía, o la hegemonía como siempre reducible de una manera u otra a la política.

Soto Carrasco propone una transversalidad entendida como “principio político y nueva cultura política”. Y esto, nos dice, es lo decisivo para un nuevo rumbo y renovación de la política. La transversalidad es momento y estrategia de invención de las propias condiciones de la política real, y por eso necesariamente se escapa al orden de la hegemonía o del doblez en “Pueblo”. ¿Qué tipo de transversalidad? ¿Y cómo hacerlo sin volver a dibujar un mapa de alianzas políticas y sus digramacionoes de poder, siempre en detrimento del orden institucional y de la división de poderes? Fue esto lo que en buena medida limitó y finalmente llevó a la ruina y agotamiento la capacidad de ascenso del progresismo en América Latina durante este último ciclo histórico de luchas más reciente [4]. La transversalidad no puede ser alianza meramente con fines electoralistas o populistas de un lado u otro péndulo del poder.

A la transversalidad habría que superponerla con su suplemento: una segmentariedad inconmensurable, poshegemónica, y anti-carismática. Como lo ha notado recientemente José Luis Villacañas, quizás varíen las formas en que aparezca el lenguaje: “Es posible que lo que yo llamo republicanismo no sea sino la mirada de un senior de aquello que para alguien jóvenes es populismo…” [5]. Pero si las palabras y los términos fluctúan (siempre son otros para los otros), lo único que queda es la pregunta: ¿en nombre de qué?

Más allá de la palabra o el concepto, la política que viene tendría que estar en condición de hablar-se en nombre del fin de la hegemonía y la identidad. Solo así sus nombres del presente podrían ser democracia poshegemónica, populismo, comunismo del hombre solo, transversalidad, institucionalismo republicano, o división de poderes…





  1. David Soto Carrasco. “Una patada al tablero”.
  1. Giorgio Agamben. Il fuoco e il racconto. Nottetempo, 2014.
  1. Alberto Moreiras. “Comentario a ‘una patada al tablero’, de David Soto Carrasco.
  1. Ver, “Dossier: The End of the Progressive Cycle in Latin America” (ed. Gerardo Muñoz, Alternautas Journal, n.13, 2016). Ver en particular la contribución de Salvador Schavelzon sobre las alianzas en Brazil, “The end of the progressive narrative in Latin America”.
  1. José Luis Villacañas. “En La Morada”: “Es posible que lo que yo llamo republicanismo no sea sino la mirada propia de un senior de aquello que para alguien más joven es populismo. La res publica también provoca afectos, como el pueblo, aunque puede que los míos sean ya más tibios por viejos. Su gusto por las masas es contrario a mi gusto por la soledad. Yo hablo en términos de legitimidad y ellos de hegemonía; yo de construcción social de la singularidad de sujeto, y ellos de construcción comunitaria; yo de reforma constitucional, y ellos de conquistas irreversibles; yo de carisma antiautoritario, y ellos de intelectual orgánico. En suma, yo hablo de Weber y ellos de Gramsci, dos gigantes europeos. Es posible que una misma praxis política permita más de una descripción. Es posible que todavía tengamos que seguir debatiendo cuestiones como la de la fortaleza del poder ejecutivo, algo central hacia el final del debate. En realidad yo no soy partidario de debilitarlo, sino que sólo veo un ejecutivo fuerte en el seno de una división de poderes fuerte.”

More thoughts on Posthegemony and Infrapolitics


Further to my recent comments on “Posthegemony, Deconstruction, Infrapolitics”, in which I ask about “the varieties of infrapolitics and the extent to which posthegemony can inform (as well as be informed by) our notion of the infrapolitical”… Elsewhere, Alberto Moreiras has already responded that “as thrown into facticity, infrapolitics is the domain of deconstruction and deconstruction is the domain of infrapolitics.” Which I have to confess, I don’t really understand. But I was thinking further about Gareth Williams’s capsule summary of Posthegemony as a “critical discussion of the relation between the concept of the multitude and the underpinnings of the political.” Which may offer at least one way of thinking about the relationship between posthegemony (at least as I envisage it) and infrapolitics.

I tend to resist the notion that Posthegemony is only about the multitude, not least because thereby the equally important concepts of affect and (perhaps especially) habit get lost in a hasty conflation of posthegemony with Hardt and Negri’s rather different project. On the other hand, in that I also see the three concepts as very much bound together, and the multitude as the incarnation in specific moments of the interplay between affect and habit, I have to admit that multitude is in some sense the key concept that links and shows what’s at play in the other two.

And the multitude is, in my conception, a subject. Not the most conventional of subjects, but a subject none the less. This stress on the subject would seem to mark the most obvious difference between Alberto’s version of deconstruction, at least, and his elaboration of the notion of a “non-subject of the political.” Indeed, if a “discussion of the relation between the concept of the multitude and the underpinnings of the political” is also (as I am suggesting) a focus on the relation between the multitude and infrapolitics, then posthegemonic infrapolitics emerges as perhaps the obverse, if not the reverse, of deconstructive infrapolitics.

In short: if deconstructive infrapolitics is a concern with the non-subject of the political, is posthegemonic infrapolitics a concern with the subject of the non-political? With a subject that precedes politics, makes it possible, is perhaps what is at stake in every gesture of the political, but is somehow itself never fully political.

The question then is of the relation between these two takes on infrapolitics. Are they opposed or (merely?) complementary, perhaps even mutually dependent; bedmates, if you like. And to some extent I’m not particularly interested in attempting to resolve that question, at least not now, while the projects of infrapolitics and posthegemony remain at a rather initial stage. But I propose that it might (for strategic reasons if none other) be worth acting at least as if these two approaches complemented rather than contradicted each other.