Respuesta a las respuestas de Alberto Moreiras. Por Gerardo Muñoz.

errejon-ilusion

En su segunda respuesta al comentario de Germán Cano, Alberto Moreiras hace una afirmación sobre posthegemonía con la cual queremos discrepar. Me permito citar ese momento hacia el final de su réplica, donde Moreiras escribe lo siguiente:

“Mi referencia es no solo la obra de Laclau, a la que me remito críticamente, sino también el trabajo que sobre ella están haciendo Yannis Stavrakakis y su grupo de Salónica. Son estos últimos los que establecen las condiciones mínimas del populismo en esos términos: transversalidad y antagonismo. Y a mí me parecen persuasivos. Sin esa base propiamente política en un populismo de condiciones mínimas…la posthegemonía se hace desdentada e irrelevante”.

Lo que me causa alarma en esa elaboración tan contundente: “sin base en un populismo la posthegemonía se hace desdentada e irrelevante”. ¿Por qué sería irrelevante la posthegemonía sin populismo? Acaso, ¿porque de esta manera lo ha venido elaborando Yannis Stravakakis y su grupo de Salónica? No, hay mucho más en juego en lo que afirma Moreiras. Para mí, lo que esta elaboración sugiere es una subordinación conceptual del republicanismo, mediante la coyuntura política, a la irrupción populista. Pero no hay razón para hacerlo más allá de la inmediatez coyuntural que es siempre pasajera. Yo podría decir, girando la mesa, que el populismo necesita de un republicanismo mínimo. Y que sin eso no habría nada por medio. De hecho, esta es la tesis que mueve muy ágilmente el hilo especulativo de En Defensa del Populismo (2016), de Carlos Fernández Liria. Pero no voy por ahí tampoco.

Me interesaría interpelar a Moreiras, pero también a Stravakakis indirectamente tomando en cuenta esa definición de populismo a partir de sus dos condiciones mínimas (transversalidad y antagonismo): ¿No estaríamos inflando un globo de aire que, como ha dicho en una conversación reciente el Profesor Jorge Yagüez, nos aleja de la precisión? ¿No se pierde especificidad conceptual y se deja de lado la materialidad real de tiempos posthegemónicos? Y si estas son las dos condiciones, ¿por qué no otras? Uno pudiera contra-argumentar diciendo que es porque hay un movimiento populista en curso, y que está dado en su formulación más feliz en el documento político de Errejón y su lista. Pero también habría una posibilidad alternativa, y es decir que la diferencia sustancial está en poner el acento en un republicanismo de fuerza, institucional, y de políticos vocacionales. Y ahí también caería la tesis de Carolina Bescansa, que pretende ignorar la pugna entre errejonistas e iglesistas rebajándola a una pelea de machos. Al contrario, estamos de acuerdo que aquí hay un problema de “error en la teoría”.

Ya de entrada, hablar de populismo confunde. Decir que puede haber populismo posthegemónico es una confusión al cubo. No hablo aquí de confusiones conceptuales o académicas, sino en el orden del discurso público, como el que circula en estos días por los medios españoles. Anoche veía la entrevista a Errejón en el programa “El Objetivo”, donde se hace muy visible las limitaciones retóricas de “entrar en razón” en cuanto a la diferencia entre errejonistas y pablistas. Y la verdad es que Errejón no hizo el mejor trabajo para desmarcase. Esa diferencia, como hemos dicho, es la hegemonía.

Pues bien, menciono esa entrevista, porque me parece que una parte fundamental de este debate pasa por la función retórica, si el objetivo es finalmente ganar votos y construir una gran mayoría capaz de desplazar el bipartidismo español. No le estoy pidiendo a Moreiras un lenguaje mediático ni nada por el estilo (¡estaría de más!), sino tan solo extrapolar un problema “real” que me parece análogo a este diferendo. Hablar claro (parraísticamente) es condición de posibilidad de la posthegemonía en última instancia. Y soy de los que cree que, al menos por el momento, no puede haber populismo de la ‘verdad’, como mismo no puede haber filosofía o pensamiento de “opinión”.

Voy al grano. A mí me parece que al decir “populismo anárquico” llegamos a confusiones aún mayores, a un callejón sin salida. Primero, porque los anarquistas piensan que has dado en la clave, y que se trata de armar una participación directa, más asamblearia, hasta llegar a trascender el capitalismo. Mientras que, por el otro lado, los populistas hegemónicos te toman como enfant terrible. Yo sigo siendo de los que piensa que las condiciones actuales son capaces de dejar desarrollar un discurso parraístico, esto es, republicano y necesariamente posthegemónico. Pero Moreiras escribe: “Si la posthegemonía es una contribución al pensamiento republicano, lo es sobre esa base populista mínima, pero también desde su antagonismo hacia todo verticalismo identitario y hacia todo identitarismo verticalizante”. Estamos de acuerdo en lo segundo, pero no necesariamente en lo primero.

El énfasis no lo pondría en ‘el populismo’, sino el pueblo, el We The People de la constitución viviente. No hay duda que, sin pueblo viviente, no hay transformación institucional capaz de atender las necesidades de cualquier presente. Pero esto ya deja atrás el populismo, porque el pueblo (en el populismo) siempre necesita apelar al líder. No así el republicanismo, cuyo pueblo solo tiene la materialidad de sus necesidades (siempre disímiles en cada época o momento), atendidas por  políticos de vocación, o lo que me gustaría llamar políticos posthegemónicos.

¿Hay populismo sin líder? Confieso ignorar si el grupo Populismus de Salónica ha desarrollado algún análisis sobre el liderazgo en el populismo (fuera de Laclau), pero tengo para mí que es ahí donde habría un verdadero ‘quiasmo interior’, muy similar al que se está produciendo hoy entre Iglesias y los errejonistas. Si el populismo requiere un líder, entonces esto implica que el populismo es solo un valor estratégico. Lo cual no está mal, pero no tiene por qué pretender agotar la posthegemonía. Yo diría de momento que mis dos condiciones para una democracia posthegemónica (no populista) serían: 1. un político poshegemónico (que J. L. Villacañas, siguiendo a Weber, llama de vocación), y 2. Institucionalidad (que es siempre más que instituciones estatales, y nunca republicanismo caduco).

Advertisements

The Secret of Secretiveness: Response to Marranismo e inscripción

Cross-posted from Posthegemony

In the introduction to his book, Marranismo e inscripción, Alberto Moreiras tells us that “the sequence of writings that [he] offer[s us] is more than the history of a professional trajectory, and contains secrets that only appear in its trace and for the astute reader, if there are any.” This, of course, is a challenge: who would not want to be the reader astute enough to pry open the text and reveal its secrets? Who would not want to prove wrong the author’s suspicion that such readers are nowhere to be found? And perhaps Alberto would also want to be proved wrong. After all, he locates the book’s origins in what he calls “a period of profound personal disillusion that had as one of its effects the destruction for [him] of any notion of a public audience [público] for whom [he] might write.” Could now, ten years or more later, this new book appeal to a (new?) public of astute readers? Or perhaps the point is that the unknown, perhaps absent and unknowable, astute reader stands in for and replaces the terminally destroyed notion of public audience. Perhaps this is the book’s own marranismo: a publication or making public whose secret truth in fact only resides in its traces, to be read allusively and privately by a reader who we forever suspect may not even exist. Yet it seems, perhaps precisely for this reason, to invite inquisition.

For on the other hand, in many ways this is a very open book; it is a book in which its author “opens up” about his personal relationship to the academic and intellectual field in a way that is quite unusual. Indeed, also in the introduction, Alberto worries that he has said too much, too personally, too directly. He reports anxiously asking José Luis and the others who had interviewed him: “Didn’t I go too far [no me pasé], are you sure that I didn’t say anything indiscreet, is there something we should re-do?” For here, and for instance in the chapter entitled “My Life in Z,” any codes or attempts to obscure the true object of discussion are, at least on the face of it, all too readable. You do not have to be a particularly astute reader, after all, to know (or feel you know) where “Z” is or was. This is a “theoretical fiction” that may be all too transparent, all too close to the bone for some readers. For this book is also quite explicitly a settling of accounts: the disillusion of which it speaks has a history, and it is time for that history to be written–inscribed for all to see–for it to give up its secrets so we can all move on. Or better, it is time that we confront common knowledge that can only pass as secret because few dare to express it explicitly: “Yes, everybody knows, there are no secrets, we all hear over and over things that were never expected to come to our ears.”

Is there then a tension of some kind between the twin themes announced in the book’s title: between the subterfuge and unknowability of the marrano and the making public and putting on the record of the inscription? Perhaps, but another way of looking at it is that this is a book that declares an end not so much to secrets as to secretiveness. It wants to do away with the practices and rituals of academic life that promote only obscurantism and disguise only the bad faith of its participants. Rituals that everybody knows, but which are repeated and reproduced as the price of admission into the elect–even if one is admitted only subsequently to be churned up and abused, marginalized and disempowered. This is all too often, Alberto tells us, simply a formula for masochism: we accept the academy’s secretive code of (dis)honour so as to be close to institutional power, but that power holds us close only to ensure that we can never really threaten it. This, after all, is the (not so secret) reality of tenure, as well as so much else: a protracted euthanization as life itself is drained out of the institution’s over-eager young recruits. And Alberto’s project, in the end, is to reclaim life, and the possibility of a life well lived, from the twin threats of endless politicization (biopolitics) and bureaucratic obscurantism (unhappy consciousness).

Towards the end of the book, in response to a question from Alejandra Castillo about “autobiographical writing,” Alberto says that “the writing that interests me doesn’t seek constitution in the truth, rather it seeks truth and produces destitution. It seeks truth in the sense that in every case it seeks to traverse the fantasy, and it produces destitution in the sense that traversing the fantasy brings us close to the abyss of the real.” He points out, however, that this psychoanalytic language (borrowed from Lacan) can equally be expressed in terms of the secret. “For me, in reality,” he continues, “there is no other writing than the writing of the secret. Or rather there is, but it is not fit for purpose. The question that opens up then is that of the use of the writing of the secret, but that is a question that I don’t believe I am prepared to answer.” “Prepared,” here, has of course a double sense: it can mean that he is not ready to answer, that he cannot answer the question; or that he is not disposed to answer it, that he will not answer. The question of the use of the secret either cannot or should not be answered. At least, not yet.

In short, for Marranismo e inscripción, what is holding us back is secretiveness, the bluster of those who (believe they) hold the keys to institutional power. But the real secret there is that there is no power to their power; that their chamber of secrets is long empty, and has been replaced by the meaningless transparency of neoliberal quantification in the sway of general equivalence. As the university increasingly becomes a business, ruled only by calculations of profit and loss, we have less and less reason to abide by its masochistic code of omertá. This book aims to break that code. On the other hand, there are indeed some true secrets, and searching for them can unleash destructive forces. The question remains: what do to with them? And perhaps even the most astute of readers is not yet in a position to decide about that.

More thoughts on infrapolitics. (Steve Buttes)

schendel-05

I want to respond and reframe some of my initial questions given the ways in which the dialogue has approached them thus far. Moreiras notes that “there is a differend between us at the level of presuppositions, and that it is very difficult to look both for agreements or disagreements if the differend is not recognized as such.” Using the metaphor of the “pine trees” we discussed earlier, he goes on to say that “this is not the same as saying that you, for instance, insist on focusing on the pine trees whereas infrapolitics looks for everything else as well.

Rather, the very perception of the “everything else” already goes through the recognition of the differend. At that level, I would say that “your” pine trees, from this side of the divide, are not the same as the pine trees we can see and deal with.” And then this is compared with “lust [which] has different connotations for different ethical positions: a puritan sees lust where a libertine sees only desire, etc.”

What I understand as at stake here is the difference between translation and belief. In the former, we might think of the possibility of translating libertinism into a puritan language, of acknowledging the presuppositions of puritanism but nevertheless finding room to see from within those terms desire rather than lust. Approaching puritanism and libertinism as different languages, we might find points of conversation. But, then, if you are a puritan and encounter the translation of desire into your language, what do you do with the earlier form of puritanism in which you understood desire as lust? If it’s a good translation, you’d stop using the earlier version, or maybe you’d strategically (or cynically) use one or the other in given circumstances.

If it’s a bad translation, you might say, “nice try, but it makes no sense: I’m not buying it” or “that’s blasphemous.” But what marks the difference between good and bad here is whether or not you find it convincing and adopt it as your own. In other words, it’s not really a translation at all but rather an argument, one that you either believe to be correct or incorrect. The same goes for the pine trees. If I believe every kind of tree is a type of pine tree and you believe that all trees are individual and beyond categorization, we disagree rather than just differ. This takes the argument onto the ground others have already argued: Di Stefano, Sauri, Hatfield, Michaels and others. Indeed, as Michaels notes in The Shape of the Signifier critiquing the conversing “moral vocabularies” that Richard Rorty advocates and explaining the strangeness of the translation model, “Hebrew and German do not contradict each other, and insofar as Saint Paul’s and Freud’s moral vocabularies are like Hebrew and German, they don’t contradict each other either . . . . if Paul says that Jesus is God and Freud says he isn’t, they aren’t disagreeing, they’re just speaking different languages” (46).

While I believe these issues are important to discuss, I believe the scholars I mention can speak to their own arguments if they wish. I don’t want to move in that direction in my own comments because it takes us away from the intention of my initial post, which was not to interrogate the totality of systems of thought (e.g. infrapolitics as a whole) or make claims about entire philosophical traditions that are at odds with each other. Rather, my intervention emerged from my own plodding, piecemeal way of working, which is to mark concrete points of contact between my thinking and interests and those I see in others—in my case the Neobaroque, trompe l’oeil and the punctum—and to ask questions from there.

In this vein, let me reframe the initial reflection above in which I attempted to address the metaphors Moreiras evokes in his previous post. Rather than puritanism and libertinism, I want to imagine the strangeness of this demand for translation over argument in a Latin American context. More specifically, I want to draw attention to an episode from the colonial period that appears in Mariano Picón-Salas’ work and which I encountered in Marco Dorfsman’s recent Heterogeneity of Being (2015). Here Dorfsman discusses the “very Baroque example” (72) of the transliteration of the Pater Noster (Lord’s Prayer) into hieroglyphic Indian writing:

“The text begins with the word pantli (in Nahuatl a banner or flag of sorts) followed by the glyph for nochtli (in Nahuatl the cactus fruit or tuna) and so it continues on in this manner. The idea is that the Indian is supposed to read pantli nochtli phonetically, and not to see the images of the hieroglyph. A proper reading of the pictographic writing would, of course, produce pure gibberish, while the phonetic reading produces a distorted Latin. It is worth recalling that the majority of the Indians, even those who would have been able to ‘read’ and recite the Pantli Nochtli, would have not been able to understand Latin in any case. However, it is precisely the fact that this new hybrid is incomprehensible that gives it both its sacred and poetic power . . . . In the transliteration, Latin is being put to uses that are only ecclesiastical or scholastic on the surface. Within, ‘a beautiful harmony’ (or struggle) rages. What we have here is the true fusion of opposites [the coincidentia oppositorum of the Baroque]: the beginning of a literary production that leads, almost naturally, towards that other Latin American [Lautréamont] who in France joined together an umbrella and a sewing machine upon an operating table” (72-73).

Here, though I’m not certain that this is a main point of his argument, Dorfsman signals the strangeness of the translation model. As Dorfsman frames it, “Tuna Flag” either makes no sense at all (is “pure gibberish”) or is a way of joining the faith community in saying “Our Father” (in a “distorted Latin”). In the tension between these, Dorfsman sees a “poetic power,” but it is a power that emerges, of course, from a pedagogical power. The “Tuna Flag” scene is taken from the section of Picón-Salas’ book entitled “The Pedagogy of Proselyting:” “images and metaphors were sought in the circumscribed world of the native to bring religious ideas nearer to his mentality” (Picón Salas 56). While, as Dorfsman points out, this pedagogy is somewhat pointless in the sense that “a proper reading of the pictographic writing would, of course, produce pure gibberish,” rather than an understanding of the complexities of a belief system, it is possible to find in the gap between the saying (the distorted Pater Noster) and the said (the incomprehensible Pantli Nochtli)—in the failure to produce a successful translation—a proto-surrealist poetic form: the “true fusion of opposites” that is the “beginning of a [Neobaroque?] literary production” (73).

It is here that I see the task of the infrapolitical thinker manifesting itself as Moreiras describes: deciding what kind of object the failure that is the Pantli Nochtli is. Neither the Franciscans who instructed the indigenous artisans to create the images of the Pantli Nochtli nor the indigenous painters themselves would have recognized what Dorfsman does, which is to see what existing modes of calculation could not. In the gap between the utopian pedagogical practice of the Franciscans and the everyday intonation of gibberish in Nahuatl, the infrapolitical thinker sees the emergence of a nascent (Neobaroque?) literary form. But it is for this reason that I claim in my initial post that infrapolitics (in my partial, fragmented approach to it) “remain[s] squarely within Baroque modes of trompe l’oeil thought, requiring . . . unbelieving beholders.” Indeed, here we see a key example of trompe l’oeil literature: out of raw materials (“pure gibberish”) the appearance of the ecclesia emerges (“distorted Latin”).

But the infrapolitical thinker, as what I call a “miner of life’s raw material,” appeals to the potentiality of life itself by seeing the invisible qualities of that “gibberish.” That is, by seeing in the the incongruous encounter a potentiality that is not visible from the two poles mandated by the encounter, in demanding the failure of realizing the utopian promise (which is accompanied by the violent and creative modes Picón-Salas describes), we see the invisible emergence of the possibility of integrating the Pantli Nochtli into an absent whole by seeing it as the first in a series of variations that will produce an alternative tradition: a poetic form that begins with the Franciscans and develops into the incongruous images created by Lautréamont, the surrealists and Octavio Paz.

It matters little here that the Pantli Nochtli is meant as a mnemonic device to enter the ecclesia. What matters instead is the emergence in the everyday intonation of the Pantli Nochtli of the failure of utopia, which the infrapolitical thinker recognizes as poetic form, a form that is invisible to those who made the work. This infrapolitical account of poetic form escapes the belief systems of the colonial encounter, it does not escape a belief system outright but rather produces one of its own that displaces current understandings by integrating the Pantli Nochtli into the avant-garde tradition (if we agree with the reading) or doesn’t (if we disagree). Does the infrapolitical see a role for artistic visibilizations, or must these always be broken down for parts? Is the failed artwork central to infrapolitics? Are the terms “neobaroque” and “infrapolitical” synonyms for each other?

It is from here—in the infrapolitical approach’s ability to see what is not there when reading from existing modes of calculation—that I can return to the question of the punctum. In reading Moreiras’ work on poverty and infrapolitics in Línea de sombra, I saw parallels with his earlier work on Borges and Cortázar in Tercer espacio. I then heard the opening remarks made by Gerardo Muñoz and Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott at the ACLA seminar in which they marked a connection between Línea de sombra and Tercer espacio: “The drift to suspend the categorial structure of the Latinamericanist reflection was already underway in Tercer espacio and [The] Exhaustion [of Difference]” (“A Response”).

It is in this context that I felt justified in asking the question of whether there was continuity between the infrapolitical that motivates Moreiras’ work now (and underscores the work of the Collective) and his earlier claims about the punctum made in Tercer espacio. Moreiras hints at the possibility of this continuity: “The punctum is . . . a crucial concept for me, as precisely the site of desire, redefined by infrapolitics as the crossing of the ontological difference in every case. I should use this precise point in your paper to warn you that when I wrote Tercer espacio, or even Exhaustion of Difference, I was not yet thinking of infrapolitics. So for me the inferences are very interesting, but I am not ready to endorse them without going over them with a very fine comb” (“A Response”). But as he notes in the continuation of our discussion, where he explains that his account of infrapolitics as “always already a response to exploitation,” what is crucial is that the response occurs in “the gap between lives exploited and infrapolitical lives, the punctum in that gap–the site of Borges’ “ancient innocence”” (“More on responding”).

In this line from Borges’ poem “Alguien” [“Someone”], these confluences are clear: a sudden feeling of happiness that emerges not in hope for the future (an eschatology of change) or from the demands of daily life but rather from the pang of an “ancient innocence.” This “ancient innocence” enables one to see in the partial moments (“an unexpected etymology,” “the taste of water”) of a daily life controlled by structures that are not our own the forgotten joys of the past (which could presumably be the joys of the future). The “ancient innocence” that underscores the infrapolitical minor adjustment has a clear connection with the punctum: it cannot be planned but must rather occur “de pronto” [“all of a sudden”].

And this demand leads me to the follow up question of whether the infrapolitical account of the punctum—the hidden minor adjustment that could not come into being were it planned as part of an anti-exploitation or antipoverty project—has something to do with the antitheatrical reading of the punctum produced recently by Michael Fried. As Fried notes, Barthes demands that the punctum not be put there for us, not be part of the photograph’s studium (or mode of calculation), and it is this demand that marks the punctum as part of the antitheatrical tradition and secures for photography its aesthetic form.

If the punctum (what the photographer cannot put there for the viewer) is a radicalized form of absorption (the refusal to perform for the viewer), it is also what secures for Barthes a successful photograph, or at least one that he finds compelling. This creates a tension, then, between the failed translation above and the successful photo here. If every success is a potential failure (mode of exploitation) and every failure a potential success (mode of escape), these are often invisible to existing modes of calculation, that is, remain in the shadows until revealed by the minor adjustment that breaks down (deconstructs?) those modes.

Does the infrapolitical demand a failed (non-unified) work, or does the infrapolitical (with its emphasis on desires that remain in the shadows, on what is not there for us) dialogue with the antitheatrical reading of the punctum developed by Fried and Michaels? I will end for now but will continue to engage in the dialogue as it/if it continues to develop.

 

 

 

Works Cited
Borges, Jorge Luis. “Alguien.” El otro, el mismo. Obras completas. Emecé, 2007.

Di Stefano, Eugenio and Emilio Sauri. “Making it Visible: Latin Americanist Criticism, Literature, and the Question of Exploitation Today.” http://nonsite.org/article/making-it-visible

Dorfsman, Marco Luis. Heterogeneity of Being: On Octavio Paz’s Poetics of Similitude. Lanham, MD: UP America, 2015.

Fried, Michael. Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before. Yale UP, 2008.
Hatfield, Charles. The Limits of Identity: Politics and Poetics in Latin America. U Texas P, 2015.

Michaels, Walter Benn. The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History. Princeton UP, 2004.

___. The Beauty of a Social Problem: Photography, Autonomy, Form. U Chicago P, 2015.

Muñoz, Gerardo and Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott. “Línea de sombra Ten Years Later: Introductory Remarks”. https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/linea-de-sombra-ten-years-after-introductory-remarks-acla-2016-harvard-university-gerardo-munoz-sergio-villalobos-ruminott/

Picón-Salas, Mariano. A Cultural History of Spanish America, from Conquest to Independence. Trans. Irving A. Leonard. U California P, 1962.

*Image: Mira Schendel. Untitled. 1973.

Línea de sombra ten years after: introductory remarks | ACLA 2016 Harvard University. (Gerardo Muñoz & Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott)

linea de sombra

Ten years have passed since the publication of Línea de sombra: el no-sujeto de lo político (Palinodia, 2006). It seems that this seminar received neither the most appropriate of titles, nor the most desirable one. At the end of the day, others are the ones that live by anniversaries, ephemerides, and revivals. In a way, to commemorate is a convoluted and dangerous move that recaps the jacobinist principle ‘down with the King, long live the principle!’

Something radically other is at stake here, or so we wish to propose. To the extent that something is ‘actual’ is so because it allows conditions for thinking and thought; that is, conditions of doing in thought. Then, of course, there are activities and activities. As Lyotard observed, there are some activities that do not really transform anything, since ‘to do’ is no a simple operation (Lyotard 111). So much is needed for this encounter to happen – and the purpose of this encounter with many friends here is Línea de sombra ten years after. This was Alberto’s fourth major book – after Interpretacion y diferencia (1992), Tercer espacio (1999), and The Exhaustion of Difference (2001), and that is without counting his early La escritura política de José Hierro (1987). Línea, we should not forget it, was published in Chile in 2006, under turbulent circumstances. We are referring here of course to Alberto’s exodus to Aberdeen, and in a way his “exile” from the enterprise of Latinamericanism. The drift to suspend the categorial structure of the Latinamericanist reflection was already underway in Tercer espacio and Exhaustion, books that radically altered the total sum of reflections on and about Latin America, in the literary and the cultural levels, and whose consequences were felt, though we are not too sure that they have been fully pursued and taken to its outermost transgressive limits. As Alberto has repeated often, the issues on the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s are still among us, but we have yet been able to deal with them radically, which means, to deal with them without just reproducing the constitutive limited structures and categorical systems that have informed Latinamericanism and Hispanism at large through the twentieth-century.

In this sense, Línea de sombra is an unfinished intervention. In part because it did not produce many interlocutors and readers when published, or perhaps because it was taken (and it is understood as such still today) as a book that transgressed the ‘Latinamericanist reason’, opening itself to a region of thought that was in itself undisciplined, savage, and for the same reason, considered an outlaw intervention (and we should keep in mind this tension between thinking and law). It does not matter. But what really does matter is that we consider the silences around Alberto’s intervention not as a personal affair, but as a particular effect of a certain disposition of hierarchies and prestige within the contemporary university. As if Línea (and the other books) were dammed from the beginning due to the constitutive limitation of Hispanism and due to the lack of interest in theoretical approaches coming form Latinamericanism, a field that was usually identified with the exoticism of political conundrums and the curiosities coming out of Third World countries.

Of course, the reverse side of this underprivileged condition of Spanish language for intellectual reflection is that it (re)produces reactive effects. For example, the decolonial option demands a constant revision of the privilege that Spanish has had in the process of representing Latin American realities. However, the paradox arises when this decolonial turn limits itself to the glorification of native languages as if they carry with them a more authentic access to the real, without questioning the self-limitation that both, Latinoamericanist criollo scholars and decolonial ones, show in restricting themselves to the same ethnographic task, avoiding not an explicit politics of identification, but avoiding the most urgent and radical politics of thinking. This politics of thinking doesn’t belong to disciplines and doesn’t follow University structruration. This is what we call infrapolitics.

In fact, we recently called this self-imposed limitation in Latinamericanism ‘late criollismo’ in relation to the last manifestations (political practices and historical forms of imagination) of a particular tradition of thought that, reactively, is confronting the dark side of modernity and globalization with a dubious re-territorialization of affects, practices and politics: from neo-indigenism to neo-communitarianism to literary New Rights, from neo-progressism to neo-developmentalism and neo-extractivism.

On the other hand, we should not forget it, Spanish was an imperial language, and the current (rhetoric of) privilege for ‘Spanish’ is also at the heart of the neoliberal university. In fact, it is what allows the expansion of the language programs, and by consequence, the expansion of ‘adjunct professors’ and ‘part-time post-PhD students’ that carry departmental duties. An exponential process of subalternization that professors that defend far-away subalterns always seem to forget. One might say, the psychotic decolonial affect is possible by the foreclosure of a minimal distance in favor of the maximization of their subjective drive, in a process of identification that is also a process of libidinal investment and insemination.

Línea de sombra appeared in this context, but we do not think it wants to take part on either the side of defending the underdog or assuming a counter-hegemonic capitulation of Spanish as the master language or even the variations of Spanish as a sort of a new pluralism against Iberian hegemony. Línea renounces what Derrida calls in an essay of Rogues the ‘presbeia kai dunamei’, which is roughly translated as ‘majesty and power’, but it also renounces to the privilege of the predecessor or forbear, the one that commands, the archē (Derrida 138). Alberto’s text is a call for releasement of such a demand as principle of reason into a different relation with thought – now we think it is fair to say that that relation is always an infrapolitical relation – positing the archē of the political parallel to the category of the subject. In the introduction Alberto lays the question:

“El subjetivismo en política es siempre excluyente, siempre particularista, incluso allí donde el sujeto se postula como sujeto comunitario, e incluso ahí donde el sujeto se autopostula como representante de lo universal…el límite de la universalidad en política es siempre lo inhumano. ¿Y el no sujeto? ¿Es inhumano? Pero el no-sujeto no amenaza: solo está, y no excepcionalmente, sino siempre y por todas partes, no como el inconsciente sino como sombra del inconsciente, como, por lo tanto, lo más cercano, y por ello, en cuanto que más cercano, al mismo tiempo como lo ineludible y como lo que más elude” (Moreiras 12-13).

So, el no sujeto is an excess of the political subject, an incalculable and unmanageable rest, since the non-subject of the political just is, without a why. Just like the counter-communitarianism cannot constitute a principial determination, the non-subject does not wish to do so either. Indeed, Línea de sombra unfolds a complex instantiation against every nomic determination that guarantees the truth of the idea or the concept. But the non-subject haunts its violence, its transgression. Following our recent encounter with Schürmann’s work, we can say it confronts the latent forgetting of the tragic condition of being.

Indeed, the political has rarely been thought against the grain of its nomic and decionist principles, and Línea de sombra was (and still is) an invitation to do so. Our impression is that it is a book that does not want to teach or master anything, but thematizes something that has always been already there, even if some prefer to sublimate it into the principle of satisfaction. The price to be paid for that is quite high. Hence the desire to move thought elsewhere: indifferent to legacy, proper name, inheritance, masters, and subjects.

We propose, then, to think collectively these days around the promise, the offer, and the gift of this book, but not necessarily to place it in a central canonical position. Rather we intend to open its questions to interrogate our own historical occasion.

 

 

Notes

Alberto Moreiras. Línea de sombra: el no-sujeto de lo político. Santiago de Chile: Palinodia, 2006.

Jacques Derrida. Rogues: two essays on reason. Stanford University Press, 2005.

Jean François Lyotard. Why Philosophize? Polity, 2013.

*Image by Camila Moreiras, 2016.

¿”Frente único contra el neoliberalismo” o democracia poshegemónica? (Gerardo Muñoz)

Habría que abrir un debate público y reflexivo con los amigos Diego Sztulwark, Verónica Gago, o Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar en torno a la coyuntura política actual de procesos en curso como el boliviano, la irrupción de Syriza en Grecia, y más recientemente el ascenso de Podemos en España. Se abre la necesidad de un diálogo en común sobre eso que Sztulwark en un balance de la izquierda reciente ha llamado un “Frente único contra el Neoliberalismo”. Vale citar ese momento en la elaboración de la propuesta de Sztulwark:

“Me interesa el espacio discursivo común que se abre entre América Latina y el sur de Europa. Algo así como un Frente Único contra el Neoliberalismo, para utilizar grandilocuentes fórmulas de la Tercera Internacional. Ese Frente tiene posiciones distintas: no son lo mismo los discursos populistas que los momentos autonomistas. Ese Frente tiene pendiente discutir qué cosa es el neoliberalismo y cómo se lo derrota. En ese sentido hay una dimensión experimental: en la calle o en instituciones, todos estamos probando. Me parece importante que todas las experiencias primero se reconozcan como compañeras de un Frente y no como guerras intestinas que solo denigran a otras posiciones. Y además evitar ser cooptados tanto por un izquierdismo abstracto y radical como por sectores de la burguesía que lo que quieren es un reformismo liviano. Ese Frente hay que volverlo visible” [1]

Atentos a la matriz extractivista constitutiva de la gran división de los espacios geopolíticos del Sur” (BRIC, es el grupo monolítico más visible), quedaría por preguntar y pensar las variables y los ejes de ese “frente contra el neoliberalismo”? [2] ¿Cuál sería la relación entre participación democrática y extractivismo en los diseños neo-desarrollistas de un neo-liberalismo que triunfa y se despliega desde abajo? Dicho en otras palabras: ¿cómo interrumpir el dispositivo que ensambla los diversos procesos flexibles de acumulación y la irrupción de nuevas voces neo-vanguardistas de gestión contra-hegemónica, siempre tan seguras de sus presupuestos y sus condiciones epistémicas? ¿Cómo pensar la democratización de las finanzas y su relación con el autonomismo o el “horizontalismo”? ¿Es suficiente un horizontalismo o comunistarismo voluntario para dar la batalla contra la ontología an-arquica del capital sin antes articular una crítica a la política como aparato moderno (hegemonía) y al principio general de equivalencia? [3]

Decía que este debate es sumamente interesante y necesario porque a partir de la explicitación del “frente único” – ni populista ni descolonizador – se abriría una “tercera opción” que sería lo que nosotros llamamos una “democracia poshegemónica” que exige un tipo de reflexión infrapolítica suplementaria y cuyo horizonte, al decir de Alberto Moreiras, es aprincipial [3].

Inmune al entusiasmo de la politización hiperbólica, pensar desde la poshegemonía asume la insuficiencia de su suelo enunciativo, así como la negatividad de la crisis desde la cual se instala. Ésta es una tarea que exige un máximo grado de intercambio común, así como de compromiso libertario con diversas formas de pensamiento, análisis, e imágenes.

 

Notas

1. Escuchar la intervención de Diego Sztulwark en el programa radial “Clinamen”, del 17 de Marzo. http://ciudadclinamen.blogspot.com/2015/03/que-abre-el-escenario-politico-del-sur.html

2. Veronica Gago & Sandro Mezzadra. “Para una crítica de las operaciones extractivas del capital”. Nueva Sociedad, N.255, Febrero de 2015.

3. Algo así es lo que parece pedir José Luis Villacañas a PODEMOS en un reciente artículo titulado “Insatisfacción general, con excepciones”: “No es poca cosa, pero no será lo que los lleve a la posición hegemónica. Así que creo que Podemos deberá ajustar su análisis para reconocer la estructura propia de una sociedad post-hegemónica, muy diferente de sus sociedades de referencia. Esto implicará aumentar su sentido republicano y rebajar su pasión populista”. http://www.levante-emv.com/opinion/2015/03/24/insatisfaccion-general-excepciones/1242366.html

4. Alberto Moreiras. “Infrapolitics”. (ponencia leída en Political Concepts Conference, Columbia University, March 2015).