Ten theses on Politics (J. Ranciere)

Thesis 1:

Politics is not the exercise of power. Politics ought to be defined on its own terms, as a mode of acting put into practice by a specific kind of subject and deriving from a particular form of reason. It is the political relationship that allows one to think the possibility of a political subject(ivity) [le sujet politique],3 not the other way around.

Thesis 2:

What is proper to politics is the existence of a subject defined by its participation in contrarieties. Politics is a paradoxical form of action.

Thesis 3:

Politics is a specific rupture in the logic of arche. It does not simply presuppose the rupture of the 'normal' distribution of  positions  between  the  one  who exercises  power and  the one subject to it. It also requires a rupture in the idea that there are dispositions 'proper' to such classifications.

Thesis 4:

Democracy is not a political regime. Insofar as it is a rupture in the logic of arche - that is, in the anticipation of rule in the disposition for it - democracy is the regime of politics in the form of a relationship defining a specific subject.

Thesis 5:

The 'people' that is the subject of democracy - and thus the principal subject of politics - is not the collection of members in a community, or the laboring classes of the population. It is the supplementary part, in relation to any counting of parts of the population that makes it possible to identify 'the part of those who have no-part'[le compte des incomptés]8  with the whole of the community.

Thesis 6:

If politics is the outline of a vanishing difference, with the distribution of social parts and
shares,  then  it  follows that  its  existence is  in  no  way  necessary,  but  that  it  occurs  as  a provisional accident in the history of the forms of domination. It also follows from this that political litigiousness has as its essential object the very existence of politics.

Thesis 7:

Politics is specifically opposed to the police. The police is a ‘partition of the sensible’ [le partage du sensible] whose principle is the absence of a void and of a supplement.

Thesis 8:

The principal function of politics is the configuration of its proper space. It is to disclose the world of its subjects and its operations.  The essence of politics is  the  manifestation  of dissensus, as the presence of two worlds in one.12

Thesis 9:

Inasmuch as what is proper to 'political philosophy' is to ground political action in a specific mode of being, so is it the case that 'political philosophy' effaces the litigiousness constitutive of politics. It is in its very description of the world of politics that philosophy effects this effacement. Moreover, its effectiveness is perpetuated through to the non-philosophical or anti-philosophical description of the world.

Thesis 10:

The 'end of politics' and the 'return of politics' are two complementary ways of cancelling out politics in the simple relationship between a  state  of  the  social  and  a  state  of  statist apparatuses. 'Consensus' is the vulgar name given to this cancellation.

Fragmentos de: Jacques Ranciere “Ten theses on politics’ in 5(3) [2001] Theory and Event pp 1-10.


Rosa Luxemburgo

Hace más de un año, presencié un panel de discusión sobre los movimientos sociales globales, el análisis de la primavera árabe, la crisis del capitalismo global, entre otros temas. Integraban el panel Slavoj Zizek, Etienne Balibar, Costas Douzinas y Drucilla Cornell. Como suelo hacer, tomé notas y luego me llamó la atención la mucha insistencia de Drucilla Cornell en la necesidad de, ahora más que nunca, decía, retomar el pensamiento de Rosa Luxemburgo. A un año y medio de eso, Rosa Luxemburgo y su pensamiento reaparecen en la genealogía que estoy trazando sobre la relación Derecho y "lo político". Hace unos días vi la película de Margarethe von Trotta sobre ella (Rosa Luxemburg, 1986) y la semana pasada pasé horas largas en un piso de la biblioteca dedicado a estudios Soviéticos e historia rusa. Cientos de libros, genialidad de fuentes bibliográficas, sus cartas mientras estuvo en prisión. Tanto ahí.

No escuchada, olvidada y ninguneada por los 'suyos' por mucho tiempo, esta mujer y su pensamiento son hoy revisitados, y sus cartas, historias y debates principales en los adentros del socialismo, objeto de análisis minuicioso. Hoy, en el día de no más violencia contra la mujer, comparto este fragmento escrito por otra grande del Siglo XX, Hannah Arendt. Arendt, en Men in Dark Times, comenta una biografía de Rosa Luxemburgo y nos da luz sobre los detalles de su vida y obra. En este fragmento Arendt resume sus discrepancias con Lenin. 

Porque el olvido y la invisibilidad de las mujeres y su pensamiento también es violencia. Salud!.

"The second point was the source of her disagreements with Lenin during the First World War; the first of her criticism of Lenin's tactics in the Russian Revolution of 1918. For she refused categorically, from beginning to end, to see in the war anything but the most terrible disaster, no matter what its eventual outcome; the price in human lives, especially in proletarian lives, was too high in any event. Moreover, it would have gone against her grain to look upon revolution as the profiteer of war and massacre-something which didn't bother Lenin in the least. And with respect to the issue of organization, she did not believe in a victory in which the people at large had no part and no voice; so little, indeed, did she believe in holding power at any price that she "was far more afraid of a deformed revolution than an unsuccessful one"-this was, in fact, "the major difference between her" and the Bolsheviks. And haven't events proved her right? Isn't the history of the Soviet Union one long demonstration of the frightful dangers of "deformed revolutions"? Hasn't the "moral collapse" which she foresaw-without, of course, foreseeing the open criminality of Lenin's successor-done more harm to the cause of revolution as she understood it than "any and every political defeat . . . in honest struggle against superior forces and in the teeth of the historical situation" could possibly have done? Wasn't it true that Lenin was "completely mistaken" in the means he employed, that the only way to salvation was the "school of public life itself, the most unlimited, the broadest democracy and public opinion," and that terror "demoralized" everybody and destroyed everything?

She did not live long enough to see how right she had been and to watch the terrible and terribly swift moral deterioration of the Communist parties, the direct offspring of the Russian Revolution, throughout the world. Nor for that matter did Lenin, who despite all his mistakes still had more in common with the original peer group than with anybody who came after him. This became manifest when Paul Levi, the successor of Leo Jogiches in the leadership of the Spartakusbund, three years after Rosa Luxemburg's death, published her remarks on the Russian Revolution just quoted, which she had written in 1918 "only for you" -that is, without intending publication.10 "It was a moment of considerable embarrassment' for both the German and Russian parties, and Lenin could be forgiven had he answered sharply and immoderately. Instead, he wrote: 'We answer with . . . a good old Russian fable: an eagle can sometimes fly lower than a chicken, but a chicken can never rise to the same heights as an eagle. Rosa Luxemburg ... in spite of [her] mistakes . . . was and is an eagle." He then went on to demand publication of "her biography and the complete edition of her works," unpurged of "error," and chided the German comrades for their "incredible" negligence in this duty. This was in 1922. Three years later, Lenin's successors had decided to "Bolshevize" the German Communist Party and therefore ordered a "specific onslaught on Rosa Luxemburg's whole legacy." The task was accepted with joy by a young member named Ruth Fischer, who had just arrived from Vienna. She told the German comrades that Rosa Luxemburg and her influence "were nothing less than a syphilis bacillus."

One would like to believe that there is still hope for a belated recognition of who she was and what she did, as one would like to hope that she will finally find her place in the education of political scientists in the countries of the West. For Mr. Nettl is right: "Her ideas belong wherever the history of political ideas is seriously taught."

-Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times (1955, 1968, pp. 53-56). 

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