On the notion of the political in postmarxist theory.

Seminars

04.12.2014
Speculative materialism in queer-feminist perspective
Emerging life and syntheses of matter and time

14.06.2013
Aesthetic existence and the ontologisation of poverty
Whatever life

20.04.2013
The practise of doing nothing 

Unemployed positivity

04.11.2012
Miguel Abensour as reader of Spinoza
Spinoza, Marx, Moses Hess

05.10.2012
Agamben and Nancy as readers of Spinoza
Leaving Immanence?

06.06.2012
Feminist readings of Spinoza
Becoming woman?

03.05.2012
Deleuze on Spinoza's theory of affects 

From the ontological to the affective

04.04.2012
Spinoza with Deleuze
The underground current of the philosophy of immanence

07.03.2012
Macherey's Spinoza
Ontology of multiplicity or materialist dialectic?

08.02.2012
Althusser's concept of immanent causality 
- Seminar
Marx with Spinoza

08.12.2011
Exhausting politics 

Being out of class (Deleuze)

01.11.2011
What is an inoperativity that consists in contemplating one's own potentiality to act?
The messianic class

29.06.2011
Sharing the inappropriable
The retreating class

26.05.2011
The political capacity of the proletariat
The subtractive class II

07.04.2011
The political capacity of the proletariat
The subtractive class

03.03.2011
Disrupting the logic of division
The supplementary class

04.02.2011
The antinomies of proletarian politics
The paradoxical class

02.12.2010
Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe on political difference
Retreating the political

08.11.2010
Lars T. Lih as Reader of Lenin
What Is to be Done? and Bolshevism

03.10.2010
The concept of capitalism in "Anti-Oedipus"
Capitalism deterritorialized

30.06.2010
Deleuze, Guattari, Lacan
An impossible encounter I

28.05.2010
An impossible encounter: Deleuze, Guattari and Lacan
Preparatory Meeting

27.05.2010
Micropolitics in "A thousand plateaus"
Molecular Politics I

07.04.2010
On affectivity and potentiality
Spinoza with Deleuze

04.03.2010
Nietzsche with Deleuze
The negative in the positive

04.02.2010
The notion of becoming in Deleuze and Guattari
Becoming

04.11.2009
On Esposito's concept of bio/politics
Biopotentiality

08.10.2009
Reading Althusser

07.10.2009
Rancière's farewell to Althusserian Marxism
La leçon d'Althusser

06.10.2009
Debating Althusser's philosophy of the encounter
What is aleatory materialism?

03.09.2009
Negri on materialism
Kairos, Alma Venus, Multitudo

02.09.2009
Tronti and Cacciari's concept of the political
The autonomy of the political

17.06.2009
"From Capital-Labor to Capital-Life" by M. Lazzarato
Invention

20.05.2009
Reading Simondon
Individuation

09.04.2009
Nancy on the singularity of death
Excess

11.03.2009
Agamben and Deleuze on pure immanence
Immanence

11.03.2009
Encountering Althusser
Preparatory meeting

11.03.2009
Workshop: becoming-major, becoming-minor
Preparatory meeting

07.02.2009
Foucault with Deleuze
The force of the outside II

06.02.2009
Superimposing diagrams: discipline and governmentality
The force of the outside

06.02.2009
Encountering Althusser
Preparatory Meeting

05.12.2008
Reading Jacques Rancière's "Dis-agreement"
Marx's Metapolitics

04.11.2008
Reading Balibar's "The Vacillation of Ideology in Marxism"
The non-totalizable complexity of the historical process

05.10.2008
Reading Jacques Derrida's "Specters of Marx"
Deconstructing Value Theory

11.09.2008
Reading Moishe Postone's "Time, Labor and Social Domination"
Value and Capitalist Capacities

01.07.2008
Debating "The mirror of production" by Jean Baudrillard
Marx with Bataille

06.06.2008
The coming communities of commons

05.06.2008
Feminist comments on the relation between politics and labor
The arcane of reproduction

09.05.2008
Rancière on the inactuality of communism and the intelligence of the unqualified

07.05.2008
Virno on Marx's "Fragments on machines"
Notes on the general intellect

04.04.2008
Virno on the concept of bio-politics in Postoperaism
What is living and what is dead in Marx's philosophy? II

03.04.2008
Jason Read on abstract and living labor
What is living and what is dead in Marx's philosophy?

07.03.2008
Reading Negri's "Twenty Theses on Marx"
The autonomy of living labor

08.02.2008
Class composition in Italian autonomist Marxism
The emergence of the socialised worker II

07.02.2008
Class composition in Italian autonomist Marxism
The emergence of the socialised worker

07.12.2007
On Badiou's concept of truth procedure
Assigning a measure to the excessive power of the state

09.11.2007
Reading Jacques Ranciere's "Ten theses on politics"
The supplementary part that disconnects the people from itself

04.10.2007
Deleuze and Guattari on the concept of minoritarian struggle
Micropolitics

07.09.2007
On class composition and radical negativity
Domestic work and class struggle within the class II

06.09.2007
On class composition and radical negativity
Domestic work and class struggle within the class

02.07.2007
From class to minority
The relationship of Marxism and Post-Structuralism III

01.07.2007
On the concept of the concrete universal
The relationship of Marxism and Post-Structuralism II

30.06.2007
On Marx and Foucault
The relationship of Marxism and Post-Structuralism

30.05.2007
Dictatorship of the proletariat and council movement
The Soviet experience II

29.05.2007
Rosa Luxemburg on the Russian Revolution
The Soviet experience

06.04.2007
Negri on Lenin
Democracy beyond law II

05.04.2007
Lenin's concept of the dictatorship of protetariat
Democracy beyond law

09.03.2007
Benjamin's concept of mysthic and divine violence
To bring about the real state of exception II

08.03.2007
Agamben's reading of Benjamin
To bring about the real state of exception

09.02.2007
Agamben's sovereign theoretical turn in thinking potentiality
Potentiality of impotentiality II

08.02.2007
Agamben's theory of autonomous potentiality
Potentiality of impotentiality

Reading Jacques Rancière's "Dis-agreement"
Marx's Metapolitics

In 1995 "La Mesentente" has been published in which Rancière reformulates his critique of Marxism stating that Marx's idea of a pure proletarian act, of a declassifying class, that dissolutes the bourgeois society catalysed the most radical figure of the archi-police. However, then, he, too, will present a declassifying class, a class that is out of class, by drawing back to the positionality of the demos within the ancient city. He replaces the effectivity of unmediated dissolution of the false bourgeois society in the early Marx by the process of staging the gap between a place where equality in empty freedom is present and where it is absent. Rancièrian class struggle would be staging the gap between the place where the power of the people is inscribed and where it is erased, a sort of theatre of the universalising subject of wrong.

Rancière poses only one single question in "La Mesentente" – what is the relation of politics and philosophy? He argues that political philosophy testifies to an ongoing attempt of finishing with politics, of abolishing the scandal of thinking that is proper to politics, i.e., the activity of disagreement.

Rancière sets out from a twofold moment:

Firstly, he rejects the end of politics announced at the graves of the policing Marxisms. This announcement, Rancière argues, is accompanied by the emergence of a humanitarian regime that annihilates political subjectivity by reducing it to a monstrous alternative: either the absolute victim, the naked life of the starving human, or his horrifying double, the executioner, who denies humanity, the warlord, the terrorist, the genocidal perpetrator. For Rancière, humanitarianism emerged under the name of the new philosophers, former maoists and members of "gauche proletarienne" who started to promote human rights aid for Cambodian boat people at the end of the 70s.

Secondly, Rancière rejects the right Arendtian and Straussian idea of a return of political philosophy proper where the philosopher determines the good that the political community would then have the task of achieving, guided by an elightened government of elites.

Rancière analyses three major figures of political philosophy – archipolitics, parapolitics, metapolitics – presented under the names Plato, Aristotle, Marx. All three of them, Rancière argues, neutralise the political paradox of the part with no part and the theoretical scandal of politics that lie in the rationality of disagreement. Rancière's arguement could be concentrated in the following thesis: philosophy becomes political in order to both surpress and regulate this conflictual rationality.

Rancière analyes the different ways of achievement-elimination of politics through philosophy by turning back to the original stakes of political philosophy in the ancient Greek city. That is to say, his analysis operates by homecoming: The scandal of politics is backtracked to political philosophy's evidence première.

He starts with showing that in the ancient city two scandalous political elements had been introduced: In the first book of Politics, Aristotle defines the human as political entity, the human animal alone has "perception of good and evil, the just and unjust". Secondly, in Athens, after the abolishment of enslavement for debt, everyone who was born in the city is counted in the part of the demos and is supposed to take part in community affairs. Rancière does stress that for the Greeks politics is not a matter of sovereign power and not a matter of economic exchange, it is the non-economic question of the just distribution of shares of the common good. Political philosophy solves this question by instituting an ideal geometry according to which the parts are counted and the shares are distributed. Each part gets a share corrosponding to its qualities, entitlements and functions. This order of counting – that Rancière calls police logic – implies a constituent miscount that is surpressed and masked.

This miscounted part of the community is the demos. What has the people to give to the community? There is the wealth of the small number, the oligarchy, the virtue of the best, the aristocracy. However, the people has no positive property, no wealth, no virtue. The entitlement and the share of the demos is the freedom, Aristotle says. The people's freedom is not determined by any positive property. The scandal of the demos is that this mass without qualities enjoys the same freedom than the qualified parts of the community, that is to say, the demos attributes to itself as its proper lot the equality that belongs to all citizens.

Let's sum it up: The people are not a class subject but an anomalous subject of the poor who embody the effectivity of an initial disjunction that bears the empty name of freedom. They embody an improper property, an entitlement to dispute. They put the community at distance to itself. That is to say, the party of the poor embodies nothing other than politics itself. They are the constitutive wrong or torsion of politics as such.

Nevertheless, the class, the proletariat is one of the names for counting the uncounted. In this sense, class struggle, for Rancière, is declassification of the social parts. In Marxian metapolitics, for Rancière, the entire philosophical disagreement about political disagreement culminates. He argues that the notion of class infinitely oscillates between a thinking of form and content: on one hand, the class embodies the positive social content of living labor, and class struggle will, one day, make this content blast the false form of capitalist valorization. On the other hand, the class embodies the pure negativity of a non-class that dissolutes the old ties of the bourgeois society.

Rancière concentrates his anti-Marxian criticism in this diagnosis of an oscillation of Marx's conceptualisation of class struggle between two extremisms: "an infrapolitical extremism of class that is of the social embodyment of political classes, and an ultrapolitical extremism of nonclass – opposing extremisms whose homonyms, class and non-class, allow them to come together in the single figure of the terrorist."

For our discussion i will propose two questions:

(1) Which use could be made of Rancière's considerations for a critique of the postworkerist ontology of living labor? Or rather, can Rancière's idea of the poor as an anomalous group qualified by anything whose empty freedom disturbs the partition of the parts and lots be a productive tool to criticize the ontological and anthropological foundations of the postworkerist concept of the poor?

(2) What are the limits and problematics of Rancière's idea of politics as suspension of the logic of police by an anomalous subject? Rancière conceives politics as disruption of the policing order exercised by a paradoxical unclassifiable class that is implied in this order, counted and miscounted alike. How does he think the political dissidence of this part beyond its positionality of having no part, no voice, no property? How does this part dissociates from normal? That is to say, how does he think the process of becoming militant and of organising militancy? Or does he entirely skip this questions because he borrows from what he is criticizing in Marx – the ultrapolitical extremism of the non-class – the idea of an ontological privilege of interruption by the very class that is no class?

Jacques Rancière: Dis-agreement. Politics and Philosophy, London and Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Pr, 1999, pp. 82-93