Germania beyond titans: on Flavio Cuniberto’s Strategie imperiali. By Gerardo Muñoz

Flavio Cuniberto’s new book, Strategie imperiali: America, Germania, Europa (Quodlibet, 2019), is a timely meditation on the uncertain future of European geopolitics in the wake of recent transformations of Atlantic relations. The drastic shift of United States’ foreign policy towards Asia, the escalating trade war with China, and the continuous erosion of the Eurozone as an influential political player reopens the question of the crisis of Europe. The fact that that we are still talking about a “crisis” means that these transformations are not merely about global markets and production, but rather about the new curvature of American empire in relation to the world (9). What comes as a surprise in Cuniberto’s essay – and specially from an Italian art historian and cultural critic – is that his target is not Germany as the hegemon of Europe. In this sense, Cuniberto differs from Giorgio Agamben or Jean Luc Melenchon’s contestations to the Protestant North. For Cuniberto, Germany foreshadows the question of Europe because it is already signaling a potential emergency for the United States. A concrete reality that will most definitely upset the geopolitical equilibrium in region (14). Recent highly influential geopolitical analysts prove Cuniberto’s point: to the eyes of American grand strategy, a stable Germany is now rubricked under the contradictory label of a ‘peaceful threat’ [1].

Hence, Cuniberto’s gaze is highly realist. There are no fantasies of going back to a “Latin Europe”, nor is there the counter-hegemonic fantasy of an infinite mobilization that, at some point in the future, will “save the day”. If Germany appears as a double-bind, it is because it can guarantee “another beginning”. But, against whom?  On the one hand, from the imperial inter-dependence spearheaded by the United States; but on the other, from the Russian obstinate expansion on the East. At the heart of Cuniberto’s thesis is that the “German question” is fundamentally an interrogation about the extent to which Germany could offer an exit from these two imperial destinies.

For Cuniberto, the current form of Empire amounts to homogenization and administration of differences. Empire is what integrates cultures in their heterogeneity so that idioms and forms of life cease to have an effect in the world. The thicket of Empire is the equivalence of values. The traditional concepts that once organized liberal ideology have fallen to this mere administration of subjects and things. Hence, to be a subject and to be a thing means to participate in the reign of consumption of values. The ideal of governing over equivalence means that the central operation becomes the redistribution of the goods of the politeia. In this way, democracy becomes archaic; a mere standing reserve for what Marcell Detienne once called the ‘distribution of the booty’ [2]. Although the golden age of production has been liquidated after the arbeiter, distribution and allocation is all that liberal politics seem to achieve through consumption.

It only takes a gaze at progressive politicians from across the world (take Elizabeth Warren from the United States’ Democratic Party, of economist Axel Kicillof from Argentina, or Pablo Iglesias in Spain) to draw a coherent picture of contemporary “leftism”. Under the new mode of Empire, politics amounts to the infinite management of the subject of consumerism: whether defending freely aired soccer games on public TV, or counting the number of air-conditioners units sold per household (something that Cristina Kirchner proudly defended a few years ago as a highpoint of her administration); lowering the cost of the monthly electricity or giving away tablets, one does not exaggerate when saying that progressive politicians have become the new guardians of a more stable administrative bureaucracy. The goal amounts to the same: “protect the consumer’s rights”. Under Empire, it is not a matter of a regulated sphere of political economy as it was under the epoch of Production. In our times, it is about the integration of the totality of life into the administration of value. In a way, this is a coup to the eighteenth century theories of the “Social Contract”, which today has been fully integrated into the spirit of extraction. Cuniberto writes:

“Se esiste ancora un’«opinione pubblica», Facebook la drena e la neutralizza, svuotandola di ogni possibile incidenza all’esterno dello spazio virtuale. Facebook («social» in genere) hanno il potere quasi magico di virtualizzare il dissenso trasportandolo in un teatro fizio e narcisisticamente appagante.” (39).

The cybernetics dominion proves the insufficiency of theatrical political gestures in the name of a ‘new hegemony’. This is the discontent of Antonio Negri’s immaterial multitude or identitarian politics as compensatory ethics of “inclusion”, as Cuniberto explains. When politics coincides with technical administration, demands for “unity” become the dominant forms of the metropolitan ethos (50): “perciò integrabile nel proge o di dominio planetario proprio del grande Capitale (50)”. For Cuniberto this force operates through two conjoined planes of oscillation: credit (time), and technique (space) (61). If credit guarantees a perspective on the future (it buys Time as constant anticipation); technique makes any place in the world into a territorial surface (legible, extractive, smooth, resourceful).

If we can say that we live in anomie, it is because even the most elementary categories of appearance, of being-there-in-the-world, are up for grabs vis-à-vis any technique of legibility. We are far from Blumenberg’s “legibility of the world” as the proper distance needed to confront the absolutism of reality. On the contrary, now the world becomes fully integrated into machination (Gestell), since everything that counts needs to be exposed, and only that which is exposed is what ‘counts’. As we know, the efficacy of the question of technology is that it makes everything transparent. Ultimately, this implies that we become incapable of intimacy. To be exposed is not merely being-there; to be exposed means to be mobilized into a temporal and spatial orderability. This is what it means to “become an integrated subject”. Following the track of Heidegger, Cuniberto argues that there is no possibility of turning things around without first breaking away from these two conditions of ontological nihilism:

“Quello che Heidegger chiamerebbe il Wesen della rivoluzione (la sua «essenza») non è di natura politica, o politico-sociale, ma ontologica. La rivoluzione in senso politico, l’evento rivoluzionario – decapitazione del sovrano, abbaiamento della monarchia per dirio divino, riedizione del Potere come espressione della «volontà popolare», o delle masse – non è che il riesso sul piano politico di un movimento ontologico che detronizza l’Unico, sostituendolo. L’Occidente moderno è il «luogo» spaziotemporale di questa operazione” (70).

At this point we should be wondering how does Germany fit into this picture, or if it fits at all. Cuniberto gives Heidegger an important role, since it is Heidegger who stands for the destruction of the metaphysics of Western logos. Heidegger is also the movement that clears a path against any form of titanism, which Cuniberto defines as the illusion of gigantism and technological command (112). Titanism toys with the fantasy of becoming an idiom of the gods. But, Cuniberto reminds us that German  is precisely  a non-sacred language. Thus, fallen into the order of the profane, German has a direct relation to the earthly. Now, a sense of earth does not coincide with a territory or a nomos. If Germany means anything is that it is that it avoids a territory of permanence (ius solis). As Cuniberto explains:

“…fin dall’inizio Heidegger si preoccupa di chiarire che l’idea corrente di Heimat come «paese natale» non è altro che il punto di partenza di un percorso filosofico orientato verso una Heimat «finale». Un luogo che non coincide con un territorio situabile sulla carta geografica perché è piu osto la «terra come tale», la terra come elemento e dimensione cosmica, non come «spazio vitale» o territorio di conquista. La «terra come tale» non è la Germania geografica.” (90)

The German question intervenes in the caesura between language and the national community, reopening the “use of the national” as irreducible to a political destiny. In the 1941 Seminar on “Remembrance”, Heidegger notes that Hölderlin fatherland is something other than ‘political’. In a certain sense, we are still under the interrogation of Hölderlin’s question of the nomos in the wake of modernity. Cuniberto himself does not solve this task, although he gives us at least three conditions for what could prepare a transfiguration of Europe from the German vortex. I would like to outline them as preamble for further discussion.

First, the problem of titanism as a catastrophic derive of the German spirit. In its “determinazione feroce”, the titans follow their destiny to the point of self-destruction and higher transcendence (108). Cuniberto leaves the question open ended: would Germany renounce the titan temptation? (109). At the very end of the war, Fredrich Jünger wrote Die Titanen (1944), in which the Titans find shelter from Hephaestus, the only god that resembles a technician. But the titan is also the compulsive drive to repeat its previous faults. If the titan drifts towards the tragic, it is because it represses an Epimethean readjustments. Titanism is the spiritual movement towards seizing epochal supremacy, forgetting that underneath there are only “broken hegemonies”. The titan is blind to this ultimate bind.

Secondly, Cuniberto makes a plea for Thomas Mann’s ‘impolitical man’ who takes distance from general equivalence in favor of a “borghesie esquisitamente medievale dell’operosità artigiana e ciadiana, non dell’accumulo capitalistico” (115). The Mannian position, however, raises the question about to what extent the ‘impolitical man’ is not a direct result of a historical belated national condition, as famously theorized by Helmuth Plessner. Is not an aesthetic flight the compensatory act of a hyper-political composition lacking the proper separation of powers against the absolutism of reality? [3]. Of course, we can also say that to the extent that Western elites have abdicated their relation to the politeia, the impolitical man could be radicalized as the singular that rejects being subjected to any organizing principle (archē). Finally, Cuniberto upholds the ideal of the “Secret Germany”, as a fold where Israel and Germania, the political and the impolitical, the national and the use, could be rethought anew. But, is a Secret Germany possible without the tutelage of a poetic genialismus, whose gestalt finds expression in the “Dichter als Führer”, to paraphrase Max Kommerell’s well known study? Cuniberto cites Ernst Kantorowicz, a member of the George Group, a Jewish aristocrat, an exile, and also an esoteric critic of the arcana of democratic acclamation in his monograph Laudes Regiae (1946). However, we should not forget that Kantorowicz is also the thinker that promotes the “sovereign artist” in the figure of the poet as commander ex ingenio [4]. In other words, the dichter hegemōn acts from a privileged site of diremption, ignoring that this world detests to follow any authorial orientation. Hölderlin final desperation also speaks to this challenge.

If poetic errancy must destitute titanism, it must also leave behind the genialismus vocation that makes the destruction of the soul a concrete possibility. To save the soul entails preserving a free relation of every inclination without previous commandment. To posit any substitute legitimacy is already a gesture towards the corruption of character. Hölderlin’s lesson is precisely this: only an exercise of character can attune a world in all of its phenomena. The secret here is no longer encrypted in an obscure mystery, but rather in what remains the most apparent: friendship, landscape, dwelling, the iteration of the voice or the distance between earth and sky. When the Earth frees itself from the nomos, something like a musical atopic dwelling is preserved.

This means that a world of fragments seeks no order. This form of dwelling is irreducible to cosmopolitanism, the political nation, or the titanic symptom. As Hölderlin writes in “The Titans”: “What is high must feel at home….pensive it is on Earth, and not for nothing are eyes fixed on the ground” [5]. It is not surprising that the new titans drift extra terram (Jeff Bezos trying to ‘invest’ on Mars is just one ludicrous example). In the open path upon Earth a new humility grows, which is why the best we can do is a description of phenomena of an event of experience. This is what Empire prohibits. In fact, one could say that empire today is the configuration (its spatial model is that of the metropolis) of a cybernetic rationality without description. The programmer’s civilizational heliopolis of Silicon Valley is the culmination of a depredatory civilization that has taken flight from the earthly experience. Cuniberto’s Strategie Imperiali closes precisely where this question opens: when traversing the ground of a measureless world, are we not also soliciting an exodus from any geopolitical reorientation (Germanic or otherwise)?






  1. Jakub Grygiel, “Germany: The Pacifist Menace”, The American Interest, March 2019.
  2. Marcel Detienne. “Misogynous Hestia”, in The Writing of Orpheus. Maryland: John Hopkins university Press, 2003. 61.
  3. Helmuth Plessner. La nación tardía: sobre la seducción política del espíritu burgués(1935-1959).Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2017.
  4. See Ernst Kantorowicz’s essay, “The Sovereignty of the artist: a note on legal maxims and Renaissance Theories of Art”, in Selected Studies(1965).
  5. Friedrich Hölderlin. “The Titans”, in Selected Poems and Fragments. New York: Penguin Edition, 1998. 285.

Cuaderno de apuntes sobre la obra de Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio. Décima Parte y Final. Por Gerardo Muñoz


Si intentábamos extraer las consecuencias de la música en Ferlosio, es porque se trata de un problema que excede la pregunta por los géneros o el sentido: allí donde hay música aparece una verdad en el mundo. Esta verdad hace al mundo una región descriptible, puesto que ya no coincide con el territorio ni con el nomos de la reducción de las posibilidades. El lenguaje no es lo propio de lo música. Esto lo supo el propio Ferlosio, para quien el lenguaje es gramática y administración que ordena. El lenguaje: el canal mediante el cual la voz cesa de buscar la errancia de ese “reconocimiento de lo que está vivo y que permanece bajo la influencia de la naturaleza”, tal y como decía Hölderlin en “El suelo de Empedocles”. En cambio, lo que es descriptible es lo que no es objetivable, ya que rompe la diferencia entre particular y universal ganando así lo que lo pudiéramos llamar intimidad. Su condicion es siempre un pasaje; su medialidad son las cosas que nos excluyen. La exploración de ese afuera se hace desde el carácter.

Este es el vórtice mismo del proyecto de Ferlosio. En este tramo nos ayudaría Hölderlin: cuando lo posible se ha disuelto en la realidad, siempre se conserva un resto inmemorial de aquello que ha sido una de sus posibilidades (“El ocaso de la patria”). Tal es la indiferencia del espíritu de la música, pero también de las almas: su afuera solo cobra sentido como perpetua auto-comprensión de las posibilidades del adentro. El único fundamento para llevar adelante una destrucción de máquina-lenguaje es desde la apertura en los posibles. (Se destruye el lenguaje para abrirle camino al reino de la comunicación). Dicho en otras palabras: la posibilidad se encuentra en el hecho mismo de ser un reincidente. Ferlosio esto lo sabe: el lobo reincidente es lobo en la manera en que abre caminos: sabe entrar y salir, convencido que jamás podría convertirse en perro de la jauría.

En la escritura hidráulica de Ferlosio no vale tapar los agujeros, ni tampoco dilatarse en las reservas acumuladas de sus baches. La reincidencia es un flujo. Al final, esto es lo único que vale la pena perseguir. No basta con mostrar los momentos de perturbación en una superficie; lo fundamental es encontrar un despeje desde el cual ecualizar una tonalidad de salida. En esto tal vez consista su ‘libertad anárquica’ [sic], por encima de todos los híper-políticos versados en los cálculos del reparto del botín (“El suelo de Empedocles”). Podemos decir que, como Hölderlin, Ferlosio se acercó al mito desde otra forma: la fábula como antesala universal a los modos depredatorios de la prosa del esclavo. Pero la fábula es también un mito. Las fábulas son cápsulas que expresan formas por las cuales un carácter puede materializarse como posible. El mito tiene la densidad de arraigar con solvencia una época o una tradición o una lengua. La fábula es índice de una flexibilidad que prescinde de un grado de lo variable en lo real. Por esta razón es que Lessing en su ensayo “Sobre la esencia de la fábula” (1825) escribía:

“La diferencia fundamental entre la fábula y la parábola (o el ejemplo) en general es que la realidad para el segundo se descarga como posibilidad. En la fábula, la realidad solo tiene sentido como una entre muchas posibilidades. Y en cuanto al a realidad, la fábula no admite modificaciones, sino solo funciones condicionales o incondicionales.”

La fábula es el contorno de una verdad superior del mundo en la medida en que condensa las posibilidades del mismo. Justo es ahí que se expresa la naturaleza inagotable de la potencia (Blumenberg, “De la verisimilitud a la probabilidad”). Un evento no es un suceso que pueda modificar el mundo; al contrario, es lo que permite que hayan modos de acceso a una misma pregunta. Si hablamos de fábula es porque el mundo fantástico de Ferlosio se encuentra atravesado por ella. No es casual que en cada una de sus novelas posteriores a El Jarama, se le conceda a la fábula un lugar especial. Aunque no hemos tenido tiempo para decir nada sobre la ficción de Ferlosio a lo largo de estas notas, lo que sí nos gustaría sugerir es que “la literatura” o “la escritura” son categorías demasiadas programáticas para constatar el ejercicio construens que nos precoupa. Llamémosle fábula a esta otra modalidad de inscribir los posibles.

Como la música, la parataxis, o el estilo, la fábula no es algo explícitamente tematizado por Ferlosio. Quizás porque no se trata de aludir a la fábula, sino de la exigencia a pensar la entrada a ella. No hay duda que Ferlosio lo hizo con su propio estilo de vida. Ferlosio es, ante todo, posibles vidas, modos de escribir, o la insesante gestualidad por intentar un afuera (del lenguaje, del derecho, de la moral, de la Historia, de los bienes, de las causas, y sí, del nombre del Padre). Pero el verdadero reto del pensamiento de Ferlosio pudiera medirse desde otro ángulo: no como relación con la escritura, sino como pasaje entre fábula y mundo. Uno de los pocos lugares donde Ferlosio teorizó sobre la fábula es la brevísima glosa “Un esquema”. Esto es lo que Ferlosio tiene que decir sobre la fábula:

“El protagonista de la fábula es el universal, como lo prueba el que ya lleve artículo determinado en su agnición o primera aparición; solo el universal, por cuanto comparto el acto intencional que refleja la mención sobre la lengua misma, constituye, en efecto, en “personaje” un ser ya conocido para todo oyente…” (p.734).

El estatuto universal de la fábula es ambiguo: por un lado, es lo previamente conocido, y por lo tanto ya ha ingresado al concepto. Por otro lado, en esa tenue universalidad entramos a una vida como personaje de manifestación. Como Pulcinella, lo importante no es la hoja de vida de un ser, sino las posibilidades que preparan la salida o la inclinación de una experiencia. Una fábula es un teatro que interrumpe el orden de lo narrado, para así hospedar una multiplicidad que nos antecede. Por eso dice Ferlosio que la fábula se establece como “mención de la lengua misma”. Lo extraño en la lengua como des-naturalización entre hombre y animal. De ahí que desde Esopo prevalezca el interés por la fábula: la indeterminación del ser como posibilidad de lo indomesticable. Una especie que se resiste a la domesticación es prueba de la posibilidades del mundo. Hace poco Julien Coupat lo decía con una maravillosa fábula sobre los orígenes de la depredación civilizacional:

“Los perros guardianes están ahí para proteger al rebaño de la aparición súbita del lobo. Pero no en el sentido en el que se cree. Oficialmente, el lobo es un peligro exterior. En realidad, el perro guardián está ahí para impedir la mutación, siempre posible, de carnero en lobo, del animal de rebaño que depende en el animal de clan que se organiza. Así, el lobo no es extranjero al país, sino extranjero al rebaño, a la lógica del rebaño. El lobo es lo no-homogéneo, lo heterogéneo. Esbozar una nueva cultura de la violencia equivale a interesarse por la condición de lobo.”

Violentamos lo que constituye la superficie de la Historia. Hablar sobre la fábula, por lo tanto, supone entrar en relación con la pregunta misma de la civilización. Y otra cosa: la posibilidad de mundo en tanto que separación entre cielo y tiempo (Hölderlin, “El suelo de Empedocles”). Cuando decimos que el mundo se inclina hacia lo indomesticable (tomemos la figura “universal” del lobo, a diferencia del perro), queremos decir que una objetividad del ser-fuera-de-uno-mismo con la realidad prepara el carácter a su destino informe. Lo informe no es lo que se abstrae del mundo, sino, al contrario, lo que organiza en cada elemento las condiciones no-objetivas de una mundanidad fuera del orden. Todo lo contrario al origen al perro. Como nos dice Ferlosio en “De los orígenes del perro”: el perro terminó resolviendo su crisis sometiéndose al reparto del botín (p.480). Ya de nada sirve aludir a grados de libertad.

El perro vive de los fragmentos de mundo que va dejando el rebaño. Lo que se gana en seguridad, lo pierde en destino. Por esta razón es que ningún principio hegemónico puede constituir una civilización que no albergue en su interior la reducción de lo posible. La hegemonía es al laboratorio de la dominación, lo que el perro es a la imaginación de la fábula. Para poder pensar un mundo hace falta ser un lobo que deje atrás las “antiquísimas metrópolis” donde el perro se arroga su raquítica condición de consumidor de restos (p.481). Evitar la civilizacion supone que tengo que exigir el paso de mi condición como consumible a una donde el consumo es tan sólo unas de las posibilidades de las cuales dispongo. Lo que decimos – y para recapitular – podemos trazarlo en una pequeña fábula:

Hubo un burro en un páramo. Y este burro escribió sobre las piedras. Los años pasan y su escritura queda, aunque borrosa, apenas legible, pero perdura en el tiempo. Un nuevo eón civilizatorio da entrada a nuevas especies: entran zorros, pájaros, lagartijas, gorriones, corderos, búfalos, y ratones. Pasan los años y las especies comienzan a “civilizarse”: aprender a leer, con el tiempo admiran la escritura, incluso la aman. Pero todas las noches las especies veían sombras a lo lejos. Durante años intuían que las sombras eran meras entelequias, engaños de la mirada o falsas percepciones. El ajedrez luminoso era una mera anarquía de la luz. Pero con los siglos, una crisis de las especies inauguró un nuevo eón que deslumbró otra cosa: la sombra era un lobo. Un lobo que no le desinteresó la escritura pero supo que era más interesante entender la piedra atravesándola. El  lobo rechazó todo trato con la manada, buscó salida. Así se hizo sombra.

Un último apunte. En el enigmático fragmento “La fábula de los Antiguos”, Hölderlin afirma que la fábula no es otra cosa que la visión poética de la Historia que puede conectar al humano con el espíritu (o las sombras). Y en una carta de 1804 dirigida a Leo Von Seckendorf le comenta: “La fábula, faz poética de la historia y arquitectura del cielo, me interesa ahora sobremanera….” (Correspondencia completa, trad. Helena Cortés y Arturo Leyte, 1990, p.559). Una posible lectura: donde hay mundos posibles encontramos otro nomoi de la tierra. Ferlosio tantea desde la fábula ese cruce en el cual lo divino y lo mineral se imbrican íntimamente: “¿Por qué asentaste piedra / y levantaste casa en este mundo / tú que sabías mostrar toda la dicha / silvestre de los lirios?” (De algunos animales, 2019, p.81). Algo se registra silenciosamente en negativo: un saber nocturno, un saber de lobo, pues la desdicha solo se abandona ganando presencia de mundo. Cuando hacemos hogar reducimos las posibilidades de recorrer las estrías que se comunican bajo una misma arquitectónica de cielo.




Novena parte

Octava parte

Séptima parte

Sexta entrega

Quinta entrega

Cuarta entrega

Tercera entrega

Segunda Entrada

Primera entrega

El quiasmo en Podemos. Por Alberto Moreiras.


Uno de los problemas de aceptar la teoría de la hegemonía como marco exhaustivo del debate es tener también que aceptar lo que Ernesto Laclau llamaba “los fundamentos retóricos de la sociedad,” con sus secuelas inevitablemente sofísticas y antiparrésicas.   El político embarcado en la obsesión de “construir pueblo,” es decir, de construir hegemonía, no puede sino intentar acertar con la expresión que de suelo a un efecto de equivalencia, redefinible como catexis de identificación afectiva.   La retórica impera en esta táctica a expensas de la más sobria voluntad de decir la verdad—no se trata de que el hegemónico necesariamente mienta, sino más bien de que su voluntad de verdad está cruzada inevitablemente por una estrategia de disimulación, en la que lo disimulado es cualquier pulsión no susceptible de catexis identificatoria. El político populista apuesta por la comunidad, nunca por la separación. El espacio político hegemónico es siempre simulacro de comunidad, quizá en la esperanza vaga de que el simulacro se asiente en comunidad auténtica. La separación, como efecto necesario de la palabra verdadera (el que dice solo la verdad lo hace desde su soledad incompartible, desde aquello que en él no es comunitario ni busca catexis), es irreducible a práctica hegemónica o hegemonizante.

Hace unas semanas, cuando empezaba a perfilarse al menos públicamente la confrontación de posiciones entre Pablo Iglesias e Iñigo Errejón que iba a establecer las coordenadas para la reconfiguración del partido en Vistalegre 2, Iglesias le escribe a Errejón, o más bien le escribe al público con Errejón como pretexto de interlocución, una “Carta abierta a Iñigo” (cf. 20 minutos, 12 de diciembre 2016). En ella Iglesias habla de amistad, de “echarse unas risas,” de compañerismo e intimidad, pero se preocupa, dice, porque “quizás eso no dure siempre.”   Iglesias da un paso atrás, dice darlo, y le promete a Errejón que esta su carta pública, su carta abierta, no es la carta de “tu secretario general,” sino que es la carta de “tu compañero y amigo.”   La catexis identificatoria está implícita como propuesta para todo lector de la carta que tenga compañeros y amigos sin tener necesariamente secretarios generales al mando. Ah, qué bien, aquí no habrá autoridad, solo reflexiones íntimas. Eso me decían a mí mis tutores en el colegio, también decían hablar desde la amistad pura, y yo, por supuesto, les creía, cómo no creerles sin traicionar la amistad que yo mismo sentía.

Pero no hay que leer las cartas siempre desde la sospecha, eso está mal entre amigos y compañeros. Iglesias le da unas lecciones fraternales a Errejón, y le dice que se “enorgullece” de seguir siendo su candidato a secretario general, pero que no le es posible aceptar la separación que propone Errejón entre “proyectos y personas.” Esto es claro: si Errejón propone que la candidatura de Iglesias a la secretaría general no será amenazada, Iglesias le avisa con sinceridad amable de que a él le iba a resultar muy difícil, como a todo el mundo, ser el líder de un partido sin mando real, es decir, tener que liderar sobre las ideas y los equipos de otros.   Es perfectamente entendible y lógico. Así que Iglesias invita a Errejón a un “debate fraterno” que permita en última instancia “lograr la mayor integración de todos los proyectos.” Pero, Iñigo, no me pidas “que desvincule mi papel de secretario general de mis ideas.”   Creo que eso es lo esencial en la carta, que termina diciendo “quiero un Podemos en el que tus ideas y tu proyecto tengan espacio, del mismo modo que los de otros compañeros como Miguel y Teresa. Quiero un Podemos en el que tú, uno de los tipos con más talento y brillantez que he conocido, puedas trabajar a mi lado y no frente a mí.” “A mi lado y no frente a mí,” puesto que yo soy el secretario general, y te quiero a mi lado, porque soy generoso, no por debajo, no obedeciendo, no mandando tampoco (no me impongas tus ideas, respétame las mías), sino en tu lugar cabal, en el lugar que corresponde a alguien que no es secretario general y que así no ocupa el papel del líder. Hay líderes, y hay otros que no lo son tanto. Y el lugar natural de los que no lo son tanto en una organización política es al lado de sus líderes, no discutiendo con ellos. Eso manda malas señales, y confunde las catexis de la gente.

Me gustaría analizar la estructura que inmediata e infernalmente se crea a través de esta carta—pero la carta es solo síntoma de un estado de cosas, el estado de cosas hoy en Podemos y en la democracia española, y a ello nos remitimos, con respeto para ambos lados, entendiendo plenamente la enorme dificultad de la política, la dignidad de la política en cuanto actividad humana siempre elusiva en su verdad, siempre notoriamente esquiva.   Errejón reclama—ha reclamado, antes de la carta, como condición de la carta—su derecho a proponer listas a la dirección de Podemos mediante las que se encarne necesariamente una diferencia de ideas en la dirección misma. Errejón reclama un principio de pluralidad en el centro del poder de Podemos, algo perfectamente compatible con la teoría de la hegemonía. Errejón reclama, en otras palabras, que el significante vacío, encarnado en el secretario general, sea realmente un significante vacío, y así susceptible de ser llenado, fantasmática, retórica, ilusoriamente, por una multiplicidad de demandas cuya concreción—es decir, cuya jerarquización, cuya victoria o derrota, cuya significación en cuanto demandas—sería ya harina de otro costal, entregada a negociaciones siempre intensas a partir de la aceptación de que el conflicto es inevitable y siempre irreducible en política, sobre todo en política democrática.  Para que mis demandas sean oídas, Pablo, le dice Errejón, es necesario que tengan la visibilidad adecuada, y eso me obliga a proponer listas alternativas a las tuyas a partir de un conflicto que no podemos negar. Solo quiero que mis demandas estén, no quiero que me desaparezcan, aunque también quiera que tú continues siendo mi jefe, sigas al mando, sigas en el papel que ya otras demandas y sus cadenas de equivalencias te han otorgado, retórica y efectivamente.

E Iglesias le contesta, no menos lógica y razonablemente, que él, aunque sea, en cuanto secretario general, no más que un significante vacío, no puede vivir como significante vacío ni quiere ser significante vacío. Y no le gusta que otros, tú mismo, Iñigo, intenten aprovechar su calidad teórica de significante vacío para convertirlo realmente en un significante vacío, desrealizado, inerte, marioneta de las ideas de otros, y así ya incapaz de, como dice la carta, decir “ciertas verdades como puños,” excepto en calidad de consejero delegado, hablando por otros, como el muñeco del ventrilocuo. Pero entonces esas verdades ya no serán puños, serán simulacro de puños, serán meros artilugios retóricos. ¿Y cómo objetar a esto?

Es un quiasmo.  En el contexto de la teoría de la hegemonía funciona la contraposición entre el que dice su verdad en separación y el que la dice buscando articulación comunitaria.  El quiasmo entre Iglesias y Errejón es que ninguno de ellos puede renunciar a ninguno de esos dos registros, por razones en sí contrapuestas. La articulación retórica comunitaria paraliza y moviliza a Iglesias y la verdad parréstica en separación paraliza y moviliza a Errejón.  Se trama una figura retórica que puede quedar bien en el terreno de la poética, incluso de la poética política, pero que, como todo quiasmo, resulta existencialmente invivible. Ni Errejón puede aceptar el disciplinamiento del silencio—pliégate, Iñigo, no es el momento de imponer tus ideas, nunca será el momento de imponer tus ideas, hasta que seas el líder, olvidémonos de Vistalegre 2 y de la Asamblea Ciudadana, sabes, como lo supiste ya en Vistalegre 1, que la Asamblea Ciudadana es solo un momento más en la estrategia de catexis, en la estrategia de construir hegemonía, y tus ideas pueden jodernos, pueden romper la armonía hegemónica, pueden dividir al pueblo, pueden destruir el aparato—ni Iglesias puede aceptar la mordaza—aguántate, Pablo, tú quisiste ser un hiperlíder mediático, quisiste construirte como jefe solo en aras de tu capacidad retórica, de tu carisma parlante, aténte a eso, no trates de tapar la proliferación de ideas y propuestas, no trates de tapar las mías, la Asamblea Ciudadana es un momento necesario en la estrategia de catexis, y tus ideas pueden jodernos, pueden romper la armonía hegemónica, pueden dividir al pueblo, pueden destruir el aparato.

La situación—sostenerse en el quiasmo es existencialmente invivible, no ya para Errejón e Iglesias, sino para todos los inscritos en Podemos, que no encuentran forma de conciliar las posiciones pero saben que los votos que decidan serán votos que separen, saben que la situación tiene arreglo imposible, que solo la victoria de unos decidirá la derrota de otros, pero que la victoria será pírrica, y la derrota no será definitiva—no se zanja con “documentos políticos.”   El lector tanto de “Recuperar la ilusión,” que es la propuesta del equipo de Errejón, como de “Plan 2020,” que es la propuesta redactada por Iglesias, puede leer entre líneas diferencias que son solo administraciones de énfasis, variaciones retóricas sobre temas similares, y lo que queda es una difusa sensación de incompatibilidad fantasmática, es decir, no basada en ningún desacuerdo explícito, tangible.   La retórica misma, por los dos lados, busca unidad, y lima las diferencias, que quedan referidas solo al mayor predominio de buscar transversalidad en “Recuperar la ilusión” o de buscar unidad en “Plan 2020,” pero de forma que todos entienden como políticamente precaria, puesto que ni la transversalidad ni la unidad se consiguen en los documentos, sino en la práctica política cotidiana.

¿No es hora, ya, de dar un paso atrás, y de considerar que, si los presupuestos teóricos que han sostenido el curso de Podemos han llevado a este impasse, es hora de cambiar los presupuestos teóricos? Cuando uno no puede resolver un problema, conviene estudiar el problema, y cambiar sus coordenadas.   En ese sentido, me gustaría proponer solo dos cosas:

  1. Ni Pablo Iglesias es un significante vacío ni debería permitirse jugar a serlo. La figura del lider sostenida en la teoría del significante vacío produce el impasse de Podemos.  Iglesias debe renunciar a su auto-mantenimiento como líder de Podemos en aras de su carisma mediático, hoy maltrecho por otro lado. Si Iglesias ha de seguir siendo secretario general, que lo sea porque gana en votos, sin más consideraciones, sin más dramas, sin más creación artificial de ficciones teóricas insostenibles.  Iglesias debe aceptar su verdad como sujeto político y renunciar a su autorrepresentación primaria como significante vacío y receptor de deseo.  De esa manera podrá volver a tener “amigos y compañeros” y no más bien sumisos o insumisos.
  1. Y Errejón debe aceptar que ninguna transversalidad sustantiva es compatible con la teoría de la hegemonía, que la disuelve en equivalencia.   La transversalidad es la apuesta por un populismo an-árquico, a-verticalista, en el que la figura del líder no tiene más consistencia que la del gestor de los intereses de sus votantes. La ruptura posthegemónica–y esa es en el fondo la deriva de Errejón desde las elecciones de junio de 2016–es necesariamente la renuncia a la articulación retórica comunitaria como horizonte primario del discurso político.  La transversalidad reconoce la separación como condición constitutiva del discurso político.  Errejón ya está en ello, pero le falta recordar que no hay transversalidad si la transversalidad se afirma solo para ser mejor capturada en recuperación comunitaria.

Quizás sea necesario esperar a la emergencia de un Podemos anarco-populista, posthegemónico, antiverticalista.   Todo el programa real de Podemos podría potenciarse fuertemente desde esos presupuestos.   Es la teoría de la hegemonía la que crea el impasse presente. Veremos qué pasa la semana que viene, aunque la votación ya ha empezado.   Modestamente, como mero inscrito, sin militancia, imagino que será más fácil esa recomposición teórica a partir de la victoria de las listas de Recuperar la ilusión.

Katargein: notes on Giorgio Agamben’s L’uso dei corpi. By Gerardo Muñoz

Luso dei corpi 2015

1. L’uso dei corpi (Neri Pozza, 2014) is the culmination of Agamben’s Homo Sacer project after a little more than a decade. The thinker has warned that the volume should not be taken as the end of the project, but as the last installment before its abandonment. To this effect, it is for future thinkers and scholars to continue carrying forth an investigation that polemically proposes an archeological destruction of politics in the West. L’uso is a book written with a backward gaze on what has been elaborated in other volumes, while thematizing instances of the unsaid in them. A novelty in L’uso dei corpi is the constant iteration of anecdotal impressions that enact as emblems of the indeterminate threshold between thought and life.

None of these details are meant to add flare to the content. Rather, they allude to one’s impossible strategy of sketching or bearing witness to life. It is precisely that alocation which already introduces the idea of form of life. It is worthwhile to note that in this bravado, there is little meditation on Agamben’s own life, which remains silently opaque and perhaps on the side of “ette clandestinité de la vie privée sur laquelle on ne possède jamais que des documents dérisoires”. The writing of a life is only potential or a habitual relation of the singular with itself, foreign to conventional literary genres or works of memory and identity. The form of life coincides here with a writing that never anticipates its own becoming; it seeks for an inclination or a “gusto” (as opposed to an ‘aesthetic’ form) [1]. Hence, if according to Benjamin Heidegger’s thinking is angular; one is tempted to say that Agamben’s style is scaly as in the skin of a fish, only visible when exposed to light, generating multiple intensities and shifting canopies.

2. As the culmination of Homo Sacer, L’uso dei corpi is in equal measure the writing of the end of the ontological metaphysical tradition and the opening of the question of life or existence. This is not accomplished, like in Heidegger or Schürmann, solely as an extraction of the history of metaphysics given primacy to philosophical discourse. Rather the methodological wager here is archeology, which allows not for a process of “destruction” (although in a certain sense it is consistent with a deconstructive practice), but for one of rendering inoperative the machine(s) that capture negativity into life and politics, or the political as always an impolitical foundation or archē of life:

L’identificazione della nuda vita come referente primo e pota in gioco della politica e stato perciò il primo atto della ricerca. La struttura originario della politica occidentale consiste in una ex-ceptio, in una esclusione inclusive della vita umana nella forma della nuda vita. Si rifletta sulla particolarità di questa operazione: la vita non e in se stessa politica – per questo essa deve essere esclusa dalla citta – e, tuttavia, e propio l’exceptio, l’esclusione-inclusione di questo Impolitico che fonda lo spazio della politica” (Agamben 333).

[“The identification of bare life as the prime referent and ultimate stakes of politics was therefore the first act of the study. The originary structure of Western politics consists in an ex-ceptio, in an inclusive exclusion of human life in the form of bare life. Let us reflect on the peculiarity of this operation: life is not in itself political – for this reason it must be excluded from the city – and yet it is precisely this exceptio, the exclusion-inclusion of this Impolitical, that founds the space of politics” (Agamben 263)].

This position allows Agamben to simultaneously bring the relation between biopolitics and sovereignty to a maximum proximity, while taking critical distance from the so-called Italian Theory, in the variants of Cacciari, Esposito, or Tronti. Like these three, politics cannot be rethought without the wrench of the theological register, but unlike them, Agamben is not interested in take part in the construction of a nomic difference posited as an exclusive modality of “Italian difference”.

His critique is situated against the political as a transversal in Western rationality and ontology vis-a-vis the unfolding of paradigms. In Agamben’s view there is no need for epochal structuration, and not even for a history of metaphysics proper. Rather, the ‘history of metaphysics’ is the history of its apparatuses; and that is why the critique of these apparatuses is not fulfilled at the domain of epochal presencing, but rather within an array of fields of tension and relays – from metaphysics proper to the classics, from theology to modern literature, from philology to jurisprudence and political philosophy – in which power articulates and divides the constitution of life.

In this way, Agamben is neither a philosopher nor a critical theorist (in the Foucaltian or Kantian sense), since for him the history of Western philosophical tradition cannot consecrate itself in two or more moment, since the narrative of the history of philosophy is far from being the place where the question of “life” is waged. (As opposed to Foucault’s position in Lectures at Dartmouth College would could still argue: “Maybe also we can say that there are two great philosophical moments: the pre-Socratic moments and the Aufklärung”). Archeology and the paradigm are not historical moments or epochs, but singular signaturas in which the amphibology between potentiality and actuality, the political and its impolitical are dispensed as ensembles of legibility.

3. Unlike conventional philosophical histories or historico-intellectual reconstruction of ideas, the archeology of paradigms has no intention of restituting something like an uncontaminated or esoteric tradition. Averroism, just to take one example, has been casted erroneously in such a light. There is no such thing as an alternative non-metaphysical history of Western metaphysics and ontology, and the form of life as the part construens does not amount to an alternative history, but rather to the unthought of metaphysics, secluded between the public and the private (in the sphere of life), the norm and the exception. What is then given is not a second history, but something like the history of intimacy of thought at the instance of contact, a region that dwells in an improper de-relation (itself-with-itself). How Agamben reads the notion of “intimacy” could also be displaced to his rewriting of the philosophical and political stakes of his work:

אSolo a solo” e un’espressione dell’intimità. Siamo insieme e vicinissime, ma non c’è fra noi un’articolazione o una relazione che ci unisca, siamo uniti l’uno all’altro nella forma del nostro essere soli. Ciò che di solito costruisse la sfera della privatezza diventa qui pubblico e comune. Pero questo gli amanti si mostrano nudi l’uno all’altro: io mi mostro a te come quando sono solo con me stesso, ciò che condividiamo non e che il nostro esoterismo, la nostra inappropriabile zona di non-conoscenza. Questo Inappropriabile e l’impensabile, che la nostra cultura deve ogni volta escludere e presupporre, per farne il fondamene negative della politica” (Agamben 302).

[“א Alone by oneself” is an expression of intimacy. We are together and very close, but between us there is not an articulation or a relation or a relation that unites us. We are united to one another in the form of our being alone. What customarily constitutes the sphere of privacy here becomes public and common. For this reason, lovers show themselves nude to one another: I show myself to you as when I am alone with myself; what we share is only our esoterism, our inappropriable zone of non-knowledge. This Inappropriable is the unthinkable; it is what our culture must always exclude and presuppose in order to make in the negative foundation of politics” (Agamben 237-238)]

The critique raised against negativity as a disjointed form stages the necessary condition for division and distribution of ontology as political. It would not be too grandiloquent to say that negativity for Agamben is always machination and positionality. The life of intimacy or the intimate life is consistent with an infrapolitical region that is at once “superpolitical and apolitical” (hypsipolis apolis): separated in the ban from the city, it nevertheless becomes intimate and inseparable from itself, in a non-relation that has the form of an “exile of one alone to one alone” (Agamben 236). An affirmation of the regime of exodus inscribes the life of beatitude that always dwells in an absolute politicity (to the extent that the exception is de-captured and suspended), opening to a new politics of exile. It is a unity, not separation, from the political. But calling for the politization of the absolute state of exodus is already recasting the political as something other than what it has been in the Western tradition, as tied to the duopoly of polis-oikos, of inclusion-exclusion, or one of doxology and sovereignty.

Agamben moves on to argue that there have signatures in the history of thought where this politics of exile could be recasted: first, Neo-Platonism vis-à-vis Plotinus and Marius Victorinus; and secondly, in Averroism as the signature of the noetic common intellect that evades the figure of the person. But these two traditions do not exhaust the form of life (eidos zoes) that Agamben wants to pursue. The task of the coming philosophy is to imagine and provide for such thought through traditions that function as paradigms for the potentialities of thought against the historical unfolding proper of metaphysics.

4. The project does not limit itself to an archive of philosophers, but necessarily poses problems for theology. This is the case, for instance, of the early Christian rhetor Marius Victorinus. Victorinus’ apothegm from his treatise on the Trinitarian polemic (Adversus Arium) functions as a sort of chant of the form of life: “quasi quaedma forma vel status viviendo progenitus” [“life is a habit of living, and a kind of form generated by living”] (Agamben 221). Victorinus displaces and renders inoperative the ontological ground of the post-Aristotelian Hellenistic School to a co-substantialism between Father and Son, existence and essence that already prefigures the modal ontology of the late Leibniz-Des Bosses epistolary exchange, but also the Spinozian singular substance of Nature. This is symmetrical to the Averroist intellect, since ‘life’ does not take the character of a declination between attributes, properties, and differences, but is a mode instantiated by its living. The way of living becomes the threshold of indistinction, and as such, an incalculable life that is always already singular and, by the same token, a common life. But what is not clear in Agamben’s glossing of Victorinus is his place within the debate of Trinitarian thought. In Regno e Gloria, the Trinitarian machine functioned as a dual-power that was able to divide sovereign power from administrative or oikonomical power, a regime of attribute causation to one of collateral effects, one of necessity into the site where the instrumentalization of contingency takes place [2].

The Trinitarian machine allowed for the emergence of governance and administration beyond the facticity of sovereignty in a perpetual form of the stasis of humanity. By placing Victorinus as a thinker of the eidos zoes (form of life) is a risky one, Agamben might be suggesting that another turn within the theological machine is potentiality within the Trinitarian machine [3]. And this would solidify Malabou and Esposito’s recent positions, against Agamben, that political theology cannot be deconstructed. But if stasis is always a conflict in representation of the political, what Marius Victorinus posits for thought is a reconsideration of conflict that cannot assume the form of a stasis against democracy. Perhaps at stake is a democracy that never one with the People or predicated upon legitimacy. Rather, a democracy without kratos that is generated in its living body that cannot take the shape of a bare body of life or the mystical body of the political already positioned for a governance in spite of the absent People, such as in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.

5. Agamben’s exodus is not from the political, but rather a return to an absolute politicity. But what is the proper sphere of policity here? Are all aspects of Life subordinated to the political? What is the political for Agamben? Here the recoil is to Plotinus for whom the political is the happy life is the coincidental principle of “living well” (eu zen). Agamben condemns the Heideggerian “letting-be” (galassenheit), as yet another gesture already determinate to produce necessary exception (a ban) to the political [4]. This is why happy life is always extreme and minimal politicity that incorporates life in its form as always already taking place and as a form of beatitude. In the section “A life inseparable from its form”, Agamben writes:

Il mistero dell’uomo non e quello, metafisica, della congiunzione fra il vivente e il linguaggio (o la ragione, o l’anima (, ma quello, pratico e politico, della loro separazione. Se il pensiero, le arti, la poesia e, in generale, le prassi umane hanno qualche interesse, ciò e perché essi fanno girare archeologicamente a vuoto la macchina e le opera della vita, della lingua, dell’economia e della società per riportarle all’evento antropogenico, perché in esse il diventar umano, non cessi mai di avvenire. La politico nomina il luogo di questo evento, in qualunque ambito esso si produca” (Agamben 265-66).

[“The mystery of the human being is not the metaphysical one of the conjunction between the living being and language (or reason or the soul) but the practical and political one their separation. If thought, the arts, poetry, and human practices generally have any interests, it’s because they bring about an archeological idling of the machine and the works of life, language, economy, and society, in order to carry them back to the anthropogenetic event, I order that in them the becoming human of the human being will never be achieved once and for all, will never cease to happen. Politics names the place of this event, in whatever sphere it is produced” (Agamben 208)].

Politics here coincides fully with inoperativity, its katargein (the suspension and accomplishment of Law according his reading of Paul in The Times that Remains), a singular strategy of profanation that turns each action into its improper destitution. This is what constitutes use (chresis) in Agamben’s early part of the book, and it is also a general methodology for thought that coincides with politics. Since politics is not a sphere of life, or of an administrative partition of what life is (ontology), politics is a general strategy that renders life into an event for whatever (qualunque) use [5]. Strategic politics does not posit a principle of action; it is rather what does not solicit calculation, submersing into thought and distance of the non-relation. A handy example comes by way of chess, as explicitly thematized in the drift on Wittgenstein’s form of life in language, since gaming itself results in strategy in which rules are co-substantial and infinite in the state of things (the game). Hence, in every sphere of human activity, thought exceeds the productionism of calculation normatively captured.

But the qualunque – as we also learned from Agamben’s The Coming Community – is what reimagines another possibility of a community of singulars and homonyms vis-à-vis praxis and use as the kernel of pure means. This ‘politics’ de-appropriates the form in life that has remained caught in the schism of every biopolitics. Here Agamben differentiates himself from understanding the political as a public presencing in Schürmann’s anarchistic destruction of principal thought [6]. Figures such as the landscape, the intimate exposition, style, or the inclination to animality, are metonymic tropes for a politics of use and of the contemplative region of a life that is co-substantial with its form. On the other end, whatever divides and administers singularity is always production of bare life, which is why evil is first and foremost a consequence of biopolitical machination.

6. The major volumes of Homo Sacer always revolved around a series of polemical signatures: Carl Schmitt in State of Exception, Erik Peterson in Kingdom and the Glory, Kojeve in The Open, or Kant in Opus Dei. It is fair to say that in L’uso dei Corpi we are confronted with two names: Michel Foucault and Martin Heidegger. Unlike Schmitt and Peterson, these two names are not presented as archenemies, but rather as the thresholds where the possibility of new thought is contested and waged. Whereas Foucault’s limit is the hidden question of pleasure as use (chresis) still co-related with a care of the subject; Heidegger appears as the highest aporia of Western thought in thinking the ontological difference in the limit of the animal. It is fair to say that Agamben situates his thought at the crossroads of the existential analytic on one side, and the intimacy constitutive of the “care of oneself” as a work of art on the other [7].

If Heidegger lays down a destruction of ontology in Western metaphysics, Foucault’s genealogy of contemporary subjection, avoids precisely that problematization. The confrontation is not longer given between negativity and existence, but rather on the question of life and the strategies (aporetic, which for Agamben entail entrapment in the theological machine) of making thinkable an inoperative zone of the form of life. There is a third figure, Guy Debord, who accomplishes perhaps two interrelated strategies in the vortex of the book: first, it plugs thought to strategy (Debord invited a game of war, a sort of alteration of chess); and second, out points to the impossibility of narrativizing life. Debord’s Panegyric is form of life precisely because it fails to assume an autobiographical testamentary form as documentation. Of course, Agamben appears here not a thinker of semiology and traces, but of gestures and signatures. The coming philosophy of the form of life is precisely that mobility of signatures inclined towards a region that coincides with the event of thought.

7. L’uso dei corpi is also an attempt to thematize the place of singularity. ‘Singularity’ is a term that is never mentioned as such, but instead it takes the name of the form-of-life, the Ungovernable, or the Inappropriable. Similarly, there are three places where the singular is investigated at different moments of the book: a first ontological exegesis of the Aristotelian ti en einai, vis-à-vis Curt Arpe’s work on the Aristotelian grammar in a 1937 essay (Das Ti en einai bei Aristoteles). Secondly, a recast of Leibniz’s correspondence with theologian Des Bosses on the “substantial vinculum” as to inform the question of hexis. Thirdly, the figure of the form of life as happy life in the Neo-Platonic tradition, departing from Plotinus, and making its way to Marius Victorinus and Averroes. Spinoza comes to the forefront as the thinker of the passive immanent cause, only insofar as he accompanies other strategies, such as Guillaume’s operational time or Arpe’s grammatological exegesis in Aristotelian writings. The singularity is the life of thought as occurring, which opens itself to a conceptualization of the inoperativity of man: “We call thought the connection that constitutes forms of life into an inseparable context, into form of life…Thought is, in this sense, always use of oneself, always entails the affection that one received insofar as one is in contact wit a determinate body” (Agamben 210).

8. L’uso dei corpi picks up where Altisima Poverta left off; that is, on the question of the relation between life and law (regula), which for the Franciscans overdetermined the thinking through a relation instantiated in propriety. Against the nexus of the proper and rule of law, Agamben radicalizes the archeology of form of life with the notion of use (chresis) against biopolitical subsumption of life that attempts at making form of life of divisible and instrumentalized in ontology. The passage towards a form of life that is always already in use, seeks to inaugurate, on one hand, an ethics that is no longer predicated on subjective metaphysics concepts of will and duty, and that on the other, free the anthropogenic event of the human vis-à-vis its inoperativity [8]. In political terms this is not entirely solved in Agamben, and at the very end of the book, the gesture for a translation of praxis seems to retort, against all ‘negrism’ and counter-hegemonic rehearsals, as a process of institutionalizing the deposition maneuver of the destituent potential.

What is central is to think the anthropogenic form of life coincide with a new institutionalization of every singularity beyond a procedure of administration (oikonomia), but also the fiction of sovereignty (exceptio). Contra-Schürmann, Agamben admits that staging another principle of an-archy is a false exit, since power is always anarchic, but more importantly because economy remains on the shadowy side of the political. As Agamben argued in Regno e Gloria, oikonomia is the apparatus in which the West has organized the contingency and inoperativity of the anthropogenic event. Thus, the procedure of destituent power is fundamentally anti-an-archic, if the latter is to be understood as principally tangled as an ‘economy’.

What emerges for the allowance of the form of life is a strategy of the Pauline ‘as if not’ (hos me). Agamben understands this modality as a turning of the state of things without voluntarism, and beyond the creation of a ‘new identity’. In tune with Simone Weil’s decreation, the hos me does not instantiate a messianic escathon, sacrificially putting life before the transcendental or in the community (as in Taubes). Rather, the messianic hos me detonate a klesis in life that is no longer grounded in action or in communitarian terms. The Pauline ‘katargein’ deactivates the apparatus of criminalization of sin (which for Illich represents the machine of modern subjection), as well as the historical horizon of the philosophy of History as accomplishment of the law [9]. What Agamben is after, and still remains unresolved in the case of Paul, is a new de-relation with law in which the singular could face law without passing thorough property (Franciscanism) or the rule of law (anomie).

The coming politics is a politics of impotential actions, which is necessarily post-hegemonic politics, to the extent that it displaces the centrality of active domination in the polis to another region that takes ‘distance’ with politics [10]. The Pauline hos me becomes the true state of exception. In this sense, it is not an impersonal power immanent in every articulation of law, and which is why the inoperativity of law also takes distance from Esposito’s deconstruction of the politico-theological machine. Whereas law is always necessarily impersonal, the katargein is not on the reverse side of the person contained in generic equivalence of jurisdiction, but the deposition of every law in the irreducible life of the singular.

Albeit the critique of folding duality of the principial One into the person-subject, Esposito’s impersonal remains bounded to the limit of law that haunts the coming of modern biopolitics. Thus, the destitution of political theology has less to do with the deployment of certain terms whose provenance is the theological sphere, than the necessity of facing the question of law beyond the community and anthropologic productiveness of the subject. The Pauline ‘as if not’ is an effort to render thinkable a form of law no longer effective (‘actual’), but studied (impotential). Far from constituting a telic historical time, the messianic points to the potentiality of freeing the ethics immanent in every form of life, that is, decapturing the beatitude of humanity, which is the promise of Justice [11].

But how could a law of pure mediality be institutionalized? How can one open the way for law in line with the form of life not as constituting an impersonal relation, but an anarchical regulated game like the one that all infants play? After all, playing, like studying, is what denotes the force of Justice in the time of the living.



*Giorgio Agamben. L’uso dei corpi. Rome: Neri Pozza, 2014.

*Giorgio Agamben. Use Of Bodies. (Trans. Adam Kotsko). Stanford University Press, 2016.

  1. This has been recently published in another essay, Gusto (Quidlobet, 2015), although originally written in the 1970s.
  1. Agamben makes this distinction between sovereignty and the machine of oikonomia dominated by contingency in The Kingdom and The Glory: “In other words, two different concepts of the government of men confront each other: the first is still dominated by the old model off territorial sovereignty, which reduces the double articulation of the governmental machine to a purely formal moment; the second is closer to the new economico-providential paradigm, in which the two elements maintain their identity, in spite of their correlation and the contingency of the acts of government corresponds to the freed of the sovereign decision” (108).
  1. Marius Victorinus conception of absolute substantialization of the Trinity in his Treatise reads as follows in a crucial moment when introducing the ‘living life’: “Indeed, life is a habit of living, and it is a kind of form or state be- gotten by living, containing in itself “to live” itself and that “to be” which is life, so that both are one substance. For they are not truly one in the other, but they are one redoubled in its own simplicity, one, in itself because it is from itself, and one that is from itself because the first simplicity has a certain act within itself. For repose begets nothing; but movement and the exercise of acting forms for itself from itself that which it is or rather that it is of a certain mode. For “to live” is “to be”; but to be life is a certain modes of being, that is, the form of the living produced by the very one for which it is form. But the producer, “to live,” never having a beginning-for that which lives from itself has no beginning since it lives always-it follows that life also has no beginning. Indeed as long as the producer has no beginning, that which is produced has not a beginning. As both are together, they are also consubstantial. […] Therefore, from life comes understanding, and life itself comes from living, that is, from the Father comes the Son, and from the Son, the Holy Spirit. For he added this: “All things that the Father has are mine”; “I said that all that the Father has is mine, because all the Father has is the Son’s, “to be,” “to live,” “to understand.” These same realities the Holy Spirit possesses. All are therefore homoousia (consubstantial). [“Against Arius IV”, 277, from Theological Treatises on the Trinity, 1978.
  2.  Agamben writes: “And if being is only the being “under the ban” – which is to say, abandoned to itself – of beings, then categories like “letting-be”, by which Heidegger sough to escape from the ontological difference, also remain within the relation of the ban” (Agamben 268).
  1. Agamben retells this anecdote on his essay “Metropolis”: “Many years ago I was having a conversation with Guy (Debord) which I believed to be about political philosophy, until at some point Guy interrupted me and said: ‘Look, I am not a philosopher, I am a strategist’. This statement struck me because I used to see him as a philosopher as I saw myself as one, but I think that what he meant to say was that every thought, however ‘pure’, general or abstract it tries to be, is always marked by historical and temporal signs and thus captured and somehow engaged in a strategy and urgency. I say this because my reflections will clearly be general and I won’t enter into the specific theme of conflicts but I hope that they will bear the marks of a strategy”.
  1. Agamben’s moment of maximum proximity to Schürmann is also the one of his greatest remoteness. At the end of the last part of L’uso dei corpi he writes: “The limit of Schürmann’s interpretation clearly appears in the very (willfully paradoxical) syntagma that furnishes the book’s title: the “principle of anarchy”. It is not sufficient to separate origin and command, principium and princeps: as we have shown in The Kingdom and the Glory, a kind who rules does not govern is only one of the two poles of the governmental apparatus and playing off one pole against he other is not sufficient to halt their functioning” (Agamben 276).
  1. At the end of the Intermezzo on Foucault, Agamben takes this aporia of the subject to the end: “Certainly the subject, the self of which eh speaks, cannot be inscribed into the tradition of the Aristotelian hypokeimenon and yet Foucault – likely for good reasons – constantly avoided the direct confrontation with the history of ontology that Heidegger had laid out as a preliminary task. What Foucault does not seem to see, despite the fact that antiquity would seem to offer an example in some way, is the possibility of a relation with thyself and of a form of life that never assumes the figure of a free subject – which is to say, a if power relations necessarily refer to a subject, of a zone of ethics entirely substrate form strategic relation of an Ungovernable that is situated beyond states of domination and power relations.” (108).
  1. Andrea Cavalletti. “
  1. Agamben literally repeats the elaboration of inoperativity of the Law from the book on St. Paul: “An example of a destituent strategy that is neither destructive nor constituent is that of Paul in the face of the law. Paul expresses the relationship between the messiah and the law with the verb katargein, which means, “render inoperative” (argos), “deactivate”. Thus, Paul can write that the messiah “will render inoperative (katargese) every power, every authority, and every potential (Cor 15:26) and at the same time that the messiah is the telos of the law” (Romans 10:4): here inoperativity and fulfillment perfectly coincide”. (Agamben 273).
  1. The notion of ‘distance’ as a region of relation in the polis that precedes the equivalence grounded in administrative politics is thematized by Spanish philosopher Felipe Martinez Marzoa in his El concepto de lo civil (Ediciones Metales Pesados, 2008). Alberto Moreiras has recently treated this cuasi-concept as an infra-political register in his “Nearness against Community”:
  1. Carlo Salzani has listed a typology of “messianic figures” (the messianic that in Agamben has little to do with a philosophy of History). These are also figures of the hos me such as dancing, the party, gesture, play, poetry, landscape, or thought. Introduzione a Giorgio Agamben (Il Melangolo, 2013). But at stake here is also the question of Justice. In the chapter “The Inappropriable”, Agamben recalls a fragment written by W. Benjamin entitled “notes towards a Wok on the Category of Justice” (1916): “no order of possession, however articulated, can therefore lad to justice. Rather, this lines in the condition of a good that cannot be a possession. This alone is the good through which goods becomes possessions…Virtue can be demanded [exigency]; justice in the final analysis can only be as a state of the world or as a state of God” (81). It is a strange fragment mainly because exigency of virtue (arête) is isolated from a notion of “Justice” as a state of the World. But was not exigency as demand what happens without ever being demanded? On the opposite side, the ‘state of the world’ should not be equipped with the Heideggerian notion of ‘letting be’, but rather as a politics of exile of the singular or as Agamben says “to experience is absolutely inappropriable” (81). This is connected also with a later essay that Benjamin writes on the tenth anniversary of Kafka, in which he famously writes: “…legal scholar Bucephalus remains true to his origins, except that he does not seem to be practicing law – and this is probably something new, in Kafka’s sense, for both Bucephalus and the bar. The law, which is studied and not practiced any longer, is the gate to justice. The gate to justice is learning”. Benjamin quickly notes that there is a distinction between learning and studying; the first case being on the side of that which can be mastered. Playing or studying the law is in every case the praxis of Justice and nothing more.

Five hypotheses on Reiner Schürmann’s anarchy. (Gerardo Muñoz)

It was pitch black at Bryan’s Revolution Café and Bar, a smoky fire behind us, when Sergio Villalobos claimed that more vital than becoming “experts”, what really mattered was to produce an encounter that permitted us to leave our “skins behind”. In a similar vein, I added, that lizards too lose their skin in the desert. Lizards in the desert: that seems to be the right image to describe what was indeed a productive and worthwhile, and much needed conference on Reiner Schürmann’s oeuvre.

The purpose of the workshop, if any at all, was far from wanting to establish a consensual theoretical frame on “Schürmann” as yet another proper name within the marketplace of ideas. Rather, it seems to me that at the center of our debates, to paraphrase Schürmann himself, was a “nocturnal knowledge” of sorts, a constellation that produced moments of encounter and releasement; a thinking on the basis of the epochal structuration of the history of being and the exhaustion of principial thought.

What remains of interest in Schürmann’s thought is the potential to make thinkable the relation between hegemonic phantasmatic maximization, principial articulation, and the question of finitude (what he calls the tragic denial in his monumental and posthumous Broken Hegemonies). If anything, Schürmann contributes, as noted by Alberto Moreiras’ introductory remarks, to the archive of infrapolitical thought in a line of reflection folded within the contemporary university discourse and the consummated politicity of globalized machination [1]. To be sure, to “become lizards” is very different from “becoming Schürmanians”. The first thrives for releasement of tragic denial, and posit in the singularization to come in what it can no longer be reduced to the will, which is also the predicament at stake in thinking by and through principles. The second is the professional philosopher committed to the accumulation of knowledge, and by consequence, to the denial of the singular in the name of the duties of imposed on life. There is no normative judgment in making this distinction, but rather it is a matter of a tonality, and of establishing differences. One needs not “sacrifice” the epistemological grounds that demand the first in appropriative gestures of the second.

“Nocturnal knowledge” signals a drift of thought that is not longer bounded by the location drawn by heritage, proper name, archive, expertise, or even ethical relation. Yet all of these remain of importance, even if not exhausting the possibility of thinking otherwise beyond the masters and the articulation of “being in debt” as a structural position or intellectual commitment. It is futile to reconstruct a debate whose consequences and “effects” are always beyond our reach. What I would like to do in the remainder of this note, is to sketch out a hasty catalogue of “five hypothesis” – by no means the only hypotheses discussed during the rich two days of discussions at Texas A&M – that will inscribe, at least for me, a path of further investigation and writing to come in line with the project of infrapolitics.

  1. The “epochal” hypothesis. Schürmann’s breakthrough philosophical project is without question the monumental Broken Hegemonies. Surpassing a telic drive of Heidegger: Being and acting, BH installs the topology of the history of being as a heterochronic montage that, as powerfully argued by Stefano Franchi, “rewinds” or unwrites to a certain extent Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Deremption against the synthetic offers parameters to think the differend of naturality and mortality in a strictly non-dialectical movement, but still a politically significant one. For my purposes, what is at stake here, besides the ruin of any philosophy of history, is the translation of the legitimacy-legality differend that opens another way of thinking the legal and legitimate grounding of the categories of modern political thought. Epochality and epochs establish a reversal of the metaphoricity of history, contributing to the historicity of being that radically retreats from the “poem” of development. The nexus between epochality and the end of principial thought (or anarchy in the face of globalization) is a daunting question that remained open in much of our own reflection on Schürmann. Villalobos-Ruminott picked up the subtle but open Schürmann critique of the “deconstructive text” at the beginning of BH as to go into the “thicket of the text” (BH, 15). But if this is a crucial task, is not the task of deconstruction precisely the drifting beyond the “hegemonic maximization” towards those spaces that remain contaminated by the labor of minimization and transgression? The very legislative differend Derrida-Schürmann remains a fertile space for problematization. In other words: how can we think the postulate of the post-hegemonic ultimate from BH last pages with the deconstructive differànce?
  1. The Democracy hypothesis. It is not obvious in any case how Schürmann himself situates the problem of “Democracy” at the intersection between the end of principial thought and the maximization of legislative-transgressive norms. If infrapolitical reflection is also a question about the potential of democracy, then it remains to be thought how Schürmann’s work contribute to this task beyond the limitations of the political that structure Arendt’s work (which seems to be the modern thinker that best informs Schürmann’s thought on democracy). Guillermo Ureña’s transversal take on Schürmann and Marzoa’s Concepto de lo civil, indicates a point of departure in light of singularization to come as it faces its tragic destiny. The question of democracy gains space of its own if it could radically differentiate itself from the maximization of community, which binds the maximum phantasm of hegemonic politics in light of natality and the denial of the tragic. If we take Arendt to be a thinker that establishes an antinomy between the oikos and the polis, it is easy to sidestep the question of stasis or civil war as always already fantasmatic constitutive of any demos articulated between these two poles, as well as any promise of “democracy” regulated by the category of the citizen [2]. In light of our current “global war”, however we understand it, is difficult to affirm democracy without taking into consideration the facticity of neoliberalism. This was the relevant point made by both Charles Hatfield and Patrick Dove on the “life without why” as replicating or even coinciding with the nihilist condition of transnational accumulation at the “end of history” ideologies.
  1. The “life” hypothesis. Alberto Moreiras and Stefano Franchi’s noted in contrasting ways how BH necessarily opened to the question of “life”. The radical opening towards the tragic denial recoils back to this problem where another relation of experience (passion) must be thought. If for Franchi the tragic opens back to natality and even to the comic; in Moreiras’ grammar it is a matter of affirming the existential analytic where something like an “infrapolitical breakthrough” could possibly take place [3]. Let’s call this instance infrapolitical dwelling or breakthrough. In terms of the “possible”, and what is meant by the possibility of that which remains impossible, Ronald Mendoza reminded us that it is a task to be pursued on the threshold of Heidegger’s rendition of possibility in Being and Time. This is no mere exegetical task, since what is at stake here is nothing other than the confrontation with the economies of reading and thinking through Aristotle’s Metaphysics, reconsidering the relation between dunamis and energeia. It is in this direction or turning towards the possibility where something other than a biopolitical closure. Releasement towards the tragic destiny is only evoked to reopen the question of life beyond the antinomies that organized logics of causation and distributive ontologies that, in the words of Agamben in Lo aperto, have only fueled the anthropological machine of the West that divides the animal and the human.
  1. The “text” hypothesis. It would be unfair to treat Schürmann’s architectonics of the topology of being as sidestepping the question of narrativity and the literary text in general. What are myths if not a textual machine, as understood by Jesi, which plays on the organization as well as excesses of each economic phantasm? Nevertheless, much work needs to be done to wrench Schürmann’s topological arrangement of the history of being in relation to the function of literature. It is at this intersection where Dorfsman’s meditation on the poetics dwelled, as well as perhaps the figure of the marrano strategically analyzed by Humberto Nuñez. Literature has all to do with a textual economy that is the excess of hegemonic maximization, and that for this reason is difficult to locate on a single plane of ordering and commandment of language. But what becomes clear is that through Schürmann a tropology opens with fundamental consequences for grapping with “life”: this is the “fool” as suggested by Franchi, Don Quixote’s wandering joy through La Mancha alluded by Teresa Vilarós, or Moreiras’ pícaro. I would also suggest Dante’s Divina Comedia, where mundane life seem to mark the passage from the hegemonic Latin phantasm of natura to the sovereignty of the modern passive epochality [2].
  1. The Luther hypothesis. It seems to me that the only major figure that throws off a shadow at the grand epochs of the topology of being is that of Martin Luther. It is a risk that Schürmann takes, but that allows him to read the modern tradition of the subject against the grain of Descartes’ cogito, Kant’s autonomous subject, or Spinoza’s Deus sive natura. Luther stands out in BH as an outsider that fundamentally returns to inflict the totality of the modern structuration. It is through Luther that we are confronted negatively with a possibility of the de-basement of the subject, emptying the signifier of “God” that connects with the releasement and play in his analysis of Eckhart’s sermons. Jaime Rodriguez Matos rightfully noted that the arguments on the existence of God, far from being the central problem, function as a pretext for an underlying problem consistent with the ruination of the subject. And what has been modern politicity if not hyperbolic to the condition of subjectivity? The figure of Luther for Schürmann signals passive transcendentalism and the opening towards heteronomy, which must be understood in light of the subject of command through duty and debt. It is here where Sam Steinberg’s reflection on the Mexican modern politicity as a history of debt resonates with the modernizing paradigm in Luther. The militant figure of Worms offers another paradigm to understand the epochality of secularization, and reassess Schmitt’s well-known “occasional decisionism” (Löwith) in differential positioning with the passivity of the vocation. It is also through Luther that Hegelianism becomes an epochal possibility (impossible?) for the narrativization of the history of the West. Luther also signals the problem of returns not only in the modern epoch, but also as Jose Valero argued in his own terms, in relation to the arche of metaphysics and repetition. How does tradition gets transmitted and repeated? In slightly different terms, Michela Russo’s problematization of heritage also speaks beyond the metanarrative task imposed by Schürmann’s “archive”, situating the archive as command and origin of a form of doing history of philosophy; even if it is aprincipial history that questions the very antinomy of progression / containment.

As Hispanists or Latinamericanists working in the contemporary university, one must renounce the burden that implies carrying forth or reproducing Schürmann’s legacy as a question of fidelity, preservation, or even detachment. The history of the topology of being, argued Moreiras, seems at moments even more complex than the one offered by Heidegger himself. This much is needed. Metaphysics will neither be abolished nor put to a standstill with Schürmann’s injunction in the theoretical scene. For my purposes, a possible turning would always be a-locational, and for that very same nature, incalculable. In lesser words, this would imply the suspension of the very ground that feeds into our beliefs.





  1. Alberto Moreiras. “Preliminary remarks on Infrapolitical anarchy: the work of Reiner Schürmann.
  1. Giorgio Agamben. Stasis: civil war as a political paradigm. Stanford University Press, 2015.
  1. Eric Auerbach. Dante: poet of the secular world. University of Chicago Press, 1961.

Against American gigantism: on Peter Trawny’s Heidegger & the myth of a Jewish World Conspiracy. (Gerardo Muñoz)

Trawny Heidegger Jewish 2016

One of Peter Trawny’s main theses in his new book Martin Heidegger & the myth of a Jewish world conspiracy (University of Chicago Press, 2016), if not the central one, is that the expansion of machination at world scale was identified by Heidegger not only as the invisible power in the hands of a “dangerous band of Jews” (as Jaspers writes in his Philosophical autobiography), but also as “North America”, understood as the hyperbolic location for the fulfillment of wordlessness calculation. “Americanism” was tacitly interpreted by Heidegger as completion of nihilism, due to a “gigantism” that surpassed even the English overseas imperial trade. America lacked a proper destiny.

Against the idea of Empire built on the thriving commercial rationality, Heidegger counter-posed a non-biological conception of race ingrained in the possibility for a German turning vis-à-vis the poetic, the gods, and “the encounter in which each learn through what is respectively foreign” (Trawny 2016, 52). Whereas the “other beginning” for Germans was marked by the event of being-historical, continues Trawny, “Americanism is simply incapable of a beginning because it does not know the “origin”, because it is the offspring of an English that pursues its “gigantic business” (Trawny 2016, 37).

Taking distance from American machination also implied an open anti-Semitism within the history-of-being, conditioned by a fear due to loss of ground and a-locational fissure of dwelling. If this is Heidegger’s position in the recently published Black Notebooks, one could read here a paradoxical conjunction between Trawny’s first book Freedom to fail: Heidegger’s anarchy (Polity, 2015)- where errancy signaled not just momentary slippages of thought, but constitutive phases of his philosophy – and now errancy as privation of historical destiny. It seems as if between Trawny’s first and second book on Heidegger’s Black notebooks, what we get are really two types of errancy: the first that has to do with the site of the philosopher’s thought in opening of the Ereignis and second phase, where errancy is externalized and deeply connected to the anti-semitic a-locational dwelling in America.

It is here where one could partially inscribe a distance against Heidegger’s anti-Americanism, and establish an alternative anti-anti-Americanism, which would neither affirm the dismissal of America as the site of nihilism in the name of “Destiny” or lack thereof, nor uphold a populist or American imperialism in the name of modern mass consumerism and historical exceptionalism. Rather, it is precisely the a-locational errancy which one could affirm as a third space of an American experience of freedom. This will be the Marrano freedom, both at the level of politics as well at the level of the work within the university (knowledge).

What is crucial here to understand seems to be that Heidegger’s dismissal of America as gigantism went beyond the well-known aristocratic resentment against modern industrial society, exemplified by poets such as Stefan George or R.M. Rilke; or reactionary conservatives such as Erik Peterson, Carl Schmitt, or Julius Evola. What differentiates Heidegger’s anti-Americanism revolves around the fear of errancy and foreignness that is predicated on “race” (Judaic domination and reproduction). As Trawny quotes Heidegger:

“World Judaism spurred on by the emigrants let out of Germany, is everywhere elusive. In all the unfurling of its power, it need nowhere engage in military actions, whereas it remains for us to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our people” (Trawny 2016, 30).

It would be wrong to infer from this annotation that Heidegger is making a plea for a sacrificial substance within the German history-of-being. In fact, as Trawny reminds us, Heidegger’s anti-Americanism is accompanied by a deep regret against Germans who, instead of following the path of poets and thinkers (the conference on Holderlin’s Ister was given during the war), were deceived by the “rootless foreignness” who reckoned unto German ground in Jünger’s total mobilization (Trawny 2016, 53). What fundamentally perturbed Heidegger, however, was not the errancy of the German destiny, but the fact that American machination had turned the “rootless foreign” in all directions and spaces. Returning invisibly to the very German ground.

Why was the radical thinker of finitude unable to comprehend the horizon of democracy as consistent with the tragic condition of thought? This seems to be the limit of Heidegger’s intra-war politicity. A limit that Reiner Schürmann and Hannah Arendt’s problematize in their respective endorsements of aprincipial democracy. Against an easy dismissal of Heidegger’s thought, Schürmann’s Broken Hegemonies could well be said to affirm the a-locational errancy of democracy through the development of two of his master concepts: singularization to come and the releasement of tragic denial effectuated in hegemonic order. Beyond Heidegger’s another beginning based on Parmenides, Schürmann’s destitution of henology is reworked precisely in the name of a tragic democracy.

It is interesting that both Schürmann and Arendt were thinkers committed to different projects of post-heideggerianism in United States and that neither affirmed an Anti-Americanism of North-American gigantism, nor assumed the conventional anti-imperialist anti-Americanism sentiment of so many Cold War Lefts. It would be naïve to say that Arendt or Schürmann “fixed” Heidegger’s anti-Semitic anti-Americanism, but both definitely rework the nexus between the democratic stature and the place of thinking against the grain of onto-theology. Trawny’s book do not take up these issues, but allow us to commence to discuss them.

Our task leaves us with the necessity of affirming Heidegger’s dismissal of a-locational foreignness as a space of freedom of thought, if we are to remain committed to what in recent times Alberto Moreiras and Miguel Abensour have called savage democracy. America could well be said to be the name of that inheritance that is no longer in need of affirming a destiny or “a people”.

No Peace Beyond the Line. On a Footnote by Schürmann. By Alberto Moreiras

thThe complicated conjunction between “principle” and “anarchy” is motivated on the alleged or suspected fact that the so-called “hypothesis of metaphysical closure,” and the consequent loss of any recourse to principles or principial thought, do not immediately condemn us to an a-principial world, since, on the “transitional” line, at the line but not beyond the line, we can only think, our language can only offer us to think, the lack of a recourse to principles through the painful enunciation of the principle of anarchy, the principle of non-principles. This is not a trivial affair. If, as Reiner Schürmann establishes at the end of Broken Hegemonies, a hybristic insistence on the maintenance of principles as constant presence equals something like (non-ethical, non-moral, but nevertheless overwhelming) evil, the principle of anarchy might also be considered historial evil—is it not after all a reluctant recourse to principles in the last instance? A desperate clinging to the principle—an irremediable and yet bogus extension of its presence—under the ruse of anarchy?   How are we to negotiate the ultimate catastrophe assailing the hypothesis of closure?

I do not mean to answer that question. Let me only point out a curious circumstance. Emmanuel Lévinas, whose work could be considered committed to the awakening of goodness in his sense, published Autrement qu’Ëtre in 1974. His Chapter 4 opens with a section on “Principle and Anarchy” (Otherwise Than Being, 99-102). It could be expected that any posterior attempt at dealing with the “and” in Lévinas´ phrase would refer back to that work and those pages. And yet Schürmann’s Le principe de l’anarchie. Heidegger et la question de l’agir (1982) devotes only one footnote to Lévinas (in the English translation, page 346, on the difference between originary and original Parmenidism), and, let us say, half of another one, whose main thrust is a sharp critique of Derrida: “Among the company of writers, notably in France, who today herald the Nietzschean discovery that the origin as one was a fiction, there are those who espouse the multiple origin with jubilation, and this is apparently the case with Deleuze. There are others who barely conceal their regret over the loss of the One, and this may indeed be the case with Derrida. It suffices to listen to him express his debt to Lévinas: ‘I relate this concept of trace to what is at the center of the latest work of Emmanuel Lévinas,’ Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, p. 70. The article by Emmanuel Lévinas to which he refers announces in its very title—‘La trace de l’autre,’ the Other’s trace—how far Derrida has traveled from his mentor. For Derrida, the discovery that the ‘trace’ does not refer back to an Other whose trace it would be, is like a bad awakening: ‘arch-violence, loss of the proper, of absolute proximity, of self-presence, in truth the loss of what has never taken place, of a self-presence which has never been given but only dreamed of,’ ibid., p. 112” (Schürmann, Heidegger on Being and Acting, n. 44, 321-22). As you have just seen, there is no mention of Lévinas’s take on “principle” “and” “anarchy.”   Unless we take the implied, indirect critique to Lévinas’ notion of the trace as referring to an Other understood as neighbor, always already nostalgic of the pure presence of the One, as a terminal disagreement at the level of conceptualization.   But the footnote does not really warrant it.   So we can only hypothesize.

For Lévinas “consciousness” does not exhaust the horizon of being and should not be, against modernity, considered the being of beings. Or perhaps it can, but then the positing of a me-ontological region, beyond being, certainly beyond consciousness, becomes obligatory.   Within that structure, “principle” is very much on the side of consciousness: in fact, subjectivity is the principle. “Being a theme, being intelligible or open, possessing oneself, losing itself and finding itself out of an ideal principle, an arché, in its thematic exposition, being thus carries on its affair of being. The detour of ideality [Lévinas has just said that ‘even an empirical, individual being is broached across the ideality of logos,’ 99] leads to coinciding with oneself, that is, to certainty, which remains the guide and guarantee of the whole spiritual adventure of being. But this is why this adventure is no adventure. It is never dangerous: it is self-possession, sovereignty, arché” (99). If there were to be an “spirituality” beyond “the philosophical tradition of the West,” it would have to be found beyond consciousness, that is, beyond always already archic being.   It would be the place of “anarchy.” Of a dangerous and adventurous anarchy.

Anarchy is a persecution and an obsession. “The subject is affected without the source of the affection becoming a theme of representation” (101); “Anarchy is persecution. Obsession is a persecution where the persecution does not make up the content of a consciousness gone mad; it designates the form in which the ego is affected, a form which is a defecting from consciousness. This inversion of consciousness is no doubt a passivity—but it is a passivity beneath all passivity” (101).   Far from being a hypertrophy of consciousness, it hits us as irremediable and always unwelcome trouble. It comes from outside. It is not domesticable, tamable, it admits of no reduction to arché. It is an absolute passion: “This passion is absolute in that it takes hold without any a priori” (102). Do we want it? But the question is only a question posited to consciousness, to the archic.   Beyond consciousness we cannot resist it.

What is it? Lévinas calls it “a relationship with a singularity” (100).   It therefore irrupts from a “proximity” we cannot organize or measure, and it is a proximity beneath all distances (“it cannot be reduced to any modality of distance or geometrical contiguity,” 100-01). It is the “trace:” “This way of passing, disturbing the present without allowing itself to be invested by the arché of consciousness, striating with its furrows the clarity of the ostensible, is what we have called a trace” (100).

Is this commensurate to Schürmann’s thought of the principle of anarchy?   Does it come under the indirect critique of his footnote? Yes, without a doubt, it is “arch-violence, loss of the proper, of absolute proximity, of self-presence, in truth the loss of what has never taken place, of a self-presence which has never been given but only dreamed of.” Schürmann’s critique may hint at the notion that any surprise in this regard would be always naïve or feigned. It is true that Lévinas makes it dependent on the encounter with the other as neighbor (“What concretely corresponds to this description is my relationship with my neighbor,” 100).   This is what Derrida is said to depart from, and what Schürmann seems to take for granted as correct. The irruption of anarchy should not for him, any more than for Derrida, be reduced to an encounter with human otherness, even if the encounter with human otherness could trigger it every time, or some times, also as a persecution and also as an obsession. In Lévinas the persecutory obsession of relational anarchy does not seem to be triggered by unspecified being—it is always a relationship with a singularity that does it. But, leaving Lévinas’ ultimate position aside, there is something else in Schürmann’s gesture of (non)citation that should be questioned.

Schürmann seems to naturalize the persecutory aspect of me-ontological anarchy by positing (displeased) surprise at Derrida’s feigned surprise and celebrating Deleuze’s jubilation in the face of it.   As if there were nothing particularly painful in being thrown over to an anarchic relation.   As if, therefore, the resources of subjectivity—the subjectivity of the thinker—were or could be enough to keep the dangerous adventure of anarchy at bay, under control. But, if so, the principle of anarchy emerges, plainly, as principle, and principle of consciousness.   Anarchy runs the risk of becoming yet another form of mastery.   At the transitional time, posited as such by the hypothesis of metaphysical closure, metaphysics still runs the show as consolation and consolidation.   But this may not be good enough.   It is not exposure but counterexposure.