09. Multitudes 9 : May-June 2002

Multitudes : May-June

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MAJEURE : Philosophie politique des multitudes

Pouvoir sur la vie, puissance de la vie
Parting from Kafka’s text on the Chinese Empire and the nomads, we draw the outlines of the «schizo» logic of the multitude confronted with the new forms of control. The economical expropriation of the networks of life and sense show that the forms of life that are involved never constitute an inert and passive mass that would be at capitals mercy, but rather a living totality of strategies. In the cases of violent exclusions, of survival and extreme resistance, when life is the one and only capital left, it constitutes, nonetheless, a vector of existentialisation and common autovalorization. The powers « on »life are countered by the power « of» life, redefined from a hybrid that is all at once : semiotic and machinic, molecular and collective, affective and economic. We must thus rethink the theme of resistance parting from the bio power and the inventive force of the multitude.

Pour une définition ontologique de la multitude
Against all the avatars of the transcendence of sovereign power (and especially against that of «sovereign people» ), the concept of the multitude is that of an immanence : that of a revolutionary monster of non-representable singularities ; taking its point of departure in the idea that every body is already a multitude, that is, expression and cooperation. It is also a class-concept, subject of production and object of exploitation, the latter defining as the exploitation of the cooperation of the singularities ; a materialist set-up of the multitude thus cannot but originate in taking in account the priority of the body and the struggle against its exploitation. It is eventually the concept of a power : the flesh of the multitude wants to transform into the body of General Intellect ; the discourse must then concern the metamorphosis of bodies : the cause of the metamorphoses investing the multitude as a whole, and the singularities as a multitude, is nothing but the struggles, the movements and the desires for transformation. The ontological power of the multitude might, today, eliminate the relation of sovereignty.

Sur quelques vides ontologiques
The ontology of Toni Negri, as political philosophy of the multitude, supposes a very speck relation between philosophy and politics, determined by the non-difference between the two of them, while refusing, at the same time, to make the one proceed from the other, or to médiatise them and to unite them by a third necessity. They unite there only by the univocity of freedom that registers the political-philosophical indeterminacy. Hence the difficulty of making them into a political programme, of «organizing» the multitude as a political subject. But the notion of void, concomitant this univocity and defined as the very possibility of any qualitative change, establishes the philosophical-political particularity of the negrian ontology related to
1) the deconstructionist founding of the political and democracy and
2) Alain Badiou’s ontology.
Far from being incapable of presenting a politics, Negri’s void designs a way to act « doing and saying at the same time » in politics.

Une philosophie politique de la différence anthropologique
Answering a question of B. Karsenti on the relation between ontology and politics, E. Balibar reaffirms the irreducible character of politics, including the most philosophical objects. Between the two ontological and transcendental poles of politics, it appears in order to articulate the political and the anthropological. The social relations, functioning by introducing differences in the species, are constitutive of the question of violence that is at the heart of the it-reducibility of politics.

Winstanley et les Diggers. Des multitudes constituantes au XVIIe siècle
The Diggers, or yet the « true levellers », appropriation of the parochial terrain of the St George’s Hill close to London, might be considered, in the midst of the English revolution, as the proclamation of a constituer power in action. Theorist of this adventure, Gerard Winstanley has left behind him a singular oeuvre in the constellation of« biblical communisms ». Animated by harsh inner tensions, molded by an archaism indissociable from its modernity, it constitutes, at the same time, an accomplishment, an absolute dead end, and, perhaps, a point of departure : it might end up in Spinoza as well as in « real communism ».

Peuple ou multitudes ?
Answering Eric Alliez’s question on his use of the notion of people and the utility of substituting it by the notion of multitude, Jacques Rancière reminds us that the notion of people is effectively constitutive of the political, because it is the generic name of the totality of processes of subjectivation that menace the representations of equality. Politics always implies one people against another: The ideas of the multitudes, by the phobia towards a politics that would define negatively, reject the negative- The notion of multitudes opposes to that of the people the claim that politics shouldn’t constitute a separated sphere. The political subjects should express the multiple that would be the Law of being. Effectively, the notion of multitudes inscribes itself in the extension of that of the productive forces. However, the multitudes, thought cannot escape the alternatives generally encountered by the thought of the political subjects.

La politique comme guerre : formule pour une démocratie radicale ?
Since its inception, liberalism has thought of itself as being at sear with « war ». It has understood « war » as the greatest threat to a civil society whose essential end is the autonomy of individuals. Liberalism identifies two main sources of «war»: the first is orthodoxy, the second is democracy. Yet in modernity it is not unusual to find repeated alliances between these two, indicating perhaps that the « war » against which liberalism fights is not as such anti-political, but rather expresses an understanding of politics as war. The formula « politics is war » is central to the thought of two important critics of liberalism who are not usually treated together: Michel Foucault and Carl Schmitt. In this essay I shall use them to bring out two aporias, concerning the presuppositions of-the rule of law and of individualism, that the liberal understanding of politics constantly encounters, and that require a rethinking of both democracy and orthodoxy.

Vauvenargues ou le séditieux
It is from the point of view of the productive force of the «singularities » and the affirmation of the multiplicity, of virtues talents, that the young thinker is revolted by a Reason that doesn’t discuss, justify and invent. Positing misery as one of the primary elements the philosophical experience of the world, V conceinves the knowledge by sentiment the force that snatches away modem thought from the era of meditation on death, in order to re-inscribe the philosophique expression in the powerful dynamic of ” perpetual generation ” of the temporal being of the “desire-without object “. And this effort, pregnant with the whole cooperative experience of the world, is political. It is that of a soul ” capable of multiplying “that, strategically, decides of the future. In this “becoming plural ” of the “popular and accessible “prince, it is thus the idea of a radical re-founding of the very conception of the State, correlative to the philosophical re founding of the relation between Reason and the passions, that is clearly posed.

Les deux pensées de Deleuze et de Negri : Une richesse et une chance
In answering two questions of Y. Ichida concerning the deleuzian conception of politics and its relation to the concept of multitudes, François Zourahichvili specifies the in-volontarist conception of politiques of Deleuze, and what distinguished him from Toni Negri’s thought. The Deleuzian « institution », that wont meet with the Negrian « constituer ». Whereas Negri proposes a global theory, Deleuze proceeds by local piques, going from one local front to another, from one position of instability to another. The opposition of a deleuzian « in-volontarism » to the Negrian « volontarism » implies a variance on the scheme of actualisation.

Pourquoi prendre des chemins de traverse ?
Given the multiplicity of political agencies emanating from the social realm encountered on the Web, the medium appears to drive home the point of the displacement of politics beyond representative and stakeholder arrangements.
As such, the social and political significance of the Web resides in its undermining of conventional procedures of democratization. However, tracing movements of protest across the Web, we notice that trajectories of politicization on the Web are highly particular.
Resisting the interpretation of the particularity of protest trails as a sign of the transportation of the displaced politics back towards the center, we ask : why take the detour via specific sites and spec issues, given the displacement of politics ?

Multitude et classe ouvrière
In answering a question by M. Lazzarato on the relation between the concept of multitude and that of working class, P. Virno points out the analogies and the differences between the concept of multitude such as it was investigated by the s8th-century philosophers, supposing a right to resistance, and the contemporary multitudes from whom emerge forms of non-representative democracy, menacing the mechanisms of sovereignty. The contemporary multitudes do not mark the end of the working-class : the concept of multitude is opposed to that of the people, not to that of the working-class. Being multitudes does not exclude producing surplus value. In Marx, we also encounter forms of working-classes that are also multitudes on the political level.

Droits de l’homme et sécurité
Human Rights were historically constituted in reference to a natural right to security. It would thus seem difficult to limit the sovereign power by reclining on the natural right that institutes it. We are thus subjugation to different forms of juridical protection, that the political order conforms to the desire f r security that it exploits in us.

Un pouvoir constituant… pour libres Professeurs ?
Jean Fabien Spitz’s book, John Locke and the foundations of modern freedom, shows us that, far from the somewhat insipid image often associated to his name, John Locke is a great political innovator, perhaps the first coherent modern adversary to the idea of Sovereignty. Beyond all constituted powers, there would exist something like a constituer people who, because not being virtual, couldn’t be sovereign. However, as so many others, this affirmation of a constituent power is immédiatement accompanied by so many restrictions that it appears being affirmed only in order to become inoperative.


Des « trous noirs » de l’équilibre général à la « nouvelle économie »
According to Ghislain Deleplace, Jacques Sapir criticizes economical science for lacking in internal coherence due to the domination of the theory of general balance, that doesn’t take in account the economical reality, in particular the behaviour of individual economical actors, constituting the research programme of the new economy.

Essentialisme monétaire et relativisme méthodologique
According to André Orléan, the characteristics of the economical sciences dead ends in the analysis of Jacques Sapir, is the desire expressed by the orthodox movement to radically split up from the social sciences in order to establish the economical science as autonomous. André Orléan also points out Jacques Sapir-,s criticism to his book The monetary violence, according to which it induces a form of monergol essentialism that would render the currency an essential and contradictory social relation.

Réponse à Deleplace et Orléan
In responding to G. Delplace, J. Sapir specifies that he defends a methodological « holist-subjectivist » position, in which the individual behaviours are influenced by collective contexts, constituting an alternative to the Theory of General Balance. In responding to A. Orléan, he confirms his opposition to a vision that rends currency the economical institution or the central social relation. The monetary crisis expressed by the return of barter et the fragmentation off the subsisting monetary space will find no other issue than by the ex-post emergence of a new form, and not by a preexisting, ex-ante totality.


Wittgenstein : anthropologie, scepticisme et politique
The article is concerned with the possibility of a « wittgensteinian » interpretation of the political: Wittgenstein is often used in a conservatory sense, namely because of his conception of the community, the rule and the form of life ». However, in another interpretation (Clavell’s), the community and its relation to the subject must be seen in a radically sceptic way : an approach of the kind makes it thus possible to think the rule in new terms, avoiding its « conformist » uses, in order to present the link between community and claim.