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are we all schmittians? Arrow vol 4 no 2 contents
About borderlands Volume 4 Number 2, 2005


Subject to subject: Are we all Schmittians in politics?

Yoshihiko Ichida


Two subjects and their common limits

1. In an unfinished text from 1968 Louis Althusser writes about the famous Verfremdungseffekt ("alienation effect") of Brecht's theatre:

[T] he play should not have its center in itself but outside, ... [and] there should be no hero in the play, any more than a great scene where everything is present and summed up - a great scene of classical conflict.   Brecht's stroke of genius, for example, consisted in not showing the great scene of the trial in his play Galileo. ... Everybody expects to see the trial of Galileo.   Everybody expects to hear Galileo pronounce the historical phrase about the earth: "eppur si muove!" ("yet, it turns!").   Brecht does not show the trial and Galileo does not utter the historical phrase." (Althusser 2003: 143-144)

Because, even if "the theater should show something" (Althusser 2003: 145), still what the theatre allows the audience to see is nothing more than the absence of what it wants to show and has to show. It may be entertaining but it does not comply with the audience's spontaneous idea of the dramatic action and its resolution on stage. The crucial moment and its subject are never to be seen on stage. To be more precise: the play, the stage direction and the performance of the actors increasingly move the centre of the play toward its outside, even as they bring it into focus for the consciousness of the audience. Through this "distance", which is the trace of the centre's displacement, emerging between stage and spectators, between presence and absence, the political subject is ultimately produced outside of the theatre, in reality. Therefore the "Verfremdungseffekt" consists in making distance into an open pathway for the emergence of a subject, for the process of subjectivation; it transforms distancing itself into production. By being shown and becoming visible, distance is no longer simply an absence, an empty space, but a means of production. Though it has to be added immediately that the subject produced in this way is not yet actual in spite of its reality, because the decisive moment in which the subject can be sure of its own actuality has not yet occurred in the real world. At this point everything is still "theatrical", even when the curtain closes, to the extent that the final effect rests on theatre.

2. We have referred to the multitude as virtual (Ichida et. al. 2002). In fact this political subject is neither to be found on the conventional political stage, nor in the slogans of the street. Nobody would presume to refer to him or her self as being   "of the multitude", at least not today, at least not vis-à-vis to others. One is able to say - without even causing the smallest surprise: "I am black", "I am European", "I am homosexual" and so on. But as a political statement, the phrase "I am of the multitude" would most probably encounter reactions of the kind that Auguste Blanqui had to face when he answered a judge who had asked him for his identity with the phrase: "I am proletarian". Does this mean that the multitude will be accepted one day as a political subject like the proletariat or the people? Should the multitude therefore fight for its acceptance as an emancipated political subject among others? But since the multitude refuses to have its own political party (and it was the party that enabled the proletariat to step up onto the established political stage), and since the name "the multitude" includes virtually "everybody", i.e. it has no other, no X, no non-multitude, which could name it "the multitude", therefore the emergence of the multitude as a political subject, the actualisation of its virtuality can adopt none of the forms that we have come to know from past or present stages. Let us recall that the proletariat entered on this stage in order to cause it (and finally the state) to disappear, and not to conquer a place upon it. Therefore it would be absurd to presume that the difficulties of finding its own, proper political classification are unique to the multitude. To have or not to have a name on the stage, this is not a question of profound interest, neither for the "proletarian", nor for the "multitude", nor even for the "people".   In other words, for them the essential political question is not how one can act as a hero, but how one can constitute oneself as a subject outside of the theatre of politics, knowing that when they place themselves right in front of the stage there will be no difference anymore between the theatre and the world, because then they will be "all", because there will be no audience outside of themselves.

3. Our preliminary question, therefore, is this: can this emergence of the subject, this actualisation that shatters the present political actuality, entirely abandon the theatricality of the identity-bound subject? Are not these two heterogeneous processes - on-stage and off-stage - articulated in a peculiar way? Can both subjects never see a shared limit, immanent to each one, which can be named "subject"?   As long as they do not share a political practice and do not stand on a common battlefield, the two subjectivities - just contents filling the pure form of the "subject" - never share anything, never have anything in common; the political priorities of one are alien to the other; approaching the centre of the stage, for the one, distancing himself from it, for the other. However it is still possible to conceive an entity that consists of this nothingness and this ethereal form, and to regard it as a "subject".   And perhaps this is what Carl Schmitt has done.

4. Thanks to Karl Löwith (Löwith 1995) in particular, we know very well that the decision of a Schmittian subject can have anything whatsoever for its concrete content, that its decisions are quite arbitrary, depending on merely historical contingencies, and that what is finally important to this subject is only the act of deciding and not what it decides on. Actually it does not have to make decisions about anything - except for the decision to make a decision. The limit of the subject guarantees its form by purging it of all subjectivity and, in return, offering a self-referential formula, which calls for the fact that my decision will come only from myself; however, "myself' as the subject of the decision will only appear after the decision has been made - as its consequence. The entity of the pure subject or the limit of the subject is therefore only an empty procedure that does not accept the slightest subjectivity (rather than being able to take on any kind of subjectivity) because the subject we are talking about must not have any other content outside itself; or, more precisely, outside its constituent formality. One must then admit that the paradoxical reflexivity to which Schmitt's formalism leads (in its attempt at grounding the subject) is sometimes found in other places. It is not necessarily the specific structure of the subject; the internal limit of the subject leads, at its extreme, to the "objectivity" of the world, and carries the same emergent structure forward to the point of contact. We can also discover this in Althusser's conception of structure, which, it is generally agreed, distances itself from the philosophy of the subject. According to Althusser, what makes a structure emerge, or what produces it as such, is the structure in question, and this structural and immanent causality implies a sequence where the cause does not maintain precedence with respect to its effect (i.e., immanence translates as simultaneity). And, indeed, does not Spinoza's immanent cause, Deus sive Natura, entail that cause and effect are concomitant? The logical order of production, of effectuation, or indeed of the power, annuls the chronological order. Althusser finds the same problem in Rousseau's Social Contract (Althusser 1972): before the contract that is established between two subjects, the two subjects do not exist. They are only called into existence after the contract has been established. Carl Schmitt would have argued: the social contract is a decision of the Nation-subject. Is this anything different from what Toni Negri identifies as "constituent power", when he brings its paradox to a paroxysm: "it comes from a void and constitutes everything" (Negri, 1997a: 23)? If there is no break, concerning the emergence or beginning, between Schmitt, Althusser and Negri, then every particularity of "decisionism" as subjectivity is erased at the junction of this indifference, at the same time as it becomes impossible to explain any subjectivity by its "being-subject".

Schmittian subjectivity and the materialism of the occasion

5. So what is the subjectivity of the Schmittian subject? Where do we look for the particularity of Schmitt as a philosopher, if we do not want to define it in the sense of a "neutral" procedure and a neutral structure, so that it can just as well lean to the left as to the right? Why and how does the self-founding or self-grounding subject of the "decision" lead to Nazism? An early answer results from the problem that Schmitt, like so many other legal theorists, tried to solve: the problem of modern sovereignty. The "decision" and the "state of emergency" are invented to establish the leading character and stage of modern politics as the sovereign and the friend-enemy-relation. These dictate more or less the drama of identity-bound subjects, by imposing a model on them. The subjectivity we are looking for then springs forth clearly: the subjectivity of the subject of law. But it is obvious that this does not explain Schmitt's uniqueness if one does not assume at the same time that the subject of law can only and exclusively lead to a fascist subjectivity - even if this Schmittian distinctiveness will immediately be disputed in the light of modern generalities.   The second answer is given by Karl Löwith, or at least one can read his still famous 1935 article on "The Occasional Decisionism of Carl Schmitt" (Löwith 1995) in this way. Löwith's argument is all virtuoisity, because it points Schmitt's weapon of determinism back at him. "Occasionalism" is put in relation to his enemy, the political romanticism he accuses of an ever-irresolute chatter: According to Schmitt:

In spite of irony and paradox ... a constant dependence is evident. In the narrowest area of its specific productivity, namely in the lyrical - and musical - poetic, subjective occasionalism may find a small island of free creativity, though even here it is unconsciously subject to the power which is nearest and strongest; and the superiority of this occasionalism over the present, taken in the merely occasional sense, suffers a most ironic reversal: everything romantic is in servitude to other, non romantic energies, and ascendancy over definition and decision becomes transformed into a servile compliance with foreign power and foreign decisions. (Schmitt 1986: 162)

Löwith discovers in Schmitt's decisionism the same "occasionalism" and the same "reversal" and comments on it: "It is not simply now and then that decision in his sense, which is free-floating because it is self-sustaining and hence sustained by nothing, is in danger of missing the 'stable Being' which is to be found even in every great political movement, a danger which is familiar to Schmitt and which arises through an 'emphasis' [ Punktualisierung] on the moment; on the contrary, decision in this sense is unavoidably subject to such danger at all times, because occasionalism is essential to it, though in unromantic-decisionistic form." (Löwith 1995: 144)

6. According to Löwith, by thrusting the content-free subject of decision one step ahead, Schmitt transforms this emptiness into a powerlessness of the subject in opposition to the exterior power, into an inability to resist, and into a need to submit to others.   The mediator of this transformation is occasionalism. If the subject interprets everything that is outside itself as an accidental occasion and thereby severs the causal relationship between itself and the world, losing its material and operational relationship to the world ("missing the 'stable Being'"), then it has to regard every event as an unmovable fact and will refuse to work on the event itself or to change it. If the world is an indefinite number of occasions to this subject then the subject itself is only an occasion to the world, or an accentuated "moment" divided from the world and the others ("emphasis on the moment").   This is the "reversal" inherent to romantic and Schmittian occasionalism. Because the "occasion" pushes the relation between the subject and the world and between single subjects to the point of non-relation, creativity and power belong solely to one of the two sides, leaving the other entirely powerless. Schmittian subjectivity is formed to the extent that it externalizes every movement instead of interiorizing it; i.e., every internal reference is refused. This is nothing like an "alienation" (Entäußerung), because in this subject there is nothing to alienate, to exteriorize. It is through a radical cut, giving rise to a "free floating" state, that the subject receives its subjectivity, which is occasionally either almighty or entirely powerless.

7. A subject that is bound to the world by sheer negativity: neither expression nor deviation, but a sudden and opportunistic shift. To agree with Slavoj Zizek that Schmitt's truth can also be found in Hegel, one first has to believe that Hegel's truth is that of Malebranche or of Daniel Paul Schreber, complaining that God is so terribly indifferent to them. But this is precisely what Zizek suggests, despite himself, at the end of the chapter called "the Hegelian ticklish subject". (Zizek 1999: 116-118) We can say, at the very least, that the similarity between Schmitt and Malebranche via occasionalism is flagrant, that the subjectivity common to both is created from an inability to take a non-relationship for a relationship, just like Zizek's Hegel. If the true subject is this non-relationship, then about the subject of decision it only remains to be said that the relationship in itself belongs to everything and all but the subject, that it floats - reduced to an occasional "moment" - forever in the non-relation, outside of every relation.

8. So what about the friend-enemy relation, or war as an ontological horizon? Is the power-relationship not a particularly human relationship, inter- and intra-subjective? No. First because either the friend or the enemy is determined as such by a contingency (the "ontological enemy" means only that "someone or other happens 'to be' my enemy"); and second because I cannot do anything about the absolute law: that we fight, and that I win, stems only from the fact that God acts in us without us.

9. The Malebranche that binds Schmitt to his enemy leads us to another curious link, this time between Schmitt and Althusser, by the intermediary of Malebranche's rain: "The general laws which diffuse grace in our hearts, thus find nothing in our wills which determine their efficacy - just as the general laws which govern the rains are not based on the dispositions of the places where it rains. For whether the grounds be fallow or whether they be cultivated, it rains indifferently in all places, both in the deserts and in the sea." (Malebranche 1992: 140-141, c.f. Zizek 1999: 117)    The reference to this rain is at the beginning of Althusser's last great project, the "Materialism of the Encounter":

It rains. So let this book first of all be a book about simple rain. Malebrache asked himself why it rains 'on the sea, on the highways and the dunes,' because this water which rains on the fields (and thus is good), does not add anything to the seawater or gets lost on the streets and beaches. (Althusser 1994: 539)

But for the rain to become an allegory of another materialism in Althusser's work, another kind of rain was needed: the rain of Epicurean atoms described by Lucretius, falling parallel into the void. Once the knot of this revelatory image has been tied, the philosopher will no longer have any difficulty following its traces into the history of philosophy and discovering the "subterranean current" of the materialism of the rain. However one more detail is needed so that the rain can be truly "materialistic": the deviation or clinamen to which the encounter of atoms gives rise. Without deviation and encounter, the atoms would be nothing "but abstract elements without consistency and existence. To the point where one can even claim that the very existence of the atoms is based purely on their deviation and encounter , before which they led only a ghostly existence." (Althusser 1994: 542)   For the moment, it is not our intention to develop this "materialism of encounter," but one thing becomes clear: the world before the encounter is like the world of Malebranche, in which "it rains indifferently in all places." If such is the case, can the "materialism of encounter," also termed " random materialism," be far from the occasionalist vision where everything carries a contingent value, or the value of contingency?

10. In any case, the conceptual figure of Malebranche's rain allows us to perceive a similarity between Schmitt's subject of decision and Althusser's subject of ideology. This ideological subject is supposedly constructed after a Pascalian logic - "Kneel down, move your lips in prayer, and you will believe" (Althusser 1971: 158) - through a 180° turn performed when he is "hailed," the individual becomes a subject; he does not turn because he is a subject, but becomes a subject when he turns. It has often been asked: Why does the subject turn around when hailed? For example, by Judith Butler: "Where and when does the calling of the name solicit the turning around, the anticipatory move towards identity? How and why does the subject turn, anticipating the conferral of identity through the self-ascription of guilt?" (Butler 1997: 107) Or we have also heard that the repressive state apparatus or Foucault's disciplinary power is required for the subject to turn around. The reading of Malebranche/Schmitt leads us to change the question's direction: Is it really so important to know whether the hailing can succeed or not and under which circumstances it can succeed? Or is not already a condition for its success that it can fail, that the individual possesses every freedom to answer to the caller or not, that all is a question of free decision? Because this problem is constructed more sharply if the freedom of the individual is placed in the centre of subject constitution; in short, if one allows for the individual to decide ex nihilo, preparing the theatrical device of freedom for the individual's process of becoming-subject. Not in spite but because of its freedom, the power to refuse the obedience to the caller, the individual turns around. And indeed Althusser writes "...[he] is free to obey or disobey the appeal." (Althusser 1971, 166) The freedom of the individual, the possibility that the hailing can fail, transforms the ideological initiative to an "occasion". The calling offers to the individual an occasion for this transformation: it is called and it answers by chance. To say it again in other words: the Schmittian subject of decision needs a theatrical device for its decision, which seemingly occurs ex nihilo. Just as Althusser's subject has to be hailed to become the subject. Both subjects are subject to the "occasion".

11. In both cases the subject constitutes a raindrop, is itself an occasion, which is a consequence of the "ironical reversal" Löwith identified in Schmitt's work. In both cases the similar beings fall into the void, inhabit the eternal prehistorical present prior to the "encounter". Even after the "encounter" they live in the same time as long as occasions exist, externalizing all relationships between them, with nothing relational in a subject. The relations are put into empty space, whose only time is the eternal present.

12. On the stage that ideology has constructed and maintained so that it can always exist in the present, the Schmittian subject or its subjectivity plays a comedy of pure decision in order to remain in its absolute loneliness. The conglomerate of similar beings might not produce a continuous encounter, i.e. it either never experiences an encounter or it watches how the encounter disappears immediately before it takes place or immediately after it takes place. The group of figures on stage is only a short-term alliance, determined by the occasional friend-enemy relation. Just as in Malebranche's rain. Indeed, this would already be a state of crisis: reciprocally separated, the beings are always forced to form a molar ensemble, to feed their longing for stable totality - a not at all unusual phenomena in history. Carl Schmitt went one step further than Malebranche and has therefore been a philosophical stage director of the crisis.

Time for repetition

13. But does the need for this step from Malebranche to Schmitt actually exist? Althusser with his Brechtian citation observes that the step between the two exists and that it cannot be taken automatically. Indeed, if it is the empty space of distance, or the intersubjective distance that is brought onto the stage of presence - forced on the subject by ideology and thus forcing him/her out of the relation - Brecht-Althusser displaces the void into the off-stage, into the distance that the author, the actor and the audience take between play and reality. The "encounter" of these three parties can not happen on stage by definition of their status as not-yet-subjects: the decisive sentence, "Yet it moves", which would call the thing by its name, transforming the individual into a subject and fulfilling the expectations of the audience, is never actually uttered. Only when the play has finished does the "encounter" of their collective subjectivation begin. Here would be another distance, another freedom, another nothingness from which the subject appears, as well as another time in which the subject can call himself by his name before being hailed by others. But this is precisely the point , as we have seen, where we meet the limit of subject.

14. Here, the convergence between Althusser and Negri is especially enlightening for those attempting to understand how a process of subjectivation different from Schmitt can begin at this point. Let us look first at Althusser's perspective: to illustrate Darstellung as the functional mode of structure, he compares it in Reading Capital with a particular theatre "which is simultaneously its own stage, its own script, its own actors, and whose spectators can, on occasion, be spectators only because they are first of all forced to be its actors, caught by the constraints of a script and parts whose authors they cannot be, since it is in essence an authorless theatre." (Althusser 1970: 193) The author-actor-spectator forms a circle: closed through movement, the circle of characters refers to each to the other and throws all three into an interminable exchange, each undistinguishable from the others. The author is always already an actor just like the actor is a spectator and the spectator an author. The distance between the characters is never abolished, even though they create together a unique substance. Or rather it is the reference, the shifting or the exchange between characters, which builds up the substance. The internal distance produced by movement constitutes the subjectivity of the composite author-actor-spectator. From "between the beings" into the "inside of a being", the distance is moved so that it is taken up by the subject towards himself - just as an actor watches himself in every moment of his play. In this way, distance becomes the engine of subjectivity and its movement. To this observation, one has to add a second: the circular movements of the subject create a breach in linear time, causing a coalescence of present and past in the form of an "always-already". One character is always-already another; X is always-already Y, who is always-already X; the past of X being the present of Y and vice versa, present and past follow one after another. "Time is out of joint" precisely where the subject appears. Still, time never stops because the moment guarantees temporal flow through the very same coalescence: dividing itself into past and future, the moment is a present that alternately happens, is about to become a past, and is always-already past. And the subject appears finally as a knot of temporal flow, in the sense that he performs the act of the rupture and suture of time and so lives in a time he creates by himself: he is Kairós, Toni Negri would say (Negri 2001). Time is no longer as it was for Schmitt, i.e., the absolute horizon for the falling of atoms, for the appearance of occasions, but rather ratifies itself as subjective movement. The void is no longer a container whose content is the subject, but exists as moving void, from one state to another, as subjective transitivity itself.

15. What about the script then? What do we know about the play and its aftermath, except the fact that the decisive sentence is never uttered, and that the subjects are therefore not identified on the stage? Nothing seems to be written in advance about the procedure of subjectivation; rather, it is a void that is always at work here. To use Marxist terminology, the tendency toward free subjectivity would be an absurd idea because it refers back to the subject of law or the deciding subject. Even if the subjectivity of the proletariat/multitude is insistently explained as autonomous, creative and constitutive, it must have an ontological tendency. It is that tendency that seems to be attested by the time of Kairós insofar as Kairós is time that internalizes the relationship between beings and/or between subject and world, not only through its interpersonal transitivity, but also through its topographical indiscernibility: in fact where is the boundary between play and reality if not exactly in such circular and lasting movement? For Machiavelli, Negri's conceptual figure, Kairós, would show itself as the point of contact between Virtú, a subjective power, and Fortuna, an objective arrangement (Negri 2001 : 35 ). In any case Kairós forms a point of access from which the objective tendency is gradually introduced into the subject according to the rhythm of subjectivation. The more autonomous the subject becomes the more it embodies objectivity; the further it distances itself from deadly objectiveness, the more it approaches reality. The subjectivity we are talking about here finally appears as an identity or simultaneity of absorption and evacuation, retention and expulsion of the non-subjective. And as paradoxical and impossible as it may appear, still it is this identity that offers to the subject the possibility to change the world. Internalized into the moving subject, the relationship can no longer claim a status completely foreign to the occasional subject, nor can it have the power of a god who "acts in us without us". Instead, it forms, along with the subject, a powerful turnstile from which issues "change".

16. Negri describes the work of this turnstile in Marx Beyond Marx as that which characterizes the relationship between labor and capital. At first capital appears, from the perspective of labor, as something given. The separation between labor and capital is a necessary condition for the realization of the former: it is an objective tendency that is forced on the worker. Indeed, for its evaluation and survival, capital has to reduce to exchange-value that which is use-value for the worker: reduction and separation mean one and the same thing here. In this sense living labor, or subjectivity as such, is produced by capital, by dead labor - as well as separation, too. "This living labor is abstracted from elements of its own reality (and is therefore non-value); this complete stripping, this deprivation of any kind of objectivity, consequently makes the labor remain a pure subjectivity. Labor is absolute poverty, not only because it does not possess any objective wealth, but also because it is excluded from it" (Negri 1979: 130). However, the separation of labor and capital, or absolute poverty, appears on further inspection as the basic possibility for wealth: it is living labor that actually produces everything, even if it means such labor may be exploited. "The abstraction, the abstract collectivity of labor, is subjective power" which allows labor to "appear as both a general power and a radical opposition" (Negri 1979: 131). In other words: subjectivity becomes active by reproducing its passivity, by repeating the separation from which it emerges. The course of subjectivation, as identified by Negri in the criss-crossing of two patterns of circulation described by Marx, proceeds like a divergent double spiral: "'the wage payment is an act of circulation, which exists parallel to and at the same time as the process of production.' (Marx, Grundrisse , vol. II) Simultaneity and parallelism mark the independence of the worker subject, his self-valorization confronted with the capitalistic valorization." (Negri 1979: 238)

17. Separation thus appears two times, the second time as a repetition or counter-effectuation of the first. But if capitalism finally defines itself by the opposition of classes, then the second subjective separation is not a supplement, but rather actualizes the first objective one - insofar as the second precedes in a sense the first and makes the 'repetition' an original act. The separation, furthermore, operating in two times, produces that which did not exist the first time: the possibility to annul the separation itself, to create revolution. From the repetition grows more than what is repeated: from the turnstile, from the duplication where two separations follow each other, also emerges an irreversible time flow from past to future, a straight and vectoral line. Repetition produces a third separation between repetition and differentiation: this is the logic of separation Negri has extracted from the Grundrisse. Kairós translates it into time: "If the 'before' is eternity and the 'after' is future, then time in the arrow which forms it, is the excess of production between 'before' and 'after.'" (Negri 2001: 45) Our repetition exceeds repetition. We can now grasp in a single word the difference between Schmittian subjectivity and that of the Proletariat/Multitude: the former does not know the repetition of separation. Separated from the world once and forever, it throws itself into eternity and remains there.

18. Here we approach two interpretations of Nietzsche's eternal return. According to the first one, the doctrine claims that nothing new happens in the world and that every event eternally repeats the same nothingness. This sort of nihilistic or vulgarized Buddhist interpretation considers the void as a site where parallel atoms rain down and suggests: 1) that the political subject should keep on playing the occasional game of friend-enemy, repeating the nothingness of decision for decision; and, 2) that politics stands at the horizon which, though called sometimes public space, is always dominated by the duel of subjective and objective nothingness. In fact, Zizek's interpretation of politics exemplifies this approach: for Zizek, all politics can be traced back to the Lacanian confrontation between S barred and object a (Zizek 1999: 161).

19. The second approach insists that the subject affirms the repetition to deny the natural law that forbids every repetition in the physical world and forces the subject to accept death as his fate. The subject wants to offer stubborn resistance to death, to affirm its own life as separate from whole mortal objects and to repeat this fundamental separation as an expression of its vitality. Hence, the second approach views the world - that is, the separating tendency that is the world itself as such -in the separation from which the subject comes into the world. According to Deleuze, this interpretation perceives "in the Physis something superior to the reign of laws" (Deleuze 1994: 6).   The law of nature that "nothing identical is repeated in the world" is then interpreted as "difference repeats itself in the world". So long as it concerns only the sovereignty of laws, this thesis states nothing other than the first interpretation. But the subject of repetition acts as an actor of his own representation of an event that has separated him from the world, instead of being represented by laws as their mere occasion. Our question will be: Does s/he know only repetition? Does s/he never hear a signal that announces the end of rehearsal and the beginning of the performance? Why not - democracy is not a goal to be achieved but a "prolix method" (Negri 1997b: 242) to this actor who has already internalized in his/her lively play the hollow space of distance between him/herself and the figure s/he plays. As infinitely small as it can be, this distance still is what makes the play of the subject real, what allows "democracy" to be expressed. Here we can see what "identification" and "representation" mean to this subject. It identifies itself with the cause of its existence, that is, both with the event that separated it from objects and with the distance resulting therefrom, in order to represent this cause as a theme.   The subject no longer plays a character but the constituent cleft, the interpersonal transition as theme; and it treats it certainly as a goal but as one which is similar to the target of Deleuze's Stoic archer: " the bowman must reach the point where the aim is also not the aim, that is to say, the bowman himself; where the arrow flies over its straight line while creating its own target; where the surface of the target is also the line and the point, the bowman, the shooting of the arrow, and what is shot at " (Deleuze 1990: 146). In contrast to the identity-bound subject neither the identified nor the represented exist on one of the two sides of a cleft or in the totality embracing both sides, but in such an identity of aimed-for and not aimed-for as one can see in the Stoic arrow. Democracy is immanent as theme in the arrow.


Yoshihiko Ichida is Professor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Cross-Cultural Studies at Kobe University, Kobe, Japan. He is the author of Thinking Struggle (Heibon-sha, 1992), and author and co-author of numerous recent essays in the journals Futur antérieur and Multitudes (of which he is an editorial board member).   Yoshi has translated into Japanese Louis Althusser's Écrits philosophiques et politiques ('Philosophical and Political Writings', in two volumes - various components of these volumes have been published (or are forthcoming) in English translations in The Spectre of Hegel, Machiavelli and Us, and Philosophy of the Encounter) and Paul Virilio's Vitesse et politique (available in English translation as Speed & Politics).


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Deleuze, G. (1994).  Difference and Repetition, trans. P. Patton, New York: Columbia University Press.

Ichida, Y., Lazzarato, M., Matheron, F., and Moulier Boutang, Y. (2002). «La politique des Multitudes», Multitudes n° 9, Exils, 2002, 13-24.

Löwith, K. (1995). "The Occasional Decisionism of Carl Schmitt", trans. G. Steiner, in Martin Heidegger and European Nihilism, ed. R. Wolin, New York: Columbia University Press, 135-169.

Malebranche, N. (1992). Treatise on Nature and Grace, trans. P. Riley, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Negri, A. (1979), Marx au-delà de Marx, Paris: Christian Bourgois.   (Published in English as A. Negri, Marx beyond Marx: Lessons on the Grundrisse, trans. H. Cleaver, London: Autonomedia, 1989.)

Negri, A. (1997a). Le pouvoir constituant, Paris: PUF.   (Published in English as A. Negri, Insurgencies: Constitutent Power and the Modern State, trans. M. Boscaglia, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.)

Negri, A. (1997b). " Reliqua Desiderantur : A Conjecture for a Definition of the Concept of Democracy in the Final Spinoza", trans. T. Stolze, in W. Montag and T. Stolze (eds.), The New Spinoza, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 219-247.

Negri, A. (2001). Kairòs, Alma Venus, Multitude, Paris : Calmann-Lévy.   (Published in English in A. Negri, Time for Revolution, trans. M. Mandarini, London: Continuum International, 2004.)

Schmitt, C. (1986). Political Romanticism, trans. G. Oakes, MIT Press.

Zizek, S. (1999). The Ticklish Subject, London: Verso.

Editors note: Many of the translations provided in this essay were from the French.   Where I have retained the author's translations of Althusser and Negri despite the existence of published English versions I have provided above the details of the relevant English version after the details of the versions referred to by the author.

© borderlands ejournal 2005



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