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The section on Maritain chapter 2 constituted the material for a paper I delivered at the Left Forum conference. The section on Heidegger in chapter 2 was developed as a paper in a graduate seminar taught by Babette Babich at Fordham University. The second paragraph of the novel reads as follows: All the nine villages were dancing and we were eating plenty maize with pear and knacking tory [i. And because the old, bad government have dead, and the new government of soza [i. In either case, we have an absence, the presence of an absence, something which is present and absent at the same time.

The novel starts with, and as, a transition from a time and place of absence; it is all about this transition, which simultaneously shows and conceals that which remains absent. Th is might be a situation of true freedom and happiness, which could be attained by and through a real suspension2 of the regime of sovereignty that brings about war, destroys social life and common wealth, and turns labor into a strictly productive activity. Yet, under this regime, no more singing and chatting under the moon— until the time comes when everybody is killed or uselessed, that is, made useless, unproductive, turned into waste.

The main theme, running throughout the book, is the critique of productivity and sovereignty. This concept is introduced in Chapter 1, but it is applied in all the other chapters, with particularly interesting results, I believe, in the Chapters 4 and 5. I prefer dignity of individuation to dignity because the former concept stresses the notion that the dignity of each and any individual being lies in its being individuated as such; in other words, dignity is the irreducible and most essential character of any being that which, taken away, the being is destroyed. It has singularity as one of its constituent moments because each being is singular in its individuation.

Yet, singularity itself is plural, as argued by Jean-Luc Nancy, whose work in this respect I treat in Chapter 1. Thus the dignity of individuation is singular and plural. Yet, it is common, for it belongs to all beings; and it is universal because universality is what makes the singular singular rather than the part of a greater whole, a mere partiality. The singular is the universal. The dignity of individuation is one of the main points elaborated in Chapter 1. This constitutes the foundation of the whole book. Leibniz does not eliminate sovereignty altogether, but he sees it as an attribute of God or as a relative function of the political.

This is, however, a great step forward, if one thinks that the concept of sovereignty was usually subscribed to in his times. In the same chapter, I also deal with the concept of subsidiarity. This concept, a contender of sovereignty, is very important in that it grounds the social, communal, dimension of human life as what in Chapter 5 will appear to be a relation of dependency. In Chapter 2, I deal with moments of the defense and critique of sovereignty in the twentieth century.

I treat the question of the exception in Carl Schmitt, his logically consistent defense of sovereignty in a world of friendand-enemy, and his mistrust of solutions that impair the power of decision. I think that Chapter 3 is the most central chapter in the book. However, I see this as a problem. I endeavor to distinguish between these two meanings and argue that the category of the useful must still be employed in post-sovereign thought and societies. At this point, I hope, the validity of the concept of sovereignty has already been undermined, and equal emphasis can be placed on the critique of productivity.

Indeed, productivity and sovereignty are part of the same logic, bent to ruthless domination, a logic of raw power and violence, oblivious to or, in its utter stubbornness and stupidity, even unable to see and recognize the traits of the human face, let alone the dignity of individuation. Contingency means being able not to be. Moreover, given that, as Kittay says, dependency is the inescapable condition of human life, disability, the most serious form of dependency, must become the measure of humanity.

In this sense, disability ceases being the exception against the norm. I think of Earthly Plenitudes as of a sequel to Labor of Fire In the latter, I sought to disambiguate the concept of productive labor, often used both in the sense of the labor that produces and increases capital and in the sense of creative labor. I called attention to the fact that in Marx living labor is not always the same as productive labor, that the latter is a historically determined instance of the former, but one which constantly loses its creative character.

Strictly speaking, productive labor is the labor productively employed by capital. Indeed, nothing could be more useful to societies than our desire and ability to deactivate and smash the machinery of capital before we are all uselessed by it. They say: In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition of the free development of all.

Here the sovereignty of capital over labor becomes the omnipresent form of violence and domination, but it also engenders a political struggle, the class struggle at every point of everyday life. The free development of each is not an end in itself, as it would be in a theory of individualism, nor is it simply a means used in the construction of an abstract concept of society— a means whereby the individual would ultimately be crushed. At the same time, the free development of all is not a generality and an abstraction.

To guide our analysis will not be the concept of the exception, which must rather be refused by a political ontology of individuation intending to be a critique of all forms of sovereignty. The most important aspect is the absence of any hierarchical structure of domination, the notion of sovereignty.

I call this singularity, or the dignity of individuation. Thus, to replace sovereignty will not be subjectivity, the sovereign individual, but something other than this. On the other hand, singularity as the dignity of individuation can be understood as the translation into political ontology of the metaphysical principle of individuation. The translation I am proposing intends to add to it a stronger ethical and political connotation and to make it particularly useful in the context of a critique of the concept of sovereignty from the viewpoint of a radical ontology of labor.

This is, fundamentally, the notion of a labor liberated from all forms of domination. It names the certitude of its ontological, social, and historical importance, the notion that each and all of its instantiations, of its expenditures, contribute to the free development of a genuinely and commonly wealthier world— an idea of justice, if there is one— of political and social justice. This is what in Labor of Fire I called the solitude of labor, that is, the return of labor to itself, to its immediacy.

But what must be said now is that speaking of labor entails no reductio ad unum. Arguing for the concept of being-with as constitutive of Being, Nancy points out the necessary simultaneity of the singular and the plural in the human condition. There is here an essential rethinking of the categories of individual, person, and subject.

I think that this is essential to what I try to conceptualize with the expression of dignity of individuation. This means that dignity is not a feature to be recognized at the point of arrival, at the end of a process, and as the result of that process this may be the case only with the dubious dignity of dignitaries , but rather at the points of departure.

It is not after the constitution that dignity appears, but in the constituting moments. Justice and the Dignity of Individuation I am aware that in speaking here of justice I gloss over many important questions. This is certainly the case when justice is understood as a strictly juridical concept, that is, when it is reduced to a system of laws and to the necessity of obeying the law. In this case, justice is a common and univocal concept, as Leibniz shows see below. Here the instrumental nature of justice is evident. I do not wish to deny the moment of instrumentality necessarily but only to a degree attached to justice, but I would argue that, in the case of justice, the means equals the end.

Th is is to say that true justice, both ontologically and ethically speaking, is the same as the good life. The focus of this chapter is on the dignity of individuation. But one of the functions of this concept is precisely to recast the concept of justice, to reappropriate it in ways that might be more useful today. The conceptual reality addressed by the dignity of individuation is not new. What I am proposing is not the crude combination of two concepts into one. The concept of dignity, that of value, cannot be applied only to humanity because of the obvious danger that this would entail— e.

However, value and dignity must be generalized, applied, for instance, to Brother Fire and Sister Earth, as Francis of Assisi sang. Thus justice is not simply an instrument whereby a world in which all things are regarded as having intrinsic dignity and value, that is, a better world, can be brought about. In fact, how can social justice be merely instrumental? A means to what end? The good life? Certainly, to say this substantively, one has to avoid the easy and dangerous answers of liberalism, which is what Nancy also wants to avoid.

This means that one has to avoid reducing everything to the individual, its autonomy and liberty. In reality, they add, the question as to who is the self, the question of its authenticity, remains very much open. According to Heidegger: The selfhood of humanity means this: it has to transform the Being that opens itself up to it into history, and thus bring itself to a stand p. Humanity is not this any more than it is a We and a community. Thus understood, the concept of justice also acquires ontological substance. It is no longer simply a juridical category, nor is it ethical in the sense in which ethics regulates and determines behavior, the sense of the ought; rather, it is ethical in the sense of the plurality of possibilities inscribed in the could modality: it is ethical and ontological at the same time.

Similarly, speaking of the way in which the proper only returns i. The point is not to retreat to a realm of eternal truths— despite my relying on Leibniz at this point—but rather to reach into the plane of universality and commonality. If the plane of the universal and common is forgone, justice remains an empirical concept, enmeshed in the ambiguity of the empirically given.

As an empirical concept, justice right is often simply equated with the law, and its ground is obscured. Unveiling its ontological structure, or rather its ontological movement, is fundamental in the attempt to establish a clear link between labor and sovereignty, showing the uselessness of the latter concept and presenting the former, once freed from the yoke of sovereignty, in its universality and commonality as the concept of justice itself, embodying the dignity of individuation, the solidity and plurality of the singular.

In fact, the notion of justice as a system superimposed on the many labors, the subjects of history, is one of the most problematic aspects of political and ethical theory. In this sense, the aberrant mode of practices such as the anti-strike laws the Taylor law in the state of New York, for instance , the law that makes it illegal for sectors of the workforce to say no to the violence and exploitation of capital, becomes apparent.

In substance, it is no longer a legal dispute; it 10 CHAPTER 1 cannot be left to legal arbitration, for the law shows itself to be lacking in universality. It is, instead, a matter of political ontology, that is, the theory and practice of the production of common life, the good life. Universal Justice Traditionally, the idea of justice associated with labor is distributive justice, the principle of equity, to give to each her due.

The theory of natural right, Leibniz says, distinguishes among commutative, distributive, and universal justice. It is in distributive justice that the political laws of a state belong, which assure the happiness of its subjects and make it possible that those who had a merely moral claim acquire a legal claim; that is, that they become able to demand what it is equitable for others to perform. Leibniz However, this works only in the context of a theory of the state; otherwise, distributive justice presents its problems.

Obviously, it has nothing explicit to do with Marxian theory; yet, his discourse, based on the critique of traditional sovereignty and on the common concept of justice, is very useful to a renewal of radical political theory. And, to say in a word, strict right avoids misery, while the higher right tends toward happiness, but only such as is possible in this life.

As it becomes clear when he deals with questions of international law, sovereignty loses its absolute status and becomes a relative concept. This is the result of the growing importance of international law, as well as, according to Sands, of the process of globalization made possible by it. Thus, more than to a regime regulated by international laws, the shrinking of state sovereignty is giving rise to an imperial sovereignty under U.

Although international law should in theory reduce the sovereignty of all states, control their power, in reality the situation is very uneven. Jackson , enjoy a negative sovereignty in that they are formally independent— an independence guaranteed and supported by the postcolonial international order—but lack the empirical, institutional, and thus positive sovereignty enjoyed by the former.

For Jackson, the quasi-states are the creation of the new balance of power in international relations that comes with the process of decolonization. According to Jackson: Numerous peoples which were not colonies could not claim this new right of self-determination and have accordingly been barred from entering the international community. For Guibernau, the question of the nations without states can be solved by the adequate implementation of the principle of subsidiarity, that is, the political and juridical principle based upon the decentralization of power pp.

For instance, there are strong chances that further European integration will favour a greater presence of nations without states such as Catalonia, Scotland, the Basque Country or Flanders in the international political arena. James 25 , shows the limits and dangers inherent in the concept of the law as command, the constitution of unitary political entities at the expense of other realities and experiences, which are silenced and neutralized by being included and excluded at the same time.

In his discussion, Jackson also employs the contradiction between human rights and sovereign rights or at least the limited scope of the doctrine of sovereignty and self-determination inherent in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples UN Resolution But it was not always an extension of human rights to the populations under their jurisdiction. In Leibniz, as we shall see, the distinction is between right and law. Leibniz is here speaking of important concepts in the tradition of philosophy: wisdom, happiness— concepts that he rereads in the light of the Christian tradition, but that remain important even for secular ways of thinking.

So let us see what he means by charity, and how it relates to happiness, that is, to the good life. From the language of Christianity we are back, conceptually, to Aristotle and post-Aristotelian philosophy. On the one hand, we have universal love; on the other, the idea that the good life is the result of our choices, of habit. But how do love and happiness relate to each other?

According to Leibniz : Love. But what is this perfection? From his metaphysics of individual substances, we know that there are many kinds of perfections, that everything is perfect in its kind, that there is no exception, no extraordinary event, no miracle. Perfection is the dignity of individuation. In fact, what is justice, the universal law, if not a sense of the dignity of the other?

However, it must also be admitted that the place of the other is the capacity to recognize the universal, to be the universal. In truth, the plural is precisely what mediates between the singular and the universal. Perhaps the only problem is that, in Sartre, who writes in this respect in the tradition of Kierkegaard, the singular universal necessarily sets itself apart from the whole, reconstituting the whole in its singularity. But the reference to Kant, who is in this respect very close to Leibniz, should also make us understand that the universality implied in the notion of the place of the other rules out the empirical 16 CHAPTER 1 gesture of switching places with the other, which is ultimately an impossible thing to do and can be done only at the level of feelings and the imagination.

Instead, the task is here transcendental, and it has to do with the pronounced parallax that Kojin Karatani explains and elaborates upon in his superb reading of Kant a part of his book on Kant and Marx. Nor is this other a one who introduces relativism into our thinking, but rather the one who makes us face the problem of universality.

The truth is that the concept of sovereignty, starting with Bodin and Hobbes, always referred to a supreme, absolute, and unitary power. For him, there remains a universal power, such as the Holy Roman Empire, which has majestas, a medieval concept that Bodin still equates with sovereignty, rather than sovereignty itself. But for Leibniz, sovereignty itself can only be understood as a relative term. Of course, once this is done, it is no longer of the traditional concept of sovereignty that one is speaking. I have already said how justice or right follows from labor, and I believe that it is only in this sense that the force of law loses meaning.

Today we cannot simply say that beyond positive law there is natural law, for the critique of essentialism in the realm of ethics complicates a distinction that might be too neatly made, and 18 CHAPTER 1 rightly so; or, to put it another way, this would be doing metaphysics in the most traditional sense.

Hence the universality of a hypothetical natural law, a higher law that stands behind the system of positive law, a right that is always just behind the law, which can be just or unjust, becomes highly problematic. Yet, we cannot renounce the idea that there is a measure of justice not necessarily encountered by the law, the positive law, for this is what history and everyday life show.

The suggestion is that justice is the dignity of individuation, that is, the capacity to recognize the dignity of the other— a claim already made above. Thus, John Brown, after his capture and before his execution, typically says: I think I feel happy as Paul did when he lay in prison. He knew if they killed him, it would greatly advance the cause of Christ; that was the reason he rejoiced so. I have no regret for the transaction for which I am condemned. Notwithstanding his religious rhetoric, it was action— and violent action at that—it was labor that gave him the measure of right and wrong.

For, and this must be stressed here, what is meant by labor is not strictly the working activity, such as in the factory, but all doing constituting, producing the social. This universal labor is what we see at work in the John Brown example. I never heard it was Zeus Who made the announcement. The work was done in accordance with the requirements of justice; it is just work, capable of upsetting the whole establishment of society, of destroying and reconstituting society. There is no sovereign power in it. Igor, who promises Amidu to take care of his wife, Assita, and their small son, recently arrived in Belgium from Burkina Faso, is forced to break with Roger, who wants to hide the fatal accident at all costs.

Reporting the accident to the authority would entail the end of his business and serious criminal charges against him. However, when I say that Roger and Igor are also friends, I need to explain, for even friendship can be tainted by dynamics of domination, and then cease being sincere or true friendship.

Some scenes in the movie make this evident. Although Roger soon tries to restore the old relationship, it will not last long. Then Roger asks Igor if he has ever been with a woman, if he would like to try, adding that he should. In the next scenes, Roger and his girlfriend and Igor and a date are in a pub. In a movie without soundtrack, Roger and Igor sing on the mike, and then the four of them sing and laugh at the table.

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In fact, the situation soon deteriorates. Back to their routine and everyday life, Igor and Roger will not be able to relate to one another as they used to. When Igor lights a cigarette for Roger, which he normally does before lighting his own, Roger refuses it, implying that a modality of their relationship is over. At this point, what is important for Igor is not only to take care of Assita and the baby but also to tell Assita the truth. However, he cannot bring himself to do that until the moment when, at the end of the movie, Assita is about to take the train to Italy, where she has a relative.

Yet, it is the same concept of justice, secularized this time, which hits and shatters the same sovereign power— and here, too, its vehicle is labor, in the wide sense of praxis, doing. But the real oscillation is between accepting sovereign power whether it comes from his master mechanic or from Roger and living the freedom and dignity of his individuation which he experiences when he builds a go-kart with his friends in his free time or when he renounces everything for the sake of the promise he made to the dying Amidu.

This sovereignty, which is everywhere, has the only purpose of crushing labor, not simply the employed labor force, but all labor, all doing that does not accept a Hobbesian command, a superimposed order, an external law bent to ruthless domination although for the purpose of mutual assistance. But we have seen that it is labor itself, in its return to itself a return that is apparent in all of the three examples I gave , which subverts the law, destroys sovereignty, and renews justice. Th is justice is nothing but the dignity of individuation, which is a task of the return to illuminate.

John Brown, Antigone, and Igor accomplish the return. In the solitude and the immediacy of their being, yet in deep involvement with the other, they regain the dignity of individuation, which has no tolerance for any form of sovereignty. But they do so by becoming, in their singularity, universal subjects, that is, contingent universalizations. In fact, plurality constitutes the mediation between the singular and the universal. It is not John Brown, Antigone, or Igor as a mere individual that grounds the event of justice and gives translucence to the dignity of individuation.

But the course of action chosen in all these cases is universal in character, perhaps in the Kantian sense, that is, answering solely to the moral law. But in Kant, too, if the law is universal, objective, and necessary, following it is a subjective endeavor, contingent, and tending toward the universal— and it is in this tension that the pronounced parallax studied by Karatani is revealed. In fact, from the point of view of each of the individuals in question, it is a way of reaching into the universal, a contingent universalization of their singularity.

Yet, it is so because it is not done in isolation, and it could not be done in isolation. It is the community that repudiates sovereignty. In one of his political letters, he said: As for the question, whether subjects can resist the sovereign power, and in what cases, I am strongly of the opinion of Grotius, and I believe that as a rule resistance is forbidden to them. For ordinarily the evil of rebellion is greater than that which one claims to remedy.

Thus, his political theory is certainly not democratic and, despite his emphasis on universal justice, it is rather conservative. According to Hinsley: Among later thinkers of any stature perhaps Leibniz alone. Hinsley explains that, generally speaking, even those who opposed Hobbes did not reject sovereignty as such, but spoke of the people as sovereign, not advancing in this from the positions of Althusius and Milton p. Of course, in the course of a revolutionary struggle, there are moments when resorting to the concept of sovereignty is very important, as is the case today with the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela cf.

Lebowitz ; Harnecker But the theme of sovereignty recurs throughout the book. However, this does not cancel the truth that, ultimately, it is the dissolution of sovereignty as such and the upholding of a philosophy of dignity, the constitution of a society based on justice and dignity that gives meaning to revolutionary struggles.

In relation to the Venezuelan Revolution in particular, there is a clear example of the process toward the elimination of power as command in the story told by Chavez to Harnecker of the president of a Community Development Council who, to his question as to whether she was in charge, answered that no one was in charge there because they had a horizontal organization with no managers but only a coordinator Harnecker The Common Concept of Justice To return to Leibniz, one of the most important aspects of his thought is the emphasis on universality, and this is true whether he deals with logic and language or ethics and justice.

But there remains the question whether it is good and just because God wills it or whether God wills it because it is good and just: in other words whether justice and goodness are arbitrary or whether they belong to the necessary and eternal truths about the nature of things, as do numbers and proportions. In The Monadology, he says that we should not imagine, as some do, that since the eternal truths depend on God, they are arbitrary and depend on his will, as Descartes appears to have held. This is true of contingent truths.

But necessary truths depend solely on his understanding. For why praise him for what he has done if he would be equally praiseworthy in doing the exact contrary? Bloch explains that for Scotus, the good is not good because God willed and commanded it, because God could just as well have ordained murder, thievery, and adultery in the commandments and then not murdering, not stealing, and not committing adultery would be sins.

Thus he agrees with Plato before him and with Leibniz after him. Even in his philosophy of the primacy of the will, it is not possible to hold that what is just could also be unjust. This is so also because in Duns Scotus we have the formation of the will as such Loiret 21 , not simply its employment at the empirical level. In Scotus, in particular, the will is a rational will. Autoritas, the sovereign, can choose a policy of murder and genocide, but it cannot choose it as just and good. It can choose to outlaw charity, care, and human solidarity, to make them crimes, but it cannot change their essential nature.

The doctrine of sovereignty from Hobbes to Schmitt, the doctrine of decisionism and of the exception, remains deprived of ontological and ethical grounding. It remains the task of a political ontology to see beyond the law, not simply what makes the law possible, any law possible, but the universal and common concept of justice shining in the dignity of each individual being. It has to do with the concept of the will, central in the philosophy of Duns Scotus, but subordinated to reason in Leibniz. Rather, what it means is that when something occurred, the opposite could also have occurred.

In Leibniz, contingency denies necessity, but it does not deny certainty, which can be seen as a special kind of contingency itself, as shown in Discourse on Metaphysics a: With respect to justice, it does not mean that the will is free to make an action just or unjust. Rather, it means that it is free to choose between doing and not doing a just action, as well as doing and not doing an unjust action.

Although this falls short of stating the uselessness of the law as command and of sovereignty, it certainly shows the way toward it. For him, this is not the most important point. Rather, the important question is whether the law is just or unjust. Indeed, it goes without saying that power gives and maintains the law this is why I speak of a tautology , and at the level of the empirical, the understanding understands as much.

The implication is that the dissolution of power and the law is not the dissolution of justice, but rather, perhaps, the coming to the fore of its common concept. It is obvious that this implies a new form of rationality, one which must be willed— a new form of justice. For Leibniz, it is an eternal truth. He is here still speaking about the formal reason of justice: 30 CHAPTER 1 Justice is nothing else than that which conforms to wisdom and goodness joined together.

Leibniz says: Most of the questions of right, but particularly that of sovereign and of peoples, are confused, because everyone does not agree on a common concept of justice, with the result that everyone does not understand the same thing by the same name, and this is the cause of endless dispute. For Leibniz, good and evil are negatively related to one another; the negation of the one lies in a continuum in which the positing of the other becomes probable or even certain: Whether one does evil or refuses to do good is a matter of degree, but that does not change the species and the nature of the thing.

One can also say that the absence of good is an evil and that the absence of evil is a general good. Leibniz notes that nothing can contribute more to the happiness or the misery of man than men. If they were all wise, and knew how to treat each other, they would all be happy, so far as happiness can be attained by human reason. Leibniz is one of the philosophers showing the way. He calls into question the accepted notion of the law as command— widespread in his day, as well as in ours. He does not get rid of the political concept of sovereignty, but limits it to situations of internal, territorial control.

What we need in order to do that is a political ontology i. A simple reversal of the law, of who commands and who obeys, will not do—but commanding and obeying are modalities that must be overcome. In Chapter 5 of this book, this new praxis will appear as the labor of care. Remark: Kant on Price and Dignity In Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant says that in the kingdom of ends everything has either a price or a dignity.

Whatever has a price can be replaced by something else as its equivalent; on the other hand, whatever is above all price, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity. To be a legislator means that one subjectively brings oneself to stand under the objective and universal moral law. Generalized and disseminated, sovereignty remains: everybody is sovereign, which really entails— as we shall also see with Bataille—that nobody needs to be one.

In Kant, the real sovereign is the moral law. But it is probably because of this remainder that dignity is not the only option, the only modality of being, in the kingdom of ends, as one would expect, but it has to share its space with price. However, why have price and the type of skills and diligence in work that goes with price in the kingdom of ends? Answering that this is so because Kant belongs in the bourgeois phase of Western thought cannot be fully acceptable.

Karatani, for instance, unequivocally denies that. Thus, the utopian element contained in the concept of kingdom of ends points to something capable of transcending price and the market economy. Kant looks at the moral law and the autonomy of the will, and this compels him to stay away from the empirical content. In the former case, the determining factor is the law of the market; in the latter, the law that Kant calls of morality and humanity.

In the last instance, the determining factor should not be the subjective representation of a universal but abstract ought, for this risks becoming a mere formality again. For it is obvious that many things could be. However, the choice must be made on the basis of what is called into being with greater and most common urgency, the singularity that most certainly and adequately meets the requirements of the common. This is not a utilitarian claim, nor is it communitarian. The determining factor should not be the greatest number, the vast majorities, or the closed community.

Rather, it should be what in its simplicity most closely approaches nothing. The most important point is to realize that this cannot happen within the realm of necessity and the ought, but rather within that of contingency and the could. Thus, in working toward the constitution of a better world, a world that—now everybody recognizes—is possible, there might come a time when its certainty and adequacy will also be absolutely evident.

However, this does not imply any notion of necessity, although one might have the impression that such a notion is involved. This should also say something about the Marxian notion of the transition from one mode of production to another, too often understood in mechanical, deterministic terms, as if a genuinely communist society would necessarily come by itself. Instead, it is clear that the very fact that a better world is possible and probable can bring about the certainty of its reality— but this is always a matter of contingency, never of necessity.

It is because of this contingency, the potentiality allowing change based on reason rather than only on the will, that Leibniz calls this world the best possible world. This allows me to make the relationship between subsidiarity and dignity immediately evident. The history of the concept of subsidiarity can be certainly traced back to Johannes Althusius — and perhaps, according to some scholars mentioned by Carrozza, even as far back as ancient Greek thought Carrozza 40— From social philosophy it was transposed into law in the constitution of the German Federal Republic, and later it was given special relevance in European Union Law at the Maastricht Treaty p.

But what is subsidiarity? In one word, subsidiarity is care. Carrozza is interested in the application of the principle of subsidiarity to international law and, particularly, to the question of human rights. What is important is that in international law subsidiarity can be understood to be a conceptual alternative to the comparatively empty and unhelpful idea of state sovereignty. Because of this value, all other forms of society, from the family to the state and the international order, ought ultimately to be at the ser vice of the human person.

It is a recognition that each individual is unique and unrepeatable, thus incapable of being absorbed by any collectivity without doing violence to his inalienable dignity. And it is here that the close relationship of subsidiarity and care becomes evident cf.

Issue Archive

Chapter 5. The particular and the universal, pluralism and the common good can be brought together by the implementation of the principle of subsidiarity. Sovereignty and subsidiarity oppose one another. What is this to say if not that domination including price and dignity oppose one another? Yet, who makes the decision? And sovereignty is neutralized.

For this to really be the case, however, one would need a form of global governance based on human rights. This would still fall within the logic of law, and ultimately of sovereign power. Who, for instance, has the right to intervene? But this latter option truly does away with all instances of sovereignty. Perhaps not. In other words, it is not based on the will, but on reason. Or God would also operate in accordance with the logic of tyrants see Chapter 1. For Carl Schmitt, who follows Hobbes, the concept of sovereignty, as used in political philosophy and in juridical theory, is the secularization of a theological concept—but of a decisionist rather than rational theology.

Sovereignty is decision and domination. But what is it, precisely, to decide on the exception? He belongs to it precisely in virtue of his capacity to decide on the exception. As Tracy B.

Dis/Art, (This) Labour: Transfiguration in the Age of Precarity and Disposability

Here one sees the complexity of this apparently simple and straightforward truth. But let us pursue this more slowly. The question I just posed can also be rephrased as follows: What gives the sovereign that special capacity to see that there is an exception, a state of emergency, and consequently decide on it? Does the sovereign become sovereign because he can decide on the exception, or is it rather the case that he can decide on it because he is already sovereign?

This would be an honorary status conferred on him.

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The implication here would be that there actually is, objectively speaking, an exception and the sovereign is he who can recognize and handle it. But of course Schmitt does not speak of any sense of recognition, understanding, and judgment, but only of decision—although one would think that a decision can only come after a judgment is made on rational grounds. A genuine decision is not necessarily that which is made by those who have the legal, constitutional power to decide. In fact, they can be, and most of the time are, completely mistaken in their decisions.

A genuine decision requires some inherent and special powers. In this case, the decision itself would decide of the sovereign. In making the decision, X would rise to the status of sovereign. In the second case, the sovereign is he who has the power in the strictly political, institutional sense— a power always grounded in violence to decide on the exception. This is, for instance, the case of G. As I write June 12, , a divided U. In fact, the exception itself can be a mere fabrication of the sovereign, which acquires dubious legitimacy on the basis neither of ethics nor of the violence travestied as the force of law, but of mere and raw violence.

In this case, it is not the exception, the state of emergency, which calls forth the sovereign decision, but the other way around: the sovereign decision creates the exception, or state of emergency. But when the exception can be so generalized, it also loses its meaning and reason to be. In Schmitt, on the contrary, the concept of the exception makes sense because it is contained in the concept of the sovereign; it is the sovereign. Thus, it is not the case that the sovereign realizes that there is an objective state of need and thereupon he acts decisively.

Instead, the sovereign chooses which state is to be raised to the level of the exception, or simply fabricates it. An illustration would be the war on terror, and particularly the war against Iraq. One would think that there are many other more urgent situations in the world that require attention and perhaps intervention, for instance, poverty, child labor, inadequate education. Yet, none of these are raised to the status of the exception, and the reason for this neglect must be sought precisely in the fact that they are not contained in the concept of the person of the sovereign, as a predicate in a subject.

They are other than the sovereign; in fact, they are instances of bare life. It says that the decision on the exception is a privilege of the sovereign, that the sovereign is a sovereign precisely by virtue of his capacity to decide; yet, it does not say how he receives this capacity nor why this capacity is not generalized to become a privilege of each individual, the dignity of individuation, which is probably the only real exception. But by nature, one is neither just nor unjust, neither good nor evil, as this would eliminate the possibility for change, because what is by nature in one condition cannot be brought into another condition: A stone, for instance, by nature moves downwards, and habituation could not make it move upwards, not even if you threw it up ten thousand times to habituate it.

Yet, I think that the objection still stands. In the case of Aristotle, for instance, the importance of education does not simply explain away the issue of human nature; more fundamentally, it provides a structure for the practice of human freedom, which Schmitt of course intends to dispense with. It is political in the Schmittian sense of the distinction of friend and enemy.

This can be utopian, anarchist, yet it is the modality of the political that has no use of sovereignty. It is not that which calls forth a normativist or institutional legal theory, both of which risk trampling the individual, nor is it individualistic; rather, it highlights the tension between what-is and what-could-be, the moment of non-law, that is, a world devoid of any law that is not the one of the dignity of individuation. Yet, his defense of sovereignty is, realistically, unable to bring about security for all—given that this is its main aim.

Thus, there is no exit from war. A regime of war, understood as the antagonism of friend and enemy, is preferable to the end of war with the utter destruction of the enemy. Schmitt does not see any alternative for humanity to emerge from the logic of violence and domination that is apparently connatural to it. The state of the exception, from Auschwitz and Hiroshima to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, proves to be outside of the political, in the realm that belongs to violence, cruelty, gangsterism, and criminal justice.

In other words, what if the enemy is not a group of particular, concrete human beings, but the conditions of possibility of violence, domination, and the very antagonism of friend and enemy? One does not need a theory of the political for that. Certainly, there is more than this in what Schmitt says.

It is in this context that he refers to the extermination of the Native Americans— and it is evident how relevant this type of rhetoric is today with the notion of humanitarian war. For this to happen, however, the concept of sovereignty must be discarded, or even utterly destroyed. As I have said, I agree with the critique of liberalism, but not necessarily for the reasons given by Schmitt— or perhaps I would not characterize liberalism in exactly the same way. What I am saying is that liberalism is not characterized by an open and never-ending dialogue, but by the emphasis on individual rights, including property rights, which are established only by means of a logic of inclusion and exclusion.

Yet, individualism should not be confused with the theory of individuality, grounded in singularity and the dignity of individuation, which makes possible the full development of the individual. Schmitt continues: The adversary is thus no longer called an enemy but a disturber of peace and is thereby designated to be an outlaw of humanity. The consequence is the notion of the last war of humanity, which I have discussed above. For him, this would be an impossible task. But let us consider what might be the most fundamental friend-and-enemy relation, that between labor and capital. The antagonism of labor and capital is in fact fully political, even in the narrow sense given to the word by Schmitt.

Capital tries to assert its sovereignty over labor, and labor, in its most radical expression, tries to free itself from the yoke of capital. But labor has two enemies: capital and the productive form of labor, that is, the form of labor that produces capital. For Marx, the struggle of the proletariat is the struggle for the dissolution of all classes, including the dissolution of itself as a class.

From the point of view of labor, the enemy is certainly not a group of people that must be physically eliminated, but rather practical categories and structures of domination equal to the very form of the political antagonism. Rather, the aim of the political struggle is to open up the potential by enduring the tension between what-is and what-could-be. The real enemy is this what-is, which Schmitt sees as unavoidable and necessary, the apparently unsurpassable structure of the empirically given.

But Schmitt does not consider the moment of contingency. It is the paradox of a state of exception become permanent. The only truly political action, however, is that which severs the nexus between violence and law. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency.

This real emergency is not what suspends the law, but what destroys it, what opens a space for existence other than the law. For Benjamin, what destroys the law is divine violence, or still sovereign violence Benjamin The paradoxical regime of a permanent state of exception, more evident in our own time, is a general feature of the logic of sovereignty and domination, of the antagonism that for Schmitt characterizes the political. As Machiavelli says, the fundamental antagonism is between those who want to dominate and those who do not want to be dominated.

Critique of Sovereignty We have seen that for Schmitt, sovereignty, like all other political concepts, is the secularization of a theological concept. Stankiewics, In Defense of Sovereignty —Jacques Maritain holds that sovereignty is another name for absolutism and that, as such, it must be discarded from the discourse on the political sphere— discarded, as we shall soon see, not because it is obsolete, but because it is wrong. But the king was Sovereign, the king was possessed of human Sovereignty.

Thus the right that the prince exercises is the right of the people ibid. When Jean Bodin says that the sovereign Prince is the image of God, this phrase must be understood in its full force, and means that the Sovereign—submitted to God, but accountable only to him—transcends the political whole just as God transcends the cosmos. Either Sovereignty means nothing, or it means supreme power separate and transcendent.

That is why this power is absolute ab-solute, that is non-bound, separate , and consequently unlimited, in its extension as well as in its duration, and not accountable to anything on earth. What Maritain really holds and demonstrates is that the absoluteness of absolute power is untenable from an ontological point of view. However, as I have already suggested, at stake here is really a question of ontology—the ontology of the concept, which includes, and is included in, the ontology of being. It is then not simply a question of precision and clarity that we are here examining.

But history does not have less truth only because it is based on an error. For Maritain, Preuss only rejects the concept of sovereignty because it is antiquated, not because of its inherent philosophical and political inadequacy. Yet, Maritain and Preuss agree as to the end of their critique, that is, the abolition of the concept of sovereignty. Schmitt, who is critical of Preuss and is interested in defending the concept of sovereignty, says: Preuss rejected the concept of sovereignty as a residue of the authoritarian state and discovered the community, based on associations and constituted from below, as an organization that did not need a monopoly on power and could thus also manage without sovereignty.

Sovereignty for Schmitt is the decision that establishes the exception.

Concept of Sovereignty — Richard Bourke

What kind of decision does Schmitt have in mind? Answer: The genuine decision. But who has the competence to determine the genuineness of the genuine decision? It is like a vicious circle. In truth, the decision is equal to the separation that for Maritain is necessarily included in the concept of sovereignty. Thus all decisions we make in practical life separate us from whatever remains undecided, the immense potential that we might have considered in the process of deliberation.

Yet, notwithstanding the fact that each and any decision we make is, by virtue of its singularity and uniqueness, exceptional, none may be sovereign, unless we extend the latter concept to include any singularity. In that case, we would all be sovereign, and, again, the concept would become irrelevant. In truth, the separation that characterizes sovereignty is only a theological concept, and Maritain is right in pointing out that its political use is based on a mistake. But the pretense to infallibility, defended with army and police, does not make infallibility a valid concept; nor does dictatorship ever separate itself enough from those upon whom it imposes itself to avoid a multitude of other decisions, of counter-decisions, capable of making it collapse.

It is also very problematic to say that what counts is making the decision, regardless of its modality and nature.

Bruno Gulli – The Immanent Frame

One could say, with Walter Benjamin, that the decision that brings about a state of exception must be weighed as to its universality or lack thereof, and that it is only thus that it can be granted ontological validity or not. Second, a right to an independence 52 CHAPTER 2 and a power which in their proper sphere are supreme absolutely or transcendently, not comparatively or as topmost part in the whole. He holds that the body politic has a right to full autonomy, which is what sovereignty should give way to in the political sphere; and he insists that this autonomy must be both internal and external pp.

This right of the body politic to full autonomy is, Maritain says, a natural and inalienable right ibid. What is important, however, is that the second element of the meaning of sovereignty not be implied in it. In reality, from the point of view of a thoroughly immanent philosophy, the concept of a supreme power in its absolute and transcendent character is evidently untenable; and so is, from the point of view of a radical ontology of labor which I deal with shortly even the comparative and relative character of a supreme power.

He says that it would be simply nonsensical to conceive of the people as governing themselves separately from themselves and from above themselves. The philosophy of Maritain is genuinely concerned with democracy, although certainly not with radical or direct democracy. He presents a clear concept of representative democracy, whereby the power of the state is an instrumental function of the power of the people and the body politic, which directly emanates from the people themselves. For Maritain, the state is necessary to ensure a system of social justice. For Maritain, the people are the multitude of human persons who, united under just laws, by mutual friendship, and for the common good of their human existence, constitute a political society or a body politic.

The state, as Maritain says in the last chapter of his book, must be freed of its Hegelian or pseudo-Hegelian characteristic of being considered as a person or a suprahuman person and be only understood as the highest part of the body politic p. In this sense, it is necessary that many functions now exercised by the State should be distributed among the various autonomous organs of a pluralistically structured body politic.

For us, the critical approach represents a way of revealing, beyond its juridical use, the philosophical grounding of the concept of sovereignty and of disposing of it within the context of a radical ontology of labor, for it is by labor that the social texture that precedes and sustains the various institutional entities among which the state and its pretence to supreme authority and sovereignty is formed. Our endeavor is that of producing such ontology— a philosophy of labor capable of overcoming all theoretical positions in which the concept of labor, if philosophically employed at all, always occupies a marginal space.

Thus, even the gift economy described by Marcel Mauss , which has consumption as its central moment in the form of the potlatch, is understood as a system of production and reproduction — not of inert commodities, of course, but of living social and spiritual relations which the things exchanged precisely produce. This shows that consumption does not happen for its own sake, but, as Marx says, it is itself productive — though not necessarily in a capitalist sense. Bataille is not mistaken when he describes the profitless way in which consumption as freedom and as destruction takes place.

These useless values, the values which are consumed outside of a relationship of servility, are subjective values. The subjectivity so linked to consumption is what Bataille calls sovereignty. For Bataille, in the modern world, sovereignty is the return of human dignity, what might counter the process that reduces human beings to things, reification Here again we see the problem caused by the separation of the unity of life activity into the two different spheres of the useful that which serves and of the sovereign that which does not serve. However, what here really opens up is the space, not of sovereignty, but of potentialities and the could, hence of real freedom.

The negation of the negation, which opens the space of the sacred or divine , of nature transfigured — a movement of transgression — is an apparently solely destructive movement, but it is in reality a movement toward freedom, the movement of the revolution. It is the elimination of any sovereign condition, not its implementation and upholding; it is the elimination of the exception, which is one with the sovereign as Carl Schmitt notably holds , precisely because everything becomes exceptional, extraordinary.

If we need a name, we call it haecceitas and say that it is, not a regime of exception pointing toward a transcendence of sort , but the regime of the principle of individuation, an immanent movement, which, insofar as it individuates the specificity of the human being, that is, its singularity, gives rise to the condition of subjectivity. Individuation, not sovereignty, names the condition of the subject and constitutes its ground. This must be so if one is to avoid solipsism and be instead able to see, in the complex reality of subjectivity, the commonality and universality which it always carries with it.

In fact, singularity itself cannot be thus hypostasized. Rather, the emphasis is on the concept of interweaving. This is what makes the subject. This, not identity or identification, is what individuation brings about. Thus, as the movement toward freedom and dignity , as the movement of the revolution, the return does not lead toward sovereignty and power, but rather toward its dissolution or anti-power dignity , as used by John Holloway in Change the World without Taking Power What this structure, this interweaving, names is the capacity for autonomy, that is, the ability to follow the law dictated by the return itself — a return to human dignity.

It is a law which speaks with one voice, the voice of human dignity, and in this sense it is univocal, universal and common. But this autonomy, which comes to full light in the solitude of the return, and which can be approximated to an idea of self-discipline and self- governance but even these concepts fall short of saying what it is , has nothing to do with sovereignty, nothing to do with power as domination, nor does it reproduce the structure of which servility is necessarily an element.

But the problem is, precisely, that he equates it with the concept of sovereignty. The same is true of the concept of the totality, in which, outside mere intellectual life, one finds the unity of subject and object. But this is, again, a sovereign totality for Bataille. The concept of surplus, or excess, is fundamental in the constitution of these realities: autonomy, sovereignty. But precisely because of this, all claims to sovereignty are lost. The concrete totality, made of possibilities in addition to what-is, as well as the autonomy of a transfigured subject, a transparent agent, remains.

But how could the self-determined movement of what being displaced returns be sovereign? But as we have seen with Maritain, there really is no need of this term once it is voided of its conceptual substance. Bataille tries to move beyond old conceptions of power and domination without renouncing sovereignty. To the contrary, and precisely by identifying in the renunciation of sovereignty the new form of sovereignty itself, he upholds it as coterminous with subjectivity and communism.

Traditionally, sovereignty and domination are different concepts. There can be domination without sovereignty, but there cannot be sovereignty without domination. Sovereignty is the way in which domination is institutionalized. In fact, for Hegel, the slave is the ultimate bearer of power — the power of labor whereby the dialectic is overturned. Labor becomes the mediation between dependence and independence. The thing has the character of independence, which desire fails to attain in an immediate fashion.

Rather, I mean to challenge the view that labor is absolutely the same as servitude, and that liberation means liberation from labor, rather than through labor. He is referring here, more specifically, to the consumption of the surplus of production, the excess. If this were simply a description of economic and social life under capital, then it would be accurate.

But it is easy to see that this is a description, not of sovereign life, but of the good life for everybody. The logic of domination cannot allow the good life for everybody, for that would be a contradiction in terms. However, necessities should generally be ensured, and the limitless potentialities of life should open up for all. Bataille is absolutely correct in pointing out this need, in suggesting this possibility. But he is mistaken in thinking that this should or could happen under the aegis of sovereignty, in the form of sovereignty.

But this is incorrect; first, because, if anything, productive activity is that whose end is utility, and second because, particularly under capital, the link between means and end is suspended. Bataille presents a generic conception of alienation, and his critique of production does not have to do with the specificity of capital, but it is a critique of production as such. The basic loss of value resides in the fact that man becomes a thing. Not entirely perhaps, but always Certainly, and notwithstanding my criticism, Bataille says something important and that goes to the innermost depth of social life and existence in general.

Indeed, all humiliating labor, all servility, must be eliminated — in this Bataille is absolutely correct. However, what remains after that elimination, is not mere passivity, consumption, and thing-like existence. The subjectivity that Bataille ascribes to the concept of sovereignty, the individual form of activity, creative, poetic doing, far from being negations of the concept of labor as such, negate, precisely, the logic of domination, the world of subordination institutionalized in the form of sovereignty.

Bare life may very well be what stands opposite sovereign power and thus completes its concept; but this is so precisely from the point of view of one and the same logic — the logic of sovereignty. Outside it, there is the active life, of doing and labor, geared toward the joy, the happiness, otherwise denied. For Bataille it is only what impedes sovereignty. But here we see how necessary the elimination of sovereignty becomes, for as F. Sovereignty should instead be the ordinary and universal condition, but this precisely makes the concept irrelevant and useless.

Sovereignty is then the same as subjectivity, or, more precisely, individuality. It takes on the form of traditional sovereignty when it becomes the prerogative of one subject for whom all others are objects who recognize him in the Hegelian sense, says Bataille in a footnote as the sovereign, while recognizing themselves in him. But it can also take on a more diffused, common form when each person is a subject and thus sovereign pp.

Bataille should here distinguish between sovereignty and subjectivity, and his analysis would truly acquire a radical, revolutionary character. But why oppose sovereignty with sovereignty? It is certainly a decision, but it does not follow from this that there is something sovereign in it. True, the decision separates, but the separation points to a condition of individuation and simple difference, not to one qualified as a position of superiority and supremacy, which is what sovereignty always necessarily implies. Indeed, Bataille sees in the unproductive the only alternative to the productive. He thus misses the truth that the category of the unproductive forms part and parcel of the same logic of productivity that privileges the productive.

To be sure, a move in that direction takes place in Bataille with the concept of renunciation, which really goes past the dichotomy of the productive and unproductive. Here, Bataille comes close to giving up completely the concept of sovereignty. But, rather awkwardly, he gives it up while retaining it as the most fundamental category of his general economy.

If traditionally one renounced sovereignty by giving it to another e. But the truth is that, renounced in a sovereign manner, sovereignty is, in the last analysis, not renounced at all. I have chosen Maritain because through his analysis, based on a philosophy of transcendence, and perhaps precisely because of this, the irrelevance of the concept of sovereignty in political thought is made absolutely evident.

Maritain does not renounce all forms of sovereignty. He says that sovereignty belongs only to the sphere of the spiritual, of theology, of transcendence. However, the supreme political authority, which for Maritain belongs to the state, is at the peak of that order, but it essentially belongs to it, and it derives its nature from it. But I disagree with him as to the necessity of the state institution endowed with supreme authority.

It can be argued that this authority is still another name for sovereignty, and that, therefore, Maritain undoes what he has accomplished. I have then dealt with Bataille because his work presents a very unusual notion of sovereignty, equated in turn with consumption, subjectivity, communism, and finally the renunciation of sovereignty itself. When he speaks of renouncing sovereignty in a sovereign manner, his attempt to move beyond a commonly accepted view, a strong prejudice in philosophy and political thought whereby the lack of sovereignty is a sign of servility, becomes very clear.

He certainly means that sovereignty must be renounced without exchanging it with servitude. My view is that the dichotomy itself collapses as soon as one renounces one of its terms. The elimination of servility is also the elimination of sovereignty, and sovereignty itself, a rotten concept no matter what form it takes on, becomes absolutely useless when, to refer to Hegel again, the dialectic of master and slave is overturned.

In fact, more than an overturning there is here a dismantling of the whole machinery of domination. It is the common, ordinary labor that founds a new, immanent plenitude. The Accursed Share. I: Consumption, trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Zone Books. III: Sovereignty, trans. Benjamin, Walter. Edmund Jephcott. New York: Schocken Books. Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. Volume I: An Introduction, trans. New York: Vintage Books. Gramsci, Antonio. Selections from the Prison Notebooks, trans. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith.

New York: International Publishers. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Hegel, G. Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. Oxford University Press. Hinsley, F. London: C. Holloway, John. James H. Nichols, Jr. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. Maritain, Jacques. Man and the State. Washington, D. Marx, Karl. Foundations of the Critique of Politcal Economy, trans. Martin Nicolaus. New York: Vintage books. Mauss, Marcel. The Gift. New York and London: W. Negri, Antonio. Time for Revolution, trans. Matteo Mandarini. London and New York: Continuum.

Stone Age Economics. New York: Aldine Publishing Company. Schmitt, Carl. George Scwab. Stankiewics, W.