A few remarks about Giorgio Agamben’s theory of civil war. by Gerardo Muñoz

In the conference “The Undercommons & Destituent Power”, I was particularly interested in a suggestion made by Idris Robinson regarding the status of the theory of civil war in Giorgio Agamben’s work. I think Robinson’s position on this problem pushes thought forward, and it allows me say a little more about a possible transfiguration of politics, a sort of unsaid in many of the recent discussions. There are at least two levels that I would like to address: the first one is philological, and the second one is more speculative. The moment that I want to dwell upon specifically is when Robinson claimed that Giorgio Agamben at some point abandoned the question of “civil war”. Robinson is right. There is no mention about civil war, insurrectional politics, or even forms of direct political strategy in the endgame of L’uso dei corpi (Neri Pozza, 2014). Indeed, in this book it is as if the “concrete political” horizon is transformed by recasting a modal ontology, a theory of use, and an archeology of “form of life”. My hypothesis, however, is that the logistics of civil war never fully disappear, since it is explored through other regional quadrants of the tradition. In other words, one should understand civil war as fold within the signatura of potentiality. This is an important point of departure since, early in Homo Sacer, we thought that the vortex of the project was going to be the critique of sovereignty; but, on the contrary, it ended up being an archeology of the notion of potentiality. Thus, in a way, civil war is to war what potentiality (dunamis) is to actuality (energeia). 

But the question of civil war never truly disappears. In a new gloss included in the Italian “integral edition” (Quodlibet, 2018) entitled “Nota sulla guerra, il gioco, e il nemico”, Agamben thematizes the concept of war in a way that sheds light to the problem of civil war. Agamben starts by pointing to the circularity of war and enmity in Schmitt’s theory of the political. For Schmitt – says Agamben – enmity “presupposes” [Voraussetzung] war, insofar as war is the condition for every enmity distinction [1]. Agamben continues to say that war and enmity converge in the same doctrine of the political: politics is always about war. However, the important metaphysical ingredient here is that war brings about a “serious” dimension to the political. So, state and politics, by means of seriousness (war), deters the influence of the “society of entertainment”, play, and the end of order. The legitimacy of war in Schmitt is weighted by a neo-Hobbesian maximization of “total war”. However, Agamben invites to take a step back. This is important, because at this point enters Johan Huizinga’s critique of Schmitt’s concept of the political, which reminds us war is constitutive of the ludic sphere that suspends all seriousness of politics rooted in enmity. So, it is war’s capacity to translate “political seriousness” what generates a politics of sacrifice proper to bare life. 

Unlike war, civil war would be a “zone of indetermination” (an event of human separation) that is more at home in play than in political action. Civil war is, each and every time, irreducible to war as the central conflict of human existence, since it stands for the free-playing interactions between forms of life as they come into inclination and divergence without ever being domesticated to a regulatory war. I take this also to be consistent with Agamben’s theory of comedy as an unthought site of Western metaphysics, which works against the tragic (constitutive to destiny), but also against war (constitutive of the political). This stasiological theory insofar as it expresses the movement of potentiality, it’s also an exodus from desire. This is why for Agamben the figure (gestalt) of the “coming politics” or a transfigured politics, is not the militant but a sort of puppet, as he writes in his book the character of Pulcinella. The comic texture of form of life leaves the epoch of tragic titanism behind. It is now expression or style what colors the outside to a politics of desire, which is always substantiated on a lack. Pulcinella does not desire anything, but only “seeks a way out”. The civil war, then, is the moment in which the comic destitutes the fiction of the subject into a form of life. This is why, as Julien Coupat has recently argued, that the role of the police is to watch and intervene at the moment when the game of civil war breaks out. The taskforce of the police become the exercise of the flattening of civil war into the grammar of war that regulates the very functioning of social order [2].

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Notes

1. Giorgio Agamben. “Nota sulla guerra, il gioco e il nemico”, in Homo Sacer: Edizione Integrale (Quodlibet, 2018). 296-310.

2. Julien Coupat. “Engrenages, fiction policière”, in Police (La Fabrique, 2020). 

Notas sobre encuentro “Parodia, Dictadura, Metafísica, y Revuelta”, Academia de Santiago, Enero-Marzo 2020. Segunda sesión. Por Gerardo Muñoz

¿Qué puede la parodia hoy en un tiempo sin epokhe? O tal vez deberíamos alterar levemente la pregunta: ¿cómo puede la parodia desde la lluvia de la imagen? Primero, la parodia ya no está contenida paragonalmente en un concepto, sino como forma de vida. La parodia ya no tiene fuerza para parodiar una “cabeza” o un “centro” una vez que aceptamos la hipótesis cibernética, pues ahora se trata de la organización del poder a partir de la administración de los flujos. Y segundo, tampoco la parodia es violencia que destituye la sobrecarga de la data lingüística como ‘objetualidad’ de la lengua. En realidad, este fue el problema de Hölderlin en la aurora de la modernidad: ¿cómo volver a deponer la lengua del sujeto hacia lo informe de la poesía? Empédocles como experimento en esa dirección. ¿Empédocles como nuevo Cristo arcaico? ¿Qué funda un sacrificio que tan solo quiere entrar en relación con lo aorgánico, y que en modo absoluto quiere formar cuerpo místico? Dejamos la cuestión en suspenso para otro momento, aunque habría que suponer que el gesto ateológico de Hölderlin es una transfiguración que no coincide con una inversión cristológica, sino que la ex-carna. Y en esa ex-carnación hay un paso atrás con respecto al momento moderno de la auto-afirmación política (y de toda política revolucionaria post-1789).

Por eso no hay articulación posible entre poesía y política. Esa relación abismal es la que hay que superar dejando a un lado la subjetividad de la filosofia de la historia y sus ‘coeficientes políticos’, como les llamó Simón Villalobos. El poema hace otra cosa con la política; otra cosa que escapa a la ‘contra-hegemonía’ que abastece en su negatividad. Al final, este es también el problema de la categoría de la multitud como zona de multiplicidad (‘subjetividad aglutinante’, como se ha dicho en ocasiones), pues una cosa es la infinitización de las posibilidades del singular, y otra muy distinta es la multiplicación de la subjetividad como fuerza de una orientación interna a la conducción de la historia. Si algo nos ex-pone el poema en su potencia de voz es la caída misma de lo múltiple hacia sus encuentro. Una multitud o una plebe, ya no como sombra del pueblo del Uno, figura en los modos en que el singular experimenta sus posibilidad en el encuentro. Pero esto ya no es necesariamente político, ni prepara ninguna fase hacia un poder “constituyente”. Por ahí solo repetimos el viejo paradigma del liberalismo, ahora desde conceptos subsidiarios como ‘hegemonía’ o multitud o subjetividad o esfera pública. Ser testigo del desfundamento de lo político supone abandonar la gramática de la subjetividad; pensar en el otro del sujeto moderno. Al final en eso consiste la tarea de la destrucción tras el fin de la legitimidad.

En realidad, proclamar el fin de la legitimidad supone afirmar que la ‘representación’ ya no da más en política, y por lo tanto en ninguna de las prácticas de la vida humana. La situación es de parábasis: el teatro se suspende y la persona ahora deviene un cualsea. Ya de nada vale entrar en una nueva economía del saber de la ironía; por el contrario, la interrupción de la representación del teatro nos abre a la experiencia aquí y ahora en un proceso de des-realización. Y en la des-realización tomamos partido por las imágenes que constituyen nuestros hábitos y ritmos. Asegurarse que eso permanezca en el tiempo pudiera servir como condicion para una institución de lo impropio. Esto ya nada tiene que ver con el “común” apropiativo y produccionista del comunitarismo contemporáneo. El fin de la representación teatral nos devuelve a todos un carácter (ethos) sin destino (fines). Al final, lo que está en juego en la apertura de la parábasis que destruye la forma paródica es esto: mi forma de vida que ya no aspira a ser un cualidad que participa de una eidos superior, sino los modos de lo que ya puedo ser. Ajens recoge una mínima definición de Werner Hamacher ligada a la filología: “la filología es la parodia del lenguaje, porque muestra pero no significa”. La forma de vida es aquello que muestra los gestos de cada forma de vida.

En su compleja intervención Andrés Ajens recuerda de la importancia de vigilar sobre las cesuras que organizan el topoi de la parodia: comedia contra tragedia, serio contra cómico, pero también uno pudiera decir guerra contra juego, persuasión contra retórica, o carácter contra acción. Por eso es importante preguntarnos cómo pensar una vida paródica y no su uso instrumental, lo cual se mantendría completamente ajeno a la interrupción de la economía entre pensar y acción de la representación. Si el poder hoy es paródico (y produce efectos irónicos) es porque en la volatilidad de la carcajada busca la provocación. Y en la provocación se “exige” que el singular se revista de sujeto que “debe actuar”. A partir de la provocación se fomenta la movilización. En este sentido, lo que emerge tras el fin de un principio común de contrato social es un deber compensatorio. Es lo que se ha llamado culpa. Por eso es que la parábasis pudiera tener consecuencias desicivas para lo que entendemos por una forma de vida que ya no puede definirse (trágicamente) mediante sus acciones. Esto lo ha visto bien Giorgio Agamben en Pulcinella ovvero divertimento per li regazzi (2015):

“La commedia antica ha conservato il suo nucleo originario nella parabasi. Il termine – che significa letteralmente latto di camminar di lato, deviare, trasgredire – denotava il momento in cui, dopo che l’azione si era interrotta e gli attori erano usciti di scena, il coro si toglieva la maschera e, rivolgendosi direttamente agli spettatori, ridiventava quel che era in origine: komos, un allegro, tumultuoso, insolente corteggio dionisiaco. La parabasi non era, in questo senso, soltanto un’interruzione o una deviazione: era un’interrzuione in cui di colpo appariva l’origine – o, se si vuole, un’origine che si manifestava infrangendo e scompaginando lo svolgimento scontato dell’azione. […] Nella vita dellig uomini – questo e il suo insegnamento – la sola cosa importante e trovare una via d’uscita. Verso dove? Verso l’origine. Perche l’origine sta empre nel mezzo, si da solo como interruzione. E l’interruzione e una via d’uscita. Ubi fraccasorium, ibi fuggitorium – dove c’e una castrofe, la c’e una via di fuga”. (45).

Pulcinella es la figura o el mito que aparece una vez que los principios políticos ya no pueden organizarse desde la legitimidad, la distribución de poderes en el mundo entre gobernados y gobernantes. Esa es la des-articulación que la demanda busca suturar. Por eso es que hablamos de un momento experiencial o de una anarquía de los fenómenos. La parábasis, en resumidas cuentas, no es un movimiento retórico en el plano del discurso y de la justificaciones, sino la transfiguración del sujeto una vez que es dispensado de la dimensión paragonal de la representación. Pulcinella es el resto que vive lo invivido sin culpa y sin pena; tal vez ajeno a la pulsión de muerte. Aquí se juega otro sentido de la errancia que excede a la densidad conceptual de lo que los modernos y los antiguos entendieran por “libertad”, ese oscuro supuesto encarnado en toda actio.

Dos últimos apuntes: en la medida en que la parábasis destruye la parodia, toda parodia del poder termina siendo una mera inversión del poder que nutre el rendimiento de la máquina (algo así como el anti-trumpismo que termina contribuyendo a una parodia incluso más efectiva que la del propio el trumpismo). Y segundo: en el caso chileno, se debiera recordar que la escritura de una constitución tiene algo de ejercicio paródico en la medida en que suprime la parábasis desde la disponibilidad de l dispositivo del poder constituyente. Como saben muy bien los historiadores del constitucionalismo anglosajón, nada es más misterioso que el origen de una written constitution. Y no por el hecho de haber sido escrita, sino porque sabemos que la historia efectiva y material del constitucionalismo en realidad se termina decantando por una serie de normas, precedentes, configuraciones institucionales, desiciones delegadas, y modos de excepción que permanecen unwritten en la carta magna. La constitución taponea el vacío que la constituye en su dinamismo eterno. Emprender un camino hacia de salida, en cambio, ya no constituirá destino, sino que expone carácter. Es lo hace el propio Pulcinella desde su voz y entonación.

Réplicas. Por José Luis Villacañas. 

Querido Gerardo: muchas gracias por tu comentario, que nos permite mantener la conversación que mantuvimos en Princeton. Wilson es un modelo para el pensamiento de Weber sobre el líder antiautoritario, desde luego. No conozco el libro que citas, pero me parece muy relevante y voy a hacerme con él. Pues lo peculiar de Weber es ciertamente una defensa del parlamentarismo. Este solo hecho hace de Schmitt un hijo ilegítimo de Weber. El parlamentarismo es electivamente afin con lo aprincipial, desde luego. La discusion infinita es el reconocimiento de la falta de fundamentos.

En realidad, el parlamento no es una escuela de teoría, sino una aspiración a la concreción y singularización de las decisiones y por eso es la mayor institución al servicio del control del estado administrativo. Por supuesto que el parlamento es coral, y desde luego no tiene nada que ver con el líder concentrado presidencial. Sin embargo, es el lugar en el que se puede apreciar la manera en que se acredita que alguien es capaz defender intereses materiales de los dominados.

Ahora bien, por si solo no es suficiente para controlar el estado administrativo, porque sería como perseguir el ratón al gato. De lo que se trata es de que el que da las órdenes en el estado administrativo tenga que responder también a los intereses de los dominados. Desde este punto de vista, argumenté que sólo las dos dimensiones (Parlamento y Gobierno) están en condiciones de controlar la burocracia.

El primero porque analiza las decisiones de los burócratas, las hace públicas, exige preguntas y describe procesos, por mucho que tengan base legal; el segundo porque permite que el activismo legislativo o incluso el ordenamiento esté en condiciones de responder a los intereses de los dominados. Sin esta figura, sólo se controlaría a la contra; por un presidente adecuado se presiona a favor de que se atiendan positivamente los intereses de los dominados. El parlamento en todo caso puede ser decisivo para que se no violen o se lesionen.

Querido Alberto: para comprender este debate debemos marcar el sentido bastante limitado de lo que Galli llama pensamiento moderno. Lo que Galli quiere es, como Duso, eliminar como marco de conversación el planteamiento de Hobbes. Esto significa que todo pensamiento contractualista moderno es principial y desde luego nadie quiere caer en sus redes. Desde luego, el pensamiento republicano no cae en esas redes porque ciertamente no asume esa creatio ex nihilo del contrato bajo ninguna de sus maneras. Y desde luego, tienes razón: el anarquismo no es sino una manifestación más radical de la teoría del contrato, como se descubre cuando observamos las deudas que Proudhon mantiene respecto de Rousseau.

Las paradojas de este pensamiento principial llevaron a Kant a hablar del contrato como un ideal del futuro y nunca como un fundamento político. Y desde luego, no confundo el anarco-populismo con el anarquismo en tanto tradición que forma parte de la historia de las ideas.

El problema, como dijimos en conversaciones anteriores, es definir bien el asunto a-principial. Y sinceramente, este es el punto que no entiendo bien. Pues lo decisivo para mí no es reconocer que desde luego nada en política ni en filosofía política invoca un fundamento. El hecho de que Laclau intente suturar su pensamiento político con el líder como referente vacío no es solo el más sincero de los reconocimientos de esa ausencia, sino también pensamiento no completamente reconciliado con ella, por cuanto intenta por todos los medios buscarle un subrogado. Sin embargo, no es claro para mí que las rupturas con los órdenes conceptuales fundamentales, y su disolución, signifique la ruptura con los órdenes materiales, y entre ellos los psíquicos. Y creo que hay una cierta filosofía de la historia cuando la primera destrucción se confunde con la segunda.

De hecho, acerca de esto iba mi conferencia, un tema al que nadie entró porque implica una relativización de la filosofía como aparato conceptual para apresar estas realidades materiales. La filosofía de la historia, siempre de naturaleza utópica, consiste en suponer que nos libramos de la historia justo al librarnos de algunos conceptos metafísicos. Esto me separa de los juegos conceptuales de Heidegger. Una filosofía aprincipial deja todavía muchas realidades materiales históricas operando.

Mi posición es que el populismo no puede ser hegemónico porque las realidades materiales no lo permitirán mientras el centro de gravedad de la vida histórica no se condense al límite de las tragedias. Mientras esto no ocurra, lo que quiere decir la teoría de la hegemonía de forma real es que los regímenes presidencialistas exigen que la población se divida en dos para la elección y que por tanto se tendrá tanto más poder cuanto más clara sea la división y menos se llegue a la mayoría sin compromisos de pactos. Pero en los regímenes parlamentarios la hegemonía no significa nada. Y el mayor de los errores de Iglesias ha sido acuñar un pensamiento de la hegemonía en un régimen parlamentario puro, que no tiene ningún escenario propio del presidencialismo.

El republicanismo por supuesto que comparte la conciencia de la necesidad de acabar con ese pensamiento principial. Pero reconoce que eso es una condición necesaria, pero en modo alguno suficiente para avanzar hacia un estado de mínima dominación del ser humano por el ser humano. Y llama la atención acerca de la carencia de mediaciones entre el anarco-populismo y la política. Por eso no se trata de populismo sin líder. Se trata de política capaz de reducir la dominación, lo que positivamente es otra cosa completamente. Y esto nos lleva a la cuestión de nuestro viejo debate.

El republicanismo no necesita de la hegemonía, pero sí necesita de la legitimidad. Y el problema es que la legitimidad no es una afirmación de arché. Y sin embargo, tampoco queda bien abordado mediante un pensamiento exclusivamente deconstructivo del arché. Aquí las categorías del republicanismo exige algún forma de diferencia entre decisiones, algo que no veo en el anarco-populismo que defiendes. Por eso creo que a partir del republicanismo se pueden traducir mejor las categorías de la emancipación.

 

(*Esta réplica contesta a los textos “Presidencialismo y liderazgo. Una pregunta para José Luis Villacañas”, de Gerardo Muñoz y “El desacuerdo de José Luis Villacañas”, de Alberto Moreiras.)

*Fotografía: Princeton University. April 7.2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Notes

  1. Alberto Moreiras. “Preliminary remarks on Infrapolitical anarchy: the work of Reiner Schürmann. https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/preliminary-remarks-for-no-peace-beyond-the-line-on-infrapolitical-an-archy-the-work-of-reiner-schurmann-a-workshop-january-11-12-2016-texas-am-by-alberto-moreiras/
  1. Giorgio Agamben. Stasis: civil war as a political paradigm. Stanford University Press, 2015.
  1. Eric Auerbach. Dante: poet of the secular world. University of Chicago Press, 1961.

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

Trawny Heidegger Jewish 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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