Línea de sombra ten years after: introductory remarks at ACLA 2016 Harvard University. by Gerardo Muñoz & Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott

linea de sombra

Ten years have passed since the publication of Línea de sombra: el no-sujeto de lo político (Palinodia, 2006). It seems that this seminar received neither the most appropriate of titles, nor the most desirable one. At the end of the day, others are the ones that live by anniversaries, ephemerides, and revivals. In a way, to commemorate is a convoluted and dangerous move that recaps the jacobinist principle ‘down with the King, long live the principle!’

Something radically other is at stake here, or so we wish to propose. To the extent that something is ‘actual’ is so because it allows conditions for thinking and thought; that is, conditions of doing in thought. Then, of course, there are activities and activities. As Lyotard observed, there are some activities that do not really transform anything, since ‘to do’ is no a simple operation (Lyotard 111). So much is needed for this encounter to happen – and the purpose of this encounter with many friends here is Línea de sombra ten years after. This was Alberto’s fourth major book – after Interpretacion y diferencia (1992), Tercer espacio (1999), and The Exhaustion of Difference (2001), and that is without counting his early La escritura política de José Hierro (1987). Línea, we should not forget it, was published in Chile in 2006, under turbulent circumstances. We are referring here of course to Alberto’s exodus to Aberdeen, and in a way his “exile” from the enterprise of Latinamericanism. The drift to suspend the categorial structure of the Latinamericanist reflection was already underway in Tercer espacio and Exhaustion, books that radically altered the total sum of reflections on and about Latin America, in the literary and the cultural levels, and whose consequences were felt, though we are not too sure that they have been fully pursued and taken to its outermost transgressive limits. As Alberto has repeated often, the issues on the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s are still among us, but we have yet been able to deal with them radically, which means, to deal with them without just reproducing the constitutive limited structures and categorical systems that have informed Latinamericanism and Hispanism at large through the twentieth-century.

In this sense, Línea de sombra is an unfinished intervention. In part because it did not produce many interlocutors and readers when published, or perhaps because it was taken (and it is understood as such still today) as a book that transgressed the ‘Latinamericanist reason’, opening itself to a region of thought that was in itself undisciplined, savage, and for the same reason, considered an outlaw intervention (and we should keep in mind this tension between thinking and law). It does not matter. But what really does matter is that we consider the silences around Alberto’s intervention not as a personal affair, but as a particular effect of a certain disposition of hierarchies and prestige within the contemporary university. As if Línea (and the other books) were dammed from the beginning due to the constitutive limitation of Hispanism and due to the lack of interest in theoretical approaches coming form Latinamericanism, a field that was usually identified with the exoticism of political conundrums and the curiosities coming out of Third World countries.

Of course, the reverse side of this underprivileged condition of Spanish language for intellectual reflection is that it (re)produces reactive effects. For example, the decolonial option demands a constant revision of the privilege that Spanish has had in the process of representing Latin American realities. However, the paradox arises when this decolonial turn limits itself to the glorification of native languages as if they carry with them a more authentic access to the real, without questioning the self-limitation that both, Latinoamericanist criollo scholars and decolonial ones, show in restricting themselves to the same ethnographic task, avoiding not an explicit politics of identification, but avoiding the most urgent and radical politics of thinking. This politics of thinking doesn’t belong to disciplines and doesn’t follow University structruration. This is what we call infrapolitics.

In fact, we recently called this self-imposed limitation in Latinamericanism ‘late criollismo’ in relation to the last manifestations (political practices and historical forms of imagination) of a particular tradition of thought that, reactively, is confronting the dark side of modernity and globalization with a dubious re-territorialization of affects, practices and politics: from neo-indigenism to neo-communitarianism to literary New Rights, from neo-progressism to neo-developmentalism and neo-extractivism.

On the other hand, we should not forget it, Spanish was an imperial language, and the current (rhetoric of) privilege for ‘Spanish’ is also at the heart of the neoliberal university. In fact, it is what allows the expansion of the language programs, and by consequence, the expansion of ‘adjunct professors’ and ‘part-time post-PhD students’ that carry departmental duties. An exponential process of subalternization that professors that defend far-away subalterns always seem to forget. One might say, the psychotic decolonial affect is possible by the foreclosure of a minimal distance in favor of the maximization of their subjective drive, in a process of identification that is also a process of libidinal investment and insemination.

Línea de sombra appeared in this context, but we do not think it wants to take part on either the side of defending the underdog or assuming a counter-hegemonic capitulation of Spanish as the master language or even the variations of Spanish as a sort of a new pluralism against Iberian hegemony. Línea renounces what Derrida calls in an essay of Rogues the ‘presbeia kai dunamei’, which is roughly translated as ‘majesty and power’, but it also renounces to the privilege of the predecessor or forbear, the one that commands, the archē (Derrida 138). Alberto’s text is a call for releasement of such a demand as principle of reason into a different relation with thought – now we think it is fair to say that that relation is always an infrapolitical relation – positing the archē of the political parallel to the category of the subject. In the introduction Alberto lays the question:

“El subjetivismo en política es siempre excluyente, siempre particularista, incluso allí donde el sujeto se postula como sujeto comunitario, e incluso ahí donde el sujeto se autopostula como representante de lo universal…el límite de la universalidad en política es siempre lo inhumano. ¿Y el no sujeto? ¿Es inhumano? Pero el no-sujeto no amenaza: solo está, y no excepcionalmente, sino siempre y por todas partes, no como el inconsciente sino como sombra del inconsciente, como, por lo tanto, lo más cercano, y por ello, en cuanto que más cercano, al mismo tiempo como lo ineludible y como lo que más elude” (Moreiras 12-13).

So, el no sujeto is an excess of the political subject, an incalculable and unmanageable rest, since the non-subject of the political just is, without a why. Just like the counter-communitarianism cannot constitute a principial determination, the non-subject does not wish to do so either. Indeed, Línea de sombra unfolds a complex instantiation against every nomic determination that guarantees the truth of the idea or the concept. But the non-subject haunts its violence, its transgression. Following our recent encounter with Schürmann’s work, we can say it confronts the latent forgetting of the tragic condition of being.

Indeed, the political has rarely been thought against the grain of its nomic and decionist principles, and Línea de sombra was (and still is) an invitation to do so. Our impression is that it is a book that does not want to teach or master anything, but thematizes something that has always been already there, even if some prefer to sublimate it into the principle of satisfaction. The price to be paid for that is quite high. Hence the desire to move thought elsewhere: indifferent to legacy, proper name, inheritance, masters, and subjects.

We propose, then, to think collectively these days around the promise, the offer, and the gift of this book, but not necessarily to place it in a central canonical position. Rather we intend to open its questions to interrogate our own historical occasion.


Alberto Moreiras. Línea de sombra: el no-sujeto de lo político. Santiago de Chile: Palinodia, 2006.

Jacques Derrida. Rogues: two essays on reason. Stanford University Press, 2005.

Jean François Lyotard. Why Philosophize? Polity, 2013.

*Image by Camila Moreiras, 2016.

¿”Frente único contra el neoliberalismo” o democracia poshegemónica? (Gerardo Muñoz)

Habría que abrir un debate público y reflexivo con los amigos Diego Sztulwark, Verónica Gago, o Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar en torno a la coyuntura política actual de procesos en curso como el boliviano, la irrupción de Syriza en Grecia, y más recientemente el ascenso de Podemos en España. Se abre la necesidad de un diálogo en común sobre eso que Sztulwark en un balance de la izquierda reciente ha llamado un “Frente único contra el Neoliberalismo”. Vale citar ese momento en la elaboración de la propuesta de Sztulwark:

“Me interesa el espacio discursivo común que se abre entre América Latina y el sur de Europa. Algo así como un Frente Único contra el Neoliberalismo, para utilizar grandilocuentes fórmulas de la Tercera Internacional. Ese Frente tiene posiciones distintas: no son lo mismo los discursos populistas que los momentos autonomistas. Ese Frente tiene pendiente discutir qué cosa es el neoliberalismo y cómo se lo derrota. En ese sentido hay una dimensión experimental: en la calle o en instituciones, todos estamos probando. Me parece importante que todas las experiencias primero se reconozcan como compañeras de un Frente y no como guerras intestinas que solo denigran a otras posiciones. Y además evitar ser cooptados tanto por un izquierdismo abstracto y radical como por sectores de la burguesía que lo que quieren es un reformismo liviano. Ese Frente hay que volverlo visible” [1]

Atentos a la matriz extractivista constitutiva de la gran división de los espacios geopolíticos del Sur” (BRIC, es el grupo monolítico más visible), quedaría por preguntar y pensar las variables y los ejes de ese “frente contra el neoliberalismo”? [2] ¿Cuál sería la relación entre participación democrática y extractivismo en los diseños neo-desarrollistas de un neo-liberalismo que triunfa y se despliega desde abajo? Dicho en otras palabras: ¿cómo interrumpir el dispositivo que ensambla los diversos procesos flexibles de acumulación y la irrupción de nuevas voces neo-vanguardistas de gestión contra-hegemónica, siempre tan seguras de sus presupuestos y sus condiciones epistémicas? ¿Cómo pensar la democratización de las finanzas y su relación con el autonomismo o el “horizontalismo”? ¿Es suficiente un horizontalismo o comunistarismo voluntario para dar la batalla contra la ontología an-arquica del capital sin antes articular una crítica a la política como aparato moderno (hegemonía) y al principio general de equivalencia? [3]

Decía que este debate es sumamente interesante y necesario porque a partir de la explicitación del “frente único” – ni populista ni descolonizador – se abriría una “tercera opción” que sería lo que nosotros llamamos una “democracia poshegemónica” que exige un tipo de reflexión infrapolítica suplementaria y cuyo horizonte, al decir de Alberto Moreiras, es aprincipial [3].

Inmune al entusiasmo de la politización hiperbólica, pensar desde la poshegemonía asume la insuficiencia de su suelo enunciativo, así como la negatividad de la crisis desde la cual se instala. Ésta es una tarea que exige un máximo grado de intercambio común, así como de compromiso libertario con diversas formas de pensamiento, análisis, e imágenes.



1. Escuchar la intervención de Diego Sztulwark en el programa radial “Clinamen”, del 17 de Marzo. http://ciudadclinamen.blogspot.com/2015/03/que-abre-el-escenario-politico-del-sur.html

2. Veronica Gago & Sandro Mezzadra. “Para una crítica de las operaciones extractivas del capital”. Nueva Sociedad, N.255, Febrero de 2015.

3. Algo así es lo que parece pedir José Luis Villacañas a PODEMOS en un reciente artículo titulado “Insatisfacción general, con excepciones”: “No es poca cosa, pero no será lo que los lleve a la posición hegemónica. Así que creo que Podemos deberá ajustar su análisis para reconocer la estructura propia de una sociedad post-hegemónica, muy diferente de sus sociedades de referencia. Esto implicará aumentar su sentido republicano y rebajar su pasión populista”. http://www.levante-emv.com/opinion/2015/03/24/insatisfaccion-general-excepciones/1242366.html

4. Alberto Moreiras. “Infrapolitics”. (ponencia leída en Political Concepts Conference, Columbia University, March 2015).