Monday, 05 January 2009

Ranciere 1 - excerpt


What is first at stake is the configuration of the possible. This also means what is first at stake is the distribution of the capacities. The struggle is between opposing ways of understanding the relation between the particular and the universal, the relation between the present and the future. The same goes, you know, for instance when networks of mostly anonymous social actors oppose the rational policy of the immigration quotas decided by our governments, when they oppose it with another idea of who can be counted as a member of our national communities.

The collective intelligence of emancipation is the collective capacity at work in those scenes of conflict. This collective intelligence has nothing to do with high-tech virtuosity. What it sets to work rather is the capacity which is common to that virtuosity and to the virtuosity that allows for instance the immigrant worker to cross all the geographical and legal boundaries, all the material and symbolical boundaries in order to prove that he is a French worker similar to any other French workers, if we take the example of France, and I think that this may prove a form of universalisation, a struggle for the universal, stronger, sometimes, then many discourses on universal values.

So, what is at stake is the common capacity of those different virtuosity, their common capacity to shift places and identities to break through the distribution of places, identities and competences in order to reframe the given situation of the capacity of producing a new configuration of the visible, the intelligible and the possible by implementing the capacity of anybody. That is the kind of universality the politics is about: the capacity of anybody. The political subject is not a part of the social structure, an element of the process of production. It has to come as a supplement to the distribution of powers, places, functions, and identities that make up a society, a supplement to the distribution of the capacity. But what comes as supplement to the distribution of capacity is undistributed capacity, the capacity of anybody, or rather the capacity created by the collectivisation of the power inherent in the equality of anyone with any other one. I called it “the part of the uncounted” or “the part of those who have no part”. It was sometimes misinterpreted as the power of the excluded. But what it truly means is the power of anybody, no matter who, the qualification of those who have no specific qualification. I think that investigation of this power, maybe more fruitful for the sake of artistic and political invention today by the endless denunciation of the power of the beast. The endless unmasking of the ghost.

Universality has been for long associated with the demonstration of the power of necessity. It might be time to explore its conjunction with the powers of contingency, with powers of indifference to difference that don’t amount to the equivalence of anything with anything, but with the empowerment of the capacity of no matter who.

Thank you.