Political Representation after its Deconstruction

Laura Bazzicalupo
Università degli studi di Salerno
translated from the italian by michela russo

* editing and publication by 17, instituto de estudios críticos

Volume 3, 2012

1. The representation of order and the political possibility of dis-ordinance[1]

What happens when the crisis of representativeness/representation [rappresentanza / rappresentazione][2] reaches a stage of dissolution to such an extent that it becomes a matter of common sense and, even if representative democracy is still standing, we are witnessing the restless search for new modalities of ‘doing politics’?

The present contribution will seek to argue that once ‘representation’ is over, that is after its de-structuration, there is still nothing but representation. Obviously the latter is not a replica of traditional representation, with its theological-political legacy, but a post-representation, that is a representation which is aware of its own deconstruction and of the impossibility of a sharp division between the empirical and the transcendental, and that moves precisely from this awareness to take back that political space which traditional representation used to allow.

First of all, a conceptual clarification is necessary.

When we use the term ‘representativeness’ [rappresentanza] referring to the profound crisis of liberal democracy, corruption, scandals, the lowest level of political class, the lack of confidence in the electoral system and the detachment between the elite and citizens’ real needs immediately come to mind… But this mediocrity of our representative system –which Western democracies have in common and which highlights the unbridgeable gap between the core value of democracy, that is, the self-government of citizens, and the real abyss between governors and governed– is approached by a more structural crisis of political representation, that is of the symbolic locus which shapes the collective identity of the people. The concomitance of these two aspects is related to, as is well known, the shape of modern politics, where the representative construct (delegation, authorization, alienation, sovereignty) gives rise to the unitary representation of the People and the State, which is the modern political subject par excellence, through the conceptual tool of sovereignty.[3] Incidentally, I wish to emphasize the practical nature, as a dispositif, proper to the State with its constellation of ideologies, of concrete loci where the exercise of power takes place, rituals and historically changeable practices, in the face of the conceptual character pertaining to sovereignty (which is almost a cognitive format). Instead, this is a concept which, for the longest time, has allowed us to account for the mirror effects and the reciprocal reflections of power between governors and governed in democratic modernity. It is this sovereignty that today is not completely accomplishing its synthetic-ordinative function, placed side by side with and/or substitute by, as we will see, the ‘cognitive format’ of neoliberal governmentality.

The point that I want to emphasize is that the crisis of representativeness, as inexorably linked to political representation, with its constellation of dichotomies (private/public, State/society, individual/State), generates the difficulty of individuating a unitary political subject and, more radically, it reflects a change in social practice which, in turn, complicates the understanding of the political subject. Therefore, Representation refers, more than to a form of exercise of power (the representative delegation), to a conceptual dispositif that, during Modernity, allowed the passage from the multiple to the One[4] and the emergence of the protagonist of political action: the People. The People are the cornerstone of democracy, which, solely through the mechanism of a delicate representative, pass from the incoherent fragmentation of bios to the form and name of the people. Such a mechanism is ‘constitutive’ of the subject, who is the bearer of collective identity, who speaks with a unique voice and acts ‘politically’, and who, at the same time, ‘signifies’ and expresses the participation of all citizens to self-government. This paradox of the One and the multiple is sustained by a movement which is transcendental, duplicating, ideal, and by its very nature, ambiguous. This movement is inherent to every representation; it is an ideal presence which is the image of an absent presence. This is a mechanism which becomes, in the era of the vanishing metaphysical foundation, a conscious transcendency towards what Lefort defines (and with him the sequence of those who define ‘negatively’, that is in terms of a lack, the locus of collective power) the empty throne of democracy, which is actually occupied in a contingent and revisable, that is ‘indeterminate’,[5] way by that majority which ‘embodies’ that ideal locus. The lack of a definitive stabilization of the People, that is, the structural inability to fulfill it except through contingent and temporary identifications (which are the result of struggles for supremacy), is the very condition of politics, that is, of the modifiability of the ordered space which distributes positions, visibility, and thus powers, in a scene which is, by its nature, aesthetic rather than ethical. From here, the absolute importance that Representation has had for politics is derived.

But there are still two points to make: first, Representation constitutively defines something through exclusion. This argument has aroused the harshest critiques of the logic of representation, being accused of bearing epistemic and metaphysical violence: the representative logic operates through a judgment, an assessment implicit in the descriptive enunciation; borrowing a very effective Deleuzean expression, it operates discerning the True from the False Pretender,[6] expressing in this way a logic of power, a Will to Power which punctually reflects itself in the political Subject it generates. If this is indeed true, it should also be noted that in a democracy it is only this discrepancy, that is, this non-coincidence between the self-representation of the demos in its totality and the mechanism of exclusion –which ‘forecloses’ (i.e. includes while excluding) a number of people, making them invisible and yet making them function as the fantasmatic support of the scene itself. Thanks to this discordance, which opens the way to the political dynamic of revindication and emancipation, the singular parts within society which do in fact exist in the enunciation of the people (but are not ‘counted’, according to Rancière), appear, show themselves and demand to become the People. They assume political subjectivity upon themselves and deal with “the gap between the people and themselves”.[7] This way of subjectification, which disrupts the order of distribution of bodies in the community –which is the cornerstone of a democracy not only intended as a form of management– needs a sphere of appearance, which should not be intended as something different from reality, but as an access to visibility of something that was not previously visible, which was hidden or foreclosed in the dominant regime of visibility. Again, this needs a double complex reality: it needs an opening, a passage between what is virtual and what is actual (to use Deleuzean terminology), between the social body and the political body, which would re-write the given social identification.

What I have just said is an unavoidable premise in order to sustain the necessity of the form, for the purpose of the disordering appearance of subjectivities, which in turn seek strategic forms in order to promote inclusion and a re-writing of the political space. Although they are not institutional, these new forms have a relationship with representative form (e.g., the parliament, constitutional and juridical guarantees, administrative apparatus), which should not be underestimated. Institutions, in fact, delineate that field which conditions the possibility of action. New forms of representation aim to modify this field, as they de-identify themselves from the positions given within it: in this way, they reveal their contingent, always revisable nature.

Given these premises, we can turn back to our question: what space is available for non-conformist political subjectivities, when the emptying of representativeness (which emerges from the crossfire between legitimate criticisms of deconstructionism and governmental practices during the neoliberal turn which has lasted more than thirty-years) disables them and brings into question their very necessity? The argument is articulated on two levels that are dangerously intertwined, provoking, today, a post-deconstructive reaction, claiming the need for a return to the political subject, even if anti-essentialist, strategic and potentially barred.

The interesting point about this path which goes from anti-representativeness to anti-anti-representativeness, however, lies in the fact that the empirical reality of current social immanentism[8] sees a flowering of initiatives and enterprises (this term is typically neoliberal) of politically de-represented society, that perhaps (but with some important reserves) can be regarded as ‘forms’ of abnormal and innovative politicization. But let us proceed in order.

2. Anti-representativeness: being in common

This is the critical deconstructive level: the deconstruction of the metaphysical mechanism of representation not only reveals the epistemic, but also the evaluative and selective violence of representation itself: it is an expression of the Will to Power. The year ’68 represents the political energy for the passage a l’acte of this deconstruction. It revolutionizes the imaginary (self-representation) while challenging Representation, that is, the social code, in radical friction with the symbolic and social identification assigned by the established order to each and every person: bourgeoisies, students, working class, aristocracy, intellectuals, rock stars, women… And the imaginary is thought –especially with Castoriadis and Lefort– not as a compensatory and fantasmatic function, but as a creative force. ’68 creates and acts a different way of being in common. This means to put authoritative/authoritarian judgments, managerial politics and capitalism to an end,[9] while in search of the truth of democracy, betrayed by representatives, belied by the lack of something which had been promised and that actually turns out to be nothing more than an increase of welfare, of consumption, of castes of interchangeable left and right wing politicians, while the communist ideal collapses into the grim reality of ‘real’ socialism. The starting point is precisely to perceive the inadequacy of representative, formal democracy compared to its true idea. But this perception –because of the link between representativeness and representation– has a flaking effect which is far more radical on the form of representation itself. Hence, what is at stake here is to expose, to manifest, to act democracy, rather than delegating and representing it. In other words, this is the immanence of life and of practices acted out in spaces snatched from those in power, now ‘occupied’ [‘okkupati’, slang, T.N.] and opened up for participation, as if they were stages of democracy in actuality, against transcendence, selection and judgment. Again, this means to imagine a new way of living politics: the being together, the being in common, rather than management and governance, even if good governance. Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, Arendt: they all tell us that the epoch of representations which betray the être singulier-pluriel has reached its end: “In many ways –ways that were in fact different , even opposed– one stripped bare the regime of the ‘conception’ (the conception of the subject and the subject of conception, the mastery of action and the action of mastery, vision and prevision [prévision], the projection and production of men and their relationships) (…): no longer the engendering of forms responsible for modeling (…) but the exposition of the objectives themselves (‘man’ or ‘humanism’, ‘community’ or ‘communism’, ‘sense’, or ‘realization’) to a going beyond in principle: to that which no predication or foresight [prévision] is able to exhaust insofar as it engages an infinity in actuality”.[10] We are in common, we do not project the common.

Let us pay attention to this corollary of the anti-representative instance: with the decline of the normative, the sun goes down on the projectivity of the homo faber as well, which, as Arendt puts forward, claims to compel and control life. ‘We are in common’ means that we immediately put into actuality, in ourselves and for ourselves, that emotional and vital palingenesis which is the community: it does not predispose it, nor does it propose it, but it exposes it in itself. There is no lack of projects, but the cornerstone of the turning point is neither prophetic nor constructivist, but rather palingenetic: here, immediately, without paths of transformation. It is not an opera, it simply is. Confidence in the self-organization of individuals and communes[11] corresponds to the rejection of delegation (in a Spinozean or Deleuzean way). This is related to the intuition that life spontaneously regulates itself, while finding in itself the form of expressivity and power. The new political subject, that is the ‘movement’[12], does not have anything in common with the masses which used to go side by side with the old parties: the ‘movement’ is a multitude of living singularities.

At the core of the disavowal of party and trade-union representation, and of disciplinary hierarchy, lies a new source of legitimacy: desire, which overturns the legitimacy of authority, typical of political theology. This is not repressed and sublimated desire in the form of the Law, but desire tout court, the productive machine of desire. In this sense, the term immanence refers to the fullness of desire, that is the Spinozian conatus which dissolves all social forms, from the family, to the school, to the factory, throwing everybody, equally and all together, onto the political scene, that is, into the common space. There is also an effort –which is far more practical than theoretical, and which refers much more to life than to a model– to experience an alternative modernity in the utopia of the sober consumption communes, foreseeing that the market would have been the cipher of economical equivalence able to metabolize this utopia, rather than political and institutional forces. Moving against the unions and the old parties of the disciplinary Fordist model, in fact, the anti-representative revolt of desire ignores the extraordinary ability of Capitalism itself to absorb that libertarian and creative imaginary in order to translate it into the market cipher, to make of it the new form of production and consumption which hinges on desire. This is neoliberal governmental biopolitics, whose ambivalence produces libertarian subjectivities as well as commodified ones.

One thing is certain: after just a decade, the new post-Fordist spirit of capitalism, where capitalists wear jeans just like Bill Gates does, triumphantly retrieves the anti-representative rhetoric of ’68, presenting itself as a libertarian revolt against the State and oppressive social organizations of corporative capitalism and real socialism.

3. Anti-representative immanentism between de-politicization and populism

We are now approaching the second level of argumentation. This is what sociology describes –attentive to being ‘up to date’[13] and to avoiding the paralysis of nostalgic attachment to decocted instruments– as reflexive modernization, globalization, and the explosion of the social. It does so through a tone which shows an affirmative relationship with the new reality, and which, similarly, we can also find in an extremely distant perspective: that is, in Negri’s thought –at first sight this convergence appears to be problematic, and it already predisposes us to the question we should pose about the ‘forms’ which the molecular multitude and Negri’s micro-politics assume. They share the intuition that this turning point is so real that it is not possible to conduct a battle on the thread of ideology and of the true/false dichotomy: what is at stake here is an epochal transformation of forms of life (which immediately has a biopolitical dimension): we are dealing with a host of institutions (and thus representations), discourses and practices that act upon processes of subjectification [soggettivazione], producing freedom and exposing one to risk and to relative responsibility. Capitalist rationality is extended to the whole of life in a way that disarticulates any residual separation between public and private, making it porous (this was, in the liberal political representation, the political gesture par excellence which used to define what is political while differentiating it from what is not). Immanentism –the immanence of the human to his/herself, according to which economy and technology realize human essence– perversely carries out that direct and immanent being in common that the anti-representativeness of ‘68 activists was looking for. But what is actually carried out here are just individual monads –that is, unities sealed in themselves and self-sufficient–, and not that originary relationship which is plurality in common. This neo-liberal immanentism is inseparable from the metaphysics of presence and of the subject.

The Foucauldian formula of neoliberal biopolitical governamentality, based on the presupposition of a productive, diffuse and transitive power, offers a conceptual instrument which is more effective than the rigid pyramidal design of sovereignty.

As a matter of fact, governmental practice has an antithetic logic with respect to the representative one. It is not that representative democracy has been exhausted, but (and Thatcherism has been the first evidence of this) the struggle for hegemony has been won in the name of anti-statism, of the in-existence of society as a whole, and of individuals, considered in their diversified positions in the social and in the economic sphere, as the only vectors of power and self-realization projects. Thus, this new hegemonic narrative affirms precisely, from a logical point of view, the end of sacrificial alienation (the abhorrence of the supreme sacrifice of taxation!), the end of the transcendence of individuals in favor of the unitary will of the political Subject. The ‘truth’ of the social sphere reclaims its power to choose and to organize under the form of governance, which is a reticular, uncertain, pragmatic and flexible form, and which replaces, at least partially, the sovereign construction. Let us better clarify this point: the State does not coincide with its sovereignty: it is a cohort of practices which, in empirical reality, have managed populations with consensual governmental methods, demanding adequate subjectifications and, only in exceptional cases, recurring to the suprema potestas. Therefore, the state institution persists in neoliberal governamentality, but it does not carry an explicit political project (it, thus, does not need to mobilize the sacrificial alienation of the I’s in the us): it is not only functional to a given economic society, but also manages ‘from a distance’ (in the words of Rose [14]) individual freedom, stimulating their projects of empowerment.[15] All of this is within the dimension of the existent and the visible, as it is. Thus, the concept of People becomes perverted in a non-democratic manner, as it is deprived of its inner struggle for visibility. The people are not ‘represented’ anymore, but directly ‘presented’ in the figure of the populist leader, who, without the discredited mediation of democratically and procedurally legitimated representative forms, exhibits in him/herself the unity of multiplicity. Actually, the gap which allows the invisible parts to appear is not generated by that incomplete totality which always remains to be filled, but rather by the disruption of society as we see it, with its dissymmetry of power and its privatistic and politically immobile activism. This is the usefulness of opinion polls and the real time simulation of opinion: they reflect what is presumably given in existence as it is (which is, actually, solely what in the social order holds the power to be visible). In the now hegemonic immanentist hyperrealism, it is not possible to contrast appearance to reality anymore: things are exactly as they appear on the surface. They neither signify nor represent. Nothing stands in the shadows. The statistical counting has been settled and the duplicity of representation has been put to an end. The Country is presented in the person of the populist leader, who incarnates and displays on his/her body the way in which the country lives, enjoys, consumes and gets by. This has nothing to do with old and new populist leaders, prophetic guides of change; the new leader neither orients nor guides, s/he is not a father but rather is mon sémblant, mon frère [my fellow, my brother]. The figure of the leader, that even if mediatic, is hyper-present and hyper-real, covers the infinite articulation of social practices, whose participability in this sense cannot but be opaquely lobbyistic and privatistic.

But is that all? Between populism and lobbyist governance, do we have total epoliticization? Are there not, within biopolitical governmentality, forms of political subjectifications? Or is there, instead, what Chatterjee calls ‘political society’, in order to distinguish it from a Habermasian civil society which is totally within the representative paradigm?

4. Governmentality between privatism and democratic-participative practices

This governmental structure should be probed thoroughly.

Post-Fordist productivity generates wealth if organization and communication are reticular and horizontal, not when they are equal. In other words, it does so when there is governance, that is, a galaxy of interdependencies which is all the more effective the greater the involvement and participation is of those who are directly interested in what is at stake, who are in this way affected.[16]

While representative organs, emptied of their universalistic and egalitarian value, play a walk-on role in the media spectacle of politics, social activism experiences ambivalent forms of participatory governance. These forms can be understood both in the privatistic biopolitical sense (as neoliberalism is –in Lazzarato’s words– a re-privatization of money, that is a re-privatization of the power to determine possibilities), as well as with respect to the possible, even if problematic, processes of new political subjectifications. In fact, it seems that their political character is decided much more by contingencies than by recognizable and pertinent forms, and this political character depends on the positions that participants functionally occupy. It is difficult to decide if it is a question of public or private agency.[17] This is particularly true if we are dealing with post-colonial contexts, where the questions at stake are absolutely biopolitical, in the sense that what is at stake is to face primal needs and survival, and to directly take charge of life: in these cases the heterogeneous structure of governance –including affected people, technicians, various associations sharing similar experiences, NGO functionaries, in addition to various state competences– appears to be subordinated to the logic of efficacy. This logic is different to that of the democratic subjectification process, where the act of demanding visibility and self-government –that is, the ‘how’ of participation– is worth more than the ‘what’. In the case of ‘political society’, we have hybrid processes between biopolitical logics subordinated to sectorial and privatistic necessities, and bottom-up[18] instances oriented towards those criteria that appear to be characteristic of politicization: firstly visibility, and then a sort of ‘ascent in generality’, borrowing this persuasive expression from Boltaski.[19] Or, to put it better, there is a capacity to open the issues onto wider and more generic interests, namely common primary goods (water, land, health, education, communication), where the affectedness (the involvement of those who are directly affected by the governmental dispositif) is presumably wider, if not universal. In this case governmental logic comes close to a public and political instance. Again, it is not easy to recognize this dimension: the representation of the political subject we are used to descends from the sovereign gesture, which is defined through an antagonistic opposition. Instead, these practices are better qualified as a negotiation (including conflicting ones, but never ultimate ones) than as a head-on collision. And negotiation is a practice which recalls privatistic contractualism, economic transactions, and jurisdiction. These are, hence, processes of government, not of political identification, that rarely seem to orient themselves towards anti-institutional politicization.

Of course, all of our doubts remain: negotiation replaces and neutralizes resistance, by installing counter-behaviors –i.e. infra-political practices– on a plane of radical immanence with respect to the neoliberal game that they end up reinforcing. These practices nevertheless try to overcome the logical and modal antithesis between biopolitical governmentality and pure politics (if the latter is necessarily antagonistic and frontal) while appealing, with a certain optimism, to the worrying ambivalence of the governmental paradigm of power, according to which every form of subjugation [assoggettamento] gives rise to a subjectification [soggettivazione][20] that exceeds it. The micro-practices that are actualized through negotiation and participation are certainly not reducible to the canonical forms of institutional politics –thus dissolving their representative apparatus–, nor to consensual practices (understood simply as privatistic-mediations).

The question is, thus, whether it is possible, and to what extent it is possible, to be inside and against in order to be differently. And this means to ask ourselves if the space itself of governmental negotiation should and could be brought into question, while opening the way to new re-distributions of visibility.

If traditional representation had, in its dualistic construct, a space of non-compliance which enabled political struggle, is it not the case that social immanentism, with practices often more tactical than strategic, and with incessant negotiations of positions, runs the risk of depriving the emerging subjectifications of political conflict, absorbed by a system that they serve to reinforce? Or rather, are these little incessant displacements internal to governmentality, thus causing a slow but radical re-inscription of power relations? Do we not need some quasi-transcendental forms that re-propose a horizon of universalism –the equaliberté– with respect to which the claim raised by the ‘part without part’ [la parte dei senza parte] could represent itself as a whole and could fight for the re-inscription, not of a partial signifier, but of the whole political field?

5. The revival of political subjectivity and the horizon of equaliberté

We are, in this way, back to the “representative knot” of the problem.

Post-representative democracy withdraws itself from state power in order to focus on the direct transformation of the social fabric, on the practices of local self-government, which are fragmented and capable of transforming subjectivities, producing their political and public dimension.

But, if we assume such a pragmatic and realistic politicity regarding biopolitical governance, we can ask ourselves whether, even within this representative logic, there might be the conditions capable of opening up spaces of expressive productivity, or whether, within citizenship and the rights it formally guarantees (or neglects), there might be some goals (the right to citizenship or class action are some of these) wherein the struggles to achieve these goals might transform the subjectivities concerned.

Governance, while identifying a heterogeneous multiplicity of vectors of power management (i.e. the State, of course, as well as groups interested in local problems, and movements with more universalistic instances) does not exclude, but rather often works on the political and juridical actualization of rights, regardless of their level of formality. Hence, there is also here a duplicity which can be found even in the balancing of direct democracy’s participation practices. The State –rather than sovereignty– appears here as a juridical guarantor and/or as a manager at a distance, as it is the space that holds the fluid plurality of movements or of participatory experiences. This is a space that, if not neutral, is formal, framed by its universalistic and abstract horizon: the equaliberté. The exceeding power of the State with respect to that of individuals and groups –an excess which does not refer to any political theology anymore, but it is rather a surplus of power belonging to the governing authorities for which they are considered responsible– remains the locus of the struggle. It is not by chance that the radical thought that goes from Badiou to Butler, from Laclau to Critchley, establishes a position of distance from state power, which is neither external to it, nor is it destructive of the form of the state: it turns away from it, but it does not aim to destroy it; it imagines micro-actions of resistance, local and fragmented, rather than the Revolution; it imagines radicalized actions on rights, to dis-order not only the order, but the field itself of politics. According to Butler, the quasi-transcendental is represented by the incessant rewriting of the various identifications in the contingent horizon of rights; or else, according to Laclau, it is represented by the necessary contingency of hegemony, which is structurally determined by the impossibility of a systemic closure of the political Subject; while, according to Žižek, the (obscured) horizon of unavailability which structures the myriad of identitarian struggles in the Postmodern era, is still the class struggle.[21] This is a post-foundational thought which, while recognizing the contingency of every foundation, shows the necessary –and full of effects– character of such contingency, in the strict sense of the word. In fact, if contingency plays a quasi-transcendental role according to which every hegemonic order is not definitive, politics (that is the modifiability of contingency) assumes the role of founding the social sphere, a role of which it seemed to have been deprived. The precariousness of the foundation of the social sphere, not only opens the space for a plurality of definitions of the “common” [il comune], but it precisely gives a decisive role to the political, as a field of hegemonic struggle for the definition of the sense of the “common”. Representation is, by necessity, something contingent and unfulfilling: it creates a gap which, in the absence of a representable boundary, would flow into the immanentism of a visible and consensual totality. And while doing this ‘job’ of representing, of repositioning, identifications (strategic with respect to the goals of that job) are delineated, which are new expressions of democratic power and are creative when compared with the dominant narrative. However, it seems to me that, for these movements, the narration, that is, the epic construction of struggles, plays a role recognized as being essential. What is this if not a form of political subjectification [soggettivazione] which is ‘represented’ in order to be visible on the political scene?

What emerges from this is that this gap and duplicity are necessary in order to have politics. There is always a transcendental (and therefore a doubling, a shadow that accompanies the visibility which is never transparent) or a quasi-transcendental: perhaps the shadow of a virtual impersonality (pure gestures, affects) that projects itself beside the striated, identified, interpellated subject.

The refusal of a proposal for a world where everything is visible, in which the parts can be counted without remains and in which everything can be settled through the objectification of the problems,[22] inspires the actual revival of the political subject. What leaves us perplexed about the practices of “political society”, in fact, is not the fact that they could pertain to the biopolitical sphere, nor their intelligence in dealing with the enemy, nor the consension and low conflictive nature of the negotiation. What is problematic here is the possible vanishing of the appearance, of the visibility of the whole, as if there were nothing else. Anti-representativeness does not move against the real, but against appearance, against its potentialities. It acts as if all the parties had been counted and it were just a case of renegotiating their positions.

For this reason, ascent in generality [salita in generalità] is very important, that is, the radicalization of the universalistic instance, a radicalization that goes even as far as giving voice to “the part without part”. The latter stick with universalism, with formal reason: they lack a particular character which would legitimate their place within the social body. They formally belong to the people as a whole, without belonging to any of the ‘visible’ groups in which self-government is recognized. By not being in any particular position, they are the concrete universal. Here the participatory logic of governance meets its limits and recalls the logic of representation/appearance. Here the claim becomes political.


01. From the Italian play on words ‘disordinamento’ composed of the negative prefix ‘dis-’ and the noun ‘ordinamento’, which may refer both to ‘order’ [ordine] and ‘ordinance’ [ordinamento] with general reference to government and governance [T.N.].

02. In Italian both terms ‘rappresentanza/rappresentazione’ refer to ‘representation’ as ‘political representation’ according to the more general account this terms received from the European modern system of thought. These two terms are not opposed, the difference between them is one of emphasis rather than meaning, in this way complementing one other; the English word ‘representation’ usually contains both understandings. The use of ‘rappresentanza’ [here, and henceforth translated by ‘representativeness’] emphasizes the quality, state, or condition of being representative in the sense of the agent who is representing and acting on the behalf of any given other, whilst ‘rappresentazione’ [here, and henceforth translated by ‘representation’] emphasizes the state of delegated power in any given situation, both in a general sense as well as in a political sense [T.N.].

03. See Giuseppe Duso, La rappresentanza politica, Milano, FrancoAngeli, 2003.

04. Understood in philosophical terms as totality [T.N.].

05. Claude Lefort, Essais sur le politique : XIXe et XXe siècles, Paris, Seuil, 1986.

06. Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense, London, Continuum, 2001, pp. 29ss.

07. See Jacques Rancière, Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1998.

08. Here the term “immanentism” is intended to refer to the quality of what is immanent, that is, of everything which is proper to the human world, considered in its quality of being finite, material, actual, etc, thus without referring to an external, transcendent reality which justifies, explains and gives it a presupposed “true” sense. This is what the author calls later in the article the “immanence of the human to him/herself” [T.N.].

09. See Jean- Luc Nancy, The Truth of Democracy, New York, Fordham University Press, 2010, pp. 10-11.

10. Idem.

11. The term ‘commune’ here generally refers to any kind of intentional, non-hierarchical community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, responsibilities and, in some communes, work and income [T.N.].

12. The single term “movement” is generally intended to refer to every kind of social or political movement as a type of group action relatively internally structured, by which ordinary people make collective claims on social, economic or political issues [T.N.].

13. English in the original [T.N.].

14. Nikolas Rose, “Il senso delle parole: la politica della vita stessa”, in Aut Aut, 298, 2000, pp. 35 – 61.

15. English in the original [T.N.].

16. English in the original [T.N.].

17. English in the original [T.N.].

18. English in the original [T.N.].

19. Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot, De la justification. Les économies de la grandeur, Paris, Gallimard, 1991.

20. This is a play on words with the root of the term ‘subject’ which refers to the studies Michel Foucault made on the notions of, in French, ‘assujettissement’, translated as ‘subjugation’, and intended as the subjection of individuals to power, and ‘subjectivation’ translated as ‘subjectification’, that is the process of the creation of subjectivities considered to have an ontological pre-eminence on the subject. When these two terms merge into one other, that is, when we understand ‘subjugation’ in terms of ‘subjectification’, as Foucault does, we understand ‘subjugation’ as a certain modality of constructing social subjectivities through submission to power [T.N.].

21. Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left, London, Verso, 2000.

22. See Jacques Rancière, Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, op. cit.

Works Cited

  • Boltanski, Luc, and Laurent Thévenot, De la justification. Les économies de la grandeur, Paris, Gallimard, 1991.
  • Butler, Judith, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left, London, Verso, 2000.
  • Deleuze, Gilles, Logic of Sense, London, Continuum, 2001.
  • Duso, Giuseppe, La rappresentanza politica, Milano, FrancoAngeli, 2003.
  • Lefort, Claude, Essais sur le politique : XIXe et XXe siècles, Paris, Seuil, 1986.
  • Nancy, Jean- Luc, The Truth of Democracy, New York, Fordham University Press, 2010.
  • Rancière, Jacques, Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1998.
  • Rose, Nikolas, “Il senso delle parole: la politica della vita stessa”, in Aut Aut, 298, 2000, pp. 35 – 61.