To speak of politics from the perspective of a new materialism we must insist on a fundamental distinction between the concept of the political and politics as such. And together with this distinction comes another between politics as a state-form and the political power that belongs to the people. In the case of both of these important distinctions, our primary concern is with the second of the two terms. In short, therefore, this chapter will be about politics as the exercise of political power, or the material negotiation of living bodies whose prepolitical cooperation is the basis of politics as such. And our thesis, which we have adapted from two radical democratic theorists, Jacques Rancière and Antonio Negri, is that democracy is the very principle of politics—not that democracy is the least bad system of politics, or that democracy is one governing system among others first defined in the taxonomy of Aristotle’s Politics, but that it is only by the quintessentially democratic rejection of the prerogative to rule or the entitlement to govern that politics is born by the coming to power of the people.1 This notion of politics-as-democracy insists that it is the people that are the material lifeblood of politics, that no matter how alienated, how disenfranchised, or how exploited they may feel or they may be, that without the people’s consent—whether avowed or disavowed, tacit or expressed—the system would wither and die without their life-giving force. There is revolutionary power in this recognition alone.
KeywordsAutocratic Regime Political Theology Political Neutralization Comprehensive Immigration Reform Democratic Basis
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.For the clearest summation of this thesis, see Jacques Rancière, Hatred of Democracy (New York: Verso, 2006)Google Scholar
- Antonio Negri, Time for Revolution (New York: Continuum, 2003), especially pp. 139–261.Google Scholar
- 5.John Caputo, On Religion (New York: Routledge, 2001), p. 37.Google Scholar
- 6.Hent de Vries, Philosophy and the Turn to Religion (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), pp. 2–3.Google Scholar
- 15.For instance, see Colin Crouch, Post-Democracy (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005)Google Scholar
- Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Inc.: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008).Google Scholar
- 17.Francis Fukuyama, America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 67.Google Scholar
- 20.See Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000)Google Scholar
- 21.Antonio Negri, The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics, trans. Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), p. 202.Google Scholar
- 22.Baruch Spinoza, Political Treatise, trans. Samuel Shirley (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), p. 44.Google Scholar
- 24.Rocco Gangle, “Sovereignty and State-Form,” in The Sleeping Giant Has Awoken: The New Politics of Religion in the United States, ed. Jeffrey W. Robbins and Neal Magee (New York: Continuum, 2008), p. 141.Google Scholar
- 25.Slavoj Žižek, Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), p. 171.Google Scholar
- 26.Jacques Derrida, The Politics of Friendship, trans. George Collins (New York: Verso Press, 1997), p. 83.Google Scholar