Equaliberty: Political Essays by Étienne Balibar

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  • 8/13/2019 Equaliberty: Political Essays by tienne Balibar





  • 8/13/2019 Equaliberty: Political Essays by tienne Balibar



  • 8/13/2019 Equaliberty: Political Essays by tienne Balibar



  • 8/13/2019 Equaliberty: Political Essays by tienne Balibar





    Duke University Press Durham and London 2014

  • 8/13/2019 Equaliberty: Political Essays by tienne Balibar


    La Proposition de lgalibert by tienne Balibar,

    2010 Presses Universitaires de France.

    English translation by James Ingram

    2014 Duke University Press.

    All rights reserved

    Printed in the United States o America on acid-ree


    Designed by Courtney Leigh Baker

    ypeset in Minion by Westchester Book Group

    Library o Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Balibar, Etienne.

    [Proposition de lgal ibert. English]

    Equaliberty : political essays / tienne Balibar ;

    translated by James Ingram.

    pages cm

    A John Hope Franklin Center book.

    Includes bibliographical reerences and index.

    978-0-8223-5550-2 (cloth : alk. paper)

    978-0-8223-5564-9 (pbk. : alk. paper)

    1. Citizenship. 2. Democracy. 3. Political science

    Philosophy. . Balibar, Etienne, 1942 Proposition

    de lgalibert. ranslation o: . itle.801.3613 2013



  • 8/13/2019 Equaliberty: Political Essays by tienne Balibar




    . Te Antinomy o Citizenship 1



    1 Te Proposition o Equaliberty 35

    2 Te Reversal o Possessive Individualism 67

    3 New Reections on Equaliberty: wo Lessons 99



    4 What Is Political Philosophy? Notes or a opography 135

    5 Communism and Citizenship: On Nicos Poulantzas 145

    6 Hannah Arendt, the Right to Have Rights, and Civic

    Disobedience 165

    7 Populism and Politics: Te Return o the Contract 187

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    vi Contents



    8 What Are the Excluded Excluded From? 199

    9 Dissonances within Lacit: Te New Headscar Affair 209

    10 Secularism and Universality: Te Liberal Paradox 22311 Uprisings in the Banlieues 231

    12 oward Co-Citizenship 259

    . Resistance, Insurrection, Insubordination 277

    295 343 359

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    Te present collection brings together three series o texts that extend

    over a period o twenty years and are thus coextensive with the larger

    part o my recent work in political philosophy. Some o them have al-

    ready appeared in other rameworks; others have remained unpublished

    in this orm until now. In organizing them in a rational ashion, I have

    sought to present them not, to be sure, as parts o a system, but nonethe-

    less as correlative dimensions o a problematic centered on what I call in

    the introductory essay the antinomies o citizenship.

    Te rst series o essays outlines the general idea o a dialectic o in-surrection and constitution that I presented in 1989 (at the Conrences

    du Perroquet) in Te Proposition o Equaliberty, the complete version

    o which is produced here. It was subsequently extended by New Reec-

    tions on Equaliberty (presentations rom 20022003 in England and

    Mexico), in which I compared the idea o a democratic power associated

    with the invention o rights with the institution o social rights within

    the ramework o the national-social state, the crisis o which we are expe-

    riencing today, and discussed its tendency to reduce anthropological di-erences to sociological categories. Owing to the place the examination o

    Robert Castels theses on social property occupies in this discussion, and

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    viii Foreword

    also to the importance I place on the analysis o the category o property

    in a general sense as a constitutional mediation o equaliberty, compet-

    ing with community, I have inserted between these two moments a ge-

    nealogical investigation o the reversals o possessive individualism,

    presented in 1999 at the conclusion o a Cerisy colloquium on property.Te second series brings together some critical analyses devoted di-

    rectly or indirectly to the works o contemporary theorists whose writings

    have been particularly useul or me: Hannah Arendt, Nicos Poulantzas,

    Ernesto Laclau, Roberto Esposito, and Jacques Rancire. Te list is by no

    means exhaustive; it would be easy to show that there are more absences

    than presences, partly made up or by reerences I give elsewhere. For me

    the point is, above all, to emphasize, in the orm o conrontations or re-

    readings, the essentially contested (as W. B. Gallie would say) charactero the concepts o political philosophy I use (sovereignty, emancipation,

    community, and others), and to extend certain explications in a dialogi-

    cal orm when circumstances o commemoration or study have given me

    the opportunity.

    Te third series o texts collects interventions and analyses provoked

    by contemporary episodes o sometimes violent conict where what is at

    stake is the orm o citizenship, within republican institutions or at their

    rontiersin particular, conicts in France in the last years that have

    highlighted the intensity o the postcolonial dimensions o politics

    (around secularism, nationality, and security).I have entitled them For

    a Democracy without Exclusion as a way o indicating their general

    stakes: what I call elsewhere, ollowing others (Boaventura de Souza

    Santos), the democratization o democracyin my view the only think-

    able alternative to the de-democratization (Wendy Brown) o contem-

    porary societies. And I conclude them with a proposal or co-citizenshipin the world o migrations and diasporas in which we now live, which is

    like the institutional pendant to the insurrectional proposition o equa-

    liberty, and tries to work out its realization in a particular, but strategic,


    By way o conclusion I reproduce a meditation on Resistance, Insur-

    rection, Insubordination, written or the Festival dAvignon in 2007. I

    hope that it will not seem exaggeratedly emotional or subjective. It is also

    an occasion to insist nally on the critical dimension o politics as I de-end it, not only in theory but in practice, and thus on what distinguishes

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    Foreword ix

    citizenship conceived as a guaranteed status rom citizenship as the exer-

    cise o constituent power.

    Reerences to the initial publications and subsequent modications to

    the texts are given in the notes. My thanks go rst to Jacques Bidet, G-

    rard Dumnil, Emmanuel Renault, and Jacques exier, who welcomed theoriginal edition o this work, which corresponds exactly, in my view, to

    what can be understood by a current conrontation with the heritage o

    Marx and Marxism, into their collection [Actuel MarxConrontations,

    with Editions de Seuil]. Tey also go to the colleagues, riends, institu-

    tions, and journals who have solicited and previously published the essays

    collected in this book. o Mehdi Dadsetan, whose irreplaceable assistance

    has been coupled with a sympathy that is precious to me. And in particular

    to Yves Duroux, who encouraged me to attempt this synthesis, helped meget rid o what was useless or redundant, andas always, since we were

    students togetherbeneted me by his judgments and his ideas with an

    unparalleled generosity.

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    When I initially proposed this topic, I made a strange but perhaps sig-

    nicant mistake.Outlining a discussion o the antinomies o citizen-

    ship, I lef out the word democracy. Te reader could conclude that in

    my view the notion o citizenship is what counts, and that democracy

    represents only a qualication to which we can retrospectively attribute

    more or less importance in its denition. Such hierarchicalor, as Rawlswould say, lexicographicalconsiderations are by no means second-

    ary. Tey go to the heart o debates that oppose a republican (or neo-

    republican) conception o politics to a (liberal or social) democratic

    conception o politics, and in a sense the very understanding o political

    philosophy, and thereore o its critique, depends on it, as Jacques Ran-

    cire and Miguel Abensour, each in his own ashion, have recently un-

    derlined. Not only do I not want to subordinate the consideration o

    democracy to that o citizenship. I maintain that democracybetterstill, the democratic paradox, according to Chantal Mouffes elici-

    tous ormulationrepresents the decisive aspect o the problem around

  • 8/13/2019 Equaliberty: Political Essays by tienne Balibar


    2 Introduction

    which political philosophy gravitates, precisely because it makes the in-

    stitution o citizenship problematic. Citizenship has known different

    historical gures, and there can be no question o reducing some to others,

    even i we could ask what is transmitted under the name and by means

    o these translations.Between them there is always an analogy, con-nected to its antinomical relation to democracy as a dynamic o the

    transormation o politics. When I qualiy this constitutive relation o

    citizenship as antinomical, which at the same time puts it in crisis, I reer

    to a philosophical tradition that has insisted on two ideas in particular: a

    permanent tension between the positive and the negative, between pro-

    cesses o construction and destruction; and the coexistence o the im-

    possibility o resolving the problem (or resolving it denitively) and the

    impossibility o making it disappear. My working hypothesis will beprecisely that at the heart o the institution o citizenship contradiction is

    ceaselessly born and reborn in relation to democracy. In other words, I

    will seek to characterize the moments o a dialectic that includes both

    historical movements and relations o orce, as complex as they are, and

    the conditions or articulating theory with practice.

    Tis is to say that I see nothing natural in the association o citizen-

    ship and democracy. And yet I want to extend a theme that runs, with

    inections, through a complex tradition rom Aristotle to Spinoza to

    Marx, and makes democracy the natural regime or most natural orm

    o citizenship.My eeling is that it is necessary to interpret this against

    the letter by adopting precisely the perspective o dialectical contradic-

    tion: it is the antinomy lodged at the heart o the relations between citi-

    zenship and democracy that constitutes, through a succession o gures,

    the engine o the transormations o the political institution. Tis is

    why the name democratic citizenship cannot conceal an insistent prob-lem, the object o conicts and antithetical denitions, an enigma without a

    denitive solution (even i periodically, in the context o a decisive inven-

    tion, someone declares that this solution has nally been ound), a lost

    treasure to be rediscovered or rewon.I do not conceal rom mysel the act

    that such ormulations imply a certain conception o political philosophy,

    the presuppositions o and objections against which must be examined

    at length.I preer not to launch directly into such a discussion. It is not

    that I consider it to be purely speculative; to the contrary, I am persuadedthat it has practical implications. But I want to allow them to emerge on

    the basis o another hypothesis: that there are situations and moments in

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    Introduction 3

    which the antinomy becomes particularly visible because o the double

    impossibility o rejecting all gures o citizenship and perpetuating them

    in a particular constitution, which goes to the roots o the crisis o really

    existing democracy and opens onto the exhaustion o the signication

    o the very word democracy, the dominant uses o which now seem ei-ther obsolete or perverse.

    It seems that we nd ourselves in a situation o this kind, which pro-

    oundly affects, by reason o the very interdependence o which I am

    speaking, the denitions and qualications that had or a very long time

    seemed indisputable (such as those o national citizenship or social citi-

    zenship). But, beyond that, it also affects the category o citizenship itsel,

    whose power o transormation, whose capacity to historically reinvent

    itsel, suddenly seems to be shattered. It is on the basis o this question,ull o uncertainty, that I will examine a bit urther Wendy Browns pro-

    posed interpretation o the paradigm o neoliberal governance, which she

    sees as a process o the de-democratization o democracy and asks

    whether it is irreversible. For my part, I see it as an expression o the de-

    structive aspect inherent in the antinomies o citizenship, and consequently

    an indication o a challenge aced by any attempt to rethink collective po-

    litical capacity in the contemporary period.

    I propose to address three aspects o this dialectic. Te rst concerns

    what I will call the trace o equaliberty in the history o modern citizen-

    ship, dened as national citizenship (or citizenship in a nation-state). I

    identiy this trace as a differential o insurrection and constitution. Te

    second aspect lies, in my view, in the internal contradiction o social citi-

    zenship as it was constitutedessentially in Europewithin the rame-

    work o the national-social state (an expression which, on materialist

    grounds, I preer to ltat-Providence, welare state, or Sozialstaat, usedin various European countries). Tis means that this gure o citizenship

    historically represents democratic progress, even i with certain limits,

    which or their part paradoxically prohibit urther progression, although

    it is inherent in the idea o progress. Te third aspect concerns, as a re-

    sult, what we are accustomed to regarding as the neoliberal response to

    the crisis o the national-social state (or, i you preer, the contribution o

    neoliberalism to the onset o this crisis), namely, the unlimited promo-

    tion o individualism and utilitarianism. o what extent can we say thatthis contains a mortal threat to democracy? o what extent can we imag-

    ine that it contains, at least negatively, the bases o a new conguration o

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    4 Introduction

    citizenship beyond its traditional institutions (especially representative

    democracy, or which neoliberalism tends to substitute diverse orms o

    governance and mass communications)? On this basis, I will attempt

    to outline a problematic o bearers or actors that I virtually associate

    with the idea o a democratization o democracy. I will take the opportu-nity to explain why I preer the terminology o a (hybrid, collective, tran-

    sitory) political actor to that o a subject o politics, which does not mean

    that I reject questions related to the process o subjectivation and the al-

    ternatives ofen discussed today in terms o politics and post-politics

    on the basis o a reection o the contemporary history o subjectivity.

    the trace o equaliberty. I have previously had oc-

    casion, when introducing this portmanteau word to which I have stub-bornly clung, to sketch its genealogy back to the Roman ormulas aequa

    libertasand aequum ius, which Cicero in particular used to indicate the

    essence o the regime he called res publica.I proposed that we regard as

    crucial the moment o revolution that inaugurates political modernity,

    making equal right the concept o a new kind o universality. It would

    be essentially contructed as a double unity o opposites: a unity (even an

    identity ogoal) o manand citizen, which rom then on would appear

    as correlative despite all the practical restrictions on the distribution o

    rights and powers; and a unity (even an identity o reference) o the con-

    cepts ofreedomand equality, perceived as two aces o a single constituent

    power, despite the constant tendency o bourgeois political ideologies

    (what we could generically call liberalism) to give the ormer an episte-

    mological and even ontological priority by making it the natural right

    par excellence (to which the inverse socialist tendency to privilege equal-

    ity responds).

    What particularly interests me is the element o conictthat results rom this unity o opposites. It allows us to understand why

    claims or increased powers or the people or emancipation rom domi-

    nation that result in new rights inevitably take a revolutionary orm. In

    simultaneously demanding equality and reedom, one reiterates the enun-

    ciation that is at the origin o modern universal citizenship. It is this com-

    bination o conict and institution that I call the trace o equaliberty.

    No doubt, it is when political power is conquered in a way that is itsel

    revolutionary, implying a change o regime (or example the classic pas-sage rom a monarchy to a republic) or the pulling down o a dominant

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    Introduction 5

    class, which is orced to renounce its privileges, that this reiteration nds

    its privileged symbolic representation. But thepetitio juris, the emanci-

    pation movement connected to a rights claim, always has an insurrec-

    tional meaning that can be maniested in an innity o ways, through

    popular movements, democratic campaigns, or the ormation o more orless durable parties. It includes a relation o orces that is violent or non-

    violent according to the conditions, the use or rejection o existing ju-

    ridical orms and political institutions. One need only think here o the

    diversity o national histories in Europe when it comes to the conquest o

    civil, political, and social rights, even i these histories are not really mu-

    tually independent, or o the multiplicity o orms decolonization has

    taken, or o the sequence o episodes o civil war and civil rights move-

    ments over more than a century leading to the emancipation o AricanAmericans, and so on. Despite the diversity o this phenomenology, we

    see that conict is always determining in the last instance, because equa-

    liberty is not an originary disposition, and because the dominant never

    give up their privileges or their power voluntarily (even i sometimes,

    under the pressure o events, they are caught up in the drunkenness o

    raternity, as in the symbolic example o the night o August 4but did it

    happen as it has been heroized in republican imagery?).It always there-

    ore takes struggle, and moreover the legitimacyo struggle, what Rancire

    calls the part o those who have no part, which coners a universal signi-

    cation on the demand o those who had been kept outside the common

    good or the general will to be counted.What we see emerge here is the

    essential incompletion o the people as a political body, a process o uni-

    versalization by way o conict and the negation o exclusion concerning

    dignity, property, security, and basic rights in general. Te insurrectional

    moment characterized in this way thus looks at once to the past and to theuture: to the past because it returns to the popular oundation o every

    constitution that does not take its legitimacy rom tradition, revelation, or

    mere bureaucratic effi ciency, however determinative these orms o legiti-

    mation are in the construction o states; and to the uture because, aced

    with the limitation and denials that affect the realization o democracy in

    historical constitutions, the return to insurrection (and the return of in-

    surrection, which had been warded off or a longer or shorter time) repre-

    sents a permanent possibility.Whether this possibility is realized or notis, to be sure, another problem that cannot be deduced a priori.

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    6 Introduction

    Let us speciy the status and implications o this dialectic o insurrection

    and constitution, o which I have given a very general, in a sense ideal-

    typical, denition. First o all, we must admit that, i the political commu-

    nity is based on the articulation o citizenship with different insurrectional

    modalities o emancipation or the conquest o rights, it inevitably takes aparadoxical orm: exclusive o any consensus, it can neither be realized

    as a homogenous unity o its members nor represented as an achieved

    totality. But neither can it be dissolved into the individualist aggregate o

    subjects who would be the invisible hand o utility and the interdepen-

    dence o needs, or, conversely, a war o all against allthat is to say, a

    generalized antagonism o interests that, as such, would be the common.

    In a sense, thereore, the citizens (or co-citizens) o equaliberty are neither

    riends nor enemies. Here we come very close to what Chantal Mouffe hasproposed calling the democratic paradox, but we are also on the thresh-

    old o the ceaselessly renewed orms in which an institution o citizenship

    that has remained essentially antinomical can be maniest in history as the

    changing norms, spaces or territories, historical narratives, and ideologi-

    cal ormations associated with its recognition by subjects who see in it

    their political horizon and conditions o existence.

    Why is this essentially unstable, problematic, contingent character o

    the community o citizens not more apparent, or why is it not maniest

    more ofen? Why, when it is maniest, is it readily called a collapse o

    citizenship? No doubt this is due especially to the act that in the modern

    period the notions o citizenship and nationality have been practically

    identical in what we can regard as the ounding equation o the modern

    republican stateall the more indisputable and (apparently) inde-

    structible as the state constantly reinorces itsel, and as its mythical,

    imaginary, and cultural orms prolierate.

    And yet the historical cycleo the sovereignty o the nation-state may come to an end, as seems to be

    the case today, so that the character o this equation, which is also con-

    tingent, becomes visible (again)in other words, the act that it is a his-

    torically determined equation, essentially ragile, relative to certain local

    and temporal conditions, and exposed to decomposition or mutation.

    Tis is also the moment when it becomes visible (again) that the national

    interest or the national identity do not as such, absolutely, contribute to

    the unity o the community o citizens.But our reections cannot end there. For however effective the nation

    orm (and its double, national identity) has been in modern history, it is

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    Introduction 7

    only one o the possible historical orms o a community o citizensone

    that, moreover, never absorbed all its unctions or neutralized all its

    contradictions. What is important to me above all, beyond this reerence

    to the vicissitudes o citizenship as nationality, is to make it understood

    that citizenship in general, as a political idea, implies, to be sure, a reer-ence to community (since the model o a citizenship without institutions,

    the idea o citizenship without community, is practically a contradiction

    in terms).Yet it cannot have its essence in the consensus o its members

    whence the strategic unction ullled in history by terms like res publica

    (which the Romans considered equivalent to the Greekpoliteia), but also

    their prooundly equivocal nature. Citizens as such are always con-

    citizens or co-citizens, mutually conerring on one another the rights

    they enjoy; the dimension o reciprocity is constitutive. How, then,could they exist outside a community, be it territorial or not, imagined as

    a act o nature or as a cultural heritage, dened as a product o history or

    a construction o the will? Aristotle had already proposed a undamental

    justication or this that is oundational or political philosophy: what

    connects citizens to one another is a rule o the reciprocity o rights and

    duties. It would be better to say that it is the act that the reciprocity o

    rights and duties implies both a limitation on the power o the governors

    and an acceptance o the law by the governed.Te magistrates are thus

    responsible to their principals, and the simple citizens obey the law they

    helped elaborate, be it directly or through representatives. But this in-

    scription o citizenship within the horizon o community is by no means

    a synonym or consensus or homogeneityto the contrary, since the

    rights it guarantees have been won, that is to say, imposed despite the

    resistance o those who hold privileges, o special interests, and o powers

    that express social domination. Tey have been (and will have to be again)invented (as Claude Leort says), and their content, like that o the corre-

    sponding duties and responsibilities, is dened on the basis o this conic-

    tual relation.

    With this we come to an essential characteristic o citizenship, which

    is also one o the reasons I present its history as a dialectical movement.

    It is clearly very diffi cult to dene the idea o a community that has nei-

    ther dissolved nor reunied in purely juridical or constitutional terms,

    but it is not impossible to conceive o it as a historical process governedby a principle o reproduction, interruption, and permanent transor-

    mation. Tis is in act the only way to understand the discontinuous

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    8 Introduction

    temporality and historicity o citizenship as a political institution. Not

    only does it have to be traversed by crises and periodic tensions; it is in-

    trinsically ragile or vulnerable. Tis is why, in the course o its two thou-

    sand year history (in the West), it has been destroyed many times and

    reconstituted in a new institutional ramework, rom the city-state to thenation-state, and perhaps will be beyond the nation-state i certain post-

    national ederations and quasi-ederations become realities. But as a con-

    stitution o citizenship, it is threatened and destabilized, even deligitimized

    (as Max Weber already saw) by the very power that makes up its constit-

    uent power (or o which it is the constituted orm): the insurrectional

    power o universalistic political movements that aim to win rights that

    do not yet exist or expand those that do by realizing equaliberty. Tis is

    why I spoke at the beginning o a differential o insurrection and consti-tution that no purely ormal or juridical representation can encapsulate,

    which is in act an essential characteristic o the concept o politics once

    we transpose it onto the terrain o history and practice. I we proceeded

    in this way, we would be obliged to imagine that the democratic inven-

    tions, the conquest o rights, the redenition o the reciprocity between

    rights and duties according to broader and more concrete conceptions,

    proceed rom an eternal idea, always already given, o citizenship. And at

    the same time we would be obliged to replace the idea o the invention with

    that o the preservation o democracy. But a democracy whose unction is to

    preserve a certain denition o citizenship is doutless also or this very rea-

    son incapable o resisting its own de-democratization. o the extent that

    politics has to do with transorming existing realities, adapting them to

    changing environments, ormulating alternatives within ongoing historical

    and sociological evolutions, such a concept would not be political but

    antipolitical.Tis is why we now have the task o showing, against any prescriptive

    or deductive denition o politics, that citizenship has never stopped os-

    cillating between destruction and reconstruction on the basis o its own

    historical institutions. Te insurrectional moment associated with the

    principle o equaliberty is not only ounding; it is also the enemy o insti-

    tutional stability. And i we admit that it represents, through its more or

    less complete realizations, the universal within the political eld, we must

    surely then admit that there exists in history nothing but such an appro-priation o the universal, or an installation in the reign o the universal,

    in the way that the classical philosophers thought that the advent o the

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    Introduction 9

    Rights o Man and Citizen could represent a point o no return, the mo-

    ment when man, as a power o citizenship, became in reality the bearer

    o the universal he was already destined to be. Let us borrow here an

    expression rom Gilles Deleuze: the historical modality o the existence

    o the political universal is that o an absent people, the provisionalgures o which arise precisely rom its own absence, or rom its own


    I think that i we combine the idea o this differential o insurrection

    and constitution with the representation o a community without unity,

    in a process o reproduction and transormation, the dialectic at which

    we arrive does not remain purely speculative. Te conicts it implies can

    be very violent. And above all they affect the state as well as, against it or

    within it, emancipatory movements themselves. Tis is why we can nolonger remain with the idea o institution, which is still very general,

    that I have employed so ar: it still eludes what is perhaps the principal


    reerred to the state, not so as to reject the consider-

    ation o specically state institutions, but in an effort to indicate precisely

    what the identication o political institutions with a state construction

    adds to the antinomies o citizenship. Should we think that the subjec-

    tion o politics to the existence and power o a state apparatus only ever

    intensies them? Or should we admit that it displaces them onto an en-

    tirely different terrain, where the dialectic o rights and duties, command

    and obedience, no longer presents itsel in the same terms, so that the

    categories o political philosophy inherited rom antiquity only serve to

    mask and dress up, aesthetically or ideologically, a ction o politics?

    It is not unhelpul to recall here that the notion o constitution hasundergone proound evolutions in the course o its historical develop-

    ment, connected to the growing importance o the state and its hold on

    society, beore and afer the generalization o the capitalist mode o pro-

    duction to which it directly contributed. Ancient constitutions were

    centered around the distribution o rights among categories o the popu-

    lation, rules o exclusion and inclusion, ways o choosing magistrates and

    their responsibilities, denitions o powers and counterpowers (like the

    amous ribunal o the Plebes o the Roman constitution, in which Ma-chiavelli thought he saw an image o republican politics as civil con-

    ict).Tey were thus essentially material constitutions, producing an

  • 8/13/2019 Equaliberty: Political Essays by tienne Balibar


    10 Introduction

    equilibrium o power, lacking the neutrality conerred by juridical

    orm (or ignoring its signication).o the contrary, modern constitu-

    tions are ormal constitutions, drawn up in the language o law, which

    correspondsas legal positivism saw very clearlyto the autonomiza-

    tion o the state and its monopoly on representing the community, allow-ing it to exist at once as an idea and in practice (in the daily business o acts

    o legislation and constraint) beyond its divisions and its incompletion.

    Modern constitutionalism thus combines the perormative declaration o

    the universality o rights (and judicial guarantees against their violation)

    with a new principle o the separation o the governors rom the governed,

    which (in her commentary on Webers thesis affi rming the tendential pre-

    dominance o bureaucratic legitimacy over the other orms in the modern

    period) Catherine Colliot-Tlne has provocatively called the principle othe ignorance o the people. We could also say, on an institutional level,

    the incompetence in principle o the people, o which the capacity o

    representation is the contradictory product.

    Here we see how acute the contradictions between participation and

    representation, representation and subordination, had to be within mod-

    ern citizenship, and why the differential o insurrection and constitution

    was displaced especially onto the operation o the educational system.

    Without ignoring its glaring imperections, many people, mysel included,

    regard the development o a public educational system as a undamental

    democratic achievement and a preliminary condition or the demo-

    cratization o citizenship. But we also know that here democracy and

    meritocracy (what Aristotle called timocracy) are in an extraordinarily

    tense relation. Te bourgeois state, which combines political representa-

    tion with mass education (that is, national education, whatever its legal

    modalities), virtually opens up participation in political debate to thecommon man or whatever citizen, and thus the contestation o its own

    monopoly on power. o the extent that it is effective in reducing inequal-

    ities (which varies greatly, as we know), it contributes to the inclusion o

    social groups that have never had access to the public sphere, thereby es-

    tablishing a right to have rights (according to the amous Arendtian

    expression, which is not a bad way o renaming what I called the insur-

    rectional moment o citizenship). But the meritocratic principle that

    governs these education systems (and is as one with the academic ormitsel: What would a nonmeritocratic system o general education be?

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    Introduction 11

    Academic utopianism has always chased afer this enigmatic goal) is also

    in itsel a principle or selecting elites and excluding the masses rom the

    possibility o effectively controlling administrative procedures and par-

    ticipating in public affairs, in any case on equal ooting with magistrates

    recruited (and reproduced) on the basis o knowledge or competence. Bycreating a hierarchy o knowledge that is also a hierarchy o power, i

    necessary redoubled by other oligarchic mechanisms, it legitimately ex-

    cludes the possibility o the collectivity governing itsel. It engages in a

    retreat orward, where representation ceaselessly celebrates its mar-

    riage with elitism and demagoguery.

    In recalling by this means some o the mechanisms that coner a class

    character on the constitution o citizenship in the contemporary world, I

    do not want only to indicate the existence o a gul between democraticprinciples and oligarchic reality, but also to raise the questionno doubt

    highly embarrassing or many emancipatory activistso how it affects

    insurrectional movements themselves. It is perhaps not necessary to jus-

    tiy at length the idea that class struggles have played (and play) an es-

    sentially democratic role in the history o modern citizenship. Tis is due,

    to be sure, to the act that the organized struggles o the working class

    (through all the specters o its reormist and revolutionary tendencies)

    have brought about bourgeois societys recognition and denition o cer-

    tain social rights that the development o industrial capitalism made both

    more urgent and more diffi cult to impose, thus contributing to the birth

    o social citizenship, to which I will return in a moment. But it is also due

    to a direct relation to what I am calling here the trace o equaliberty, to

    the act that they realized in their own way an articulation o individual

    engagement and a collective movement that is the very heart o the idea

    o insurrection. It is a typical aspect o modern citizenship, indissociablerom its universalistic reerence, that the rights o the citizen are borne

    by the individual subject but won by social movements or collective cam-

    paigns that are able to invent, in each circumstance, appropriate orms

    and languages o solidarity. Reciprocally, it is essentially in the orms and

    institutions o solidarity and in collective action to win or extend rights

    that subjectivation autonomizes individuals, conerring on them their

    own power to act. Te dominant ideology does not want to know any-

    thing about it, or presents it in inverted orm, by suggesting that collec-tive political activity is alienating, not to say enslaving or totalitarian, by

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    12 Introduction

    nature. While resisting this prejudice, we can nurse the illusion neither

    that organized class struggles are immunized by nature against internal

    authoritarianism that leads them to become a counterstate, and thus

    counterpower and counterviolence, nor that they represent an unlimited

    or unconditional principle o universality.Tat or the most part theEuropean workers movement and its class organizations remained blind

    to the problems o colonial oppression, domestic oppression, and the domi-

    nation o cultural minorities (when it was not directly racist, nationalist,

    and sexist), despite many efforts and acute internal conicts that ormed

    a sort o insurrection within the insurrection, owes nothing to chance.

    It has to be explained not by such and such a material condition, such

    and such a corruption or degeneration, but by the act that resistance

    and protest against determinate orms o domination and oppressionalways rests on the emergence and construction o countercommunities

    that have their own principles o exclusion and hierarchy.Tis whole

    history, which is ofen dramatic, draws our attention to the nitude o

    insurrectional moments, in other words to the act that there are no such

    things as absolutely universal emancipatory universalities, which es-

    cape the limits o their objects. Te contradictions o the politics o eman-

    cipation are thus transposed and reected within the most democratic

    constitutions o citizenship, thereby contributing, at least passively, as we

    shall see, to the possibility o their de-democratization.

    try to connect the next two points, which I announced

    orm a progression comparable to a negation o the negation, and which

    I will examine on the basis o problems in the current conjuncture (at

    least as we can perceive it in a determinate place).Let us begin with the

    relation between social citizenship and the transormations o the repre-sentative unction o the state, and thus o the modes o organization

    o the political itsel. Tis question is ascinating in its complexity; this is

    why it is at the root o a debate whose end is nowhere in sight.It bears in

    particular on the interpretation o the transormations o the class com-

    position o developed capitalist societies where social rights have been

    expanded in the course o the twentieth century, and on their more or less

    reversible political repercussions. It is not easy to say whether the notion

    o social citizenship denitely belongs to the past, and to what extent thecrisis into which the development o liberal globalization has plunged

    has already destroyed the ability o social systems to resist the develop-

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    Introduction 13

    ment o what Robert Castel has called negative orms o individuality, or

    negative individualism.Here we must say again to what extent the de-

    scriptions and evaluations to which we proceed depend on the cosmo-

    politan place rom which they are enunciated. Can social citizenship,

    developed in the twentieth century, above all in western Europe (and to alesser extent in the United States, the dominant capitalist society during

    this period), be regarded as a potentially reversible innovation or inven-

    tion belonging to the history o citizenship in general?Tis question

    will remain open here, since the answer would depend on an analysis o

    the structures o dependence in relation to imperialism that exceed the

    possibilities o this essay and the competence o its author. I nevertheless

    presume that there is in the trajectory o social citizenship, owing to the

    way it crystallizes a political tendency inscribed in the very orm o theclass struggle between capital and labor and attaches it to the history o

    the renewals o citizenship, an irreducible question whose signicance

    is general. Te current crisis sharpens this question, and thus leads us to

    investigate its roots in order to imagine its possible evolutions.

    Tree points seem to me to call or discussion here. Te rst concerns

    the emergence o social citizenship insoar as it is distinguished rom a

    simple recognition o social rights, or coners on it a universalistic dimen-

    sion that bears the trace o equaliberty. Te second concerns the modal-

    ity in which, by incorporating a state orm (that o the national-social

    state), the struggles that accompany claims or these rights are simulta-

    neously politicized and displaced, or inscribed in a topography and an

    economy o displacements o class antagonism that authorize regulation

    and eventually engender a crisis o politics. Te third concerns the com-

    plexity o the historical relations then orged between the idea o social-

    ism (in a general sense) and democracy, whose stakes are above all therepresentation o progress as a political project and the value o public

    action as a way o instituting the collective. Let me summarily examine

    these three points.


    In my view, the most important thing about the way social citizenship is

    constituted is the act that, at the end o vehement discussions whoseterms go back to controversies during the Industrial Revolution, discus-

    sions over the articulation o philanthropy or charity with bourgeois

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    14 Introduction

    strategies to discipline the workorce, that citizenship was not conceived

    as a simple mechanism o protection or insurance against the most dra-

    matic orms o poverty (or the effects o the exclusion o the poor rom

    the possibility o reaching a decent amily lie according to bourgeois

    norms), but as a mechanism o universal solidarity.Tis mechanismindeed involved virtually all citizens and covered the whole o society,

    which is to say that the rich and the poor had an equal right to it. Rather

    than say that the poor were now treated like the rich, it would be better to

    say that the rich were, symbolically, treated like the poor by universaliz-

    ing the anthropological category o work as the specic characteristic o

    the human. Most social rights then guaranteed or conerred by the state

    were in effect conditioned by the more or less stable engagement o

    active individuals (or heads o households) in a proession that gavethem a status recognized by the whole o society (Hegel would say a Stand

    or estate). Tis point is undamental or explaining why I speak o

    social citizenship, including a democratic component, and not simply

    o social democracy.Let us note in passing that one o the most acute

    problems posed by this extension o citizenship was associated with an

    anthropological revolution concerning the equality o the sexes, taking

    into account the act that most women were still socialized at this mo-

    ment as wives o active workers, and thus subjectivated as such. Access to

    proessional activity became by the same stroke one o the great roads to

    womens emancipation.It is important to note as well the at least indi-

    rect connection, economic as well as ideological, that associates social

    protection and the prevention o insecurity (which Marx made one o the

    central characteristics o the proletarian condition) to a whole program

    o progressively reducing inequalities.Tis connection was so powerul

    that, until the emergence o neoliberalism, no party could abandon it, atleast verbally. Te program included the development o equality o op-

    portunity, or an increase o individual social mobility by generalizing

    the access o uture citizens to the educational system (in other words,

    theoretically dismantling or delegitimizing the cultural monopoly o the

    bourgeoisie, which guaranteed its exclusive access to capacities and,

    moreover, properties) and the institution o progressive taxation, on in-

    come rom work as well as rom capital, which classical capitalism had

    totally ignored and which, as we know, is increasingly eroded in prac-tice today.Tese correlations ensured that the new political system that

    tended to be put in place (in strict relation with social democratic pro-

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    Introduction 15

    grams, even i the decisions were made by managers o the right) was not

    reduced to a list o social rights and still less to a paternalistic system o

    social protection granted rom the top to vulnerable individuals perceived

    as the passive beneciaries o social aid (even i liberal ideologues pre-

    sented it this way in order to conclude that it was necessary to constantlysupervise abuses o social security and economically manage its

    allocation). Te whole question today is what remains o this universal-

    ism when its principle is not only denounced by the theorists o liberal-

    ism, but undermined by the two related phenomena: a relativization o

    the political borders within which it was tending to be instituted (in

    certain countries o the North), and a destabilization o the relation be-

    tween work and individuality (or, i you like, o the anthropological cat-

    egory o activity).


    Te institutions o social citizenship make the ensemble o social rights

    they legitimate as basic rights a uctuating reality, more ragile than

    other democratic achievements, dependent on a relation o historical

    orces and subject to advances and retreats on the basis o a structural

    asymmetry between the power o capital and labor, which there has never

    really been a question o bringing to an end. We see here that in none o

    the states o western Europe has the ull system o social rights ever been

    written into the ormal constitution by social democratic parties as a

    basic norm o the legal system, according to Hans Kelsen and his dis-

    ciples.Tis is why it is appropriate again to appeal to a notion o mate-

    rial constitution applied to citizenship, on which the balance o power it

    institutes between social classes is indirectly sanctioned by the law (ormore generally by a norm) on different levels, but essentially represents a

    contingent correlation o rights and struggles, and thus o social move-

    ments that are themselves more or less institutionalized. In my view, there

    is, no doubt, a considerable kernel o truth in the idea largely shared by

    Marxists that the Keynesian (or, in other variants, Fordist) compromise

    consisted in exchanging the recognition o social rights and the institu-

    tional representation o the workers movement in regulatory authorities

    or the moderation o wage demands and the working classs giving upthe prospect o overthrowing capitalism (and thus in a sense the end o the

    proletariat in a subjective sense, as bearers or Marx o the revolutionary

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    16 Introduction

    idea and project).Te consequence o this historical bargain was also a

    relative neutralization o the violence o social conict, which was con-

    stantly sought; but this was only one side o the coin. We see today, in

    hindsight and in light o the contrast provided by a new cycle o prole-

    tarianization (designated by Castel, Negri, and others as the emergenceo a precariat), in which the disequilibrium o social orces on a

    global level combines with the ossication o social citizenship, that the

    struggles never simply disappeared.But it is certain that their violence

    has tended to be displaced onto other terrain, preventing a direct con-

    rontation between classes: that o colonization and postcolonial conron-

    tations (but also, quite simply, that o war between nations), and that

    o anomie in the Durkheimian sense, that is, irrational individual or

    collective violence correlative to the imposition o a whole micropoliticalsystem o moral norms and behavioral rationality. Here we can see the

    essential orm taken by the category o duty when individual rights are

    no longer simply civil and civic but also social, all the while remaining

    attached to the individual, or rather to individualization.

    But, more generally still, we must register the unctioning o social

    citizenship under the sign o the displacement o antagonism, the opera-

    tor (and, or a time, beneciary) o which was the national-social state.

    Te characteristic phenomenon o the sel-limitation o the violence o

    struggles (which we can see as an effect o civility) is explained by the

    relative effectiveness o a model o political organization that combines

    parliamentary and extraparliamentary action.But this in turn can only

    be understood within the ramework o a double displacement, inscribed

    in the conditions o possibility o the political system:

    A displacement o denitions o undamental rights in thesphere o work strictly speaking, or, in Marxist terms, rom

    production to the reproduction o the workorce (that is, orms

    and conditions o individual and amilial existence). Te latter

    can in effect be an object o normalization; the ormer can be

    only with great diffi culty, in an always precarious relation o


    A displacement o social antagonism onto the level o interna-

    tional relations, between state systems. Te division o the ColdWar world into two camps acted in an ambiguous way. On the

    one hand, it gave the struggle or social rights the support o a

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    Introduction 17

    real or imaginary danger, a Soviet-type revolution in the West,

    whose actors would be the workers (and to a lesser extent

    peasants, white-collar workers, and intellectuals ideologically

    won over to Communism), leading the political representatives

    o national capitalism to seek a compromise with the organizedworking class and, more generally, to develop their own model

    o social progress.On the other hand, it allowed or the

    introduction o an ideological division within the workers

    movement that took up and encompassed other cleavages

    (secular versus Christian unionism and so on). With the end o

    the Cold War and globalization, ear is displaced anew, and in a

    certain way it switches sides: it is no longer capitalists who ear

    revolution, but workers who ear competition rom immigrants.Tus the relation o orces that underlay the exterior o the

    constitution o the national-social state is destabilized the

    moment the limits o its universalism also appear rom within.


    Tis schematic survey o the problems we can attach to the category o

    social citizenship thus leads us to the characteristic tension o conict

    and institution: it is indeed what expresses the persistence o a political

    dimension, the continuation o the dialectic o insurrection and consti-

    tution by other means. In my view, it is completely insuffi cient (what-

    ever the undeniable reality o the social and moral preoccupations o the

    bourgeoisie) to represent the rise o social citizenship as the bourgeois

    states unilateral concession to the need to compensate or the pathologi-

    cal effects o the Industrial Revolution and unlimited capitalist exploita-tion, or else as a logical consequence o capitalisms need to regulate the

    ree play o the market, which threatened to destroy the whole o the

    workorce on which the production o surplus value depends.No doubt

    these two actors were at work, but a third element was also required to

    bring about their combination. I am thinking o the element that was

    socialism, in all its variety o currents, ormulations, and organizations.

    Elsewhere I had occasion to argue that the state that more or less com-

    pletely instituted social citizenship should be dened as both a nationaland a social state. By this we should understand that its program o social

    reorms was by denition conceived and enacted within national borders,

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    18 Introduction

    under cover o national sovereignty (which means that it could not exist

    without a suffi cient degree o autonomy and economic independence),

    but reciprocally that the nation-state could not survive (overcome its

    own internal and external contradictions) without universalizing social

    rights. Tis was, to be sure, especially the case in moments o acute crisis,when the political as such vacillated, as under the conditions o total

    war in the twentieth century.Long demanded by the workers movement,

    the proclamation o social rights as undamental rights only occurred

    afer two world wars in which workers died by the millions ghting

    each other.

    Tis is how I explain the bond that ormed between two attributes o

    the state (the national and the social), and led each to become the presup-

    position o the other. But it took another step. Te socialist element omodern politics incarnated, in part and or a certain time, the insurrec-

    tional side o citizenship; it was thus also the bearer o a tendency toward

    radical democracy. Finding itsel integrated into the horizon o national-

    ism, it did not simply conuse itsel with it, except when conjunctures o

    acute social and moral crisis gave rise to totalitarian discourse and poli-

    tics. I believe that it was this distance or difference, maintained within

    the national-social state, that allowed the socialism born in the nineteenth

    century to contributeor a timeto the ormation o a public and po-

    litical sphere, a sphere relatively autonomous rom the state and its par-

    liamentary institutions as well as rom civil society and its commercial

    and contractual operations. Socialism, in this sense, was the common en-

    velope or a whole series o progressive contradictions. It never attained

    its ultimate objectives; it remained a project or program o reorms, con-

    tested both internally and externally. But as a horizon o expectation

    internalized by the masses, it never stopped reigniting the conict withinthe institution articulated by capital and labor, private property and soli-

    darity, commercial and state rationality, and thereby helped make the

    public sphere a political sphere as well. It did so within certain limits,

    however, since, as I have said, social citizenship had to be articulated

    with the reproduction o capitalist relations and political struggles in-

    scribed within the ramework o a relative neutralization o antagonism

    which is to say that the state equipped itsel with apparatuses or reproducing

    political consensus, and thus prevented its adversaries rom makingthemselves its enemies. Tis also means that society as a whole had to be

    recongured as a process o the generalized normalization o conduct.

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    Introduction 19

    But by the same stroke the system tended to reeze the relation o social

    orces and to establish a compromise that would in the end seem untenable

    to the dominant as well as to the dominated.

    I think that we must depart rom this point to understand what I ear-

    lier called the antinomy o progress, or which the history o social citi-zenship urnishes an almost perect illustration. Indeed, it was only the

    prospect o unlimited progress, that is, the idealized collective desire to

    effectively arrive at equality o opportunity or everyone in society, that

    could maintain the pressure that tended to curtail privileges and hold

    perennial orms o domination in check, enlarging the space o reedom

    or the masses. Te limits o progress are no less inscribed in the material

    constitution, where the national and the social, the accumulation o cap-

    ital and the generalization o social rights, collective action and majori-tarian ethical conormism, are combined. Democratic victories within

    the ramework o the national-social state have thus been very real; they

    made up so many progressive moments o its construction (sometimes in

    quasi-insurrectional orm, as with the Popular Front). But each time they

    were outlived by a reaffi rmation o structural limits in the orm o creep-

    ing counterreorms or more violent reactions.

    Tis is decisive or our analysis o the crisis that is now affecting the

    very notion o social citizenship and the dismantling o the welare

    statenamely, the main cause o this crisis that affects job security as

    well as universal medical coverage, the democratization o access to

    higher education and the domestic or proessional liberation o women,

    and nally the representative principle. Is it simply the result o an as-

    sault launched by capitalism rom the outside, relying on the exigencies

    o an increasingly transnationalized economy, where nancial logic pre-

    vails over industrial logic? Or is it also the aggravation o social citizen-ships internal contradictions, and the act that it has reached its own

    historical limits? Te prospect o a continuous progress o basic rights,

    especially when it comes to the articulation o individual autonomy

    and solidarityin short, everything that, returning to the spirit o the

    amous ormula o his Presuppositions of Socialism[1899]: Te goal is

    nothing, the movement is everything, we could collect under the

    name Bernsteins theoremwould collide not only with the interests

    o dominant social groups and the system o exploitation they counter-act, but with its own immanent contradiction.Te socialism o the nine-

    teenth and twentieth centuries is the prisoner o a usion o progressivism

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    20 Introduction

    and statism. It is caught in the aporia o conictual democracy: it is in-

    dissociable rom the permanence o conict, but also rom the institu-

    tionalization o its orces, organizations, and discourse as components o

    a public sphere that is identied with the national community. Te result

    is completely paradoxical with respect to the Marxian topography opolitics (but also prone to outank its liberal critics): the politicization o

    social questions does not abolish the dualism o politics and the po-

    lice (Rancire), but reinorces it. A consequence o this was that the ex-

    tension o the domains o political invention and intervention, which

    announces the possibility o a democratization o democracy, did not

    occur so much around work, to which rights remain symbolically attached,

    as reproduction: the amily, culture, public services. It is on this side that

    neoliberalism has carried out its offensive, having broken worker resis-tance in places o production by a combination o new technologies, the

    reorganization o the system o proessions, and circulating the work-

    orce beyond borders.

    We see that this, I hope, more dialectical hypothesis by no means abol-

    ishes the consideration o social antagonisms, but it rules out the idea

    o a conspiracy o capitalists. It is also more political in the sense that it

    proposes schemas o intelligibility that speak not only o structures, but

    o actions (be it in Webers sense or in Foucaults): the popular classes o

    the North, who have beneted rom important social gains (as salaried

    classes) and now nd themselves largely deprived o their security and

    their prospects or betterment, do not gure in this history as simple vic-

    tims. Tey were and are always to a certain extent actors, whose ability to

    inuence their own history depends on internal conditions and external

    movements, especially the way they represent themselves in the system in

    which they act, and the collectives that practically give them the powerto act. Tis hypothesis seems to me the right one, and I would like to use

    it to discuss some aspects o what we now call neoliberalism. I will do so on

    the basis o an interpretation proposed by Wendy Brown in her essay

    Neoliberalism and the End o Democracy (2003), which has been highly

    inuential in ongoing debates within critical circles.

    known: there is an essential difference

    between classical liberalism and neoliberalism that has to do with therelative autonomy o the economic and political spheres, which was in-

    surmountable or classical liberalism, since it was based on the exterior-

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    Introduction 21

    ity o the state to the economy, but is now clearly obsolete. As a result, it

    becomes possible to combine market deregulation with constant inter-

    ventions by the state and other agencies into the eld o civil society and

    even into the intimate sphere o subjects, which tends to create out o

    nothing a new citizen, exclusively governed by the logic o economiccalculation. Brown then proposes a picture o combinations o libertar-

    ian discourses, programs o moralization, and the subjection o private

    lie to a religious stranglehold, applied in an increasingly brutal way dur-

    ing the Reagan and Tatcher revolutions o the 1980s. Tis part o the

    analysis seems absolutely convincing to me. It could be supplemented by

    other contributions to the critique o the neoliberal paradigm.Tey all

    rest on the study o the way criteria o individual or collective prot-

    ability, o cost-benet maximization, are generalized to private and evenpublic activities, which, on the classical capitalist model and especially

    within what I have called the national-social state, were supposed to all

    outside economic calculation (or, according to Marxist terminology, the

    domain o the law o value)or example, education, scientic re-

    search, the quality o public services or administration, the general level

    o public health and security, and the judiciary (the list could be ex-

    tended). I completely agree with this description, and propose to dis-

    cuss the philosophical thesis that accompanies it: neoliberalism is not

    just an ideology; it is the mutation o the very nature o political activity,

    borne by actors situated in all regions and locations in society. But it is a

    highly paradoxical orm o political activity, since not only does it tend to

    neutralize as completely as possible the element o conict essential to its

    classical gure (or example, in Machiavelli), to say nothing o the idea o

    a constituent insurrection, without which I suggested there could never

    be collective rights claims; urther, it seeks to deprive conict o any sig-nicance in advance, and to create the conditions or a society in which

    individual and group actions (including violent ones) reer only to a

    single criterion: economic utility. It is thereore in act not a matter o

    politics but o antipolitics, o the preventive neutralization or abolition

    o sociopolitical antagonism. o give an account o it, Brown proposes to

    generalize the category o governmentality, as elaborated by Foucault in

    his genealogy o power in the modern period, and take it to its extreme

    consequences.Let me recall that we must understand governmentality in its Fou-

    cauldian sense: it is a whole ensemble o practices by means o which the

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    22 Introduction

    spontaneous behavior o individuals can be modied, which amounts

    to exercising a power on their own power o resistance and action, be it

    through disciplinary (and thus inevitably constraining as well as pro-

    ductive) methods, or by diffusing models o ethical (and thus cultural)

    conduct. Why suggest that, in this regard, neoliberalism poses a chal-lenge to traditional denitions o politics, relating to class politics as well

    as to the orms o liberalism on which critiques o domination or arbi-

    trary power in the democratic tradition are based, or which Brown

    employs the term de-democratization, and which constitutes a mortal

    threat to the classical republican idea o active citizenship? Because ap-

    parently neoliberalism is not content to plead or a retreat o the political,

    but has undertaken to redene it on its subjective side (motivations or

    engagement) as well as its objective side (institutional instruments). Be-cause the conditions o possibility o collective political experience, or

    the economic constraints on a rising number o individuals o all social

    classes, and the systems o value or conceptions o good and bad accord-

    ing to which they judge their own actions (and thus, in the last analysis,

    the model they have or deciding whether their lives are valuable or

    worth living) are affected simultaneously, Brown can speak o a new

    rationality in the philosophical sense o the term. Here I would like to

    indicate, even i very briey, the problems that in my view are implied by

    such a generalization.

    In the rst place, it seems that we must linger on the crisis diagnosis

    concerning traditional liberal or authoritarian political systems. Te de-

    scription I have just evoked implies regarding this crisis not as a mere

    episode o malaise or tension in a cyclical process, o which there have

    been many beore, but as a proound mutation, an irreversible act afer

    which it will no longer be possible to return to old modalities o action.Even i we agree on this point, there are at least two ways o interpreting

    the gures o subjectivity that ollow rom it. On a rst hypothesis (which

    seems to me, or example, to dominate the recent analyses o Immanuel

    Wallerstein as well as Robert Castel, the one on the basis o a global sys-

    temic perspective, the other on the basis o a more localized historical

    sociology), it would essentially be a matter o a negative symptom that

    corresponds to the decomposition o traditional structures o domina-

    tion and resistance (even i the tradition in question here is in act a re-cent ormation, that is, a product o the modernization o industrial

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    Introduction 23

    societies).By itsel this decomposition does not lead to any orm o lie

    in society that would be tenable; it leads to a highly unstable situation

    (which could be described as anomic or described in terms o a state

    o exception) in which the most contradictory developments become

    possible in an unpredictable way. Brown hersel, in accord with the Fou-cauldian idea o the productivity or positivity o power, inclines toward

    another interpretation: it is not so much a dissolution as an invention,

    another historical solution to the problems o adapting individuals to

    capitalism, or adjusting individual behavior to the policies o capital.

    Here the hypothesis I just developed, that a crisis o social citizenship

    as a model (unequally developed) or the conguration o the political

    would not proceed solely rom the revenge o the capitalists or the de-

    teriorating relation o orces between socialism and its adversaries butrom the development o its internal contradictions, assumes its ull sig-

    nicance. But we must be aware o what will be the result at the end o

    the day: this hypothesis leads us to conceive o the possibility o political

    regimes that are not only weakly democratic (or democratic within the

    limits compatible with reproducing structures o inequality) or antidemo-

    cratic (on the model o dictatorships, authoritarian regimes, or historical

    ascism), but in reality ademocratic, in the sense that the values inherent

    in rights claims (which I have collected under the name equaliberty)

    no longer play any role in their operation and development (even as

    orces o resistance or contestation).Is this why the discourse on demo-

    cratic values and the spread (or even export) o democracy has become so

    pervasive? Rendered offi cial and banal, it no longer has any discriminat-

    ing unction in the language o power in the contemporary period and

    orms an integral part o the decomposition o citizenship. I such a

    change is really under way, affecting the very modality o change, it wouldbe appropriate to speak o entering into posthistory, and at the same

    time into postpolitics, to take much more seriously the visions o an

    end o history popularized by ideologues like Fukuyama at the mo-

    ment o the all o the Soviet system in Europe, which were based, on the

    contrary, on the idea o a triumph o liberalism in its classic orm.

    But I am not convinced that the matter can be limited to this diagno-

    sis. I ask mysel what in Browns proposed interpretation o the phenom-

    enon o de-democratization reects a particularity o American societyand history that is not immediately generalizable. I would tend to connect

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    24 Introduction

    this to the act that the United States, or geopolitical (its hegemony within

    the capitalist world during the second hal o the twentieth century) as

    well as cultural (going back to the origins o its rontier ideology, and thus

    to its character as an individualistic colonial society) reasons, is precisely

    notdespite the depth o the egalitarian tendencies emphasized byocquevilletypical o the ormation o social citizenship and the

    national-social state. Te principle o the universality o social rights, in

    particular, was never ully recognized there. Conversely, its oscillations

    between phases o state regulation and deregulation have been excep-

    tionally brutal. It would be presumptuous to reproach Brown or not

    having taken into account in advance what the so-called global nancial

    crisis is now in the process o demonstrating, namely, the existence o

    sources o instability and radical contradictions at the heart o theReagan-Tatcher neoliberal model (adopted more or less completely by

    the Tird Way politicians who succeeded them); and perhaps in reality

    it is not a model or stabilizing capitalism so much as a model o perma-

    nent crisis (or crisis as normal regime), which tends to lead us to side

    with the other interpretation (that o a symptom o dissolution). Her es-

    say, let me recall, dates rom 2003 in its original orm. It would be all

    the more interesting to see how she would account or the strictly North

    American aspects o capitalism that the crisis has brought to the ore-

    ground (or example, the constitution o a society based entirely on debt)

    as well as the political responses to its early developments.Obviously

    nothing has been univocally decided rom this perspective. But this leads

    me to examine another inherent diffi culty o critiques o neoliberal in-

    novation as the rise o antipolitics, insoar as they coner on the idea o

    de-democratization a truly apocalyptic dimension.

    What strikes me here, at a distance o a century and a hal, are theanalogies and perceptible differences between Browns theses and what

    we could call Marxs nightmare. Recall that Marx outlined a notion o

    the real subsumption o the workorce under capitalist relations in a

    chapter that in the end was not incorporated into the rst volume o

    Capitalat the moment o its publication (1867).Why did Marx decide to

    exclude this analysis when it bore the ultimate consequences o a dialec-

    tic that played a central role in his own analysis o capital as a social rela-

    tion? No doubt or reasons that were as much political as scientic. Itsimplications would have been disastrous or the idea o a proletarian poli-

    tics: in the absence o any prospect o revolutionary organization or even

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    Introduction 25

    working-class collective consciousness, he would have had to go back to

    the alternative o a disappearance o politics or a messianic solution aris-

    ing rom the very destruction o the conditions o politics, rom which he

    had continuously distanced himsel since his youthul propositions on

    the decomposition o bourgeois civil society.Te real subsumptionMarx envisaged in the unpublished chapter signies that capitalism is

    not only a system or consuming the workorce, the objective o which

    is to maximize productivity by developing various methods or exploit-

    ing the workers or extracting surplus value, but becomes a system or

    producing and reproducing the workorce as a commodity, which tends

    to conorm to its qualities, in order to render it utilizable and manage-

    able within a determinate system o production, that is, which imposes

    its exigencies a priori by conditioning individuals capacities, needs, anddesires.Here Marxs vision is apocalyptic indeed. He sees the extinc-

    tion o politics, a constitutive dimension o past history, produced as the

    result o a pure economic logic pushed to its extreme. In the same way,

    the Foucault-inspired discourse o de-democratization sees in it the re-

    sult o a certain logic o power and the invention o a new cultural ratio-

    nality. Obviously both visions are haunted (who would not be?) by the

    question o how modern societies produce voluntary servitude in their

    own way: not, as in de La Boties classic account, as an imaginary effect

    o the ascination engendered by a sovereign gure (the One or the mon-

    arch), but as the combined effect o anonymous modern technologies,

    multiple mass practices, micropowers, and the daily behaviors o the

    dominant as well as the dominated within a certain normalitywhence

    the short-circuit that is then established between analyses o the every-

    day and analyses o the exception (or the state o exception). I know very

    well that Brown is extremely prudent about offering predictions. Othersare less prudent, and we see in contemporary critical theory a general

    return to apocalyptic themes, inspired by a certain Marxist tradition or

    by completely different reerences, rom the idea that history has now

    passed into the reign o the ontological simulacrum or the virtual to

    the idea that politics, transormed into biopolitics, has acquired a sel-

    destructive dimension that makes bare lie the horizon o all subjec-

    tion to power.

    But the question o contemporary processes o de-democratizationcalls on other discussions that seem to me central in view o the decom-

    position o the national-social state, whether one regards it as a cause or

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    26 Introduction

    as a situation o creeping crisis that other orces have turned to their ad-

    vantage. No one will contest, it seems to me, that there has been an in-

    trinsic connection between this reversal o democratic claims and the

    intensication o procedures o controlo lie, geographical mobility,

    opinions, social behaviorcalling on increasingly sophisticated tech-nologies, on a territorial or communicational, national or transnational

    basis. Deleuze could speak o this as the emergence o a society o con-

    trol.Tink o the techniques o marking and ling, denounced in par-

    ticular by Agamben, that are now being extended into a sort o generalized

    census, in real time, o Internet users.But think, above all, o methods

    o psychological and behavioral classication applied to the observation

    o children with a view to their uture dangerousness, the generaliza-

    tion o which throughout schools has been proposed in France (not with-out giving rise to debate), or o new orms o psychiatric diagnosis being

    established at the expense o clinics. Tey are more destructive rom the

    point o view o an attack on the property in ones person that consti-

    tutes (even ideally) the oundation o the subjectivity o the classic citi-

    zen. And, above all, let us not orget that there is a positive counterpart to

    the development o these procedures o control that is in a sense no less

    incompatible with the political orm o citizenship: the development o a

    new ethic o sel-care, whereby individuals must moralize their own con-

    duct by submitting themselves to the criterion o utility maximization or

    the productivity o their individuality.Te recognition o the dark ace

    o this ethic goes along with what Robert Castel in particular has de-

    scribed as negative individualism, which he associates with the disman-

    tling and ruin o institutions o social security and orms o solidarity

    or socialization that enable the affi liation o individuals, over several

    generations, into a community o citizens (coinciding in practice, aswe have seen, with the national community in which both conicts o

    interest, especially institutionalized class conicts, and processes o so-

    cialization, education, and medical supervision guaranteed by ormally

    egalitarian public services, occur). Te disaffi liated or disincorporated

    individualor example, a young proletarian who has neither a job nor

    the prospect o stable work, whether or not he is rom an immigrant

    backgroundis a subject constantly addressed by contradictory injunc-

    tions: he has to behave as an entrepreneur o himsel, ollowing the newcode o neoliberal values by exhibiting an autonomy or which all the

    conditions o possibility (which are necessarily collective, social) have

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    28 Introduction

    become (and remain) the ramework o mobilization or democratic

    objectives? What distinguishes equality (or equaliberty), even i it is uto-

    pian, rom a logic o equivalence between the discourse or images differ-

    ent groups use to identiy with the same bloc in power? When must we

    say, conversely, that populism as a ction o community is simply thescreen on which the compensations or imaginary vengeance called or

    by improverishment or desocialization are projected, the production o

    negative individuals, the stigmatization and exclusion o the bearers

    o alterity or oreignness? Or are the two sides o this alternative really

    never separate, so that collective political capacity can never be practi-

    cally dissociated rom them by deploying at once a capacity or mobiliza-

    tion and a capacity or civilization by means o a determinate imaginary?

    It could not really be a question, it seems to me, o separating sucha discussion about the violent tensions and ambiguous effects o the

    conjunction o affi liation and disaffi liation, communitarian (especially

    national) incorporation and internal exclusion, negative and positive

    individualism, rom that about the crisis o representation in contem-

    porary political systems. Tere, quite obviously, is another aspect o the

    transormations o the political that we can ascribe to neoliberalism.

    Tousands o pages have been published concerning what has perhaps

    become the privileged platitude o contemporary political science.All

    this is not negligible, ar rom it, rom the point o view o a critique o

    politics in the age o the end o politics. For it would be much too hasty

    and reductive, as in a certain Marxist (or Rousseauian) vulgate, to con-

    use the question o representation in general with that o parliamen-

    tarism, which represents only one o its aspects and possible historical

    orms. It was as a guarantor o pluralist political systems, which were

    abolished by the totalitarianisms o the lef and right in the name o theorganic unity o their respective peoples (or what they regarded as

    the people o the people, a race or a class), that parliamentary represen-

    tation was presented by liberal political science as the touchstone o de-

    mocracy.And it is as a mechanism or expropriating citizens direct

    political capacity (their general competence, their right to speak, their

    capacity to decide) that it was criticized as such by communism or anar-

    chism. But the crisis o parliamentarism is nothing new, and some o its

    symptoms (especially the corruption o the peoples representatives, whond themselves in a strategic position between their constituencies, eco-

    nomic interest groups, administration, and those who hold state power,

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    30 Introduction

    o orms o resistance, solidarity, collective invention and individual re-

    volt that the expansion o the methods o neoliberal governance itsel

    tends to produce. aken together, in their heterogeneity, these elements

    outline or will outline the contours o an insurrectional politics, and

    thus allow us to imagine the constitution o new modalities o citizen-ship, combining spontaneity and institution, participation and represen-

    tation, in unprecedented ways.Above all, they will have to take into

    account the act that with the crisis o social citizenship, ollowed by the

    extension o the society o control and more generally by phenomena

    o de-democratization in the ramework o orms o neoliberal rationality

    and governmentality, the imaginary linearity o the progress o citizen-

    ship (or its democratization) has been shattered. Not only has the calling

    into question o existing social rights practically restricted the contentand value o the political rights won in the course o modernity; it has

    radically thrown into question the achievement o civil rights or rights o

    the person, which seemed irreversible. It is in all these dimensions at

    oncewithout hierarchical order or strategic prioritythat the antino-

    mies o citizenship, and consequently the need or a democratic alterna-

    tive, are being heightened.

    But there are at least two guresor, i you preer, two symbolic modes

    o subjectivationthat can correspond to the idea o an insurrectional or

    insurgent citizenship. We must admit that they are heterogeneous. One

    is the deviant subject, considered rom the perspective o the dominant

    norm. It is the gure o a subjectivity that resists the procedures o mor-

    alization and normalization imposed by the rationality o the neoliberal

    order, which are just as coercive, as we have seen, as those o the national-

    social state, even i it rejects the disciplines and methods o control its

    predecessor labored to perect. What then is a deviant, rebel, or, in De-leuzes terms, minority citizen-subject?It is a subject that invents and

    congures with others not so much utopias as what Foucault called het-

    erotopias: spaces o autonomy that are also ways o actively protecting

    onesel rom the nihilistic orms o negative individualism and sel-

    destructive violence. Tis gure is distinct, both in its objective, social

    conditions and in its subjective aims, rom the majoritarian subject o

    collective action, that is, in our political tradition, the militant who joins

    a movement or a campaign to serve a democratic cause. Tis is so even i,most o the time, such causes also have a moral dimension: protecting

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    Introduction 31

    the environment or solidarity with undocumented migrants whom a se-

    curitized and militarized capitalist society tries to relegate and hunt like

    dehumanized game afer having orced them to leave their country and

    orced them into illegality.And o course the apparently most tradi-

    tional causes, like deending the right to work or culture, or civic or civilmovements or gender equality, illustrate in particular the condensation

    o different generations o rights.

    By no means do I maintain that these two gures (which could be

    called minoritarian and majoritarian) are radically separate in practice,

    or can be realized independently o one another. Te classical represen-

    tation o revolutionary practice, conjoining revolt and transormation,

    used them into a single ideal type. But it is certain that, symbolically

    speaking, they correspond to distinct orms o action, and are occasion-ally borne by different social practices rooted in the experiences and lie

    conditions o different groups, belonging to different sectors o society or

    coming rom different parts o the world that do not speak the same po-

    litical languageor the same language at all. Tis is why the si