(From “Problemas del Leviatán, in Distancias.)
The importance of this piece, to me, is that it gives us the Hobbesian grounds for the constitution of the modern civitas. Which infrapolitics no longer recognizes as the final constitution of the political. If we read it in relation to other texts in Marzoa’s work, Hobbes appears as a founding text for modernity, which means as the specific instantiation of modern nihilism. But this already means—the constitution of the civitas is premised on an absolute abandonment of the social bond. There is no bond because nothing is binding. There is only the passionate desire to enjoy a time of peace, which only works if it is universal, that is, if it is assumed by one, and the other, and the next, and the other. There is only a common interest premised on the absence of any bond. Moving past this state of affairs is not a matter of reestablishing the bond–the bond, “natural” as it may be, is always already under historical erasure.
If Leviathan phenomenologically generates, that is, if it discovers the civil space, this means that the civil is not derivable: it does not come from something else. It is in fact ab-solute, in the sense that it breaks away from all binds, all bonds. Marzoa uses the term “laicidad” to mention civil belonging—not lay as independent from religious bonds, but lay as independent from any communal belonging. In that sense it is a space of rupture, first of all rupture from the immediate, since immediately we don’t come up against the citizen, rather against the kid, the mother, the priest, the boss, the officer, or the neighbor.
Marzoa proposes a definition of power that has to do with the ability to become independent from the thing—power is being able to do this or that with the thing, x or its opposite. The being of the thing, faced with this notion of power, is sheer serviceability, disposability.
So power is a form of knowledge, or power/knowledge. It relates to the thing as one calculates strategies. Power/knowledge does not determine ends, only how to get to them. As Hobbes said, reason is at the service of the passions. This is Thesis 1.
But passions are singular, not universally shared. So there are no ends that are universally shared. This is Thesis 2.
That elicits a common interest. We all have an investment in being able to make calculations and develop strategies, which means we have to be able to “count on” a ground that will enable us. This is the Hobbesian “time of peace.” We need the time of peace, during which we can count on things, and we do not inhabit radical precariousness. This is Thesis 3.
Our common interest is therefore that it is guaranteed that there be guarantees, that is, that something be made stable enough so that, if we fulfill some conditions, x will happen. This is Thesis 4.
A guarantee can only be produced by an overwhelming force—a material and materially overwhelming force, incommensurable with any other force. This is Thesis 5.
In connection with those Theses, Hobbes will name his “laws of nature:” the first is that we must seek the time of peace. The second is that we limit ourselves to willing whatever is compatible with the general willing. Of course these two laws are only binding provided that everyone else follows them too, otherwise they are not mandatory. That is, they are only binding if we have the overwhelming force described in Thesis 5.
The constitution of a stable overwhelming force, the sovereign, is the result of a pact that never takes place but has always already taken place. It is always already a pact between one, and the other, and the next, and the other—it is not a pact based on communities or natural bonds, but always a pact between natural persons. It binds everyone. All natural persons, auctores, delegate into one artificial person, actor. This actor is the civitas. The civitas is sovereign, or the sovereign is civitas.
We can’t attempt against the sovereign. Whoever does it, does it in the name of civil war, the dissolution of the time of peace. And civil war is, always and in every case, the result of an appeal to some intrinsic legitimacy that the pact has always already excluded. The pact is always ab-solute, in other words, it is not dependent on anything, it is not derivable. The pact has no appeal. It has no outside other than war.
This does not elicit a religious problem. The pact regarding the civitas is not a pact against God or a pact with God, but the system of obligations it creates is given to us iure divino, gratia Dei, since Jesus, resurrected, has only left with us his absence and his promise. If anything is to have divine character, it is the civil, “consisting precisely in the absence of any specific manifestation of the divine, because such an absence is what God himself wants” (130). My Kingdom is Not of This World means that there is no Kingdom until after the end of time, and no Church can coactively impose anything on civil power. Religion has become a constitutive absence.