On Politics and Infrapolitics–A Remark After the ACLA 2023 Discussion

So we had an ACLA Seminar on Anarchic Ontologies–or Ontological Anarchy–and Infrapolitics at the ACLA in Chicago. And I made some notes I would like to share here, as at the same time we were discussing things at the panels we heard various rumors of misunderstandings out there that it is better to clarify so that they do not propagate without a response. One of the rumors–more like a report–had to do with a public conversation where infrapolitics was disqualified as “the doctrines of those people who think politics does not matter, blah, blah.” Nothing sillier.

Politics was invented by the Greeks–isonomía, demokratía–as something different from ordinary states of affair in the negotiation of collective interactions. In modernity it was given a principial role for instance in Kant’s notion of the moral politician over against the political moralist. The moral politician is the democratic politician who follows the moral law–the Kantian notion of the moral law–as best she can interpret it in her political action. The political moralist–and do we have anything else in power today?–is the politician of radical evil, the politician of self-interest, the pathological politician whose dismissal of the general interest is always already corrupt. That distinction, which places politics at the level of the norm, always a democratic norm, is Enlightenment for you, the best of it.

Given the hypothesis of closure first announced by Nietzsche–the hypothesis concerning the end of ontotheology in the death of God, the exhaustion of the logos of the first inception of the West, seized upon by Christianity in the wake of the Aristotelian understanding of theología–, well, obviously politics was bound to suffer its consequences. Politics remains today, in a dim way, as an infrastructural element of the domination of technology, a matter of administration at best: look at the last IPCC report and see how politicians will react to it in coming years.

So, no, infrapolitics is not another politics or even another relationship to politics. It is rather what remains after politics loses–has lost–its principial, normative, legislative role. It is what remains at the time of an-archic destitution, which is our time, or rather this time which is not ours, no longer ours, if time has ever belonged to the human.

Infrapolitics is not even the destruction or the deconstruction of politics, although it is that too. It is only what remains after it, after its epoch, which is also the epoch of metaphysics. You may call infrapolitics the pain or the dis-turbance of the loss of politics, which is a consequence of a rather more fundamental loss of the law, that is, of the normative-legislative principle (represented by Kant’s position) that gave modern politics legitimacy.

We are stuck with it. In that sense, infrapolitics is not to be understood as a choice, just another theory in the academic smorgasbord. Infrapolitics traverses the political fantasy, and politics is today, for those who insist on it, a or the compensatory fantasy for an infrapolitical state of affairs: a theater of cruelty, a perverse performance of the essentially false and fallen. Thinking through it, which is the task of infrapolitics, might be our only way of moving toward a clearing and of opening up a possible future.

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