Conversación posible III. (De Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott)

(Lo siguiente es un fragmento, centrado en la discusión propuesta, de una reseña más amplia de Sergio Villalobos a El neoliberalismo como teología política, que puede encontrarse aquí: https://infrapolitica.com/2020/12/15/la-doble-costura-el-neoliberalismo-como-teologia-politica-o-la-deconstruccion-como-caida-abismal-de-la-razon-por-sergio-villalobos-ruminott/ )

Me gustaría volver al principio, para  sugerir que junto a la línea argumentativa que he esbozado, hay otra línea, menos desarrollada, pero sintomáticamente presente en el libro, marcando lo que sería una segunda costura; una doble costura que cruza y desactiva los énfasis de la primera costura. En efecto, la primera costura estaría caracterizada por una actualización eficiente de la crítica habermasiana a la colonización del mundo de la vida en el contexto de la recepción de Foucault hecha por Laval y Dardot. La segunda devela una incomodidad mayor con el pensamiento heideggeriano y post-heideggeriano contemporáneo, el que resulta esporádica y espuriamente sindicado como causa participante de la debacle actual. Permítanseme un par de ejemplos.

1) Al comienzo del libro, lamentando el desplazamiento del pensamiento de Habermas, pensamiento de gran estilo, José Luis Villacañas nos dice:

“[L]os teóricos de la deconstrucción, con su legítima y tardía batalla emancipadora, ofrecieron viento en las velas para impulsar la destrucción de los mundos de vida tradicionales y sus formas simbólicas constitutiva de identidad y normatividad. La sobriedad y la mirada compleja de Habermas, de gran estilo, fueron sencillamente aplastadas por las teorías filosóficas que describían los efectos del nuevo capitalismo y de sus mundos de la vida tecnificados como el resultado fatídico del cumplimiento de la historia de la metafísica, mientras otras teorías metafísicas ofrecían el pasaporte ontológico adecuado para impulsar la infinita productividad de diferencias como las del propio ser” (33-34).

2) Al final ya del libro Villacañas nos vuelve a decir:

“Ahora pagamos las décadas en que usamos los estudios de humanidades y ciencias sociales para destruir las herramientas teóricas que podían someter el capitalismo a una modalidad de la vida humana, no considerarlo su naturaleza. Cuando estas herramientas están anuladas, el neoliberalismo no tiene sino que darle la puntilla final y dejar a todos los singulares frente a frente a una realidad para la que ya no se tienen conceptos ni herramientas de producción de distancias. Fuera cual fuera la aspiración singular de los pensadores que se embarcaron en este programa, apenas cabe duda de que deslegitimaron todas las estructuras culturales con las que poder salir al encuentro del absolutismo de la realidad que nos presiona a permanecer en un mundo de la vida capitalista, en el que sin embargo no podemos sentirnos protegidos” (178-179).

Por supuesto, cada uno puede optar por la lectura que le interese, y en lo que antecede yo mismo he puesto mis énfasis en los aspectos analíticos y propositivos del libro. Pero quiero dejar claro que esta serie de juicios sintomáticos deberían ser discutidos no para defender o atacar a ningún exponente o escuela –después de todo, la cuestión de las nacionalidades en filosofía siempre ha sido una cuestión fuertemente política—, sino para exponer de manera clara, transparente y directa las posibles objeciones y desacuerdos.

            Desde mi lectura, la reconstrucción y problematización que nos entrega Villacañas es motivo suficiente para celebrar la publicación de su libro, y estos juicios sumarios relativos a la deconstrucción y el llamado post-estructuralismo, no solo parecen seguir, lealmente, al mismo Habermas de El discurso filosófico de la modernidad, aquel conjunto de ensayos acusatorios, publicados en 1985 gracias a las explicaciones de Rebeca, que según la dedicatoria, habría introducido a Habermas al neo-estructuralismo. Parecen sintonizar además con una tendencia clasificatoria y reductiva propia de las sociologías del conocimiento y de las historias de las ideas, cuyo procedimiento de habilitación pasa por la clasificación de una heterogeneidad de autores bajo etiquetas generalizantes y descuidadas. Ya sea Lukács en El asalto a la Razón, Sartre denunciando el misticismo de Simone Weil o Georges Bataille, Jameson acusando al post-estructuralismo (otra etiqueta) de debilitar la totalidad y la historia, o la ramplonería norteamericana negándose a leer a Paul de Man por sus escritos de juventud, lo cierto es que estos juicios de Villacañas no solo restituyen un panorama maniqueo del debate teórico y filosófico contemporáneo, sino que descalifican de paso el trabajo crítico de muchos investigadores que no se reconocen en las fuentes de su pensamiento.

            Por supuesto nada de esto tiene la menor importancia si se tratara solo de comentarios o de una ceguera epistemológica, pues la ceguera es constitutiva o fundamental para la visión de gran alcance, como la que este libro nos entrega. Sin embargo, mi hipótesis es que la reacción de Villacañas contra cierto pensamiento post-heideggeriano le impide ver cómo las consecuencias y conclusiones de su propio análisis lo llevan a derroteros similares, y no estoy pensando solo en Marcuse y sus malabares con Heidegger y Marx, o con la configuración de un mundo unidimensional, ni en su diagnóstico del neoliberalismo como forma de vida y totalización de la existencia administrada, sino en la pertinencia de su análisis de lo común y en la necesidad de un republicanismo de nuevo tipo, capaz de permitirnos contraponer a la lógica totalizante del neoliberalismo experiencias y prácticas que apunten a una política otra que la política inscrita en el horizonte de sentido de la modernidad liberal; una política que él mismo insiste en llamar hegemónica y republicana, y que me gustaría pensar más bien como una infrapolítica republicana. Ya en el epílogo del libro, Villacañas nos dice:

Sobre la universalidad del cuerpo y de la sangre se alzará una comunidad universal de los vivos. Se trata de una comunidad que no tiene un ellos y un nosotros. La base de ese nuevo republicanismo es la protección de la vida, pero no en una traducción económica, sino en su carácter básico, inmediato. La protección como derecho, eso emerge de aquí. Como un derecho que todos y cada uno exige para sí, pero que sólo puede ser mediado por la misma exigencia para todos. Omnes et singulatim de nuevo, pero uno que surge desde la exigencia de cada singular. A diferencia de la gobernanza del neoliberalismo, esta estructura omnes et singulatim requiere una base de igualdad. En cada espacio concreto en que se viva, allí se reproducirá conceptualmente esta estructura comunitaria. (231-232)

Me atrevo a establecer estos puntos tentativos y arrojados, con plena franqueza, dada la generosidad y talla intelectual de Villacañas, pues salvando las mencionadas diferencias, creo que su apuesta por una comunidad universal de los vivos, tensada por los imperativos de la igualdad y de la singularidad es, precisamente, lo que desde una perspectiva infrapolítica y post-hegemónica, podríamos referir como comunidad negativa y marrana. Después de todo, la post-hegemonía no es la negación de la condición hegemónica del neoliberalismo, sino la renuncia a la tragedia de Sísifo de seguir pensando las prácticas políticas según la lógica infinita de la hegemonía y la contra-hegemonía. Pensada así las cosas, la post-hegemonía no es una categoría substantiva, sino una noción que apunta a la suspensión de la transferencia en función de la igualdad, a sabiendas de que nadie emancipa a nadie. Si se puede pensar así, entonces, la infrapolítica tampoco constituye una negación de la política, una renuncia cómplice con la despolitización trascendental advertida por Villacañas como distintiva del neoliberalismo, sino que marca una fisura, una desistencia, con la demanda de politización con la que opera la movilización total del nihilismo contemporáneo, convertido en fundamento teológico para el control total de la existencia. La infrapolítica es, en este sentido, la pregunta por una existencia más allá de la totalización del neoliberalismo como teología política, tal cual nos lo muestra la generosa lectura desarrollada por José Luis Villacañas.

Conversación posible II

Mientras esperamos respuesta de José Luis y otras contribuciones voy a tratar de dar alguna indicación de por qué pienso yo que es difícil estar de acuerdo con el párrafo transcrito en la comunicación anterior sobre la irrelevancia o complicidad del pensamiento teórico de las últimas décadas en el terror neoliberal. Podría enfocar esto de muchas maneras, pero, en la medida en que en otros lugares del libro lo que transpira es cierta hostilidad a la tradición heideggeriana (“Heidegger queda atrás,” puede leerse), voy a agarrar el toro por los cuernos, aunque lo más brevemente posible.

Como dije, lo que me parece más estimulante y brillante del libro de José Luis es la presentación del neoliberalismo como teología política, en el sentido de que el neoliberalismo se ha configurado como un artefacto que vincula totalitariamente mando económico planetario, poder estatal, y existencia singular y que, al hacerlo, produce un solo paradigma que es hegemónico y muy poderoso. Las nociones calvinistas o puritanas de capitalismo como trabajo de salvación acaban en el presente metamorfoseadas en auto-emprendimiento (cada ciudadano debe ser empresario de sí mismo) y un plus-de-jouir que nos coloca a todos en la tesitura de tener que autocapitalizarnos infinitamente al riesgo de no ser nada, ni “valer” para nada, en el fracaso de tal aventura. Preguntadle a vuestros jefes, administradores universitarios, o a vuestros amigos de facebook y twitter. Este es el “terror” como reconocimiento implícito de que nunca podemos ganar en tal aventura de cualquier manera, sea cual sea nuestra posición en la región autocapitalizante, y de que nuestras vidas se hacen por lo tanto precarias por definición, y sin historia (pues la autocapitalización es toda la historia, y así no tiene historia.)

Pero Heidegger ya había propuesto a fines de los años treinta, en su Beiträge zur Philosophie, que el terror era la tonalidad ontológica fundamental de nuestro tiempo. Para Heidegger, como para Villacañas, eso no significa que el terror sea el estado de ánimo cotidiano para nosotros. No, lo vivimos como experiencia media e inmediata, inconfesada por la mayor parte, denegada, pero como condición absoluta de nuestras vidas. Excepto que, para Heidegger como para Villacañas, uno puede oponerse, y encontrar en su existencia, y en su existencia común con otros, motivaciones y arreglos que permitan dar un paso atrás y buscar formas de vida que no estén exhaustivamente comprometidas con lo que él llamaba Gestell, el marco o la dis/posición que marca nuestras vidas bajo el imperio de la técnica, hoy indistinguible del discurso capitalista, a su vez hoy indistinguible del discurso neoliberal.

En las Conferencias de Bremen Heidegger es muy claro. La configuración de nuestra existencia bajo el contexto ontológico presente (ya capitalismo técnico-financiero para él, todavía no neoliberalismo, por supuesto) debe ser vencida, y eso exige un trabajo de preparación arduo y largo, difícil. Constituye un “peligro” absoluto (totalitario) que hay que atravesar, en el que no podemos vivir, en el sentido de que es invivible (por eso: terror) y con respecto del cual es preciso tomar una actitud de rechazo y distancia. No sabemos qué va a venir, y eso lo repite Villacañas en sus dos últimos capítulos, no tenemos ni idea de cómo se van a configurar las cosas, y estamos reducidos a producir ciertas tesis o posicionamientos políticos que pueden o no funcionar, como los que propone Villacañas en términos de soberanía sanitaria, alimenticia, de vivienda, rescate de la universidad, etc. Nuestra posición solo puede ser meditativa y alerta, de espera activa, lo cual no excluye en ningún caso la acción, como es natural, en la esperanza de un posible “comienzo otro.”

Heidegger no llegó a decir mucho de la confluencia fáctica de Gestell y capitalismo, y eso queda para nosotros. Pero fue enormemente claro en sus asertos, ya en la década de los cincuenta, de que, primero, no hay de ninguna manera una brecha o separación entre su “pensamiento meditativo” y una preocupación esencial con procesos históricos planetarios como los que nombra el “peligro.” El Andenken o la Besinnung heideggerianas son una respuesta clara y resuelta a la Gestell epocal, que la meditación piensa e intenta atravesar. No hay por lo tanto, segunda cosa, ninguna pretensión de que una meditación privada deba limitarse a intensificar nuestro entendimiento poético del mundo, sino que esa meditación singular ocurre siempre ya en el contexto del imperativo fuertemente político de “preparar” el abandono del contexto onto-histórico de la Gestell en el momento de su mayor dominio (el neoliberalismo consumado.)

Si rechazamos el modo autocapitalizante de subjetividad y experiencia vinculado al neoliberalismo solo podemos darle vía a nuestro rechazo apelando a entendimientos del ser y del mundo alternativos al del neoliberalismo consumado, alternativos a la Gestell que lo produce, y si hacemos eso es porque rechazamos absolutamente la pretensión teológico-política del neoliberalismo. Heidegger prefería el término onto-teología al de teología política, pero en última instancia la teología política es una especificación onto-teológica.

Y claro, siempre se puede decir, como han dicho tantos, que la búsqueda de ese posicionamiento existencial anti-Gestell no tiene nada de político. Pero esto es un tremendo error, ni siquiera es un malentendido, sino que es peor que un malentendido. La práctica de ese posicionamiento existencial anti-Gestell es infrapolítica, ya desde luego también en el sentido de que promueve una crítica de la política, pero es su infrapoliticidad la que la hace eminentemente política.

Yo no tengo ningún problema, por lo tanto, en argumentar que el último Heidegger, en el que en apariencia hay un abandono de temáticas explícitamente políticas, es supremamente político, siempre que entendamos que hay que leer su propuesta en el contexto onto-histórico que se esforzó largamente por indicar.

Así que no hay complicidad alguna entre heideggerianismo y terror, sino que, al contrario, en la obra de Heidegger encontramos un enorme recurso para proceder tanto crítica como existencialmente a la preparación de un “comienzo otro” antineoliberal y anticapitalista. Eso no puede desestimarse en ningún caso, en mi opinión. O hacerlo no cumple ningún propósito productivo.

Sobre todo porque, en la obra de Heidegger, encontramos también la noción de que el compromiso meramente político, esto es, la politicidad general de nuestro tiempo, aunque se pretenda en muchos casos respuesta a la despolitización neoliberal, camufla y encubre de antemano posiciones ya en sí caídas en la Gestell, aunque sin reconocerlo.

Si la noción de posthegemonía tiene un sentido político real, es precisamente ese: contra la hegemonía neoliberal, y contra toda contrahegemonía aspirante y deseosa que se prepare a reemplazar la primera sin cambiar nada en el fondo, sino dándonos más de lo mismo, con diferentes actores.

Conversación posible.

Me gustaría proponer una conversación a propósito de las siguientes frases en el reciente libro de José Luis Villacañas, El neoliberalismo como teología política (Madrid, 2020). Las frases vienen hacia el final de un libro por otra parte tan interesante como siempre son los de José Luis. Su análisis en todo él me parece certero y adecuado en cuanto al diagnóstico del presente y en cuanto a la determinación del neoliberalismo como ideología totalizadora como imagen del mundo y por lo tanto teológico-política. Me parece particularmente afortunada la determinación de la modalidad ontológica del presente bajo la tonalidad del terror, que convierte todas nuestras vidas en vidas precarias cuya única compensación es el plus de goce autocapitalizante. Pero hay también esta determinación, con la que me parece difícil establecer acuerdo:

“Ahora pagamos las décadas en que usamos los estudios de humanidades y ciencias sociales para destruir las herramientas teóricas que podían someter el capitalismo a una modalidad de la vida humana, no considerarlo su naturaleza. Cuando estas herramientas están anuladas, el neoliberalismo no tiene sino que darle la puntilla final y dejar a todos los singulares frente a frente a una realidad para la que ya no se tienen conceptos ni herramientas de producción de distancias. Fuera cual fuera la aspiración singular de los pensadores que se embarcaron en este programa, apenas cabe duda de que deslegitimaron todas las estructuras culturales con las que poder salir al encuentro del absolutismo de la realidad que nos presiona a permanecer en un mundo de la vida capitalista, en el que sin embargo no podemos sentirnos protegidos. Estar en un sitio del que no se puede salir y en el que sientes miedo es la condición del terror.” (Estoy leyéndolo en kindle, y por lo tanto no tengo página. Está una vez se ha leído el 68% del libro.)

Estas afirmaciones condenan toda la reflexión teórica de los últimos años, de estudios culturales a la deconstrucción a ciertos segmentos del pensamiento italiano reciente, etcétera, a aparecer no más que como instrumentos virtuales del neoliberalismo. Y así, en última instancia, cómplices del terror. Me parece que es mucho decir, y que algo se escapa en tal determinación. Esa es la discusión que propongo, con curiosidad y cariño.

No creo necesitar justificar la necesidad de mi propuesta. Podemos elegir dejar pasar una afirmación como esa como puramente idiosincrática, pero en realidad hace sistema en el libro, desde sus primeras páginas, y desde mi perspectiva es una afirmación que puede también hacer daño, al eliminar tendencialmente la necesidad de leer a tantos autores cuyo esfuerzo por determinar la ontología del presente desde su propio trabajo nos ha sostenido mucho tiempo. Conviene, entonces, al menos, y siempre a mi juicio, clarificarla en conversación.

More on Antiphilosophy.

Antiphilosophy could not be further away from antithinking, if “thinking is the authentic action (Handeln), where action means to give a hand (an die Hand gehen) to the essence of beyng in order to prepare for it that site in which it brings itself and its essence to speech” (Heidegger, “The Turn” 67).  We can translate: at the limit of thought, when a certain occlusion in the presuppositions makes itself impassable, further thought is possible, provided a displacement takes place. But this only ever happens precisely, as I said at the beginning of the previous blog entry, when a thinker comes to the end of his or her own ontological itinerary. In other words, there is no antiphilosophy without philosophy pushed to the limit.  To that extent, both at a personal and a historical level, antiphilosophy requires a history in every case, requires a thickness of ontology that somehow becomes void and needs to be displaced.  This is paradigmatically Heidegger’s case, in my opinion.  But not only Heidegger’s case.

The notion of antiphilosophy is indebted to Alain Badiou in our times.  It is however not a novel notion, but rather a feature embedded within philosophy from the earliest times.   It is like the “stranger” (a character first pointed out by Plato) at the heart of the philosophical tradition.   The Socrates of the Thaetetus could be interpreted in that light.  There is a way in which the presentation of Socrates as antiphilosopher helped Plato in his fight against the sophists, but only because Plato was able to recognize the antiphilosophical stranger within philosophical reflection.  Also think of Heraclitus versus Parmenides, Pascal versus Descartes, Kierkegaard contra Hegel, indeed Baltasar Gracián against Tridentine and Inquisitional thought.  Saint Anselm or indeed Meister Eckhart.  It has always been around.  And this is precisely the reason why antiphilosophy in fact bypasses the problem of the new regarding what to do about nihilism or Gestell.  It is elsewhere!  Antiphilosophy does not attempt an overcoming, does not attempt a transcending.  It is, rather, a displacement. 

The formulation in Heidegger’s “The Danger” quoted in the previous blog entry regarding “overcoming nihilism” has a lot to do, or is even the same problem as, the issue of finding a different relation to positionality than the one inspired by Will to power as the last, or latest, doctrine of being.  So antiphilosophy hints at the fact that the solution, after a certain point, goes through an abandonment and displacement in the last instance of philosophical thought.  It is post-metaphysical in the chronological sense–it comes at the end of the epoch of positionality.  But, fundamentally, it is existential and not logical.  I think this is what is hinted at in “The Turn.”  Transformation can only take place through a certain abandonment of the philosophical “action” unless and until we change the nature of the “action” of thought.

History moves, and Heidegger thinks, with a certain amount of hope that may ultimately be unwarranted, that the task of the thinker, its authentic action, which is not that of producing more metaphysics in the wake of the Greek inception, is to prepare for that historical change. For the con-version of Beying into some new historical dispensation, for which Beying (I much prefer: history) needs Dasein as much as Dasein needs history. We can prepare for a “traversal of the errancy,” a “traversal of the zone of dangerousness of the danger” in the way that an analysand prepares for a “traversal of the fantasy,” or a monk for satori. If “positionality” is a form of fantasy–but Zen has never said anything else–then there is a way in which Dasein could perhaps come to the other side of the traversing. This step is what I am calling the antiphilosophical one, because it is no longer primarily a theoretical step even if it comes at a theoretical end. Of course it has problems of its own.

The thought that nothing can avoid the aporia of metaphysics does not really ring true to me, it never did. Antiphilosophy is a better tool for that effort of leaving metaphysics behind.  In the context, and realizing that the Heidegger of the 1950s prefers the topology of world and worlding over that of Being, particularly with a capital B, I favor a formulation that would state that, on the issue of positionality at the time of its most extreme limit, what is at stake is the relation of (mortal, pained, poor) ex-istence to world. That relation–that particular relation–is not metaphysical, and is not philosophical, not necessarily, although one can always fuck it up. It is, rather, antiphilosophical, because it very much counters philosophical solutions.

But not thinking solutions.  They are to be developed. But this also means we do not have to start from any kind of hope about a new dispensation of being coming to us from the dark light of being itself, etc.  It is a form of historical action, and it has to do with displacing ontology –and its ideological projections– at the end of the epoch of positionality and in favor of the endeavor of traversing it.    

Heidegger’s Antiphilosophy

I propose the following, tentative definition of antiphilosophy: antiphilosophy happens when a thinker, having come to the end of her or his particular ontological itinerary, refers to an altogether alternative kind of experience of thought, normally posited as yet-to-come or barely glimpsed, hence futural but immanent, and it is an experience of a nearness where things will have come to be accomplished in terms of that thinker’s itinerary of thought.   In modernity we can point to Nietzsche, and his notion that he was just about to have an insight that would break the history of the world in two in the weeks prior to his mental collapse; to Wittgenstein, and his notion that thought opened up in the silence of which one could no longer talk, having exhausted the talkable, at the end of his Tractatus; of the later Lacan, and his notion of the analytic matheme.  There could be other examples.  I could cite the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, for instance.  Waiting to be read.  I think Heidegger reaches a particular antiphilosophical formulation in the 1950s, and he presents his path to it in particular in the lectures entitled “The Danger” and “The Turn.”  The experience of “the turn” is an antiphilosophical experience.

I will quickly go through the main steps in those two lectures. These are just notes, not a finished paper.

“The Danger”

This lecture prepares the ground and anticipates what will be determined in the following one (they are two consecutive lectures presented at Bremen) as what I am calling an antiphilosophical experience:

First, Heidegger carefully establishes a notion of being of beings (to einai) to which he opposes “the world.”  This is the key passage, and you will see that he makes an overcoming of nihilism dependent on it:  “Being has to own its essence from the worlding of world . . . the worlding of world is an appropriating (das Ereignen) in a still-unexperienced sense of this word.  When world first properly takes place, then being, and along with it the nothing, vanish into worlding.  Only when the nothing, in its essence from the truth of being, vanishes into this is nihilism overcome” (Bremen and Freiburg Lectures 46-47).

There is therefore an assertion that world and being are the same, but not equivalent: “they are the same in radical differentiation” (47). 

The essential experience of forgetfulness defines human thinking at this stage or epoch.  It is the epoch of positionality (Gestell).  It is the epoch of technology.

The world refuses itself.  There is only a “hint” that such refusal takes place.  In positionality, the essence of technology, the forgetting of the essence of being completes itself (49).  But there is a hint.

This hint that positionality as the being of beings offers a refusal of world through which we may get some kind of access to the fact that there is world, and not just positionality, is a reformulation of the earlier experience of the ontico-ontological difference.  There is a difference, or the trace of a difference, or the hint of a difference, mysterious, between world and positionality.

The hint is also called “a ray from the distant arrival of world” (50).  This comes through the refusal of world.  In other words, in the experience of world refusal the possibility of other-than-positionality-as-being-of-beings opens up. 

In the meantime, the pursuit and requisitioning of positionality, regarding which we have no choice, as we are not masters of being, is “the danger.”  We must traverse it.  Earlier, Heidegger tells us, he called the zone of the traversing “errancy.”

The danger conceals itself as the danger that it is.  We experience perils and plights, indeed of horrifying kinds, but the danger remains concealed.  There is immeasurable suffering and pain, but the essence of pain is concealed.  (Nota bene: a strange “we” surfaces here, as Heidegger says that “we” are unpained, but it is not clear where those whose flesh went into the Nazi “fabrication of corpses in annihilation camps” or the starving dead in China are equally unpained.)

To experience the danger as danger is, however, a requisite—positionality must be traversed.  There is a suffering of thought, a pain of thought, and Kant and Nietzsche are mentioned here as two thinkers who underwent it. 

In accomplished positionality we must traverse and experience the danger of presencing.  Presencing is the basic trait of positionality, a human production based on the presencing of being.  If physis gives us a rock, the human posits a stone staircase.  Human positioning is production: the pursuit and requisition of presence as standing reserve.

“The Turn.”

Heidegger announces that the accomplished essence of positionality prepares a “change in being” (65).  There is to be a “conversion of positionality” that would signal “the arrival of another dispensation” (65). 

The human must prepare itself for it.  How?  In thinking.  Thinking is the “authentic action.”  “By thinking we first learn to dwell in the realm in which the conversion of the dispensation of being, the conversion of positionality, takes place” (67). 

This is “the turn,” or its possibility.  From the forgetting of being to the guardianship of the essence of being.

We are not masters of being.  We cannot command it.  We can only prepare in the waiting. 

We prepare for a favor, a grace. 

It will come to us, if it comes, as a “lightning flash,” a “flashing entry” (71). 

It will give us insight (Einsicht) into that which is.  This is Ereignis. 

Beyng would have unconcealed for us “its highest secret” within the dominance of positionality. (72)

The favor, the grace, the Einkehr into Einsicht—all of this seems to me an appeal to antiphilosophy as thought.  To thought as antiphilosophy.  With it nihilism will have been overcome.  And an other beginning will have taken place. 

The history of the world would have been split in two. 

Resources that are no longer philosophical, but existential, are activated therein.  If you can muster them.  And then . . . if you wait well enough. 

Is this not, finally, transformation, transfiguration? 

Nacionalismo y sentimiento de nación.

En un grupo de Facebook Pedro Caro me pregunta por la relación entre nacionalismo e infrapolítica y aduce como contexto ciertos discursos académicos sobre nacionalismo étnico y nacionalismo cívico.  En realidad la pregunta de Caro no remite más que indirectamente al nacionalismo.  La pregunta previa en la discusión de grupo era una pregunta sobre el sentimiento individual de nación en los participantes.  El nacionalismo, a mi juicio, tiene una relación distante y más bien perversa con el sentimiento de nación.  Pero es lógico que este último haya quedado radicalmente ocluido, ciertamente para millones de españoles, por ejemplo, donde el que no es nacionalista en un sentido u otro queda reducido a experimentar sensaciones difusas, vagas y “débiles o fugaces” de pertenencia, decía Pedro.  Es notorio que no solamente el discurso académico, heurístico o crítico en el mejor de los casos, haya perdido de vista la diferencia, sino que también lo haya hecho la izquierda, y por lo pronto la izquierda española.  Ha habido recientemente intentos “débiles y fugaces” de restituir la posibilidad de un sentimiento de nación para los biempensantes por parte de ciertas figuras jóvenes de la izquierda española, pero han sido descalificados como mero “buenismo.”  El nacionalismo es para los duros y aguerridos militantes de Vox o el ala aznarista del Partido Popular, o bien para los no menos duros y aguerridos militantes de grupos independentistas catalanes y vascos y gallegos, sin que tal proliferación merme la capacidad de que aparezcan más nacionalistas singulares, nobles émulos, en otros lugares locales de la geografía peninsular.   Pero a mí no me interesa el nacionalismo, sino el sentimiento de nación, que en principio no excluye ninguna posibilidad política en democracia.  La pregunta infrapolítica puede bien remitir a lo segundo, pero en ningún caso a lo primero. 

El borramiento de la diferencia entre nacionalismo y sentimiento de nación tiene que ver con la sobrevaloración de la política sobre la existencia.  Es un fenómeno estrictamente ideológico, un desplazamiento notable por su fuerza.  Nadie piensa ya que la única manera de establecer una relación adecuada, esto es, ni fetichista ni compensatoria, con la práctica política pasa por una reflexión existencial previa y sostenida en tanto previa.  La desdichada izquierda contemporánea lo ignora y por lo tanto ha sido incapaz no solo de llevarla a cabo, sino tan siquiera de proponerla.  La política, entendida en general como la única instancia de redención posible, se ha convertido en la gran falseadora de nuestras vidas, como en otro tiempo puede haberlo sido la religión, también en clave fetichista o compensatoria.  No digo esto desde ningún modo de posición antipolítica.  Conviene la pasión política, pero no como cajón de sastre.  Y es cajón de sastre en tantas pobres vidas, como sintomatizan los ámbitos académicos incapaces de ver más allá de su autopolitización sacrificial, que es la única manera que encuentran de aspirar a un mínimo de relevancia discursiva. 

La cuestión del sentimiento de nación es políticamente relevante, desde luego, en la medida precisa en que pueda sustraerse a las teorizaciones sobre el nacionalismo de los profetas del momento.  No dudo que haya nacionalismos políticamente eficaces, tanto como los hay políticamente perniciosos.  Mi tesis es que un nacionalismo democrático solo puede sostenerse en un sentimiento de nación no-nacionalista—de otra forma será siempre pernicioso. 

En la reciente novela de Louise Erdrich, The Night Watchman, que tematiza los esfuerzos del Congreso norteamericano en 1953 a manos del senador de Utah Arthur Watkins, un “racista pomposo” y mormón, para “terminar” las ayudas federales a tribus indígenas ya reducidas a la pobreza por los robos y expolios continuos en la expansión norteamericana hacia el Oeste, uno de los personajes dice que nunca se irá de esa tierra por la sencilla razón de que la tierra y su cielo están llenos de fantasmas y espíritus que nunca se fueron, y que esos fantasmas y espíritus le reclaman.  Podemos desechar tal noción como un ejemplo más de realismo mágico, apto para primitivos y subdesarrollados, pero también podemos pensar que todo sentimiento de nación es en el fondo una relación con los muertos, con la sobrevida de los muertos cuya existencia ha pasado a ti, sin que la hubieras pedido pero de la que eres directamente responsable.  De esa responsabilidad—una responsabilidad hacia los muertos que se proyecta necesariamente hacia vidas futuras, por las que los muertos se preocupan justamente en tanto fantasmas y espíritus—nace una pasión política nacional, puesto que mis muertos entrelazan sus vidas con las de muchos otros muertos cuya experiencia histórica fue compartida, para bien o para mal.  Si para bien puede cuidarse el legado y si para mal convendrá pedir cuentas.  Ese es el sentimiento de nación, que por supuesto no excluye sino que incluye simpatía y solidaridad hacia otros sentimientos similares, que la infrapolítica puede aceptar, a mi juicio.

Si nadie es más que nadie, nadie tiene legitimidad de dominación.  Nadie, en democracia, está legitimado para vivir de la dominación o subordinación de otros.  Ocurre, por supuesto, pero no ocurre legítimamente.  En algo tan sencillo como eso se liquida la aspiración nacionalista a favor de un sentimiento político de nación.  El nacionalismo no es otra cosa que la proyección fetichista y compensatoria del sentimiento de nación a favor del imperativo de dominación y control.  El nacionalismo demanda o, si tiene éxito y logra hegemonía, establece la dominación de unos sobre otros sobre una legitimidad bastarda e impostada, siempre bastarda e impostada en la precisa medida en que busca dominación.  Revienta el sentimiento de nación como afecto por las generaciones enterradas y su semilla futura a favor de una hipóstasis de poder excluyente basado en el privilegio de pertenencia, que para ser privilegio debe ser negado a otros.  Pero cualquier constitución nacional en democracia es siempre existencial antes que política, es el precipitado de las voces y acciones de los muertos—la ley no es sino la palabra de los muertos.  Sobre esa base hay civismo democrático, cuyo imperativo es la disminución de la violencia como relación entre personas.  Solo en el ámbito de una violencia menor es posible vivir infrapolíticamente, lo cual quiere decir en primer lugar: vivir sin estar secuestrado ni por la dominación ni por la pretensión de dominio. 

Sin duda es fácil—desde luego, no tan difícil–extrapolar desde todo esto al ámbito directamente político.  Pero hace falta querer hacerlo. 

On Surveillance Capitalism

(Copied from an internet forum)

To X:

Thank you, X, for your thoughtful post.  Yes, I agree with many of the things you say, but let me express some skepticism over the overall “optimistic” tone.   Indeed, over the last few days I have watched two documentaries and read a book that put very important indications on the table, if we needed them, that optimism may be a form of collective (and ideological) self-delusion.  And, trust me, those indications do not come from any sort of ultraleftist delirium.  So, I seriously recommend that Heidegger Circle scholars watch The Social Dilemma documentary in Netflix, the Brexit documentary in HBO, and that they read Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.

I do not want to make this too long, so let me only refer to Zuboff’s detailed claim (her book has been in the making for most of the last twenty years) that we are in the midst, but at the same time only the beginning, of a paradigmatic phase in capitalism, which is the move to what she calls surveillance and instrumentarian capitalism.   In the same way that the exploitation of the “dark continent” was at some point in the 19th century a largely lawless condition of capitalist expansion, she claims, and demonstrates, that the dark continent today is human experience as such, now open to thievery and expoliation.  Surveillance capitalism continues and makes a paradigmatic leap onto ongoing primitive accumulation processes by colonizing the deepest recesses of individuation in order to use individuation itself as raw material for economic benefit–this is of course an instance of productionism as the very motor of collective life as we know it.  She is a reformist, and believes it could eventually be controlled by democratic policies, which are the very policies being radically dismantled in effect–and this is the reason why I very much doubt it.

She makes the point, repeatedly and emphatically, that technology has little to do with it: that these are massive decisions made at the economic and political level for a particular instrumentalization of technology that is, as such, contingent and could be reversed.   No doubt this has become the commonplace assumption for many of those who think about these issues, namely: “there is nothing wrong with technology, it is really politics, stupid!”  But I think Heidegger, precisely, makes a different case, which could be summarized as: ongoing primitive accumulation is technologically driven, and the economic and political system just follows suit and adapts to it.  Will to power is first technological, secondarily capitalist.

I recognize the above raises a huge problem.  Is Heidegger right?  Was Max Weber right?  One needs to make a choice.

Remember the interplay between Wegsein and Dasein in Contributions to Philosophy?  When I think about what “transformative thinking” might mean I am not thinking about poetico-mystical pieties or political revolutions–I prefer to stay around, and to stick to, the notion of Da-sein as the key to the “other beginning.”  Which is just about all I personally can do.

Surveillance capitalism expropriates us, radically.  It is the most extreme historical development of Wegsein, most precisely because, as James Osborn has said a couple of times, it hides itself, it proceeds through secrecy, and will not let us see what it is doing to us.

Gelassenheit, or Seinlassen, cannot happen within the context of an embrace of technology in the epoch of surveillance capitalism, which does not liberate but secretly robs us of the very possibility of experience, and therefore changes our very humanity–without us noticing it.  For the most part.   Also here, or primarily here, a step back, the famous Schritt zurück, needs to be taken.

When I was living in Scotland a few years ago I was returning home from the university and I ran into an old man holding a screwdriver and walking aimlessly in the middle of the street.  He looked thoroughly disoriented, so I asked him whether I could help him.  He thanked me profusely, a bit incoherently, and told me that his tv had stopped functioning two days ago, and could I please fix it for him.  I cannot tell you the despair in his eyes, the absolute need he felt for a functioning tv, which was his only resource against radical loneliness and death.  I have often thought about him.  I was not able to help him, could only offer the phone number of some technical service for him to use.  Never knew whether he called them.

All the very best, Alberto

Notes on the Exordium and Introduction of Gareth Williams’ Infrapolitical Passages (Fordham UP, 2020)

One of the epigraphs in Gareth’s book comes from Reiner Schürmann, and it includes the lines “To think is to linger on the conditions in which one is living, to linger on the site where we live . . .  This assigns to philosophy, or to whatever takes its place, the task of showing the tragic condition beneath all principled constructions.”  But if principled constructions are or can be shown to be tragic, it is because they are fundamentally misleading, and dissembling: they hide the fact that the principle does not hold. 

The following notes are meant to help accomplish three things: 1) to provide an echo that might contribute to the dissemination of the ideas in this powerful book; 2) to prepare an upcoming working group meeting where what is to be discussed is the possible connection between infrapolitics and Afropessimism; 3) to help me think out what I want to say in a review of the book I have promised to a journal. 

Full disclosure: Gareth is not just my brother in law, but an old friend and comrade.  And his book—the first English-language book where the tendency of thought some of us have been calling infrapolitics since approximately 2006 is fully named, presented, and developed– seems to me to provide not just a certain public legitimation but also a great occasion to dwell on infrapolitics as a form of thought, and to attempt to show, or to continue to show, its promise.  Which is something in which we have not very successful so far.  But we persist—and even if at some point we give up on the name and attempt other paths we shall continue to persist, since, as the last lines of the Introduction say, “there might be absolutely everything at stake therein” (32). 

I think it is fair to say that infrapolitics is a tendency that has been so far exclusively developed in the context of Latin American Studies, although at the end of the day it does not come from Latin American Studies.  It was born out of the frustrations and the dissatisfaction that the available theoretical tendencies within the field of study provoked in us.  Rather than a form of militancy, it is therefore its opposite: an exodus and a line of flight from endemic pieties of academic thought, endlessly bent on consuming and reproducing itself, reproducing and consuming itself.   So it was a novelty and, insofar as it has not yet been taken up by others outside the core group, it is still a novelty.   But of course our main contention is that it should NOT be a novelty, it should never have been allowed to become a novelty, and it is only a novelty because of an abysmal default of thinking, a blindness, a willed and self-willed disavowal of what, once you see it, can only become increasingly obvious to everyone.  It is not for me to investigate and reveal the reasons for such blindness—I will leave it to others of a more historicist bent.  At this point I will limit myself to praising Gareth’s generous citational strategy in the middle pages of his Introduction.  He quotes me, and the chapter of my book Línea de sombra (2006) where I initiated a presentation of the idea, and immediately he quotes Jaime Rodríguez Matos’s Writing of the Formless, and then various essays by Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott, Ronald Mendoza de Jesús, Angel Octavio Alvarez Solís, Jorge Alvarez Yágüez, and Maddalena Cerrato.  While this list of names does not exhaust the infrapolitical nomenklatura, as there are a few others whose ongoing contributions have been extremely welcome (they know who they are: I cannot name them here, as I would not want to offend anyone not named), they serve as an indication that there was indeed a core group of people whose collective will and commitment enabled some of these thoughts to come forward.  I do not think this is trivial—at the very least it takes care of the thought that infrapolitics is some sort of whimsical solipsism.  The group itself, if none of the individual participants, ought to command some respect in practical terms and force others to take stock of what is being said.  Which has not happened yet, not to my knowledge.  Ignoring things—an active ignoring: it is not that they did not know, they simply preferred to neglect it–has been the habitual modus operandi of our blessed field. 

And how could they?  It is not as if the claims made, even if they were to prove absolutely wrong and misguided, or evil, were trivial.  Gareth says, for instance:  “It is a proposal for the deconstruction of every illegitimate appropriation and expropriation that is presented as legitimate” (24);  “infrapolitics inaugurates a diagnosis of the epochal collapse of modern thought” (26); “It is the unconditional nonplace of politics in retreat, which is understood as the potential uncovering of what cannot be captured and remobilized from within the Hegelian metaphysics of absolute knowledge, political consciousness, subjective will, and the dialectic of experience” (26); [infrapolitics is] “the task of denarrativizing the contemporary inheritance of the political” (27-28).  Those do not seem minor claims.  They appear in fact as tremendous claims, and one, a relative fan of horror films, cannot obviate the certainty that a shudder ought to go down the spine every time a tremendous claim gets made.  But it seems that, in our day and age, horror claims are better left alone, unbothered.  It is of course another way of running away from them.  That may have the undesirable and counterproductive effect of making the claimers exaggerate, in the impossibility of generating proper attention otherwise.  And yet that is not the point.

Because infrapolitics actually makes no grandiose claims.  It is inconspicuous thought, of the kind named by Schürmann in Gareth’s epigraph: “linger where you are, open your eyes.”   If only we could know where we are.  At some point in the Introduction Gareth quotes Walter Benjamin’s short text on “the destructive character,” and compares it to infrapolitical work: “The destructive character sees nothing permanent.  But for this reason he sees ways everywhere.  Where others encounter walls or mountains, there, too, he sees a way.  But because he sees a way everywhere, he has to clear things from it everywhere.  Not always by brute force; sometimes by the most refined.  Because he sees ways everywhere, he always stands at a crossroads.  No moment can know what the next will bring.  What exists he reduces to rubble—not for the sake of rubble, but for that of the way leading through it” (Benjamin quoted by Gareth, 27).   And this is of course the site from which the word passage comes to the title of the book: Infrapolitical Passages.  There is a need to open a way through the rubble of the present, but to where? 

Gareth does not say.  “The story [the book] tells, from start to finish,” is only “the experience of a border, of a boundary, and therefore of a (non)crossing” (28).  It is a (non)crossing where principles collapse, and where it is only possible “to strive to clear a path” towards “the possibility of a decision of existence . . . from within the endemic violence of a world of war” (29).  Which does not mean that, thereby, existence needs to take shelter in some non-political exteriority, much less an interiority.  “Rather, it is a movement toward a quasi-conceptual attunement in thinking formulated in order to inquire into the determining power of our given conceptual systems and to propose the contours for an alternative (for example, nonsubjectivist, nontranscendental, nonutopian, postmessianic) relation to the political in the age of total (that is, of planetary) subsumption” (20).  It is a movement of raw politicity, opposed to any thought of an accomplished passage like the one the Introduction finds maximally represented in Alain Badiou’s notion of an “intervallic period” leading to true life through the enactment of the Idea.

Gareth’s reading of Badiou’s formulations of the Idea in The True Life (2017) and The Rebirth of History (2012) is magisterial, and so is his reading of Jacques Lacan’s 1972 Milan lecture on “capitalist discourse.”  But they are in fact opposed to one another, insofar as Badiou’s intervallic periods, which are the periods of the wait for true life and rebirth, “would stand as flawed monuments to a largely unexamined will to close over any potential abyss in thinking the political, via the language of a metaphysical doctrine of political subjectivism in an age in which the history of that metaphysics has already run its course” (17).  Lacan, instead, is the portentous announcer of a different message: “Lacan indicates that the question of Being precedes and is occluded in the Cartesian certainty of the ‘therefore’ that situates logos and the subject as coextensive and coterminous, together and complementary in the everyday (ontic) experience of subjectivity and its representations.  Lacan announced in these formulations that a fundamental historical limit—a limit inaugurating the full planetary accomplishment of the ontology of the commodity—had been crossed.  It is too late, he said in reference to the capitalist discourse, thereby implying that the history of the modern can no longer be salvaged” (15).   

What is to be done amidst the ruins of an unsalvageable political modernity?  The Exordium takes up some words of Greta Thunberg’s, pronounced during the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, in April 2019.  In her words, Gareth says, “we merely encounter an a-principial, infrapolitical recollection of being and nothing else, little more than a call, by saying its matter, to let being be in a way that it is not being allowed to be” (3).  In that call, Gareth says, we are summoned to “two intertwined transmissions of the infrapolitical register,” namely, “the everyday ontic, or sociological, distance from the modern metaphysics of subjectivity and the technical calculations of sovereignty, in conjunction with that distance’s simultaneous touch upon a thinking of being uncaptured by the ontology of commodity fetishism” (7).

To finish this brief examination of the first pages of Gareth’s book—I will continue this with later chapters—I will reproduce the passage he quotes from one of Heidegger’s poietic writings of the early 1940s, namely, The History of Beying: “nothing remains any longer in which the hitherto accustomed world of humankind could be salvaged; nothing of what has gone before offers itself as something that could still be erected as a goal for the accustomed self-securing of human beings” (Heidegger quoted by Gareth, 8).   

Infrapolitics points to a passage in the nothing, but it is an enabling one.  And is this not also, mutatis mutandis, the radical core experience of Afropessimism, which is an experience, in its reverse side, of the accomplishment of subjective triumph at the cost of antiblackness?  Ontotheology is antiblackness, and infrapolitics is, wishes to be, a way out of ontotheology.  But more on this in the future.   

Digital as Third-Degree

To David XXX:

If you are ultimately asking whether we would prefer an analog over a digital world, my answer is an unequivocal yes.  I think yellow slips, phone calls during office hours for work, and evenings and weekends for family and friends, and a couple of hours a day for typewritten or long-hand correspondence, did a much better job for me.  Yes, now I can easily share with my nephews and nieces in Spain the story of the Florida man who liberated his Spaniel puppy from the jaws of an alligator without dropping his cigar, but I have not had a proper conversation with any of them since the last time I was in Spain, when most of them were busy anyway texting their friends.

I have been privileged enough to have access to adequate libraries, so that using the card catalog and walking through the stacks, and then going downstairs to read a couple of newspapers in the newspapers section, was good enough for me.  Of course it is more comfortable, physically, to order books from Amazon and to download everything else into my computer, but at the end of the day that kind of hyperaccess, which I enjoy professionally, has not done much for me in terms of thinking and writing about what is important (for me).  And the pleasures of posting in Academia.com or Facebook are offset by the pain they produce on a constant basis.  Just think about what it has done to your friendships, together with email.  There are now for the most part only nominal friendships having to do with a steady digital contact.  But you are dead in the water if that contact vanishes, for one reason or another.  Nothing easier.

Even writing here in the Heidegger Circle is painful, no matter its compensations.

I have no choice, however, or my choice is very limited.  Yes, I may drop out of Facebook and my Slack chat rooms and even the Heidegger Circle, and willingly assume a heroic, radical solitude that will feel very much like what I imagine prison time to be.  Or I may assiduously continue the activities I engage in, and this letter is part of it, in full awareness that they are radically compensatory in nature and far from any kind of “real thing.”  So that the isolation regime becomes more like a third-degree jail regime, where I am given some communication benefits in exchange for good behavior, if I manage to keep it.

Given that situation, I will of course try to make the most of my options as they are, never knowing whether I am doing it right or, indeed, the costs it enacts.  But I am pretty damn sure I cannot call that “a free relation to technology.”  That would only be self-delusion, and a corrupt use of the very notion of freedom.

In the meantime, the regime of work and permanent evaluation on quantitative factors the university imposes on us–definitely Ge-Stell and Bestand-based, and digitally motivated and empowered to the core–has gutted any conceivable academic stimulus for me.  As far as I am concerned, social networks have taken the place of university discourse, since proper university discourse is to be found nowhere.  But they have not really taken its place, except as farce.

So, yes, I will continue to try to make the most of present conditions, but I think they generally suck, even though they suck for me less than they suck for others.

All the very best, Alberto

PS: It would of course be naive of me to expect, even to hope for, a good discussion concerning these issues.

****

David, thanks.  Likewise, I have no reason or inclination to question your experience.  I realize the world is complicated.  And it would be disingenuous of me to suggest that I do not try to extract as much as I can extract from the digital world as it is.  I am successful enough at it at any rate to sustain my life as it is.  And of course there is no alternative life I can countenance at this point.   I am, for instance, enjoying this exchange, and I would not give it up.

So perhaps the key here is not to take absolute or dogmatic positions and try to make the most of the possibilities we do have–there is certainly no return to the analog world, as it cannot be done on an individual basis–to be the one analog in a digital world is to be in a position a lot worse than the ugly duckling’s, as there will be no redeeming swan flying by.  We have to make do.

The difficulty, then, at least for me, is how to continue to produce some thinking that I believe is good enough for my possibilities in the face of a net of digital relationships that are only receptive rarely, infrequently.   In the notion that thinking can only happen relationally, that there can be no thinking in the absence of interlocution.  (Unless one is some kind of saintly genius.)

Say, you produce a text here, or in Facebook, and there is no response.  How many times can you bear it without throwing in the towel?   And then, what do you do: do you adjust your discourse to your prospective audience, meaning that you will have to come in your thinking as close to producing a cat picture as you can, or do you just opt for silence and withdrawal?

Of course those are two bad options.  Today a friend of mine posted a picture of the cover of a book I had co-edited with him, and I posted a reflection on the issue we are currently discussing.  Within half an hour that cover picture had 102 likes, and my reflection had 9 likes.  But I know that well above 90% of the people that “liked” the cover picture will forget that the book exists within half an hour.

I find that kind of thing endlessly frustrating, and precisely because people’s digital commitments have made them become very scarce when it comes to facilitating serious conversation, and there is nothing but facebook, say, available any more.  There is no alternative.  Even email is failing now, compared to its function in, say, the 1990s.

I believe the tendency of thought associated with Heidegger helps endure all of this, which definitely has existential implications.   Actually, this is why I am interested in the notion of an existentially transformative thinking.   While I know present conditions are not to be ignored, cannot be ignored, I find it hard to inhabit them, and I need something else.  Please do not think of this as overly dramatic on my part.  I think it is what we all feel.  At some level.

All the very best, Alberto

On Lying in Politics (in an Extramoral Sense)

I think I have a certain responsibility, as a teacher if for no other reason (although there are always other reasons), to say something, and to make it public.  So here it is. 

It is becoming increasingly clear, if immediately after November 4 there was some possible room for doubt, that the battle of the Republican Party to impugn the recent presidential elections has now moved, well away from partisan zeal, into a region of straightforward lies and willful deceit that is nothing but massive in intent.  At first one could think that people’s natural tendency to believe in good faith what others on their side of things say was excusable, understandable even.  But everyone knows by now that not just the President but the Republican Party leadership, and all who side with them on this issue, are lying shamelessly when they continue to state that only systematic fraud explains the majority in both the popular and the Electoral College votes favoring President-Elect Joseph Biden, and that the fraud will be corrected and there will be a second term for President Trump. That all of this is a lie is as close to a simple fact as one can possibly come in the political world.  Not only are they lying, but they know they are lying, and they are doing it anyway.  Let us not call this “ideology,” let us not call it self-deceit.  Those people are lying, their intent is to deceive others, they want to do damage, and, in the process, they are losing their integrity, their decency, and they are consequently losing their very capacity to ask for and expect respect from the rest of us.  I think this is a serious problem and they have created it.

I suppose, like most everybody else, I have come to terms with the fact that other people can and will have political opinions and projections that do not accord with mine, and I accept the democratic game, sometimes begrudgingly so.  But I know that, short of declaring war, where I could die as easily as anybody else, I do not have an alternative, other than just leaving the site where disagreement is too strong for me to stomach, which I have done in the past.  When the stage where willful and destructive lying takes place is the national stage, then it is difficult to leave it.  It is difficult to abandon your country, even if you are tempted to do so when political life in it becomes so fraught, so contaminated with falsity that your own integrity and respect for obvious, everyday truth becomes endangered.  When you can no longer trust your neighbor you start to lose the ability to trust yourself.

I do not want to preach.  The reason I am writing this is not anxious moralism on my part.  It is true that I do not believe in lying for almost any reason, I think it always backfires, but I have no specific moral reproach for the liars.  They may have reasons for their lying that I know nothing about.  The same goes for corruption or indeed for other vices.  To that extent I do not pass judgment on them, I prefer to abstain, although I will do my best to shut people who have them out of my life as I prefer not to have complications derived from such behaviors.  But we are talking about politics here, and I have no way of shutting an undetermined half of the country out of my life.  I have to deal with them, and I have to pay the price for doing so.  I resent that very much.  Have any political opinions you like.  I may like them or dislike them, and I might learn from them.  But be truthful about them and be truthful about the situations they generate for you and for others. That at least.

When I talk about infrapolitics I mean first of all precisely that.  There are potential liars everywhere in the political spectrum, and they are all dishonorable and they all create trouble for the rest of us.  Infrapolitics has nothing to do with your politics to that extent.  But when your politics lead you to lie, or when your lying leads you to politics, then you have betrayed yourself as an existent, you break a certain interdiction that turns you into a broken person, no matter how petulant it makes you look at first.  And you risk breaking others.  There is a very difficult return from that pit.  In fact, I do not think there is one.  This is also a situation similar to the one I like to confront my students with: if you betray someone, are you a traitor?  Can you ever stop being a traitor after your betrayal?  My students always respond: “No, once a traitor, always a traitor.”  Being a traitor, being a liar, being dishonorable—those are not political issues, they are not even primarily moral issues, or if they are let them be: as far as the other is concerned, they are first of all infrapolitical issues, as they define your existence even before politics.  The problem is: they affect mine as well.  And that is unacceptable.  When politics moves into a situation of infrapolitical unacceptability, that is when civil war raises its ugly head.  It is only latent now, initiated by the liars.  We need to step back, even if that means leaving the liars behind.