7. A Politics of the Subject: Refusing Representation
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7 A Politics of the Subject Refusing Representation The project of refusing representation is obviously not so easy since it requires the rejection of “the very fundamental structural principle of society, as happened with the emergence of the ‘democratic invention’” (Zizek, 2000a, p. 93; emphasis in original).1 This transformation must propose a new avenue of engagement and subjectivation that does not demand reference to the popular sovereign and replication of the model-copy relation .2 Through this refusal, the ontology of representation and that of its political form, the People, are recognized for their internal and historical limitations as well as the limitations that this ontology imposes on the present. By no mean does this entail abandonment of the achievements of past contests over the terms of the model or of those that remain to be won since neither constitutionalism nor disciplinarity have vanished. However, this political ontology and the institutional arrangements that emerged in its furtherance and reproduction are not the final form of human worlds. We must, again, raise the double partiality of the People: not simply for the partiality-as-universality it articulates and conceals, but for the way in which the People names a particular way in which we might live and betogether . The People does not merely insist on the imposition of a single way of life; it insists that it is the only way of being. However, representing is a way of living together; it is a way of constructing the categories, objects , and relations that sustain intelligible human interaction. It provides one answer to the questions of what life is and what life is for. To be as the People is not the only way to be-together, and hegemony names only one particular way of formulating the functionality and authority of government and the constitution of a political society. A Politics of the Subject / 189 In formulating the fundamental problem in terms of representation, I have tried to articulate a distinctive ground for a general Political transformation such that a new mode of governing and being itself might be postulated—a new political ontology. This transformation is grounded in a rejection not of a particular model of representation but of the very idea of a model, an order that authoritatively grounds the judgment of copies through imputation of positive, normative content to the mute structures of biological life and that, in its insistence on oneness, turns away from the fundamental indeterminacy of the void. In advancing this general theory of representation as a mode of social creation and reproduction, I have attempted , in turn, to justify a robust, expansive understanding of governing. On this new terrain, the avenues of transformation clearly are no longer restricted to the straits and narrows of conventional politics. A place for contestation appears anywhere a model of representation is deployed and the representational way of being is reproduced.Together, this primary concern for formal relations (the model-copy relation) rather than content (creating more accurate models) and its related topographical shift orients the reconceptualization of governing toward qualitatively changing the basic structuring principle of human relationship.3 By implication, future conducting of conduct might concern, fundamentally , the subjective constitution of those processes and how we make ourselves up. Governing might concern itself with the processes by which and through which truth, objectivities, and subjectivities are contextually produced, imposed, and sustained, rather than with the mechanisms that purport to represent a posited extant truth and its sovereign origin. While governing itself is recognized as a general human activity, this does not mean that government itself withers away. As we have seen, government is symptomatic of the nonexistence of the popular sovereign and the very absence of an object of representation. Government exists precisely because there is no self-regulating, autochthonous sociopolitical order devoid of imposition or ontological commitment. Government appears as a structural inevitability. The task is to theorize a government that does not exist to represent and replicate the division between those who rule and those who are ruled (either in the sense of the government ruling over the People or the People ruling over its representatives) or that rests on the fiction of a state of nature and a politics, both wistful and fearful, bent on creating an inno- 190 / Chapter 7 cence always already lost. This is accomplished by rejecting the ontology of the One and its model-copy relation and by working through the possibilities that emerge from a new originary commitment. In...


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Subject Headings

  • Legitimacy of governments -- United States -- Public opinion.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 2001-2009.
  • Political leadership -- United States -- Public opinion.
  • Public opinion -- United States.
  • Public administration -- United States -- Public opinion.
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