Critique of formal democracy and representation
Transcript and translation by Arianna Bove, audiofiles in Italian found on Global Project in 2005
1) Democracy is until the end of modernity a practice of domination and a project of liberation, two aspects of the same figure, Janus.
2) For Schmitt : democracy is the triumph of the principle of identity and the accomplishment of idealism.
3) War: Tronti says that we are not in a state of permanent war because today there is a uniforming peace within which democracy is reduced to being the power of all on each, rather than all on all. I disagree.
1) I think these two sides are deinifetly dissociated. we have for a long time experienced this dissociation which we call the confrontation between empire and multitude, or end of dialectics. these are irreversible issues, the latter being not only a theoretical question, but a lived social practice; and the dissociation between apparatues, processes and dispositifs of command ad the reproduction of the world thoght labour through passion etc and the productive powers. They are disocciated but still insist on one same point, on the same bodies, minds and epxeriences, but in radically different ways from modern ones.
2) It is effectively as Schmitt says, because the triumph of identification between sovereign and subjects, betwene poeple and populist sovereiignty would have been impossible if communication hadnt offered to sovereigity the instruments most deadly ever existed. Murdoch and Berlusconi are not emerging from the mechanisms of the state but give to sovereignty the means to realise the identification between people and sovereign, to realise idealism and democracy as absolute synthesis between constituent and constitutve power.
3) It is true that war is not as omnipresent nor does it enjoy the representative status that is attributed to it, because its molecularisation is so powerful and radical that wars made with bombs or weapons of mass distruction are only peaks of a common condition. War is what allows the populist sovereign to realise the identification between poeple and sovereignty. War is the use by sovereignty of communication, what I call poverty: the fact of not having the option to subtract oneself form a mechanism where the will of all is immediately the will of the sovereign.
Sovereignty and multitude break this Janus but insist on the same points, and constitute the real. Our teachers told us that this relation is an absolute dualism, between command and the multitude the same tensions arise. Both from the side of command and of multitude we have exited representation (for all the reasons we know already). But why has the multitude exited from representation? There are reasons to believe the multitude is a non representative subject.
First, the multitude must be kept in political passivity and in productive activism, active in production and consumption. It is the most active subject ever conceived in the history materialist production. Second, the latitude of the multitude is unlimited. There is no political codified status to it. The political is all in production, as Virno says, and this makes political representation intolerable. Thirdly, disobedience has no relation to representaiton because it contests the fundamental law of sovereignty: the princile of political obligation. Fourtly exodus, we try and build new grammars, so how can we go to parliament and dislocate the issues of a political argument? It can only mean not accepting the very parliamentary representaiton itself. Fifthly the relation between norm and life: in the multitude the norm is no longer transcendent but rather it is life norm, the path life gives itself as it goes along. So how is this representable?