Democracy,Dissensus and the Aesthetics of Class Struggle•287
See Rancière 1999, p. 35: ‘By subjectiﬁcation I mean the production through aseries of actions of a body and a capacity for enunciation not previously identiﬁablewithin a given ﬁeld of experience, whose identiﬁcation is thus part of the ﬁeld ofexperience.’
See Rancière 1999, p. 38: ‘Proletarian subjectiﬁcation deﬁnes a subject of wrong – by superimposition in relation the multitude of workers. What is subjectiﬁed is neither
struggle. Yet you rethink class struggle in terms of political subjectiﬁcationand take your distances from any ideal
, or from what Marx called‘true democracy’and communism. We would like to know the reason forthis shift from Marx, how it modiﬁes the Marxist signiﬁer of class struggle,and in what respect the struggle for rights plays a central role in thismodiﬁcation.
Rancière: Rights as such, you think so?
We thought this implicit, for instance, in your critique of Marx’s accountof human rights in
On the Jewish Question.
This is not actually the way in which I did put the issue. My critique ofthe young Marx was not so much concerned with rights as with politicalsubjectiﬁcation.
In the young Marx, there is a kind of debasement of politics,politics for him being only superstructural appearance, and the real thing being the subterranean process of class war. I tried to overturn the position by appropriating for myself the enigmatic sentence of the
Introduction to theCritique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
where he writes that the proletariat is aclass of society that is not a class of society, and is actually a ‘class’ that entailsthe dissolution of all classes. The question is: what does this mean, how doyou think of this class which is not a class? In the same text, Marx makes theproletariat akin to a kind of chemical or biological idea of dissolution. Theproletariat is thought as the process of the decomposition of old classes. Fromthis point on, Marxism oscillated between a negative idea of class as dissolutionand a positive idea of class as identity. And, ultimately, this second sense, theproletariat as a positive class of labour, obviously became the mainstreamsense of class in Marxism.I tried to put differently this process of ‘dissolution’. It is not a matter ofthe historical and quasi-biological decomposition of old classes. I rather thinkthis dissolution as a symbolic function of declassing. The class that is not aclass thus becomes an operator of declassiﬁcation. The proletariat is no longera part of society but is, rather, the symbolic inscription of ‘the part of thosewho have no part’, a supplement which separates the political communityfrom any count of the parts of a society.
The idea of the dissolving class canthus give the concept of what constitutes a political subject.