LA COMPARUTION*ITHE COMPEARANCE from theExistence of"Communism" totheCommunity of"Existence

"
JEAN-LUC NANCY University ofStrasbourg B. Strong, Translated byTracy University ofCalifornia, San Diego

The"postmodem" hasalready itnever cometo closure; perhaps hapwhich pened. More accurately, that this term have described orreflected may (not without a certain degree ofaccuracy) tohave the brief appears been only andinverted appearance ofanother occurrence. The"postmodern" defined itself as a strained with a mixture of anguish andgaiety, a relationship, toa general relationship unpresentation (impresentation) such that neither nor truth sense nor a foundation could bepresented. Theleading any longer target was,ofcourse, anycommon substantiality, anysubject for human - all communism, andthebody in fact history politic therefore. Nothing situates the postmodern better than the polymorphic constellation ofallthe "ends ofcommunism," whether communism betaken as community-subject oras a kind oforganicism oras "Rousseauism." at thesametime, However, thecommon human condition turns up more everywhere, manifest and bare than itismanifest ever. Indeed, because stripped bare, and vice-versa. Thecommon condition is atthe same time the common reduction toa common denomination andthe condition ofbeing
*Lacomparution refers totheactofappearing incourt having beensummoned. "Summoning" a much carries stronger notion ofagency than the more disembodied comparution andlacksthe in theprefix. TheScottish commonlaw term commonality implied "compearance"-although tomost themeaning andI haveretained it.Throughout foreign English ears-conveys exactly theessay, a Nancy playsonjuridicalterms, suchas droit andjugement. Additionally, following 'susage, I haveused "share"or "sharing" suggestion byStanley Cavelland GayleOrmiston for lepartage.Comparaitre is what wedo before God
POLMCALTHEORY, Vol. 20No.3,August 1992371-398 ? 1992Sage Publications, Inc.
371

372

1992 POLITICAL THEORY/ August

absolutely incommon. Thesetwosenses ofcommon areboth intermixed and in opposition toeachother. ofthiscondition is certainly as barren Forus at leastsucha presentation it makes itself available to us,it makespresence as an emptied space-but forus. Certainly, ourcondition thepresentness of ourcondition is forus a butitis a matter ofandinits"arrival": orthedifference riddle, ora question, one wouldprefer to see it as exposition: of presence. a common Perhaps condition to us, stripped exposesitself bare,and exposesus to itself. We nor Butitis thepresent it- neither that is made before compear "post" "pre." for us.

thus We compear: an old Christian-Hegelian motif (Christian, Hegelian). - the We compear before the"world court over court" presided bytheSpirit, which judgesthefit ofactions ititself tohistory. We tothegoal that assigns havedischarged allthat this wascalled"communism" represented goal:what was notone of the least. Perhaps, indeed,communism was notjust the but also thatwhichbrought themall together, strongest representation thesynthesis exhausting oftheir separate meanings. Therewould thusno longer be a courtto whichwe shouldcompear. However, we find ourselves stillinjudgment. The Day of Judgment -dies - is nolonger irae,thedayofdivine wrath a dayatallbuta night from which ourdaysareobstinately woven, daysembraced bya heavy nostalgia for light and whichmakeus think "Greek."This day is thusan instant alwaysin suspense, a differed always judgment that cannot be appealed. Thisjudgment reaches a verdict in thenameoftheend.'Thisis notan End setup (justly) as an Idea onthehorizon; itis rather howwe approach ourownfinal horizon and how we do (or do not do) justiceto thathorizon. This is a simple without judgment, appeal;itis notsubject to anysuperior law (droit) forit from proceeds that which precedes law.Have we doneright (droit) bythat which stillhas no right? right byourexistence itself-orsincethis wordis subjectto misusein thesingular, by ourexistences, by their community? Before this lawwithout lawwe havenever ceasedtocompear. In theendwe there compear naked. Thuswe arenotgivenoversimply to a wandering (errance), a disorientation (so occidental) that wouldleaveus divested ofcriteria. Weareexposed toa criterion before all criteria, a criterion that dissolves all models ofcriteria without having destroyed the fact(transcendental?) ofthekrinein, ofsepa-

COMPEARANCE Nancy /LA COMPARUTIONITHE

373

ration, ofa verdict (judgment). Arenot we "moderns" (orwhatever name we maycarry) bornfrom theoriginal separation to whichKantand "German idealism" werewitnesses: theUr-teil, the judgment as origin, division as a oftherule. rule(enprincipe) becausedivision the be nothing Itcouldbe that division ofthe principle might (principielle) ofthegiventhat we do notexist other than that of ourcommon existence, ourtime, thisis alone.Or rather, that there is no onethat is onlyOne. Until Thisiswhat what hasbeenthe stumbling block ofallWestern thought. judges wejudgeourselves andthat we causeourselves tocompear us; itisbythis that incourt. do for existence and existence? How we answer to This is theold question of meaning (sens)-so old and heavythatit of"meaning," noteven can no longer be formulated as thequestion perhaps in thelogicof"question" and"answer." On theother hand, howcouldone in this ofexistence" that whatis atstake formulation ofthe"meaning doubt in thedimenitself nowconfusing) occuranywhere cannot (perhaps except sionofthe"one."Meaning is for more where than one,evenandespecially the"unique," the"singular" insists on "its"meaning. ifone saysthat thein-existence ofthe"One" is thestumNevertheless, blockofWestern stone is also itscornerstone. Thewhole this bling thought, with "foundation" ofWestern itsmultiple Greco-Roman-Judeo bedthought, rock, putsa shareof"meaning" intoplay, as wellas theconstitution or the of"meaning" arrival as a share. (Thishasbeencalleddialectic, dialogue, politics, alliance, justice, love,beauty, etc.)Wehaveissuedourownsubpoena. We havemadeourhistory that ofstripping thecommunity bare:notthe revelation of itsessencebuta stripping in all ofits downofthe"common" forms and the"banal"),reduced to itself, of (the"in-common" despoiled or assumption, We havein transcendence despoiled as well ofimmanence. fact a purespace,anareality ormovements exposed (area,surface) ofpoints whichsimultaneously define theexteriority and its common division. In it is thusthat particular, number (undermanyforms: crowds, multitudes, the populations, generations, distances, speeds, statistics, numbering beyond hascometoimpose numberable) itself on all thought ofthe"common." The or the openingof thisspace- its veryspatiality emptiness or its many itis theplaceofourcompearance. spacings (espacements):

We compear: It is notthat we cometogether there is a (in)totheworld. arrival of several simultaneous distinct units (as whenwe go to see a film

374

POLITICALTHEORY /August 1992

butthat there is nota coming "together") world that is notradically (in)tothe itis eventhe"common" common; To come into the world itself. is tobe-incommon. takes constant diversion Everything placeas ifthe (ditournement) ofthis truth (tosayitsrepression wouldbe tooeasy)werethe pernanent rule ofWestern thought (ofphilosophy). ThuswouldtheWestbe judged.But itwouldsummon itself to appear: whathas itdonewith community? Ithasmadeofcommunity an absolute End,theEnd,tosucha degree that all of itsarsenal ofmeaning(s) has beenannihilated those ofthe (including Unique,theOne). Thisdoes notmeanthat theWestis "mistaken." It could also meanthat thequestion ofcommunity hasatlastemerged naked and(in) common. Butthis wayofspeaking -this "atlast" -would stillreconstitute a finality, wouldredress andreorient all the"destiny" oftheWest andofthe world. Onlyletthe world be world andcoming tothe world be unmistakably common. Common: trivial. banal, Weappear before ourbanality, before theexceptional absenceof a "condition" which one has alwaystooquickly baptized "human." Common: notmadefrom a singlesubstance, butto thecontrary from the lackofa substance which essentially apportions thelackofessence. Thisthought of"sharing" (partition, repartition, part, participation, separation, communication, discord, cleavage, devolution, destination) hasstarted tounravel.2 Butithasonly todo so. After begun all,itis perhaps the only pro- the gressive emergence ofthe deepest implication ontological -of modern humankind, the one placed underthe auspicesof the fourfold name of "liberty, equality, justice, fraternity." Until nowthese four terms haveonly manifested thecontradictions internal to eachother andto their generality. As such,they aretherefore no longer appropriate tothat which thethought of "sharing" demands. This inappropriateness had already been raisedby in a demand "communism," that nevertheless enfolded itself intherealm of contradictions. Itisleft tous- this iswhat ishappening tous- toappropriate the ontology thatmight take us beyondthis quadruple summons. The ofthe ontology "common" and"share" wouldnot be other than theontology of "Being"radically removed from all ontology of substance, of order and origin. Onlyatsucha point willthe"death ofGod"havebeenaccomplished and surpassed. At first "communism" was nothing other thanthebringing home(la miseen demeure) we undertook tothink after "God." However, "'communism" became confusedwithpersistent "theological"("4ontotheological") interpretations ofthe"DeathofGod" in"Man,"in"History," andin"Science."We areat theendofthese interpretations. The praxis and ofsharing thought points atthat which comesatthis end.There is noquestion

Nancy /LA COMPARUTIONITHE COMPEARANCE

375

ofanything else in a world whose balance entire is teetering, where the cleavages where the ofwealth andidentity aregetting worse, presentations ofcommunity the falter, and where absence ofmeaning itself insists onbeing shared. Itwould be toolongtolistall ofthe inwhich forms this constant and insistent stripping away andsharing presents itself tous:economic dependencies, the transformations ofclasses, ofgenerations, ofstatutes, offamilies; the differences ofthe ofcultures, the sexes, networks anddisruplanguages; tions ofcommunication; the interaction ofscientific andtechnical interactions: organ transplants andgenetic andviral recombinations, contagions, pollution, ecological the world ofgeographers, the entanglements, system ofeight measuring billion the ofplastic "human-beings"; and interbreeding musical designs; thetectonic slippage of public space,of cities, states, associations, anddemonstrations, sporting fields, spectacles the of blurring warandtruces; a generalized jamming (brouillage) ofthemeaning summoned out by"universal" and "particular," by"other" and the allof "same": these arenot only objects for reflection, evaluations andastonishment. They arethe intrinsic dimensions andnecessary elements ofourthoughts, ofour ofour arts, writings.

II

First, however, a moment ofanger is needed inresponse tomost ofthe discussions ofthe "end ofcommunism." Anger is after allmost in neglected itsphilosophical mode: we turn more easily toethical judgments andaesthetic detachment. Anger isthe political sentiment par excellence. Itbrings out the qualities ofthe the inadmissible, intolerable. Itis a refusal anda resistance that with - inorder onestep goesbeyond allthat canbe accomplished reasonably to open possible paths for a new negotiation ofthe reasonable but alsopaths of anuncompromising vigilance. Without anger, politics isaccommodation and ininfluence; trade writing without anger traffics inthe seductions ofwriting. with Along Marxisms andcommunisms, political angers have disappeared into a huge "democratic" no-man's-land. Infact, the few whotoday pretend toa political anger arethose whopretend tobelieve that "communism" is still a menace, since for them itis only menace. Thisalone should giveus tothink something make about, usangry. Anger, then, before the ridiculous belief that floods inonusfrom allsides: theideathat we aredone with Marxism andcommunism, that itis simply

376

POLITICAL THEORY /August 1992

over.As ifhistory, ourhistory, couldbe so inconsistent, so phantasmic, so flaky tohavecarried (floconneuse) us alongfor onehundred andfifty years on cloudsthat in a moment. dissipate As iferror, and stupid pure, simple, error could be thuscorrected, mobilized.As if thousands regulated, of so-called"intellectuals" weresimply andespecially as ifmillions fools, of others wereevenmorestupid as to havebeencaught inthedelirium ofthe first. Evenifwe agreethat itwas a question oferror andblindness (certainly stupidity andcharlatanry arenever absent from human sucha degree affairs), of successmust in andof itself raiseproblems forthought. (It willbe said that is also true this for fascisms andnazisms: on this quiteso,andreflection existence of theseis notmoreinevitable thanit shouldbe on thefactof communism.) Thatwhich should makeus indignant anddisturb us is notthat "communism"couldhaveexisted (as thought, in conception as well as "in reality") butitis rather that we canso easilyabandon thequestion ofwhy itwas.Here againthesameholdsfor fascisms andnazism: indeed, ideologically speaking,they areboth forms ofa very broadly conceived "communism."3 Whereveroneturns, the ofhuman period that draws toanend- anendthat history - is identified makesourhistory bysomequality of"communism," as idea, as phantasm, as project, oras institution. One cannot think ofourtime unless one thinks of it as thatof the "communist question." ("The impassable horizon of our time," as Sartre rightly put it.) And thought cannot move forward an inchif thisquestion is nottaken up again,rearticulated, itself questioned, anddeconstructed. Evenifinthe enditis a matter ofdisplacing, ortransforming, evenofdissolving it,noneofthat willhappen as longas we itas an error treat ormistake. A short time ago,onecouldwrite, with anattractive flippancy, that "Marx is dead." Butifone assumesthat there is a meaning to thisassertion other than thebiographical, one must say,inanger: Is there nomourning? Arewe tobe easilysplit going between thesimple rejection ofthis supposed cadaver and a morbid andhenceforth shameful identification with all that he might haveincarnated? Arewe to condemn ourselves to a second-rate thought or to a clearpsychosis? (Bothpossibilities already threaten.) Willthere be no no workof thought anamnesis, on thatwhichwas an eventin and of - and evenmore thought so, an event of thought which as no other was at thesametime philosophical andpolitical? There is noneedtobe a Marxist inthemost ordinary sense(thus the sense that is themost outmoded) tothink that an event inthought andpolitics does not happencompletely by chance,as the speculative fantasies of some overheated brains wouldhaveit.(In other words, tothink about what Marx

COMPEARANCE Nancy/LA COMPARUTIONITHE

377

Ifitis not simply likemushrooms."4) grow do not said:"Philosophers himself of theforcesof by therelation produced of the "reflection" a question of a of theexistence be a matter it must in the"infrastructure," production itwasincommon: was,that inthe world. Thatcommunism moment common to happened With something communism, giveus thought. should onlythat ofthat a particularity andrevealed that implied all the community, something a claim,and a a default (defaultance), there was a distress, community: us- quitethecontrary. has exonerated whichnothing from responsibility -the deep itspresence pastthat hashere passedus byis so little Thatwhich more - indeed itsstill burrows still) "oldmole" (the ofits presence burrowing is happening which is intruth that future (sona venir) andenigmatic insistent for us (se passe pournous).

which is all nameofa thought is thearchaic without doubt, Communism, stilltocome. - infact, itwillnotbe this name Whenitwillhavecome,itwillnotcarry Itwillbe a thing. Andthis in thesensethat thisis understood. a "thought," itis here is already hereanddoes notletus go. Butperhaps thing, perhaps, in a manner that we areunableto recognize.5 which is the this communism sign anddespite paradoxical Under it, name, A intoanother. theendof a wholeworldandthetransition at once signals of "commuor implosion first worldwill be undonein the"real"treason -albeit in thenew stricture worldwill haveopeneditself nism."Another will there have been nothing Between thetwo obscure -of community. of the "civilization of a evasion fleeting nothing but the pale, derisory, without liberal without humane liberation, individual" (or of the"person"), of whichthe manto exposehimto "that manfrom themeansofwresting inhim," as Schelling putit.6 does notreside foundation exterwarsanddestructions, with andfleeting -but also stuffed Derisory follow andextortions, one couldnotknowwhatmight suchthat minations that anemic, extenuated, neither forill norforgood-and it is thus, them, has beenheldup at theplacewhich as such,has compeared, "community," state."'Community ofsociety understood as a particular as the"dissolution or which is nota specialcategory, as suchwouldthen be that for "society" "individual," "society," and exceedswhatever rather thanwhichprecedes is "as such":that "lackof relation" maymean.Community "relationship,"

378

POLITICAL THEORY /August 1992

to say,neither substance noraccident norsubject norobject norcommunion norcombination.

at least,does notwantto claimthatone shouldput in Communism, common that likethis wouldnotso be. Thereis nothing which, byitself, in Marx- see,for hisinsistence on"individual What instance, needs property."8 tobe determined hereis what "individual" meanshere. Atleast, itis surely nottheopposite ofcommunity. But"communism" -it wants means tosay, it has wornitself out trying to express, to yell,to bring out,to prophesy this... (and thisis whatall has to be said over, completely differently) communism wantsto say that It wants to say that beingis in common. we are,insofar as we "are,"incommon. Thatwe are commonly. Thateachone ofus,from between us,is incommon, Between us: what is itthat commonly. is "between"? What is there inthe"between," as "between." between, This is whatitis all about. is anontological Communism nota political proposition, what option (but - towhich is an ontological proposition? that is thequestion one can longer answer outside ofthe being-"in"-common). Communism is a political option to thedegree that "being"itself (thebeingofexistence) is tobe engaged, to be chosen, to be decided:that is, to thedegreethat it is incommensurable with that which is, in fact, ifeverthere given, is something in fact given, if everthere is purely andsimply a "fact." Being-in-common is nota "given." Thatwhichis givenwithit is that whichprecedes and whichexceedsall "given," that bywhich something ingeneral cantake placeandwhich is not a "subject" butthein-common ofbeing.Thustheontology under question is notthe ontology of"Being," orofthat "which is": itis that ofbeing insofar as itis a matter ofthat which is. As is known, this is what onecanreadinHeidegger andnotreadinMarx (norin anyofthose inthegreat tradition ofcommunist, socialist, anarchist, orsyndicalist thought). Anditis nota matter ofseeking outnewinterpretaeither ofMarxorofothers. tions, Thesetexts arepretty much closedinthis regard. It is no longer a question ofrereading MarxbutofwhatMarxmust nowmakeus write. "Marx":an event, as much andmore than what he said.From this event, arewithout there doubt twomajor attestations which areneither aneconomic nora political theory; infact, they arenotreally "theory" atall,andthus are notaboutdiscourse butabout praxis anditsevent, Marx.

Nancy/LA COMPARUTION/'HE COMPEARANCE

379

One of theseattestations is that which Jean-Francois has called Lyotard "diffirend': an "absolute of "capital"inflicts wrong," incapable beingadequately in theterms which denounced, or negotiated thespeech discussed, ofcapitalitself imposes.9 The other attestation is theone which concerns to me here.It is witness whichin Marx appearsas an affirmation that of an in-common whichis incommensurable withanyontology of substance which sumandsubject, monsback intoplayall presence in itself'or "phenomenon," (the"thing "essence"~ or"existence," andall their andina compearance combinations) ofwhich theexperience is before us. Thesetwoattestations, infact, cometogether intheattestation we owe to Gerard Granel of the character ofMarx'sthought, philosophical as longas we understand bythat, as does Granel, thequality ofengagement inthereal (thishasnothing to do with realism, whatever onemaymeanbythat):
Communists offer. . . theimageofa community on keeping a watch insisting overthe ofan Idea,ofwhich do notknowthat corpse they themselves werethecauseofits they death for tried having tomakeitwork at thesametime inside andoutside ofthereal.In tothe Marx, the offorms contrary, analysis was a conceptual ifitextracts analysis which, theapriori from therealitis concerned with, onlyreleases holdof itbecauseitcomes neither from theheaven ofideasnorreflects content. In other words, thebiteinMarx's thought (that bywhichittakesholdofrealities) comesentirely from thephilosophical ofitsactivity character (ddmarche)."10

III

Thethought ofMarxis not quite a "thought" inthe samewaythat ofothers is; inanycase,we do notattach a nametothis thought inthesamewaythat we do to others: Plato,Descartes, or Hegel.Without doubt, noneof these namesis a "proper name"towhich one singlethought wouldattach itself. Buttoundothiskindof appropriation andto return by a singular feateach "thought" toa multiple compearance, we haveatleasttotakea lookatwhat "Marx"showsor signals. The first is that thing "Marx"is in somesensea little lessa "proper name" than arethe others, a little lessa "style" ofthought; it represents less theinimitable and hidden contour (trace)of one single writing. From thebeginning, "Marx"is less unique, more multiple in itself (towhich without doubt is related themore common character ofhisstyle, a style, however, that is neither vulgar nortrivial). Or,theplurality towhich a - a writingthought sendsus as well as toitsuniqueness, playswith Marx a "unique"role.From many ofview,thetexts points ofMarxarefirst ofall

380

POLITICAL THEORY /August 1992

visibly, wovenfrom a wholesetofother texts expressly, (thoseofphilosophers, economists, whichone must historians) go through, cite,confront, or set back to back. "Marx"is, first bring of all, in one sense a together, powerful machine to survey and redistribute an entire to a space common wholeperiod in all senses);itis,tobe precise, (common thecommon space oftheinvestigation ofthese thesocial,the common spacesoftheeconomic, thepolitical, theideological, juridical, forthemselves, just as they emerge intheperiod of"political unclothed, andoftheclosing downof economy" signification (of"metaphysics"). Rather than oneself in"originality," losing ofholding "Marx"is a matter Marxback:from suchrestraint therevelation of that whichremains when, onceagain, toreinterpret theworld pretensions areuncertain ofthemselves. That which remains is a common as a workworkyard (chantier) ("common" is: a broken-up yard neither constructed nor space, disordered, deconstructed). The verystatus ofhis texts showthis:there arerather few"works," as one normally thinks of them.Rather, thereare manycollaborations (thus Marxismshave propagated themselves undera pluralstandard: "MarxEngels,""Marx-Engels-Lenin," "Marx-Engels-Stalin," and/or "Trotsky," "Mao," "Gramsci," etc.- thereneverhas been just "Marxism").Many writings areaboutoragainst others; much is incomplete -indeed, thechief (capitat) workis incomplete; many areoccasional"1: writings becauseeven though "Marx"was periodically subjected toa "return tosources," "he"was in thecomplex caught network ofhispolymorphic Thisis also posteriority. certainly theorigin of thestrange conflicts, disputes, violent extractions, Byzantine quarrels, and insipidreassessments thatmake up theteeming wholeof Marxisms. Notenough reflection has beengivento thissingular configuration and to themanner that it ravishes thesingularity of "Marx" precisely from Marxhimself. The internal dissensions in "Marxisms" have been thesubjectofjokes and distress: there has been little questioning of whatgaineditsuchcommon fate."2 These facts, although hardly contestable, have notbeen thesubjectof enough reflection becausethey arenotsimply remarkable particularities or curiosities of a history of"Western Thought." Rather, they respond towhat is at stakein thethought called"Marx."Once again,this thought does not letitself be approached as a unified style; at leastthat is nottheonly wayor even principal way to approach it. In such a single-minded approach, a "thought" mostoften reneges forus on whatis at stakeandtoo completely winsbackitsown. Thereis in "Marx"something lessproper that that which we areusedto inthe encountering thought ofa Spinoza, a Kant, ora Nietzsche. Less proper,

Nancy /LA COMPARUTIONJHECOMPEARANCE

381

the in"common," "common" lesshisown, andconsequently more justwhere itself is at stake.This has to do witha general changeof thought during ofthinking a deepdisplace"Marx's"epoch,a changein thesystem itself, index themment ofthemanner inwhich and"historical "thought" reality" inwhich allowsitself to selvestoeachother, and inthemanner this change with be thought. With "Marx"(and,in fact, at thesametime "Nietzsche," thematter of the"real" arisesforthought, in butcompletely differently), its in a manner known thought, never before (evenifHegel had furnished premises). This makesforbothless and more than a "thought": "Marx"is sametime a thinker: atthe lessandmore than here seesitself perhaps thought in a wholedifferent Inpraxisandthecommon of thevery stuff perspective. thought andthought itself becomeunrecognizable toitself. (In addition and,as itwere, axiomatically: as essentially praxis common, orin-common. To theAristotelian distinction ofpraxis andpoiesis(interms ofagent andwork), one must addthis corollative one:praxis is in-common, andnotpoiesis(be this "individual" or"collective.") Thusin "Marx,"common has at leastthree senses:he tries to think the with "common"; histime he shares theposture ofa common praxis (which anddiscontinuity continuity should ofcourse be located in thewholeofthe West);last,his thought unravels intoa tangle of other discourses whichit In theend,"Marx"is not continually displays. It is justone more discourse. thecommon agency ofa series ofdiscourses, to andinstantiated in indexed a praxitical (praxique)requirement, a requirement of the"real" and the whichitpushesto thelimit. "historical" However, itperhaps thusrequires that itnotbe inpossession ofitsownconcept orperhaps notbe able tobe. This thought emerges rather as a piece of theevent(of theadvent) of the whichdeploysitself "common," well after it. It insists on a real which requires yetmore from itandrequires yetmore from us than we think.

* * *

itis notthat Of course, discovers "thereal"-neither as a thing thought noras a category. andeverywhere, Always thought thinks only ofthat, thinks onlythat (or does notthink). However, one cannot hereinvokea "law of history" norevena "Marxist" law for suchanoccurrence. Butneither is this a question ofcaprice. Thatwhich inandas Marx'speriod occurs is this: the "real"becomes expressly the"subject," nottheobjectofthought. Or again: the"real"makesitself as the"subject" explicit ofthought. Thatis,thought a point in order where approaches to manifest that which makesitthought

382

POLITICALTHEORY /August 1992

is not"yet""thought," andwhich that which makes itthink) (andnotonly it on itself. It displays and in thesamegesture must turn back,twist around of all that manifests theexteriority and excessivecharacter can "thought" number orrepresent. Thisentails, inturn, oftransformaa certain designate then then ofthe"subject." tions ofthethought Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, are notfarfrom Marx.It is perhaps eventhis"promixity" to be (singular, we must sure)which learntograsp. of Fortherealtobe thesubject andnottheobjectofthought first implies all that is common, this that itis thein-common ofpraxis. "subject" Above, I calledthiscommon character ofpraxis an "axiom":inthepresent state of our discourse excludesthepossibility of a solipsistic nothing praxis.The definition ofpraxis an action is suchthat we cannot exclude that transforms theagent itself theagent a "world" where (andnot justwhat there does) into wouldbe onlyonesole subject oragent.13 of Andstill, from the interior very this howcouldone understand theagent discourse, transforming "himself," or being transformed, an otherness without olderand more introducing "constitutive" thanhis identity The reality of this (and of his identity)? thatwhichmakesit "other" and notjust a simpleprovisional otherness, in theheart of theSame,is thein-common distance ofa plurality ofagents andoftheir compearance.

In truth, behind Marx, Hegelis first atstake. TheHegelian moment is the moment inthethought oftherealas subject ofthought, anditis atthesame time themoment oftheconstitutive otherness ofthe"self."Butbythis very double quality, the Hegelianmoment undertakes to require a return, a praxitical transformation ofphilosophy suchthat notdiscourse butthereal as itshowsitself makes itself valuedas "utterance" oras "manifestation" of truth. To come to a close,philosophy must heresuppress itself. Whatever then means is the "suppress" wholetask ofthought up until ourtime; itis the ofourtime. common work Insofar as "suppress" means what theHegelian dialectic most noticeably makesofit(that is,aufheben, "taking up" (relever), keeping thesamein its then thereality alteration), of suppression has notyetchanged philosophy. What occurs between Hegelandtheperiod ofMarxis that theactuality (efofa "common fectivitet) outside" tophilosophy ("work," "industry," "classes," "misery," "peoples," "themarket," "money," forces," "bodies") takes overas theplace,as thesubject andpraxis ofthat which Hegelcalledthe"Idea."

COMPEARANCE Nancy/LA COMPARUTIONITHE

383

ofphilosThe "realization" comesto mean"realize."14 Thus"suppress" as from (andcan appear toitself) as exempt alteration, ophycan stillappear transposed of thesamein itsworking themaintenance (applique)version, to some Marxis himself theideal to thereal.Thereis no doubtthat from to"practice." intheschematics ofthepassagefrom "theory" caught degree Marx's move. else is driving is also no doubtthatsomething But there andthat therealis thus is putinto else: notthat practice, thought Something be thought, praxis theIdea givesit,butthat that theproduct ofthemeaning words, the realitself, as the real.Inother the with andthat "meaning" appears Now existence as meaning. but existence of existence not the meaning compears. "realization andthe Thishasbeenwhat is inquestion since"communism" andone in one bytheother havebeendetermined ofphilosophy" together, butthey do lapsed, words haveperhaps ofthese theother. Thesignifications as meaning as praxis, thatis at stake:meaning themeaning notexhaust compearance.

Iv only take placeincommunity meaning canitself ofthis Theappropriation thesummary of all thequestions, anguishes, and as community. Perhaps of thetimethat has led tearings, and exasperations enthusiasms, frenzies, that itis. appropriates themeaning from "Marx"tous is howthecommunity thisconcern, timehas forsaken And thisis without whythepresent doubt thinks to be able to give it up and to be able to rejoicein the "end of itis insidiously communism" aboutwhich communism" (and also of "true we canalways want torealize that dream ofitas longas we do not suggested matter). oftherealis quiteanother it-but as we saw,thequestion which that and destitution, More insistent thaneverin itsextenuation which which comes tous andbefore that intruth ("inreality"), presents itself, is precisely whichis morethana we compear, theform of the"question" to itself that it themeaning howdoes thecommunity appropriate question: meaning is nota particular this"meaning" is? How does it do so nowthat as distinguished fromthatof (such would be thatof the "collectivity" of existence quality thesignifying "individuals") butis rather (signiflance) is no meaning howdoes itdo so whenthere insofar as existence compears; of a "One" (un Seul) (whichdoes notmeanthat all meaning is collective, thetime whenthecommunity How does itdo so from quitethecontrary)?

384

POLITICAL THEORY /August 1992

which is notthesubstance ofa subject, bareas that itself uncovers andstrips ofmeaning? that is,is nottheself-appropriation to us,or becauseitcomesalready a question, than How (?): thisis more as ifby an affirmation. becausewe already comeby it to ourselves, This, is availableto us. whosemeaning however, does notmakeitan affirmation - andwe know that ofthis We havenotmadeourownthemeaning meaning will notbe appropriated areoursbutonly its"meaning" bythemodesthat canonly still us (andwhich modewhich byan in-common precedes perhaps is whatshould be thought). precedeus- andthat

- ortoppled - on that which thus arrives to All ofourtradition hastumed whichis themovement ofthecommunity at its us. But sucha movement, which all ofour owngreatest much depth, requires time (itneedsa slowness of hide and "speed,"andour"acceleration history," less less). All that which atbottom toourselves themeaning we transmit (including has becomethat ofthespecies, humanity "givesitself," sinceourtradition infront of all species)hasbegun to transmit of us,toward or itself perhaps from coming a "we" that we havenotyetappropriated, andwhichhas not yet receivedits name,if ever it shouldhave one. But communism was something likea call coming from from there: "us." This call does notcommunicate in themanner whichwe today itself designate as "communication" (which some"communicational" ideologies exploitin theemptied space of communism). Thatwhichcalls from the in-common, that which calls "us," is perhaps theleast"communicable" in this sense. There must be some"common" stuff (ily aitdu commun), whatever itbe, forthere to be communication. Thisis evidence Butcommuni(evidence). is notanend,atleastnot cation inthe waywe might first mean it.Oneshould if"itcommunicates" rather say that (whatever orhowmuch orhowpoorly that maybe) itis becausethere is somecommon stuff. Andifthere is some common whatever itmaybe,itsmeaning stuff, is undetachable, inalienable, as the obverse is from the reverse. To dealwith the condition ofthe possibility ofmeaning, one must undertake a transcendental ascent toward this doublefacedunity, toward this doublesideofourabsolute district (thetwosidesof thedemarcation oftheareaof ourexistence, andwhich unbounds (illimite) it in itsmeaning). Thisis theascent which is in actuality since"Marx"and is particularly which apparent inHusserl andthen inHeidegger.'5

Nancy /LA COMPARUTIONTHECOMPEARANCE

385

theend6- in To "communicate" an end- perhaps couldthen constitute which it withdraws. Butthe in the to thesensethat theendprecedes origin confuses Theend, itself with isgrasped as multiple. origin, here, "us." clearly, itsorigin, of itself from By "us,"theendmultiples bytheinandthebetween ofmeaning neither Thisis nota transcendental nor thecommon. subjectivity, ofmeaning norto is no substance tothecommunity ofthecommunity (there a share ofcommunity); butitis, however, themeaning bywhich (bytheby of a "subject," of a crossing) can occursomething of a means, andby that somesingularity, ofmeaning. individual orcollective, something thenameof"common (Here,all that can havethought under philosophy sense"is inevitably putbackon thetable.) it is the Now theapportioning "itself'does notcommunicate "itself": ofcommunication. It does notcommunicate itself passing andthepartition Thisdoes notmean as one communicates something orsomesignification. that toanypresentational toanycoming into itis foreign logic,nor presence. Without topresence other butfrom Thatis: doubt, nothing happens sharing. ifthere is presence ingeneral, if this is what toit;and,reciprocally, happens atall comesinto anything this is againit.There is nopresence presence, that is not(in itsbeing, notas an attribute) It is no accident exposed to sharing. that among theremote predecessors ofMarxwe find those whowerecalled the"sharers" (lespartageux).17

doesnotconstitute a presupposition inthe samewaya common "Sharing" original substance might (for instance, "humanity" ora given "people");nor is itlikea subjectivity. Itneither is "anterior." "underlies" nor Andifonemay at least,that say,provisionally itoccupiesa transcendental position, itdoes so innowaywith thevalueofan"overhang" (surplomb) that this term more orless implies. Onewouldthen do better to saythat sharing-the "reason," in themathematical sense,of the"compearance" -is nota "transcendental Ithasrather presupposition." todowith another movetothe "pre-" ingeneral, the"origin" or"foundation." toward One does notgo looking herein order better todiscover itsnature. One willonlynotethefollowing: something of is already atstake inthegesture "sharing" that "comesbackup" toward this "condition ofpossibility," atstakeinthethought that finds itself engaged in of "thecompearance" thinking as a limit and/or as theopening of "being" itself. In thinking thusly, in speaking of it,in writing of it,in seeking to communicate itstenor (first ofall,tomyself), I am soliciting a communica-

386

1992 POLITICALTHEORY/ August

tion ofspeech, a community ofconcepts, ofculture, ofhistory, as well as that evenescapes or with which is notidentified anyofthese, perhaps them, displaces them. With oneword, could I writes say:sharing itself; compearofbeing Butthis word must never ancewrites itself. an givetheillusion
"answer." Itgives-it givesus-a program ofwork.

I willonly doesthe common the addthis: Here, andfor time being, why andas literature? valued Andwhy make itself aboveall inliterature does inmore orlesssince which we generally literature -preciselythat engage the andto tocommunicate common the of"Marx" -seem devoted period ownspace, between ofthe common? offer itself thus as its as the inandthe Thisis, of course, of"communist" or notabout thegeneral question or"revolutionary" Itis a wholly different one "socialist" literature."8 matter, inwhich ofrepresentative "literature" cannot name ofa kind bethe generic practice, to themost diverse eachwith a different susceptible missions, Itis a matter that be coloring. ofthat which andpermits requires "ordinary" presented, notas theextraordinary ofhand) (bysomesleight butin the Itis a matter which an event ofthat makes andmakes itcome extraordinary. aboutfrom thecommon. Andit is a matter, at thesametime, of the of a sharing it goes communication so common that without literature Butliterature unnoticed. it doesnotletitbe "seen"likean Idea:rather, the propagates nonideality ofa compearance own as its quality (trait). Inthis sense ithave (does another?), "literature" offers the in-common (its reason tobe) as a completely only buried memory, a memory alsototally, invincibly, present. Theamnesia ofa total anamnesis, inthe whirl ofwhich - tracing a quality doubles backon itself, insists, cedes,andresists and retracing the codeless number ofitsown score (partition).'9 Forexample (literature knows only examples), why, how, is this written inMalcolm Lowry?
The political exileinthecorner discreetly sipping orange crush, the accountant arriving, accounts the gloomily surveyed, iceblock dragged inbya brigand with an iron scorpion, theone bartender theother, slicing lemons, sleepin hiseyes,sorting beerbottles. And now,he wanted to go, awarethat theplacewas filling with thepeoplenotat anyother timepart of thecantina's at all, peopleeructating, community exploding, committing nuisances, lassoesovertheir shoulders.20

inJohn Orthis, Updike?
I write thison thebeach.Let us say,then, that I am a writer on thebeach.It was once considered badmanners toadmit anything ofthe sort, justas people walking toandfrom thebathroom weresupposed tobe invisible; butthisis a rudeage. Nothing is hidden. Yeteverything is.21

Nancy/LA COMPARUTIONITHE COMPEARANCE

387

Or again:
The shapelessness hehadthought tooutrun holdofhimagain, notas the indiscrimtook inateness ofthe herd-beginning, butdirectly, almost palpably, as the chaosofseverance, and as a dissolution whichby no hearkening or grasping couldeverbe conformed to unity; thedemonic chaosof all separated all isolated voices,all separated perceptions, things, regardless ofwhether to thepresent, this they belonged thepast,or thefuture, chaosnowassailedhim, he was given overto it,yes,this is whatithadbeensincethe roaring, indiscriminate noiseof thestreets hadbegunto changeto a maze of separate voices.

Or stillagain:
He had no other namethan Georges he became Louis,butbecause,as he grewolder, withtastes singularly intelligent, andnative hiscomrades did nothave,he gracesthat was nicknamed "thebourgeois"; and he was no longer calledanything else. He hada reputation as particularly skilled in hischosenvocation ofwoodworking. He evendid somesculpting in wood. He was thought very excitable, a partisan of communist and evennihilist a greater doctrines, reader ofadventure with novels, novels bloody dramas, an influential and a skilledorator constituent, at thepublicgatherings of workers or peasants.23

One has onlyto string four together thegeneral andcommon examples: exemplary nature ofliterature is there, anditis also,inonewayoranother, thatof a compearance. These fourexamplesemphasize (perhaps witha certain deliberate weightiness) the themeof being-in-common. But one knowsthat all "literature" follows a "common" design, whatever itstheme (forexample, autobiographical, lyric, or historical; thephilosophical is no exception: all "genres" havethisincommon justas they havetheir portion common). In multiple "art" modalities, as a wholeresponds tothis design. Thisdoes notmeanthat itcannot pervert it;butitdoesmeanthat, ifthere is something suchas "art," itis becauseofthein-common, and,on theother hand, that art retains ofthein-common, something something that perhaps italonedoes. Thatwhich hasbeencalledthe"beautiful" andthe"sublime" areindissociable.We willhaveto comebacktothis.

V MarxandEngelswrote: "Mencreate themselves reciprocally both physicallyand spiritually." In thesame passage,they indicate that thismutual

388

POLITICAL THEORY /August 1992

creation shouldnotbe understood "in a speculative-idealist, i.e. fantastic, way,"whichis whatoccurswhenone readsintotherepresentation of "a singleindividual who accomplishes themystery of generating himself."24 is notthemystery Reciprocal generation ofa hypothetical butis the Subject realcondition ofa realmultiplicity ofrealrelationships. Thisdoesnotmean to whatMarxthinks, or seemsto think -contrary -that, whensubstituted for"mystery," the"real"offers itself as theobjectof a positive knowledge, to thecriteria of an objective according We onlyhaveherethe rationality. program andtheto-come oftheontology ofbeingin-common. (a-venir) In anycase,this meansthat sucha program must atthesametime be one - notpolitical witha political in thesenseof thesesand partisan problem projects, but rather in thesense thatthepoliticalitself mustcompletely "re-program" itself, must register a to-come that hidesneither nor program ofa politics conception consubstantial with orall ofourontologies. another ForMarx, andfor all thekinds ofcommunisms that we haveknown, this couldonlybe determined in aiming to endthe"political" -that is, theend forwhichthe "withering away of the state"was forso long the basic formulation. The politicalrealmwas a realm"separated" from the real activity ofhumans, andnecessarily confiscated bytheruling class(this is the politics of "political economy" understood as that of whichMarx'sentire workis critique); as such,the politicalspheremustcome out from its In contrast separation. to thereligious sphere, thefantastical character of whichwas simply to dissipate, thepolitical was to realizeitself-as was philosophy. - has notwithout This designof Marx- neverforsworn in his work reasonelicited thecritique that Marxhad missedthepolitical question as suchandthus openedthepaths that wouldlead Leninto thetheses ofState and Revolution, as well as open theentire communist movement to the policiesthat havejustcollapsed.' Still,it is notcertain thatwe are notto return to something-to "reprogram" something-which had come to thesurface of thisthought of Marx. The "realization" ofpolitics is forMarxhisnonseparated future, andits effectuation, byimpregnation, in all thespheres ofhuman activity. In other words, it is the polis,coextensive to thewholeof thereallifeof thecommunity. Butthis coextension canbe understood intwoways.Either the polis is intheendthe sameas thesumorthecombinatorial ofall theactivities (but whatis a sum?or a combinatorial? which? a resultant? a factorial? a confusion?) -or that which is here called"polis"represents something that does notletitself be confused withanycombination of activities or assumedly

COMPEARANCE Nancy /LA COMPARUTIONITHE

389

precisely designates In thiscase,polis or "politics," relationships. distinct is which "shared") then, this, all others (in from that is distinct thiselement compearance. rest-and ofall the the"in-common" other than nothing withhim all doubt, words:thatwhichMarx,(and, without In other (subthinks thenexusor thesuperior untilnow) irresistibly communism thespace of designates plexusof an organicity, in principle, final) stantial, propriety ofitsinappropriatable vacant, has)become (that thein-common and correctly, nevertheless, or "re-"appropriation, and of itsappropriation, necessary.26 declared the practice, can one think, escapethisquestion: Thuswe can no longer how practice, in anyother way?Can one think, ofpolitics "disappearance" body ina common subjective oneself absorbing leavesus without politics How can common subject? oftheself-appropriating movement bythevery andeven otherwise itself to distinguish thebetter retreat as subject politics the validate politicalas such?27 more otherwise without as a "retreat" ofthepolitical ofthedisappearance Can one think everywhere of whichit wouldbe thesubject, it in an organism absorbing Can onethink toitself? alwayspresent andthus absent, everywhere present, as itprecisely woulddissolveor overcome that as a "retreat" of it rather once it and up open "retrace" "withdraw" it to and consequently, subject, of which of thein-common anewtheconfiguration againand completely us thename? polis is for

the also designates "politics" that of overlooking Thereis no question andof offorces, oftherelations ofrulesandtheregulation order ofpower, aspectandmake all sorts ofpolice. Butitis also notpossibletoisolatethis it.Onewould "separated" in effect this, onehasalready with itall ofpolitics: world,a modem the of how,at leastsince thebeginning have to retrace a andestranging has notceasedseparating simultaneous doublemovement ofthe a politics from with itscalculations andconstraints, ofpower, politics itssubstance anditsautotelism. common with subject, In their thesetwo aspectstogether.28 Nor is it a matter of bringing to the respond one and theother simultaneous and repulsive production, to as I havetried in itsown"essence."However, eclipseofthein-common in thesamemodem also theemergence this"eclipse"represents say here, ofthis"essence," andtheinsistence of theinstance as thishistory, history,

390

POLITICAL THEORY/ August 1992

ofitsquestion orits If"politics" is toregain a meaning requirement. which isnot tobethat inalternation ofits two sides the oftheir and/or conflagration itcanonly reunion, be ina determinate ofthe relation tothe essence "incommon." likea self-evident is more which (Nothing truth: that should surprise us andmobilize us is precisely that has to (re)find politics or (re)ground itssense of"the political." Butthis is what itis about: polisno longer signifies the ina historical "city" fashion. For except everything else, its"meaning" istobe(re)taken, (re)appropriated.)29 It thus cannolonger be a question ofbetter orworse ofthe regulation - ofpolitical exercise ofpower ona "right" that is economy -by focusing constantly menaced andrectified. Thenecessity ofsuch cannot hide "right" the fact that itstill doesnot touch the "essence" ofthe "common." Forthis "essence-which isnot anessence and which deals with the ofthe ontology in-common as existence-has todo with a right before all right, with the that isright "right without right."3' Ifpolitics is again tomean something, andmean itwill something new, be intouching only this ofexistence "essentiality" which is itself itsown is tosay, "essence," that which hasnoessence, which is "arch-essentially" exposed to that In itsstructure very thing. andnature, suchan exposure contains atthe same time the finitude ofallsingularity andthe in-common ofitssharing. This"atthe sametime" doesnot imply a juxtaposition: but finitude andin-common arethe samething. Finite existence is necessarily shared. "Politics" must designate what interests each point ofexistence inthe "common." Thestake is the interest (that which ofthe matters) interesse (at once: "tobebetween," "to beseparate," "differ," "bebetween," participate").31 Thusthat which interests is necessarily that which is themost common.32 Butthat which interests ismost common because itisnot given. Itis a matter ofthe ofthe interval, "in"of"inbetween." Even its presentation is multiple andexpansive: art, thought, love, glory, the body (toremain with a few only ofwhich examples, the very names perhaps nolonger apply) are dazzling shards (eclats) (not modes, for there is no substance). "Politics" would be the fragments whose particular property would be todiffract the "in" assuch, orthe compearance, without attribution orproperties. (This does not mean "without historicity": historicity, onthe contrary, isofthe "essence" in thenon-essence ofexistence). Thusthedifferences in themakeup of society and inpolitical stakes, the successions, the overlap and the disparities forexample, between, problems of state, classstruggles, differences or ofother quarrels civil groups (registres), are not accidents that have happened "to"a common substance, butarethe chance arrivals (le sur-venir) ofthe "in-common" itself.33

Nancy I LA COMPARUTIONI{rE COMPEARANCE

391

There wouldbe nothing moreuncovered (nu) than thepolitical. Nothing more exposed: todispersion, totheinterest towhich thein-between exposed (inter4tre) withdraws, to thefinitude ofall destination andtothedestitution of existence. Thus there is also no place wheretherequirements forthe possibleaccession ofexistence toa meaning arebetter grasped: an impracin itsveryart, ticable in spiteof all, hiding never access,acceding present, topresence, tothepoint alwaysoffered andthus alwayscommon ofpassing unnoticed, as ifatthepoint ofbeingblinding byhateordazzledbyglory. Nothing morenaked:nevertheless, politics will notcome to bring totoorder, andtomelt all extremes gether, into itshypostasis where existence yieldsto meaning. To say it again: amongthe multiple shardsof these eachofwhichimplies "accesses," andcommunication, community politics wouldpropagate that ofthein-assuch.Without hypostasis, that is without a substantial andstill, not a recognizable presentation: without form. Butwhat wouldbe a form ofthein-and thebetween. A form from between us which wouldneither dominate (surplombe) nor tear us apart? Compearance, surely, is notappearance andkeepsitself backfrom thephenomena (without being noumenon of existing). butonlytheveryactuality thereby "Communism" thought tobe abletodesignate theabsolutely distorted form ofa "classwith a class in civilsociety radical whichis nota class of civilsociety, chains, a class that is thedissolution of all classes,a sphere of society whichhas a universal character becauseitssufferings areuniversal, andwhich does not claima particular redress whichis done to it is nota because thewrong butwrong in general."34 Fromits"complete loss" was to particular wrong of man."Fromtheradicaldisfiguration comethe"complete to reconquest this absolute theappropriation ofmeaning itself condemned transfiguration, toitsownimplosion. Thereis left a flash whichno (eclat), whichdoes notmakea "figure," longerbelongsto this logic-or whichplaces beforeus the task of a other role(figuration), which wouldbe that ofthecompearance. completely (Wouldit be-a writing? Without doubt, butonlyon thecondition of on this on this agreeing andofgiving from word, thing, up nothing political whiletaking which was begunaboveintheoffer requirements up all that of a "literature." Thereis much to do -but first ofall that whichremains is to be determined.) inspite There ofall,thehard remains, flash ofabsolute of then, injustice, that which contravenes the"sharing ofjustice andinjustice" im which consist thenature Itis thehard ofthe"political animal." flash ofthe"denaturation" ofpolitics intheheart inscribed ofpolitics andas oneofitsownpossibilities. that It is interest gnawsator shatters thein-between (interetre)- itis called

392

1992 POLITICAL THEORY /August

extermination. Without no figure doubt, exploitation, oppression, extortion, notthe"people,"notthe thisto us: notthe"proletariat," stillrepresents "nation." a tortured of hunger; body;a broken will; an And still:a bodydying andalso frustrated, condition; emptied look;a masswargrave;a ridiculous, and even a of migrants; the wandering of the suburbs, the dereliction ofbeing, a wasting orofold age; aninsidious deprivation confusion ofyouth denial of It exists as a all this exists. (bousillage); a stupidscrawling: andtheexistence Andthere is nothing existence. existing (l'exister), beyond This denial, is itselfa deniedexistence. to whichone denies a sharing for it touchesthe in of the wherever it appears,reachesall existence, toit,that we compear andrespond is,toourselves. in-common. Andthus

Andas insomemanner, anexclusion. Theworking ofinjustice is always, that or mystical one knows conception, is, well,community (in itsorganic in itsknown andpolitical forms) alwaysexcludes essentially, philosophical andonprinciple. canbe named distinction, exile, banishment, Suchexclusion banishment, sacrifice, disdain, sacrifice, disdain, marginal distinction, exile, andso on.Atthe that which the bottom, community selection, election, roots, init.Wecall it be identified wants toexcludeis that which doesnotletitself other thanthein-,ifthein of the the"other." But this"other" is nothing or sharing, oftheassociation/ "in-between" forms theintimate doubleness, Community excludes itsown foundissociation where "sociation" is formed. dation -because itwants to disbar theconcealing oftheground which is its essence:thein-common, thebetween-us ofthecompearance. We cannot to submit this gesture to a hasty reproof. justallowourselves On thecontrary, we must first understand how thisgesture, in itsabsolute contradiction, Itresponds tothe imposes itself generally on thecommunity. "doublefeature" ofitsstructure. Buttoexclude, itnames, identifies, givesform. exclusion must designate: (infigurable). "The other" is forus a figure imposed on theunpresentable - the Thuswe havefor matter "Jew" orthe "Arab," us- togo toa heart ofthe with "us,"is no accident. figures whosecloseness, that is their in-common Countertest -the "Black,"whois notso close,doesnotcarry thesametype ofexclusion. Thatofthe case,orwas one,for history "Yellow"is still another andtransforms ofexclusion. displaces this assignations

COMPEARANCE Nancy/LA COMPARUTION/THE

393

It too is partof the itselfcannotsimplybe condemned. Figuration be: how wouldthus ofthein-common doublequestion Thecrucial structure. excluding? and how to fix without fixing (figurer)? to excludewithout ofgroundtheabsence droit) (faire fixing is tolegitimate without Exclusion without excludFixing together. being to legitimate ing, orofpresupposition, If "poliof a same edge. two sides the lines of exteriority, uphold the ingis to itis the ittobe,then pretend economists as political tics"is "management," reasons, not moral, edge.Forontological, unmanageable ofthis management no Leviathan's bellyawaits.This be assimilation: cannot thismanagement drift, ofthegreat adventure, was thenameof a great is why"communism" nakedof"politics." andstripping andthefoundering a great shipwreck, our from "us," from beginsto showitself, contour Thusa nonfigurable orfictitiously. Wewillcertainly havetoleam not but abstractly compearance, orfor for this tracing no matrices howtotrace itsedges.We haveno model, ofcan no or theunheard thenovel(inedit) that thiswriting. We eventhink that aremissing when all signs itis precisely Butperhaps comeabout. longer Here ina sense, certain. but, possible againnotonly ofbecomes theunheard meaning ofthesuspended andtheoncoming ofourhistory is thehistoricity oftheold word"communism."

NOTES
inLa faculte 1. Foran analysis ofthis position, see my "Dies irae," dejuger(Paris:Minuit, 1985). in myLe partagedes voix(Paris: 2. Forgive me forrecalling that this topicis first raised works. I do so becauseofa usageoftheword Galilee,1982) as well as inseveralsubsequent "share"(partage)(as also with that becamecurrent-asignificant in itself "community") fact thesewordsarebaptized with -and whichhas consequently faded:sometimes, piousintentions which takeoverprecisely thelocusofthedifficulty that besets us in thinking ofbeing-inthefact common. Thisdifficulty comesfrom that as soonas itbecomes todeconstruct necessary all philosophical of "community" wordings (its metaphysical, anthropotheological, political, andaesthetic is left I had evenaffective all that to start is thein(which terms) afresh thinking also calledthe Hereas elsewhere, we havetorebuild "inoperative" (desoeuvrement). a language from itsinfrasemantic, infrasyntactic, and infraconceptual qualities. This is whythisworkis Thissaid,there than one sharing formidable. is more outofthedifficulty ofthis work. One has to notewhatis owed,in particular to Gerard andto a certain number ofadventurous, Granel, andbraveclaimsaboutthe"people" audacious, provocative, -another word(one ofthemost loaded)for the common. Neither the contractual bourgeois peoplenorthe productive proletarian theword peoplenoreventhe"true" peoplethat proletarian designates (as Marx'smetaphysics andsurpasses thetwo ofthe accomplishes previous contains orliberates anatom meanings) peo-

394

POLITICAL THEORY /August 1992

pie in itspopular acceptance. The popular is excluded from anymodem politico-philosophical itis the discourse, for waste ofany modern or"Marxist" political practice, capitalist sense (inthe of"actualMarxisms" whohadsetcampon the toslidedown metaphysical slopeof"Marx"only intothebasewithout basis(lefondsansfond) oftheHorrible). ofspeech andreduced Deprived towaste, thepopular offers that which callsdownon itsheadthedisdain nothing ofthe except Gebildeten. This is why, Granel we have "nothing to report concludes, to exceptto popular patience, to thepassionsuffered popular in itsashes."See Gerard impatience, by thepopulat Granel, Ecrits etpolitiques logiques (Paris:Galilee,1990),370,382. I wouldalso liketorecall herethenameofGiorgio hisreflection Agamben, onthe "Whichever" especially commuof/in nity: "The Whichever of which it is question heredoes notinfact itssingularity in its acquire indifference to a singleproperty (to a concept, forinstance: Moslembeing);it Red,French, itonly initsbeing acquires as itis.Singularity thus renounces the false dilemma which constrains theknowledge tochoosebetween theineffable character oftheindividual andtheintelligibility of theindividual." See Giorgio La Communauta Agamben, qui vient (Paris:Seuil, 1990), 10. Andalso,Michel Deguy, for these lines others: among "Andwe whoareneitherJew nor German, butsimilar to them 'feature forfeature,' bya communal feature notvisiblein thevisible, held in thought as theas of analogy, entrusted to theartwhichmakesit work(qui le figure en oeuvre)... : we hopeto makea we (as inthewishofDucasse that should be madeby 'poetry all')" so thus that onlyperhaps ... there wouldbe " 'neither mannorwoman, Jew neither nor butone as theother." Gentile,' See MichelDeguy, "Une oeuvre inAu sujet apresAuschwitz," de Shoah(Paris:Belin,1990),47. 3. This is the starting pointfora consideration of the haunting or the fantasy that communisms and fascisms represented to intellectuals during theperiodof Weimar and the Popular Front. The pablum ofthe"cases"onwhich good"democratic" soulshavefor sometime beenfeeding those ofHeidegger (ofthese andPavesearethe most must interesting) be put back intothiscontext; it is first of all testimony (to thepoint of absurdity and odiousness) of this dizzying downofthat stripping which is incommon. To saythis is no concession: onemight at leaststart byunderstanding that. 4. See Marx's Rheinische Zeitung article ofJuly 14,1842.(I thank Philippe Choulet for his cryptogamic memory.) Collected Works, vol. 1 (New York, 1975),195. 5. As to theword"communism," itseemsright to letsomeone better placedthan I speak ofits"paleonymy" (in thesensethat Derrida hasgiven tothis neologism): "Mildewhasgrown on theword"communism," that is for sure.Buttheroses, thegladiolas andthechevelures, the sirenes andtheconsoles wereeaten bythemoths offin de sieclepoetry, poetry which hadbeen named'symbolism' andwhich overall was a catastrophe. /Let us try tobe no more communist in themanner ofBreshnev than Mallarme was a symbolist inthat manner of Ville-Griffin. /If he hasgloriously otherwise heldstrong with theswansandthe stars, letus know todo thesame with revolution andcommunism. /Itis because we take the exact measure oftheir power, thus of their that share, words may be innocent." AlainBadiou, Theorie dusujet Seuil,1982),115. (Paris: 6. Schelling, Les ages du monde, translated byBruno Vancamp (Bruxelles: Ousia,1988), - that 324. Thiscouldbe said inother tongues ofSpinoza:the"knowledge ofthethird sex"and ofMarx:"thetrue "joy";orthat reign offreedom." 7. Marx, Critique ofHegel's Philosophy ofRight, Collected Works, vol. 3, 121. 8. See, e.g.,Capital,I, 8, chap.32. This is notto imply that one can undertake without reservations anddiscussion an interpretation ofMarxfounded on the"individual" suchas that of MichelHenry. 9. J.F. Lyotard, Le differend (Paris:Minuit, 1983)andPir6grinatins(Paris:Galilee,1988), 132-34.

Nancy /LA COMPARUTION,THE COMPEARANCE

395

in CahiersConfrontation, no. 20 (Paris:Aubier, 10. "Qui vient apresle sujet," 1989),138. WhatGranier saysaboutthe"people"is notwithout with the"diff6rend." relation ofan oeuvre 11. Patrice that works Lorauxhaswellbrought outthis in such particularities See Loraux, a manner that "thematerials leaveMarxless andless spacetowrite byhimself." Les sous-mains de Marx(Paris:Hachette, 1986). which 12. It has thisin common withother "texts" or "thoughts" are notappropriated by All differences Platonism. anyone: Judaism orChristianity, set perhaps even,stretching things, inwhich finds a pattern orthe "master" areleft inthe aside,suchananalysis the "author" shadow. In this that type ofconfiguration itis finally ofnothing lessthan (in this compearance) a matter which seekstomean(andtodo). thinking (incommon) weinfact inAristotle, the state ofnonpoietic 13.Uptoa certain meet this where point, perfect is the"actof immobility" of the"First mover" andwhich action remains (energeia akinesias) inthe endimmanent toit(Nicomedian a very Ethics VII, 14,1154b27). Itis thus profound grasp ofmetaphysics that leadsonetoconsider theeupraxis as theautosatisfaction ofa subject rather than as its"sharing." also assigns to the"nature" of the Aristotle, however, being-in-common in the human. For thezoonpolitikon, eu zein (livingwell,according to theGood) consists which "precedes" itsmembers community, or parts. It is all herein these twoAristotles, even itcomesdown before tous:itis all a matter ofthe the most necessity (as clearas daybut difficult) ofnotmaking thein-common into a substance or a subject, theindissolvandofunderstanding ablepraxisofsharing. 14. "One cannotsuppress philosophy without it." Marx,Contribution to the realizing inCollected Critique ofHegel's Philosophy ofRight, vol. 3, 187. Works, 15. In Husserl, thiscan especially be seen in theKrisis, in themotif of theepochewhich inadvance"andthereby withdraws tothe"world given "reduces humanity tothephenomenon La crisedessciences 'humanity'." etla phenomenologie europ6enes translated transcendentale, byG. Granel (Paris:Gallimard, 1976),173-74.It is also in thenotion ofa community to prior anyparticular community (and evento the"wholeofthehistorical lifeof thecommunity" whichmarks theunfilled place of Marxin Husserl). This Marx,however, one wouldbetter introduce through Derrida: in hisfirst work in phenomenology, he couldconclude that "historicity is meaning," and that consequently, well beyond thehistory to thetranscendental "live present," we found the"question of theorigin of Beingas History," that is ofthe"originating of theabsolute difference On thisscore,itbecomespossibleto "takeseriously origin." pure that facticity," "theoriginating is,toenvisage ofmeaning andfact".In Husserl, L 'origine unity de la geometrie, translated byandintroduction byJacques Derrida (Paris:PUF, 1974),165-71. This"unity" is precisely that which is inquestion inthedemand that the"real"be "subject" of though, as is also is in being-in-common, wherethe"in" certainly carries themostoriginal ofthegeneral structure "meaning-fact." As to Heidegger, it would be a question of theprimordial unity of theworld,always (re)covered andalwaysunveiled (andunveiling)-this inall common meaningsas wellas the ofthe"one"(on) andofthe"authentic" unity "decision" bywhich theexistent puts(itself) into play(as) the ofbeing. meaning See myessay, "La decision de l'existence," in Unepenseefinie (Paris: Galilee,1990). Thereare a good number of other references to touchon in order to thedistance from complete Marxto us, theinsistant and impressive trajectory of thiseffort stretched outto a "transcendental community," coupledto an equallytranscendental "reality" (rdel)(ortoan "experience," evenan empeiria, oragaintoa "praxis"). Wecouldeasilyalso find this inBataille andBenjamin, as wellas inWittgenstein, as wellas inthe work ofethnology and as well as in psychoanalysis. sociology, Hereone wouldalso naturally have to reconstruct a longer journey, thisone from thebeginning ofphilosophy (which was also, as has beenoften

396

1992 POLITICAL THEORY /August

butalso in noted, that ofpolitics). four successive One coulddistinguish stages (diachronically, as the ofa general ofvarious terms synchronic combinations): (1) community object problematic oforder a political wouldbe more orlessAntiquity anddisorder, toward tending eupraxis (this and theMiddle-Ages); as thelocusof an "unsocial (2) community sociability" (Kant'sterm), for a conversation); toFrancois Zourbichvili tending toward regulation (HobbestoKant- thanks as duty and as (3) community and (4) community as thesubjectof a history (and of) itself; ofbeing-in ontological responsibility common. I cannot here. Cf.Nancy, 16.Also inthe senseofa finitude, which develop Unepenseefinie. ofBabeuf, others. After form ofsharing was tomark 17.Thefollowers among all,this vulgar ofitspartisans. without a doubt thestance andfor thecommon extraction for itself disdain, whichcarries foritgoes without 18. Nor ofanyaesthetic thesedesignations, that saying hereshouldmovealso to theother theexamination arts.On thequestion of "revolutionary L'intersee thepath-breaking Le roman litterature," study byJean-Pierre Morel, insupportable: nationale et la France1920-1932 a few litt6rature (Paris:Gallimard, 1985).It is worth citing lines withwhichthe author closes his book and the "general stakein thedebates"about "revolutionary literature": "What should the novel which onedo with modern seems particularly unbearable tothe inthe ofa superficial militant Therejection ofthis name "realism" spirit? novel, (which in theendwouldonlyproduce evenworseconsequences) is notonlya literary choice: it is therefusal to admit that the'freeartistic interaction between men'(Bakhtine) forms an important dimension of the social." One shouldadd thatthe "common" (vulgar, popular) do notrespond literatures tothe samecategories andshould be subject totheir ownexamination, giventhat are a constant they common This does notmeanthat phenomenon. one shouldrun after naive(andoften strained) that inrelation reevaluations onemayhaveknown tocomic strips and to sciencefiction or in the"lesser"genres. thevery However, factof thesereevaluations andthewholecultural climate that comeswith inwords them merit ourinterest. both and Rock, in all thevariants music, of itsworld-scale communication, (unfurling? contagion? banalization?)is nottobe denied. 19.The image ofamnesia is suggested bythe film ofNanni Moretti, Plombella rossa(1988): an accident, following a communist militant onlyremembers beinga communist, in a world where everything for makes theforgetting ofwhat that might mean. 20. M. Lowry, Under theVolcano (New York: Plume, 1971),90. 21. John Updike, Museums and Women andOther Stories (New York: Vintage, 1972),159 ("The Sea's Green Sameness"). 22. Hermann Broch, TheDeathof Virgil translated byJean Starr Untermeyer (New York: Pantheon, 1945),88. 23. Guyde Maupassant, "Un Parricide," inContes etnouvelles (Paris:AlbinMichel, 1964), vol. 2, at 475 [mytranslation]. 24. K. MarxandF. Engels,TheGerman Ideology, in Collected Works, vol. 4 (New York, 1976),52. See thework ofMichelHenry inContes etnouvelles (esp.vol.2, chap.6 at 1) on the Marxist ofanyconception critique of"species"as subject, andon thecorrelative insistance on the"real"individual, itself opposed totheabstract monadic individual ofthe eighteenth century. 25. This passestoo quickly overquestions tiedto thefirst Soviets, overLenin'srelations withthem, as well as other claims or experiences derived from "conciliarism," "anarchoand "self-management." syndicalism," I am awareof thisomission. It does notseemto me, that however, onecaninvoke anyofthese models as that ofa more authentic form ofcommunism, which "actual"communism wouldhaveturned asideanddestroyed, each time almost atbirth, - that andtowhich oneshould return. Itis certainly the case- atleastafter Lenin the communist powers determinedly rejected anddeliberately crushed all "soviet" forms. Butnothing indicates

COMPEARANCE Nancy /LA COMPARUTIONITHE

397

and wouldhavebeenviableor wouldnowbe: thusit is thewholequestion that theseforms is at stake. weight ofcapital that be appropriated which cannot obligesone tovenofthat 26. To speakofa reappropriation of the"Ereignisi ofHeidegger's intoquestion which should be a calling thought ture intothat ofa "disappropriating appropriation" (as "ex-appropriation," is oftheoccurrence Enteignis," that is a riskof bringing abouta newavatar there of was led to call it). In thismatter, as Derrida Its thistrapis well known. But to tellthetruth, although subtle, dialectical sleight-of-hand. tobottom, from the rethink top "proper" is undone. Onemust therefore vaguely mystical clothing todealwith Wedo notcease from having which hasneither topnorbottom. that is first, as that of ofpropriety, ofprinciple, ofsense, norfinality hasneither foundation (ofsubject, that which all of discourse intothisdifficulty that fails, but,right andso on). At theshoreof this, unity, which itsownopportunity. itis also that takes ourvoiceaway, givesthought and tenyearsago by PhillipeLacoue-Labarthe was started 27. This line of questioning de Recherches conducted at theCentre inthefounding most ofandthework myself, centrally rued'Ulm,in which Superieur, is housed at thetcole National Philosophiques surle Politique, aware work center becausewewere becoming broke off the ofthis Paris.In 1984, we voluntarily "inthe endthe ofa growing which concerned itself," designated ofthe consensus political weight To this we added:"The andpraxis." ofthe definitive ofthought impasse as "the absolute danger has beeninsidiously end of marxism, the'end of ideologies' and modestly baptised curiously of the havingto do withtheidentity or transaction transformed to denyany consideration A slowly accredited intellecitsdestination, thenature andexercise ofsovereignty. collectivity, thesocial)over (andsometimes ethics orthe esthetic, eventhereligious tualattitude privileges of any seemedto us to follow:thesuspending Two consequences and against thepolitical." ofthepolitical" andthesuspension we werethen calling the"essence questioning ofthat which memo of ofanynecessity, political choices (see the Center's anylegitimacy, ofeffective indeed in anyessential As to the manner. nothing has changed November 16, 1984). One sees that of of the"retreat" from suchas we haveintroduced it,see twopublications politics, question theCenter: (Paris;Galilee, dupolitique (Paris;Galilee,1981)andLe retrait Rejouer lepolitique 1983). reunion of the it-represent the brutalized Terror-and all that ressembles 28. In this sense, that thetwosides,all themore inthat itbrings together andattempts todialecticize disastrous exclusion. andreciprocal which was defined byseparation, opposition, precisely 29. This is whyeven alongsidea thousand studiesof verygreat historical-theoretical inthe past hasbeenmanifest, especially a certain andphilosophical weakness richness, political It of actualcommunisms. thenthedestruction, twenty yearsand in theface of theerosion, atbottom that is,intheIdea already itself ina repeated invocation oftheGreekpolis, manifests heldtohavebeen"lost"bytheGreeks themselves. I hadsuggested 30. Aformulation that 1983) catdgorique (Paris: Flammarion, inL'impratif (cf."Lapsusjudicii"). which, in his to designate theinterest 31. EmanualLevinashas alreadyused interesse which first of inbeing, theconatus makesup thebeingofessence:theperseverence language, all pushes"theego in struggle one withtheother, himself by a all against all"; he mediates (interesseButthe"interbeing" in"exchange andcommerce." "reasonable" peace in"politics", than being" andpolitics is nottheorder might be dramatized the"other where ment) remains, whichis thesame as "thebeyond Autrement of essence,"in Levinas, qu'etreou au-dela de "thereasonsuggest a politics beyond 1978),4. I wouldrather 1'essence (The Hague:Nijhoff, itscalculation and negotiation, to another that of an butindexed "reason," able,"implicating inthe"common" ego. Buttocome which is notthe "common interest," nor that ofthe "interest"

398

THEORY /August 1992 POLMTICAL

other theaccess to this "reason" to an end,ifthere is an end,a politics that does notexhaust "all the without reason, and whichtranverses it without beingabsorbedin or impregnating ofhuman ofwhich eachoffers thespark ofan access. spheres activity," is the 32. Takingup thelanguage theinteresse of theanalogia entis, one might say that Cf. hereThomasAquinason theuniversal of thebeingof God, communissimum. preference without this affecting His transcendence: "lpsum enimestcommunissimum effectus et primus in(De potentia, inSuarezet intimior alliseffetibus," Francois Courtine byJean qu. 3, a 7, cited le systeme de la metaphysique of an (Paris:PUF, 1990) 523. The passageoccursin themidst inquiry into being, existence, andindividuation where the ofthe in-common find ontology might than is notthat more one premise. Buttheinteresse which ofGod is onlythecommunissimum ofthe"inter" orspace,orshare, itself, oftheexposition ofessences. 33. See Etienne Balibar, La proposition de l'egaliberte duPerroquet, (Paris:Les conferences no. 22,November 1989). 34. Marx,Contribution totheCritique ofHegel's Philosophy inCollected ofRight, Works, vol. 3, 186.

Jean isDirector -LucNancy ofthe ofPhilosophy at theUniversity ofStrasbourg. Faculty He is author ofmany books, amongthem The lnoperative Community of (University Minnesota Press, 1991),L'oublide la philosophie (1986),Unepensee finie (1990),and, with Philippe LacoueLabarthe, The Literary Absolut: ATheory ofLiterature inGerman Romanticism (SUNY Press,1988). A translation of "Le partagedes voix" byGayle Ormiston appeared inTransforming the Hermeneutic Context: From Nietzsche toNancy 's The Birth (SUNY Press,1989).Nancy to Presence willshortly appearfrom Stanford Pressandseveral University other translations are inprogress.