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Writing a name in the sky Critically Reading Rancire on Democracy

Aletta J. Norval Department of Government University of Essex, UK Paper presented to the University of Chicago Political Theory Workshop 1st March 2010

Even if we know so little about what democracy should mean, it is still necessary to know something about it. And so the hermeneutic circle turns yet again. We must already anticipate, even if only by a bit; we must move toward the horizon that limits the meaning of the word, in order to come to know better what democracy will have been able to signify, what it ought, in truth, to have meant. We already have some idea of what democracy should be and, what it will already have meant Did we not have some idea of democracy we would never worry about its indetermination. We would never seek to elucidate its meaning or, indeed call for its advent.1 Democracy has no natural consequences precisely because it is the division of nature, the breaking of the link between natural properties and forms of government.2 The mission of Perfectionism generally, in a world of false (and false calls for) democracy, is the discovery of the possibility of democracy, which to exist has recurrently to be (re)discovered.3

Two scenarios, drawn from different sources, may be used to frame the issues I seek to address in this paper. The first concerns a contemporary event: a court hearing in the Second Circuit Court of New York. The second relates an older event, as told and retold by Livy and Ballanche, of the secession of the Roman plebeians on the Aventine Hill. These scenarios are, on the face of it, very different. Yet, they share across time and place a set of important aspects that I will explore in this paper through a reading of Rancires account of democracy.4 In the course of this exploration I seek to highlight, outline and critically examine the account that Rancire offers us, principally with a view to inquiring what this account offers us by way of thinking democracy anew, in contexts and places, either deliberately excluded from consideration or neglectfully ignored as irrelevant. Scenario 1 On the 11th January 2010 a hearing took place in a New York court in the matter of South African Apartheid Litigation. The case is a class action in which the Khulumani Support Group is seeking to bring a number of multinational corporations, including Daimler AG, Ford Motors, General Motors, IBM and Rheinmetall, to book over their alleged aiding and abetting of the apartheid regime. In January the 2nd Circuit Court heard the appeal by the defendant companies against an earlier ruling (8 April 2009) to allow the litigation to proceed to trial. The key question here concerns whether international law recognizes corporate liability. For the victims of the abuses committed by the apartheid regime using the equipment produced and sold to that regime, the issues are clear. The actions of the apartheid security agents in seeking to brutally repress all resistance to apartheid, led to loss of life, disability, destruction and other harms as armoured vehicles carrying soldiers, patrolled the townships and unleashed brutal violence on a massive scale against a largely unarmed population who were engaged in a predominantly non-violent civil uprising against a brutal and unjust regime. The consequences of standing for justice are glaringly obvious in the testimonies

3 contained in Khulumani's database, which at present contains records for some 58,000 individual victims of these atrocities. It is against this background that a former minister in the Mandela government and prominent anti-apartheid activist, Kader Asmal, together with a number of South African lawyers and academics in an amicus brief opposed the action in a very public manner, complaining about the fact that the case is not being heard in South Africa,5 and arguing that those who support the case do not have an understanding of the law. The specific question at stake in this regard is whether customary international law recognizes corporate criminal responsibility. Asmal suggests that it does not and to think otherwise is to rest a case on the stuff of dreams. Without at this stage going into the various points of detail in this case, what is at stake in this action as has been widely recognized - is precisely the question of instituting the possibility of holding corporations accountable for their actions, wherever they operate. In this, the stuff of dreams is of the utmost importance, for they disclose in disputes like this the opening up of new political imaginaries and unheard of possibilities. Scenario 2 In Disagreement Rancire draws on Pierre-Simon Ballanches writings (dating from 1829) where the latter recounts the tale told by Livy of the secession of the Roman plebeians on the Aventine Hill. Livys tale links up the end of the war with the Volscians, the retreat of the plebs over the Aventine Hill, the ambassadorship of Menenius Agrippa, his famous fable and the return of the plebs to order.6 For Rancire, the significance of this account as retold by Ballanche lies in the fact that Ballanche notes Livys inability to think of the event as anything other than a revolt, an uprising caused by poverty and anger and sparking a power play devoid of all meaning.7 Livy fails to be able to supply the meaning of the conflict because he does not put it in the right context, that of a quarrel over the issue of speech itself. Rancire suggests that, in his retelling of the tale, and by focussing on the discussions of the senators and the speech acts of the plebs, Ballanche effectively restages the conflict as one in which the entire issue at stake involves finding out whether there exists a common stage where plebeians and patricians can debate anything.8 In Ballanches account, the relation between plebs and patricians is structured through patrician domination, which holds that those being deprived of logos the

4 plebeians are not capable of speech; they are beings of no ac/count, capable only of noise, of a sort of lowing.9 Faced with this situation, the plebeians establish another order another division of the sensible by setting themselves up as speaking beings, sharing the same properties as those who deny them the ability to speak. They do so by engaging in a number of speech acts that mimics those of the patricians. The story that Ballanche recounts is that of the patricians coming to see what is going on in this staging of a nonexistent right. And when Menenius delivers his apologia, stating the necessary inequality between the patrician principle and the plebeians carrying it out, the plebeians are already equals, for they can understand it. As a result, the Roman Senate of Ballanches tale concludes that since the plebs have become creatures of speech, there is nothing left to do but to talk to them.10 The plebian revolt and the demands made by the Khulumani support group share a number of important features. In both cases, the subjects involved are to a greater or lesser extent excluded from the extant order, with the result that their claims cannot be heard as claims, at least not yet.11 Their actions, Ballanche suggests to us, consist of writing a name in the sky. What precisely should we take this to mean in the context of Rancieres account of democracy? How does writing a name in the sky facilitate the carving out of a place in the community of speaking beings, which does not yet exist? In this process of carving out, what is the relationship between speech and that which exceeds speech, insofar as it involves an emphasis on seeing and on staging? What account of subjectivity and of political community does this presuppose? How does all or any of this relate to democracy? In seeking to address these questions, I argue in this paper that Rancieres account of democracy is caught on the horns of a dilemma, a dilemma that needs to be resolved if convincing answers to these questions are to be provided. In a nutshell, the problem is this. On the one hand, democracy is presented as ruptural, as a moment of break from the prevailing (police) order. On the other hand, the democratic experience must be able to intervene in and reconfigure that order, which is possible only if it does not take the form of a rupture or a complete break. The resolution of this dilemma lies not in a choice between the two horns but more in what, in Wittgensteinian fashion, one may call an attempt to dissolve the problem through a careful reconsideration of Rancieres conceptions of political subjectivity, political community and with them, his conceptualization of the possibilities and mechanisms of political change. In order to address these questions, I

5 turn to his account of democracy, which is tied into a series of key distinctions developed throughout his writings. Fleshing out this account thus requires that we not only recount these distinctions, but also give careful attention to how it is distinguished, both explicitly and implicitly, from dominant discourses on democracy and its critique.12 Hatred of democracy Rancire offers us an account of an experience, variously designated as democratic vitality or democratic life, in which he seeks to distance himself from what he sees as problematic, if not downright objectionable, in discourses on democracy, both historical and contemporary.13 Amongst these are discourses expressing hatred of democracy, as well as various forms of critique of democracy. The former are as old as the term democracy itself, and were originally used as an insult by those who saw in it the ruin of any legitimate order. The latter acknowledges its existence and purportedly its importance, but seek to confine and limit democracy in different ways. Historically, he argues, critiques of democracy have taken two dominant forms. The first is found in what Rancire calls that of the art of aristocratic legislators, who sought to make a compromise with democracy because it could not be ignored. The prime example here is the making of the US constitution, which according to him is a classical example of composing forces and balancing institutional mechanisms intended to get the most possible out of the fact of democracy, all the while strictly containing it in order to protect the two goods taken as synonymous: the government of the best, and the preservation of the order of property.14 The second mode of critique takes the form of a struggle against appearances, where laws and the institutions of formal democracy are appearances under which the power of the bourgeoisie is exercised, and this struggle becomes the path leading to real democracy.15 Contemporary expressions of the hatred of democracy what Rancire calls the new hatred of democracy do not fall in any simple manner under either of these modes of critique, but combine elements of both. This contemporary hatred does not call for more real democracy; nor does it complain about the institutions embodying the power of the people. Rather, in these discourses the problem is located in democratic civilization or democratic life itself: excess is what ruins democracy and

6 hence is what must be controlled by it.16 In contemporary discourses, this excess is associated with society devouring the State, so attributing to democracy the evils previously associated with totalitarianism.17 However, the image of democracy as associated with an excess that stands in need of being governed is one that goes back to Plato and it embodies what for Rancire is the very (improper) principle (or rather lack of a single principle) of politics itself.18 Democratic excess, he argues, is simply the dissolving of any standard by which nature could give its law to communitarian artifice via the relations of authority that structure the social body; it is government based on nothing other than the absence of every title to govern. In this, the critics of democracy have it right.19 It is this principle of politics that Rancire takes to be the essence of democracy: a democratic order is a heterotopic order, a deviation from a natural order of things, where the natural places of things have been disrupted. It is an order founded on the absence of any title to govern. Not only that, but it is the disruption of any and every title to govern (and in particular, that of kinship and of wealth), a disruption of the order of the police. Rancire puts it thus: Now, the only remaining title is the anarchic title, the title specific to those who have no more title for governing than they have for being governed. This is what of all things democracy means. Democracy is not a type of constitution, nor a form of society. The power of the people is not that of a people gathered together, of the majority, or of the working class. It is simply the power peculiar to those who have no more entitlements to govern than to submit.20 In the absence of the power of birth and of wealth, what remains is the power of the people, which is the power of anyone at all, the equality of capabilities to occupy the position of governors and of the governed.21 Hence, democracy is marked by the fact that it rests on the absence of a foundation, on chance (as does the lot itself). It is from this starting-point that he further outlines his account of politics and democracy, and situates it in relation to the distinction politics/police. The Politics of Democracy: Politics as Democracy? The absence of foundation that characterises the beginning of politics is fleshed out in terms of a division of the sensible. The institution of democracy takes place with the creation of a space made of disconnected places against the aristocratic space which

7 connected the material privilege of the landowners with the symbolic power of the tradition.22 Hence it is a new topography that redistributes places, that reconfigures what is visible and invisible, what can be seen and heard and what cannot be seen and heard. Politics, on this account, is a matter of aesthetics first and foremost in the sense in that it concerns the division between the perceptible and the imperceptible, between what Rancire calls the order of the police and that which disrupts it (the political). The logic of the police distributes bodies within the space of visibility and it is challenged by a political act that shifts a body from the place assigned to it, thus making visible what had no business being seen. Political activity thus takes a particular form. It is primarily concerned with: conflict over the existence of a common stage and over the existence and status of those present on it. It must first establish that the stage exist for the use of an interlocutor who cant see it and who cant see if for good reason because it doesnt exist. Parties do not exist prior to the conflict they name and in which they are counted as parties. Politics exists because those who have no right to be counted as speaking beings make themselves of some account, setting up a community by the fact of placing in common a wrong that is nothing more than this confrontation.23 It is important to tease out the consequences of this characterization of politics, which Rancire equates consistently with democracy in the sense of an experience of democratic life. I will return to the questions raised by this equation of politics and democracy at a later point. At this stage, it is necessary first to outline what the various aspects of this account imply for a characterization of the nature of politics and of democracy, of the subject of politics, of its relation to the (any) extant order, and of the mechanisms available to challenge to it. Rancires account of democracy clearly stands at a distance from most contemporary writings on democracy in that it does not concern itself with questions of institutional design, representation, or a particular human disposition that would characterize it. Activities of representation would fall, for him, within the order of the police. So would any concern with institutional mechanisms, regimes or forms of government. All government, Rancire argues, is oligarchic in nature:24 government is always exercised by a minority over the majority, and this holds for representative government as well.25 Furthermore, on this account (heterotopic) democracy has nothing to do with mechanisms for reaching compromises between interests, or with the formation of a common will. As he puts it,

8 Democracy is not a regime or a social way of life. It is the institution of politics itself, the system of forms of subjectification through which any order of distribution of bodies into functions corresponding to their nature and places corresponding to their functions is undermined, thrown back on its contingency. And it is not their ethos, their way of being, that disposes individuals to democracy but a break with this ethos, the gap experienced between the capability of speaking and any ethical harmony of doing, being, and saying. Thinking of democracy in this manner evidently breaks with any model of democracy aiming at consensus, for consensus is shown itself to depend upon the disappearance of any gap between a party to a dispute and a part of society.26 By contrast, for Rancire the work of democracy consists in making the partition between inside and outside perceptible. This partition takes place through the articulation of a wrong.27 A wrong is a mode of subjectification in which the assertion of equality takes its political shape.28 The plebs on the Aventine Hill stage such a wrong through conducting themselves like beings with names, as equals to the patricians who have previously dominated them. His understanding of equality and its verification of equality here is of crucial importance since it distinguishes a political from a non-political wrong. Rancire, in response to his critics, argues that not every wrong is political. A wrong is political only when it enacts the basis of political action, which is the mere contingency of equality.29 The staging of a wrong and the verification of equality takes effect through attempts to refashion and challenge the existing division of the sensible. It is here that the question of subjectification and disindentification takes on its importance. Politics, Rancire argues, is a matter of modes of subjectification: By subjectification I mean the production through a series of actions of a body and a capacity for enunciation not previously identifiable within a given field of experience, whose identification is thus part of the reconfiguration of the field of experience. 30 It is in and though the declaration of a wrong that a conflict and the parties to a conflict come into existence. The founding of a wrong of politics is of a specific kind. It should be distinguished from a lawsuit with its objectifiable relations that can be adjusted through legal procedures; it is not a matter of victimization and neither is it the case that a wrong expresses a pre-given, objective interest. Speaking out he suggests, is not awareness and expression of a self asserting what belongs to it.31 Rather, it is process in which individuals subjectify the gap between the police constitution of the community the given hierarchy of places and positions one can

9 occupy and the part of those who have no part. In so doing, a dispute is declared with the extant order, a process that involves, simultaneously, disidentification, a removal from a natural place.32 For instance, the worker as political subject is the one who separates himself from his assignation to the non-political, private world and it is through this process of disidentification that political bonds are created. Political bonds, Rancire suggests, are not created by identification with a victim or their cause, but as a result of the disidentification with the dominant terms or available subject positions. As a result, political community is not to be thought of as based upon having something positive in common, but rather as a sharing of what is not given as being in-common, ties that bind the given to what is not given.33 It is important to note that for Rancire politics only occurs in the confrontation between the orders of the police and an egalitarian logic.34 This means that politics has no objects or issues of its own: any object or activity may become political or it may not. Even its principle - that of equality - is not peculiar to it and is not political in and of itself: What makes an action political is not its object or the place where it is being carried out, but solely its form, the form in which the confirmation of equality is inscribed in the setting up of a dispute, or a community existing solely through being divided.35 Hence, we should think of politics not in terms of institutions or particular spaces, but as a set of relations; as the setting up of a dispute and the processing of a wrong, which always occurs in relation to and on the police. The examples of such political action that Rancire provides are familiar ones of exceptional situations: the encounter between plebs and patricians on the Aventine Hill; the revolt of the Scythian slaves; the trial of the revolutionary Auguste Blanqui. Indeed, Rancire argues that politics happens very little or rarely.36 This judgment also resonates with his view that democracy is interruptive and sporadic. As against participatory conceptions of democracy he asks: But does not democracy reside in its mobility, its capacity to shift the sites and forms of participation? Genuine participation is the invention of that unpredictable subject which momentarily occupies the street, the invention of a movement born of nothing but democracy itself. The guarantee of permanent democracy is not the filling up of all the dead times and empty spaces by the forms of participation or of counterpower; it is the continual renewal of the actors and of the forms of their actions, the ever-open possibility of the fresh emergence of this fleeting subject. The test of democracy must be in democracys own image: versatile, sporadic and founded on trust.37


Let us now return to Rancires equation of politics and democracy. Democracy, he argues, is the name of a disruption of order of the police. It is politics mode of subjectification and it has three distinguishing characteristics. First, it is a kind of community that is defined by the appearance of the people such that it reconfigures the regime of the visible. Second, the people who occupy this space is a people of a particular kind: it is a unity that superimposes the effectiveness of a part of those that have no part, floating subjects that deregulate all representation of places and portions.38 Third, the place where the people appear is a place where a dispute is conducted. It is clear from this account that politics and democracy are the same for Rancire, and it is an account which consistently foregrounds the ruptural quality of democracy: Democracy is the community of sharing, in both senses of the term: a membership in a single world which can only be expressed in adversarial terms, and a coming together which can only occur in conflict. To postulate a world of shared meaning is always transgressive. 39 His emphasis on the experience of democratic life, that excess that is heterogeneous to the extant order and challenges in the name of equality, focuses our attention on the democracy as practice and loosens the strictures of the expectation and demand that democracy be associated with a precise and determined institutional form.40 This is a crucial insight, as it challenges the deeply held assumption that democracy, in truth, is liberal democracy. Whilst this assumption has long been questioned in the academy, we only need to be reminded of the various attempts in our contemporary world to export democracy to regions near and far to be alerted to its deeply entrenched character. Rancires account of political democracy democracy as the mode of subjectification appropriate to politics - makes visible key aspects of the experience of democracy that we need to take account of if we are to develop an understanding of democracy that is sufficiently strong to criticize and challenge entrenched interests, particularly those that purport to conduct themselves in a democratic fashion. Already in 1979 John Dunn stated that we are all democrats today.41 The stakes of this claim is precisely what I take to be at the heart of Rancires account of democracy. It is, in this respect, also worthwhile keeping in mind the conclusion Dunn reaches, namely, that if we are all democrats now, it is not a very cheerful fate to share. Today, in politics, democracy is the name for what we cannot have yet cannot cease to want.42


From Interruption to Inscription? Despite the crucial insights Rancire offers, there are serious questions to be raised about this account of political democracy. Numerous critics have voiced their concern over what variously has been called Rancires non-political account of politics,43 the too sharp division posed between politics and the police, his emphasis on the spontaneous and interruptive quality of democracy, recalling older debates about spontaneity, amongst others, and Rancire has responded in various places to these criticisms.44 I do not intend to rehearse these discussions here. I share the sense of disquiet expressed by many of these commentators. As my foregoing account and reconstruction of Rancires arguments suggest, there is indeed a deeply ingrained account of democracy as disruption that is picked up in the criticisms of spontaneism and of a lack of a more nuanced account of the order of the police, and it has serious consequences for how much we can say of and about democracy other than emphasizing its disruptive qualities. It also raises a question as to whether the demand for more to be said can avoid falling foul of the logic of the police and of the dominant forms of critique of democracy that for Rancire only serves to limit its radicality? To address these issues I intend to follow a rather circuitous route, revisiting his account of political-democracy through a closer examination of historical examples, so as to highlight both the deeper complexities evident in these analyses, the additional theoretical aspects of the analyses that become visible in his treatment of these example, and the need to rework certain aspect of the account so as to be able to dissolve the horns of the dilemma from which we started. Before so doing it is worth our while to return for a moment to the passage cited above, which displays the tensions in Rancires account of democracy, even if they are not immediately notable. While the fleeting, sporadic and interruptive character of democracy is emphasized, his critiques of revolution (in the form of an institution of a counter-power) and of Lefort suggests an account of democracy that is dissatisfied with and wishes to take a distance from the revolutionary fervor with which interruptive accounts are usually associated. Rancire is critical of Leforts account of modern democracy as occupying the empty space of power, arguing that his characterization remains too closely tied to a theatre of sacrifice that originally ties the emergence of democracy to the great specters of the reembodiments staged by

12 terrorism and the totalitarianism of a body torn asunder. 45 He is similarly at pains to argue that democracy is not about setting up a counter-power, a pure site where democracy can operate in isolation from the police, suggestive of a more nuanced account of democracy that can be teased out from a discussion of Rancires more historical work, but that needs further deepening and development. With this in mind, let us return to some of the key examples utilized in Rancires writings, amongst them that of the plebs on the Aventine Hill and the revolt of the Scythian slaves. Apart from the striking contrast between these two cases - in the former case, the verification of equality is accepted by the patricians while in the latter what initially looks like success turns out to fail as a result of the successful staging of authority by their masters - these examples share an emphasis on staging in the verification of equality. Politics, as we have seen at the outset, is a matter of the division of the sensible; it is a matter of aesthesis, of a specific form of experience and of the appearance of parties to a conflict on a stage. Politics, Rancire maintains, is a matter of interpreting, in the theatrical sense of the word, the gap between a place where the demos exists and a place where it does not Politics consist in interpreting this relationship, which means first setting it up as theatre, inventing the argument, in the double logical and dramatic sense of the term, connecting the unconnected.46 He continues, In politics, subjects do not have consistent bodies; they are fluctuating performers who have their moments, places, occurrences, and the peculiar role of inventing arguments and demonstrations to bring the nonrelationship into relationship and to give place to the non-place.47 As several commentators have noted, the artifice of the theatrical scene shares with politics the displacement of natural relations between bodies and places.48 Precisely how this displacement, the reconfiguration of each division of the sensible occurs, is specific to each example. Nevertheless, in every case, the displacement is the result of a combination of elements, consisting of the use of words, of argument, poetics, props, and the invention of names. In the case of the plebs on the Aventine Hill, they engage in a number of speech acts, mimicking those of the patricians: they pronounce imprecations and apotheoses; they delegate one of their number to go and consult their oracles; they give themselves representatives by rebaptizing them Through transgression, they find that they too, just like speaking beings, are endowed with speech that does not simply express want,

13 suffering or rage, but intelligence. They write, Ballanche tells us, a name in the sky: a place in the symbolic order to the community of speaking beings.49 Through their speech acts they bring into being new positions of speaking and acting.50 The plebs declares themselves to have standing with the patricians, writing a name in the sky: opening up new worlds, inventing a future that does not (yet) exist. Rancire provides a more detailed account of how this verification works in his discussion of striking tailoring workers in 19th century France. He explores the actions of the 1833 tailoring workers who went on strike because the master tailors refused to respond to their demands relating to pay, working hours, and conditions. This strike took place in the aftermath of the revolution of 1830 in a context in which there was a proliferation of working-class publications, pamphlets and newspapers, all asking the same question: are the French people equals or are they not? Rancire reads the proliferation of working-class publications as texts intervening in an argument in the form of a syllogism, outlining it as follows: Major premise: The Charter promulgated in 1830 says in its preamble that all French people are equal before the law. Minor premise: M. Schwartz (head of the master tailors association) refuses to listen to the workers case and their demands for improved pay. His refusal means that he is not treating the workers as equals. Therefore he is contradicting the equality inscribed in the Charter. Rancire argues that there are different ways of dealing with the contradiction between minor and major premise: the first takes the form of a strategy of demystication, whereas the second takes the form of a strategy of verification. A strategy of demystification opposes words to deeds. It holds law to be illusory (mere words): the equality asserted in law, it suggests, is a mere faade to mask the reality of inequality. This, he proposes, ends up in a situation of damnation.51 By contrast, a strategy of verification opposes word to word and deed to deed,52 suggesting that either major or minor premise must be upheld. If M. Schwartz is right to hold the position he holds; the Charter should be deleted; or, the Charter is correct and M. Schwartz must speak and act differently. The striking workers took what is treated as a groundless claim and turned it into the grounds for a claim a space of dispute: A word has all the power originally given it. This power is in the first place the power to create a space where equality can state its own claim: equality exists somewhere; it is spoken of and written about. It must therefore be verifiable. Here is the basis for a practice that sets itself the task of verifying this equality.53

14 Here words are verified through actions that work as logical proofs. The practice of striking seeks to transform the alignment of forces into a logical confrontation that has to demonstrate equality, so engendering a new reality: It is an equality enshrined as a potentiality in legal/political texts, then translated, displaced and maximized in everyday life. Nor is it the whole of equality: it is a way of living out the relation between equality and inequality, of living it and at the same time displacing it in a positive way.54 The possibility of engendering a new reality depends upon it being reconfigured. As we have seen earlier, this is not, in the first instance, an objective process. It is, rather, subjective in that it emphasizes the importance of seeing things differently. This process, and the world that is to come into being, has a paradoxical status. It involves a delicate negotiation of the old and the new, between the order of the police and an egalitarian inscription. In the example of the striking workers a different picture of the relation between the two orders emerges from the one in the material discussed earlier, where Rancire emphasizes the division and confrontation between the orders that is the precondition of political action. In the analysis of concrete struggles and practices it becomes clear that the egalitarian inscription is dependent upon the police order and must take its resources, at least in part, from it. As Rancire puts it elsewhere, politics does not stem from a place outside of the police. There is no place outside of the police.55 If this is the case it creates a set of further conceptual puzzles, some of which I wish to address here. If, as Rancire notes, there are conflicting ways of dealing with the places that the police allocates, that there are indeed are better and worse police, and that we cannot and should not draw the conclusion that one example is the same as the other, then we need to interrogate the conditions that would make these distinctions possible. Dillon notes in this respect that Rancire does not provide us with the criteria with which to draw distinctions between the better and worse police.56 While Rancire does gesture in this direction with the statement that the better one is the one that all the breaking and entering perpetrated by egalitarian logic has most often jolted out of its natural logic, he argues immediately afterwards to that if the police is sweet and kind it does not make it any less the opposite of politics.57 More pressing even than this is the issue of Rancires characterisation of the egalitarian inscription. To bring its precise contours into focus we need to recall the

15 link between the egalitarian inscription and the process of subjectification and disidentification. Rancire, we have seen, describes the process of subjectification as one in which the production of a capacity for enunciation not previously identifiable within a given field of experience, whose identification is thus part of the reconfiguration of the field of experience. And this reconfiguration of the sensible takes place through a disidentification with the places and positions of identification offered by the police. Here lies the conundrum. New positions of identification (subjectification) have to be produced purely by negative means, through a process of disidentification, and such disidentification must then be able to support open up new possibilities and create novel political bonds between subjects. These suggestions are clearly not entirely implausible. Let us recall Rancires example of the bodies of the Algerians thrown in the Seine by the French police in October 1961 during the time of the Algerian war. He argues that around those bodies a political bond was effectively created, made up not of identification with the victims or even with their cause but of a disidentification in relation to the French subject who massacred them. He goes on to say that such politics is the art of warped deductions and mixed identities constructing local and singular cases of universality. The singularity of the wrong, for Rancire, must always be distinguished from the particularization of right attributed to collectivities according to their identity.58 But one has to as why this emphasis on disidentification and a problematization of identification? And, what are the consequences of this emphasis and problematization? The problematization stems from Rancires association of identification with the positions of the extant order, the natural places and hierarchies offered by the police order. Rights attributed to collectivities according to their identity are, per definition, not egalitarian, disruptive inscriptions, but positions that are occupied by subjects within the given order that stand in stark contrast to the miscount of the democratic community. Moreover, for a political bond to be created, one needs to move beyond compassion, goodwill and a feeling of belonging to a common humanity.59 Whilst much of Rancires critique of discourses of right and of the political limitations of compassion and goodwill might well be correct, these criticisms do not suffice to address the difficulties of a negative identification or disidentification as the basis of an egalitarian inscription. Several different possible paths open up here.

16 The first would be to argue that a disidentification from remains a form of identification, but one that has a negative basis. Indeed, significant contemporary trends in the theorization of identification and its role in politics emphasize precisely its key role in the constitution of any political subjectivity, and the significant place of the other in the constitution of the identity of any such subjectivity.60 A second would be to question the effectiveness and point to the limitations of an exclusive emphasis on disruptive identifications. There is a question here as to whether a politics of negation could provide anything other than bonds of a fleeting character.61 Rejection of an order could act as a power binding force, particularly in conditions of dislocation. But whether the politics of rejection, negation and disruption are effective in the making of alternative worlds, in the reconfiguration of the sensible, is another matter altogether. In conceptual terms a range of further issues arise. I wish to address two of them here. The first concerns whether the subjectification based upon disidentification is indeed suited to a politics of warped deductions and mixed identities, i.e. an impure politics,62 in short? The answer here seems to me to be a negative one. There is a gap between discourses of disidentification - of breaking from an extant order that often tend to take the form of discourses of purity, and the institution and maintenance of complex new forms of identification capable of sustaining the ethos of egalitarian inscription. To pose it as a question: does a disidentification with a certain French subject (the police) suffice to inaugurate a political bond of mixed identities? If a democratic political community must be both a community of interruptions and fractures, and one in which intervals constructed between identities, between spaces and places inaugurates a political being-together as a being-between: between identities, between worlds,63 an account is needed of the movement from one to the other, from an interruption to a being-together conceived of as in-between worlds and identities. Again, it may be useful here to turn to one of Rancires own examples, namely that of the trial of the revolutionary Auguste Blanqui in 1832, where there is a clearer account of the imbrication of the old and the new. Asked by a magistrate to give his profession, Blanqui responds: proletarian. The magistrate responds that it is not a profession, to which Blanqui retorts that it is the profession of thirty million Frenchmen who live off their labor and who are deprived of political rights.64 The judge then allows proletarian to be added to the courts list of professions. Rancire,

17 in his analysis of this event, argues that everything turns on the acceptance of a double word, profession: For the prosecutor, embodying police logic, profession means job, trade: the activity that puts a body in its place and function But within revolutionary politics, Blanqui gives the same word a different meaning: a profession is a profession of faith, a declaration of a membership of a collective.65 However, Rancire continues, this collective is not a social group, or a set of properties, but it is part of a process of subjectification expounding a wrong: Proletarian subjectification defines a subject of wrong, the counting of the uncounted. Whilst this is a clear example of a process establishing a relation between two worlds, it is not clear in what sense subjectification here involves disidentification. On this reading, Blanquis response rearticulates what it means to be a proletarian and a member of a profession. The judges response here is not dissimilar to that of the patricians who come to hear the words of the plebs as logos rather than phone. But it does not provide a simultaneous account of disidentification. Moreover, for the term proletariat to become a term that opens up new worlds, effectively, much else has to occur. While this is in part a matter of the specific history and destiny of the term proletariat, the more general question here concerns the import of the inscription of an egalitarian logic. Rancire acknowledges that such inscriptions might be fragile and fleeting.66 However, his acknowledgement could be read in two different ways. One could argue, as Rancire repeatedly does, that what matters is the specific miscount. As he puts it: All my historical research has been aimed at showing that the history of social emancipation had always been made out of small narratives, particular speech acts, etc.67 Even so, Rancire does seek to offer an account of democracy and egalitarian inscription that exceeds the local and the specific miscount, and that provides tools to think critically about democracy beyond the confines of the local and the present.68 Here lies its strength. However, if the verification of equality is to take the form of an inscription that resignifies the sensible, then it has to have the power to reconfigure. This means that it has potentially to be more than fleeting if reinscription is to have any significance at all. What form could such egalitarian (re)inscription take? One clear candidate here is that egalitarian reinscription is thought through the category of an ethos. However, Rancire consistently objects to a range of possible candidates for this task,

18 arguing that they all fall prey to the order of the police. He objects, for instance, to the idea that democracy has anything at all to do with a way of being. To recall an earlier quote: It is not their ethos, their way of being, that disposes individuals to democracy but a break with this ethos, the gap experienced between the capability of speaking and any ethical harmony of doing, being, and saying. From this it is clear that ethos for him is inextricably associated with the police as it covers over the gap or schism that inaugurates any political order. Ethos, first of all, he argues, signifies an abode, a place or location and ethics, here seen from the perspective of the inside, means that one interprets a sphere of experience as the sphere of the exercise of a property or a faculty possessed in common by all those who belong to a location. As is clear from the foregoing, this precisely is where Rancire locates the problem, since the purported commonality of properties such as logos, is always already divided.69 Hence, he argues that politics as a set of practices should not be regulated by ethics conceived as the instance pronouncing values or principles of action in general.70 By contrast, the egalitarian inscription is conceived of as a break with an ethos, as distancing from it.71 Is there a way to conceive of egalitarian inscription that would do the work of disruption and distancing that Rancire has in mind, but that would also, further, be capable of inscribing such distancing into a way of being, an ethos, yet in a manner that would not per definition fall prey to the police? From the foregoing it is clear that the work of such an inscription should be conceived along a series of strictly specified lines. First, it should conceive of political subjectivity in a manner that avoids a given and pure conception of identity in favour of a critical subjectification. Second, it should facilitate the possibility of opening up new worlds. This means that it should be futural in character: it should allow political actors to write names in the sky; to imagine unthought of possibilities. Third, it should conceive of political community, not in substantive terms, but in terms that is attentive to the inevitable closures necessarily accompanying any police order. Let us recall again the ternary specification that Rancire made of political democracy. He argued that it should be conceived of, first, as a kind of community that is defined by the appearance of the people such that it reconfigures the regime of the visible; second, that the people occupying this space institute a unity that superimposes the effectiveness of a part of those that have no part, so deregulating all representation of places and portions; and,

19 third, that the place where the people appear should be conceived of as a place where a dispute is conducted. Taken together, these specifications capture precisely a certain contemporary account of a democratic ethos, conceived of as an aversive ethos, an ethos that is precisely, not that of a location or a place, but of an aversion to it.72 To flesh this out let us return to the work done by Rancires examples. Auguste Blanqui, the revolt of the plebs on the Aventine Hill, the disidentification from a certain French subject that occurred in the wake of the Algerian war - each of these examples not only disrupts particular configurations of police orders, but each also acts as an exemplar of the possibility of being and acting differently.73 They literally manifest for us another way of doing things. In this sense, they precisely do the work of egalitarian inscription: they open up a horizon of imagination in which other ways of conceiving political community could be kept alive and, importantly, could be (re)inscribed repeatedly. On this account, reinscription always takes account of the precise, local conditions, yet also acts as a call to open ourselves up to other possibilities. Thus, an emphasis on the moment of (re)inscription has the additional advantage of not remaining trapped in the fleeting, sporadic and interruptive quality of democracy, but in thinking through what the demands of these exemplars are upon us; upon everyone, also upon those who occupy the position of the police. This understanding of ethos in aversive terms contains a double logic. On the one hand, it allows for a certain disidentification or aversion to the given, the extant moral and political orders. On the other, it keeps open the possibility of an identification with that which exceeds the current order. An important part of this work of both making available and keeping open the possibility of another way of doing things is done by the exemplar, which itself must be politically produced.74 As Conant puts it, To be an exemplar is to be someone whose way of life places a demand on others to emulate his example in a nonimitative fashion.75 Hence, an exemplar provides a concrete representation of something one aspires to.76 Its role is to unsettle us, to provoke us into thinking otherwise or to open up horizons of imagination not previously available to us.77 This account of exemplarity is sustained by a conception of (political) subjectivity that starts from the riven character of every identity and moral order.78 In addition to focusing on the division of the sensible between the order of the police and the part of those who have no part, division is thought of as between a given, attained self or state of society, and a next or future state of self and society.79 The work of the

20 exemplar is to make visible this gap, and to foster an awareness of it, such that it has consequences beyond the singularity of this occasion of inscription. In this respect it is crucial to underline the importance of the need for a focus on acknowledgement and responsiveness in the face of the declaration of a dispute.80 The too sharp division between politics and the police closes off this possibility for Rancire, leading him to see the matter almost exclusively from the perspective of the part who has no part. If a democratic political community must indeed be conceived of as both a community of interruptions and one in which intervals constructed between identities, between spaces and places inaugurates a political being-together as a being-between: between identities, between worlds,81 then the consequences of an egalitarian inscription, also for those who occupy positions within the extant order, must be contemplated. Events such as those portrayed in the concrete historical cases discussed by Rancire makes us aware of the painful distance from perfect justice in the current order, as Cavell puts it82 and call for a response and an examination and possible revision of the dominant position, hence provoking engagement with the claims articulated and disputes declared. These provocations are significant not only for what they bring about in specific situations, for those miscounted, but for the horizons of imagination they open up and keep open.83 From here it becomes possible to think through the demands of a politics of responsiveness, conceived of as the ability to respond and the responsibility to respond to the inevitable failures of democracy. However, such possibilities are available only on condition that we do not conflate politics and democracy, the making visible of the contingency of any given order, and the responses to that contingency. Conclusion I started this paper with the suggestion that Rancires account of democracy is torn between the horns of a dilemma: between democracy as a staging of equality that interrupts the order of the police, and democracy conceived of as an inscription of equality that has the capacity to relocate and reshape it. There are advantages to both of these characterizations, but they lead to radically divergent conceptions of democratic practice, each of which is accompanied by an emphasis on different aspects of political community. In the case of the former, the emphasis is on the division between the community and the part of

21 the community who has no part. It makes visible the necessary exclusions accompanying any instituted order. In the latter the focus is on the imbrication and redoubling of names and it is suggestive of the possibilities of not only staging the miscount, but envisioning alternative ways of doing things. The latter is more evident where Rancire discusses his historical examples. This should give us cause to reflect further on the role and function of such examples. Rancire turned to a detailed examination of working class intellectual production that thrived in France in the 1830s and 1840s in the wake of his break with Althusser, turning Althussers privileging of scientific insight over popular delusion on its head. As Hallward points out, Rancires writings consistently explores the presumption that everyone shares equal power of speech and thought.84 Yet, as I have suggested, these historical cases as they appear in this theoretical writings stop short of working through the consequences of his account of a staging of equality for the relation between the order of the police and the part that has no part. The reasons for this are multiple and complex. I have focused on his conception of subjectivity and the difficult relation between subjectification and disidentification, suggesting that the latter is still a form of identification, and that an account of identification beyond a (negative) distancing is needed to address the mechanisms of the egalitarian inscription. Egalitarian inscription, if it is to mean anything beyond the singular instance, needs to be enacted and conceptualized in a way that makes it possible to maintain the insights specific to it, but to extend its reach and impact to a wider domain. This aspect change in thinking about egalitarian inscription, I have argued, can be achieved by thinking more carefully about the role of the exemplar in the constitution of alternative political horizons. Rancires own historical cases, I have suggested, could be conceived of as exemplars, which would then open up the analysis to a consideration of a wider audience, and of their responses to the theatre of egalitarian inscription. Such an account is only possible once one problematizes the sharp division between the police order and the moment of politics. Rancires suggestion of thinking of egalitarian inscription as a moment of bringing the universal into play, contesting its privatization, comes at the price of giving up that sharp division. However, this is not something that should be lamented, for the rethinking of the relation radically opens up the police order

22 for contestation and politicization. If, finally, one thinks of democracy not as a disruption occurring in rare instances and on the margins of society, but as a practice that is possible anywhere and with consequences for how we think of political community everywhere, it is possible to foreground the central role of responsiveness to such practices. This is not an optional luxury that we can afford to add as an afterthought. It is, rather, a central aspect of democratic subjectivity and practice, without which writing a name in the sky loses its ability to reconfigure the division of the sensible.



Jacques Derrida, Rogues, Jacques Rancire, Hatred of Democracy (London: Verso, 2006), p. 54. 3 Stanley Cavell, Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome, (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1990) p. 17. 4 This should not pose a problem for a reading of Ranciere, since he is explicit in his opposition to a too sharp division of the ancient and modern worlds and their concerns in relation to democracy. 5 All quotations citing Kader Asmal taken from: 6 Rancire, Disagreement, p.23. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid., p. 26. 10 Ibid. 11 There is a further question here and it concerns the question as to at what point something could be properly called a claim? To put it differently, it concerns the point at which often inchoate expressions of senses of wrong become expressed in the form of a claim or demand. 12 He notes in this respect that it is important to place his accounts of democracy, politics and aesthetics in the context of the disagreement in two senses: in the first place, his readings are theoretical operations aimed at reframing the configuration of a problem; they set the stage for a disagreement. They are also specific interventions taking place in determined political contexts. See, J. Rancire, The thinking of dissensus: politics and aesthetics. Paper presented at the conference Fidelity to the Disagreement: Jacques Rancire and the Political, London, 16-17th September 2003. 13 This clearly situates him at a distance from most contemporary work on democracy insofar as these writings are concerned with developing and refining a focus on democratic institutions and processes of representation. 14 Rancire, Hatred of Democracy, p. 2. 15 Rancire, Hatred of Democracy, p. 3. 16 Rancire notes that the historical remedy for this sort of excess consisted in redirecting feverish energy activated on the public stage towards other ends often, as is today also the case, toward the search for material prosperity. (Hatred of Democracy, pp. 7-8). 17 This, Rancire suggests is made possible by a threefold operation: (1) a reduction of democracy to a form of society; (2) making this form of society identical to the reign of the egalitarian individual, which in turn groups together widely disparate properties (mass consumption, minority rights, union battles, and so on); and (3) to equate mass individualist society with democracy and then to charge it with pursuing limitless growth, associated with the capitalist economy. Rancire, Hatred of Democracy, p. 20. 18 It should be noted that Rancieres return to the classics is not one that seeks to affirm the idea that politics is based on the human capacity of speaking or on an anthropological disposition to political life. Rather, it is a return that seeks to show that such purportedly common capacities are split from the very beginning. Rancire, The thinking of dissensus: politics and aesthetics. 19 Rancire , Hatred of Democracy, p. 45 20 Ibid., pp. 46-7. 21 Ibid., p. 49. 22 Ibid. 23 Rancire, Disagreement, p. 27. Rancire also characterizes politics as: a mode of expression that undoes the perceptible divisions of the police order by implementing a basically heterogenous assumption, that of a part of those who have no part, an assumption that, at the end of the day, itself demonstrates the sheer contingency of the order, the equality of any speaking being with any other speaking being. Rancire, Disagreement, p. 30 24 Rancire, Hatred of Democracy, p. 52. 25 Rancire suggests that we should not think of representation as a mechanism or system invented to compensate for the growth of populations, nor as a form of adaptation of democracy to vast spaces and modern times. Like Tully, Rancire notes that the assimilation of democracy to representative government is a recent phenomenon, and one that has been used by elites to exercise power de facto


(Hatred of Democracy, p. 53). The term democracy, Tully argues, came to be associated with representative democracy only in the late eighteenth century by ingrafting representation upon democracy. See James Tully, Public Philosophy in a New Key, Volume I, Democracy and Civic Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 155-6. 26 I discuss Rancires critique of deliberation and consensus oriented conceptions of democracy in Aversive Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2007), chapter 4. 27 I use the term articulation here in its theoretical sense, as developed by Laclau and Mouffe. It is a process that binds together elements or object that have no natural or necessary belonging together. See, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (London: Verso, 1985), chapter 3. 28 Rancire, Disagreement, p. 39. 29 With this distinction, he seeks to exclude demands for purity of blood and the power of religion from political action. Rancire, The thinking of dissensus, p. 4. 30 Rancire suggests we think of Descartes ego sum, ego existo as a prototype producing a new field of experience. (Disagreement, p. 35) 31 Rancire, Disagreement, p. 37. 32 Ibid., p. 36. 33 Ibid., p. 138-9. 34 Ibid., p. 34. 35 Ibid., p. 32. 36 Ibid., p.17. 37 Jacques Rancire, On the Shores of Politics (London: Verso, 1995), pp. 60-1. Also, Democracy is not the simple dominion of the common law as inscribed in legal-political texts, not is it the plural dominion of the passions. It is first and foremost the space of all those locations the facticity of which tallies with the contingency and resolve of the egalitarian inscription in the making. Thus, the street, the factory or the university can become the locus of a resurgence of this kind in response to the chance passage of some apparently insignificant political measure. Rancire, On the Shores of Politics, p. 91. 38 Rancire, Disagreement, pp. 99-100. 39 On the Shores of Politics, p. 49; emphasis added. In the sentence preceding this quote, Rancire emphasizes the role of rupture and even of violence: In order to uphold ones correctness other kinds of arguments have always been needed. The affirmation of the right to be correct is dependent on the violence of its inscription. Thus, the reasonable arguments of the strikers of 1833 were audible, their demonstration visible, only because the events of 1830, recalling those of 1789, had torn them from the nether world of inarticulate sounds and ensconced them by a contingent forced-entry in the world of meaning and visibility. The repetition of egalitarian words is a repetition of that forced-entry, which is why the space of shared meaning it opens up is not a space of consensus. 40 It is notable that Rancire does not provide a theoretical account of his conception of experience, which further bolsters readings of his work that emphasize its immediate and ruptural qualities. Here, despite Rancire s own protestations against Derrida, the latters deconstructive reading of the category of experience in Husserlian phenomenology could indeed prove to be very useful. 41 John Dunn Western Political Theory in the Face of the Future, Cambridge, University Press, 1979, p.1 42 Dunn Western Political Theory in the Face of the Future, p.27. 43 M. Dillon, (De)void of politics? A Response to Rancieres Ten Theses on Politics, Theory and Event 6 (4) (2003). 44 Rancire, The thinking of dissensus; J. Rancire, Comment and Responses, Theory and Event 6 (4) (2003). 45 As Lefort puts it, Power appears as an empty place and those who exercise it as mere mortals who occupy it only temporary or who could install themselves in it only by force or cunning. There is no law that can be fixed, whose articles cannot be contested, whose foundations are not susceptible of being called into question. Lastly there is not representation of a centre and of the contours of society; unity cannot now efface social division. Claude Lefort, Democracy and Political Theory (Minnesota, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), p. 304. Rancire argues that Leforts account of the beheading of the king and the dissolution of the markers of certainty remains too closely tied to a theatre of sacrifice that originally ties the emergence of democracy to the great specters of the reembodiments staged by terrorism and the totalitarianism of a body torn asunder. (Disagreement, p. 100). Rancire also further suggests that it is not productive to think of politics in terms of a structural void: So I do not refer to politics as an original and structural void in metalinguistic fashion. I said that the demos of democracy is an empty part. It is empty, first, in terms of census, of an enumeration of


parts. And it is empty, second, because it is the part of those who are nothing. But what matters to me is not the void, it is the distinction between two counts. So I tackle the issue of void in a polemical manner, against the interpretation of democracy in psychoanalytical terms, as the void provoked by the symbolic disembodiment of the king's double body, in the interpretation of Claude Lefort. I did it because I thought that interpretation restored the political miscount to a meta-anthropology of ritual sacrifice and, in consequence, it bound democracy up with terror and totalitarianism as attempts to recreate a decentered political body. What I tried to do was de-dramatize this matter of miscount. Rancire , Comment and Responses, par. 13. 46 Rancire, Disagreement, p. 88. 47 Ibid., p. 89. 48 Alison Ross, The Aesthetic Fable: Cinema in Jacques Rancires Aesthetic Politics, SubStance 118, Vol. 38, no. 1, 2009, p. 128. Peter Hallward also discusses the indifference of theatre to functional places. See, P. Hallward, Staging Equality: On Rancires Theatrocracy, New Left Review, 37 (2006), p. 113. 49 Rancire, Disagreement, pp.24-5. 50 I discuss these questions in relation to speech act theory in Passionate Subjectivity, Contestation and Acknowledgement: Rereading Austin and Cavell, in Andrew Schaap (ed.) Law and Agonistic Politics (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009). 51 The power struggle literally ends up in damnation: when dissatisfied with the employers of a town, workers damned the town (they left with bag and baggage and sought to prevent others from replacing them). 52 This, of course, is reminiscent of Austins emphasis on the fact that our word is our bond. 53 Rancire , On the Shores of Politics, p. 47. 54 Ibid., p.48. 55 Rancire, Comment and Responses. 56 See, Dillon, (De)void of politics?. 57 Rancire , Disagreement, p. 31. 58 Ibid., p. 139. 59 Ibid., p 138. 60 The work of Derrida and Lacan comes to mind here, as well as that of Laclau and Copjec. 61 Rancire himself does not think this necessarily poses a problem. See, Disagreement, p. 40. 62 The democratic process is the process of perpetually bringing into play, of invention of forms of subjectivation, and of cases of verification that counteract the perpetual privatization of public life. Democracy really means, in this sense, the impurity of politics (Hatred of Democracy, p. 62) 63 Rancire, Disagreement, 137. 64 Ibid., p. 37. 65 Ibid., p. 38. 66 Ibid., p. 40. 67 Rancire , The thinking of dissensus. 68 This obviously understates the point he has been accused of offering a structuralist account. See Dillon, (De)void of politics?. 69 As he puts it: As is well known, it soon is made apparent that this common property is not shared by everyone; there are human beings who are not entirely human beings. For instance, Aristotle says, the slaves have the aisthesis of language (the passive capacity of understanding words), but they dont have the hexis of language (the active power of stating and discussing what is just or unjust). See, Jacques Rancire, The Aesthetic Dimension: Aesthetics, Politics, Knowledge, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 36 (1), 2009, p. 4. 70 Rancire, The thinking of dissensus. 71 In a recent text Rancire reiterates these points through elaborating the manner in which he draws a distinction between ethical and aesthetic approach to consensus and dissensus. See, Jacques Rancire, The Aesthetic Dimension: Aesthetics, Politics, Knowledge, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 36 (1), 2009. 72 Here I draw on Cavells reading of Emerson. See, Cavell, Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome. I develop these points further in Aversive Democracy, chapters 4 and 5. 73 In developing this argument on exemplarity I draw in particular on James Conant, Nietzsches perfectionism: A reading of Schopenhauer as Educator, in R. Schacht (ed.), Nietzsches Postmoralism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 181-257. 74 Ferrara argues that Alongside the force of things of what exists, of habits and traditions - and the force of ideas of what should or ought to be the case - stands the force of the example, which


replaces the normativity of a law or principle with the normativity of the example. (See, Alessandro Ferrara, Does Kant share Sanchos dream? Judgment and sensus communis, Political Theory, vol.34 (1-2), pp. 66-7.) At stake here is precisely the difficult negotiation between particularity and universality, and the process of the production of universals. 75 Conant, Nietzsches Perfectionism, p. 193. 76 Conant, Nietzsches Perfectionism, p. 195. These conditions are important as they make it clear that the educative role of the exemplar can only be fulfilled if something or someone or something is both related, similar to us (exemplarity is a mark of this) and different from us (exemplariness is an indicator of inessential difference). This, as Conant and Cavell both point out, clearly has anti-elitist connotations, since it is a possibility open to everyone. 77 To work in this fashion, an exemplar should, however, be an excellence that is attainable, since its educative function depends on it unsettling us, not on following it in a slavish fashion. (This would be mere imitation.) It is notable that this Nietzschean rendering of exemplarity echoes John Stuart Mills treatment of originality, which he suggests opens our eyes, which once fully done allows one to be original oneself. Ibid., p. 229. 78 For Cavell, as for Emerson, the subject is divided or inherently doubled. This is a consequence of his picture of the self as a process of becoming or failing to become of being committed to ones attained self and thereby blind to the attractions of ones further or unattained self, or of being committed to ones next self and so avoiding conformity with ones present self (Mulhall, Stanley Cavell, p. 299). It is in this sense that Cavells conception of the subject comes into sharp contrast to a liberal conception. The emphasis on dependence on others and on language - contrasts with a liberal stress on autonomy as starting point. By contrast, for Cavell autonomy is always something to be attained, and if attained, always threatened and precarious. See, S. Mulhall, Stanley Cavell: Philosophys Recounting of the Ordinary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), pp. 292-310. 79 Cavell notes further that in this sense, the working out of any identity can only occur in the context of my relations to others: Emersons turn is to make my partiality the sign and incentive of my siding with the next or further self, which means siding against my attained perfection (or conformity), sidings which require the recognition of an other the acknowledgement of a relationship in which this sign is manifest. Cavell, Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome, p. 31. 80 Zerilli also draws on Cavell to develop an argument about the place of responsiveness in democratic politics. See, L.M.G. Zerilli, Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005). 81 Rancire, Disagreement, 137. 82 Cavell, Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome, p. 107. 83 Ibid., p. 46. 84 Hallward, Staging Equality, p. 109.