The Crisis of the Notion of Political Representation: The Case of Non-Citizens
The paper questions the classical notion of political representation, and places the notion of political representation in the context of contemporary critical theory. In doing so, it considers the contributions of various theorists: Laclau, Agamben and Hardt & Negri, who each in their own way reflect the role and the crisis of representation in contemporary social contexts. The contribution is primarily interested in what role, if any, political representation plays in the process of emergence of singularities and subjectivization, and what role it plays in the process of identification. The notion of the political representation is explored in relation to the process of identification, of singularity and political subjectivization. This paper therefore explores the aforementioned three ontological conceptualizations in relation to the so-called crisis of political representation.
KEY WORDS: subjectivization, identification, political representation, hegemony, naming
THE CRISIS OF THE NOTION OF POLITICAL REPRESENTATION: THE CASE OF NON-CITIZENS
This paper challenges the classical notion of political representation and places it in the context of contemporary critical theory. The aim of the paper is to explore political representation through the work of various authors. First of all, the paper considers the contributions of Laclau, Agamben and Hardt & Negri, who each in their own way reflect the role and the crisis of political representation in contemporary social contexts. For Laclau, the notion of representation is explained by the logic of naming, focusing on the emergence of hegemonic signifiers in the field of social heterogeneity. For him, political representation is strongly associated with the process of identification and political subjectivization as well as with the counter-hegemonic collective identities emerging as singularities in specific socio-political contexts. The theory of representation is therefore understood as a two-way dynamics between those represented and their representatives. By contrast, Agamben understands subjectivization as de-subjectivization: “the subject” (the Muslim) can only emerge from the biopolitical paradigm of the modern Camp. For Agamben the representative is trapped in the so-called Levi’s paradox of the witnesses being unable to testify, while the question at issue is whether it is possible to think of political subjectivization in terms of emancipation through a totally de-subjectivized living dead. Hardt & Negri’s notion of repre- sentation is radically different from the Laclauian, as well as from Agamben’s. In Hardt & Negri the idea of a hegemonic logic of representation is “replaced” by the Spinozist/Deleuzian concept of multitudes emerging as singularities and challenging the neo-liberal order. If for Laclau the subject is still bound to the notion of identity and understood as a series of failed identifications, for Hardt & Negri identity is no longer at issue as the subject is always in the process of Becoming (a body without organs, as Deleuze & Guattari would put it), and oriented towards an ethical project aiming at liberation.
The author of this paper is primarily interested in what role, if any, political representation plays in the process of the emergence of singularities and subjectivization and what role it plays in the process of identification. The notion of political representation works in relation to the process of identification, of singularity and political subjectivization. This paper, therefore, aims to answer how to ontologically rethink political representation in the context of the so-called crisis of political representation in which it has found itself.