Volume 18, Issue 2, 2015
Special Project: Political Theory and Philosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration, Part 2
Uprooting Hierarchy by Breaking the Tautology of Consensus
This essay argues that the radical subjectivity of nullity defined as the part-of-no-part by Rancière and as universal-singular agency by Žižek, cannot be embodied in a group or a class, but exclusively through autonomous individuality. All group identities are essentially pragmatically-particularist, i.e., constructed through a consensual counterfeiting of public rationality whose purpose is to maintain hierarchical inequality by defining common interest as the pragmatically-interested distribution of ranks and benefits. The core irrationality of this consensual pragmatism is revealed through its constitutional enmity towards the unavoidable contentiousness of rational dialogue and its suppression of the infinity of rational curiosity. The relentlessness of rational inquiry, given that it questions paternal authority in the given context, is a deed of Desire. Yet, as Kafka’s The Castle shows, the widespread acquiescence to consensual hierarchy deploys the perfidious tool of silent ostracism to disable the autonomous individual from publicly implementing his/her inquiring Desire.