Evolution, devolution, and other political possibilities
The politicized agent
In the realization and recognition of an event, it is the agent and the collectivity of agents who become creative vehicles for direct political action. They become fully realized political subjects.
However, different events have different degrees of effective material consequences, based on the force of the event and its recognition as an event by the agents involved. Some moments of eventful circumstances pass unnoticed or unheeded without a ripple in the air. Some, like the OWS movement, spread slowly throughout society, creating a buzz in the air and a sense of re-claimed personal authority.
OWS's slogan is “We are the 99%,” and it proclaims a self-recognition of the majority who live in socio-political conditions that support the gross accumulation of wealth by a small majority at the expense of the well-being and development of all others.
In terms of their slogan, one percent of individual agents living in capitalistic states support and maintain their subjectivity by actively sustaining a system that trains and disciplines the other ninety-nine percent into recognizing themselves as factual objects, thus appropriate for managing.
Badiou writes, “More than ever, political power, as the current economic crisis with its one single slogan of ‘rescue the banks’ clearly proves, is merely an agent of capitalism. Revolutionaries are divided and only weakly organized, broad sectors of working-class youth have fallen prey to nihilistic despair, the vast majority of intellectuals are servile.”
Against this, in Badiou’s realization of the Communist Idea, sovereign power, in a real way, transfers away from oppressive institutional state apparatus and its assumptions. Power becomes subjectified, re-claimed by individuals to now be found solely in the immediate actions and decisions of the moment.
Such an event effectively places sovereign authority in the hands of the people, stripped of form, a shared and spontaneous collection of self-authorities acting in unified effort to create a new state of being and of affairs. This process of creating a new state is of particular interest to Machievelli in The Prince.
The Prince and the Population
A prince, for Machievelli, wields princely power, which I understand as sovereign power, the politically legitimate means of decision-making and authority. This is the same sovereign power spoken of by Badiou, the power that is de-stabilized in the event, freed from the capitalist apparatus and hovering in breathless anticipation of what is to come next.
Throughout this blog, I will speak of “the prince,” “princely power,” and “sovereignty” interchangeably as I understand them as equal terms. The structure of the hierarchy built in relation to this governing power represents the chains of command, the bureaucratic network, and the matrices of information diffusion; the nerves and veins of the body politic embodied by individuals of varying rank, power, and prestige.
The prince is the representation of the sovereign power in the same manner more contemporary discourse claims a “ruling class” represents the interests of authoritative hierarchies. Machievelli writes, “It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through that initiating changes in a state’s constitution.”
Events are disruptive, chaotic, and overwhelming. For Badiou, this new truth is experienced by subjects as “raw, or militant,” Add to this general atmosphere of explosive destabilization the banality inherent in Machievelli’s wry political observation, “The wish to acquire more is admittedly a very natural and common thing,” and it is understandable the fires of an event’s incindiary winds are built and sustained in the tension between the theoretical ideal of true political liberation and the material circumstances of factual reality.
The material circumstances of factual reality
The sudden recognition by the people of the legitimacy of their own personal, individual, subjective power necessarily de-legitimizes the role of the political state as the sole arbiter of socio-political authority. According to Badiou, “An event is something that can occur only to the extent that it is subtracted from the power of the State.” Events de-legitimize state authority to the extent that they empower the populace to critique practices and cultural assumptions that serve to harm or hinder, and to gather together and make collective decisions on their own terms in personally meaningful ways.
Tunisia had such an event, a re-politicizing of the people, subjects chanting in streets they had taken by force of arms and rhetoric. However, what happened next? What is happening now as I type these words? The event has unfolded and history, with its facts, writes its story.
Badiou’s story is that the communist hypothesis of emancipation failed to obtain in the world due to its inability to transcend, in language, thought, and action, the ontological structures and epistemological assumptions of the party-state; limited by what and how they knew.
As Machievelli writes, human history only knows two types of large-scale political government, republics and principalities. From these, all specific political systems have formed (i.e. capitalism, communism, totalitarianism, anarchism). If such a state of affairs is all that is conceivable and recognizable as possibile, anything else remains recognizably, conceptually, impossible. However, that is what an “event” is: the impossible becoming not only possible, but actual.
My question now can be asked: what happens, theoretically and practically, when a new state is born. I argue that one of two things happen in the event of political re-birth, in that moment when the collective mass has grown with recognition and action into a political reality that trumps, by sheer force of power and immediacy, the existing authoritative structure.
This is the subject of the next part of this blog.
PART 3 of 3 will be published the week of November 18th.
 Author’s note: This is a claim I will explore in a future blog entitled “The Possibility of Resistance to the Feminine”
 Machievelli, pp. 259
 ibid. pp. 21
 Badiou, pp. 253
 Machievelli, pp. 14
 ibid. pp. 244
The Communist Hypothesis, Verso, 2010, New York
-http://www.lacan.com/badtruth.htm, Highly Speculative Reasoning on the Concept of Democracy from Metapolitcs, New York: Verso, 2005
The Prince, Penguin, 1999, England
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