Rage and Politics (fragments not unrelated to jealousy)

The successful politician is one who can successfully conceal the stain of the Real, that irreducible seed of desire that animates sociality in general and ambition in particular. Take note: to recover from a sex scandal is a privilege not usually granted to politicians; professional athletes are more likely to receive a pardon for this so-called offence. However, if infidelity is indeed an “offence” – what or whom could it possibly offend? Even outside of political marriages, infidelity is rather par for the course. If love is a site for truth, it is only arrived at by practicing militant commitment to the object of one’s love. Betrayal is as necessary to the political as divorce law is to marriage: both are and will become ever more common and profitable. A successful politician is free to have extra-marital affairs, so long as they are concealed; a very successful politician may fuck an entire nation, and conceal it behind an empire of screens (Ahmadinejad, Berlusconi, Bush, Putin … our future politics?).

However, what I term “the political” is to be opposed to what I term Politics. The term “political” is to be conceived as a public forum for private interests; a space in which a public order of office is used not for the benefit of the public but for a private individual’s personal gain. This “gain” may be directly sexual, as in the case of Steve Ellis, or it may take the form of a more subtle erotic – in either case, the dynamic is the same, if it is merely the political at stake: an asymmetrical and brutish exchange of power, whether it is a Korean woman who is essentially raped or the entire public of a community put at a disadvantage. Let us not kid ourselves about what we are exactly.

It is the political today that prevents the establishment of Politics proper. Politics proper would establish the names of what constitute “the private individual” and subtract those from the names that register as “public interest.” Such an operation would clearly identify the excess elements (i.e. names) which, although a part of the social situation (the social situation becoming politics in the process of subtraction), are not included within it. Anything less than this is merely political. I do not wish to rehearse the brilliance of Zizek on this point, so please just read his books or believe me.

The problem with the political is that it skips the process of determining which names are to be subtracted from the social situation and simply attempts to form policy out of excessive remainders. This is what is meant by Ideological State Apparatus: the generation of New Names, without first establishing the minimal order of those names. “Names,” of course signifying the different, infinite, myriad forms of human negativity and social antagonism. Today, there are relatively few names to choose among in the realm of Politics (e.g. Right / Left, NDP, Liberal, PC, Labour, Tory). For the loss of Politics, we are compensated with an abundance, a genuine excess of names in the consumer cultural field. This is our anti-oedipal complex (Deleuze, Guittari).

All is not lost and the tide will swing the other way because history is undead and it remembers: even without meaning or at its end history is still dialectical. The rage that keeps the vampire’s heart beating beyond the grave is fueled by blood. Politics now will be the Politics of Rage; the first thing to be subtracted from future sociality will be rage: it will be the paper upon which are listed the conditions for the existence of truth in Politics. True, the state may hold a legal monopoly on violence. But it uses this power sparingly, to intimidate rather than eradicate its enemies (for now). Despite its tactics of bullying, the state is not terrific. It may be horrible, but even it is afraid of being terrorized: like a paranoid miser, it jealously guards what no longer brings it joy (can the hoarder of gold really be said to be enjoying his gold?).

Politics is to be considered the practice of militant fidelity to rage, not necessarily violence but violent indignation at the trivial pursuits of politicians doing the political (more or less playing the jealousy game of lies and secrets, howling when they scent a whiff of Truth). Not terror but its simulacrum: to frighten the state into believing the paranoid threats it dreams have become terminally real and watch as it kisses the phantom.

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