Constituencies are plural; they grow, develop, change, mutate, hybrid, overlap, separate, cluster, recombine and re-align. Constituencies are always in flux, depending for their existence upon their relationships with one another. As such, constituencies are never givens – but always something to be struggled over and negotiated. Constituencies also provide both the tools for self-production and the toolkits for self-understanding; they hold within themselves the possibility of change, transgression, re-imagination, and re-articulation. Constituencies are neither reducible to “publics” nor are they self-identical with “counter-public spheres”; instead they demand to be recognised as the porous, mutable and protean basis for whatever remains of, or can still be imagined, as a → self-determined democracy.
Within the cultural sphere, it could now be argued that constituencies provide the building blocks for museums, galleries and equivalent “public” institutions to re-imagine their roles, functions, and positions within the production of new forms of citizenship. Whilst it is commonly accepted that → alter-institutionality must be based on a fundamental shift away from hierarchical, top-down and “broadcast” based models of knowledge dissemination, the question remains of how such institutions can begin to operate dialectically as constituencies themselves. Furthermore, it could also be asked how such constituency thinking would enable museums and galleries to re-occupy and re-use those very discourses of alterity, specificity, autonomy and self-determination which have, themselves, become colonised by the logics and discourses of global economic neoliberalism.
Participating narrators: Nick Aickens (Van Abbemuseum, NL); Marwa Arsanios (LB); Zdenka Badovinac & Bojana Piškur & Adela Železnik (MG+MSUM, SI); John Byrne (Liverpool John Moores University, UK); Lia Colombino (Red conceptualismo del sur, PY); Khwezi Gule (SA); Anders Krueger (M HKA, BE); Alexei Penzin (Chto Delat, RU); Ahmet Öğüt (TR); Meriç Öner & November Paynter (SALT Research, TR); Raúl Sánchez Cedillo; Aida Sánchez de Serdio (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, MNCARS, SP), pantxo ramas (MACBA, SP)
Liverpool John Moores University, LJMU School of Art and Design, Mason Owen Board Room, 2 Duckinfield St, Liverpool L3 5RD, United Kingdom
Photos by Emma Curd
|date||2 to 4 March 2016|
|title||The rest is missing|
|lecturer||Raúl Sánchez Cedillo|
|venue||LJMU Liverpool John Moores University, School of Art and Design, John Lennon Art & Design Building, Johnson Foundation Auditorium, 2 Duckinfield St, Liverpool L3 5RD, United Kingdom|
|date||2 March 2016, at 5.30 p.m.|
My presentation will deal with the open problem of constituent power today and the related and equally open notion of constituencies. By constituent power we mean not just and not mainly the juridical notion coined during the English and American Revolutions and then coded by Sieyés as pouvoir constituant de la nation. Rather by it, we mean -in line with Antonio Negri's body of research- a historical social and political force/power that (ontologically) precedes any constitutional and/or legal arrangement that pretends to rely or be based on it.
As we know, the notion of constituent power haunts the history of modern revolutions -from the Levellers, Hobbes and then Burke to the October Revolution and Lenin, Luxemburg, Schmitt and Kelsen. Since then, it is inextricably linked to the »dangers of democracy«, to the ever haunting democratic excess. We also know that this excess has little to do with the Aristotelian problem of the Mean, or with a contemporary problem of the resiliency of a given social system with regards to its critical points. It really has to do with the dark side of capitalist modernity and the forces of labor subsumed under capital: it has to do with the danger of the multitude, which can always constitute itself and act, quoting Spinoza, »guided, as it were, by one mind«.
This very Spinozian multitude is theoretically defined but methodologically and politically denied by Spinoza himself, when he excludes women, fools, and foreigners from the democratic constituency. Reliqua desiderantur: the rest is missing. The unfinished Tractatus Politicus ends abruptly before we can enter into the realm of democracy as such, omnino absolutum imperium.
This absolute but unreal democracy echoes with the current predicament of democratic representation, freedom and justice everywhere throughout the world-system. It seems that no modern Revolution has really solved the political and social conundrum that sees the transformation of the constituent power of the multitude (as the sole and real subject of democracy) into the constituted power of an ever absent (represented) people.
We are surely facing problems that have not to do with a transcendental limit of the political reason –according to which constituent power would be its absolute limit of political intelligibility–, but rather they have to do with the historical determinations of the relationship between democracy and capitalism.
In Liverpool, I'll try to describe the current traits of that relationship on the basis of the recent global and European upheavals since 2011. This involves also addressing the theoretical and political possibilities of going beyond that relationship, namely, the possibility of decoupling the definition of a real democracy from the ever happening renewal of the relationship between the living labor of the multitude and the capitalist command over life and society.