Post-politics vs. existential politics

The 20th century was a century of rivalry between three ideologies. Some managed to reign for several centuries (liberalism), others for decades and years (communism and national socialism). But their demise seems obvious to us. All three ideologies, daughters of the New Age philosophy, have left the space of politics. The era of modernity has come to an end.

The end of the modern era

The death of liberalism does not seem as obvious as that of communism or national socialism. Francis Fukuyama proclaims 'the end of history', i.e. the end of the rivalry between the three ideologies and the final victory of the liberal doctrine. But liberalism did not win... This can be seen by paying attention to the subject of politics today. If in classical liberalism the subject of politics was the individual (its main virtue was freedom in the negative sense: accurately described by Helvetius, 'A free man is a man who is not chained, is not imprisoned, is not intimidated like a slave by the fear of punishment...'), today this individual no longer exists. The subject of classical liberalism is eliminated from all spheres, his wholeness is distrusted, his identity, even if negatively posed, is characterised as a failure in the functioning of the global virtual system of modernity. The world has entered the realm of post-politics and post-liberalism.

Rhizomatic politics

The individual has turned into a rhizome, the contour of the subject has dissolved with the belief in the New Age ("There has been no New Age!" proclaims Bruno Latour, noting in modernity the many contradictions and the failure to respect its own rules of operation - the constitution). "We are tired of wood", the logos of modernity is mocked by the liquid and fused society of postmodernity. A new actor in politics emerges: the post-subject. He thinks chaotically: slides change in his head at the speed of light, interfering with classical logical thinking strategies. The new thinking is that of a chaotic stub, glitch thinking. Politics is transformed into a wonderland in which the actor-evidence-Alice now increases, now decreases in the psychedelic scheme of the new post-rationality.

The contemporary left and right are an example of this pattern. The recent coalition of left and right against the National Front after the first round of the regional elections showed the end of the political model of modernity. The fusion of the values of the left and the right, united by a new kind of liberal virus. The modern left starts flirting with capital, actively defends the political values of the right (ecology) and the right takes on the comical character of fake nationalists.

A characteristic of post-politics is the blurring of the contours of the scale of the 'event'. The scale shifts dramatically ('Alice grows, Alice shrinks'). The modern confrontation between the system and terrorism has been called the Fourth World War by Baudrillard. In contrast to previous wars - the 1-2 world scale, WW3 - the confrontation of the two key geopolitical poles (US and USSR) - a softpower, semi-medieval war with the readiness to become a war with new weapons at any time; WW4 - a post-modernist war in which both enemy and friend are deftly intertwined (terrorism becomes part of the political system). WW4 flirts with scale: its main characteristic is randomness, chaos and arbitrariness in defining the scale of the event (the micro-narrative becomes the event, macro-narratives are ignored). A terrorist act occupies a small area: a building, a corridor, a few rooms or terraces (micro-narrative). But its significance is as great as the battle of Stalingrad (macro-narrative).

In classical wars, there were reference points against which we could relate the event and its meaning. In the modern political world, there are no reference points: it is like Alice in Wonderland. Now it decreases and then increases, but its 'normal, ideal' growth is impossible to identify (the chaos described by Deleuze in The Logic of Meaning). The logic of the political is abolished.

The terrorist attacks (130 dead - Paris, Friday 13) shake 'politics' more than large-scale wars (Syria). This shows that the world is entering a new phase: that of rhizomatic politics. To understand contemporary politics, we must learn to think in rhizomatic terms. Absorb the chaos.

Post-politics is a world of political technology, 5 seconds left-wing, socialist - 5 seconds right-wing, republican. Identity changes with the click of a TV remote control, technology. (Only the question arises: who controls the remote control, who decides to change the slide?) In Martin Heidegger's terms, the main force of modern post-politics: the machenschaft und tehnne.

An alternative to rhizomatic politics in a situation where ideologies are dead

Heidegger's writings offer a particular perspective on the organisation of the political. In liberal Western society, Heidegger's work and especially his political philosophy (which is not given explicitly) have not been sufficiently explored. As a rule, the study of Heidegger's political philosophy is reduced to an attempt to find in the philosopher an apologia for fascism and anti-Semitism (an example of this is the reaction of the philosophical community to the recent publication of the Black Notebooks, particularly eloquent from the French historian of philosophy Emmanuel Faye). Such an interpretation ignores the metaphysical dimension of Heidegger's philosophy and seems unnecessarily superficial and distorting of Heidegger's teaching.

Martin Heidegger cannot be interpreted in the context of any 20th century political theory. His critique of machenshaft applies not only to the Jews (and not on a biological, but on a metaphysical principle), but also, to a much greater extent, to National Socialism. In this sense, we can say that Heidegger represents a fundamental critique of National Socialism, in which he sees manifestations of machenshaft (as opposed to the 'spiritual', authentic National Socialism - which, according to Heidegger, was not realised under Hitler's rule).

Heidegger recognises a profound crisis in political systems. Applying the history of being to the history of the political, politics appears as a process of gradually forgetting being and approaching being. The modern political has no existential dimension, it exists in an inauthentic way. Politics and ontology are inseparable, Plato had already emphasised this in the Republic when he introduced the homology between the political and the ontological ('justice in the soul is the same as justice in the state').

Applying fundamentalistontology to the realm of the political, we can suggest that the political can exist authentically and inauthentically. The authentic existence of the politician is his commitment to being, the inauthentic one is his excessive preoccupation with being, his oblivion of being. The state in which the politician becomes authentically existential is hierarchical. The ontological stands above the ontic. The authentic over the inauthentic. The types of domination lie in a strict vertical line: from mahenschaft to herschaft.

In today's situation of crisis of the 'political', existential politics deserves special attention and seems to us a true alternative to rhizomatic politics. It needs in-depth study and further development.

Translation by Lorenzo Maria Pacini