Alexandria Virtual Cultural Centre of WA
The Three Nexal registers:
Identity, peripheral cultural industry, alternative cultures
Nikola Janović and Rastko Močnik
11.3. The state and the attempt to reduce nexus by the mechanism of identity
We will first illustrate the problem of the relation between nexal processes and the state by a symptomatic historical case: the case of the “immigrants” from other former republics of Yugoslavia in the Republic of Slovenia.XVII Those “immigrants”XVIII who are not citizens, are subject to state violence;IXX while those “immigrants” who are citizens, are the object of state-protection and special care. The field of the regulation of the nexus processes seems to stretch between the two poles of the state violence and governmental care. The juridical and political paradox is complemented by a sociological contradiction: research finds these individuals both more isolated and better integrated into solidarity-nets.; XX Sociological contradiction reveals what the juridical-political paradox reduces: “immigrants” are isolated, because they are excluded from the prevailing social relations produced and reproduced by the “majority” population; as a consequence, they establish alternative networks of integration. “Immigrant” citizens are the object of special state care precisely because the state is obliged to counter their social exclusion – and because the state cannot but attempt to annex, to recuperate, to colonise alternative modes of social integration that might be escaping its control. So why does the state exercise violence against non-citizen “immigrants”? The obvious answer: “because it is under no obligation vis-à-vis them, but still wants to break down alternative integration” – is insufficient, although not completely false.
With the help of a dichotomy introduced by Foucault,XXI we could say that citizen-“immigrants” are adopted by apparatuses of governmentality, while non-citizen-“immigrants” come under the blow of sovereignty. In other words, particular features of the citizen-“immigrants” can be construed so as to fit into the universalist frame of the Law – while the same features make non-citizen-“immigrants” literal outlaws. The element that makes the difference obviously is citizenship: however, individuals are citizens as abstract individuals, as abstracted from any personal circumstance, including the particular features that make citizen-“immigrants” “vulnerable”, as they are usually described in policy documents. But everything indicates that it is precisely this appeal to an abstract universality that mobilises particularist dispositions of governmentality apparatuses – while in the absence of the possibility to appeal to a universalist instance, individuals remain confronted with the instance of abstract equality as its defenceless victims.
By the “appeal to a universal instance”, a particular case precisely is made “a case”, and, as such, is “particularised”. Through this operation, a discourse succeeds to make itself a “particular case” within another discourse, which it recognises as superior and eventually as universal. For the operation to be completed, the discourse that subordinates itself still needs the sanction or the “recognition” of the superior discourse, that is, of its institutionalised “speaker”. If the producer of the discourse of self-submission is a citizen, then the recognition of her or his discourse as legitimately embedded into the universalist discourse (of the state) is granted by her or his citizen-status. If the producer is not a citizen, then this recognition by the superior instance may be granted (precisely in the name of the universality of the superior discourse); however, this recognition is not automatic – and may be withdrawn.
It has so far been withdrawn to non-citizen-“immigrants” in our historical case for two reasons that pertain to the logic we have briefly sketched above. The first reason is that, in the case of the "erased", the hierarchical effect of submission has not been achieved. The second reason is that, as the hierarchy does not work, the discourse of the victims cannot claim the patronage of a universalist instance. It reveals its structure to be one of a subordinated discourse searching in vain to be recognised by a superior instance – and, what is more, defining itself as a discourse on the same level and in opposition to the “immigrants’” discourse. The non-citizen-“immigrant” discourse is in this way revealed as the specific exception to the discourse of the failed universality – and, as a consequence, falls under the coup of “sovereignty” in the strict Schmittian sense.XXII
When the self-submission to a presumed universality succeeds, the particularity of the subordinated discourse is articulated as identity, and is in this way culturalised. Culturalisation is how an eventual excess of sociality is tamed, controlled, reduced. When the operation fails, the excess cannot be mastered – it has to be made illegal, by illegitimate force, if necessary.XXIII
For a contemporary state, nexus phenomena necessarily appear as an excess of sociality. They can be tamed if they are caught in mechanisms of identity, that is, if they are culturalised. In this case, identitary groups may become objects of governmental care and may start reproducing themselves through the consummation of their human rights. In the contrary case, the state has no other option but to resort to its sovereign violence.
The contemporary state deals with the nexal phenomena according to the logic of identity: that is, according to the very pattern of its own constitution which is, de facto, the sovereignty of the ethnic majority.XXIV This treatment disqualifies the contemporary identitary state as a possible bearer of a universalist discourse within the frame of which it is only able to constitute itself – as well as to accommodate other identitary communities. This incapacity of the contemporary state to be the bearer of the universalist ideological framework within which it constitutes itself, has two major consequences.
First, its own political, juridical and even social constitution will depend upon the recognition by an external instance that “represents” the universalist frame. In the absence of appropriate international regulations, such a representative instance will be determined by sheer military and, eventually, economic force. In the absence of an appropriate institutional support, the contemporary appeal to juridical and proto-juridical principles (human and other "rights") actually breeds recourse to violence in inter-statal relations.
The second consequence is related to the way how such a state will treat its nexal phenomena. As we have already remarked, the options vary between the state violence (closure of the borders, forced expulsions, temporary arrangements under close surveillance…) and the governmental care (minority rights, cultural autonomy, cultural diversity…). The actual outcome will ultimately depend upon the capacity of the state to contain the nexal phenomena within the power of its governmentality-apparatuses. In the case to the contrary, it will have to resort to étatist measures, that is, to state violence.
The mechanism of identity-formation can be formalised.XXV The same formalisation will show both:
a. the ideological core-mechanism of the formation of identitary (minority) communities; and
b. the mechanism that transforms the social support of a state (that used to be the “nation”) into an identitary (majority) community.
(1)Albanians are fighting against the mono-ethnic Macedonian state which excludes their participation in its structures.
(Arbën Xhaferi, chairman of the Democratic Party of Albanians, at the time vice-prime minister of the Macedonian government, as quoted in Delo, Ljubljana, 20.03. 2001)
The speaker of (1) starts by making speak an authoritative enunciator EA1 who evokes a topos of authority TA [P: the more a state is mono-ethnic –> Q: the more it is licit to evoke with reference to it the topos TN]. TN is a subordinated or a “native” topos that can only be evoked if it is sanctioned by a superior discourse, a discourse of authority to which TA belongs. The discourse here represented by TN is the one that seeks to be “recognised”, that is, it struggles for its submission to be acknowledged by the discourse to which it is submitting itself. To stand a chance of recognition, the subaltern discourse has first to “go native”, namely, it has to “culturalise” itself. In the same act in which the authoritative enunciator EA1 evokes the topos TA, s/he also actualises its first part on the particular case of the state of Macedonia. As a consequence, another authoritative enunciator EA2 draws the conclusion: “Therefore: it is licit to evoke with reference to the state of Macedonia, the topos TN.” An enunciator EN1 then evokes the topos TN and actualises its argument on the particular case of “we, the Albanians”: “TN [R: the more one is an allo-ethnic community in a mono-ethnic state –> S: the more one is justified to fight the discrimination] and we, the Albanians, are an allo-ethnic community in the mono-ethnic state of Macedonia.” Finally, an enunciator EN1 with whom the speaker identifies, draws the conclusion: “Therefore: we, the Albanians, are justified to fight discrimination.”
Or, more graphically:
The background topos of authority: TA [P: the more a state is mono-ethnic –> Q: the more it is licit to evoke with reference to it the topos TN ].XXVI
1.The authoritative argument: evocation of TA and its application to the case of the Macedonian state: “TA [P: the more a state is mono-ethnic –> Q: the more it is licit to evoke with reference to it the topos TN ] and Macedonia is a mono-ethnic state.”
2.The authoritative conclusion: “Therefore: Q of T applies to the Macedonian state”. Or: “Therefore: it is licit to evoke with reference to the state of Macedonia, the topos TN.”
The native background topos: TN [R: the more one is an allo-ethnic community in a mono-ethnic state –> S: the more one is justified to fight the discrimination].
3.The native argument: evocation of TA and its application to the case of “we, the Albanians”: “TN [R: the more one is an allo-ethnic community in a mono-ethnic state –> S: the more one is justified to fight the discrimination] and we, the Albanians, are an allo-ethnic community in the mono-ethnic state of Macedonia.”
4.The native conclusion: “Therefore: we, the Albanians, are justified to fight discrimination.”
Scheme 11.2 – Argumentation procedure in the utterance (1)
EA1 TA and Pa
EN1 TN and R we
EN2 Therefore: S we
–> TN with reference to x] TN [Ry
The consequences of the argumentation in the quadrangle is not spelled out: this makes the native particular conclusion all the more convincingly follow from the authoritative universal premise.
The following analysis will show that the discourse of the contemporary identitary state has a structure that is analogous to the subaltern identitary discourse:
(1)This is the choice between Europe and the Balkans.
(Janez Drnovšek, prime-minister of Slovenia, Dnevnik, Ljubljana, 3. 06. 1995)
(2) only states the first premise of an argumentation – and still it leads to an inevitable conclusion, indeed to the conclusion that there is no choice. It belongs to a subaltern discourse that situates itself within another discourse, the discourse of authority. Within the discourse of authority, the terms “Europe” and “the Balkans” are presented is forming a quasi-lexical opposition of the “+ / –“ type. As a consequence, (2) presents as “evident”, as quasi-lexically obvious, that the dilemma “Europe vs. the Balkans”, being a dilemma of the “+ / –” type, is a false dilemma. The argumentation proper can be presented as follows:
EA1: TA [the more a dilemma is a false dilemma –> the more one should resort to the topos TN] and "Europe or the Balkans" is a false dilemma.
EA2: Therefore: one should resort to the topos TN.
EN1: TN [the more one recognises her/him-self in x –> the less one makes of "x or non-x" the object of a choice] and we recognise ourselves in Europe.
EN2: Therefore: for us, "Europe or non-Europe" is not an object of choice.
The sense of (2) is not so much that, when having to choose between Europe and the Balkans, one has no choice – but rather that it is by refusing this dilemma that one proves oneself to be a good European.
What makes (2) particularly irrefutable is the possibility to insert, instead of TN, its converse topical formXXVII – and to arrive at the same conclusion. Transforming TN into its converse topical form TF’’ (– P – Q), one obtains the following argumentation:
EA1: TA [the more a dilemma is a false dilemma the more one should resort to the topos TN] and "Europe or the Balkans" is a false dilemma.
EA2: Therefore: one should resort to the topos TN.
EN1: TN [the less one recognises her/him-self in y –> the less one makes of "y or non-y" the object of a choice] and we do not recognise ourselves in the Balkans.
EN2: Therefore: for us, "Balkans or non-Balkans" is not an object of choice.
The choice, which is actually proposed by (2), is consequently the choice between “Euro-philia” and “Balkano-phobia”, that is , between two variants of identitary recognition within the horizon of the hegemonic discourse organised by the opposition “Europe + vs. the Balkans –”. However, whatever one chooses, one always ends up with the same choice, the choice of “Europe”.
Alexandria - Acting on the brighter future for the professional arts in Australia