This essay explores the consequences of a recent development in political thought: the differentiation between the concepts of politics and the political (in French, la politique and le politique) as it emerged in the work of Jean-Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Claude Lefort, Jacques Rancière, Alain Badiou, Ernesto Laclau, and others. It is claimed that, apart from very general ontological questions concerning the political structure of social being, consequences have to be considered along two lines: First, democracy as a regime in which the absence of any ultimate ground of the social is accepted has to be defended against the “new antidemocrats” (such as Slavoj Žižek, Alain Badiou, or the Invisible Committee). For this reason, a democratic notion of solidarity is proposed that is based on the never-ending play between politics and the political. Second, a notion of “minimal politics” has to be developed in order to counter recurring fantasies of “grand politics,” that is, of an ultimate revolutionary break or a decisive political act. For that reason, conditions—such as collectivity, strategy, organization, and conflictuality—are described that allow us to decipher given forms of action as political.
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Oliver Marchart; Democracy and Minimal Politics: The Political Difference and Its Consequences. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2011; 110 (4): 965–973. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-1382357
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