Arendt famously pointed out that only citizenship actually confers rights in the modern world. To be a citizen is to be one who has the ‘right to have rights’. Arendt’s analysis emerges out of her recognition that there is a contradiction between this way of conferring rights as tied to the nation-state system and the more philosophical and ethical conceptions of the ‘rights of man’ and notions of ‘human rights’ like those championed by thinkers such as Immanuel Kant who understands (...) rights belonging universally to all humans as a result of facts having to do with what it means to be human. Étienne Balibar, in his recent work, adds to this by pointing out that there is a contradictory movement between this universalizing tendency in philosophical thought and the production of the citizen-subject out of the exclusionary acts of law and force. In this article, I put Balibar’s work in dialogue with the contemporary moment where we are witnessing the re-emergence of a nativist right populism. I use Balibar to help distinguish between three modes of political existence that we find today. Two of these three are more or less well understood. They are the non-citizen, who has no – or almost no – rights in a given nation-state and the citizen who enjoys the full benefit of the rights a given nation-state has to give. The third category is what I term the ‘nominal citizen’. This last category is somewhere in between full citizenship and non-citizenship. Individuals in this last category have rights in name but are largely unable to exercise them. Understanding this last category can, among other things, help us at least partially make sense of the return of right populism and also help us see the ways in which the modern category of citizenship, with its contradictions as elaborated by Balibar, can provide a means for resistance. (shrink)
John Locke’s foundational place in the history of British empiricism and liberal political thought is well established. So, in what sense can Locke be considered a modern European philosopher? Identity and Difference argues for reassessing this canonical figure. Closely examining the "treatise on identity" added to the second edition of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Étienne Balibar demonstrates Locke’s role in the formation of two concepts central to the metaphysics of the subject—consciousness and the self—and the complex philosophical, legal, (...) moral and political nature of his terms. With an accompanying essay by Stella Sandford, situating Balibar’s reading of Locke in the history of the reception of the Essay and within Balibar’s other writings on "the subject," Identity and Difference rethinks a crucial moment in the history of Western philosophy. (shrink)
This essay examines Étienne Balibar's readings of Jacques Derrida and deconstruction. The text is framed as a review of two books by Balibar: 'Equaliberty' and 'Violence and Civility'. After describing the context of those readings, I propose a broader reflection on the ambiguous relationship between 'post-Marxism' and 'deconstruction', focusing on concepts such as 'violence', 'cruelty', 'sovereignty' and 'property'. I also raise methodological questions related to the 'use' of deconstructive notions in political theory debates.
Explores the core of Balibars work since 1980This collection explores Balibars rethinking of the connections between subjection and subjectivity by tracing the genealogies of these concepts in their discursive history. The 12 essays provide an overview of Balibars work after his collaboration with Althusser. They explain and expand his framework; in particular, by restoring Arabic and Islamic thought to the conversation on the citizen subject. The collection includes two previously untranslated essays by Balibar himself on Carl Schmitt and Thomas (...) Hobbes. Key FeaturesThe first English-language edited collection to focus on BalibarPresents and explains Balibars key contributions to political theory and the history of political philosophyIncludes two essays by Balibar himself on Carl Schmitt and Thomas Hobbes: 'Schmitts Hobbes, Hobbess Schmitt' and 'The Mortal God and his Faithful Subjects: Hobbes, Schmitt and the Antinomies of Secularism'Contributors include Atienne Balibar, Nancy Armstrong, Giorgos Fourtounis, Mohamed Moulfi. (shrink)
In this contribution, Balibar follows his seminal 1993 work applying the notion of the transindividual to Spinoza’s work, to produce a broader history of thinking the transindividual that brings both Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud into relation with Spinoza, devoting a section to each of these thinkers. Balibar positions the notion of the transindividual, here, as a solution to the opposing ontological errors of philosophical individualism that fails to attend to the social constitution of the individual, and the (...) social organicism that reduces the individual to the effect of larger forces. For Balibar, following Gilbert Simondon, the individual is to be understood as always already extending beyond themselves. (shrink)
étienne Balibar has been one of Europe's most important philosophical and political thinkers since the 1960s. His work has been vastly influential on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the humanities and the social sciences. In We, the People of Europe?, he expands on themes raised in his previous works to offer a trenchant and eloquently written analysis of "transnational citizenship" from the perspective of contemporary Europe. Balibar moves deftly from state theory, national sovereignty, and debates on multiculturalism (...) and European racism, toward imagining a more democratic and less state-centered European citizenship. Although European unification has progressively divorced the concepts of citizenship and nationhood, this process has met with formidable obstacles. While Balibar seeks a deep understanding of this critical conjuncture, he goes beyond theoretical issues. For example, he examines the emergence, alongside the formal aspects of European citizenship, of a "European apartheid," or the reduplication of external borders in the form of "internal borders" nurtured by dubious notions of national and racial identity. He argues for the democratization of how immigrants and minorities in general are treated by the modern democratic state, and the need to reinvent what it means to be a citizen in an increasingly multicultural, diversified world. A major new work by a renowned theorist, We, the People of Europe? offers a far-reaching alternative to the usual framing of multicultural debates in the United States while also engaging with these debates. (shrink)
Etienne Balibar, one of the foremost living French philosophers, builds on his landmark work 'Spinoza and Politics' with this exploration of Spinoza's ontology. Balibar situates Spinoza in relation to the major figures of Marx and Freud as a precursor to the more recent French thinker Gilbert Simondon's concept of the transindividual. Presenting a crucial development in his thought, Balibar takes the concept of transindividuality beyond Spinoza to show it at work at both the individual and the collective (...) level. (shrink)
Most readers of Louis Althusser first enter his work through his writings on ideology. In an important new essay Étienne Balibar, friend and colleague of Althusser, offers an original reading of Althusser’s idea of ideology, drawing on both recently published posthumous writing and Althusser's work on the Piccolo Teatro di Milano. Balibar’s essay uncovers the intricate workings of interpellation through Althusser’s essays on the theater. If debates on dialectical materialism belong to a distant history, Balibar suggests, the (...) question of ideology remains crucial for thinking the present. The issue includes commentaries on Balibar’s essay from five influential scholars who engage critically with Althusser’s philosophy: Judith Butler, Banu Bargu, Adi Ophir, Warren Montag, and Bruce Robbins. This issue reanimates Althusser’s concept of ideology as an analytic tool for contemporary cultural and political critique. (shrink)
First published in French in 2010, _Equaliberty_ brings together essays by Étienne Balibar, one of the preeminent political theorists of our time. The book is organized around _equaliberty_, a term coined by Balibar to connote the tension between the two ideals of modern democracy: equality and liberty. He finds the tension between these different kinds of rights to be ingrained in the constitution of the modern nation-state and the contemporary welfare state. At the same time, he seeks to (...) keep rights discourse open, eschewing natural entitlements in favor of a deterritorialized citizenship that could be expanded and invented anew in the age of globalization. Deeply engaged with other thinkers, including Arendt, Rancière, and Laclau, he posits a theory of the polity based on social relations. In _Equaliberty_ Balibar brings both the continental and analytic philosophical traditions to bear on the conflicted relations between humanity and citizenship. (shrink)
Philosophy & Social Criticism, Volume 48, Issue 6, Page 904-933, July 2022. In this article, I reconstruct Étienne Balibar’s work against the background of the debate on modern universal citizenship. I argue that universal citizenship is neither fundamentally emancipatory nor fundamentally oppressive but is rather both. In order to defend this position, I build on Balibar’s concept of the “citizen subject.” First, I parse this concept, showing how it allows us to think about the contradictions of modern universal (...) citizenship. In the second section, I elucidate its temporal logic and show how it undermines the telos of modern universal citizenship. In sections three to five, I show how citizenship’s universalism clarifies both its oppressive and its emancipatory thrust. The dialectic of universal citizenship, I argue, unfolds as a conflict between and within political universals. In the conclusion, I will tie up these different strands and end with some reflections on the conditions of possibility of this dialectic. (shrink)
At the beginning of his essay ‘Philosophies of the Transindividual: Spinoza, Marx, Freud’, Balibar  hints at some reasons why he will not be dealing with Simondon, despite agreeing with the latter’s program of going beyond ‘the metaphysics of the subject and of substance’ and towards an ‘ontology of relations’. In what follows I would like to outline Simondon’s concept of transindividuality and spell out more clearly why Balibar cannot follow Simondon’s trajectory. At the same time, I suggest (...) a number of socio-political approaches that a specifically Simondonian concept of transindividuality opens up. (shrink)
Peirce nurtured a lifelong interest in the mathematics, metaphysics, and logic of time. For him, time was the primal form of continuum, and he studied it as such. That study is fundamentally connected to Peirce’s semiotic and metaphysical exploration of the continuum of consciousness. In this paper I will use two successive approaches to answer the question “To what extent does the flow of time regulate the flow of signs and the flow of signs influence or determine the flow of (...) time?” I will first examine Peirce’s views concerning the connection between time, the flow of perception, and the emergence of perceptual judgments. I will then apply several resulting distinctions to show how they illuminate the mutual determination of time and semiosis in Peirce’s mature semiotic theory. I will finish with considerations about how Peirce ended up viewing the genealogy of both time and logic in relation to the birth of a semiotic universe. (shrink)
In this response, while agreeing with Balibar’s substantive positive position, I take issue with the way he situates it. Specifically, he casts it as a via negativa in relation to all previously existing thought. I suggest that it would be more accurate to say he is positioning the notion of the transindividual as a via media between two alleged extremes, individualism and organicism. I argue that the idea that there is an opposite and equal error to individualism is mistaken, (...) and that in actuality Balibar’s concept of the transindividual is not a radical departure from a long history of anti-individualism. (shrink)
We are witnessing and participating in a new “Querelle of Universals” which has indissoluble political and philosophical characters. It ranges from the incorporation of anthropological differences into the very definition of the “human” to the contemporary attempts at rethinking the diversity of histories within mankind as a multiverse of translations rather than a failed unity. The essay discusses a series of typical aporias that are relevant to this querelle and proposes a concept of subjectivity which elaborates their productivity.
Philosophy & Social Criticism, Ahead of Print. In this article, I reconstruct Étienne Balibar’s work against the background of the debate on modern universal citizenship. I argue that universal citizenship is neither fundamentally emancipatory nor fundamentally oppressive but is rather both. In order to defend this position, I build on Balibar’s concept of the “citizen subject.” First, I parse this concept, showing how it allows us to think about the contradictions of modern universal citizenship. In the second section, (...) I elucidate its temporal logic and show how it undermines the telos of modern universal citizenship. In sections three to five, I show how citizenship’s universalism clarifies both its oppressive and its emancipatory thrust. The dialectic of universal citizenship, I argue, unfolds as a conflict between and within political universals. In the conclusion, I will tie up these different strands and end with some reflections on the conditions of possibility of this dialectic. (shrink)
This article is a critique of Étienne Balibar's philosophical orientation towards Europe, construed as both an ideal and an institutional reality, in light of recent European crises. I argue that Balibar's commitment to Europe follows from his longstanding political-philosophical preference for a compromise position between political utopianism and political realism, but that this compromise is ultimately incoherent, combining the ungroundedness of utopianism with the undue self-limitation of realism.
The Spinoza party -- The Tractatus Theologico-Politicus: a democratic manifesto -- The Tractatus Politicus: a science of the state -- The Ethics: a political anthropology -- Politics and communication.
The article considers some explicit or implicit and yet fundamental references to Althusser in Balibar’s text about transindividuality. Of particular significance is the attempt to think of an articulation of ideology and the unconscious which brings into play the three authors Balibar evokes—Spinoza, Marx, and Freud—so as to reactivate them beyond Simondon’s own theory of transindividuality.
In this review, I discuss Balibar’s ‘proposition of equaliberty’ with regard to its theoretical status and contribution, its relationship to other contemporary theories of radical democracy as well as to the problematic of bourgeois versus communist emancipation in Marx. The primary interest of this essay is to develop a detailed understanding of Balibar’s analytical schema, which draws a complex picture of our contemporary ‘human condition’, and to place it within his own theoretical development since his contribution toReading Capitalin (...) the 60s. On that basis, it will be possible to assess his contribution to thinking politics with and after Marx and place it more concretely within the generalised radical-democratic turn in post-Marxist theory. (shrink)
A collection of Essays over the last 20 years, exploring different dimensions of the philosophical debate on "subjecthood" and "subjectivity" in Modernity, as it was framed by the "Controversy on the subject" from the 1960's, and showing how it is now continued in a "controversy on the Universal.".