Categorising archipolitics, parapolitics and metapolitics

Last year (or maybe the year before) I decided to work more closely through the archipolitics, parapolitics and metapolitics distinction. Jacques Rancière uses these labels to mark out what is not actually politics. Archipolitics is most clearly illustrated by the rule of experts (e.g. Plato’s ideal community), parapolitics by institutions and metapolitics by theory (e.g. Marx). Each of these are not politics because they do away with disagreement.

This recent post by Bert Oliver uses this distinction, and brings in work by Slavoj Žižek, to analyse current ‘world politics’. I really like the post and it is always inspiring to see that this ‘conceptual stuff’ can be turned towards unpacking current happenings, even in brief pieces of text.

Oliver brings in Žižek to discuss ultra-politics. To me, this appears to be Carl Schmitt’s friend-enemy distinction. In other words, this analysis could also be offered with the work of Chantal Mouffe.

I have not used ‘ultra-politics’ in my work. I simply use Rancière’s concept of ‘the partition of the sensible’. I suppose there is always a supplement.



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