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3 White Elephant

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Geoffrey Kantaris

on 25 March 2014

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Transcript of 3 White Elephant

On the White Elephant of Populist Reason
Pablo Trapero (dir),
Elefante blanco (Argentina, 2012)

Introduction and background
Ernesto Laclau
Hidden City (Ciudad Oculta)
Movement of Priests for the Third World
Politics and Aesthetics
On Populist Reason (2005)
La razón populista
(trans. Soledad Laclau)
Ciudad oculta
: Villa 15
Source: http://www.oxonianreview.org/wp/the-hidden-city/
Movimiento de Sacerdotes para el Tercer Mundo
Carlos Mugica (1930-1974)
The populist legacy of Father Carlos Mugica
From a poster published by the National Organization of Militant Peronism in 2012
Source: youtu.be/oLMFYZIFwpU
The primacy of the people as an onto-theological construction
Subaltern tutelage:
“Señor: quiero morir por ellos, ayúdame a vivir para ellos.
Señor: quiero estar con ellos a la hora de la luz.”

[“Lord: I want to die for them, help me to live for them.
Lord: I want to be with them at the coming of the light.”]

Carlos Mugica, “Oración” [Prayer]
The repetition of history as ideological blockage
Mechanism of the hegemonic process:
articulation and translation of popular demands within social and political institutions
Aesthetics and religion
Schillerian aesthetics as transubstantiation of material world = immaterial power of art
Kantian sublime: gap between representable and unrepresentable = infinite moral debt / ethical duty
Urban space and cognitive mapping
The postmodern sublime (Jean-François Lyotard)
- crisis of aesthetic/political "representation"
The technological sublime (Fredric Jameson)
Breakdown of cognitive mapping
My life for the People
My life for Perón
Tomography and Topography
Spatial optic: technologies of vision
Tomography (x-ray) superimposed on the city
Window as complex montage of image technologies
Breakdown of mapping and state metrics
The White Elephant
Equivalence between unmeasurable space of
villa
, uncountable population and abandoned building
Occupation of space
Building as "
objet trouvé
"
History of building
Dates from 1930s: Alfredo Lorenzo Palacios
Main impulse during Peronist administrations: 1945-1955
Currently owned by the Fundación Madres de la Plaza de Mayo
2007 agreement to rehouse residents of building never fulfilled
"Los vecinos realizaron numerosas presentaciones ante el IVC, la fundación de las Madres, la Defensoría del Pueblo de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, el Ejecutivo porteño y el Estado nacional para saber por qué no se cumplió con el convenio. Con los créditos ya otorgados, ni las casas ni las respuestas llegaron."
Plebs vs People
On Populist Reason
Affect, religion and politics
The failure of representation
Confused frontiers between affect, ethics (deontology) and politics
Baruch de Spinoza
Populism requires faith: the salvation of the multitude
Ernesto Laclau
“Not everything in society is political, because we have many sedimented social forms which have blurred the traces of their original political institution; but if heterogeneity is constitutive of the social bond, we are always going to have a political dimension by which society – and the ‘people’ – are constantly reinvented.

Does this mean that the political becomes synonymous with populism? Yes, in the sense in which I conceive this last notion. Since the construction of the ‘people’ is the political act par excellence – as opposed to pure administration within a stable institutional framework – the sine qua non requirements of the political are the constitution of antagonistic frontiers within the social and the appeal to new subjects of social change – which involves, as we know, the production of empty signifiers in order to unify a multiplicity of heterogeneous demands in equivalential chains.”

On Populist Reason
, p.154.

Empty signifiers
“the more populist interpellations truly play the role of empty signifiers – the more they manage equivalentially to unify the community – the more they are also the object of a radical investment.”

On Populist Reason
, p.191.

Non-signifiers and silence
Full transcript