9615 - Right to Be Political in Motion - Mark Franke
Modern traditions of political theory largely begin with the revival of an observation made already in classical Greek philosophy: that things are in motion. Things move and change, allowing for differentiation, multiplication, and deletion. Some of the most influential early–modern political theorists accept this point and read it pronouncedly into the conditions of being human. The fundamental motion of human beings, understood in material, intellectual, and linguistic terms, becomes centred as the first problem of politics. Human being is theorised as rightfully at liberty. And the question of politics becomes one of respecting and protecting human rights to the liberty of motion. Yet, paradoxically, the central work of early–modern political theory is repeatedly formed as a set of practices whereby this most elementary problem of politics—the implications of being at liberty and having rights to be in motion—is subject to limits, containment, and governance. Political theory since this period has amounted to little more than reiterations of this act. The differences with which motion and change can confront us—the way in which being human provokes problems of politics—are rendered thinkable in modern political theory through call to another element of classical philosophy: arrangement of particulars in wholes. Modern political theory seeks description of a universe in which the particulars of human liberty may be appropriately understood and ordered with geometric clarity. Thus, modern political theory is most respectful of the motion of human being as rightfully subject to universalisable discipline and boundaries. And, rather than a unity, a contradiction arises between a human right to liberty and the political conditions under which liberty is celebrated. What is first recognised as a fundamental right to move is formulated, politically, as a geopolitics of being human in which the liberty of movement is cast as a threat to human rights.
"Rights to Being Political in Motion" begins by tracing the ways in which this contradiction arises and how it amounts to a displacement of politics. The course, then, concentrates to a large degree on critically examining the difficulties of overcoming this contradiction. The central challenge of this course is to find effective ways in which we may be able to bring back political theory to its fundamental problem, that of human movement. And, the course asks us to consider how it might be possible to think politics in terms of rights to movement, where the liberty that is implied is not ordered as something that the human may or may not enjoy but, rather, as a manner of being. In this regard, engaging in a reconsideration of early–modern observations, the course proposes to face the challenge of accepting the human itself as something that is in motion. Overall, "Rights to Being Political in Motion" presents a challenge to the geometric ethics that centres human being within universalisable spheres of experience, planes of responsibility, and circles of freedom. Accordingly, this course seeks inspiration on how we might respond politically and ethically to the universality of human motion without fixing motion to a necessary space–time. This course pursues ways of thinking human motion as the practices by which the space–times of possible universes are made, and it ponders the universal rights to liberty that are expressed in this motion.
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