By Graham Harman
Bruno Latour, the French sociologist, anthropologist and normal star within the social sciences is revisited during this pioneering account of his ever-evolving political philosophy. Breaking from the conventional specialize in his metaphysics, so much lately noticeable in Harman’s booklet Prince of Networks, the writer as an alternative starts with the Hobbesian or even Machiavellian underpinnings of Latour’s early interval encountering his shift in the direction of Carl Schmitt then completing along with his ultimate improvement into the Lippmann / Dewey debate. Harman brings those twists and becomes sharp concentration by way of Latour’s own political thinking.
Along with Latour’s most vital articles on political issues, the e-book chooses 3 works as exemplary of the unique classes in Latour’s considering: The Pasteurization of France, Politics of Nature, and the lately released An Inquiry Into Modes of Existence, as his perception of politics evolves from an international energy fight among contributors, to the fabrication of fragile parliamentary networks, to only one mode of lifestyles between many others.
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Extra info for Bruno Latour. Reassembling the political
And here we need to distinguish between three levels rather than two. Level One is that of transcendent principle, more or less abolished by the early Latour, whether it takes the form of moralistic appeal to standards of goodness, or of “scientific” trump cards played by Marxists and other Truth Politicians. In either case, we remain stranded at the level of principle without staying attuned to the sometimes surprising resistance of actors placed in networks. Level Two is that of political realism as usually defined, which for the early Latour covers the cosmos as a whole.
The theory of democracy Latour offers here is intriguing. Though Hannibal used both strategy and inhuman cruelty to keep his massive North African army together in Italy for more than a decade, we should not draw an arbitrary distinction between the strategy part of Hannibal and the cruelty part: “In his book [The Prince] Machiavelli offers a set of rules which go beyond the distinction between good and evil made by moralists, citizens, or historians … For example acting virtuously should be neither the rule nor the exception but one possibility among others” (PFM 1–2).
But while the Leviathan is usually depicted as a monstrous central power, “the construction of this artificial body is calculated in such a way that the absolute sovereign is nothing other than the sum of the multitude’s wishes … He says nothing without having been authorized by the multitude, whose spokesman, mask-bearer, and amplifier he is” (UNS 278). Or stated more colorfully, “he is the people itself in another state—as we speak of a gaseous or a solid state” (UNS 278). The way the multitude becomes a single Leviathan has to do with processes of translation, that most Latourian of all Latourian concepts.
Bruno Latour. Reassembling the political by Graham Harman