What the Fuck is the Political Moment?

I take the political to be wrapped in a moment, or constituted by a moment—that is to say: it is an event. The event is small or large, dense or shallow. It is an event that stimulates the drive toward recognition. It invites domination. It also invites contestation against that domination. A marker of the political moment, or how we might ‘know’ (I still have qualms with this word to describe the perception of this event) the political moment is happening, is contest, or agonism. The political is a site whereby epistemic and material acts converge to mutually constitute the one who I am calling the knowing subject. And the subject, in the political moment, is indelibly changed by that convergence. That is to say by a radical constitution and reconstitution through what Deleuze constructs as difference out of repetition.

This, I hope, is not reductionist. I hope because I am not anchoring the political in any particular space or in any particular time. But I am making the rather humanistic claim that it is a subjective act. The political moment happens when thinking and knowing subjects engage monologically or dialogically, with themselves in the former and with others in the latter. It is a moment of self-awareness (being at home with oneself) or consciousness-raising in groups. But neither are mutually exclusive. I want to stress that the political moment is neither private nor public, because that distinction holds no water in my analysis for reasons I hope to address at points throughout this dissertation. I’ll say here that I contend that our selves are political by their very construction. It is not that we are political creatures, per se—ready for combat in an institutional arena or ready to contest any and every thing we here or see. It is that our selves, products of a certain kind of radical contingency (Connolly 2002), construct out of the lineaments of community and language, the self that bears the impress of politics. It is for that reason I cannot accept a private and public self as separable iterations of a single subject. Perhaps I can clarify by saying that the political moment, in public as it were, is the projection of a non-unified, unfixed set of internally contestable identities. We are fragile beings. We are situated in contestable sites of contingent socio-political arrangements. And this fragility is the fecund terrain in which the political moment takes its shape. There is no pre-determined contour of the event. I do not know it when I see it. I can only sense it when I feel it.

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