In the Face of New Masters

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:50
Oral Presentation
Krzysztof SWIREK, Institute of Sociology, Warsaw University, Poland
One of most recurrent political dreams of modernity were various projects of what could be named as 'power without domination' – power that would operate by means of rational organization and administration rather, than traditional forms of dominance and hierarchy. Such projects – from early liberal formulations to socialist and Marxist propositions – are trying to envision power, that functions without the central figure of the Master, without the One, whose charismatic power would guarantee social cohesion and order.

Traces of the same political hope can be discerned even in discourses surrounding neoliberalism, for instance in figure of subject seen as entrepreneur, actively and rationally pursuing his/her interests, even regardless of traditional cultural norms. Alienated as it is, this figure of agency can be seen also as some remote form of emancipatory hope for possibility of self-government as well as of hope for replacement of centralized, charismatic power with forms of dispersed, 'individual' management.

In our times we see, that those discourses of rational power are more and more in retreat, as we face comeback of strong leaders, new 'masters of politics', that try to advertise themselves as guards of security and national interests.

In my presentation I will argue, that in current historical situation its important to ask the question: how to reformulate the dream of 'government without domination' for new times? How to counterbalance the need for new masters of politics? How to restore the utopian potential of projects of non-dominative power, without succumbing to alienated forms of neoliberal management, that are rightfully becoming obsolete?