“Destituent Potential”

In modern thought, radical political changes have been thought of by means of the concept of a “constituent power.” Every constituent power presupposes at its origin a constituent power that, through a process that as a rule has the form of a revolution, brings it into being and gurantees it. If our hypothesis on the structure of the arche is correct, if the fundamental ontological problem of today is not to work but inoperativity, and if this latter can nevertheless be attested only with respect to a work, then access to a different figure of politics cannot take the form of a “constituent power” but rather that of something that we can provisionally call “destituent potential.” And if to constituent power there correspond revolutions, revolts, and new constitutions, namely, a violence that puts in place constitutes a new law, for destituent potential it is necessary to think entirely different strategies, whose definition is the task of the coming politics.

Giorgio Agamben, The Use of Bodies (p266, 2015)

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