What is Subjectivization?
What is a process of subjectivization? It is the formation of a one that is not a self but is the relation of a self to an other. Let me demonstrate this with respect to an outmoded name, "the proletarian." One of its first uses occurs in nineteenth-century France when the revolutionary leader Auguste Blanqui was prosecuted for rebellion. The prosecutor asked him: "What is your profession?" He answered: "Proletarian." Then the prosecutor: "It is not a profession." And the response of Blanqui was: "It is the profession of the majority of our people who are deprived of political rights." From the vantage point of policy, the prosecutor was right: it is no profession. And obviously Blanqui was not what is usually called a worker. But, from the vantage point of politics, Blanqui was right: proletarian was not the name of any social group that could be sociologically identified. It is the name of an outcast. An outcast is not a poor wretch of humanity; outcast is the name of those who are denied an identity in a given order of policy. In Latin, proletarii meant "prolific people"-people who make children, who merely live and reproduce without a name, without being counted as part of the symbolic order of the city. Proletarians was thus well-suited for the workers as the name of anyone, the name of the outcast: those who do not belong to the order of castes, indeed, those who are pleased to undo this order (the class that dissolves classes, as Marx said). In this way, a process of subjec-tivization is a process of disidentification or declassification.

Let me rephrase this: a subject is an outsider or, more, an in-between. Proletarians was the name given to people who are together inasmuch as they are between: between several names, statuses, and identities; between humanity and inhumanity, citizenship and its denial; between the status of a man of tools and the status of a speaking and thinking being. Political subjectivization is the enactment of equality-or the handling of a wrong-by people who are together to the extent that they are between. It is a crossing of identities, relying on a crossing of names: names that link the name of a group or class to the name of no group or no class, a being to a nonbeing or a not-yet-being. This network has a noticeable property: it always involves an impossible identification, an identification that cannot be embodied by he or she who utters it. "We are the wretched of the earth" is the kind of sentence that no wretched of the world would ever utter. Or, to take a personal example, for my generation politics in France relied on an impossible identification-an identification with the bodies of the Algerians beaten to death and thrown into the Seine by the French police, in the name of the French people, in October 1961. We could not identify with those Algerians, but we could question our identification with the "French people" in whose name they had been murdered. That is to
say, we could act as political subjects in the interval or the gap between two identities, neither of which we could assume.

In sum, the logic of political subjectivization, of emancipation, is a heterology, a logic of the other, for three main reasons. First, it is never the simple assertion of an identity; it is always, at the same time, the denial of an identity given by an other, given by the ruling order of policy. Policy is about "right" names, names that pin people down to their place and work. Politics is about "wrong" names-misnomers that articulate a gap and connect with a wrong.
Second, it is a demonstration, and a demonstration always supposes an other, even if that other refuses evidence or argument. It is the staging of a common place that is not a place for a dialogue or a search for a consensus in Habermasian fashion. There is no consensus, no undamaged communication, no settlement of a wrong. But there is a polemical commonplace for the handling of a wrong and the demonstration of equality. Third, the logic of subjectivization always entails an impossible identification.

But the life of political subjectivization is made out of the difference between the voice and the body, the interval between identities. So narrative and culture entail the reversion of subjectivization to identification. The process of equality is a process of difference. But difference does not mean the assumption of a different identity or the plain confrontation of two identities. The place for the working out of difference is not the "self" or the culture of a group. It is the topos of an argument. And the place for such an argument is an interval. The place of a political subject is an interval or a gap: being together to the extent that we are in between-between names, identities, cultures, and so on.

My conclusion is twofold: both optimistic and pessimistic. First, we are not trapped within the opposition of universalism and identity. The distinction is rather between a logic of subjectivization and a logic of identification-between two ideas of multiplicity, not between universalism and particularism.

Objectively, we have no more immigrant people than we had twenty years ago. Subjectively, we have many more. The difference is this: twenty years ago the "immigrant" had an other name; they were workers or proletarians. In the meantime this name has been lost as a political name. They retained their "own" name, and an other that has no other name becomes the object of fear and rejection.
The "new" racism is the hatred of the other that comes forth when the political procedures of social polemics collapse. The political culture of conflict may have had disappointing outlets. But it was also a way of coming to terms with something that lies before and beneath politics: the question of the other as a figure of identification for the object of fear.

I would say that identity is first about fear: the fear of the other, the fear of nothing, which finds on the body of the other its object. And the polemical culture of emancipation, the heterological enactment of the other, was also a way of civilizing that fear. The new outcomes of racism and xenophobia thus reveal the very collapse of politics, the reversion of the political handling of a wrong to a primal hate. If my analysis is correct, the question is not only "How are we to face a political problem?" but "How are we to reinvent politics?"