Machiavelli: Struggles of the Oppressed and Subversion of the “Regimes of the Normal”

Original scientific paper

Davorin Žagar

Fulltext: croatian, pdf (333 KB) pages 7-30 cite

In this paper the author highlights the contemporary relevance of Machiavelli’s teaching as contained in The Prince and Discourses. In a dialogue with Claude Lefort and his groundbreaking interpretation of the Florentine (1972),
this paper offers an alternative, subversive reading of Machiavelli’s theory of political conflict. At the same time, the author highlights the elements of a specific Machiavellian theory of recognition through a critical engagement with Honneth (1995). The author argues that the fundamentally democratic character of Machiavelli’s project is directly related to the ability of the plebs to recognize their novel function in the social field and to audaciously adopt queer “identity”. This is made possible only with the help and the support of the prince. In the text, the plebs represent a dynamic collation of diverse groups (of Others) which are being oppressed in the society. The plebs are invited to transform their desire not to be oppressed into a positive desire “to
be” and become in such a way that enables them to maintain their difference in contrast to the greats. By discovering the “self” as a place of radical alterity, the plebs ceaselessly invent new modes of being which are opposed to the “regimes of the normal”. In this way the plebs become an inexhaustible source of innovations which are available for the entire citizenry. Queering of the plebs enables a higher degree of (our) common being in the society. The strength of a democratic society directly depends on the vitality of the plebs’ desire and their ability to imagine, produce and sustain new modes of life.

Democracy; Lefort; Machiavelli; Plebs; Recognition; LGBTQ; Queer; Desire

Hrčak ID: 245631