Census

Theory of the Offensive reminds me that I need to read the newly published in English 1978 Foucault lectures, Security, Territory, Population. Speaking of population, this amazing article — in which the Census Bureau asks ICE to refrain from large-scale raids during the 2010 census count — reminds me of Brett Neilson’s contribution to Long Sunday’s democracy jam:

To put the matter briefly, the demos of demography is not the demos of democracy, or, in other words, the population is not coincident with the people. There is here a discrepancy between demography and democracy which introduces an internal caesura into the very notion of the demos, and it is on this boundary, I want to suggest, that the borders of the political are drawn. […] What is enumerated in the census is thus the apolitical body of the population as opposed to the political body of the people, which is, in this case and in accordance with the tenets of democracy, imbued with the capacity to decide.

[…]

According to Tronti, democracy is now, as it has always been, what the doctrine says it is: the kratos of the demos. It posits an identity between sovereign and people, both of which are, however diversified or diffused, fundamentally univocal notions, undivided and indivisible. In this sense, democracy is its own limit. It is what it is. And it is not something else, the ‘counting of the uncounted’ or ‘qualification of the unqualified,’ as Ranciere would have it. These may be laudable ideals. But they are not democracy in any sense in which it has actually existed – that is, the auto-representative and mystical union of people and sovereign.

Ranciere’s paradoxical formulations seem rather to describe the potentialities of demography as opposed to democracy, at least insofar as demography may include those differences excluded by democracy’s exceptions. If, as Ida Dominjanni writes, ‘difference is not an element that can be included expansively in democracy but rather its explosive and unhinging element,’ it may be the case to heed the ­–graphy in demography. This is not to embrace the powers of the census. It is, however, to heed a differentiating power that works at cross-purposes to the univocity of the demos, carrying the potential to break the democratic bordering of the political. Such a demography would have to be a demography without the demos.

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