Tomorrow I'll be giving a talk at Memorial University in St. John’s, titled "The State and the Police: Considerations on Jacques Rancière and Pierre Clastres." In the talk, I examine the problem of command and coercion through the work of Clastres and Rancière. The argument of this talk has three parts. First, I show that command is a problem conceptualized by Rancière, and then, how the command-obedience relation functions to both reinforce and, when it is politicized, undermine the inequalities of a given police order. Then, I examine Clastres’s critique of the Eurocentric biases of anthropology and ethnography that reduce societies against the state to societies that lack a state. To show how societies refuse coercion and state power, I contend that Clastres proposes debt as both the origin of state power and the reason for the discontinuity and heterogeneity between societies against the state and societies with a state. I conclude with a series of critical remarks aimed toward evaluating Clastres’s identification of coercion with state power and Rancière’s categorization of command as policing.
The talk is at Science 2101, 4:30 to 5:45.