On finalizing ‘Police State,’ and on the police-politics distinction

For Another Critique of the Pyramid

As I am finalizing my paper “Police State: The state, student activism, and spaces of politics after 1968 in Mexico City” (an intervention into political geographies of state power, also discussed here and here), I have enjoyed watching and rewatching this interview with Erik Swyngedouw (linked through Stuart Elden’s Progressive Geographies blog).

My formulation of the police-politics distinction (drawing from Rancière) is different than Swyngedouw’s distinction between “politics” and “the political,” but I find it nonetheless complementary. For me, “the police” is a name for the naturalization of inherited political classifications – a configuration of the world available to perception, which discourages politics. “Politics” cannot be pursued through the assertion of identities given by existing police order. To the contrary, politics is beyond what can be counted upon in the existing order; it is by definition unaccounted for. But if unaccounted for, it is also permanently possible. Moments…

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