Sovereignty

by Caleb Roberts

A belief in the sovereignty of the subject through its rational ordering of representation does not emerge without some external support or confirmation.  Several social roles may serve as a model for imagining the mastery of the sovereign subject: the patriarchal father, the absolute despot, the chief executive officer, the owner of property, the artist, the animal trainer, the craftsperson, or the wealthy consumer, for example.  Each may form the basis for imagining an unfettered liberty and power over a specific domain.  On closer inspection, however, each of these social roles exists in a complex web of mutual influence and interaction with its correlative field.  To attain true mastery in each case, it is necessary to hold the capacity to break off the relation with the mastered object.  Thus, the owner of property is absolved from the corresponding obligations for care and maintenance of property by disposing of it, selling it in exchange, or allowing it to decay.  Ownership is the right to dispose of property.  The consumer exercises sovereignty in the selection of products by refusing to purchase others on offer.  Choice is rejection.  The craftsperson rejects recalcitrant materials.  The despot exercises sovereignty through power over life and death.  Sovereignty is a relation that exists only in its suspension.  It is exercised primarily as a threat, but the execution of the threat consists in dissolving the relation.  Such power may be exercised through violence, through severance, or through flight.  Yet as the image of negation, sovereign power exists only in the imagination.  In practice, the mind may be subjected to both physical force and the force of authority. (34-35)

Philip Goodchild | Theology of Money

Advertisements