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Teaching without a future

Teaching from within a pedagogy of the depressed, then, is all about verifying equality, since such acts are not predominantly concerned with the future to come, but can only take place as verification of equality in the present. This is the equality that allows for difference, that is, equality that does not fall into self-same, but which acknowledges the plurality of forms of life as a condition for self-defining publics, for pluralist democracy.

To make equality of intelligence a starting point to be verified in every instance of an educational relation already at the outset breaks with the reproduction of privilege inscribed within schooling. Therefore, teaching is not primarily concerned with hope for a better future to come along, but with a commitment to the equality of intelligence, maybe even to the (ethically based) intelligence of the social as Dewey (1910) would have it.

To be a teacher is definitely to commit to the possibility of radical change in the present, and through such commitment to split that which presents itself as one, as the one and only reality of the people, undividable; and instead to direct oneself, as well as students, to the attention of the actual social world of plurality, to polyvalence.

To learn to live with ambiguity, as Rorty (1980) says, is a necessary condition of pluralist democracy because without it we fall into a fixed world, into a fixation with the unchangeable, rather than embracing the possibility of difference, that which gives the publicness of the public its content.

To verify the difference, and the forming of publics and counter-publics through education, is therefore the way in which democratization takes actual form. As such a form, teaching is also an art, or to be precise, it shares with art the sensemaking — it makes sense where there is none. Teaching expands the publicness of the public by making sense anew in the break with claustrophobic realities.

According to Ranciére (1999), the obsession with totalitarianism, with the one, with claustrophobic Odtlos, with the social as a (masculine, I would add) unified body with one head, one ruler, can be traced back to Hobbes. Butler (2019) also refers to Hobbes in her analysis of oneness, as fundamentally excluding women as other than secondary. Butler argues that the idea of one is a construction that comes down to an expression of aggression and violence in its repression of the other. The idea of one is the idea of a social contract in Hobbes, based on a fixed, natural, undivided nature, but one that replicates the man without history or context, without being born of a mother, but as an always already rational grown-up, whose decisions made are rationally securing self-preservation of this original point of constant return. It is a selfreferencing enclosure of everything in which there is no room for either Eros or love. No room for Eros as force-multiplying social relations and love, which sustains them.

What instrumental politics in schooling do, then, in the final analysis, is to reinstate the one as both the beginning and end; it reproduces violently and aggressively the masculine as a social body through, among other things, the distributive paradigm of schooling.

Such a reading also suggests why the neoliberal ideology in schooling and society has been so destructive: it is based on (masculine) violence and gives birth to aggression as the basis for social relations. The resurrection of the masculine body turns fascist, and manifests as the very energy of the forces behind the return of fascism, according to Berardi (2011).

To break with this claustrophobia of masculine violent aggression in teaching, it is necessary, I think, to break with projections of this oneness as a future that, in its turn, is reflected into and gives meaning to processes of school-ification, but that only, through the political instrumentalism it implies, reproduces the privilege of an aggressive (masculine) elite.

What we need, and this was also a point made by Butler (2019), is a new social imaginary, one that verifies our dis-identification with claustrophobia as our only reality, or as Butler said, which dis-identifies under the signifier of love. Not an uncomplicated love, since love is always in play with hate, with destruction as well as creation, says Butler. Love may not be enough, says Butler, who rather emphasizes mania to stress the fundamental ambivalence of social relations as the necessary energy of radical change.

The ambivalence Butler emphasizes as always present in the social is to be verified by teaching without a future to break with the claustrophobia inscribed in the socio-sphere by automation, and learning (of oneness) inscribed in instrumental schooling for all. The power of assuming equality in such a situation is in its undoing of “the supposed naturalness of orders, and to replace it with the controversial figures of division” (Ranciére, 2007a, p. 33). The assumption of equality fundamentally breaks away from oneness as the defining characteristic of the social sphere and instead splits the whole, it verifies the polyvalence of the social, and as such makes pluralist democracy possible.

Such teaching splits the universe of the anti-global racist front, as well as neoliberal individualism, competition and aggression, in confirming the ambiguous within social life, in confirming a pluriverse, as Mouffe (2005) called it. In Ranciére’s words:

Equality is the power of inconsistent, disintegrative and ever-replayed division which tears politics away from the various figures of animality: the great collective body, the zoology of orders justified in terms of cycles of nature of function, the hate-driven rallying of the pack.

(Ranciére, 2007a, p. 33)

By splitting this ver)' reality of the one, the tyranny of claustrophobia as the perfect system of aggression without love, Eros and ambivalence, operating in all instances of the socio-psychic order, teaching without a future redirects the aggression turned inwards in verifying equality in the present; releases the depression by connecting aggression with love and Eros, the multiplication of social bonds and their multifaceted ambiguity; and thereby redefines the social reality in which it operates. Teaching without future turns aggression into what Butler (2019) calls a militant humility'. Such militant humility is directed to a different future: to a future in the ancient Greek meaning of hope, as in the expression (elpis), in which hope is open for an ambiguous future in the present.

Concluding thoughts

There is no solution to the world order of depression possible through instrumental pedagogy, because such pedagogy contributes to the depressive state of things and the end of popular sovereignty as well as democracy as such. Teaching without future redirects the aggressions of neoliberal hegemony onto liveable life and turns aggressions into a militant humility by, among other things, embracing the ambiguity inscribed in social relations.

In this chapter I have been discussing the possibility to develop a pedagogy of the depressed beyond the politics of instrumentalism defining current realities. I have analysed, and been given arguments for, why this is necessary', as well as pointing towards a new social imaginary in which education and democracy, if not liveable life itself, (still) is possible.

I have been arguing that a liveable life is possible in the commitment to the potentiality and ambivalence of the present, without a self-defeating future of oneness giving meaning to processes of schoolification, as implied by automated learning in schooling for all (as one singular people).

That is to be released from, to dis-identify, maybe even be emancipated from the claustrophobia of the people as one, with its violent exclusion of the other, through verifying the equality of intelligence, and to be splitting and sharing the here and now differently through the instantiation of radical change. Such change comes about within and through the constant unfolding of the potentiality of the present in teaching without the future.

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