The goal of an egalitarian politics is, in every instance, to foster, support, and sustain a maximal degree of collective self-determination. This is a piecemeal, painstaking task. It by definition cannot be accomplished all at once, as this self-determination must be cultivated in every individual instance of human collectivity, the number of which exceeds the total population by many orders of magnitude. In this regard, it is not even a task that can be finally ‘accomplished’, but must become the ongoing, interminable occupation of humanity so long as it survives.
While it is obviously desirable, not to mention strategically critical, to attain such determination within political bodies in their largest national and ecumenical guises, to focus narrowly on such bodies alone is foolish, in that it would ignore the complex collective composition of these bodies, which are made up not only of individuals, but of immense numbers of smaller collectivities. Winning over such bodies to the egalitarian cause will never occur without a thoroughgoing engagement with a critical mass of their constituents, taken not only as individuals but as collectively-committed many times over.
Thus, it is not only tactically expedient to engage with people within the various social groups, institutions, and other collective bodies in which they are involved, it is fundamental to the cause itself: large-scale self-determination depends not only on the self-determination of individuals, but that of the whole range of ‘mid-range’ collectivities as well. This becomes even more evident when we realize that individuals never occur in isolation, but are fundamentally loci at which many different collective commitments coincide. Every individual is a point of overlap between non-continuous collectivities. To imagine an individual can him- or herself be won over to the egalitarian cause is therefore short-sighted, as this would depend upon the winning over of the primary collectivities on which the individual’s identity depends.
One of the greatest obstacles to this task is the institutional form, which is [edit: in its predominant instantiation] based upon a decidedly non-egalitarian mode of collectivity. The determination of intra-institutional collectivities is by and large extrinsic, following an authority structure such that the group in most dimensions is dependent on the will of another group. Even the authoritative groups within an institution, while likely possessing a greater degree of autonomy than those below them, are generally subject to the external determining power of other institutions, and at the limit, to that of the sovereign, or the social element which determines the stability of the legal infrastructure of institutions at large. (While traditionally, this element is identified with the government, and within the government, the head of state, today we know it by one name only: Capital.)
The tragic error of Bolshevism, with all of its concern with doling out power to the local soviets, was to have thought seizure of sovereign power was sufficient for initiating a cascade of egalitarian transformation. On the contrary, what is needed today is a surgical intervention in the collective composition of institutional bodies at every scale and in every domain. Only a critical mass of ‘liberated territories’ within the institutional matrix (and its non-institutional/informal inverse side) can constitute a sufficient ground for seizure of sovereign power from its ascription to the impersonal logic of capital. (The issue is more complicated than one of merely seizing sovereign power, and rests more fundamentally on the question of how to constitute society without resort to the sovereign function; this question will be addressed in more detail in the future.)
A counter-institutional politics is neither opposed to actual institutions, nor to the institutional form in general. It is rather concerned with 1) installing, within existing institutions, collectivities devoted to transforming authoritative determination into egalitarian determination wherever possible; and 2) linking instances of self-determination across different institutions. While there are obvious parallels with the labor union model, at least two critical differences must be noted: 1) it is not only workplaces, but institutions of every kind, that should be targeted (although, from an expanded notion of social reproduction, every social body can be understood as a sort of ‘workplace’…); and 2) the ultimate goal of such organization must be displacement of the existing authority structure, not a simple counterweight capable of bargaining with it.
Schizoanalysis, as I understand it, is one example of such a counter-institutional politics, although it is by no means the only one. Nonetheless, its tactics are in many ways exemplary: 1) constituting para-institutional analytic units devoted to collectively problematizing institutional functions otherwise taken for granted; 2) forcing the constituents of this unit to recognize their complicity in these functions, and take responsibility by transforming their own institutional habituation. These could very well constitute the fundamental principles of an expanded counter-institutional egalitarian politics.