Review Article
Understanding Present Realities through Political Prefixes: A Plea from the South
Avaniendra C*, Mira K and Prakash KP
Corresponding Author: Avaniendra C, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, B. P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal
Received: April 06, 2020; Accepted: April 17, 2020 Available Online: June 01, 2020
Citation: Avaniendra C, Mira K & Prakash KP. (2020) Understanding Present Realities through Political Prefixes: A Plea from the South. J Hist Stud Soc Sci Lit, 1(1): 8-17.
Copyrights: ©2020 Avaniendra C, Mira K & Prakash KP. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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This article looks at the ways politics has been prefixed and identifies eleven different ways politics has been prefixed. Though politics omnipresent at all levels of life and touches us in ways which we may be able to fathom at times and many a times we embody a fatalistic notion citing helplessness. Here we discuss on, anatomopolitics, archipolitics, necropolitics, thanatopolitics, noopolitics, infrapolitics, nanopolitics, chronopolitics, affective body politics, metapolitics and postpolitics. Our objective here is to make a rupture in the ways researches around issues of health are being conducted in most countries from the global south and hope to show a path moving away from apolitical and depolitical discourses largely present in researches on health.


Keywords: Politics, Prefixes, Nepal, India


In this essay, we look at the ways politics has been conceptualised through the use of prefixes. Politics is associated with governance, laws, rules and making decisions. From the local to the global, politics is omnipresent at all levels. From the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat, clothes we wear and cars we drive, politics is all-pervading. Not only at the personal level but at the societal level too politics affect for instance the education system and health system. Despite politics being involved everywhere when it comes to knowing and learning in various disciplines there is an absence of the politics from the discussion [1]. This absence of the political can have different repercussions in different disciplines but its absence particularly in the discipline of public health can have devastating effects on the population. We live in an entangled world and our realities are shaped by multifarious events and connections. From around the 1950’s onwards global organisations like the United Nations (1945), World Health Organisation (1948), World Bank (1944) and International Monetary Fund (1945) came into existence. Global policies, global trade laws and global governance have seen events being influenced by decisions taken in another part of the world. New realities, new ideologies, new norms keep constantly evolving, emerging and re-emerging. Various theories and concepts come up in an effort to describe the new. With emergences of the new and when the existing cannot explain and conceptualize the new, the need for new ways to conceptualise and understand is felt. The exhaustion of concepts and theories in explaining the present reality lead to the construction of neologisms.


The reality that we experience in our daily lives and the system under which we live has been named and conceptualised in various ways such as neoliberalism, neocolonialism, neoimperialism, postcolonialism, postmodernism, postorientalism, postoccidentalism, capitalocentricism and posthumanism. The varied ways of describing the current system arose as a need to overcome the dominant ways of thinking that has been in existence from onwards the beginning of fifteenth century colonialism such as Cartesianism, positivism, methodological individualism, Eurocentrism, Logocentricism, monological, monotopic, patriarchal, white male heteronormativity, heterosexual and masculinism. The process of domination was plagued by practices of epistemicide, genocide, andro--centricism, obscurantism, agnogenesis, extractivism, epistemic injustice, societal fascism, cognitive imperialism, anarchronism and internal colonialism. The historical processes that shaped the current world order has produced ‘three adjoining historical phenomena namely: capitalism, coloniality and globality’. From within these three phenomena’s we embody an ‘ontological coloniality’ consisting of ‘coloniality of being’, ‘coloniality of knowledge’ and ‘coloniality of power’. The ‘hyper-individualization’ process has produced in us apolitical, ahistorical detached subjects or the neoliberal being.

The existing world order whose roots can be traced back to the end of Second World War by some, or from the 1970’s with the unfolding of the debt crisis by others has been named as neoliberalism by many. Under neoliberal principles all aspects of the society whatever it may be is commercialized, commoditized, capitalized, privatized and to extract pecuniary profit from all situations becomes the norm. Neoliberalism has been compared to eyeglasses [2] through which we see, act and understand the world and it embeds in us three master themes. “The first is individualism where individual is granted moral, ontological priority over the collective, the second is universalism of the ever-expanding world market and the third is meliorism which is the belief that the world can be made better by human effort” [3]. A simple definition of neoliberalism may be understood as a doctrine in which market exchange serves as a guide for all human action [4].

Neo implies new and with new socioeconomic structures, new regulations newer ways of looking and understanding the world evolve. Here we do a reflexive review of the varied ways prefixes have been added to the word politics to explain the new. Prefixes used with an existing word provide us with new concepts and also transforms existing ones. Examples of prefixes are neo, bio, Trans, ultra, Meta, hyper, post, super, inter, multi, de, post and sustainable [5-7]. Use of prefix allows us to understand beyond the traditional meaning of the word that is prefixed. Here we seek to list out some of the ways politics has been prefixed and neologised and explain them in brief. Our objective here is to open up new ways of viewing the world both at the local and global level through varied political concepts.

The list of various ways that politics has been prefixed is long, (‘anatomopolitics’, ‘anthropolitics’, ‘affective politics’,’ affective body politics’, ‘atomistic politics’, ‘antidisplacement politics’, ‘archipolitics’, ‘archopolitics’, ‘agropolitics’, ‘biopolitics’, ‘body politics’, ‘bioeconomic politics’, ‘cold war politics’, ‘caste politics, ‘cultural politics’, ‘contentious politics’, ‘cosmopolitan welfare politics’, ‘cosmopolitics’, ‘chronopolitics’, ‘cratopolitics’, ‘dialogical politics’,’ ‘dermopolitics’, ‘domopolitics’, ‘ego politics’, ‘environmental politics’, ‘ethnic politics’, ‘emancipatory politics’, ‘embodied politics’, ‘etho-politics’, ‘epistemic politics’,’ feminist politics’, ‘geonto-politics’, ‘geo-politics’, ‘gender politics’, ‘gendered labour politics’, ‘geo-body politics’, ‘health politics’, ‘hindutva politics’, ‘identity politics’, ‘infopolitics’, ‘infrapolitics’, ‘institutionalised politics’, ‘immunitary politics’, ‘life politics’, ‘memoro-politics’, ‘mind politics’, ‘micro politics’, ‘micro-anatomo-politics’, ‘masquerade politics’, ‘monological politics’, ‘metapolitics’, ‘necropolitics’, ‘noopolitics’, ‘nanopolitics’, ‘nomopolitics’, ‘non-welfarist-immuno-politics’, ‘neoliberal politics’, ‘ontopolitics’, ‘ontological politics’, ‘open-source politics’, ‘omic-politics’, ‘parapolitics’, ‘post-politics’, ‘post-truth-politics’, ‘post structural politics’, ‘pharmaceutical politics’, ‘psychopolitics’, ‘protopolitics’, ‘pharamacopolitics’, ‘phylopolitics’, ‘pragmatic politics’, ‘post-capitalist politics’, ‘partisian politics’, ‘praxipolitics’, ‘quotidian politics’, ‘racial politics’, ‘refined politics’, ‘representation politics’, ‘real politics’, ‘sexual politics’, ‘spatial politics’, ‘social politics’, ‘thanatopolitics’, ‘terrapolitics’,’ transpolitics’, ‘technopolitics’, ‘tribal politics’, ‘third world politics’, ‘total politics’, ‘ultrapolitics’, ‘visceral politics’,  ‘Zizekian politics’, ‘zoepolitics/zoē-politics’)[1] hence making choices in selecting those that are most appropriate in describing the current world order the authors believe is down to one’s ontological bearings.



Emerging around the eighteenth century anatomopolitics centred on ‘disciplining of bodies’, ‘administration of bodies’ and the ‘management of life [8]. For Foucault anatomopolitics was understood as a form of power over the individualized human body through discipline at work in institutions like the school, factory and barracks which worked through ‘institutional disciplinarization’ [9]. Through means of ‘discipline, drilling, testing, routines, habit and measures it instilled a degree of docility in the subject’ and produces particular forms of subjectivity and leads to internalization of disciplinary measures [9]. Without the assemblages of practise and techniques associated with anatomopolitics, ‘capitalism would not have been possible for capitalism required controlled insertion of the body into the machinery of production’ [10]. “Anatomopolitics concerns the imposition or inducement of a particular conduct on the bodies of groups of individuals. It may involve, for example, such activities as education, care-giving, punishment, and production” [11]. “Anatomopolitics constitute the micropolitics of identity”. The clinical examination of individuals is part of the anatomopolitics of society” [12]. “Anatomopolitics is a form of power applied to the individualized human body of the subject to discipline in such a way so as to render it both useful and docile for subjugation and control in order for the economy to prosper” [9].


The prefix archi means chief, precedence, rule or refers to a ‘high degree of anything’ [5]. Archipolitics according to Rancière takes us back to Plato’s “political idyll of achieving the common good by an enlightened government of elites maintained and sustained by the confidence of the masses”. Archipolitics aims at defining the principles of an ideal political arrangement divided by the ‘best’ of society [13]. In the present context archipolitics as a concept understood as justifying the power of science and expert management of the state. Archipolitics as per Rancière is described as ‘particular logics of policing that aim to put off the possibility of a different society’. ‘It is a tactic of disavowal which grounds a police order in the idea of a harmonious society’ [14].

A sort of ‘Greimasian logical square’ is formed by archipolitics/archepolitics, parapolitics, metapolitics and ultrapolitics, where archi and ultra are two faces of the purist stance (self-enclosed community versus war of a community against external enemies) and para and meta the two versions of contemporary politics (democratic formal rules versus the notion that this kind of democratic game just expresses and/or distorts the level of prepolitical socioeconomic processes at which things really happen) [15]. “On the other axis, both meta- and ultrapolitics involve the notions of insurpassable struggle, conflict, and antagonism against the assertion of harmonious cooperation in arche- and parapolitics” [15] “On the one hand archi and ultra-politics function from the postulation that society is not internally split, which they do by grounding the harmonious community in shared values, beliefs and destiny (archi-politics) or by projecting social divisions beyond the boundaries of the community (ultra-politics). On the other hand, Meta- and para-politics accept that society is internally split. Nevertheless, claims for equality are diverted by considering societal differences as a matter of individual reference open for negotiation (para-politics) or by reducing them to a pre-given primordial structure of inequality (meta-politics)” [14].


Necropolitics a term brought into use by Mbembe existed since the beginning of European Imperialism and is an underside of biopolitics [16]. The word necro in Greek means death. As per Mbembe Bio-power and necro-politics are two sides of the same coin [17]. Necropolitics a term appropriated from Foucault’s concept of biopolitics by Mbembe has been described by him as the ‘politics of death’ [18], ‘administration of death’ [17] and as the ‘contemporary forms of subjugation of life to the power of death and is concerned with forms of sovereignty that are about the generalized instrumentalization of human existence and the material destruction of human bodies and populations’ [19,20]. Biopolitics and Necropolitics lie at two ends of the spectrum with biopolitics for life and Necropolitics for death. Within the global capitalist world on one side there is biopower, biovitality, biopolitics and biocapitalism which fosters life and at the other side due to the extreme historical conditions of subjectivization, exploitation and expropriation there is necropolitics, necropower and necrocapitalism [21].

Biopolitics and necropolitics appear as the automatic outcome of the ancient difference between ‘homo sacer’, ‘bare life’ and ‘politically qualified life’, [22] between ‘zone of being’ and ‘zone of nonbeing’ or between ‘developed or insured humans’ and ‘under-developed or uninsured human’. Contemporary capitalism also termed as necrocapitalism involves forms of capital accumulation through dispossession, subjugation and is informed by the norms of corporate rationality which is intolerant towards anything that obstructs economic growth, profit maximization, productivity and efficiency. Necropolitics though elaborated in the African context is relevant to both rich and poor nations. The ‘necropolitical calculus’ indicates that in order to protect certain lives many others have to be sacrificed, a logic that sees exclusion of those deemed unworthy of life as necessary. To achieve growth expansion and protection of civic life those outside the civic sphere are abandoned to death. Basically necropolitics refers to the sovereign right to decide who may live and who may die.


Thanatos refers to the Greek word for death, thanatopolitics is biopolitics’s antonym which emerges on the other side of biopolitics (management of life), in the administration of death as thanatopolitics. Thanatopolitics as conceptualised by Foucault and Agamben as the other side of biopolitics representing politics of death has conceptual similarity to Mbembe’s conceptualisation of necropolitics [23]. Biopolitics turns to thanatopolitics as a politics of giving death in order to keep alive [8] as “Esposito posits that biopolitics turns into thanatopolitics when certain populations are located as outside of the sphere of immunity” [24]. “Racial programmes of control and extermination have underwritten a multiplicity of thanatopolitical regimes, which brought about either social or actual death, as well as regimes of value extraction, including Empire, colonialism, slavery and genocide” [25]. For Foucault ‘racism is the thanatopolitics of biopolitics’ [26] or ‘state racism’ where thanatopolitics must be deployable against enemies of the state both inside and outside its borders, under thanatopolitics “population management takes the form of pathologisation, violence, murder, stigmatization, ‘medicalization of deviant identities and experiences’” [27] ‘physically wearing out of a population and the deterioration of people’ [28] and sees the “creation of special states of exceptions where the sacredness of life is suspended and emergency powers are legitimated” [29].

“Thanatopolitics as has been claimed is built into the design of governmental programs to the extent that the ‘difficulty’ of removing poverty is normalised in the discourses of political and bureaucratic elites and this lack of urgency is encoded into the design of poverty alleviation programs and leads to a bureaucratic culture in which failures of implementation are not merely tolerated but expected” [30]. The persistence of industrial and agricultural exploitation [31] and resulting displacements of the population constituting ‘bare life’ ‘homo sacer’ or those seen as ‘others’ and the ‘destruction of native small holdings’ [32] are thanatopolitical regulations at work.


The word noo in noopolitics is derived from the Greek word nous or noos which stands for mind or intellect. Noos is “understood as mind, as employed in perceiving and thinking sense, wit and more widely as employed in feeling, deciding, as in an act of mind, as a faculty of thinking, intellect, a way of judging, feeling; it includes the distinctions of a spirited intelligence, even as a cosmic principle” [33] Marizio Lazzarato defines “Noo-politics as the ensemble of techniques of control) is exercised on the brain and it involves above all attention, and is aimed at the control of memory and its virtual power” [34] Hauptmann sums up noopolitics as that which operates as “a power exerted over the life of the mind, including perception, attention and memory” [33]. The noosphere which has been characterised as ‘the cognitive layer of the Earth to imply some kind of global brain’ [35] or as ‘a global ensemble of human activities produced by the brain’ [33] or as the ‘sphere of all knowledge’ [36] or as ‘an ocean of knowledge’ [36] is where noopower exerts itself and shapes our senses, our behaviours, our general intellect and mental disposition through practises and processes of noopolitics. Examples of noosphere are any media like textbooks, newspapers and internet. Basically ‘noopolitics is the interaction between power and knowledge, between power and wisdom. It is the politics and geopolitics of knowledge’ [36] “Noopolitics explores the interaction among the noosphere (the sphere of all knowledge), the geosphere, the demosphere (the sphere of peoples) and the kinesphere (the sphere of all possible actions) [36].

Noopolitics is not concerned about manipulating individual behaviours; its focus is on ‘controlling mass behaviour and building collective intelligence’ [37]. Noopolitics values homogeneity and it ‘steers heterogeneous groups and societies through various mediums of media technologies from a distance’ [37]. “On Lazzarato’s account, ‘the brain’ is the organ that distils the individual’s cognitive capabilities as well as that which enables the coordination and transfer of such capabilities between individuals. It is this organ that is the target of ‘noo­politics’ – the ensemble of those relations of power that characterize what Lazzarato, following Deleuze, calls ‘societies of control” or Foucault’s ‘pastoral power’” [33].


As per Scott [38], infrapolitics (plainly “below politics”) [38] are tactical and procedural “weapons of the weak” [39] in which ‘resistance avoids any open declaration of intentions’ [40] which keeps a “low profile realm of political struggle” [40] where the subordinated groups are “sensibly aware of the balance of power” [40]. Scott conceptualised “Infrapolitics of the powerless” in a rice growing Malaysian village in 1985 during Green Revolution in the context of poor with very small landholdings who adapted and adjusted through covert resistance tactics against the local elites and the rich [41]. Infrapolitics generate a “counter-hegemonic consciousness” [42] that develops through norms of conduct cultivated in daily existence and resistance which also becomes the genesis of overt movements. Infrapolitical thinking depends on the thinking of the “ontico-ontological difference” [43]. Overtime since the emergence of infrapolitics it has been described as “not being directly political”, [44] as “hidden transcripts” [45], as “offstage dissent” [46] as a “quite encroachment of the ordinary” [39] as “surreptitious resistance [47] as “off-kilter resistance” [39] as a “peculiar withdrawal or retreat from the political field”, [48] as those “practices which verge on being political but lie below the threshold of what qualifies as such” [49] as “creative inscription and interstitial articulation” [50] and as “referring to subjects in subaltern positions resisting by means of their own devising, usually for lack of access to, or opportunities in the legitimate political field [49].

Infrapolitics is not a goal to be achieved but are conditions of life or practise in everyday existence [44]. Clandestine responses and subtle actions like false compliance, feigned ignorance, foot dragging, petty theft, social boycotting of elite feasts, gossip, rumour and character assassination are just few of the small acts within infrapolitics [51]. Though infrapolitics “happens always and everywhere” [48] the motor of infrapolitical thought constantly remains “unlocatable, undatable and unthinkable” [43].


In 2010, in London a group called the ‘nanopolitics group’ came into existence to “explore political engagements with bodywork and social movement practices and showing how such practices can and do avoid recuperation into the mainstream” [52]. “Politics is not just restricted to the ballot or making statements as per the nanopolitics group but politics is a tangible experiment of feeling and acting that’s based in our bodies and their ways of relating” [53] “Nanopolitics are practices of sensibilities, an experiment in living politics from with and through the body and vice versa, [54] which does not deny or simplify experience” [55] and is also about repressions, resistances and resonances between the body and politics [55].

Nano being smaller than micro is not ‘microscopic’ and it involves sensing/feeling using a ‘cantilever’, so there is nothing scopic about it and hence can only be felt even through the eyes [55]. “Just as nanotechnology can build molecules atom by atom, nanopolitics cultivates its communitarian hypercortex with the greatest attention to detail, the greatest precision and individualization, by promoting the complex interaction of cognitive abilities, fragile sources of initiative and imagination, quality by quality, without any loss of human wealth” [56]. “Nanopolitics seek to oppose the capitalist imposition of rhythms which are absorptive and isolating and grounded in the proprietorial notions of the self” [57]. It seeks to break the spell of professionalised individuality and the neoliberal capture of self-help and self-management as well as new ageist solipsism. The governmental rationalities of neoliberalism operating through new means and mediums has synchronised neoliberal values into us by introducing new ways of visualizing, controlling and designing our reality.

Within the neoliberal reality, roots of any pathological condition of the human are located at the level of the individual. Nanopolitical seeks to move away from the homogenising neoliberal ideology and allows us to move between different registers of sensing, of perception and articulation [55]. The practise of nanopolitics is always situated [54] and the nanopolitical body is not a preordained preconfigured natural unit. “Nanopolitics in its synaesthetic, transensory experiments encourage a method of intuition that follows the variability or real articulations of social, economic, bodily, ecological processes” [54]. “Nanopolitical experimentation primarily hinges on ‘finding new axes of joint movement’” [57] and intensify our ‘intercorporal relationality’ [57].

Nanopolitic’s is not something unitary, rather it is a multidimensional proposition and there is no fixed methodology at the basis of nanopolitics [57]. As per the nanopolitical group, nanopolitics does not seek definite methods or definitive solutions, rather it takes what works and goes with it [54]. The approach to nanopolitics is ‘messy’ and it seeks liberation from repression, from dominant ways of normalising our bodies and seeks to entangle bodies from normalisation [54]. “Nanopolitics is also about relating to protocol in ways that allow us to come back to movement and imagine new ways of finding trust and stability. We struggle to match our desire for new tools and protocols with processes of opening, of questioning given truths and of softening professionalised narratives and bodies” [54].

Nanopolitics as a “collective self-organising practise is not content to reproduce ‘immutable models’ nor is it governed by a fixed structure, instead the focus of nanopolitics is on creating a sociality of being or reproduction” [54]. Nanopolitics seek to undo alienated, individualised and disembodied forms of relationality and practise and questions of subjectivity, collective process, organising and relationships are at the centre of this practise” [54]. Exhaustion, burnout, fatigue, hyperstimulation, nervousness, racing hearts, insomnia, tinnitus, allergies as per nanopolitics are not just individual problems [54] but need to be understood by perceiving the neoliberal dynamics. Nanopolitics is not personal or subjective, nor it is objective and does not take the social processes as simply happening [54].


Chronopolitics a term coined by Paul Virilio in the context of military communication technology [58] “to distinguish a new problematisation of power different from the spatial problematisation defining geopolitics in which technological advances have enabled the speedy movement of goods, people, information and capital with strong consequence on spatial and temporal configurations organising current security politics” [59]. Virilio referred to “the consequences of the insistence on speed to processes of deliberation, negotiation and debate associated with contemporary liberal democracy” [59] when conceptualising chronopolitics. The transmission of images and sounds in ‘real time’ designated the political relevance that dimension of times acquired from the mass acceleration [60] where strategies of power consist of “playing on the time, or rather the tempo, of the action mainly through managing delay and surprise” [61]. “Chronopolitics expands further than local politics to the administration of entire populations where both state and market produce biopolitical status relations not only through borders, the establishment of private and public zones, and other strategies of spatial containment, but also and crucially through temporal mechanisms” [61]. “Bourgeoisie liberal entities from nations to individuals are defined within a narrow chronopolitics of development at once racialised, gendered and sexualised” [61].

Chromos often translated as time in a more specific sense is the periodic, ordered or arranged time. Chronopolitics focuses on time perspectives of individuals or groups and how those perspectives influence their political behaviour [62]. The “present since is always impacting the future, so contemporary decisions have temporally long-reaching consequences, thus those who are making the decisions in the present can control the future” [62]. “Chronopolitics indicates how certain views toward time and toward the nature of change happens and also shows the relation of time-perspectives to political decision making” [63]. Chronopolitics basically can also be understood as “politics of time where the time of some is devalued and the time of others is valued” [64].


Affective body politics

Two theoretical conceptions the notion of ‘body politics’ and that of ‘affective politics’ direct our attention to the carnal ways in which bodies experience practices of governance, how they affect and are affected by other bodies. Affective politics has been an important way of ruling over the people as depicted in history in instances of gladiator fights, to having armed processions or putting up a show of military might so as to ignite feelings of pride or fear depending where one is situated. Affective politics since the end of Second World War has been taking place around the world in various degrees at various capacities. In contemporary times the practices of affective politics operate through various mediums and expressed at various levels in various ways. “Through strategies of ‘calibration, manipulation, cultivation and display’ the ‘affective dynamics’ not only influence how we perceive and behave but also forms the strategic context we conform when seeking to pursue particular goals both as a collective and as an individual”.

Body politics as a concept is not new and also it is “not a single, unified concept but one that constantly rises, falls and is brought back to life again, with it being affected by permutations and recombination’s” [65] along with the body politic as a concept being understood as having many “‘heterogeneous layers’ that may be stressed or distressed depending on the context” [65]. The Platonic body politic being or Hobbes Leviathan viewed the peasantry and laypeople in the neither regions of the groin which was the animal part, whereas the sovereign representing the head was the reasoning part and in between these lay the impassioned part consisting of the auxiliaries and soldiers in the heart or chest [65]. Coming to more recent times the concept of body politics as understood currently can be traced to the 1970’s ‘rooted in US second wave feminism’,” [66] ‘the Civil Rights movement’ ‘third world women’”, and in works of Fanon [67] and Foucault [67]. Existing modes of ‘subjectification’, ‘standardization’, ‘uniformization’ of the population through various means and mediums to enable the capitalist modern state to run efficiently has been enabled through the principle of ‘rational human behavior’ as envisaged by Adam Smith and the concept of body politics seek to alternatively understand these principles of the existing world economic order that through embodiment and epidermalization has built a naturalizing gaze towards capitalism. The concept of body politic has been seen as “a fundamental component of decolonial thinking, decolonial doing and the decolonial option” and seeks to break with the concept of ‘great chain of being’ deeply entrenched in ‘essentialist hierarchies of value’.


‘Meta-’ has been described as a word used in combining forms (in nouns, adjectives and verbs) is connected with a change of position or state and also means higher or beyond[2]. Between the 18th to the end of 20th century metapolitics referred to notions of absoluteness, unchanging, unconditioned and took forms of gnosis, eschatology, metaphysics of politics and hermeneutics of politics [68]. In the post-colonial era metapolitics has been explained and understood in varying ways. Metapedia a white nationalist, supremacist, anti-feminist, homophobic, Islamophobic, antisemitic and neo-Nazi website explicitly features the word ‘metapolitics’ and the ‘new right movement’ associated with these ideologies claim their movement to be a ‘metapolitical movement’ which borrows the idea from the ‘primacy of culture over politics’ in line with ‘right wing Gramscism’ [69]. Alan Badiou and Jacques Rancière have both written on metapolitics and though their perception of emancipatory politics as both egalitarian and Universalist is analogous, they see metapolitics differently from each other. For Badiou metapolitics is something through which to think through and set free, while Rancière perceives metapolitics as an obstacle that covers up the play of liberty and equality inherent in such politics.

Badiou in the first instance distanced himself from political philosophy and opted for so-called metapolitics [70]. Badiou in his book Metapolitics states that ‘every real politics can be first and foremost evaluated on what it says about the state’ [71]. Badiou “used the prefix meta to denote the transition to a higher level of understanding, which he associates with the logical analysis of politics, opening the level of meta-philosophical reflection, where philosophical meta-reflection is understood as part of politics since it undermines the established intellectual order as a certain regime of truths accepted in political philosophy legitimising certain types of politics” [5]. “Rancière used the term metapolitics in order to refer to specific mode of depoliticisation that subordinates particular modes of politics to a deeper essence such as the market economy in economic liberalism or to class identity in Marxism” [72]. For Rancière, “metapolitics is the discourse of the falseness of politics that splits every political manifestation of dispute in order to prove its ignorance of its own truth by marking every time, the gap between names and things, the gap between enunciation of some logos of the people, of man or of the citizenry and the account that is made of this, the gap that reveals a fundamental injustice, itself identical with a constitutive lie” [73]. “For Rancière, metapolitics defines a radical space which, although outside of, comes into conflict with the archipolitical through the manifestation of ‘dissensus’ and this key concept of dissensus in Rancière’s thought resists the reduction of the political to the archipolitical; dissensus points toward the essence of politics because it designates a radical sphere of praxis in which the primary locus of politics arises in the insurgent form of agonism against archipolitical policing” [74]. Rancière believes that metapolitics hides the infrapolitical truth [10] he sees metapolitics as an obstacle that maintains the ‘falseness of politics’ and the ‘naturalness of policing’ [14] which sustains and maintains the capitalist neoliberal status quo in which issues of injustice, inequality and mass human suffering are ushered away as the result of atomistic market based relations of competition [75].

Metapolitical can be democratic as well as antidemocratic aiming to reconfigure the face of the public sphere and has been referred to a mode of politics that acts upon itself and that involves both processes of depoliticisation and politicisation [72]. “Metapolitics seeks to alter the boundaries between the spheres of activity wherein citizens, civil society organisations, political parties and state institutions exert power” [72]. “Just as meta-communication allows us to regulate everyday communication and meta-discourse allows us to make sense of everyday texts and communicative practices without going outside or beyond communication in any way, metapolitics reconfigures politics through politics for better or for worse and in metapolitical struggles, politics reflexively becomes an object for itself” [72]. It “disturbs the clear-cut rules of representation logic’ determining ‘who can have a share in what is common to the community based on what they do and, on the time, and space in which this activity is performed” [73]. More recently metapolitics has been conceptualized as something “which differs from politics as usual in the sense that it consists of practices, the associated logics and rationalities, as well as the dominant power structures in a given public sphere and metapolitical debates have the potential to reshape the structure of a public realm,, the entities and processes that constitute it, as well as the concepts and practices of politics that underpin it” [72].


Post as a prefix means “behind”, “after”, “later” or “subsequent to” when combined with politics it produces the word post-politics or postpolitics which implies after politics. So does that imply politics no more exists? The answer depends on one’s perception of politics. Politics as mentioned in the first paragraph is ubiquitous and is not restricted to parliaments and ballot boxes. Post-politics has been described as “a conceptual lens through which to analyse current socio-political configurations” [76].

The conceptualisation and understanding of post-politics has been influenced by Rancière, Alain and Žižek [77] and can be understood as “involving a model of business negotiation and strategic compromise”, [15] where “post-political techniques, characterised by the rise of experts and the reduction of politics to social administration which aim to create self-disciplined, morally responsible and autonomous subjects” [78]. Post-politics has also been described as “house of reasonable politics within which only ‘minor’ differences amenable to compromise are allowed, with the threat of expulsion should differences become ‘unreasonable’” [4]. Post-politics sees the “birth of the ‘resilient subject’ embodied with a ‘post-political subjectivity’ who accepts the fatefulness of existence, is entrenched  with an  emergent ontology exclusively bound to mastering the control of life-shaping events by pre-emptively governing those catastrophes (actual or potential) which shape the normality of the times” [79]. “Post-political eras see the disappearance of democratic agonistic struggles over the content and direction of socio-ecological life; consensual governing and policy making, a rejection of ideological divisions; the universalisation of particular political demands in a noncommittal, conflict-avoiding, consensus-seeking way; technocratic, expert-led, managerial problem-solving and the replacement of political struggle with cultural struggle” [80] where ‘doing politics’ is reduced to a form of institutionalised social management [14]. Increasing “bureaucratisation, technocratisation, rationalisation” [81] standardisation and depoliticisation of politics is manifested in post-political becoming where we live in a state of ‘denkverbot’ [82] (a ban on thinking), [83] characterised by ‘populist demagoguery’ [82] and ‘foreclosure’ of antagonistic and dissenting politics [84].

“Two forms of nihilism unite in the post-political, the first being ‘a passive reactive nihilism’ that expresses itself in ideas about the end of history (the credo of post-politics), and the second an active, affirmative nihilism that expresses itself in the spirit of the credit and profit maximisation” [85]. “The politicality that is inherent in issues of world trade and environment is obscured by ‘The Anti-Politics Machine’ where the ‘state machinery has policies, but no politics’[86].The “notion of ‘control society’ in which the ‘growth of a managerial approach to government’, the ‘administration and management of society’ is bereft of proper political dimension in the post-political age where bodies, minds, emotions, and memories are integrated and manipulated by commercial and political interests” [87]. “The post-political society works like a casino in which the rules of the post-political game are based on taking chances or risks in order to gain personal benefit in the short term” [85].


Politics being omnipresent is also exercised by all as per one’s capacities. The ways politics plays out varies contextually based on specificities of the localities it is being played out in. One overbearing politics that has an overwhelming bearing over all humanity is the ‘neoliberal politics’. The reasons for not discussing ‘neoliberal politics’ among the eleven types of politics mentioned above are twofold. First neoliberalism and neoliberal politics has been discussed abundantly if one does a Google scholar search and secondly we see that all of the eleven types of politics discussed above have been conceptualized under the hegemony of neoliberalism either as a reaction, strategy or as a way of understanding any particular social phenomenon.

As this article progressed we realised the hyper times we live in, with realities at the local, regional and global level quickly changing with headlines shifting from one ‘deadly issue’[3] to another. The ways politics affect us can even be sighed away by fatalist beliefs, leaving it to the fate. The Covid-19 lockdown in Nepal & India and the events that followed can be understood through necropolitics or thanatopolitics when crores of the population in both countries who did the low skill jobs and migrant labourers were left in a lurch where their very survival is put at risk.

On the other scale of things we see how noopolitics plays out when the Indian Prime minister asks the Indian citizens to come out to their balconies and clap in support of the front line workers against Covid 19, and millions of Indians in cities after cities were seen acting out in unison. The Prime minister was overwhelmed with emotion and so were the citizens. Unless all Indian citizens are netizens which is far from true with 20/25 percent of the population may be having access to the internet but what we are certain is that millions of Indians are followers of the Indian Prime minister Modi. “Noopolitics is the way that sovereignty incorporates epistemological trajectories into build space in order to guide thinking and participation, where participation is a guided tour through extended cognition in which sign posts or fields of signifiers of commodity culture are imbedded where they produce or interpolate communities through a process of calling out to” [33]. “An immature State with underdeveloped technology is less dangerous than an immature State with advanced technology” [36] seems to be a relevant statement when we see the draconian ways governments shutting down access to technology in times of crisis generated by calls to freedom by certain populations.

The ways decisions are taken by the sovereign in today’s context can be understood through archipolitics where decision to put entire nations in lockdown was done by the centre without any consultation with other state bodies. In both Nepal and India swift decisions were taken by the centre which sees the disavowal of opinions at other levels below the centre shows Plato’s concept of archipolitics where ‘achieving the common good by an enlightened government of elites maintained by the confidence of the masses’. 

Recent world events also show what we identified as infrapolitics in the above section. Infrapolitics viewed as ‘weapons of the weak’ and is displayed in ‘everyday forms of resistance’ could be seen in waves of migrant labours taking to the streets after the announcement of lockdown, where the governments of both Nepal and India instructed their respective citizens to stay put where they were and not venture out of their homes. The daily wage labourers, workers employed in low skilled jobs, factory workers, construction workers who number in millions were left in a situation where they risked their very existence if the government orders are followed. The ‘hand to mouth’ way of existence of the labouring masses with very little or no savings and with their means of livelihood stopped they had very few options left in the cities they worked in. The city to village exodus began both in Nepal and India. Millions of Nepalese work in India and on wanting to return to their homes was left stranded in various borders since the government of Nepal sealed the borders. The infrapolitics is seen when hordes of working class population in thousands thronged the road in an attempt to go back to their homes many hundreds of miles away. Migrant Nepalese workers stuck in the borders even resorted to swimming across a river to enter Nepal.

The ways politics plays out in the complex web between an entity and the larger macro structural system of governance is all down to specific contexts. From a patient who due to patents is prevented from a known and proven cure, a farmer who is prevented from storing or sharing seeds, a government who is bound by rules to pursue austerity measures or removing subsidies in agriculture where at least eighty percent depend on agriculture, a person who wants artificial interventions in his/her body to match to some scales and to a child who when seeing a corn plant yells popcorn; politics shapes all our decisions and actions. The overwhelming influence of “‘neoliberalism’s regime of truth’ whose consequences include dispossession, disimagination, de-democratization and disposability” [88] along with the naturalization of “a populist understanding of competitiveness, individual freedom and democracy” [89] has created three master themes that has been embedded in us as humans. “First in individualism whereby the individual is granted moral, ontological priority over the collective; second is universalism of the expansionary tendencies towards a world market and thirdly meliorism whereby humans are claimed to have the potential to improve and remake themselves” [3].

Within the neoliberal world that we as humans live is marked by stark contrasts both within nations and between nations, but there is also a similarity that we have begun to see as natural. For instance in both Nepal and India we have citizens who can spend millions in pursuing a fancy marriage or a birthday party and on the other end both countries have citizens who will not be able to dig out even Rs 500 (Nepalese or Indian currency) in times of a medical emergency. The similarities of the capital cities in these countries to other cosmopolitan cities around the world are markedly different from rural areas both in terms of infrastructure and culture. The politicians in the case of Nepal even the one’s from those political parties who are guided by Maoist, Marxist and Leninist philosophy are embedded with neoliberal beliefs and unquestioningly view institutions of neoliberalism and their recommendations as the path to development.

The ways politics has been understood and practiced currently can be perceived as being ‘metapolitical’ as perceived by Rancière, where issues of discrimination, injustice, inequality, inequity, uprootment in the name of development, privatisation of public sectors are swept away by the mainstream discourse of ‘free market reform’ and ‘laissez faire’ and where metapolitics acts as an obstacle by cocooning the political in the archipolitical. The need for understanding that politics affects us in our daily lives and to understand politics as just not restricted to the ballot boxes and political parties but as inherent in all decisions that affects and shapes our daily existence is paramount today. Long has the fatalistic belief been influential among the losers of globalization and by envisioning Badiou’s metapolitics as a transition to a higher level of understanding and by disturbing the clear-cut rules of representation logic of the dominant power structure, metapolitical ideas must be expressed in ‘degrees of reflexive awareness’ and must act as an emancipatory politics for those on the losing side of globalization and bring them and their voices into the main spheres of politics both at the local and global level.


[1] The list is not conclusive

[2] Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary of current English 2006.


[3] Deadly issue we see as the New Delhi Riots, Covid 19 

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