What’s the difference between politics and metaphysics? Sometimes it’s nice to ask childish questions like this. The answer seems clear at an arm’s length, but let us trace the trajectory of the problem as it emerged prior to that opening question.
The notions of sovereignty run deep in our thinking, and none so deep as one as the one of domain. There is a political domain, and an economic one, and a personal one, and a state which is so many layers of domains, the previously mentioned and further ones too, like infrastructural and geographical. Okay. So, within the political domain, what is the geography? What minerals and alloys falls under it? Or, to adopt our childish mode of questioning once again: what is politics all about? We’ll skip some Socratic back and forths and get to the heartlands of the dialogue: the political ‘realm’ is the one engaged in the alloys created by the inter-relation of human beings and their worlds. But so is the economic realm… This substance we direct thought to under the auspices of the ‘political’ instinct begins to bleed through our fingers.
We tend to separate the political and the economic realms by imagining the former as some sort of transcendence: If the economy is the world of our messy desires, subjective needs and our means to secure our individual survival, it is in the political sphere that we retrieve our values and meet each other as equals. Even with Aristotle, the political domain is something we enter… It is therefore unsurprising that critics of the increasing indiscernibility of these two spheres try to re-erect the difference by referring to higher values and by drawing a “clean” image of the political: the rational agents, universal equality — something that goes beyond mere economic interests.
And this is precisely where metaphysics kicks in. It becomes that very instrument that is to clean these values from their economic pettiness — even when they, by pure accident, express the values of the ruling class — and to rough out the magnificent order that the political sphere is to imitate. But, prior to doing that, it has to ask the question of the child: “What is politics?” Then it becomes enmeshed in the substance oozing out that ‘is’… A figure before one.