Translation of Laruelle’s “Who Are Minorities and How To Think Them”

In honor of the recent translations of Laruelle’s work (Struggle and Utopia, Principles, Anti-Badiou), as well as a couple coming out in May (Dictionary, Philosophy and Non-Philosophy), I have decided to post my translation of an essay of Laruelle’s from the 80s on ‘politics’. The journal in which Laruelle originally published the essay is now defunct. If anyone desires the original French text, please let me know. It should also be noted that at the end of the essay there is an extensive bibliography on the subject-matter of minorities, but I am unaware whether or not this is Laruelle’s or is provided by the journal…I am under the assumption that these references are provided as further reading by the journal, insofar as they concern geopolitical/juridical discourses on minorities (no philosophy, strictly speaking, is included). The publications referenced there are in English and French.

F. Laruelle. “Qui sont les Minorités et comment les penser”. Etudes polémologiques 43 (1987): 175-89.

Who Are Minorities and How To Think Them?

            Minorities represent a certain type of problem both insistent or inevitable and never resolved. For political science, one might say that it is a crux, a theoretical impasse. The same goes for political practice. What is behind this difficulty? There are several reasons. First, for a political reason, it became a problem or a question. The problem of Minorities emerged as such with the history of the great modern States with which it is coextensive and whose constitution it accompanies. Perhaps it was a less critical or less obvious problem with the grand Empires where Minorities were recognized and sometimes repressed de facto. But in the 19th century with the establishment of the unified and more or less centralized States, they have become a question as such for political theory, which is simultaneously the sign of their problematic character and the beginning of their recognition as such.

Afterwards, it was not simply a political problem, but became social. I believe that it is important for reflection and theory and completely necessary for philosophy to overcome the political limitation of the concept of “Minorities” to which it is too often restrained. The problem has developed an incredible extension with the appearance of Minorities of a totally different type than the national and political. No doubt they are born as political and historical problems, but they now undergo new experiences and require more extensive and not simply political definitions.

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