The Improper Politics of Democracy and Property: A Response to Taavi Sundell

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Interrogating the limits of post-foundational accounts of political economy, this response to Taavi Sundell, proposes three conceptual shifts. First, I argue that the distinction between politics and economics polices a border that absolves economic questions of their implication in policing appropriation and political order. Second, I think political economy in terms of proprietary order. The notion of proprietary order situates reproduction in relation to regimes of property, material inequality and propriety: the securing of ‘proper’ objects and subjects through technologies of inequality. Here I reconceptualize first the politics of equivalence, and second logics of ‘propertization.’ I argue that post-foundationalist theorists tend to focus on equivalential logics in relation to populism and hegemony. However, they forget logics of debt and financial equivalence and thus cannot adequately conceptualize hegemony. Second, I rethink property as a technology that polices ways of being, seeing and doing. I characterise property as a contingent form of political articulation that nonetheless has sedimentary effects that haunt any present. I situate property in relation to the sedimented colonial legacies that haunt it legal forms today. How, I ask, do different proprietary and equivalential orders police equality and limit democracy?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalNew Political Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021


  • Political Economy
  • Discourse Theory
  • Post-foundationalism
  • Post-foundational
  • Private Property
  • Laclau


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