How does one become a Subject (note: not the Lacanian Subject)?
There are two popular examples within Althusserian thought, and one not-so-popular example.
The first example comes from Althusser himself. One becomes a subject merely by recognizing the police officer’s designation of the subject as such. As the story goes, the police officer interpellates the subject by yelling: “Hey, you there!” It is by the mere 180 degree turn of the individual that he becomes a Subject.
The second example comes from Jacques Ranciere. For Ranciere, the political act par excellence occurs when those whom are the part of no-part within the distribution of the sensible make themselves counted. There is a supposition here that is intensely problematic: that the no-part can engage in a political act without having already undergone radicalization. Radicalization – which I use roughly as an equivalent to “analysis” – implies that the analysand or individual come to know the master hidden deep within him or her self. Without proper analysis the analysand risks remaining stuck at the role of slave to this master, thereby endlessly repeating the political failures of yesteryear. Ranciere remodels Althusser’s classic example of interpellation – whereby a police officer hails an individual and thereby transforms that individual into a subject of power – and suggests that the image is one of a police officer informing the crowd to “move along, [because] there is nothing more to see here!”
This brings me to the third model: what Ranciere misses is the frequent use that police officers make of “planted evidence”: the police officer secretly places some hashesh into the individual’s pocket, which the individual carries around with him wherever he goes, so that the police officer can activate or use that evidence against him later.