Political ethics, even strands professing to an expressive-collaborative model of morality, still assume that there is a common moral community with a set of shared default understandings, which are divested of public deliberation. Authors of the political difference between the political and apolitical politics propose a shift which puts the political struggle over whether there is a common community with common understandings center stage.Borrowing from Walker’s insight that care language is much more likely to find entrance into the political when it is not explicitly framed as such, I will employ the political difference to sketch the contours of political repair, which has enjoyed a liminal existence in a no less marginal political ethics ever since Tronto’s 1993 definition of care. An Arendtian theory of repair posits repair as the political activity par excellence, and adds an epistemic function to it. Rancière’s conceptualization of political repair as a disruption of the dominant order that allots what is political and what is not adds a form of political subjectivation that can help us overcome the care-giver/ care-receiver and the autonomous/dependent binaries. Wolin adds the chafing that the political is a discourse concerned about the present being and well-being of collectivities, while the polity’s history bears on these presents in a way that ultimately works for some while it works against others, equipping us with a more dynamic understanding of power and oppression.
Taken together, these threads not at all suspicious of care ethical language may supply us with the concepts to render the repair of relationships and the political world central in public politics without anticipating communities with common understandings. My lecture, presented at the reseach group Critical Ethics of Care in the Netherlands can be read here.