Ever vigilant, dmf calls for historical analysis to warrant the « faith in the masses » that Rancière invokes and Levi Bryant espouses. I can only wholeheartedly agree to the need for such empirical research, while avowing my ignorance. I can however give my gloss on what this slogan could mean in a more speculative context.
Rancière is careful to put the question on the plane of virtual being, and talks in terms of capacity. He makes it an ethical maxim (egalitarianism) to have faith in the « capacity of the dominated » against the arrogant experts who believe in the « inequality of intelligences ». He makes it a political maxim (anti-authoritarianism) to have faith in the « capacity of the masses » against the power of the State and other institutions based on transcendence. The question is one of how liberating change can take place. It involves taking a step back from the current actualisations of knowledge and power to see that a real change requires transforming the form of action and interaction.
Feyerabend contrasts the guided exchange, where some basic framework is imposed by one side as the basis for all communication and action, to the open exchange, where the interaction is open-ended in its goals, beliefs, and means of communication. He gives as examples of the former a rationalist debate or a colonial incursion; and his examples of the latter a shamanistic initiation or the encounter of lovers. Levi gives the example of the analytic exchange (he limits this to « Lacanian analysis » as his actualisation of that spirit was Lacanian, but he would agree that not all Lacanians practice in this sense, and that many non-Lacanians do). I take it that Levi’s post No Fear is an example of faith in the masses within, that can be enacted not only in analysis but in other open exchanges including writing and friendship.
Faith is needed because as Deleuze, amongs many others, is quick to point out revolutions regularly are betrayed, analyses stagnate, friendships disappoint, our writing seems to us like so much shit and pretence. Deleuze cites this as one of the great dangers alongside fear, clarity, power: disappointment. Disappointment for Deleuze and Guattari is loss of faith, and our modern malady is loss of faith in this world. They realise that « we have so many reasons not to believe in the human world » (What is Philosophy, p75). That is where we need faith in this world, in the possibility for further movements and becomings, for open exchanges and transformative encounters. Faith is choosing a mode of life not based on the stratifications of hierarchy and mastery and domination, but on equality, openness and sharing. I chose to flee my country because I couldn’t stand the relations I was subjected to there. I chose to start a blog to express myself in my own name and to open up to dialogue. Both were based on acts of faith. Deleuze says faith in this world, this is my preferred refrain chanting in my head. Rancière says faith in the capacity of the masses, and I am willing to endorse that if we deterritorialise the concept of masses to bring it to describe the multiplicities in and around us and their unexperienced and unfulfilled capacities.