Help required – Robert Jaulin on ethnocide – use of his term ‘election’

Robert Jaulin’s view of  ‘totalitarianism’ (in relation to ethnocide) makes very good sense to me – on many levels with life in Australia (from 1788 to the present) and with such classic examples of how former PM John Howard treated First Peoples as ‘objects’ with his government’s NT ‘Emergency’ legislation. Text book stuff – if it weren’t for the pain and suffering of ongoing existential negation for the First Peoples concerned.

“Robert Jaulin defines totalitarianism as an abstract scheme or machine of non-relation to cultural otherness characterized by the expansion of “oneself ” (“soi”) through an election/exclusion logic. The totalitarian machine operates by splitting the universe into its own “agents” on the one side, and its “objects” on the other, whether they be individuals, families, groups, societies or whole civilizations. It proceeds by depriving the later of their quality of cultural subjects through the erosion and finally the suppression of their space of tradition and cultural invention, which mediates their relation with themselves, i.e. their reflexivity. With the mutilation of their “field of cultural potentialities”, as Jaulin calls it, the totalitarian dynamics transforms its “objects” into new “agents” of expansion, reduced to a mock self-relation defined by the horizon of a potential election. However, to become actual this election needs to articulate with a pole of exclusion; thus the need of a new expansion of this universe of non-relation, the universe of totalitarianisms, by definition an endlessly expanding universe whose theoretical limits paradoxically coincide with its own self-destruction.
The election/exclusion logics works by means of pairs of contradictory and, therefore, mutually exclusive terms. Their content may be as varied as the different semantic domains invested by the totalitarian machine: chosen/doomed, religion/magic, truth/falseness, literate/illiterate, savage/civilized, subject/object, intellectual/manual, proletarians/capitalists, science/illusion, subjectivity/objectivity, etc. In all these contradictory pairs, one of the poles “means” to occupy the whole field; but at the same time, its own meaning and “existence” depends on the virtually excluded pole.”


What i do not understand is his reference to ‘a potential election’ – is this a technical term employed by French thinkers or does it simply mean an election (in which people vote)?  Jaulin’s fundamentally important work on ethnocide has never been translated into English and my google searches have not thrown any light on my question.