Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 23–36, 2003
The confronted community
Translated by Amanda MacdonaldFor Maurice Blanchot
The present state of the world is not a war of civilisations. It is a civil war: it is the internal war of an enclosed city, of a civility, of an ‘urbanity’, which arein the process of fanning out to the very limits of the world, and, because of this,spreading right to the extremity of their own concepts. At its limit, a concept breaks, a distended ﬁgure shatters, a yawning gap appears.This war is not a war of religions either, or else all so-called wars of religionare wars internal to monotheism, a religious schema of the West and a schemawithin that West of a division which, here again, takes itself to the edges and tothe extremities: on to the Orient of the Occident and right to the crack and thegaping hole in the very middle of the divine. For that matter, the West will havebeen nothing but the exhaustion of the divine, with respect to all forms of monotheism, and whether it be a case of exhaustion by atheism or by fanaticism.What is coming upon us is an exhaustion of the thought deﬁned by the Oneand by a unique destination for the world: this thought is exhausting itself through a unique absence of destination, through an inﬁnite expansion of general equivalence or, then again, and as a repercussion of this, in the violent convulsions that reafﬁrm the all-powerfulness and the all-presence of a Onebecome—or re-become—its own monstrousness.
How, ultimately, to be seri-ously, absolutely, unconditionally atheist whilst able to make sense and truth of this One? How to, not so much exit religion—since, when it comes down to it,that is already done, and the imprecations of the fanatical can do nothing about it (they are, indeed, the symptom of it, like the ‘god’ engraved on the dollar)—but exit the monolithism of thought which has remained ours (simultaneously, History, Science, Capital, Man and/or their Nullity …). That is to say, how to goto the ends of monotheism and of its constitutive atheism (or what one might callits absentheism) in order to grasp, from the reverse side of its exhaustion,whatever might be extracted from nihilism, brought out of it from the inside? How to think the nihil without turning it back into an all-powerful and all-present monstrousness.The yawning gap that is taking shape is that of meaning, of truth, of value. All forms of fracture and rupture—social, economic, political, cultural—have, inthis gap, their condition of possibility and their fundamental schema. Thiscannot be ignored: the primordial stake must be taken to be a stake in thought,including those times when it is a question of its most material implications (of death through AIDS in Africa or of poverty in Europe or of struggles for power in Arab countries, for example, among a hundred examples). Political and
ISSN 1368-8790 print/ISSN 1466-1888 online/03/010023–14
2003 The Institute of Postcolonial StudiesDOI: 10.1080/1368879032000080384