\OntÍn_CnCy, !

C_CmOny,
\nÍVCrsJÍÍty
\OntcmQOIuIy ÍÍuÌO_ucs On thc ÍcIt

|uditl Iutlcr, Irncsto laclau and Slavoj Zizck
bC8l3_ID_ !HC 1DIVC188Î.
ÍC_CDODy 3HU tDC ÍIDÌ!8 O! ÌOID3!I8D
j4||| ߻tkt
Erncsto Lac|au, S|avoj Z¡ZCK 8nO Î havC h0d äCVCt0Ì COnvCtä0!ÌOn8 OVCt
tCccnI yCars pCtIammg to poststrctuvabsm, thC pobt¡ca QtO¿CC! oI hcgC-
mOnÿ 0nO IhC ä!0Iuä Ol psythomaIys¡s. YC havc aU, Dc|iCvc¸ workcd at
the thcorctìca| margìns oI a LCÛ po|i!icaÌ pvOjcCt, and havc vðtìous
dCgtcCs Ol cOntÌnu¡n
g
amnìty wth Ma=sm as a cr¡t¡cal soc¡aI t!co¡
and mOvCmCn!. LCt!0Ìn KCy COnCcQtä Ol ptOgtcssÌvc sOcìaI thCOry havc
rcccìvcd ncw and vajng artìcuIatìons ìn our work, and wC COm-
mOnly conccrncd wìth thc status and fOtmaIÌOn of thc subjcC, thc
implìcations oí a thcoj oI thc suDjCCt for thC !hmng of dCmoCtacy,
!hc 01|CuÌ0\ìOn Ol `unÌvcrsahty´ wth¡n a thCOj Ol hcgCuony. Wcrc WC
m«v, !O my mmð, pcrhaps hrst and íorcmost m our ðpprOaChcs tc
thcoj oI thc subjcct in a cOnsidcra!iOn oI hc
g
Cmony, and ìn !hC status
of a 'IogicaI' Ot 'struclura|' anaÌy sÌs oI QO|Itìca| formatìons ìn rc|at¡on !O
thcir spccihc cu|tUIaI and socia| ar!iCu|at¡ons.
My undcrstanding oI thc vcw of hcgcmony cstab|ishcd by EIDcs!O
Lac|au and LD3n!3Ì wODÜc Iu Ht
¡
tm»n
)
cn4 S»c|clot ò|rcttg ¸¡9Bô)
i
ís
mat dcmOcra!Ìc po|ities arc constitutcd UIUgh cxc|usions mat IC!Uvn \O
haunt the po|itIcs prcdicatcd upon th«!v abscncc. Jhat haun\ìn_
UCCOmcä QOÌI\ÌCaÌ̶ cßcctivc prcciscIy in so far as the return oI thC
excluded lorccs an cxpansion and vCaI!iCuIatìon oI lhc bas|c pvcmÌSscs oI
dcmocracy itsc|í Onc cÌaìm that Lac|au and
_
izck makc ìn \hCÌt 8UUsC-
qucnt WtitÌngs is that thc Iormation oI any ðcmocratÌc pO!ity - or,
indccd, any paIticU|at suD]Cct·QOsÌlìon W\hIn U0! QOÌÌj ¬ is nccCssatì!y
|2 ]UD¡IH ëUIL£R
IDCOD
}
!clc. Jbcrc 8tc¸ bOwcvct, divcrgcnt ways OÍ undcrstanding tbat
ìncomplctìon. l undcrstood tbc 'ìncomplctIon' oI thc sub¡cct-posiliOn ín
thc IolIowing ways. [!) as tbc Iaìlurc oI any
}
artiLular articulation to
dcscrìtc thc pO
}
uIatíOn ìl rcprcscnts; ¸2) tbat cvcj sub¡cCl Ìs ConstÌ-
tutcd derentìa||¡ and that what Ís
}
toOuCcd as tbc 'constitutivc outsidc'
oI thc 5ubjcc! can ncvcr bccomc IuUy insìdc or ìmmancnt. t8kc tbis last
point to cstablisb thc íundamcntaI diHcrcncc bcwccn thc Athusscrian-
inßcctcd work ol lacIau and Mouhc anO a mOrc Mcgclian !hcoj oI thc
subjcct in wbich all cxtcrnaI rcIations arc ¬ 8! lcasl idcaIly - trans-
IOrm3DIc into intcrnal oncs.
Ònc otbcr way oI CXp!8inÍng lhÍs 'ìncomplction' oI tDc suO¡cCl Ìs lO
cstJOÌÌsD i!s 'ncccssìty´ through rccoursc to a ¡aCanIan psychoanaÌyIc
account ol it. Zizck bas sUggcstcd ~ anO ¡aCÌau has QatlÍa||y agtccO
lh8l lbc Ì3CanIan 'Kcæ' ìs but anothcr namc |¬r this `ÌnCCmQÌcltOu´, 8nO
!hal cvcry sub¡cCt¸ rcgardlcss oI its sociaI and bistoricaI conditions, is
|iablc to thc samc postuIatc oI ìnconclusìvcncss. Jhc sub¡cct wbìcb
comcs into cxìstcncc througb thc 'bar' is onc wbosc prchisto; ìs ncccs-
saruy Iorccloscd to ìts cXpcticncc oI ìtsclI as 8 suD] cct. Jhat |ounding
and dcûnìng |ìmit tbus |ounds thc subjcct at 8 ncccssaj and irrcvcrsìblc
distancc lrom thc COndÌIÍOns OÍ Íts ow lt8uU8IÌC cmcrgcncc.
I havc ìndicatcd lO bOtD Zìzck and lacIau |hat wouId Ìuc to kow
morc prccisc|y wbcthcr thc lacanian vcw on thc constitutìon oI !Dc
°UD|cLt Ìs ÍndÌ!y compatÍUIc WI!D thc nO!ion Ol hcgcnOny. uncrst8nO
that tbc uD!!On OÍ thc unLOmQÌctcd or barrcd sub|cct appcars lO gu3I·
nc ccrtain Ìncomp|c!ìOn oI In!c:
}
cÌÌ3tIOn. 'You caII mc tbÍs, but
WD3! am cIudcs tbc sCmantic rcaCh OÍ any sucb ÌIngu!stiC chort to
capturc mc.´ Ìs thìs cIudìng oI thc Ca|Ì OÍ thc othcr acCOm
}
IishcO
thIOugh tbc instalIatìon OÍ a bar as thc condìtion and stIuLlutc OÍ aÌÌ
subjcct-constitution? Is thc incompIctcncss OÍ sub¡ccl-ÍOïmatÍOn that
Dcgcmony rcquìrcs onc ìn wbicb thc subjcct-in-proccss Is incomp!cIc
prcciscIy bccausc ìt is constitutcd through cxcIusìons lh8l arc poIitìcalIy
saÌIcnt, not sttuctutaI|y static or Ioundational! Ad iI this distinction is
WOng-hc8dcd, how arc wc to tbìnk tbosc OnstItutmg cxc|usions that arc
structural and Ioundatìonal togctbcr with lhosc wc lakc to bc
}
oÌÌticaÌly
sa|icnt to thc movcmcnt OÍ hcgcmOny: ln otbcr wOrOs, shouÌO not tbc
incOm
}
Ictìon o! sDbjcc!-ÍormatiOn bc Iinkcd lO tbc dcmocratíc
ÛÏOÅPL1ÎL Å1Ï ÍÎÍÀÏbOTL Ìó
contestatlon over sìgmers? Can the ahistorica| recourse to the Lacmìan
bar be reconcìled wth the strategìc questìon that hegemony poses, or
does ìt stand as a quasi-transcendenta| |ímìtation on al| possíb|e sub|cct-
formations and strateges and, hence, as fundamentaUy mJerent to tbe
polìtìca| held it is saíd to condìtìonº
!f me sub|ect always meets ìts |mìt in the seIfsame p|ace, then tbe
sub|ect ìs fundamentahy exterìor to the bìstory in whìch ìt hnds itself.
there ìs no historicìty to the sub|ect, ìts |ìmits, ìts artìcu|abúiq Moreovcr,
ìf we accept the notion that a|| historìcal strugg|e ìs nothìng othcr than
a vain eûort to dsp|ace a foundmg |mìt that ìs structural ìn status, do we
then commit ourselves to a dìstìnctìon between the hìstorica| and the
structura| domains that subsequently exc|udes the hìstorica| domaín
írom the understandng of opposition?
Jhis problem of a structura| approach to the foundìng |ìmìts of the
subject becomes mportant when we consìder possìble forms of opposì-
tìon. !f hegemony denotes the historìcal possìbúìties for articu|ation that
emerge wIthin a gìven politìca| horizon, then ìt wìll make a sìgìñcant
diÐerence whether we understand that he|d as hìstorìcaUy revsab|e and
transformable, or whether it ìs given as a held whose ìntegrity is sccured
þ certain structura||y identìhable |im:ts and exclusions. I| tbe terns of
both dominance and oppositìon are constraìned by such a ñe|d of artlc-
u|abi|ity, the very possibi|ity of expandìng the possìb|e sìtes C!
articu|ation |or justice, equa|ity, universa|ity wm be determìned ìn part
by whether we understand thìs he|d as sub|ect to change througb tme.
My understanding of hegemony ìs that ìts normative and optìmìstìc
moment consists precisely ìn the possibdities for expandìng the demo-
cratic possibilìties for the key terms of |ìbe:a|ìsm, renderìng them nore
inc|usive, more dyamic and morc concrete. !f the possìbúìty for such
change is prec|uded by a theoretìca| overdetermìnatìon of the struc-
tura| constraints on the ñeld oí po|ìtìcal articu|abì|ity, then ìt becomes
necessary to reconsìder the re|atìon between hístop and structure to
presere me pohucæ pro|ect of hegemony ! be|ieve that however c|se we
may dìsagree, Laclau,
¿
ìzek and do agree on the pro|ect of radìca|
democracy and on the continuìng po|ìtìca| promise oí the Oranscian
notion of hegemony. Dlstinct from a view that casts the operatíon of
power ìn the po|itìca| ñe|d exc|usìvely ín terms of discrete b|ocs wbich
̪ ]UD¡1H 8U1L£R
ve vth one another Ior contro| oI po|icy questions, hegemony empha-
sizes the ways in which power operates to Iorm our everyday
undcrstanding oI socia| re|ations, and to orcbestrate the ways in which
Wc consent to ¸and reproducej those I3CÍI and covert re|ations oI power
ÍCwCt :1 not stab|e or static, but is remade at various |unctures wthin
cvcçd3y liIe; it constitutes our tenuous sense oI common sense, and is
ensconced as the prevaUing epistemes oI a Cu!!UtC. Moreover, socia|
transIormation occurs DC! mere|y by ra||yng mass numbers in Iavour oI
a cause, Dul precise|y through the ways m which daUy socia relations are
rear¡iculated, and new CCnCCQ!u8 horizons opened up by anomalous or
8uDVCI8\VC practices.
The theoj oI peHormativq i8 DCl Iar írom !Dc lhcCty CÍ hegemony
in this respcct: both emphasize !hc W8y in which the social wor|d is
made ¯ 8Dd new 8CCI8l possIbi|ities cDcIgc at various levels oI socìa|
action through a CClÌ8DCt8lIVc tCÌ8!ÍCD wU power.
l p|an to approach tbese QUC8lICD1 !hICUgh !WC diüerent routes. Jhe
htst W DC to CCD8:dCt |hc QtCDlCU oI consututive exc|usion Irom within
a Ícgcl:8D perspective Dy !CCU8mg on the 'Jerror' and its ICÌ8!ÍCD to pos-
!uÌ8!C8 C! UD!Vct88Ij Í1m0mm0Í1
§
j Sji-/. Jhe second w| be lC
illustrate how tbe DCIICD oI universality¡ as CÌ8DCI8lCd Dy L8Cl8u, might
Dc Íut!DcI restaged in terms oI cultura| translation. hope to Dc 8DÌc !C
CÌat!] lut!hCt, in my 8UD8cQUcD! CCD!ODu!:CD8 !C this vo|umc, bCw Í
und1s!ÜDd !hC ïeIa!¡DnshIp beween psycboana|ysis, socia| theo¡ and
!hC project oI hegemony Athough am critical oI certain appropria-
tions oI psychoanalysis Ior thinking about the limits oI poIitical
selI-identmcation, DCpe to make c|ear in my next contribution !hc
centra|ity oI psychoanalysis to any project that seeks to understand
emancipatory projects in both their psychic and socia| dimensions.
IoCIs on the !CQ:C oI uDÍVCt18:Iy DcC8u8c it is one oI the most con-
tested topics within recent socia| theoç lndeed, many h3VC VCICCd !hc
|eat that CCDältuC!:V8I 8Dd poststrucmra|ìst accounts oI universa|ity
!C oüer a strong 8uD8l3DDVc or procedura| account oI what is common
to al| c¡tizen-sub|ects within the domain oI poIitica| representation.
Jhere are su some pohtical theoHsts who want to kow what po|iticahy
relevant Ieatures oI human beings might De CX!cDUcd to a|| human
beings ¸desire, speech, de|iberation, dependency), and then to base lhciÏ
KE5TAOl NO THE UNl VER5AL ÌÔ
normative vicws of what a poIitica| order ought to be on th3! uníversa|
descrìptìon. Sey|a 8cnhabib has shown us how both Raw|s and
Habermas, io diücrent ways, oüer an account oI univers3|1Q which
eschews the Questìou oI human nature and a substantivc account oI
unìVersa|ìzah|e features in Iavour oI a procedura| method which cstab-
Iishes uuIVCtä8ÌIZ8UuIj as a crìterìon |or justµng the noIm3tIVe c|aims
oI any socia| and po|iticaI programme.
z
A|though the ptoccdural
mcIhod putþorts to make no 8ubs!antIVe cÌatms abOut What human
beings are, it does imp|icit|y caU upon a certain ratìona| capacíq and
attributes to !hat ratÌCnaÌ CaQacI!y an InhC:Cnt tC!atICn IC uD:VC:saÌÌz-
abJity Jhe Kantian presumption that when 'I' reason I p3rtICipate in 3
ratìona|ì| that is !ranspersona| cu|minates in the c|aìm that my rcason-
ing presupposes the universalizabi|ip oI my c|aims. Jhus the pvocedural
app!oa0h Qrtsu[poäes !he Qriori!y oI such a ratìonalìq and also pre-
supposes the suspect charaCter of ostensib|y non-rationa| tcatures of
human condact In the domain oI po|ìtics.
JhC QuCsIÍCD of unIVc:ä8Ì:j b8s CDC:gCU perhaQs DCst crItÌca||y in
those LeIt discourses which have noted the use of the doctrine oI unì-
vCrsalij in the serice o| CCÌonÌaÌ:sm and Ìmperia|ism. Thc Iear, of
course, ìs that what is named as universa| is the Qarochìal propcrty oI
dominant cu|ture, and that uDiVersa|izabì|ìQ is indissociable Irom
imperia| expansIon. Jhe procedura|ist vew seeks to sidestep this prob-
Iem by insisting mat it makes no substantive claims about human u8IutC¸
Du! I!8 exclus|ve re|iance on rationa|ìj to make ìts c|aim be|ics this vej
assertion. The VabuIQ oI the Qrocedurðist solutìon re|ìes ìn part on me
status oI forma| clams and, indeed, whether one can estab|ish a pure|y
Iorma| methcd Ior aqudiCating political c|aims. Herc the Hege|ian cri-
tique oI Kantian forma|ism !s worth rcconsidering, main|y bccause
Hege| caUed into Questìon whether such Iorma|isms are ever rea||y ð
IormaI as thq gutQOt! to be.
!n ege|s Lesser Logic, Fart Òne oI his LaQc/6pccdt0 Q //c
Í/tk:6p/tc0/ òctmct: ¸I8J0),º he |ìnks the tCÍOImuÌ8lIOu Ol uDÎVers8lìQ
wth his critIque oI Iormalism. When hc introduccs the ídenIiDcatìoD oI
uniVersa|Ity wth abstract thoughl ìn thC section entitled PrcIiminaj
Conception' jaras IU-BJ), he QrocCeUs by way of seVeta| revsions oI
the notion ol UnìVersa|ìQ ìtse|| At ñrst hC reIcrs lo lhC QtOCuCl, lhC
Í Û ]UDl JH bLJLEK
ÍCrm, anO tbc cbaraCtct CÍ lhCugbt tOgc|bcr as `unIvcrsa|´, WbÍCb hc tcn-
dcrs as cQuIvaÌcnt tO `tbc abstraCt´ . ¡c thcn QrOCccOs lO OIsaggtcgaIc
anO rcvsc bIs OcÜnItÍOn, nOtIng to+t ' |/:»k:o¿, as an s:/··|q, Ìs thc c:/:··
UDÌ VCt8ðÌ ´ ¸ and lhC dccU, Its prOOuCt, ` what Ís OrOught ÍOIlb, Ìs QrcCÍscÌy
thc unÍvcrsaÌ ´ _ara. ZÛ) . Åbus hc Ohcrs thrcc OIÛcrcnl namcs ÍOr a unI-
VcrsaÌIt¶ thal hc sImu|tancOus|y IdcnlIhcs 8ä äÍn
]
Ì 3r anO ÌnsIsts uQOn as
VatÍOus. Ìc 0UU8 lD tbÍs äcl CÍ ICVÌ8ÌCnä |h0 nOtIOn tbat tbc äuU]CC!,
vhÍch Opcratcs tbrOugh thc prCnOmÍ3| ` Í , Ís 8ÌäC UC unIVCtä8Ì , äC tbat ` ¡'
Ís but anOthcr ä¡Cny anO spcCucaIIOn OÍ unìvcrsa|Íty ItscÌl
Pt thts QOÍnt¸ Iä unCÌcar wbclbct Wc bavc artÌVcO at lbc Ìast Ín a
scrÍcs OÍ rcVsÌOns, Ot Whctbcr tbIs mOsl rcCcnlÌy prOÛcrcO dchnÌtIOn
vÍ Ì Ì Ì caO tO yct anOlhct. Ìt bcCOmcs C|cat In tbc subscQucnt QatagraQhs
lhat Mcgc| Ís ÍnhaUItIng 8 hanlIan VOÌCc, wbcn hc hnaÌ|y UcgIns bÌs Qar-
apbrasc CÍ lhc ÏantIan vIcw cxQ|ÌCÌlÌy. ` hanl cmQ|OycO thc aWkwatO
cXQrcssIOn, that Ï ¨aCCOmQany´ a|| my tcQrcscnlatIOns ~ and my scnsa-
tÍOns, OcsÍrcs, aClIOns, clc. , tOO. ¨¡¯ Ís tbc unIvcrsa| Ìn and IOr IIscÍÍ, 3nU
LOmmunaÌt| Ís Onc mOrc IOrm ~ allhOugh an cXIcrna| Onc ¬ Ot unÌvct-
saÌÍ|´ gaIa. ¿U). Ít sccms ÍmQOttanl lO ask whal ¡cgcÌ mcans hcrc þ
` cxtcrna|´ ÍOrm, sIncc Ìl apQcars lhat hC 8UOD ìnvOkc an `InlctnaÌ'
Onc, anO that tbc Íntcrna| wI|Ì bc QtcCIsc|y lbc Onc lhal hanl OvctrIdcs.
Åbc mcanÍng CÍ ` ÍntctnaÌ ÍOïm´ Is, bOWcvct, On Íls wa¶.
|3kcD aOsltacUy a8 äuC, Ìs purc tCÌa|ÍOn lO Il8CÌj ÌH WHI0D aU8tr3clIOn
Ìä uaCC ÍrCu rCQtC80nta|ÌOn RnC scnsatÍOn, ÍrOm CVCj 8latc 8s wcü 38
ÍïOu CV0( QCCuÌÌatÌ[ OÍ n3UtC, OÍ l3ÌCnI, Ol cXpcrÍcncc, 8nd sO On. ÅO
lhÌä cXIcDI, ` ¡ Ís IhC CxÍälcnCC OÍ IhC cntÌtcIy e/sos:/ unÌvCtsaÌiq Ihc
3DsltHCUyj66. [Q3t3. 20)
Ybatcvcr thc 'Ìntcrna| ÍOtm´ OÍ unÌvcrsaÌÍ| WÌÌÌ QtOvc lO bc, Ìt Wìü
OOuUt|css bc rc|alcd tO tbc CCnCIC|C ÍCIu OI unÍ vctsa|Ìty as WcÌ|. McgcÌ
lhCD bcg¡ns tC CU]CCt OvcrtÌy tO tbc bìIurCatÌOn OÍ lhc QcrsOn IhaI lbc
aUsltaclIOn OÍ unIvctsaÌÍ| rcQuÌtcs¦ ` ` ` ¡' ´ Is as lbc ss/¸·:|, anO
sInCc ¡ am al lbc samc tÍmc In aÌÌ my scnsatÍOns, nOtÌOns, statcs, clC. ,
lbOugbl Í s Qrcscnl cVcr¶whcrc anO QcraOcs m| lhcsc OclcrmInatIOns as
¡tbcIr¿ calcgOr¶´ garà. Z0, braCkcts ÍD ttaD8|3tiOn, . Åhc QOsÍtÍng OÍ tbc
unÍVctsaÌ ` Ì' thus rcQuIrcs thc cXcÌusÍOn OÍ wbat Is sQcCÍbC and |IVng
bLbÅPLÌ ÎL ÀtÏ \ÎÌ NLÛOPL Ì 1
ÍtOU lhc äCÌÍ !Ot It8 OCDDÌ!ICD. \DIVctä3lì| ÌD Il8 3D8lt3Cl ÍCtm lhu8
tCQu!tC8 CUltIug lhc Q0t8OD OÜ ltOu Qu3ÌItICä whICh DC Ct 8hc D3y WcÌÌ
8h0tC WIth ClhCtä¸ bul WDìCh OO DOI tI8c lO lhC lCVCÌ OÍ 0Uätr0CtIOu
tCQuìtCU lOt lhc tctU `unÌVCts0ÌÌj´ .
Yh3l Iä unìvcrsal I8 lhCtClCtc Whðl QCtldÌnä lO CVCJ Qct8OD, Dul Il Ì8
uOl CvCçhIDg thÜl QCtl3IDä lO CV0j QCt8Ou. ÌnUCCU, tÍ WC C3D 83y lh3l
CODCCQtÌOn8 ätötCë Ol 0OD8CIOuäDCä8, lcCÌÌng8 WH3l I8 sQ0CÌÜC 0nU ÌtVug
aÌäO QCtlöÌn IC CVcty QCt8On, WC hàvC aQQ3rCutÌy IOcD|IUcU 0 unÍVCt88Ì
ÍC0lutC WhÌCh OOcä DOt Ul UDUCt |hC tuDtIC OÍ uDIVctä3ÌIty. ÅDu8, lDC
3bätt3CL rCQuÌtCUcDl OD uDIVcr83Ìì[ QtOUuccä 0 8Ilu3IIOu ID whtch uni-
VCt83ÌIj ÌläClÍ DCC0uCî UCUDÌCU¦ ìn thC Ht8l tDäl3DCc Il Iä 3D8lt3Cl, ID thc
8CCOuU Ìt Iä CODCtctc.
tCgCÌ Qut8uc8 th!8 Ì!uC ID tCl0tIOn lO cmQuCðÌ 3DU HOtðÌ juUgCmCul8,
8hOWUg hOW, C00h Uä!0nCC WhCn lhC uDIVt83Ì CODCCIVCU 0ä 0 ÍC8UtC
OÍ UOughI, It Ìä Q OcHDIlIOD 8CQ3t0lCU ltOD !hc WOIlU tl 8CCK lO KDW
ÅDOughl Iä UDGct8lOOu lO D3Vc W\hID Il8C|Í UC DÌC8 Ì! ECCdä In CtOCt lC
KCW UÌDg8, Ot tO kOW hOW lO act m tCÌ3IICu lC UCm. ³hC Umgä Ucu-
8CÌVC8 3tC uCl gCIu3nC IC lhC QtCDÌCm Cl KOWÌCdgC, 3DU thìnking
DCCCDC8 nOl Cmy 8D8lt3Cl Dul 8Cll-tCÍCtCuU3l. ÅC lhC cXlcD! lh3l mC uDI-
VCtä0ÌI| OÍ UOugD| gudt3ulCC8 ÍtCCdCm¸ ÍtCCOOm ts UCbDcU QtCCI8Cly CCt
0ud 3gam8t m CXlctIOt uÜuCuCC. HCgC OnCc 0g0m InD3DIl8 UC hanttan
QO8IUOD, Omy lC mark hI8 UCQ8DtC lrOm tt Ü lDC cxQOstltOn untOÍds.
ÅhIDkg Ìmmed3tC!y ÌnVOÌVCä jrr60m, UCC8uäC It Iä thC 8CtÌv| OI !hC
unÌVCtäaÌ, 8 äCÌÍ-tCÌ8Ug th8t Iä thCtCÍOtC 3DältßCt, 0 UCIng-WIlh-IläCÌÍ th3l
Iä unOCtCtmÌnCd In nsQCCt ol äuUjCCtIVI[, 8nd WhICh rcäQCCt Ol Ìl8 t0¤-
/r¤/ Ìä, 3t thC 80mC !ÌmC, only Ín thC m0/kr ¸ÌtäCÌq 0nd ID It8
dCICtmu0tIOnâ. 0r8. ZJ, Dt3CKClä Ìn tranäÌ8tIon¡
ÌCgCÌ lhCn QtCCCcU8 tc 388CCI3lC lhI8 CCDCCQl¡ CD Ol 3D8!t3Cl lIcCOOD
IDttID8IC tO !Dc 3Ct OÍ thCUghl WIlh 3 Cctl3ID hUDtI8 - 0 WIÌÌ tO mastc¡,
Wc DÌghl aOd, that BU8l DC CCunlCtCG D¶ ' humiÌI[' anO `mOdCs[´ .
` _IlD tcäQcCl I O Ìl8 CODlcDl, ´ DC wrttcs¦
mìnkng I ä Omy gCnuÌnC . . . ÌuäCÍ3I 8ä ¡ t Ìä ÌmnCtäCO thC mdmr _Íh dtr
O8Ch0 x¸ut¸ , anO wU rCäQCC! tO Ilä ÍOrm mäOÍar d Ìl Iä nOt 0 ]mOmr
Ì d ]UDIIH 8UILDR
being Üî doing o| thC subject, but consists precisely i n this, that COU·
scìousuess conducts ÌtsClÍ as an abstract ' I' , as {:·J |rom e|/ ¡sm:s/sa,
[Icm|anm/] o| ÍCdlU|C8, sta!es, etc. , 3nd dOcä ouly Wh3l is universal, Ìn
VhÌtÌ Ì| is iCCDtÌCa WILh ö individuals ¸para. 23)
Hegcl docs O0l makc c|car ìn what thìs ' univcrsal actìon' consists, but he
docs stipu|atc tna! ìt ìs not rhc 3Cl oI thc sub¡cct' ¡utrh| rtu /r:ºu1rrt: òrta
c4tt 1» 4t: 3s|¸·k/s] , and lh3l Íl is 8omethiug ÌúC lhC rcvcrsc o| any
such act. His universa| actìon is on|y ambiguous|y actìvc. ìt ìmmcrscs
Ì!äCÌÍ Ìu thc íacts cr thc ' mattcr' . ' [ L Consider Cut8CÌVCä as æer0¸ e|
conduct oí this sort' , hc writcs, ' consists ptccìscly ìn thc givìng up
¸c/··oz»|c···o¦ of our ¡ar/tr9lar opìnìons and bc|ìcís and in aUowmg thC
ma//cr jìtsclq to ho|d sway ovcr us ¡tu :trh æa|/ru ¸9 |a::cu| ' gara. 2J) .
Thus, Hcgc| oojccts t o thc |ormulatìon of abstract unìvcrsæiq þ
c|aìmìng that it ìs so|ìpsistìc and that ìt dcnìcs !hC |undamcnta| socìabil-
ìp oí humans. 'lor th3l Ìs just Wh3l ÍtCCOCD U¦ DCmg at hCDC Wlth
oncscl| in onc's othcr, dcpcndìng upon oncsc|| and being onc's ow
dctcrmìnant . . . . lrccdom ¡in thìs abstract 8CnäC] ìs CuÌy QtC8Cul whcrC
therc is no othcr for mc lh3I is uot D]8CÌl´ jar3. ¿1, _9:aµ ¿). ³his, is
in Hcge|'s vicw, a mCtCÌy ' |orma|' |recdom. lor |rccdom to bccomc con-
crctc, thought must ' ìmmcrsc ìtsc|f thc ma/m. buD8CQuCnU_ hc wu|
caution agaìnst |orms oí cmpiricìsm which ho|d that CnC CCuItlDulC8
nothìng to thc CD]CCl, Dul mCrc|
)
traccs thc mmancnt |caturcs lh3l ì|
dìsp|ays. HcgcÌ wm conc|udc that not on|y thc lhÌnkng 8C|f lunda-
mcntaUy rc|ated to what ìt sccks to know, but thc formal 8Cu |oscs I!ä
' íorma|ism' oncc II Iä undcrstood that thc productìon and cxc|usion ol
thc ' concrcte ' is a ncccssaj prccondition íor thc fabrìcatìon o| the
íorma| . Convcrse|y lhC concrcte cannot be 'had' on ìts own, and ìt is
equa||y vaìn to dìsavw thc act oí cognìtìon that dc|ivcrs thc concrctc to
lhc human mìnd as an objcct o| kow|cdge.
Hcge| 's brie| critìcism of Kantian |orma|ìsm undcrscorcs a numbcr
oí points that arc uscíu| to us as wc considcr whethcr ¡C_CÌ´ä DWD phi-
losophy can bc dc|ivcrcd as a íormalìst schema ¬ somcthing Zizck tcnds
to do - and whcther univcrsa|iq can bc understood in tcrms o| a thco-
rctica íorma|ìsm - somcthìng Zìzck, !ac|au ! havc comc c|osc to
doing. In thc mst ìnstance, it sccms crucìa| to 8CC lh3t |orma|ìsm ìs not
RES JAGl NG THE LNl VLRSAL Ì Ü
a mClhCd that cOmcs lrOm nCWhctC 3nU Ìs V3ïÍCuäÌy 3QQÌICU lO CCnCtClC
ä!Iu3lÍCnä Ct Íüuälï3lCO lhtOugh äQCCÌÜC CX3mQlCä. Ln thC CCult3t¶, lOï-
maÌsm ís ttsclI a ptOdUt Ol abstractÌOn, and thts abstractÌOn tCQutIC8 tl8
äCQ3t3ltCn ÍïOm lhC COuCtClC, CuC th3l ÌC3VCä lhC lï3CC Ct tCmðIuUCt Ol
lhls ãcparattOn tu lhC VCty wOtKtug Cl 3Oätï3ClÍCn ll8CÌÍ Íu ClhCt WCtd8,
3Uält3ClICu C3nuCt tCm3Iu ttgCtOu8Ìy 3D8lt3Ct WlhCul CXDtDIlIDg äCmC-
lhÌng Cl what ll musl CxCÌuOC m CïUCt tC CCnälttulC ttäCÌÍ 38 3Dbtt3CltOu.
ÍCgCÌ Wtt\Cä lh8l C3tCgCtIC8 OÍ thCught Wh!CD 3tC CCn8IOCtCO 8uD_CC-
lIVC, 38 t3ul´ä 3tC, QtCUuCC thC CU] CCtÍVC, ` 3ud 3ïC QCtD3DCulÌy lu
3ntIlhC8I8 lO lhC OD]CClIVC ¸J·o |||·»J·» 6·g¬ss( e¬ 0¸·ka:·o ke|t»]
_ara. Zâj . PD8lt3CtÌCu l8 lhu8 CCut3Dlu3tCd QtCCl8CÌy D¶ !hC CCuCtClICH
ÍtOm WhlCh It 8CCk8 tO OUCtCutI3tC tt8CÌÍ. bCCCuU¶, lhC VCty [Cä8IDÌÌtly CÍ
lÌÌu8lt3ltug 3n 3D8tt3Cl QOtul Dy a CCuCtCtC Cx3mQÌC QtC8uQQC8C8 IhC
8CQ3t3ltCu CÍ tÌC 3D8lt3Cl 8ud lhC CCuCtCtC ¬ IudCCd, QtC8uQQC8C8 thC
QtCduCUCu Cl 3u CQl8tCDlC hCÌU UCluCU Dy lh3t Dtu8j CQQCälllCu- ÎÍ IhC
3D8lt3Cl I8 ìtsclí QtCducCd lht0ugh 8CQ3t3llug CÛ 8ud dCnyug lhC CCu-
CtClC, 3ud thC CCuCtCtC CÌtug8 tC lhC 8D8lt8Ct 38 Itä nCCCää8ty
COntamtu3llCu¿ CXQCätu_ thC ÍðtÌutC CÍ ttä fCtu3|l8m tO tCu8!u tlg0t-
Cu8Ìy Il8CÌ] lhCn !l lCüOW8 lh3t thC 8Dätt3Ct I8 ÍuudÜCut8Ì|y UCQCuUCu¡
Cu lhC CCuCtClC, 8ud `l8´ th8t CCuCfClC ClhCt lu 3 W3y WhlCh l8 äj8tCm8t-
lC3lÌy CÌtdCd Dy lhC QOälCttCt aQQC3tanCC Ol lhC COuCtClC 8ä 8u
ìI|ustratìvc CX8mQÌC Cl 3u 3D8lt3Cl ÍCtmðlt8m.
Îu lhC LïC3lCt ÍCgÌC, ´ ÌCgCÌ _VC8 tDC Cx3DQÌC Cl lhC QCt8Cu WhO
lh!nkä th3l hC mt_hl ÌC3tn hOW lO 8Wm Dy ÌC3tulng WD3l I8 ÏCQuìICU
DCÍCtC CntCtlng lhC W3lCt. ÅhC gCtäOu UCC8 uCl tC8Ìt2C th3l CuC ÌC3tu8 tC
äWÌm CuÌy Dy CnlCtÍng lhC W3tCt 3uU Qt3ClÌ8Ìug CuC´8 8ttCkC8 lu lDC DIUäl
OÍ lhc actÌvtty tl8CÌl ÍC_CÌ tmQÌtCttÌy ÌlkCu8 thC b8utt8n lC CuC WhO
äCCk8 lC knCW hCW lC 8Wtm DClCIC 8Clu8ÌÌy 8WtuÏtng, 3uU hC COuutCt8
lhÌä mCdCÌ Cl a äCÌl·QC8äC8äCU CCgutltOu Wlth CuC lh3l gIVCä It8CÌl CVCt tC
lhC 3CtÌVl[ lläCÌl, 3 lCtU Cl kuCWtu_ th3l ìs glVCn CVCt lO thC WCtlU ll
sccks to know. PlhOugh tCgCÌ t8 CUCu UuDDCU 8 QhuC8CµhCt OÍ `u88·
lCty´ , WC C3u äCC hCtC ~ 3nd lu Î8nCy´ä ltCuCh3ut DCOK Cu 1CgCÌ´ ä
tnguÌCluUC´ - that lhC Ck-äl3tIC UläQCäÍltCu OÍ lhC sc|f ¡owards tl8 WCtÌU
undOcs cOgítÌvc u3ätCj° ÍCgCÌ ´8 CW QCt8lälCut tCÍCtCuCC8 tO `ÌO8Iug
OuCäCÌl´ and `gIVug OnC8CÌl OVCt´ CuÌy COuÜtm tDC QCIut lh3t lhC kuCW-
tng 8uD]CCl C3uuOl DC UndCt8lCCd 38 CuC WhC ImQO8Cä fC3dj·u3UC
¿U ]uD! 1H BLTLER
cdtegoriCs on a pregìven worl d Jhe categories are shaped by the world
it seeks to know, just as the wor|d ìs not kown witbout tbe prior action
o| those categories. And |ust as Hege| insists on revising severa| tìmes hìs
vcj deñnìtìon o| ' universa|ip' , so be makes p|aìn tbat tbe categorìes by
whìch the wor|d becomes avaì|ab|e to us are contìnua||y remade by the
eucounter wìth the wor|d that they |acditate. We do not remaìn the
same, and neìthcr do our cognìtive categorìes, as we enter ìnto a kow-
ing encounter wth tbe wond. Both tbe kowìng subject and the wor|d
are undone and redonc by tbe act o| kow|edge.
ln tbe section o| T/t Ikta»mtae/cg ¸ ó¡int

ca||ed 'Reason' , Hegel
makes it c|ear that unìversa|ìq is not Ü |eature o| a sub|ective ccgnitivc
capacìty but |inked to the prob|em oí reciprocal recogition. Moreovcr,
rºcogition itse|| is dependent on custom or Sitt/i:k/tit. 'in the universa|
Substance, the ìndivdual has this ¸rm o| subsistence not on|y |or his
activip as such, but no |ess a|so |or thc ceattat o| that activiµ, what he
does u the sk|| and customary practìce o| a||' ¿araa 35 Ì ) . Recogition
Ì8 not possìb|e apart írom the customary practices in which it takes
p|ace, and so no |orma| condìtions o| recognitìon wi|| sumce. SìmUar|y
to the extent that what Hege| cals the ' universa| Substance' is essentìaBy
conditìoned by customary practìce, the individua| instantìates and repro-
duces that custom In Hege|'s words. ' the indìvidua| ìn hìs iaditidea/
work a|ready s-:a»s:::»sq pertorms a »aiostsa/ work . . .' ,ìbìd. ) .
The ìmp|icatìon o| tbis view ì s that any eüort to establ ìsh unìversa|iq
3ì transcendent CÍ cul tura| norms seems to be impossìb|e A|though
Hege| c|ear|y understands customary practìce, the etbica| order and the
nation as sìmp|e unìties, it does not |o||ow tbat the unìversa|ity which
crosses cu|tures or emerges out o| culturaI|y heterogeneous natìons must
there|ore transcend cultMre ln |act, if Hegel's notion o| unìversa|-
ip is to prove good under conditìons o| hybrìd cu|tures and vacUlating
nationa| boundarìes, ìt wÌ have to bccome a universa|ity |orged through
the VCtk o| cu|tura| trans|atìon. And it wl not be possìb|e to set the
boundaries o| the cu|tures in question, as i| one cu|ture's notion o| uni-
vcrsa|ity cou|d be trans|ated into another's. Cu|tures are not bounded
entities, the mode o| theìr exchange is, in |act, constitutive o| theìr ìden-
tiq ´ I| we are to begn to retbm umversæity m terms oí mis ccnstitutivc
act oí cultura| trans|ation, whch is somethìng I hope to make c|ear | ater
RLS1AOl lU JHE UN! VLRSAL ¿ Ì
on tn my rcmarks, thcn nctthcr a prcsumpttOn oI ÌIngutstìc Or cogÌUVc
cOmmOnncss nOr a tcÌcoÍOgÌcaÍ pOstuÍatc Ot an uÍttmatc tustOn OI æ
cuÌturaÌ hortzOns wÍÌ bc a pOsstbÍc rOutc IOr thc untvcrsa cÍatm.
Yhat ÌmQÍtcatÌOns dOcs thts crtttQuc OI IOrmaÍìsm haVc IOr thc thtnk-
tng ot untVcrsaÌtty ìn pOÍtttcaÌ tcrmsr Ít ts tmpOrtant tO rcmcmbcr that
tOr McgcÍ, thc kc¡ tcrms Ot hts phtÍOsOphìcaÌ VOcabuÍa¡ arc rchcarscd
scVcraÌ ttmcs, and that ncaHy cVcry ttmc thcy arc uttcrcd thcy acCruc a
dtUcrcnt mcantng or rcVcrsc a prtOr Onc. Jhìs ts cspcctaÍÍy truc Ot wOrds
sucb as `uUtVcrsalt[' and ` act', but aÍsO Ot ` cOnsctOusncss' and 'scÍt-
conscÌousncss' . Àhc sccttOn cntttIcd 7bsOÌutc trccdom and ÅcrrOr' tn
Tht Ilmcmtac/c¿ ç S¡tn| draws uQOn prtOr cOnccpttons Ot thc dccd as
tt constdcrs prcctscÍy what an tndtVtduaÌ Can dO undcr cOndttÌOns Ot
statc tcrrOr. ÏrawÌng On thc trcnch KcVOÌutìOn, McgcÍ undcrstanCs thc
ÌndtvtduaÌ as tncapabÌc oI aCttOn whtch [a) acts uQon an Ob¿cct, and [b)
OUcrs a rcÜccttOn tO that tndtvduaÍ OI hts Own acttvty. Àhís was thc
norm Ot acttOn th1t gOVcrncd ¡cgcÍ's prcVtOus dtscusstOn Ot wOrk În thc
` LOrdshtQ and bOndagc' sccttOn. Lndcr cOndiuOns of statc tcrrOr, nO
tndtVÌduaÍ wOrk, Ior nO tndtvduaÌ ts abÌc tO cxtcrnaÍtzc an Ob]cct whtch
carrtcs hts stgnaturc. cOnsctOusncss has ÍOst tts capactty tOr mcdtatcd
scÌI-cxprcsston, and `tt Ícts nOthtng brcak ÍOOsc tO bccOmc a ¸t: agtc|
standtng OVcr agatnst tt' _ara. âbb).
PthOugh thc tndtvtdUaÍ wOrk and Ììvcs undcr a rcgtmc whtch CalÍs
ÌtscÍI `untVcrsaÌtty' and ` absOÍutc IrccdOm' , thc IndÌVIduaÍ cannot hnd
hmscÍÍ m thc untvcrsal work Ot absolutc trccdOm ¡ndccd, thts IatÌurc oI
|hc tndtVduaÌ to hnd a pÌacc tn thts absOÌutc systcm [a crtttQuc ol thc
Jcrror that anttcÌpatcs hcrkcgaard's crtttQuc OI !cgcÌ htmscÍ] cxQOscs
thc Ìtmtts to thÍs nOtton OI untVcrsaÍtty, and hcncc bcÍtcs Ìts cÍatm to
absoÍutcncss. ¡n !cgcÌ's Vtcw, tO pcrIOrm a dccd Onc must bccOmc tndt-
Vduatcd, untVcrsm IrccdOm, dctndìvduatcd, cannOt pcrtOrm a dccde A
Ìt can dO ts tO Vcnt tts Iury, thc Iury OI dcstruCttOn. Jhus, wthtn Uc COn-
dttton ot absOÌutc tcrrOr, actuaÍ scÍt-cOnsctOUsncss bccomcs thc OQpOsìtc
to untVcrsaÌ trccdOm, and thc untVcrsaÌ ts cXpOscd as guaÌthcd, whíCh ts
to say that thc untvcrsaÌ prOVcs tO bc a taÌsc untVcrsa. Uccausc thcrc ts
no roOm tOr scÌI·consctousncss Or thc tndtVtduaÍ undcr thcsc cOndÌttOns,
and bccausc nO dccd can bc pcrIOrmcd that cOntorms wtth thc norm Ot
mcdtatcd scÍI-cxprcsstOn, any ` dccd' that dOcs aQpcar ts radtCaÌÌy
Z¿ ] UDl TH ßUTLER
dishgrcd and Jishgring. Ior Hcgc|, mc on|y dccd tbat cæ appcar i s an
anti-dccd, dcstruction itsc|í, a notbingncss tbat comcs oí a nothingncss.
In his vìcw, lDC so|c work and dccd oí univcrsa| írccdom is thcrcíorc
dcatb ¿ara. 360) .
Not onÌy is thc individua| nu||ihcd and, thcrclorc, dcad, but tbis
dcatb bas both lìtcra| and mctapborica| mcanìngs Jhat ìndìvidua|s
wcrc casiIy kiIled undcr tbc Rcig oí Jcrmr íor tbc sakc oí ' abso|utc
lrccdom' is weU-documcntcd Morcovcr, tbcrc wcrc ìndìvdua|s wbo
survivcd, but dcy arc not 'indivdua|s' in any normativc scnsc. Ðcprivcd
o| rccognition and oí tbc powcr to cxtcrna|izc lhCusClVC8 through
Uccds, such inJivdua|s bccomc nu||itics whosc so|c act is to nu||i[ tbc
world that has nuUihcd tbcm. !í wc arc to ask. Wbat kmd oí írccdom ìs
this ², thc answcr Hcgc| oßcrs is tbat it is ' tbc cmpty point ol thc
abso|utcly lrcc scll' , ' thc coldcst and mcancst oí æ dcaths' , no uOtC sig-
nihcant than 'cutting oh a bcad ol cabbagc or swa||owing a moumíu| oí
watcr' ¿ara. ôD0) .
ÍCgCÌ Í8 ClC8tÌj CX
]
O8Ín
[
what happcn8 wbcn a íaction scts itsc|í up
as thc univcrsa| and c|aìms to rcprcscnt thc gcncra| wi||, wbcrc tbc gcn-
cral wU| supCIbcdcs thc individua| wiI|s oí whicb it is composcd and, in
|act, cxists at thcir cxpcnsc. Jbc wÌ that is omcìally rcprcscntcd by thc
gOVCïumcHl is thus hauntcd by a ' wi||' tbat is cxc|udcd ltOu tbc rcprc-
scntativc lunction. Jhus tbc govcrnmcnt is cäL3DÌI8hCU on tbc basis oí a
paranoid cconomy in which it must rcpcatcdy cstablisb its onc claim to
un|vcrsa|ity by crasing a|l rcmnants o| thosc wil|s it cxc|udcs írom thc
domain oí rcprcscntation. Jbosc wbosc wü|s arc not omcia||y rcprc-
scntcd or rccognizcd constitutc 'an unrca| purc Wl´ ¿ara. 5D | ), and
sincc tbat Wl is not known, Il is inccssant|y conjccturcd and suspcctcd.
In an apparcnt|y paranoid ht, unÍVrsaÌity tbus disp|ays and cnacts tbc
vo|cnt scparations oí its ow íoundìng. Abso|utc írccdom bccomcs tbis
abstract sc|í-consciousncss whicb undcrstands annibi|atìon to bc its
WCtK, and e0accs ¸annìhUatcs) a|| tracc ol tbc altcrity that c|ing to Itø
At tbis stagc oí Hcgc|'s cxposition, thc hgurc oí an annìhi|atìng uni-
vcrsa|iq tbat assumcs an animatcd lorm para||c|s thc ' Lord' oí thc
` !ordship and Bondagc` scction. A its anni!ìIation bccomcs objcctivc to
it, this ` unIVCIl8lIj´, hgurcd Ü a scnticnt bcìng, is said to íccl tbe tcrror
ol dcatb. 'thc tcrror dcath is thc vsion ol tbìs ncgativc naturc ol
KL5TAOl NO THL UNl VEK5AL ?3
itscII' gara. 59?) . Not on|y docs univcrsa|ity scc ìtsc|I as ncgativc, and
thus as thc opposìtc oI what ìt thought it was¦ ìt aIso undcrgocs thc
purc transìtion |rom onc cxtrcmc to thc othcr, and so comcs to know
ìtse|I as transitìcn - that ìs, as that whìch has ncgatìon as ìts csscntial
activty_ and is itsc|I a|so subjcct to ncgation.
Athough univcrsaIìq at mst dcnotcd tbat whìch is self-ìdcnticm to ah
human bcìngs, ìt |oscs that sc|I-idcntity as a conscqucncc oI its relusa| tc
accommodate al| humans wìthin ìts purcw. lt bccomcs not only sp|it
betwcen an cmcia| and a spectra| univcrsa|ìq but it bccomcs dísmcm-
bercd into an cstatc systcm wbich rehccts thc dìvìdcd character oI thc
wih and thc discontinuitics ìnhcrcnt in this vcrsion of univcrsa|iq. 1hosc
who are disposscssed or rcmain radìca|| y unrcprcscntcd by tbc gcncra|
wu| or the universa| do not rise to thc |cvc| of thc rccognítab|y human
wìthìn its tcrms. The 'human' who is outsidc that gcnera| w|| is subject
to annìhi|ation by it, but thìs ìs not an annihi|ation from whìch mcaning
can be dervcd. its annmuation ìs nihmsm. In Hcgc|'s tcrms. 'ìts ncgation
is the death that is without mcanmg, thc shcer tcrror oI thc ncgativc that
contains nothing positivc . . . ` ¿ara. 591).
Hege| dcscribes the nihuistic consequences oí forma| notions of uni-
versa|ity in graphic tcrms. Jo thc extcnt that univcrsa|ity !ai|s to
embracc a|| partìcu|arity and, on thc contraç is budt upon a funda-
menta| hosti|ity to particu|arity, it continucs to bc and to animatc thc
veç hosti|ity by which ìt is Iounded. Jhc universa| can be thc univcrsa|
on|y to thc extent that it remains untainted by what is particular, con-
crete, and ìndivdual . Jhus it rcquircs thc constant and meanìng|ess
v3nibhing oI the indvdua|, which is dramatìcæy disp|aycd by thc Keign
o| Jcrror. For Hcgc|, this abstract univcrsa|ity not on|y requircs that
vanishing, and cnacts that ncgation, but it is so fundamcnta||y dcpcnd-
cnt upon that vanishing that wìthout that vanishìng ìt wou|d bc nothing.
Without that vanìshing immcdiacy, wc might say, univcrsality itscII
wou|d vanisb. ßut cithcr way, universa|ity is notbing without ìts vanìsb-
ing whìch mcans, ìn HcgcIìan tcrms, that it 'ìs' that vcry vanísbìng.
Oncc the transience cí individua| |ìIe ìs undcrstood as cruciaI to thc
opcration oI abstract univcrsa|ity, unìversa|ity itse|f vanìshcs as a
conccpt which ìs said to inc|ude a|| such ÌuC. 'thìs vanishcd imedìacy ìs
thc univcrsa| wú| itse|f' [para. 591) .
Z1 _LL1 ÅM b\ÅÍtÛ
^ÌlhCugh :l U3y 8cCU lh3l ÍCgcÌ I 8 WOtkJDg lCW3IU8 8 ltuc 3nU 3b-
lD0Ìu8IVc uD:VcI83l!lÿ lhI8 :8 DCl lhC C38C. b3lhct, Wh3l hc CÜct8 :8 3
V?W Cl un:Vcr83Ì!ly lh3l Ì8 !n8cQ3t3D!c ltCU :l8 lCUnUIng ncg3l:Cn8. ÅhC
a!Ì-cnCCuQ388Ing lI3]CClC¡ Cl lhc IctU !8 ncCc883t:!y unUCDc Dy lhc
C×CÌU8!OD OÍ Q3ïlICuÌ3IÌlj CD WhICh \l tcïl8. ¹hctc I8 DC W3y lC DtIDg lhc
CXCÌuUcU Q3tl!Cu!3t!ty IDlC lhc unìversa| wthout Ht8! nCg3l!Dg lh3l Q3t-
l!tUÌ 3t!ty. ^nU !h3t ncg3l!CD WCuÌ O eo|y CODÛtU CDCC 3g3!n lh3!
uuiversali ty C3DDO! QtCCccU W:lhOuI Uc8ltCyIng lh3l Wh:Ch :l QutQCIl8 lC
:D¯Ì UUc. ÀOtcOVct, lhc 388:u:!u|:CD Cl lhC Q3tlICu!3t :DlO lhc uDIVct88
ÌcòVc8 its lt3Cc, 3D un388:U:!3DÌc tcu3!ndcr, Wh!Ch rCnUcts uDIVCt83Ì:j
ghosdy lC Il8CÌÍ
Åhc tc3UIDg ! h3Vc DccD CHct!Dg hctc Qtc8uQQO8c8 lh3l Ícgc!´8 :Uc38
C3uDCl Dc Ic3U 3Q3t! ÍtCU h\8 lcXl. In Clhct WOtU8, !! !8 DCl QO88!DÌc |C
CU|Ì ` Ihc lhcC¡ OÍ un:Vct83Í:|y´ ltCU h:8 lcXl 3nU CÜct !l \D UÌ8CtcIc 3uU
QÌ8Ìn QtCQC8:|:CD8, DcC3ulc lhC nClIOD :8 UcVCÌCQcU lhtCugh 3 tc\lct3l:Vc
|cXlu3Ì 8lt3lcg ÎCl CDÌy UCc8 uD:Vci83Ì!ly uDdcIgC tCV!8IOD :n l:UC,
Dul its 8uCCc88IVc tCV8\OD8 3DU U!88CÌulICD8 3tc C88cDt:3l IC Wh3t
ÅÌc QtOQC8!lICD3! 8cn8c C! lhC COQuÌ3 uu8l Dc rep|aced W:lh lhc 8QcCu-
!3lÌVc Cnc.
h U3y 8CcU lh3l 8UCh d IcuQCt3Ì:2cU COnCcQl!CD Ol uDIVct83ÌIly h38
!ÌIlÌc lC UC WÌlh Ihc tCgICD CÍ QC!:l:C8, Dul CCn8:Uct lhC QCÌ!I:C3Ì t:8k8 C!
U3!nl3!DIDg 3 8l3l:C CCDCcQl:On¸ CnC lh3l Í3IÌ8 lC 3CCCuuCU3lc Ch3Ì-
ÌcDgc, ODC Ih3l tcÍu8C8 |O tC8QCDU lC Il8 CWu CCD8lIlulIVC CXC!u8ICn8.
Åhu8 Wc C3D CCuc !C 8CUc QtcÌ\m:n3¡ CCnC!u8tCn8 3DCul ÌcgCÌ´8
QtCCcUutc hcIC. [ Ì ] un:Vct83ÌIly :8 3 u3Uc Wh:Ch uuUCtgCC8 8Ig:DC3ul
3CCtu3!8 3nU tcVct83Ì8 C! UC3n\ng, 3DU C3DDCl DC tCUuCCU lC 3ny Cl Il8
CCD8lilul:Vc `uOUCDl8´ , [Z) :l :8 :DCVJl3D!j h3unlcU Uy lhc lt3CC Cl lhC
Q3ïI:CuÌ3t lh!n_ IC Wh:Ch :l :8 CQQC8CU¸ 3nU lh:8 I3kc8 lhC ÍCtU [3¡ CÍ 3
8QcClt8Ì UOuDlIDg CÍ uu:Vct83!:j, 3nU [Dj C!:Dg:ng CÍ lh3l Q3tlICul3t
lh!ng lO un:Vct83ÌIj Il8CÌ| cXQC8:Dg lhc !Ctu3!:8U CÍ :l8 CÌ3Iu 88 nCCC8-
83ïdy :uQuIc, [ó) lhc tCl3l!On CÍ untVct83ÌÌj lC :l8 Cu!lut3Ì 3tl:Cu!3lIOu I8
:D8UQct3D!c¸ lhI8 mcans lh3l 3Dy lt3D8CuÌluI3! DClÌOD C! lhc uD\Vct83Ì
WU! Dc 8QcClt3!!2cU 3DU 8l3!DcU Dy thc Cu!lut3Ì DCIU8 :l QuIQCIl8 lC
lt0U8CcnU¸ 3DU [+) DC nOl:CD C! uDIVct83!:ly C3n Ic8I C38IÌy W:lhÌn lhC
DOl:CD 3 8IDgÌc ` CuÌ luIc´ , 8!nCc lhc ve( CCDCcQl CÍ un!VCt83Ì:ly CCu-
QcÌ8 3n uDUct8l3DU!Dg Cl CuÌlutc 38 3 t0Ì3l:Cn Ol cXCh3DgC 3nU 3 l38K C!
RESTAOl NO THE UNlVERSAL ?ô
translatìon. ln tcrms whìch wc mìght ca|| Hcgc|ian - but which HcgcI
himsc|í dìd not usc - ìt bccomcs ncccssa¡ to scc thc notion oí d discrctc
and cntitativc 'cu|turc' as csscntia||y othcr to ìtsc|í, ìn a dchnìtìona| reIa-
tionsbip wtb alterip
s
Ad hcrc wc arc not rcIcrnng to eot cu|turc which
dcímcs itsc|f over and agaìnst aue|/~, íor that íormuIation prcscrcs thc
notion oí ' cu|ture' as a wholism. Òn thc contrary, wc arc scCkng to
approach thc notion of cu|turc in tcrms oí a dchning prob|cm oI trans-
lation, onc which is sìgniñcantly rc|atcd to thc prob|cm oí cross·cuIturaI
transIation that thc conccpt ol univcrsa|ity has bccomc.
This juncture oí my argumcnt is onc p|acc whcrc my dìhcrcnccs
with Lac|au and
_
izck mìght bc most L|car|y undcrstood. \uC dìücr-
encc that is doubt|css apparcnt is that my approach to Hcgcl draws
upon a ccrtain sct oí Iìtcrary and rhctorica| presumptions about how
meaning ìs gcncratcd m hlä tcxt. l thcrcíorc opposc thc cdort to construc
Hcgc| ìn íorma| tcrms or, indccd, to rcndcr him compatìbIc with a
Kantian íorma|ìsm, which is somcthing
_
izck has donc on occasion.
s
Any cñort to rcducc HCgc| 's own tcxt to a íorma| schcmatism wì||
bccomc subjcct to thc vcry samc critiquc that HcgcI hæ oücrcd oí aU
ºuch fcrmalisms, and subj cct to thc samc íoundcrings.
Kadng 'HcgeI's ¨Logc oí Esscncc' ' ' ,
Ì U
_
izck considcrs mc Hcgc|ìan
paradox that whatcvcr a thing 'is' is dctcrmincd by its cxtcrna| condi-
tions, that is, thc histoHca| condìtìons oí its cmcrgcncc, írom whìch it
acquircs its spcciñc attributcs. ' aítcr wc dccomposc an ob|cct ìnto ìts
ìngrcdicnts, wc |ook ìn vaìn lu thcm íor somc spccìhc ícaturc whìch
hoIds togctbcr this mu|tìtudc and makcs oí it a unìquc, scIí-ìdcnticaI
thing' This cßort to hnd thc dchning Icaturc ìntcrna| to tbc
objcct is thwartcd, howcvcr, by thc rccognition - notcd abovc - that a
tbing is condìtìoncd by its cxtcrna| cìrcumstanccs. What happcns,
according to
_
ìzck, ìs tbat a 'purc|y sybo|ìc, tautoIogcaI gcsturc . . .
posit ¸s| thcsc cxtcrnal conditìons as thc conditions-componcnts oí thc
thing' ¸ibid. ) . ln othcr words, conditions that arc cxtcrna| to thc thing arc
positcd as intcrna| and immancnt to thc thing. !urthcrmorc, at thc samc
timc that cxtcrnal and arbitraç conditions arc rendcrcd as immancnt
and necessap Icaturcs o| tbe thing, thc thing is a|so groundcd and uni-
hcd by this pcríormativc act of dcñnition. This is what
_
izck rcícrs to as
'the tauto|ogica| ¨rcturn oí thc thing to itsclí' ' ¸ibid. ) . This ' positing' is
¿0 ]UDl TH BUTLLR
a sIcight o| hand, no doubt, but i t i s a |ounding and nccessary one, and
for Zizel it takes the |orm o| a univcrsa| |eature o| a|| 80lÜOOU.
¿
izek continues his cxposition by suggesting a para|lc| UClwCCn this
Hcgelian momcnt and what Lacan ca||s the `]1 t¤/ 6t t0]t/1h´¸ whcrc an
arbitraç sig not on|y appcars esscntia| to what it signihes, but active|y
or
]
anìzcs tbe thing uodcr thc sig itsc|| With charactcristic humour and
br+vado, Zìzck then suggests that this Lacanian notion can be casdy
i||ustratc
q
U¶ the kil l cr shark in Spic|berg's ¸sas, whicb 'provides a
common "container" Ior e o « Irec-ßoating, inconsistcnt |ears' ¿. l 19) ,
socìaI in nature, such as thc intrusions o| govcrnment and big business,
ìmmigration, po|ìtica| instabì|ity Thc ¡ciat Jt :a¡t|ca or ' containcr'
' anchors ' and ' rciücs' this unruly sct oí socia| mcanings, aod ' b|ock¡s|
any |urtbcr inquiry into thc sociæ mcaning' ¸ibid. ) .
What InIct08Iä mc in this cxposìtion is thc forma| and transposabIe
chæacter oI ue períormative act that
_
izek so dch|y idcntihes. !s me act
o| tauto| ogica| positing by which an e×tcrna| condItion comes to appcar
Ü immanent tbc same as thc ¡cta| 6t ca¡i|c», and can the instancc oí pop-
ular cu|turc be uscd to il|ustratc this |orma| point which ìs, as wcre,
a|ready true, prior to its cxemp|ihcatìonr HegeI's point against Kant
was prccìse|y that we cannot ìdcntµ sucb structurcs hrst an
q
thcn app|y
them their examp|cs, Ior in thc instance oI thcir ' app|icatìon' thcy
becomc somcthing othcr than what thcy werc. The |ink betwccn uco-
retica| |orma|ism and a tcchno|ogca| approach to thc examp|c bccomcs
cxpIicit hcre. theory is app|icd to its examp|es, and its tClaIIOn to its
examp|e is an ' externa|' onc, ín Hcgc|ian terms. The thcop is articu-
|ated on its se||-sumcicncy, and thcn shihs register on|y |or the
pedagogca| purpose o| mustrating an a|rcady accomp|ishcd truth.
Athough l do bavc otjcctions to a tcchnologica| approach to thcory,
and to thc |ink betwcen Iorma|ism and tcchnology that |eaves Ìtä Ct]cCt
outside, u¶ stronger conccrn has to do wth how wc rcad the momcnt oI
arbitrariness and how we approach thc prob|em oI thc rcmaindcr.
_
izek
oüers us Ü too| which we can use in a grcat variety o| contcxts lO sce bow
d ttansexemp|ary idcntity-constituting Iunction works. A sct o| |ears
ao
q
acties emerges, a name is retroactIve|y aod arbìtrarüy attached to
those |ears and anxieties. sudden|y, that bund|c o| |ears and anxieties
becomes a sing|c thing, and that thing comes to |unction as a cause or
R£8TACl NC THE UNl VLR8AL
groOuU Ol ½haÍcNcr Is dIsturbing. What hrst appcarcd as a dìsoIgantZcd
hc|d o| sOCI8Ì 8HXtcþ is transformcd by a ccrtaÎn pcrícrmatìvc cpcraticn
ìnto an ordcrcd unìvcrsc with an identihaDÍc C3u8C. ÎO doubt thcrc ts
great aIaÌ]tIc powcr tc this formuÌatÌon, and its brt||ì3nCc doubt
accounts ÍOt ZIzcks wcü·carncd IcQUtatton as a scaIIng 8CCI0l CrttÌC.
But what Ìs Îhc p|aCc and ttmc OÍ thts QcHoImattvc CpcIaLIOI` LCC8
il haQpcn in æ pÌaccs 8ud tmes³ Is Il an tnvariant tcaturc Ol huÏaU cuÍ-
tUrc, OI Ìanguagc, ol thc namc, Ct ts tt IcstIICtcd to thc powcrs of
nomtn8libm within ModcInI|! Ps a toOÍ that C3D bc t¡aDsQscd ÍDm
any and cvcry contcxt On to any and c¹cç objcct, ìt cpcratcs prcciscly
as a thcorcttCaÌ tcttsh that dIºaVOws thc cOndItÌO¡s oF Its Cw CmCIgcnCC.
Ztzck makcs tt cÍcar that lhÍs !0utClCgIC0Ì gc8tuIC by WhÌCD an Ob_cCt
ìs |ormcd aMd dchncd and suDscQucntÍy antmatcd as a Causc, is a\ways
8uU ouÍy |cnuUus . ¯hc cOntìugcnLy that thc namc sccks lO 5uDOuC
rctUrns prccIsc|y as Îhc spcctrc Ol thc thtng`s dissOÍuttOn. Åhc IcÌdtIon
bChccn lhat coBttIgcncy and thc conícrral ot ncccsstþ ts dt8cLÎìca¿ in
¿
izck's vcw, sincc thc onc tcrm can casily turn tnto thc oÎhcI. ML¡cONcr¿
thc act is ODC that can bc lOuDU ìn both hant and HcgcI. HcgcÌ_ `Il
is ouÌy thc suD¿cLt's Ircc act Ot ¨dOtttng thC I´ which rct¡oactìvcÌy mºtMº
ncccssìp' [p. I â0j . urthcI aIong, Ztzck argucs. ` thc ºamc tautoIogcal
gcs|u¡c is a|rcady at WOIK tn hant's analyIc of purc rcason. thc sythc-
sìs cf thc muÍtÌtUde ol 5cDsattons tn thc IcQrcscnlattCn Ol lhC Cb_CCl . ç µ
¡tnvoÍvcs thc¿ posIttng ol an X as thc uDKDOWB substratum ot thc pcr-
ccivcd phcnomena| scnsatìCns [ìbÌdo ) ø Àhat `2` ìs posìtcd, bUl tt is
precìsely cmpty¡ Wthout LOutcnt, 3D ` 3Cl Ol pOrc ÍCrm0l CCnVCt8ICD´
whÌCh ÌnäI0tCä uDÌj, and constìtutcs thc act Ot ºymboÍtzatton that
_
lzck
hnUs cQuaÌÌy tns Îantìatcd ID thc WOtK Ol Hcgc| aOd hant.
YÌ8l Is necessary |or this act ol sybO|Izatìon to takc Q|aCc ìs 0 Ccr-
tain l inguistic lunction of pOsttÌng, whtch rctrOactIvcÌy Confers nCccssìç
L¡ thc object ¸sigtñcd) lh¡ough thc uamc [sì_DÌhcr) lh3l tt uses Lnc
m!gh| spCcu!H|c. tbc act o| syboÌizatìon brcaks apart whcn t t ñnds
that ìt C8un0l m8IDl8In the un! | that Il produCcs, whcn thc sociaI |orccs
ìt seeks to quc|l and unIþ break thrL\gh tbe dLmc5tìcatIIg vcnccr Ol thc
came Interesting|y, though¸ Zizck does not cOHstdcr the socìa| disrup-
|!on ol |h!s 8CL OÍ sybo|izatìon, but centres instead on thc 'surplus' U3l
is produced þ thìs 3C| OÍ Q0sI|Iu_. ¯hcrc ts an cXpcLÎaUon OI a mCaMÌDg,
Zd ]uD| 1N uUIL|k
3 SuO8|3uCC, IÌal tä at OnCc pIOGucCU 3uG lhw3IIcd Uy IhC ÍOtmM 3CI oí
QCsÍttng. Jhc idCnlij that tÌC n0mC COnÍCtä tUtnä Out lO DC cmpty, 3uU
!Btä in8Ight intc Ìtä cmQtinc88 QtOduCcä a critica po8ttion On thC n3lu-
rölÌztng cHCC|8 OÍ thI8 n3mÌug QïCCC88. ÅhC CDQCtOI h3ä uO CÌO|hC8,
3HO wc atC somchow tcli cvcU 0l thC ptcjudiCt 3uU QhODlC ÌOgC8 th3l
cälöDlÌäÌ tÌC _CWä' Ot 3uO!hcI CtÌntc mÍnOtily ð thc `C3uäC´ Ol 3u 3It3y
o| social anetìcs. ÏOt
g
Í2CK, lhC CttttC8 uCuCul CDCtgC8 whCu wc atC
3DÍC lO 8CC lhÌ8 8ttuClutC l3lÌ 3Q3tl, 3ud whCu !hC 8uD8t3utt3l 3uG
C8Uä3IÌVC lOICC ölIïÍDu|CC lO 3 singlc !hÌn_ lhtOugh lhC n3mC I8 CxQO8CG
3ä ötDÌtt3tuy 3llïÌDutCO.
milaI|y lhiä h3pQcus whCu wc mm wC h3VC lODuU d pomt Ol OQQO·
8tlt0u lO dODtu3ltOu¸ and thcn rcaizc th3t tÌ3t VC¡ poinl Ol opposition
is lhC ÌnäItumCnI IhtOugh Which GOutu3ttOu WOtk8, 3ud lh3t WC h3VC
unWltÌugÌy CulCICCU thC pOwCïs Ol GOutu3ltCu tÌtOugh Our Q3ttICIQ3-
tion m Ítä OQpOstliOn. ÍOmÌn3uCC 3QQC3ïä UOsl CHCCttVCÌy prcci8cly 3s its
'ÒIhcr' . ThC cOd3p8C OÍ thc diacctic giVC8 u8 3 ncw pcrspcctivc DCc3u8c
tl sbows us m3t thc vcry schcma þ WbÍCÌ OOmm3nCC æO OQQOäÌuOU arc
CislÌnguiähCC dissimuIatcs thc Iu8ttuucuI3l u8c lh0l lÌC lOtmCt m0kC8 Ol
thc Ì3ttcr.
Ín IhCäC 0nU nUmCtOUä OIÌCt m8tances, ZÌ2CK gVc8 us 3 cmtica| QCt-
äQ0Ct!vC IhaI ÌUVOÌVCä tcthÌnking thc way tu WhICÌ nCCCääÌt¡¸ cOnlÌngcnCy
auO cppo8ÌttOn 8tC !ÌCUghI within cvcjday ÌtÍc. But WÌCtC doC8 onc go
ÍlOm ÌCIC` LOCä IÌC C×þOsÌItOn OÍ 3u 3QCtÌ3, cvcn a cOustilutiVc 3QOrÌ3
at thc ÌCVCÍ OÍ tbc | i ngÌ8tìC pcr|ormativc, wOtK iu thc servicc Ol 3
COUUICI-hCgCmCnÌc pto¡CcI Yh3! Ì8 thC te|d!ion OÍ thÌä ÍOtm3 cxposurc
oí ía|sc suUsI3uCC 3nC Ia|sc COnII0OICIÌOn to thc prOjCCt OÍ hc
]
cmony! Íl
IÌ0äC tc 8CDC O! thc trìck |h0I ÌcgCmOny uses, sOmC o| thc ways In
whÌCh wC COm0 IO ClUCt lhC sCCÍ3Ì WOtÌO agdtnst Ì!8 COuIÌugCncy, IhCn ÌI
is ÌnOuUÌI3DÌy ÌnäÌghtÍuÌ . Üul iI WC Caunct sec hOw äOmCIhing nCW mÌghl
COmC OÍ äuCh \nVatÍ0nt äItuCIurC8, UOCä ÌI hclp u8 lO äCC hOW ncw 8OCI3Ì
3uG po|itical articu|ations can DC WtOught ÍïOm thc 8uÌVct8tCu Ol thC
n3Iut3Ì llttuOC wÌIÌÌH WÌÌCÌ WC ÌÌVC:
ÀOïCOvct, IhCtC Ìä 3 GißCIcuCC hcrc bctwccn 3 8ltuClut3Ì 3uU 3 CuÌ-
!ut3Ì 3CCCuu! OÍ pctÍOrm3ttVtÿ uudCt8lOOO 38 lhC pOsttiug ÍunClIOn Ol
Ì3uguagC.
g
ÍZCk ähOWä hOW tÌÌä QO8tltug Ctc3lC8 lhC 3QQc3I3uCc oí its
uCCC8ä3[ gtOunU 8nO c3usMtQ 8nd lÌÌä is äutcly nOt unÌd0 IhC 0CCOunt
RESTAOl NO THE UNl VERSAL ?9
OI gender perIormatìvty Í have oûered ìn C:aJtr T»e/lt 8nU e|se-
where. There ! suggested that the performance of gender creates the
üusìon Ol a QrÌOr substantia|ìty - a core gendered se|f - and ccnstrues
the eßects of the performative ritua| of gender as necessary emana-
tìons or causa| consequences of that prìor substance. But where
¿
izek
iso|ates the structura| features of linguistic QOsIttng and oûers cuItura|
examples to ü|ustrate thìs structura| truth, am, ! be|ìeve, more con-
cerned to rethink performatìvq as cu|tura| rituæ, as the reiteration of
cu|tura| norms, as me habìtus oF the body ìn which structuræ and socia
dimensious of meanìng are not ñna|ly separab|e.
It seems ìmportant to remember that 'hegemony' - as de5ned
Atonìo Cramscì and e|aborated by both Chanta| Mouüe and Ernesto
!ac|au ìn H·g¬ss¸ soJ Ssc:s/ut St·ot·g - Ccntrmly ÌnVOÌVCU thC possibì|-
iq of new artìcu|atìons of po|itica| formations. Yhal
¿
ìzek oüers us is
an ìnsight mto invarìant aporetic and metaeptìc structures that amct æ
perFormatìvity within po|ìtìcs. The ìncommensurabì|ity between the
genera|ìzed Formu|ation and ìts ì|lustratìve e×amp|es con5rms that the
ConteXt IOr the reversa|s he ìdentì5es ìs extraneous to theìr structure.
Hegemony did ìnvo|ve a critica| Ìntcrrogatìon Ol consent as weD, and it
sccms to me mat Zizek COntÍnucs thìs uaditìon by showmg us how power
compels us to COnscnt t
9
that which CCu8It3Iu8 1b¿ aud hOW Our very
sense o| Írecdom Or reäìstönCe can be the dissimu|ated ìnstrument of
domìnance. 8ut what remains |ess c|ear to me is how one moves bcjOnd
such d OÍaÌcctiCal ïcvcrsa| or ìmpasse to s OmcthÍng newa How wou|d the
new be produced IrOm an aua|ysìs OI the socia| ñe|d that rcmaÍns
ïcsIïÍCtcO IO InVcr:ìons, aQOrÍös and reversals that work regard|css of
tImc ano p|dcc! Í0 these reversa|s produce something other than theìr
own stÏuLtural|y ÍOcntÍCaÌ ïcQcI\lIOns:
Jhc other aspect ol hegemony, however, which is concerned wìth
new po|itìca| artìcu|ations o| the socìa| he|d, structures Lac|au's rccent
work. ^ä ! have suggested e|sewhere,
| z
I have some doubts over whcther
the ¡öCönIan thesìs ìn Lac|au's work, which emphasìzes the Rea| a8 the
limit-poìnt OÍ all sub¡ ect-|ormatìon, ìs compatib|e with the socìa| and
QOÌÌtIca| analysis hC provìdes. No doubt it makes a diüerence whether
one understands the ì nvarìab|e incomp|eteness of the subject ì n
Icïms OI the |imìts dcsÍgalcO by the Rea|, consìdered as the point
JU ]UÐl TH
whcre se|l-represcntatìon Iounders and IaìIs, or as the ìnabi|ìty oí thc
sccìa| category to capturc the mobì|ìty and comp|cxìq oí pcrsons ¸sec
Òcnìsc Rì|ey's rcccnt work ' ln any case, that ìs not my maìn concern
here. AIthoOgh Lac|au oûers u8 a dynamic notion oí hcgcmony which
seeks to Gnd sccia| |ocatìons íor mc po|ìtìcæy ncw, Î havc some dimcu|ty
wìtb hìs way OÍ castìng the probIem oí particu|ar and unìvcrsa|. l pro-
pO8e, lDCn, lO lurD lC 8CmC CÍ hìs recent ÍOrmuÌa!ìCns Ol that probÌCm,
and lC return to a consìdcratìon oí the QrCbÌem of unlVet83Ìity and
hegemony towards tbe eod Cl lhI8 dìscussìon.
ln his edited vo|ume Tht ÆaHg ¸ Ie/|ti:a/ !·at|t|ts, ' ¹ Lac|au draws
attcntìon to a ' doub|e movemcnt' Ìn lhC poÌìtìcì2ation Cl ìdcntìtìcs at the
end oí the twentìcth ccntuj.
ÅhCrc is d OcCÌÍnc bom of Uc gïC3I ÌÌälOrÌC8Ì aClOrs and OÍ Uoãc CCD|ïö
public spaces whcre decìsìons meaningu |Or socieq d a WhOÌC ÞaO
UOcn |æ0n Ìn lhc Qast. ÜUl, al lhc samc lÍmC, lhcrc Ìs a pohticìzation o|
Vast arcaä ol ãCCÍ8 ÌÌÍc lÞal OQCns lÞc Way lOt a QrOÌÌÍCralÍOn of QarttCu-
ÌarätÍC ÌOcnlÌlÍCä. _. 1)
Concerned wm thc cha|Ieoges posed by ' the cmcrgence oI a p|ura|iq Ol
new 8ubjCctS that havc escaped lhC CÌ388ÌC8Ì lr3mCWCtK8´ [ìbÌd. ¡, L3CÌ3u
prOCCedä to reOect on the chalIenge that thCsC QarlÌCuÌ3tÌ8us go8e to the
En|ightenment 8CDCu3 io which lhe UnÌVCt83Ì CÌ8Ìm8 o| the sub¡ect are
a pteie
g
ui8ite lor
_
o|iIÌc8 ìn the proper scnsc. ' '
Î30Ì3u8 mOSt sustained discusslon o | unÌVCt83ÌÍl] ìn re|ation to thc
present pO|iliCa| demands o| Q3tlÌCuÌ3tÌ8m takcs p|ace in Lmaa:qat|ea¸s)
¸ l 99ö, , '
-
where be secks to derìve a conceptìon oI unìversa|ìty from thc
chaìn Cl CQuÌV3ÌCnCC, 3 concept tbat ìs centra| to Htgmeq aad Soc|a/|s/
&rattg, pub|ished a decade C3tÌÌCt. In Lmaa:tþa/ieu¦s), ÍacÌau attcmpts to
show that each and evep Q3tticu|at identìty ìs ncver comp|etc in its
eûort to achìeve sc|f-determìnatìon. A particu|ar idcntìty l8 understood
to be one that ìs tìed to a specìhc content, such as gCnUCt¸ racc or
ethniCÌj. The structural |eaturc that 3Ìl these ìdcntìties are saìd to sharc
ìs a constìtutivc ìncomp|eteness. P partìcu|ar ìdentìq becomcs an ìdcn·
tip þ vrtue Cl its re|ative |ocation ìn an open systcm oí diûcrcntia|
tCÌ3tICn8. Ín Other words, an ìdentìty ìs constìtuted through its dìderence
RE8TACl NC THE UNl VERSAl óÌ
from a |ìiUess set of other identities. That diûerence i s specmed i n the
course of Lac|au's exposition as a re|ation of rxc|u0¤ and/or 0NMg0¤u.
Lac|au´s point oF relerence here is Saussure rather tan Hegel, and this
ìmQ|ìes that the dißerences which constitute ¸and inVaIiably Iimit) the
posìtìng of identity are not binary ìn characte1, and that they bcIong to
a ñeld of oQeIation that laCks totalìty. One might pro5tab|y argue
agaìnst the trope of Hege|'s phüosophy as ` Iot8izing´ , ' ' and one might
asO note mat LaHau oßers a poststructura|ist revision of 8aussure in this
discussion, but such debates on the status of totalìq, whde they are
ìDporlant, take us in another direction. In 0ny C0sC¸ we are, I bclleve, in
agIeemenI that the he|d o| dìßerenIìal re|ations from whìch any and a|l
paItìcuar ìdentìtìes emerge must be limit|ess. Moreover, the ` in0om-
p|eteness' o| each and every ìdentity is a dìrect resu|t of its dìñerentìa|
emergence. no patìcular identity can emerge wìthout QresDUing and
enacting the exc|usìon o| others, and mÌs constitutive eXcusion or antag-
onism is the sharcd and equal condìtion o| a|l identìty-constitutìon.
Wat becomes interestìng is the ro|e that this |imitless ñe|d of dDer-
entially based deEnìtions [lays fo: Laclau in the theorization o|
unÌvcrsaÌÌ| Wen Ue cDain of equìvaence is oQeratìonalìzed Ü a polit-
ical ca|ego¡, ìt requires that [articu|ar ìdenti!ìes ackow|edge tha| they
share WÍlh oIhei such ìdentitì0s the 8Ìtuatìon o| a necessarJy incomp|ete
dctcrmìnatìon. They are fundamentahy the set of dmerences by which
they eme:ge, and this set of dmerences constìtutes Ue structura| fcatures
of the domain of polìtìCal socialìq lt any such particu|at ideHtity seeks
to unìversa|ize its own sìtu0Iìon wìthout recognizìng that othcr such
ìdentities are ìn an identica| structura| situatìon, ìt wì|| faìl to achieve an
aßiance with other emergent identities, and wû| mistaken|y identi[ the
meanìng and place ol universa|iq ìtse|f The universa|ization of the
particu|ar seeks to elevate a specìGc content to a g|obal conditìon,
making an emQire of its |oca| meaoing. Where universa|ity Ì 8 to be
found, according to Lac|au, i t is as an 'empty but ìneradìcab|e pIace'
¿. 5B) . lt ìs not a presumed or a priori condition that might be
_
scov-
ered and articu|ated, and
[
t ìs not the ideal o| 0ch¡e½ng a complcte |ist
o| any and Qartìcu|arisms which wou|d be unihed by a sharcd con-
Ient. ParadoXicaIy, it is the absence of any such shared content that
constitutes the Qromise of unìversa|iq.
J¿ ]UDlTH ßUTLEK
B t he pÌ0cC of the universa i s an empty onc 0nd lhetC ìs MÜ û ¡nø
re8son |or lt not to be fúled by 0üj Content, Ìl the |orces WhÍCh lm that
plöCC ðtC 0ODäumUVcÌy spÌil DcÞccn UC COnCtClc QOÌIUCä h0t lbCy 0dVo-
Ca!C anC Uc 8bHíty OÍ thosc QoÌl|ÌCs f1 the empq p|ace, the poÌilÌCa¡
lægagC Ol aD¡ soCÍCg whose degee o| lnstitutionæìtauon has, to some
CX|Cnt, UCCH ähMCn Oï undermined, W 8|so bC äpÌit. ¡ ë0,
Åhuä ¡aCÌ0u ÍU0ntihes a cOndit on common to a|| po|iticization, Oul Íl ìs
precìsely not a condìtion WÍlh 0 COntent. ìt Íä¸ ïalhCr, the condìtion by
whÍCh any spccJc content Í0dä ÍuHy lO COnälÍlulC an ìdCulity, a condItion
OÍ nCCCää0¡ Íanuïe which not on|y pertains unìversa||y, DuI u thc 'emp
[
and ìneradìcab|e p|ace' OÍ universa|ìty itse|l P certain necessa; tcnsion
cmcrgcs wthin any po|ìtìca| Íorm0lion inasmuch as Íl seek lO Hll lh0l
pÌacC and ñnds that it CanUOl. ÅhÌä Í0uutC lO hÌÌ Ihe plaCe, hOWCVCt¸ Íä
prCcìäe|y the íutura| promìse o| unÍversa|ÍQ Ìtä äl0luä 0ä 0 |imitless and
uncondìtiona| l0alutC o| aÌÌ [OÌÌtÌca| arlìcuÌatÍon.
ÏnCVl0DÌC 0ä Iä lh0l 0 po|ìtìca| organìzatlon Wm posiI thC possib|e
hl|Íng of lh0l QÌ0CC 0ä 0n IdC0Ì, ìt Íä equa|ly ìnevÍl0bIe that ìt WdÌ ÍaU to
do so. Much as thìs |aUure cannot be dÌrecl̶ pursued 0ä lhC ` 0Ím´ OÍ
po|itìcs, ìt does proGuce 0 va|ue - ÌnGCCO, thC V8ÌuC OÍ unÍVCtä0ÌÍ{ |hal
no politiCs CaD do Wlhout. Åhuä lhC 0Ìm OÍ QOlÍlÍCä muäl lhCn Ch0ngC,
Íl seems, ìn order to accommodate precìse|y thìs |aUure as a structura|
äOutCC OÍ ìls a|ìance wth OlhCt äu0h poIìtìca| moVCmCntä. Yh0t Ìä ìden-
lÍC0Ì lO al| terms in an
CQuiVæCnlÌaÌ chaÍn . . . C3n Omy bc pure, abstract, absent fuBoess c|
me communiµ, WhiLh Ì0Ck . . any direct form o| rCQrcäCnlalÍOn and
CXQres8es Íl8CÌÍ lhrOugh thC equÍVæenCe o| the dBereotia| terms . . . Ìl Íä
CääCn|ÍaÌ |ha| thC ChaÌn OÍ eQuÍVaÌenCes ïCmaÌn OQCn. Omersc Ìtä ClO-
surc couÌO Only be the resu|t o| one mOïC OÛcrCnCc speCiÛabÌe in Ì!ä
QartÌCuÌötÌj anC we wou|d oot be ConÍronted Wlh lhe ÍuünCää of the
commuDiq as an absence. ¿. 5I)
Linda Zerm exp|aìns Lac|au's concepuon oí me unìversa| Uese tCtmä¦
`³hÍä unÍVCIä0um Íä nOl LuC. Il Íä nOl 0 QtCCXIämg äOmCUIng [CsäenLe or
form) lO Wht6D ìndìvdua|s accede, Dul, raUet, UC fragile, ähmIug, 0uU
RE8TACl NC THE ÐNl VER8AL 33
0ÌW0yä tnCOmQÌCtC 0ChtCVCmCnl Ol QOÌtlt00Ì 0CttOn, tt t ä nOt thC COnt0tnCt
Ol 0 QtCäCnCC Uu! thC QÌ0CChOÌdCt Ol 0n 0UäCuCC. ´
| 3
ZCDt dCÜy 8hOw8
th0l ¨¡ect
_
ÍZCk ¬ `mCOmQÌCtCuCää´ Ol ÌdCn!tj Íu ¡0CÌ0u´8 QOÌÍltCð UCO|
C0nnOt UC tCduCCd tO thC L0C0nt0n HC0Ì, 0uO äuggCätä th0t IhC DutVCtä0Ì
w nOI UC ÍOundCd Ín 0 Ì mgutälIC Ot QäyChtC COnOtttOn OÍ UC äub]CCl.
NOtCOCt, ÍI nOI UC ÍOund 0ä 3 tCgl3l!VC IUC3Ì, 3 utOQÌ0n QO8\uÌ0ttOn,
WbÍCh U0näccnds tDC Q0ÏttLLÌ0t¿ Uut WuÌ 0ÌW0yä UC 'pclìtìcay 3ttìCu|3tCG
tCÌ8lÍOns CÍ 4i0ereoce' [Q. Ì 3¡ . ÍmQh38IZÍD_ Wh0I ¡0Cl0u lCtmä lhC `Q0t-
0sÍlÍC 0ll0LhmCnt ct lbC unIVCI83 tO äOmC Q0tltCuÌ0t, ZCttÌÍ ðl_C8 tb0l
tbe uaiversa wu Ue ÍOund omy io IhC Ch0tn Ol Q0ttÍCuÌ0ts ÍtäCÌÍ
^ä Qatt hCt QCÍnt, ZCttÌÌÍ CttCä IhC WOtK OÍ _C0n Y0Ìl3Ch bCOtt,
WhOäc tCCCnt CX0mÍn0tÍCn OÍ ¡ïCnCh ÍCmÍnÍäm Ín QOst-tCVOlUtÍOn0ty
Ít0nCc QtOVOCä 0n ÍmQÌtCÍt tClCtmul0IÍOn OÍ L8CÌ0u´ä QOstltOn. ZCtuÌt
CXµÌ0!nä tD8l oCOtt It0CCä lhC `DCCd UCth !O 0CCCQI 0nd IO tCluäC `äCXu0l
OÍÜC!cnCC´ 0ä 0 COndÍlÍOn Ol ÍnCÌuätOn In thC uuIVCtä0l ´ ¿. | 6) . Íu 0op
letc4evts /e oCOlI 8tguCs th0t ¡tCnCh lCmÌntätä Ín thC CtghlCCulh 3nG
aiaeteenth LentLtiCä h3O tO m0kC tÌghtä 0Ì0!mä On lhC D88I8 CÍ lhCtt O!l-
ÍCtCnCC, Dut 0!sC D0O IO 0tgC !h0t thCtt 0Ì0Imä WctC 0 ÌOgÍC0Ì CXICustOn
OI unÍVCtä0Ì cnlt0nChtäCmCnt. Kcconcüìng äCXu0Ì dÍÜCtCnCC WtIh unt-
VCtä0ÌÍty tOOK m0ny I0ClÍC0Ì 0nd Q0t0OOX\00Ì lOtmä, Oul Ï3Ïe̶ VCtC thC8C
QO8tItOH8 0OÌC tO OVCtCOmC 0 Cctl3In Ut88OD8Dl ÍOtmuÌ0ttOn OÍ IhC QtOD-
ÌCm. ÅO 0tguC tn Í0VOut OÍ äCXu0Ì dÍÜCtCnCC COuÌd mC0n ðr@Íng tn
Í0VOut OÍ Q0tltCuÌ0tÌsm, Dul tl COuÌd 0Ì8O UC ¨ Il OnC 0CCCQtä thC ÍOuu-
U0IÍOn0l äl0Iuä Ol äCXu0Ì dtÜCtCnCC IO 0ü hum0nt{ ¬ 3QQc3lIug GttCClÌy
tO tbC untVCtl0l. ZCttÌÌt unOCtäl0ndl bCOI! tO UC OÜCttug 0 tCVCt8C, Uut
0OmQÌCmCnt0ty, ÍOtmul0ttOu |O L0CÌ0u´8. YuCtC0ä ¡0C!0u lDOwä lh0t
lhC sltUC!ut0Ì tnCOmQÌCtCnCsä OÍ CVj Q3IlICuÌ3I 0Ì0tm Iä tmQÌìC0tCO m
0 un!VCtäM, O0Ot! ähOW8 lh0l UCtC tä nO QO8ätUtÌI{ OÍ CXtttC0!Ing UC
VCtä0Ì 0Ì0Îm ÍtOm thC Q0tltCuÌ0t. ¡ WOulU 0dd tO thtl dt8Cu88tOu Ouly
äuggCäItug lh3l bCOtt hÍghÌtghtä thC 8OmCltmCä undCCId0UÌC CO1uCIUCn0C
Ol Q0ï!ÌCuÌ0t 0nd unIVCtä0l, ähOWg U0t lhc Vcj 80mC lCIm, `8CXu0l dt!-
ÍCtCn0C´ , C0n dCnOtC lhC Q0tlÍCul0t tn ODC QOÌÍ!IC0l COu!CXt 0ud lhc
unIVCtä0Ì tn 0nOthCt. ÍCt WOtK äCCm8 tO mC tO QtOVOkC lhC ÍO!!Owtng
gucºtÍOn. dO WC 0ÌW0ys kOW WhCIhCt 0 claim is Q0rtILuÌ0t Ot UutVCtä0Ì,
0nO Wb0l h0QµCnä WhCn IhC äCm0nlÌCä Ol lhC CÌ0tm, gOVCtnCd Dy QOltl
Í00Ì COnICXt, tCndCtä thC dtättnCttOu uudCCtd0UÌC:
Jª ] UDl TH ßUTLER
l wouÌd |ike tc taìsC lWO QuC8tìOn8 0bout thC exQo8ìtìon above. one
|ðkC8 u8 back t o ÌCgCÌ and thc relatìon belwCen Qðrticu|at and uni-
versa|, the other takes us |orward to the que8ti on oí cu| |ura|
translatìon, mentìoned btÍCûy above. Ítt8l ¦ Wh0l precìseÌy does ìt mC0n
to hnd tbe univcrsa| both ì n the re|atìon among partìcu|ars and ÍnäCQ·
0t0UÌ0 ítom that re|ationº Second. must the re|aticn among Qxrtìcular8
that Lac|au and Zeri||ì examine become one o| cu|tura| trans|atìon ì|
thc uivcts0| ìs tc becomC 0n actÍvC and operatÍng conccpt ìn po| ìt!c0Ì
ÎIÎc!
Åh0 htäI que8tÍon rCquitCs us to consìder IhC ätöluä OÍ Ih!ä 8trucIuraÌ
tnOmpcl!on ìdentìq Wat is the structural ÌCV0Ì mat guarantccs this
incomp|ctìonr Lac|au'8 argument ìs based on the Saussurean mode| oí
|anguage and Il8 CarÌy approprìatìon by Foucau|t ìn 7kt 3rc/ate/eg q
Fnea|·J
g
s, ' ` CnC that has surcly InuCncCd my work and that oí
¿
IZCk
aÌsC. ÅhC nOtìon that a|| ìdentìty is po8iled ìn a hC|d oí dìhcrcntìa| tCl3-
ttOu8 Ì8 CÌC3I Cnough, Uul Íl thesc re|3tìons are prC-soCìM, or u they
ConätÍ|utc 0 8ltuClutM |cve| Oí ±erentìation whìch conditions and struc-
tures the socìa| but Í8 dÍstìnct |rom ìt, we have ÌocatCd thc unìvcrsa| yet
anOthcr domaÍn. ìn thc structura| íeatures oí any and a|l |anguages. ls
thìs 8Ígìhc0nt|y dìDerent írom ìdentÍ[ug lhC unÍVCtä0Ì tn the strc-
lutaÌ QrC8uQQC8I|ÍCn8 ol thc speech act, in so |ar as both proj ects
e|aborate a universa| account o| some charactcrìstìcs oí |anguage³
Such 0n approach scQaratcs thC lCtu3Ì 3u3ly8I8 Cl |ang3ge írom ìts
cu|tura| and sociaÌ syta and semantìcs, and thìs íurther suggests that
what ìs saìd about |anguage ìs saìd about |anguage-users, 3uG that ìts
Qarticu|at socia| and QoÌÍtIC3| íormatìons w be but tnstanCes oí a more
generaìzed and non-contextua| truth about ÌdgagC ìtse|I Morcocr, ìf
We conceìve oí unìver83lìty as an 'empq' p|ace, CnC th3t I8 `ÍmCU´ by spe-
CÍD0 content8, and íurther undCrstand po|ìtìcaÌ meanìngs to bc the
contents with whìch the empty QÌacC is MIed, then WC posìt an exterìor-
ity Ol QC|ìtics to |anguage th0t 8CCu8 to undO thC VCty COnCCQt ol
Qolìtìca QCtíormativìty mat ¡acÌau CäQOuäCä. Yy 8houÌd WC COnCCtVC Ol
univCtsaÎÍp as an empty ' Q|acC' whìch awaìts ìts content ìn 0n antCrÍot
and 8ub8Cquent evcntº ls ìt CmQty OnÌy bcCau8e it has a|ready disavowed
or 8uQQtC88CG lhC contcnt írom whìch ìt emerges, and where ìs the trace
o| the dìsavowed ìn IhC |Orma structurc that CuCtgC8!
ÛLOÅÅLÌ ÎL ÅÎL \Î1NÏÛOPÍ óJ
The cl ai m to uniVCrsaÌity aÌw3ys takcs p|acc ìn a giVcD syntax,
through a ccrtain sct oí cu|turaI convcntions in 3 tCcogniZabÌc vcnuc.
Indecd_ the c|aim cannot bc madc without tbc c|a bcìng rccogizcd Ü
a CÌ3u. Ûut what CrchCstratCä what wiI| and wi|| not bccoDe FccogIZ¯
3UÌC 3ä a clam! CÌcar|_ there is an establIshIng rhctOrìc tor thc assertICn
DÍ uDIVCI83Ì!j and a 8CI OÍ DOtD8 Ih3I 3IC IDV0KCU !D the ICC0_IIIOD Ot
suCh CÌöIm8. Morcovcr, thcrc is no CUÌluI3 Consensus on an intcrnatíOnæ
|eve| about wh3t Cughl 3DU Ought DOl to be a c|aim to uDIVCIäðlIQ who
m3¶ makc it, and what torm ìt Ought to takc. Thus, for thc claìm to
work, lCI LomQcÌ conscnsus, and for thc c|aim, QCIÍOtnðtIVCl_ lo
cnact thc vcry univer8alIp it CnunCiatCs, it mus! undcrgo a sCl oí tr8n1-
l3IIons lnto the Variou8 rbctorical and cu|tural contexts in Which thc
mc3nIng 3DO forcc oí univcrsa| cIaims arc madc. Signiñcant|y, tbìs
means that no asscrtion of univetäaÌij taes pIace apart from a cUlturæ
norm, 3nd, gven thc array O! contcsting norms that cOnstitute thc mlCt-
n3tICn3Ì hc|d, no asscrtion can be made without at oncc reQUIriDg a
CU|tura| trans|ation. Without transIatíon, thc vcry concept of universal-
iq cannot crOss the lmgistic borders ìt clams, in prmcIp|e, to bc ablc tO
cross. Or we might put it another way. wmout trans|ation, thc omy way
the assertìon ol univcrsa|ip can cross a bordcr is through a co|onia and
eXpaEäionist | ogic.
A reccnt rcsurgcncc oí AgÌo¯temìnism ìn uc acadcmy hðä 8Oughl tO
rcãtatc thc importanCc oí makng unIvcrsa c|aims about thc conditions
and rights oí womcn ¸Oka, Mussbaum) without rcgard to tbc prcvading
nOrms in |oca| cultures, 0uO WthOul l0kug up me task of cuItur traus-
ÌatiCnv This cDort to ovcrridc tbc pIOb|em that |Ccal cu|turcs posc for
internationa| |eminìsm docs not undetstaud the parochia| cbaracter of
lts own norms, and docs not consider the way in which fcminism works
in Íuþ comQ|icÌj wth \S ColoniaÌ aims in imposìng its norms oí civ|-
iq through an eßaccmcnt and a dcCimdtIon oí |oca| Sccond 8DU Jhird
WoI|d cu|turcs. Òí coursc, trans|ation by itsc|í can a|so work in IuÌ|
comp|iciq with thc Ìogic oF colonial expansion, when transIation
bcccmcs thc instrument through which dominant values are lrðnsposcd
U!O lhC |angagc of the subordinated, and thC subordnatcd tuD the risk
of LCmiDg to know and unGerstand thCD as tokcns oí their |ibcration ç
Ûul lhi8 i s 3 ÌimitCd vicw oí co|onialism, onc whlcb assunes tbal the
óÛ ]UDi IH 8uILL8
co|onìzed emerges as a sub¡ect accordng to norms that are recognìzab|y
Eurocentnc. PCCCtGÌu_ tC aj3u Chæavorq Spìva, ' universæsm' as
weä as ' ìnternationa|ism' come to dominate 3 po|ìtics centred on the
sub¸ect ol rights, thereby occ|udg the íorce oí g|oba| capìta| and its dn-
|erentia| ícrms oí exp|oìtation írom the theorìzatìon oí subordinated
peop|es In Spìvak's terms, we have yet to think that íorm oí ìmpover-
ìshed híe which cannot be artìcmated by the Eurocentric category oí the
sub¡ect. Jhe narrative oí po|ìtìca| se||-representatìon ìs ìtse|í part oí 3
certain dominant Leüism, m her vew, but ìt does uCt QtCVGc 3Ìl th3t
constìtutes the site oí hcgCmOuIC resistance. !n ' Can the Suba|tern
Speak³' ,
ºº
Spivak remarks. 'it ìs ìmpossìb|e íor the lrench ìnte||ectua|s
¸referrìng main|y to Ðe|euze and loucau|t] to ìmagne the power and
desire that wou|d inhabìt the unnamed subject Ol the Òther oí Europe'
¿. ?8O). Jhe exc|usìon of the subordinated other of LuIOQC I8 so centra|
to the productìon oí European epìstemic regimes 'that the suba|tern
cannot speak' . Spìvak does not mean by this c|am that the suba|tern
does not express her desires, íorm po|ìtìca| a||ìances, or make CuÌtuI3ÌÌy
and po|itica||y sìgmcant eDects, but that withìn the domìnant concep-
tua|ìzation o| agency, her agency remains ì|!egib|e. The point wou|d
not be to extend a vo|ent regime to ìnclude the suba|tern as one oí its
members she ìs, indeed, a|ready inc|uded there, and ìt is precise|y the
means oí her inc|usìon that eûects the vio|ence oí her eûacement. There
is uC one 'other' there, at the sìte oí the suba|tern, but an array oí peo-
p|es who C3uuOI be homogenized, Ct whose homogenization is the eDect
oí the epistemic vio|ence ìtse||. The ÍÌïä
l
Wor|d ìnte||ectua| cannot
re|raìn írom 'representing' the suba|tern, but the task oí representation
wi|| not be easy, especìa||y when It concerns an existence that requìres a
trans|atìon, because træslation a|ways runs the risk oí appropriatìon. !n
her essay, Spivak both counse|s and enacts a selí-|ìmitìng practice of
cu|tura| trans|ation on the part oí lirst Wor|d ìnte||ectua|s
At once re|using the 'romantìcizatìon oí the trìba|' and the tusc of
the transparency that ìs the instrument oí co|onìa| `tC38Ou´ , Spìvak oDers
cu|tura| trans|atìon as both a theory and practìce oí po|ìtica| responsì-
bi|ity. ´ ' She reíers tC Mahasweta Ðevì, whose íeminìst ñctìon she
trans|ated, 38 a suba|tern who speaks. ßut here we ought not to think
that we kow what ' speakng' is, íor what becomes cIear in these storìes
KESTAUI NG JHE LNl VEKSAL ó/
Iä tha| Dev's w!Iin_ I ä |eää a sytbesis of av3ua|C OÌäCOutäCä lh0H 3 ccr-
t+ìn `vo|Cn! shu|tÌ!Dg' between discourses that shows the sh0rp cd_cs ol
al| available discourses oI co|ÌeLtÍvI] L3n Wc rcad |or hC_CmCny WIIh-
Ou| KoWin
§
hcw to rcad Ior the mobuiq oI this knd oI CXCÌU5IOH,
WIhCuI assumÌng in advancc th0I lhC Ir3nsÌaICr's point wU| be to b!ing
this WlÍtÍn_ into lorms of 3_CnCy ÌC_ÍDÌC to an Ag|o-European audi-
enceº !n this sense, the task Cl thc postco|oniaI trans|0tor, WC mI_D! say,
Íä QlCCÌäCÌy lC br!ng into rc|icf thc non-convcrgcncc of discourscs so mat
one might know through the very ruptures oI narrativp the Iounding
vo|ences ol an epistCmC.
Jrans|ation can have its counter-coIonia|ist possibi|ity, For it a|so
exposcs thc |ìmi|s of Wh3t thc dominant |angagc can hanUc. It is nOt
3ÌW0yä thC case that the dominant tcrm as it is translated IntO thc lan-
gu3_C ¸thc idioms, thc discursivc and ìnstitutìona| notus) a
suDordin3tCd cu|turc rcmains mc samc upon mc occasion oI transIatìon.
lndeed, tbc vcry ñgurc oí thc domìnant tcrm can a|ter as it is mimed
and redep|oyed in that contcxt of subordìnation. Jhus, Homi Bhabha's
CmQhasi5 Cn the splìttmg Cl lhC sÍ_IÜcr in the co|onial context scck to
ähCw that thc mastcr - to use HCgeÌiaD QaI|ancc - |oses some oI bìs
c|aim to pHoriq and CtIgm3lÍ{ prccIsc|y Dcin
§
tæen up þ a mmetlc
dCuD|e Mimesis can CÜCCI 3 disp|acement oI thc ñrst term or, indCcd,
revea| that the term is nOIhing ClDCt lhan a scrìcs oI disQÌaCcmeO\8 lD3l
OÌmÌnÍäh any cl +ìm to primary and authcntIC ue0ning. Tbcrc ìs, Ol
COurse, nC such translation without cont3mInalÍon, Dut therC DO
mImCtIC Uisp|accmCnt oI lhC orIgIn0Ì without an appro[riatICu of thc
Ictm lb3t 8CQ3I3Ic8 II Irom its put3tiVe authority.
Û¡ cm[hasÍ2In
§
thc CuÌlut0Ì |ocaIICn oI lhC cnuncIatIon Ol UniVcr-
l8ÌÌt¡, OnC sees not CnÌy that thcrc can bc nC Cperative notion Cl
un!Vctl8ÌÍ!y that does not assume the risk Cl tr3nsÌ8tÍon, but tDat thc
Vcty CÌaÍm oI universa|ity is bound Io varÍous 8yDt3ctÍc stagIngs VIDÎD
tuÌIutc which mMC it imQossIb|e to ä0Q3t3lC UC lCtu3Ì Üm the cu|turæ
Ieatures oI any universa|ist claim Both thc Iorm and thc cODtCn| OÍ
uHiversalIp are highIy contcäted, and cannot be artìcuÌatCd outs¡dc thc
scene o| their CmD3lUCmCnI. !smg FoucauIt's |anguage oI gencæO_ wC
mÍght insist that uniVersa|Ip is an ' cmcrgcncc' ¡Eo|s|tkeq] or a ' non-
place' , `0 QutC dIäl3nCC, which indìcates that the adversaries do not
Jd ]UDlIH 8UILÐR
bCÌOng t o a CCmDCn 8Q3CC. Con8CQuCnIÌy no one | s rCspCnãtbÌC tor 3n
CmCtgCnCC. no onC C3n gloty ìn Íl, sinCC ìt ðlW3y8 CCCut8 tn thC ìnter-
s|ìcC.
· 22
M8ìntaìnìng tbat unìvCt8aÌÍ ty ís 3 `8llC CÍ CCnlC8t´ h08 DCCCmC
somCthìng ol an 3C3dCnÌC ltul8m, Dul CCn8ÍdCtÌng lhC mC3nIng and
QtOmìsC CÍ lhðI CUntC8t has nCt.
On the Cnc h3ud ¬ 3S L3cÌau 8nO
_
ÍZCk kDCW VCty Wc|Ì, and tìCunc
Û3ÌÌD0t h3$ D3OC VCty cÌCat°` ¨ unìvCts8liq h38 DCCn used to CXtCnd CCt-
taìn coÌCniaIì8t 3nd f3CÍ8l unOCt8t3ndIng8 CÍ CÍVlt2Cd 'man' , lo CXCÌudC
Ccrt3ìn pCQu|atÍon8 |rom lhC dCm3Ín Cl lhC hum3n, 3nd to QrCduCC
itsell as 3 Í8Ì8C 8nd 1uäQCCl C3lCgCty. YCn WC begn lhC crìtique of
such notions o| unìvcrsa|ity, Ìl may sCcm to somC ¬ CspCCIaÌÎy lC the
HabCrm3síans - that we operate wlb 3nCtbcr concCQt Cl unlvCrsaÌI| In
mìnd, 0nC WhÍCD WOuÌC DC UuÌy 3ÌÌ*CncCmp38sÍng. L3Cl3u bas 3tguCd
QCtsu3ãíVC|y lh3l no conCcQI CÍ unIVcrsaÌlIy C3u cvcr bc aII-cncompass-
|ng¿ 3nO lD3| wcre it to CnCÌCsC 3ÌÌ possíb|c contcnts, it WCuÌO not CDÌy
ClO8C lhC CCnCCQl OÍ lIDC, but ruìn lhC QCÌIlIC3Ì emcacy of unìVcrsality
|tsel|. Unìversa| ìq bc|Ongs to an OQCu-CndCd hCgCmOnIC 8ltugglC.
But what doCs h3QQen¿ IhCn, whcn a Gt8CnÍt0nChÍ8Cd _tCuQ QtCCCCd8
to c|aìm unÌvCts3Ììq , to c|aim thal thcy Cughl QtoQCrÌy to be inc|uded
wthin its QU!ÍCWÎ Does that c|aim prCsuppCsC 3 DtO3dCt, mCtC lund3·
mCnt3Ì notÍCn o| un|vCrs3|iq or ìs it that lhC Cl3im ìs QCtlCrm3tiVC¿
ptoducing a notion oÍ unìVCïsæIly WhlCh CXCrCìsC8, ìn
/
ìZCks lCtm8, a
retroactive nCCCssÍ| uQCn lhC COndllÍCn8 CÍ tI8 CmClgCnCC! Ooes thC
nCW unÌvCtsalI| 3QQC3ï as ìt h0ä DCCn true all a|ong³ Thìs |ast ÍOt·
muÌ3lÍCn dCC8 not ConCCdC that ìt CXÍ8I8 38 3 prìCr conccpt, but lh3t, as
a CCnsCqucnCC o| baving bccn Qos¡tCd¿ it assumcs thc prcscnt Qu3ÌÍq o|
havn
§
a|w3ys bcen so. 8ut hCrC_ we must be C3utÌCus. mc QosÍtÌng CÍ
new |orms ol universality docs nCI QtCduCC lhÍ8 CÜCCI lCt CVCtyCnC, and
m3ny OÍ thC CutICnl sltuggIC8 over n3tÍCn3Ì soVCrcíguly 3nd lhC QtCQcr
limits ÍOt CXICndÍng grCuQ rights ðÜtm lh3t lhC QCrlCrm3lÍVc CÜCCt8 CÍ
8uCh CÌ3Im8 3tC hardy uni|orm.
¹hC 388CtIÌCD Cl uDìvCr83ÌÌ| Dy thosc WDC h3VC CCnVCnIICn3ÌÌy DCCu
CXCÌudcd by IhC ICtm ohCn produccs a QcNCrm3DVc CCntt3dIClICn OÍ d
CCt|3Ín 8Ctl. ßut |hìs CCnlf3dÍClICn, in HCgC|ì3n lashÍCng ìs nCl 8CÌÍ-
c3nCcÌÌing, but cxposcs thC 8pCctra| doubIing ol tbC CCnCCQI Il8CÌl And
|t prompts a 8Ct of 3ntagonisliC spCCuÌal|Cns Cn Wh3l lhC QtCQCt VCnuC
ÜLOÅPL1 ÎL ÅML \ÎÌ NLbOPL
lor the claim o| universality ought to be. Who may spcak itª how
ought it to bc spokenî Thc |act tbat wc do not know thc answers to tbcsc
questions conhrms that thc qucstion oí univcrsa|ity has not bccn sctt|cd.
A1 Ï have 3rgueO e|scwbcrc,

to c|am that thc univcrsaI bas uOl yct
been articulatcd is to insìst that thc 'not yet' i8 QtOQCl to an undcrstand-
ing of thc univet8a| itse|f. that whìch rcmaiu8 ' unrcaIìzcd' by tbc
univcrsal constimtes it csscntia||y Thc univcrsa| announccs, as ìt werc, iu
'non-p|ace' , its |undamenta||y tempora| moda|ity, prccisc|y whcn cba|-
|enges to its ·x|s||q íormu|ation CmClgC |rom thosc who arc not covcrcd
it, who have no cntitlemcnt to occupy thc p|acc oí thc 'who' , but ncv-
erthelcss dcmand that tbc univcrsal as such ought to bc Inc|u8iV oí
them. At stakc here is thc exc|usionary function oí ccrtaìn HÚîH of uni-
versa|ity which, in a way, transccnd the cu|turæ Iocations ÍtOm wbich
they emergc. Athough thcy oítcn aQpcar as transcu|tura| or forma cri-
teria by which existing cuItura| conventions arc to bc judgcd, mcy arc
precise|y cuÌtural conventions which have, through a proccss oí absuac-
tion, come to appear as post-convcntiona| prmciplcs. Thc task, thcn, I8
to re|er tbcse íorma| conceptions of universality back to tbc contami-
nating uace oí theu 'content' , to cschew mc form/contcnt distmction as
ì| furthers tbat ideo|ogicæ obíuscauon, 3uO to COu8IOCt thc cu|lura| |orm
that this struggÌe over the meaning and scopc of norms takcs.
When one has no right to spcak undcr the auspiccs oí tbc universa|,
ºnd speaks none the |ess, |ayng c|aim to univcrsa| rigbts, and doing so
ID d way that preseres the Qarticu|ari| o| onc's 8lDggÌC, OuC 8QC3K8 in
º way that may be readUy dismissed as nonsensica| or impossib|c. Whcn
we hear about '|esbian and gay human rights' , or even 'women's human
rights' , we arc coníronted with a strange ncighbouring oí thc univcrsa|
and thc particu|ar which ncithcr sythcsizcs the two, nor KCCQ8 thcm
apart. The nouns function adjcctivaUy and a|though thcy arc IUCulIlIC8
and grammatìca| 'substances' , thcy arc a|so in the act oí qua|iíying and
bcÌn
[
qua|mcd by onc anothcr. Clcarly, howcvcr, lhC 'buman' a8 QtCV-
ous|y dehncd has not rcaddy inc|udcd |csbians, gays and womcn, and
the current mobì|ization sceks to cxpose thc convcntiona| |imitations o|
thc human
·
tbc term tbat scts thc |imits on tbc univcrsa| rcacb oí intcr-
aationa| |aw. But the cxc|usionary character of thosc convcntiona|
aorms of universa|ity docs not prcc|udc further rccoursc to tbc term,
10 )UDI 1H 8u1LÐK
öÌthough ì t does mean entcrìng into that situ3lion i n whìch the conven-
tìona| meaning becomes unconventìona| ¸or catachrcstic) . This does not
mean that wc havc 3 prìorì rccoursc lC a truer criterion of uniVCrsa|Ip
lt does suggcst¿ howCVer¿ that convcntiona| and excÌu8ìonaj norms of
unÍV0t83ÌI[ C3n, thtough pcrcrsc reitCrations¿ producc unconventiona|
lormu|atìons ot unìvcIä3Ìily that cxposc thc |ìmìtcd and exc|uäiouary
|eatures of thc former one at the same tme that they mobuIzc a new sct
o| demands.
ThìS point ìs dde in a äI
{
iHcant way þ Pau| Oi|roy who, in Tkt
Dl0tk ¬//0¤/tc, ´³ I0k08 Í8suc wìth íorms Cl CCnlCuQCraj sceptILìsu that
lead to a fu||-sca|c rC¡cctìon o| the kcy lerms o| modcrniq, inc|uding
' univctsa|Í[' . OìÌroy also, however, taes his distancc from Habcruas,
noting that Î3Dctm3ä ÍaiÌs to take ìnto account the centr3|ily o| ä|aveç
to thc pro¡ cLt o| modernìty' . Habermas' s |aì|ure, he notes, can bC
attributed to hìs QreíCrencc |or Kant over Hege|¸', . ' Habermas does not
|o|low Hege| in dt
[
Ìng lhal 8!aVC¡ Ì8 ÌtäeÌf a modernizing |orce in that
It |eads UCth uð8tCr and sCC0nI ÛtsI lO 8CÌÍ-CCn8CÌCu8nC88 aud then to
dìsi|lusion, forcing both to con|ront the unhaQQy rea|ìzation that thc
IIuC, the good, and the bcautIÍuÌ do nO! have a shared orìgn' ]. 5O).
OUtoy accepts the notìon that the very terms o| mOdcrniQ however,
may be radìca|Iy rc3Qpropriated by those whC havc bccn cxc|udcd from
those term8.
Thc maìn tcrs o| modcrnity 3tC subject to an innovativc rcusc ~
Whal 1CuC might C3Ìl a ' misusc' ¨ precì8e|y because they 3rc sQokcn by
those who are not authorìzcd in advancc to makc usc o| mem. And
wh3l cmcrgcs ìs a knd of po|iuca c|am Which¿ Î Wou|d 8tgC, \8 neithcr
cxc|usivc|y uuIversa| nor cxc|u8lvcÌy QartiCu|3r, whcrc, indced, the par-
ticu|ar intcrcsts that inhcrc in ccrtain cu|tura| formulations oí
univcrsahq are exQo8cd_ and no universa| ìs frecd írom its contamina-
tìon by thc Qatticu|ar contcxts |rom whìch ìt cmcrgcs and m which it
trave|s. S|avc upri8ìng8 that insist upon the unìversa| authorization for
cmancipalion neverthe|ess borrow írom a dìscourse that runs at |cast a
douD|e rìsk. the cm3ncipated s|avc may be |ìberated into new mode of
sub¡ ectìon
z-
that lhe docltine of cìt\zenshìp has ìn store, and that
doclrinC may 5nd itse|f tcndered ConCeptua||y rìvcn prCci8C|y by the
cmancipatop c|aims it has madc pos8\b|e. There is no way to predìLt
KESJAO!NO THL UNl VLKSAL +I
what w| happcn i n such instanccs whcn thc univcrsa| i s wicldcd prc-
cisc|y by thosc who signi[ its contamination, but thc purìñcation of thc
univcrsal into a ncw formæism w on|y rcinitiatc thc da|cctic that pro-
duccs its sp|it and spcctra| condition.
'Sccking rccoursc' to an cstab|ishcd discoursc may at thc samc timc,
bc thc act o| 'makng a ncw c|aim, ' and this is not ncccssarì|y to cxtcnd
an old |ogic or to cntcr into a mcchanism by which thc c|aimant is
assimiIatcd into an cxisting rcgimc. Thc cstab|ishcd discoursc rcmains
cstablishcd on|y by bcing pcrpctua||y rc-cstab|ishcd, so it risks itsc|t in
thc vcry rcpctition it rcquircs. Morcovcr, thc Iormcr discoursc is
rcitcrated prccisc|y through a spccch act that shows somcthing it may
not say. that thc discoursc 'works' through ìts chcctivc momcnt in thc
prcscnt, and is |undamcnta||y dcpcndcnt |or ìts maintcnancc on that
contcmporary instancc. Thc rcitcrativc spccch act thus o0crs thc
possibi|ity - though not thc ncccssity - o| dcpriving thc past o| thc
cstab|ishcd discoursc oI its cxc|usivc contro| ovcr dcñning thc para-
mctcrs o| the univcrsa| within po|itics. This Iorm o| po|iti ca|
pcr|ormatìvity docs not rctroactivc|y abso|utizc its own c|aim, but
rccitcs and rcstagcs a sct o| cu|tura| norms that disp|acc lcgitimacy
lrom a prcsumcd authority to thc mcchanism ot its rcncwa| . Such a
shi|t rcndcrs morc ambiguous - and morc opcn to rc|ormu|ation ¯ thc
mobility o| |cgtìmatìon in discoursc. lndccd, such c|aims do not rcturn
us to a wisdom wc a|rcady havc, but provokc a sct of qucstions that
show how pro|ound our scnsc oI not-knowìng ìs and must bc as wc |ay
c|aim to thc norms of po|itica| princip|c. What, thcn, is a rìghtº What
ought univcrsa|iq to bc! How do wc undcrstand what it is to bc a
'human' ! Jhc point - as Lac|au,
¿
ìZck and l would ccrtain|y a|I agrcc
- is not thcn to answcr thcsc qucstions, but to pcrmit thcm an opcning,
to provokc a po|itica| discoursc that sustains thc qucstions and shows
how unkowing any dcmocracy must bc about its Iuturc. That univcr-
sa|ity is not spcakab|c outsidc of a cu|tura| |anguagc, but ìts artìcu|atìon
docs not imp|y that an adcquatc |anguagc is availab|c. !t ÏcÜnb on|y
that whcn wc spcak its namc, wc do not cscapc our |anguagc, a|though
Wc can - and must - push thc |imits.
º¿ ]ÐDl TH ßUTL£R

I . ¡OCslO L3c|au and Chantal Mouüc, H·gaq c¤d ò0O/ul ò-cg: 1æm c
Ìuc| L»o0c l/tacs, Lndon 3nd DCW ork. Verso l 985.
8eyIa BcubaU, Crt¤qm, Jorm, Cte¡m: A ò0g ¿ Ø Fee»Joee: Q Lnmc/
T·cç ¸New York. Co|umbia University lrcss I 9bb, pp. ZJ5¬ó3+.
L. WÍ HegÌ , T· £çc/e¡mm Îg. Ícn Í q 0 £e¸c|¡crJm q ÍhtØ:0]huc/
Ótt¤tr: 0t/h /hr _01d/çr, It3uä LCl3cts, Y. ^. Sucbt|ng and H. S. Harr|s,
ÍnCÌ3uöQOÌÍä¸ ÍÌ. Hackett
Ü.W.Í Hege|, Írgr/3 Sm· ¸ Lgc, trans. P.N Mihcr, ÌCW York. Humanìtícs
Fress Ì J1o.
3. Sce]ean-Luc Nancy, L'Is¡sümJ· 1s ¤gcg lans. 3chcÎc Î JJJ.
6. L. Wl Hege|, H·¿·|' Pmama|g g Sþtnt, U3Uä. ^. N M|hcr¸ LXOtO. LXOlO
\nìvcrs|ty ÌtC8ä ! JJJ.
J . See Hom| ßhabha, 7/r Lceme ¿ L0mn, Hcw York. Kudcdg I 99b.
\n lhÌä Qont of dcñnìt|on, scc Oannc Fab|an, 1mr c¤d m· 0m··· Hea
ðs0«¡e|»g Mds io 0/¡æ|, ÌCW York. Co|umb|a Un|vCrsÌty lrcss I DB3.
9. 8ee S|3Vo¿ ZÍZCk, JdIQ 0IM M T@00N. Åc¤/, Hrgrl, d¤d Ø Cnaçe·
Durham, ÌL¦ Oukc UU|vet5|q tlC8ä Í 99J.
Ri d.
Scc ]udim Buucr, Üd 7ue|a: Fmmm c¤d Ø ð000w¤ Q Ím0g, DCw YOlK.
RouUedge | 99O.
See thC cxcbangc beneen ErnCslo Lac|au anO ]udith ßuUer in mc |oint|y
authored di0Ìogc 'Uscs O| Equa|iq', Lrnnr: Spnng l 99Ì.
l 3. ÌCuÌ5C buCÿ Tr hr± q Sr/ec· Idq», &/manp, Iæq, Stan|ord, LÒ¦
oI0uÍOld \niVCtäÍ[ Prcss, ÍODCOmmg.
I 1. Emcsto L3CÌ3u, CU. , 1 Mag q |/m| Ím0, Lndon æd ÎCw York.
Ncrso l J51,
Ì 3. ]oan Wa|lacb Scott, 0»p Iexo /» 0_ Fmck Fmmuc c¤d W Rg/6 q Me»
¸Cambridge, N. Harard Un|vrsìq Prcss I 95b} thows how ícm|n|st cla|ms m the
Frcnch Rev|ution wcrc InV3tÍ3Uly dOuUÌ0, and not 0ÌW8yä |ntCrny fCCOnCdCU¦ both
3 äþ00ÌÜC CÌß made Uol UC r|gb|s Ol WOmCn and a unìvrsæ cl3m about mcu pcr-
sonhood. Ïndccd, |t sccms IO mC that most minoriq rìghls strugg|cs CmQÌOy UOlh
Q3D0uÌ3Dsl 3nU unÍVCt58Í8I srtCcs 3I OnCC, QrOUucug 3 Qo|||c dscourse U3I sus-
tains an ambìguous rc|at|on lO En||ghtcnment notions o| unÍverºì Scc Pau| Lun,
7/· ß/eck H//c¤hc. Âðdrr¤tg cnd Le00/r L0¤:tt00:8r:1 ¸C3mbrlg, ar3rO
Un|vcrsiq Prcss l JJå) ÍOt 3nOUCf stroug íormu!auon of thìs Q3f3dOXÍC8 coìncìdence
OÍ particu|ar and uuÌVcïäa c|aims.
| 6. rncsto Lac|au, £m¡ctiee¦s), London 8nO New York. Nerso I 99b.
Sec tbe new Preface to ]udith ßut|er, Ss/¸·:c q D·n··· ÍrgrÌt0u Rqctie»s rn
7am/u9 Cmq Fteec· [ l 987j , ÌcW otk. Co|umbia Unìvcrsiq lrcss | 9J9
l 8 LÍnda Zerû|i, 'Thc Un|vcrsa|ism Í8 Not LuC´ , Lccn0c:
Summcr Ì 95d: Ì 3. 5cc m pìcu|3t ÞCt COgCUl crìtiquc oí Naomi Schor

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