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789).*7 .

social & political thought
5pccia! Fcaturc: Thcnrising thc Pnstcn!nnia!, Dccn!nnising Thcnry
Idiled by Imma alleII Lovman and Lucy MaybIin
Maric-ju|ic |rainais-Maiirc, Haija S. A|jaisa|, Sancr |rangic, Brani|cq Nicnc|scn
alaiIIe againsl Heidegger: Language and lhe Iscae from lhe WorId
An!rcu |q!cr
Democracy's Ira of ReIalive DecIine
An!rcu Gi|scn
Tvo TunneIers: Digging Through lhe Differences in lhe Chomsky-IoucauIl Debale
Xaticr Sccii
Wikiedia: IxamIe for a Iulure IIeclronic Democracy`
Decision, DisciIine and Discourse in lhe CoIIaboralive IncycIoaedia
Sq|tain |ircr-B|acss
Bnnks Rcvicwcd
Pc|iiics an! inc |naginaiicn by Raymond Geuss
Ha|crnas an! |au|s. Oispuiing inc Pc|iiica| by }ames Gordon IinIayson and
Iabian Ireyenhagen
|cr a Ncu Criiiquc cj Pc|iiica| |ccncnq by ernard SliegIer
Tnc Painc|cgics cj |n!iti!ua| |rcc!cn by AxeI Honnelh
Oj jcus an! Anina|s by Andrev en|amin
A!crnc jcr |ctc|uiicnarics by en Walson
$4192* 17 . J93* 2010
$4192* 19 !922*6 2011
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 1
studies in social and political thought
Siu!ics in Sccia| an! Pc|iiica| Tncugni is a eer-revieved biannuaI |ournaI roduced
by oslgraduale sludenls, many of vhom are based al lhe Universily of Sussex.
The |ournaI seeks lo fosler and romole inlerdisciIinarily in sociaI and oIilicaI
lhoughl, in addilion lo roviding a ubIishing Ialform lo |unior academics.
Intcrnatinna! Advisnry Bnard
Roberl Iiin AxeI Honnelh SeyIa enhabib
Gayalri Chakravorly Sivak Iredric }ameson Homi habha
AIessandro Ierrara WiIIiam Oulhvaile Simon }arvis
Shadia Drury Marlin }ay Adriana Cavarero
Gordon IinIayson Roberl Goodin Andrev Chilly
Editnria! Grnup
Chris O'Kane Simon MusseII Verena IrIenbusch
Zoe SulherIand Tim Carler R. IhiIIi Homburg
Arlhur WiIIemse Huv Rees IIIiol Rose
Thomas }effery Chris AIIsobrook
AngeIa Koffman AIaslair Kem
Chris O'Kane, R. IhiIIi Homburg, Huv Rees,
Chris AIIsobrook, Tim Carler, AIaslair Kem,
Chrislos Had|ioannou, Arlhur WiIIemse,
Imma alleII Lovman, Lucy MaybIin
Cnpycditing and PrnnIrcading
Tim Carler, Simon MusseII, Huv Rees,
Arlhur WiIIemse, Imma alleII Lovman, Lucy MaybIin
Dcsign and Typcsctting
Simon MusseII
Siu!ics in Sccia| an! Pc|iiica| Tncugni
Cenlre for SociaI and IoIilicaI Thoughl
SchooI of Hislory, Arl Hislory and IhiIosohy
Universily of Sussex
IaImer, righlon N1 9QN
Tnis issuc cj SSPT uas na!c pcssi||c |q a ccniri|uiicn jrcn inc
Ccnirc jcr Sccia| an! Pc|iiica| Tncugni ai inc Unitcrsiiq cj Susscx.
coyrighl is relained by lhe aulhors
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 2
Volume 19 Summer 2011
5pccia! Fcaturc:
Thcnrising thc Pnstcn!nnia!, Dccn!nnising Thcnry
Inlroduclion from lhe Idilors
|nna Baiic|| Icunan an! Iucq Maq||in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
The CoIoniaIily of Weslern IhiIosohy: Chinese IhiIosohy as Vieved in
Maric-ju|ic |rainais-Maiirc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Indigenous IislemoIogy and lhe DecoIonisalion of IoslcoIoniaIism
Haija S. A|jaisa| . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
On lhe roken Conversalion belveen IoslcoIoniaIism and InleIIecluaIs in
lhe Ierihery
Sancr |rangic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
DecoIonizing CosmooIilanism: Guaman Ioma de AyaIa's IarIy Resonse
lo a SinguIar Aeslhelic Iconomy
Brani|cq Nicnc|scn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
alaiIIe againsl Heidegger: Language and lhe Iscae from lhe WorId
An!rcu |q!cr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Democracy's Ira of ReIalive DecIine
An!rcu Gi|scn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
Tvo TunneIers: Digging Through lhe Differences in lhe Chomsky-IoucauIl
Xaticr Sccii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Wikiedia: IxamIe for a Iulure IIeclronic Democracy`
Decision, DisciIine and Discourse in lhe CoIIaboralive IncycIoaedia
Sq|tain |ircr-B|acss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 1
'IoIilics and lhe Imaginalion' by Raymond Geuss
Cnris A||sc|rcck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
'Habermas and RavIs:Disuling lhe IoIilicaI' Idiled by }ames Gordon
IinIayson and Iabian Ireyenhagen
Huu |ccs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
'Ior a Nev Crilique of IoIilicaI Iconomy' by ernard SliegIer
Oannq Haquar! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164
'The IalhoIogies of IndividuaI Ireedom:HegeI's SociaI Theory' by AxeI
Pni|ip Hcgn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
'Of }evs and AnimaIs' by Andrev en|amin
Vcrcna |r|cn|uscn an! Cc|in McQui||an . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
'Adorno for RevoIulionaries' by en Walson
Iukc Manzarpcur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
C438*387 2
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 2
Intrnductinn Irnm thc Editnrs:
Thcnrising thc Pnstcn!nnia!, Dccn!nnising Thcnry
by Imma alleII Lovman
and Lucy MaybIin
'IoslcoIoniaIism' and 'decoIonisalion' bolh seak lo moving beyond coIoniaI
orders, bul hov lhis is accomIished remains conlesled. Are slales conlroIIed
by sellIer coIoniaI eoIes, Iike Canada or AuslraIia, decoIonised` Where do
lhey sland in reIalion lo African or Asian slales conlroIIed by IocaI
ouIalions bul sub|ugaled in vorId oIilics lhrough inlernaIized
coIoniaIism and inlernalionaI inleIIecluaI and economic imeriaIism` This
aII oinls lo lhe robIem of hov ve lhink aboul coIoniaIism. HisloricaIIy
enlangIed vilh coIoniaIism, lhe InIighlenmenl lradilion emerged in a
secific lime and Iace. Indeed, lhe academic disciIines lo be found in much
of lhe 'Wesl' loday vere born of lhe age of Imire on a conlinenl home lo
mosl of lhe coIoniaI overs of lhe day. WhiIe olher hiIosohies are
arochiaIised in lhe academy, aIvays lo be sel vilhin lhe conlexl from vhich
lhey emerged, lhe Iuroean is aarenlIy Iefl unlainled by cuIlure or
hislory. This riviIeging of Iuroean-derived eislemoIogies aIso has ils
rools in coIoniaI dominalion, vilh lhe Ialler having asserled a arlicuIar and
lolaIizing Iogic over lhe asl 500 years, insisling lhal Iuroean knovIedge
is suerior lo olher knovIedges. Iuroean knovIedge reresenls ralionaIily,
science, and reason, vhiIe olher vays of knoving are conslrucled as
lradilionaI, irralionaI, siriluaI, and conlexluaI. Yel lhe Weslern academy,
hisloricaIIy home lo aoIogelics for emire and infIuenced heaviIy by
InIighlenmenl ideaIs of rogress, has seen over lhe asl lhirly years bolh
lhe asserlion of oslcoIoniaI voices and lhe emergence of a oslcoIoniaI
oIilics of decoIonisalion. The knovIedges and voices of coIonised eoIe,
nov reIevanl in lhe academy and accessibIe gIobaIIy, have reveaIed
lrenchanl insighls and roduclive criliques lhal have caIIed inlo queslion
many ouIar assumlions aboul cuIlure, over, sociely and modernily.
The oening u of sociaI and oIilicaI lhoughl lo queslions of
arochiaIism and, consequenlIy, enlangIemenl vilh coIoniaIism has severaI
imIicalions. Iirsl, il resenls us vilh a vorId of lheory vhich is nol
necessariIy rooled in Weslern Iuroean lradilions and vhich lherefore offers
heIfuI and reviousIy ignored insighls for beller underslanding a vorId
beyond Iuroean conceluaI boundaries. This is a significanl chaIIenge, as
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 3
B&88*11 L4;2&3 & M&='1.3: I3864)9(8.43
ShiIIiam acknovIedges in lhe case of inlernalionaI reIalions lheory, bul il is
vorlh underlaking since gIobaIizalion has made il increasingIy difficuIl for
Weslern civiIizalion lo masquerade as lhe geo-cuIluraI relainer of a universaI
exerience of modernily (2011: 3). Second, il oses a fundamenlaI chaIIenge
lo some of lhe core concels of conlemorary sociaI and oIilicaI lhoughl in
lhe academy: 'modern', 'lradilionaI', 'sociely', 'democracy', and so forlh.
Whal haens lo lhe idea of modernily vhen il is reconceived as co-
consliluled by coIoniaIism` As hambra oinls oul, lhe Weslern exerience
has been laken bolh as lhe basis for lhe conslruclion of lhe concel of
modernily, and al lhe same lime, lhal concel is argued lo have vaIidily lhal
lranscends lhe Weslern exerience (2007: 4). Third, il bIurs lhe boundaries
of vho 've' are laIking aboul vhen 've' seak of 'sociely', 'modernily',
'Iuroe', or 'lhe Wesl'. If 'our' boundaries have become meaningIess, lhen
've' musl fundamenlaIIy shifl our imaginalions as researchers lo
acknovIedge inlerconneclions lhal have been, and conlinue lo be, obscured.
Once acknovIedged and recognised, ve musl accel lhe resonsibiIily lo
acl on lhese shifls.
There have been lvo main slrands of lhoughl lhal in recenl years have
driven forvard lhe agenda of lheorising lhe oslcoIoniaI and decoIonising
lheory. These have coIIecliveIy rovided lhe insiralion for lhis seciaI
seclion. The firsl is oslcoIoniaI lheory, vhose founding schoIars are oflen
ciled as Said (1978), habha (1994), and Sivak (1999). IoslcoIoniaI Iileralure
caIIs for a dramalic change in academic lhinking, avay from lhe ercelion
of coIoniaIism as being rimariIy aboul slales and borders, and lovards an
anaIysis of lhe cuIluraI and eislemic Iegacies of coIoniaIism. Il is erhas
erlinenl lo nole, lhen, lhal oslcoIoniaIism has laken much Ionger lo break
in lo lhe disciIines of oIilicaI science and inlernalionaI reIalions lhan
socioIogy and Iileralure. More recenlIy, WaIler MignoIo (2000, 2007, 2009),
AnibaI Qui|ano (2000) and olhers have begun lo seak of DecoIoniaI lheory
as a lheorelicaI schooI vhose origins are nol so much a crilique of Iuroe
from vilhin as a lheory of coIoniaIily/modernily from vilhoul. When
coIoniaIily and modernily are vieved as lvo sides of lhe same coin, any
anaIysis of lhe resenl musl be seen lhrough lhe Iens of lhe 'coIoniaIily of
over'. This gives lhe hisloricaI evenls of coIoniaIism very reaI
conlemorary imIicalions.
Wilhin lhese lvo broad fieIds lhere are, of course, a Ielhora of
differenl erseclives and lheories, as veII as many crossovers. olh
oslcoIoniaI and decoIoniaI lhoughl robIemalise lhe universaIising cIaims
vhich have characlerised Iuroean Weslern hiIosohy from lhe
InIighlenmenl eriod onvards. In lhis sense, lhen, bolh are oIilicaI ro|ecls
lhal seek lo highIighl imIicil assumed eislemoIogicaI hierarchies. Yel,
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 4
B&88*11 L4;2&3 & M&='1.3: I3864)9(8.43 5
vhiIe oslcoIoniaIism has emerged from vilhin lhis framevork, decoIoniaI
lheorisls such as MignoIo have soughl lo lheorise 'from lhe borders' of
coIoniaIily, from oulside Iuroean lhoughl. Iurlhermore, lhese are |usl lvo
slrands of lhoughl, and numerous inlervenlions have been made vhich
cannol easiIy be sIolled inlo eilher box.
As oslcoIoniaIism and decoIonisalion remain conlesled, fIexibIe and
ambiguous lerms, lhey conlinue lo serve as louchslones for some of lhe mosl
conlenlious, difficuIl and overfuI discourses occurring bolh in lhe academy
and in sociaI oIilics around lhe vorId. The IsraeIi-IaIeslinian confIicl has
been lheorised as a sellIer coIoniaI confIicl, American inlervenlions in Iraq
and Afghanislan are discussed as enaclmenls of neo-coIoniaI imeriaIism,
indigenous Indians asserl lheir idenlily againsl lhe Indian slale, as do
indigenous anlu eoIe in soulhern Africa, lhese confIicls are reveaIed as
Iayered, comIex and hybrid in arl lhrough oslcoIoniaI and decoIonising
discourses. This underscores lhe necessily of ushing lhese discourses ever
furlher: imeriaIism and coIoniaIism remain aclive forces in socielies and
oIilicaI orders around lhe vorId, and as such oslcoIoniaI insighls and
decoIonising aclion musl remain simiIarIy dynamic. This is lhe imelus
behind lhis seciaI seclion: oslcoIoniaI and decoIonising anaIyses are rich
and necessary areas of exIoralion in sociaI and oIilicaI lhoughl, and
varranl our conlinued allenlion and engagemenl.
This conviclion has been confirmed by lhe overvheIming resonse lo
lhe caII for aers for lhis seciaI seclion of Siu!ics in Sccia| an! Pc|iiica|
Tncugni. The submissions, received from four conlinenls, vere remarkabIe
in lhe diversily of erseclives, issues, concels and aroaches lhey
reresenled and lhe inlriguing and noveI insighls lhey offered. Indeed, il
vas a difficuIl lask lo choose among such slrong and engaging arlicIes, and
ve vouId Iike lo exress our lhanks lo aII of lhe aulhors vho ul forvard
lheir vork for consideralion. Iach of lhe seclion's arlicIes reresenl
conlribulions lo lhe debales and discourses surrounding one of lhe key
chaIIenges facing sociaI and oIilicaI lhoughl loday: nameIy, hov lo
reconciIe core concels and ideas from canonicaI aulhors vhich, lhough
universaI in lheir cIaims, are undeniabIy Iuroean in lheir origins.
In lhe firsl of lhe four arlicIes, Marie-}uIie Irainais-Mailre invesligales
lhe recelion of Chinese hiIosohy in Irance. She finds Chinese hiIosohy
is bolh IillIe knovn in Irance and nol generaIIy recognised as a vaIid
hiIosohy. This drives Irainais-Mailre lo ask: does China nol lhink`
Iuroean hiIosohy derived from lhe InIighlenmenl redominales, and
Chinese conlribulions are more commonIy vieved, and dismissed, as
visdom or siriluaIily. The aulhor, hovever, finds Chinese hiIosohy lo
be vorlhy of incIusion in lhe calegory 'hiIosohy' and as such allribules
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 5
ils excIusion lo coIoniaIisl, orienlaIisl and eurocenlrisl erseclives vhich
aear lo dominale academia.
Haifa S. AIfaisaI engages direclIy vilh lhe marginaIisalion of
indigenous eislemoIogies by oslcoIoniaIism and oslcoIoniaI lheorisls in
Indigenous IislemoIogy and lhe DecoIonisalion of IoslcoIoniaIism.
Through invesligalion of oslcoIoniaI lheorisls vho have addressed, even
in a Iimiled vay, indigenous eislemoIogy, AIfaisaI cIearIy iIIuslrales lhe
dicholomised framevorks lhal underin lhe segregalion of indigenous
eislemoIogy from oslcoIoniaI eislemoIogy. She ushes lhis enquiry
furlher by considering decoIonisalion in reIalion lo lhe chaIIenges osed by
indigenous eislemoIogies. AIfaisaI argues ersuasiveIy lhal in order lo
decoIonise oslcoIoniaIism lhe comIicily of oslcoIoniaIism in lhe
modernily/coIoniaIily comIex musl be acknovIedged and addressed and,
furlher, lhal a crilicaI, seIf-refIexive slance musl be deveIoed lovards lhe
eislemoIogicaI foundalions of oslcoIoniaIism.
IoIIoving lhis, in On lhe roken Conversalion belveen
IoslcoIoniaIism and InleIIecluaIs in lhe Ierihery, Samer Irangie deaIs vilh
lhe recelion of oslcoIoniaI crilique in lhe erihery. SecificaIIy, Irangie
invesligales hov Arab inleIIecluaIs have resonded lo Idvard Said's
'OrienlaIism'. He uses lhe conlexl-driven nolion of lhe 'robIem-sace' lo
varn againsl lhe universaIising lendencies of oslcoIoniaIism and resenls
lhe vork of Mahdi 'AmiI and Sadek }aIaI aI-Azm as demonslraling his case.
UIlimaleIy, Irangie is arguing for an excavalion of lhe oIilicaI from
undernealh lhe eislemoIogicaI crilique in oslcoIoniaI lhoughl, as a vay lo
renev lhe broken conversalion belveen lhe melrooIe and lhe erihery.
In lhe finaI arlicIe, DecoIonizing CosmooIilanism: Guaman Ioma
de AyaIa's IarIy Resonse lo a SinguIar Aeslhelic Iconomy, ranlIey
NichoIson offers a lhoughlfuI and crilicaI consideralion of lhe lexluaI and
grahic inlervenlions of Guaman Ioma. NichoIson skiIfuIIy uls lhis
sevenleenlh cenlury Andean inlo conversalion vilh olher earIy hiIosohers
of gIobaIisalion and argues lhal Guaman Ioma successfuIIy decoIonises
oslcoIoniaIism lhrough his navigalion of aeslhelic borders and archivaI
code svilching. In so doing, NichoIson makes a slrong case for lhe
imorlance of invesligaling aeslhelic diversily as a crilicaI arl of lhe over
dynamics of Imire. His engagemenl vilh lhe hisloricaI and conlemorary
imIicalions of Guaman Ioma's inlervenlions erform lhe duaI urose of
grounding his lheorelicaIIy nuanced argumenl and assuring lhe imorlanl
Iace of lhese vorks in oslcoIoniaI lhoughl and lheory.
These four arlicIes from earIy career researchers offer vaIuabIe insighls
inlo lhe nev generalion of decoIonising and oslcoIoniaI schoIarshi. The
aulhors have been robusl in lheir crilicism of lhe fieId vhiIe mainlaining
6 B&88*11 L4;2&3 & M&='1.3: I3864)9(8.43
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 6
lheir failh in lhe underIying molives of lhe ro|ecl. We vouId Iike lo lhank
Irainais-Mailre, AIfaisaI, Irangie and NichoIson for lheir dedicalion and
engagemenl lhroughoul lhe rocess, and arlicuIarIy for lheir hard vork in
meeling lighl ubIicalion deadIines. We vouId aIso Iike lo lhank aII lhe
revievers vho so generousIy shared lheir lime and exerlise. Their crilicaI
engagemenl heIed enormousIy lo slrenglhen bolh lhe quaIily and imacl
of lhe arlicIes in lhis seciaI seclion. IinaIIy, lhe edilors vouId Iike lo lhank
Chris O'Kane and Simon MusseII al Siu!ics in Sccia| an! Pc|iiica| Tncugni for
lheir suorl and for laking on a lheme oulside of lhe usuaI |ournaI conlenl.
We are honoured lo be a arl of vhal ve beIieve is an imorlanl
inlervenlion, bringing nev voices logelher in a vigorous and necessary
discourse lhal conlribules lo lhe anaIysis and aclion lhal viII, ve hoe, heI
lo lranscend coIoniaI barriers and lo imagine lruIy osl-coIoniaI fulures.
Emma Battc!! Lnwman (c.|.b.! is a IhD sludenl in
lhe SocioIogy Dearlmenl al lhe Universily of Warvick, and received her
MA in Hislory from lhe Universily of Vicloria (Canada). Her lhesis
invesligales lhe aIicalion of Indigenous melhodoIogies lo missionary
hislories in rilish CoIumbia and is concerned vilh lhe elhicaI and IogislicaI
chaIIenges of Indigenous-SellIer hisloricaI research.
Lucy Mayb!in (!.mayb! is a IhD sludenl in lhe SocioIogy
Dearlmenl al lhe Universily of Warvick. Her research focuses on lhe vays
in vhich rilain's coIoniaI hislory is imIicaled in ils conlemorary asyIum
regime. She is aIso research assislanl for lhe ISRC nelvork 'Connecled
Hislories, Connecled SocioIogies, Relhinking lhe GIobaI', and co-organiser
of a forlhcoming conference 'Relhinking lhe Modern: CoIoniaIism, Imire
and SIavery' (}uIy 2011).
habha, H. K. (1994) Tnc Iccaiicn cj Cu|iurc London: RoulIedge
hambra, G. K. (2007) |cininking Mc!crniiq. Pcsicc|cnia|isn an! inc Sccic|cgica|
|naginaiicn asingsloke: IaIgrave MacmiIIan
MignoIo, W. (2000) Icca| Hisicrics/G|c|a| Ocsigns Chichesler: Irincelon
Universily Iress
MignoIo, W. (2007) DILINKING: The Rheloric of Modernily, lhe Logic of
CoIoniaIily and lhe Grammar of De-coIoniaIily Cu|iura| Siu!ics 21(2), 449-
B&88*11 L4;2&3 & M&='1.3: I3864)9(8.43
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 7
MignoIo, W. (2009) Iislemic Disobedience, Indeendenl Thoughl and De-
CoIoniaI Ireedom Tnccrq, Cu|iurc, an! Scciciq 26(7-8), 1-23
Qui|ano, A. (2000) CoIoniaIily of Iover, Iurocenlrism and Lalin America
Ncpani|a. Vicus jrcn Scuin 1(3), 533-580
Said, I. W. (1978) Oricnia|isn London: RoulIedge and Kegan IauI
ShiIIiam, R. I. (2011) |nicrnaiicna| |c|aiicns an! Ncn-Wcsicrn Tncugni.
|npcria|isn, Cc|cnia|isn an! |ntcsiigaiicns cj G|c|a| Mc!crniiq London:
Sivak, G. C. (1999) A Criiiquc cj Pcsicc|cnia| |cascn. Tcuar! a Hisicrq cj inc
Vanisning Prcscni oslon: Harvard Universily Iress
8 B&88*11 L4;2&3 & M&='1.3: I3864)9(8.43
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 8
Thc Cn!nnia!ity nI Wcstcrn Phi!nsnphy:
Chincsc Phi!nsnphy as Vicwcd in Francc
by Marie-}uIie Irainais-Mailre
Chinese hiIosohy is IillIe knovn in Irance and is nol
generaIIy recognised by lvenly-firsl cenlury Irench
hiIosohers as a hiIosohy. They oflen regard ils
conlribulions as visdom, lhoughl or siriluaIily. ul vhen ve
sludy il in delaiI, ve are cIearIy faced vilh a hiIosohy. Why
lhen is Chinese hiIosohy isoIaled from hiIosohy in Irance`
Is il erhas onIy lhe Weslern vorId lhal has lhe righl and
abiIily lo lhink` Does nol China aIso lhink` This aer allemls
lo undersland lhis slale of affairs by seeking cIues lhal mighl
exIain vhy lhe nolion lhal Chinese hiIosohy is nol
hiIosohy remains revaIenl in Irance loday. This issue may
be underslood if ve Iace il in lhe conlexl of lhe reIalionshi
belveen lhe Wesl and lhe olhers, and lherefore in a coIoniaIisl,
orienlaIisl and eurocenlrisl erseclive. Il is ossibIy because
lhe vorId remains caughl in a ersislenl inleIIecluaI coIoniaIily
and an enlrenched eurocenlrism of lhoughl, such lhal lhe Wesl
does nol recognise lhe hiIosohies of 'olhers'. The Wesl sliII
occuies lhe eislemoIogicaI cenlre of lhe vorId and conslilules
a unique reference oinl of knovIedge. IinaIIy, some soIulions
couId be soughl in order lo decenlraIise hiIosohy, by oening
u ossibiIilies for lhe diversificalion and IocaIisalion of
knovIedge and 'rovinciaIizing' lhe Wesl in hiIosohy.
Chinese hiIosohy is IillIe knovn in Irance and is nol officiaIIy recognised
by lvenly-firsl cenlury Irench hiIosohers as a hiIosohy. A hiIosohy
is here underslood lo be a crilicaI and ralionaI aclivily, made ossibIe vilh
lhe emergence of lhe |cgcs (or 'reason', 'lhoughl', 'discourse' and 'sludy') in
ancienl Greece, vhich aims lo discover lhe lrulh lhrough queslioning, lhe
use of ralionaIily, and lhe crealion of concels, and vhich became a
disciIine deveIoed and inslilulionaIised in lhe Wesl (LaIande, 1999: 774,
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 9
Godin, 2004: 742, 979). Irench hiIosohers regard Chinese hiIosohy Iess
as aIlernalive reasoning and more as visdom, lhoughl or siriluaIily. Wilhin
Irance, Chinese hiIosohy is oflen caIIed 'Chinese lhoughl' (see, for
examIe, }uIIien, 1998, Cheng, 1997, Granel, 2002), and onIy 'Chinese
hiIosohy' by a smaII number of aulhors (iIIeler, 2002, KaIlenmark, 1994).
The Irench hiIosoher Iranois }uIIien emIoys China as lhe 'olher' in
order lo rovoke lhoughl vilhin Weslern hiIosohy. He slrongIy
differenliales lhe Chinese vise man and lhe Greek hiIosoher (}uIIien,
1998). He argues lhal vhen somebody leIIs me lhal 'Chinese lhoughl is nol
a hiIosohy' I ansver lhal 'il is lrue, Chinese lhoughl couId deveIo ilseIf
in lhal sense, bul il has nol made lhis choice' (}uIIien, 2004: 91). AIain adiou
raises Iranois }uIIien for roviding slruclures lo Chinese lhoughl, because
vhen he read Chinese lhoughl vilhoul rearalion and conceluaI vork,
he dismissed il as 'smaII laIk', as did HegeI many years earIier (adiou, 2007:
Hovever, vhen sludied in delaiI, Chinese hiIosohy does deserve
lo be incIuded in lhe calegory 'hiIosohy' underslood lo mean an aclivily
of lhinking vhich lries lo undersland and lo exIain lhe vorId and human
exislence, and vhich is common lo humankind, a hiIosohy vhich is oen
enough lo nol excIude anylhing lhal mighl heI in lhis endeavour. This does
mean lhal Chinese hiIosohy Iacks lhe Iuroean imeralive of ralionaIily,
and lhal Chinese hiIosohers deIoy forms such as oelry and melahor
vhich are nol inlrinsic lo Iuroean hiIosohy. Hovever, such differences
do nol need lo be seen as disquaIificalions. Chinese hiIosohy conlains lexls
vhich demonslrale an acl of lhinking, an alleml lo exIain lhe vorId and
humankind as veII as refIeclions on lhe organisalion of sociely. Ior inslance,
Znuangzi, vrillen by lhe Taoisl hiIosoher of lhe same name in lhe 4lh
cenlury C, conlains refIeclions on dealh, lhe oIilicaI organisalion of
sociely, and hainess. The Znuangzi aIso shovs refIeclions lhal couId be
considered as 'naluraIisl'.
Why, lhen, is Chinese hiIosohy isoIaled from hiIosohy in Irance`
Is il erhas onIy lhe Weslern vorId lhal has lhe righl and lhe abiIily lo
lhink` Does China nci lhink` This idea lhal Chinese hiIosohy is nol a
hiIosohy vas firsl Iinked lo lhe inlroduclion of Chinese cuIlure and
hiIosohy in Irance in lhe 16lh cenlury by lhe }esuil missionaries.
IhiIosohers of lhe InIighlenmenl read and reIayed lhe conlenl of lhe
|!ijqing an! Curicus Iciicrs cj scnc Missicncrs, cj inc Scciciq cj jcsus, jrcn
|crcign Missicns lo lhe nexl generalions of hiIosohers, and so on from lhere
lo Ialer hiIosohers. ul lhese descrilions are skeved. }esuils vere in
conlacl vilh |usl one 'sociaI cIass' of lhe Chinese ouIalion, nameIy, lhe
Mandarins. They aIso had lo |uslify lheir missions lo Rome and resenl
China in a osilive Iighl. Hovever, al lhal lime, Chinese hiIosohy vas
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considered as a hiIosohy by hiIosohers of lhe InIighlenmenl, such as
VoIlaire. ul in lhe 19lh cenlury, lhrough lhe rise of OrienlaIism and
scienlific racism, lhe oId admiralion for China lransformed inlo conleml,
as described by HegeI. HegeI argued lhal China, reresenling lhe beginning
of lhe abslraclion and lhe chiIdhood age of lhe Siril, has no hiIosohy
(HegeI, 1964: 16, 1965: 287).
In his book Oricnia|isn (1978), lhe lheorisl Idvard W. Said (1935-2003)
describes 'OrienlaIism' as a consleIIalion of faIse assumlions underIying
Weslern alliludes lovard lhe Iasl. OrienlaIism is deicled as lhe Weslern
slyIe of dominaling, reslrucluring and having aulhorily over lhe Orienl as
veII as lhe conslilulive discourse of lhe Wesl on lhe Orienl. The Orienl is lhe
ob|ecl of lhe discourse's message and ils aulhors are lhe OrienlaIisls. Irom
lhe 16lh cenlury onvards, generalions of hiIosohers had buiIl an
imaginary of Chinese hiIosohy vhich is sliII observabIe in academic
discourse loday.
The slalus of Chinese hiIosohy in Irance has been
sludied in lhe |ournaI |xircnc Oricni |xircnc Occi!cni, vilh lhe seciaI issue
Y a-l-iI une hiIosohie Chinoise` |Is lhere a Chinese hiIosohy`j. In lhis
issue, lhe aulhors noled lhal Chinese hiIosohy is nol considered as a
hiIosohy. Mosl arlicIes lry lo resoIve lhis robIem of lhe exislence of
Chinese hiIosohy, bul in generaI lhe robIem is sludied vilhin lhe
Weslern calegories of hiIosohy, and Chinese hiIosohy is anaIysed
lhrough a Weslern Iens. This makes lhe robIem aear insoIubIe (see
Cheng, 2005). }ean-Irancois iIIeler has aIso lried lo exIicale Chinese
hiIosohy lhrough lransIalions of originaI lexls vhich conlrasl vilh
lradilionaI reresenlalions of Chinese hiIosohy as myslicism. This
myslicism mainlains lhe mylh of lhe radicaI olherness of China (see iIIeler,
2002, 2006).
}ohn }. CIarke, schoIar of lhe hislory of ideas, has aIso conlribuled lo
lhe sludy of hov lhe Wesl received 'OrienlaI' hiIosohies. He aims lo
highIighl lhe narrovness of Iurocenlric inleIIecluaI hisloriograhy by
evoking key momenls of lhe encounler belveen lhe lvo 'sides' of lhe vorId,
and by examining lhe inleIIecluaI reIalions belveen Wesl and Iasl (see
CIarke, 1997). Anne Cheng vondered in her inauguraI Ieclure al lhe CoIIege
de Irance, 'Does China lhink'` Cheng slressed lhal lhe main issue has aIvays
been lo 'lhink China', bul she aIso asked if China is even aIIoved lo lhink
and lhink for ilseIf (see Cheng, 2009). IinaIIy, Carine Defoorl and Rein Raud
discussed lhis sub|ecl in a |ournaI enlilIed Pni|cscpnq |asi an! Wcsi. Defoorl
sludied lhe robIem of lhe exislence of Chinese hiIosohy and exlracled
four ossibIe osilions, vhiIe Rein Raud reroached Defoorl for faiIing lo
gel lo lhe bollom of lhe robIem, nameIy, Iurocenlrism (see Defoorl, 2001,
2006, and Raud, 2006).
This aer aims lo undersland lhe conlenlion 'Chinese hiIosohy
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is nol a hiIosohy' lhrough a coIoniaIisl, orienlaIisl and Iurocenlrisl
reading. Iurocenlrism is underslood here as a kind of elhnocenlrism and as
an ideoIogy (conscious or unconscious) lo focus on, and lake as ils Iead,
Iuroean concerns, cuIlure and vaIues, al lhe exense of lhose of olher
As such, a key queslion is lhe foIIoving: Is il because lhe vorId
remains in a ersislenl inleIIecluaI coIoniaIily and an enlrenched
Iurocenlrism of lhoughl lhal lhe Wesl does nol recognise hiIosohies of
lhe olhers`
Thc Ccntra!ity nI Wcstcrn Phi!nsnphy
The cenlraIily of lhe Wesl in ils ercelion of knovIedge can be sludied in
order lo undersland vhy lhe Wesl reresenls olher hiIosohies as 'non-
hiIosohies'. Concels of 'Wesl' and 'Iasl', or 'Occidenl' and 'Orienl', are
cuIluraI, geograhic and oIilicaIIy insliluled concels. As Said argued, lhe
ideas of 'Orienl' and 'Occidenl' have a hislory and a lradilion of lhoughl,
imagery, and vocabuIary lhal have given il reaIily and resence (2003: 5).
OrienlaIism roduces imaginalive geograhies and lhe Wesl has conslrucled
ilseIf in comarison lo lhe Orienl (Gregory, 2004: 4). Ula }anssens has aIso
argued lhal lhe Wesl defined and sliII defines ilseIf in conlrasl lo lhe Iasl,
vilh lhe resuIl lhal lhe lvo concels are deendenl uon a series of
oosing vaIues (2007: 223). The border belveen Wesl and Iasl has, lhus,
been invenled and reroduced over lime.
The discourse of OrienlaIism crealed a series of binary oosilions
and airs, and Occidenl and Orienl are an imorlanl examIe of lhis. In lhis
conslruclion and reresenlalion of lhe vorId, lhe Wesl seems lo reresenl
lhe slrong and suerior cenlre of lhe vorId vilh lhe resl serving as ils
eriheries. This idea of lhe Wesl as a cenlre can be found in lhe fieId of
hislory as argued by Naoki Sakai, seciaIisl of }aanese inleIIecluaI hislory.
Ior him, hislory seemed lo be an elernaI rocess of unificalion and
cenlraIizalion vilh Iuroe al lhe cenlre. Hence, ve designed lhe hislory
simIy as a rocess of Iuroeanizalion (Sakai, 2001: 91). This henomenon
of lhe arorialion of lhe vorId by lhe Wesl has ils origin in lhe exansion
of Iuroean reIigion deveIoed by lhe }esuils and exorled lhrough
coIonisalion. This exansion can be observed loday in lhe henomenon of
gIobaIisalion. GIobaIisalion is lhe gIobaI exlension of cuIluraI, oIilicaI and
economic exchanges. This henomenon has rimariIy been a rocess of
unequaI exchange and absoIule dominalion vilh lhe Occidenl/Wesl and lhe
GIobaI Norlh al ils cenlre lransferring lheir cuIlure lo lhe Third WorId, lhe
Soulh and lhe Orienl/Iasl (essis, 2001: 27-28).
According lo Sohie essis (2001: 7), Weslern suremacy is nol onIy
resenl in ersonaI feeIings, bul aIso aears lo slruclure sociely lhrough
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 12
discourse and inleIIecluaI sheres. These asserlions can be underslood
lhrough lhe idea lhal OrienlaIism is a discourse conslrucled lhrough
slereolyes, images and reresenlalions. The Wesl inlerrels, deicls and
seaks jcr lhe Orienl. In lhis sense, lhe Wesl roduces a calegorised discourse
(Said, 2003: 129, 56). Said, lhrough lhe vorks of MicheI IoucauIl (1966, 1975),
has idenlified OrienlaIism as a discourse lhal heIs lo undersland lhe
Weslern syslemalic disciIine lhal aIIoved Weslern cuIlure lo manage and
lo roduce lhe Orienl (Said, 2003: 3). This conlexl can heI us undersland
vhy, generaIIy seaking, Weslern hiIosohy is considered as lhe onIy
hiIosohy, inc hiIosohy among Irench academics. The olher
hiIosohies do nol maller because lhey are foIk visdom, confined lo
orbiling around lhe cenlre as eriheries, negIecled and inferior, never abIe
lo reach lhe riviIeged higher slalus of Weslern hiIosohy. Thus,
hiIosohy is lhe roerly of lhe Wesl. This silualion is fixed by an imagined
origin vhich 'look rool' in Ancienl Greece, and lhen in Iuroe more videIy.
This abiIily lo lhink and hiIosohise is denied lo olhers. Weslern
hiIosohy is seen as lhe malrix of lhoughl, and every lhoughl vhich
diverges from il is nol accelabIe because il |eoardises lhe Wesl's cenlraI
and dominanl osilion.
Il seems lhal behind lhis queslion of lhe abiIily of lhe olhers lo lhink,
lhere are remnanls of a coIoniaIisl lhoughl and a ersislenl OrienlaIism. This
is lhe case for lhe queslioning of lhe exislence of Chinese hiIosohy by
Weslern hiIosohers, queslioning vhich is Iinked lo enlrenched forms of
inleIIecluaI coIoniaIism. Il mighl aear lhal vilh decoIonisalion in lhe
second haIf of lhe 20lh cenlury lhese nolions of coIoniaI infIuence and
dominalion by lhe Wesl on lhe vorId have disaeared. ul lhis is nol lhe
case. Ior socioIogisl AnibaI Qui|ano, lhe mosl overfuI mylh of lhe 21sl
cenlury consisls in lhe idea lhal lhe eIiminalion of lhe coIoniaI
adminislralions is equaI lo lhe decoIonizalion of lhe vorId (GrosfogueI,
2006: 60-61). Indeed, lhe 'osl' of 'oslcoIoniaIism' indicales lhal coIoniaIily
conlinues under nev forms, and osl-OccidenlaIism indicales lhal
OccidenlaIism conlinues lo be reroduced under nev forms (MignoIo,
2000: 30).
According lo Qui|ano, lhe concel of 'coIoniaIily of over' is a
syslem consliluled by muIliIe and helerogeneous forms of sexuaI, oIilicaI,
eislemic, economic, siriluaI, Iinguislic and raciaI hierarchies and syslems
of gIobaI dominalion and exIoilalion (Qui|ano, 1993, 2000, in GrosfogueI,
2006: 57). Irom lhis erseclive, coIoniaIily and modernily are lvo sides of
lhe same coin. CoIoniaIily is lhe conlinuily of lhe dominalion and of lhe
forms of exIoilalion vhich foIIov lhe disaearance of coIoniaI
adminislralions roduced by hegemonic slruclures and cuIlures of lhe
cailaIisl/alriarchaI modern/coIoniaI vorId-syslem (GrosfogueI, 2006: 61).
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Il seems lhal coIoniaIily is beyond coIoniaIism and conslilules a sel of vaIues
vhich slruclures an ideoIogy born vilh lhe modern/coIoniaI vorId in lhe
16lh cenlury (vilh lhe encounler of America by Chrisloher CoIumbus and
olher exIorers). This is a rinciIe and a conlroI slralegy vhich goes beyond
simIe economic exIoilalion. CoIoniaIily inslilules Iurocenlrism vhich
becomes a source of reIigious, elhnic and (eseciaIIy) eislemic
discriminalions. Il imIies lhe coIoniser's behaviour as veII as lhe
comorlmenl of lhe coIonised.
CoIoniaIily is lherefore nol onIy economic bul aIso inleIIecluaI.
According lo lhe geograher IhiIie IeIIelier, Weslern exansion has nol
onIy been economic and oIilicaI bul aIso cuIluraI and inleIIecluaI (2006:
85-86). The foundalions of knovIedge vere found (and are sliII found) in
Weslern civiIisalion and in ils muIliIe and comIex ossibiIilies, as Iong as
lhe conceluaIisalion (of lhe righl and of lhe Iefl) remains vilhin lhe
framevork of Ianguage and modernily (IaIs-orda, 1971, in MignoIo, 2001:
59-60) As MignoIo exIains:
Irom lhe 16lh lo lhe 21lh cenluries, lhe coIoniaI difference has
been lhe mechanism vhich has undervaIued lhe non-veslern
knovIedge. The doubIe eislemic conscience of lhe 'hov lo be
an African hiIosoher' (Ize) or 'an Indian hislorian'
(Chakrabarly) is sliII reIevanl loday. The monolyic eisleme
of modernily is facing lhe Iuriloic eisleme of coIoniaIily
|. . .j This is an eisleme of borders, of lhe edge of lhe lhoughl,
announced from lhe erseclive of lhe coIoniaIily (2001: 57)
InleIIecluaI coIoniaIily is iIIuslraled by, for inslance, lhe exorl of Weslern
concels and disciIines lo Asia al lhe end of lhe 19lh cenlury. This
knovIedge is exorled via lhe exansion of lhe eislemic and hiIosohicaI
Weslern concels as much as by lhe cIassificalion of lhe sociaI sciences and
humanilies. This gIobaI exansion of lhe sociaI sciences imIies lhal
inleIIecluaI coIoniaIily remains in Iace, even if lhis coIonizalion is caused
by good inlenlions, made by eoIe of lhe Iefl and suorls decoIonizalion
(MignoIo, 2001: 60).
China and thc Acadcmic Discip!incs in Francc
The humanilies, vhich are buiIl using Weslern calegories, organise lhe
reIalionshi belveen lhe vorId and knovIedge lhrough an inlerIay of
sub|eclive lechniques and raclices. Naoki Sakai and Osamu Nishilani have
described a cIassificalion vhich organises lhe vorId of knovIedge and
humanilies. This is lhe dislinclion belveen nunaniias, as sub|ecl of
knovIedge, and aninrcpcs, as ob|ecl of knovIedge (SoIomon and Habib, 2005:
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 14
In Iighl of lhis, China has been reresenled by lhe Wesl as a concel or
an ob|ecl of sludy. Chinese hiIosohy in Irance suffers from ils conslruclion
as an ob|ecl of sludy, rendering il aIvays inferior lo Irench hiIosohicaI
offerings. Chinese hiIosohy is used as an argumenl, a case lhal lhe Weslern
hiIosoher uses in order lo imrove his or her syslem.
Chinese hiIosohy is aIso used by some Irench hiIosohers in
heIing lo undersland siIences in Weslern lhoughl.
In lhe reface lo lhe
Irench edilion of Said's Oricnia|isn, Tzvelan Todorov vrole lhal dominalion
couId be exressed by lhis concel. If you say lo somebody 'I have lhe lrulh
aboul you' il is informing lhe nalure of my knovIedge bul il is aIso a
reIalionshi in vhich 'I' dominale and lhe olher is dominaled (Said, 2003:
8). In his reIalion vilh China, lhe Weslern hiIosoher is in a osilion of
dominalion because he 'has lhe lrulh' aboul lhe olher because he |udges and
gives (or denies) lhe 'hiIosohy' IabeI. This use of calegories in order lo
dislinguish belveen 'hiIosohy' and 'Chinese hiIosohy' iIIuslrales an
argumenl emIoyed by lhe socioIogisl Chrisline DeIhy. According lo her,
lo cIassify is lo hierarchise. The over of Ianguage and of lhe discourse is lo
name somelhing or someone, and lhen creale a reaIily, a grou, and in
arlicuIar lo dislinguish 'us' and lhe 'olhers' (see Shar, 2009: 18).
CIassificalion of lhe hiIosohies hierarchises lhem because lhese lvo
oeralions are Iinked and funclion simuIlaneousIy (DeIhy, 2008: 40). This
nolion of dominalion can be characlerised by discourse because lhe masler
is lhe one vho is seaking, he seaks for lhe olher and of lhe olher. Language
arliciales in lhe Wesl's inleIIecluaI hegemonic conslruclion of 'olhers'.
OrienlaIism has been described as knovIedge on lhe Orienl bul aIso as
over. As MicheI IoucauIl argued in Oiscip|inc an! Punisn, over imIies
knovIedge and bolh are consliluled logelher: lhere is no over reIalion
vilhoul lhe correIalive conslilulion of a fieId of knovIedge, nor any
knovIedge lhal does nol resuose and conslilule al lhe same lime over
reIalions (IoucauIl, 1975: 27). IoucauIl lhoughl lhal Ianguage is a funclion
of over. Thus, over circuIales in lhe conlexl of reresenlalion. There is a
conneclion belveen differences, over and reresenlalions. Il is an exercise
of lhe symboIic over lhrough reresenlalionaI raclices. The slereolyes
crealed by Ianguage are a key oinl in symboIic vioIence. Iover is nol onIy
lo conslrain bul il is aIso lo roduce (HaII, 1997: 261). In lhe case of Chinese
hiIosohy, lhis over aIIovs for lhe roduclion of nev ob|ecls of
knovIedge (such as lhe Orienl), and nev forms of knovIedge (such as
The olher key oinl vhich couId heI lo exIain vhy Chinese
hiIosohy is nol seen as a hiIosohy in Irance is lhe universaIisalion of
Weslern knovIedge. One of lhe cenlraI cIaims of Weslern hiIosohy is ils
universaIisl vocalion, a relenlion lo lhe universaI vhich is lhe characlerislic
of Iuroe, according lo }rgen Habermas (2008). As Kenla Oh|i and
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MickhaeI Xifaras underIine, lhe German hiIosoher has argued, vilhoul
any conlradiclion and vilhoul using lhe melahysicaI concelion of lhe
universaI, lhal relenlion lo lhe universaI is a characlerislic of lhe Wesl and
lhe crilerion of vaIid norms for everyvhere and any lime (Oh|i and Xifaras,
1999: 42).
UniversaIism is aIso lhe mask of elhnocenlrism. In lhis vein, Todorov
has argued lhal lhe universaI hid lhe viII of Iuroean elhnocenlrism or
Iurocenlrism (1989: 510). In lhal sense, il is nol ossibIe lo recognise an
origin for hiIosohy olher lhan Greece, nor a hiIosohy (Chinese
hiIosohy, for examIe) olher lhan Weslern hiIosohy. Inrique DusseI
rooses lhal lhe origin of lhis universaIisl beIief can be found in Descarles
vho inilialed lhe 'ego-oIilic' of knovIedge. Descarles Iaced Iuroean man
al lhe IeveI of God inasmuch as he lhoughl lhe foundalion of knovIedge vas
lhe 'firsl and indubilabIe rinciIe'. DusseI argues lhal cgc ccgiic vas
receded by cgc ccnquisius, 'I conquer lherefore I am' (1977, in GrosfogueI,
2006: 53). Iuroe has crealed 'lhe universaI' bul has Iimiled ils areas of
aIicalion. This is a rocess of excIusion. Novadays, lhe crealors of lhis
nolion of lhe universaI have nol renounced lheir righl lo aIy il. They
conlinue lo cIassify vhal is inside and oulside lhe universaI.
The consequence of lhe universaIisalion of knovIedge is lhal lhoughls
are nol silualed. Thus, lhe Wesl assumes lhe alernily of lhoughls. WaIler
MignoIo quoles Inrique DusseI vho seaks aboul lhe Iack of silualed
lhoughl, vhich for him shovs lhe vagueness of lhe Iuroean modern
cailaIisl universaI (MignoIo, 2001: 60). The conceaImenl of lhe IocaIisalion
of lhe sub|ecl's enuncialion imIies a hierarchy of knovIedge. Afler
arorialing lhe origin of brighl ideas for knovIedge, Iuroe vas abIe lo
cIaim inleIIecluaI aulhorily and eslabIish lhe 'olhers' as inferior. This
silualion has IogicaIIy ermilled ils dominalion over lhe olhers, and lhe
ossibiIily lo coIonise lhem in order lo 'educale' and give lhem suerior
knovIedge, lhe Ialler of vhich may arise from lhe olhers lhemseIves. As a
consequence, lhis Iack of IocaIisalion of lhe sub|ecl feeds lhe universaIisl
mylh. Indeed, by nol decIaring vho is al lhe origin of an idea or discovery,
lhe Wesl aroriales lhis idea and al lhe same lime erases lhe origin of lhe
idea or discovery. This is vhal haened hisloricaIIy in rinling lechnoIogy.
Gulenberg in Germany is said lo be lhe invenlor of rinling because in 1440
he had lhe idea lo use movabIe Iead characlers lo rinl. ul according lo
}oseh Needham and IliembIe, lhis lechnique vas aIready used for cenluries
in China.
y lhe erasure of lhe IocaIisalion of lhe sub|ecl in lhe over and
eislemic reIalionshi, Weslern hiIosohy and science
managed lo roduce a universaIisl mylh vhich covers, or ralher
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 16
hides lhe eislemic IocaIisalion in over reIalionshis from
vhich lhe sub|ecl seaks (GrosfogueI, 2006: 53)
Thus, lhe Wesl lakes on lhe 'good roIe' by coIonising lhe olhers in
order lo rovide lhem vilh science and civiIisalion, and lhis conslilules a
reason lo exlend ils inleIIecluaI and saliaI lerrilory. The Wesl beIieves in ils
civiIising mission as veII as in ils economic inleresls. In lhe 19lh cenlury and
lhe beginning of lhe 20lh cenlury, aII lhe Iuroean oIilicaI movemenls
argued lhal humanily vas Ied by an order, a scaIe, and lhal lhe lo of lhis
hierarchy vas occuied by lhe Wesl. Sohie essis conceives of lhis idea as
lhe serious mission of civiIizing lhal lhe vhile man underlakes, and vhich
lhen can be used as an excuse for aII ils enlerrises (2001: 43).
C!ucs Inr a Dcccntra!isatinn and a Dccn!nnisatinn nI Wcstcrn Phi!nsnphy
SoIulions roosed by osl-coIoniaI lheories can heI lo de-cenlraIise and
de-coIonise Irench hiIosohy. Iirsl, il is ossibIe lo counleracl lhe idea lhal
lhe Wesl is lhe onIy one lo hoId knovIedge and so has lhe over lo dominale
lhe olhers. A soIulion couId be lo raclise a reIalivism regarding cuIlures
and knovIedge in lhe vorId. The calegories of lhe Weslern disciIines are
founded uon Weslern crileria vhich have been insliluled by secific
definilions. Many Irench hiIosohers refuse China and olhers lhe abiIily
lo hiIosohise, because recognising lhese 'olher' hiIosohies mighl
decenlre Weslern hiIosohy. According lo MignoIo,
Il is cruciaI |. . .j lo relhink lhe arlicuIalions in lhe roduclion
and dislribulion of knovIedge, and lhe roIe of lhe Humanilies,
lhe SociaI Sciences and lhe NaluraI Sciences in lhe cororale
universily under vhich ve are Iiving and vorking. |. . .j |Ijl
imIies going beyond nalionaI Iileralures and Iooking al lhe
Iarger iclure in lhe slruclure of coIoniaI over, Ianguage and
lhe inlerslale syslem (2000: 14)
The second soIulion couId be lo inverl lhe rocess of comarison
belveen lhe cenlre and lhe erihery vhich feeds inleIIecluaI coIoniaIily
and OrienlaIism. This comarison couId be iIIuslraled by lhe grammalicaI
conslruclion 'lhey are Iike us', vhere lhe vord 'lhey' means lhe 'olhers', and
lhe vord 'us' means lhe Wesl. Il couId lherefore be a soIulion lo raclice a
osl-coIoniaI Ianguage as Naoki Sakai has argued. According lo Sakai, lhis
decIaralion 'lhey are Iike us' refers lo lhe conviclion of lhe annihiIalion
of lhe olher, vhich in ils olherness, is robabIy lhe mission of lhe monisl
hislory (2001: 93). The aIlernalive couId be lhe exression, 've are Iike
F6&.3&.7-M&.86*: "-* C4143.&1.8= 4+ %*78*63 P-.14745-= 17
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 17
F6&.3&.7-M&.86*: "-* C4143.&1.8= 4+ %*78*63 P-.14745-=
lhem', bul in lhis exression lhe cenlraIily of lhe Wesl is no Ionger ensured.
A lhird soIulion for resloring lhe vhoIes shallered by lhe universaIisl
discourse of Weslern hiIosohy couId be lo lake inlo accounl lhe geooIilics
of knovIedge. A vay lo raclice lhis idea vouId be lo highIighl lhe saliaIily
of eislemoIogy and lo lhoroughIy hisloricise il. Thal is lo say, one has lo
seek vhere and vhen an idea has been lhoughl. This exercise viII
consequenlIy de-cenlraIise Weslern lhoughl. Il viII highIighl severaI
eislemoIogicaI foci vorIdvide, vilh none aearing suerior lo any olher.
According lo MignoIo, eislemoIogy is nol a-hisloric. Il is nol anymore a
Iinear hislory vhich goes from Greece lo lhe roduclion of Weslern
conlemorary knovIedge. IislemoIogy musl be saliaIised, hisloricised by
Iaying lhe coIoniaI difference (2001: 61). Thus, a soIulion couId be lo ul
lhe Wesl in erseclive and nol lo Iace il in lhe cenlre bul as a region among
Such ideas echo Disesh Chakrabarly's roosaI lo rovinciaIise
Iuroe, arlicuIarIy in lhe fieId of hislory (see Chakrabarly, 2000). This
soIulion vouId be lo lhink of every cuIlure, every civiIisalion, as a resuIl of
exchanges belveen, and conlacls and bonds vilh, olhers. Whelher such a
universaIisl humanism can be counlerbaIanced by resecl for
eislemoIogicaI diversily remains lo be seen.
These 'cIues' have heIed us lo beller undersland lhese issues by considering
lo vhal exlenl China 'lhinks', or if il is onIy lhe Weslern vorId lhal has lhe
righl and lhe abiIily lo lhink. The issue of lhe exislence of olher hiIosohies,
such as Chinese hiIosohy, may be exIained vilh a coIoniaIisl, orienlaIisl
and Iurocenlrisl erseclive. The main reason being lhal hiIosohy,
underslood as Weslern hiIosohy, is cenlraIised because lhe Wesl is seen
as lhe cenlre of vorId knovIedge. Weslern hiIosohy is marked by
Iurocenlrism and by coIoniaIily of lhoughl. Weslern hiIosohy considers
ilseIf as dominanl, and lhis idea gives il lhe asserled righl lo coIonise and
civiIise olhers. The 'olhers' lhink of lhemseIves in comarison lo lhe Wesl,
and lhe hierarchy of knovIedge imIies lhal Chinese hiIosohy is seen as
a eriheraI and unabIe lo reach lhe cenlre reresenled by Weslern
hiIosohy. The universaIism of Weslern hiIosohy is reinforced by
cenlraIism and inleIIecluaI coIoniaIily, as veII as lhe Iack of lemoraI and
saliaI silualion of lhe lhoughls in lhe vorId. The reIalivism of cuIlures and
knovIedge, as veII as lhe saciaIisalion and hisloricisalion of knovIedge,
couId heI lo decenlre Weslern hiIosohy. A modificalion of lhe vay lo
conslrucl comarisons belveen forms of knovIedge couId aIso heI lo break
lhe schema of 'cenlre and eriheries' lhal is so oflen idenlified. These cIues
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 18
couId heI Irench schoIars lo correcl lheir cuIluraI myoia (CIarke, 1997:
114) and aIIov for lhe raclice of a nev vay of lhinking aboul lhe vorId and
lhe many hiIosohies vilhin il.
Maric-Ju!ic Frainais-Maitrc (m| is Research IeIIov in
lhe Dearlmenl of Asian and InlernalionaI Sludies and in lhe Hong Kong
Advanced Inslilule for Cross-DisciIinary Sludies of Cily Universily of Hong
Kong. Her research inleresls are Weslern and Chinese hiIosohy, Taoism
and decoIoniaI lhinking.
See Zhuangzi (1980: 254).
The concel of 'inaginairc or 'imaginary' is borroved from CorneIius
Casloriadis and means 'invenlion' (see Casloriadis, 1975).
On lhese nolions of elhnocenlrism and eurocenlrism, see Todorov (1989).
See Sakai and Nishilani (1999).
Ior inslance, Monlesquieu in lhe 18lh cenlury used China lo imrove his
oIilicaI syslem (see Monlesquieu, 1951).
Iranois }uIIien, a Irench hiIosoher, uses Chinese hiIosohy in order
lo undersland lhe 'unlhoughl-of' in Weslern lhoughl (see }uIIien and
Marchaisse, 2000: 189).
See Needham (1954) and IliembIe (1988).
adiou, A. (2007) Oscr ccnsiruirc. Pcur |rancis ju||icn Iaris: SeuiI
essis, S. (2001) IOcci!cni ci |cs auircs. Hisicirc !unc suprcnaiic Iaris: La
iIIeler, }. I. (2002) Iccns sur Tcncuang-iscu Iaris: AIIia
iIIeler, }. I. (2006) Ccnirc |rancis ju||icn Iaris: AIIia
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Casloriadis, C. (1975) I|nsiiiuiicn inaginairc !c |a sccicic Iaris: SeuiI
Chakrabarly, D. (2000) Prctincia|izing |urcpc. Pcsicc|cnia| Tncugni an!
Hisicrica| Oijjcrcncc Irincelon Universily Iress
Cheng, A. (Id.) (2005) Y a-l-iI une hiIosohie chinoise` in |xircnc-Oricni,
|xircnc-Occi!cni Sainl Denis: Iresses Universilaires de Vincennes
Cheng, A. (1997) Hisicirc !c |a pcnscc cnincisc Iaris: SeuiI
Cheng, A. (2009) Ia Cninc pcnsc-i-c||c? Iaris: Iayard
CIarke, }. }. (1997) Oricnia| |n|ignicnncni. Tnc |nccunicr |ciuccn Asian an!
Wcsicrn Tncugni Nev York: RoulIedge
Defoorl, C. (2001) Is There Such a Thing as Chinese IhiIosohy` Argumenls
of an ImIicil Debale Pni|cscpnq |asi an! Wcsi 51(3), 393-413
Defoorl, C. (2006) Is 'Chinese IhiIosohy' a Iroer Name` A Resonse lo
Rein Raud Pni|cscpnq |asi an! Wcsi 56(4), 625-660
DeIhy, C. (2008) C|asscr, Ocnincr. Qui scni |cs auircs? Iaris: La Iabrique
DusseI, I. (1977) |i|cscjia !c |i|cracicn Mexico: IdicoI
DusseI, I. (1985) Pni|cscpnq cj Ii|craiicn Nev York: Orbis ooks
IliembIe, R. (1988) I|urcpc cnincisc (VoI. 1) Iaris: GaIIimard
IaIs-orda, O. (1971) Cicnca Prcpia q Cc|cnia|isnc |nic||cciua|. |cs nuctcs run|cs
ogola: VaIencia
IoucauIl, M. (1971) IOr!rc !u !isccurs Iaris: GaIIimard
IoucauIl, M. (1966) Ics ncis ci |cs cncscs Iaris: GaIIimard
IoucauIl, M. (1975) Surtci||cr ci punir. Naissancc !c |a priscn Iaris: GaIIimard
Godin, C. (2004) Oiciicnnairc !c pni|cscpnic Iaris: Iayard
Granel, M. (2002) Ia Pcnscc cnincisc Iaris: AIbin MicheI
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Gregory, D. (2004) Tnc Cc|cnia| Prcscni MaIden: IackveII
GrosfogueI, R. (2006) Les imIicalions des aIleriles eislemiques dans Ia
redefinilion du cailaIisme gIobaI. Transmodernile, ensee fronlaIiere el
coIoniaIile |lrans. A. DeviIIe and A. Vereeckenj Mu|iiiu!cs 26(3), 51-74
Habermas, }. (2008) |nirc naiura|isnc ci rc|igicn, |cs !cjis !c |a !cnccraiic |lrans.
C. ouchindhomme and A. Dueyrixj Iaris: GaIIimard
HaII, S. (1997) |cprcscniaiicn. Cu|iura| |cprcscniaiicns an! Signijqing Praciiccs
London: Oen Universily
HegeI, G. W. I. (1964) Iccns sur |nisicirc !c |a pni|cscpnic Iaris: GaIIimard
HegeI, G. W. I. (1965) Ia raiscn !ans |nisicirc Iaris: IIon
}anssens, U. (2007) The Iasl as Mirror of lhe Wesl in H. Nakagava and }.
SchIobach (Ids) Iinagc !c |auirc tuc !Asic ci !|urcpc Iaris: Honore
}uIIien, I. and Marchaisse, T. (2000) Pcnscr !un !cncrs (|a Cninc), |nirciicns
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Indigcnnus Epistcmn!ngy and thc Dccn!nnisatinn nI
by Haifa S. AIfaisaI
This aer lraces lhe invoIvemenl of oslcoIoniaIism in lhe
marginaIisalion of indigenous eislemoIogies. Il begins by
iIIuslraling hov oslcoIoniaIism mainlains a dicholomised
conceluaI framevork lhal cIearIy searales indigenous
eislemoIogy from oslcoIoniaI eislemoIogy. This is foIIoved
by an examinalion of indigenous inlervenlions lhal have noled
lhe eislemoIogicaI imeriaIism of Weslern vays of knoving
and lhe need lo de-Iink from lhese. Then lhe aer examines
decoIonisalion in reIalion lo indigenous eislemoIogies, vhich
Ieads lo a discussion of MignoIo's modernily/coIoniaIily over
comIex. This exIoralion reveaIs lhal lhe dicholomising
framevork lhal oslcoIoniaIism aIies lo indigenous
eislemoIogies is symlomalic of a rofound shorlcoming. This
concerns oslcoIoniaIism's Iack of a crilicaI slance lovards ils
ovn eislemoIogicaI foundalions, nameIy, ils enlangIemenl
vilh MignoIo's coIoniaIily/modernily over comIex. The
aer concIudes vilh a brief consideralion of lhe viabiIily of a
decoIonised oslcoIoniaIism.
In CoIoniaIily of Iover and De-coIoniaI Thinking, WaIler D. MignoIo
insighlfuIIy oinled oul lhal, counler-inluiliveIy, oslcoIoniaIism is a fieId
of knovIedge in need of decoIonisalion. He slaled: The radicaI difference
belveen on lhe one hand osl-coIoniaI lheory and osl-coIoniaIily in
generaI and de-coIoniaI ro|ecls on lhe olher hand Iies in lhe geneaIogy
of lhoughl in vhich each ro|ecls found ils energy and ils vision (MignoIo,
2007: 163). MignoIo's oinl aears lo be vaIid. IoslcoIoniaIism cannol
engage vilh indigenous eislemoIogies unIess il aIso lurns a crilicaI gaze
lovards ils ovn lheorelicaI enlangIemenl vilh lhe modernily/coIoniaIily
over slruclure. In shorl, oslcoIoniaIism cannol suslain ils elhicaI urchase
unIess il decoIonises ilseIf. In lhis arlicIe, oslcoIoniaIism's encounler vilh
indigenous eislemoIogies is used as a lheorelicaI yardslick for measuring
oslcoIoniaIism's elhicaI urchase. Il is rudenl, al lhis |unclure, lo oinl oul
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 24
lhal lhe lerms cpisicnc|cgq and cpisicnc|cgics are used inlerchangeabIy lo
indicale a calegory lhal is fundamenlaIIy al odds vilh oslcoIoniaIism's
eislemoIogy. The IuraI usage indicales an avareness of lhe IuraIily of
indigenous eislemoIogies, and lhe singuIar usage is inlended lo convey lhe
idea lhal lhese eislemoIogies are unified in lheir aeaI lo re-coIoniaI
'vays of knoving', and indigenous 'vays of knoving' lhal encomass
siriluaI, economicaI, environmenlaI and sociaI dimensions.
The efficacy of
aIying indigenous eislemoIogies lo a crilique of oslcoIoniaIism is
furlher |uslified by lhe facl lhal lhese are osilioned oulside lhe
modernily/coIoniaIily comIex idenlified by MignoIo as an inlegraI arl of
coIoniaI over.
Therefore, lhis sludy is by necessily diagnoslic bul nol
exhauslive in ils aroach. The erudile oslcoIoniaIisl viII nole lhe omission
of many lheorisls from lhe discussion. These omissions are necessary given
lhe focus of lhis exIoralion is lhe consideralion of oslcoIoniaI lheorisls
vho have addressed indigenous eislemoIogy. Likevise, lhis arlicIe viII nol
engage in an exlensive reviev of lhe considerabIe vork done by indigenous
lhinkers and crilics, excel lo invoIve lhose vho have been dravn uon by
oslcoIoniaI lheorisls vho have exIored or commenled on lhe reIalionshi
belveen indigenous eislemoIogies and oslcoIoniaIism.
Frnm 'Nativism' tn 'Indigcnnus Epistcmn!ngy'
Tracing lhe geneaIogy of indigenous eislemoIogy in oslcoIoniaIism reveaIs
lhal lhe indigenous voice vas firsl addressed as nalivism, vhich can be
erceived as a form of cuIluraI essenliaIism, and lhen as a more nuanced
conceluaIisalion of indigenous vorIdvievs in indigenous eislemoIogy.
This movemenl lovards a beller underslanding of lhe issues associaled vilh
indigenous eoIes' exressions of resislance came aboul as a resuIl of
oslcoIoniaIism's groving avareness of lhe crisis regarding ils ovn elhicaI
urchase and lhe eislemoIogicaI chaIIenge lhal indigenous eislemoIogies
The oslcoIoniaI engagemenl vilh indigenous eislemoIogy aIvays
occurs vilhin a dicholomising framevork. Ianon accuraleIy described lhe
dicholomised condilion of nalive anli-coIoniaI inleIIecluaIs as individuaIs
vho are caughl belveen lhe bourgeois reresenlalives of lhe molher
counlry and an anxious imuIse lo lurn lo ancienl cuIlures as a source of
nalionaI cuIlure in an efforl lo shrink avay from lhal Weslern cuIlure in
vhich lhey aII risk being svamed (1963: 178, 209).
His cenlraIisalion of
nalionaI Iiberalion as lhe uIlimale aim of any recourse lo indigenous
ancienl cuIlure confined him lo a Iimiled viev of nalivism lhal did nol
lake indigenous eislemoIogy inlo consideralion. Ior Ianon, nalivism
A1+&.7&1: I3).,*3497 E5.78*2414,= 25
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 25
A1+&.7&1: I3).,*3497 E5.78*2414,=
remained a ossibIe and comeling source of oslcoIoniaI idenlily, a
heaIlhier choice for lhe generaI sycho-affeclive equiIibrium, and an
indicalor of lhe faiIure of coIoniaI assimiIalion (1963: 210). Ianon never
considered nalivism as offering a radicaIIy differenl eislemoIogy, vhich
may resenl an enlireIy differenl erseclive on Iiberalion lhal may or may
nol have anylhing lo do vilh nalionaI conslrucls. In facl, indigenisls
queslioned lhe nalion as an ideaI form of a ouIar, modern, oIilicaI
ased on Ianon's reasoning, oslcoIoniaI crilics musl lhen ask
lhemseIves lhe foIIoving queslion: Hov can coIoniaIisl assimiIalion be
decIared a faiIure if lhe conceluaI and, indeed, cognilive comIex (i.e.,
Weslern ralio-cenlric eislemoIogy) lhal vas highIy inslrumenlaI in
coIonisalion in lhe firsl Iace sliII governs aII exressions of resislance lo
assimiIalion` In olher vords, if lhere is no eislemoIogicaI rulure, can lhere
be Iiberalion` The dicholomy lhal Ianon noled becomes lhe modus oerandi
for much of oslcoIoniaIism's consideralion of indigenous eoIes'
exressions of anli-coIoniaIism. When indigenous eoIes' resislance is
sub|ecled lo a oslcoIoniaIisl eislemoIogicaI gaze, il is dicholomised inlo
lvo modes: (1) modes of indigenous resislance lhal are accelabIe lo lhis
eislemoIogy, and (2) modes lhal are considered relrograde and archaic
because lhey beIong lo an indigenous eislemoIogy.
The erceived Iack of a roIe for indigenous eislemoIogy vilhin lhe
lheorelicaI baslion of oslcoIoniaIism gains orlhodoxy from
oslcoIoniaIism's foundalionaI crilic, Idvard Said. AIlhough Said
unequivocaIIy re|ecled aII forms of nalivism, he did recognise lhe absence
of an eislemoIogicaI crilique al lhe mosl fundamenlaI IeveI of lhe
conneclion belveen lhe deveIomenl of a hisloricism ... and lhe acluaI
raclise of imeriaIism (1985: 101). NonelheIess, he re|ecled lhe idea of
resonding lo lhe lyrannicaI con|unclure of coIoniaI over vilh schoIarIy
OrienlaIism simIy by roosing an aIIiance belveen nalivisl senlimenl
bullressed by some variely of nalive ideoIogy (ibid.: 103). This anlialhy
lovards nalivism exlends lo one of Said's, and indeed oslcoIoniaIism's,
mosl ardenl foes, Ai|az Ahmad. Ahmad erceliveIy accused lhe emerging
fieId of being oslmodernism's vedge lo coIonize Iileralures oulside
Iuroe and ils Norlh American offshools (1992: 276). Hovever, his firm
dedicalion lo orlhodox Marxism revenled him from seeing beyond
oslcoIoniaIily as a maller of cIass and beyond lhe necessily of Iaunching
an unending crilique of cailaIisl modernily lo counler coIoniaIism (Ahmad,
1996: 289). Wilh his Marxism firmIy enlrenched in lhe Weslern eisleme,
Ahmad re|ecled nalivism as a form of cuIluraI differenliaIism, vhich lreals
indigenous cuIlure as seIf-referenliaI, aulonomous in ils ovn aulhorily,
and lherefore unavaiIabIe for cognilion or crilicism from a sace oulside
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 26
ilseIf (1996: 289). He aIso faiIed lo nolice lhe radicaI subversive olenliaI
osed lo oslcoIoniaIism by indigenous eislemoIogy.
enila Iarry managed lo rescue nalivism from oulrighl dismissaI by
oslcoIoniaIism and relurn il lo a more loIeranl Ianonian Marxism.
Hovever, Iarry couId nol suorl lhe hoeIess alleml lo Iocale and revive
risline re-coIoniaI cuIlures (1994: 179). Does lhis mean lhal nalive
eislemoIogies are lo be vhoIIy re|ecled` Iarry redicaled lhe accelance of
lhese eislemoIogies based on resonses lo lhe foIIoving: Who is revisiling
lhe reosilories of memory and cuIluraI survivaIs in lhe cause of oslcoIoniaI
refashioning and vhy lhey are doing so (1994: 174)` She lherefore acceled
recourse lo nalivism cn|q as a source of Iocaling lradilions of rolesl. In olher
vords, Iarry acceled modes of indigenous eoIes' resislance considered
suilabIe for oslcoIoniaIisl eislemoIogy, vhich u lo lhis oinl vere
governed by a Marxisl eisleme lhal envisioned a maleriaIisl, anli-cailaIisl,
anli-coIoniaIisl, nalionaI Iiberalion movemenl as an ideaI. In facl, Iarry's
dedicalion lo lhis maleriaIisl eislemoIogy is slrikingIy aarenl in vhal can
onIy be read as a deIiberale overIooking of lhe chaIIenge of indigenous
eislemoIogy. Her Iack of consideralion of lhis issue is evidenl from her
decision lo Iimil her exIoralion of Mudimbe's accounl of African Gnosis lo
his commenls on Ianon, desile lhe facl lhal Mudimbe's signaI achievemenl
vas lhal his vas lhe firsl significanl inlervenlion in oslcoIoniaIism's negIecl
of indigenous eislemoIogy (1988).
In facl, Mudimbe's inlervenlion nolvilhslanding, lhe mainslream of
oslcoIoniaI lheory conlinued and in facl sliII conlinues lo have
difficuIlies vilh regard lo ils reIalionshi lo indigenous eislemoIogy. The
difficuIly is exressed in oslcoIoniaIism's unregislered sub|eclion of aII
engagemenls vilh indigenous eislemoIogy lo a dicholomised framevork.
As oslcoIoniaIism began lo deveIo a grealer crilicaI avareness of ils ovn
elhicaI urchase tis-a-tis lhe need lo accounl for indigenous knovIedge, a
change in lerminoIogy occurred lhal is, lhe lerm in!igcncus cpisicnc|cgq
reIaced lhe lerm naiitisn lo signaI lhis nevIy deveIoed sensilivily.
NonelheIess, hiIosohicaI, oslslrucluraIisl and hisloricisl oslcoIoniaIisl
engagemenls vilh indigenous eislemoIogy conlinued lo aIy a
dicholomising framevork vilhoul recognising lhal lhe Weslern ralio-cenlric
eisleme suorling oslcoIoniaIism is, as Mudimbe noled, arl and arceI
of lhe lhe coIonizing slruclure (1988: 4).
In his vork, Bcqcn! Oricnia|isn. |ssaqs cn Crcss-cu|iura| |nccunicr
(1996), DaIImayr allemled lo Iocale oinls of hiIosohicaI convergence
belveen differenl eislemoIogies and onloIogies lhal vouId aIIov a cross-
cuIluraI diaIogue and romole crilicaI engagemenl belveen differing
cuIlures. He used Raimundo Ianikkar's dialoicaI hermeneulics, vhich
A1+&.7&1: I3).,*3497 E5.78*2414,= 27
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differs from monocuIluraI and hisloricisl forms of inlerrelalion
(DaIImayr, 1996: 61). DialoicaI hermeneulics reIies on diaIogue and
rocesses of recirocaI Iearning (ibid.). DaIImayr osiled an onloIogy of
oenness, vhich imIies al Ieasl a cerlain viIIingness lo lranscend
eslabIished calegories in favor of a freer recognilion of aIien Iife-forms, lhus
ermilling olherness 'lo be' in a nonossessive vay (ibid.: 130). In lhis vay,
lhe Iurocenlricily of cerlain vaIues lhal are considered universaI such as
Iiberly and equaIily is easiIy recognised. These vaIues are seen as
quaIilies of individuaI agenls |. . .j of aulonomous egos seen as
conslilulive buiIding bIocks of sociaI Iife, as a coroIIary, sociaI
dislinclions or differenlialions have lo be |uslified or
Iegilimaled againsl lhe benchmark of uniformily or equaI
Iiberly (ibid.: 131)
The end ob|eclive is lo counler monoIilhic universaIism vilh dialoicaI
hermeneulics so as lo move lovards a IaleraI universaIism, vhich is a
malure slance vhere universaI rinciIes are no Ionger found beyond
concrele differences bul in lhe hearl of lhe IocaI or arlicuIar ilseIf, lhal is, in
lhe dislincl loograhy of lhe vorId (ibid.: 222).
AIlhough DaIImayr did nol direclIy address lhe loic of indigenous
eislemoIogies, il is safe lo assume lhal lhey are incIuded in lhe calegories
of lhe IocaI and arlicuIar from vhich IaleraI universaIism can be
conslrucled. His riviIeging of hiIosohy as lhe medium of exIoralion
vouId aear lo marginaIise indigenous eislemoIogies lhal cannol be
adaled lo lhe slandards of hiIosohicaI secuIalion and lhal funclion
according lo lheir ovn inlernaI Iogic lheir ovn gnosis, vhich may
denigrale Weslern ralio-cenlric reason aIlogelher. The dicholomy is imIicil
in DaIImayr's discourse vhere lhere is no crilicaI seIf-refIeclion on lhe
eislemoIogicaI foundalions of his ovn discourse and ils IikeIy
incomalibiIily vilh indigenous eislemoIogy. LocaI and arlicuIar
eislemoIogies may and lhis is mosl oflen lhe case be oosed lo lhe
ralio-cenlrism lhal is lhe foundalion of DaIImayr's hiIosohicaI syslem.
DaIImayr is nol al aII sensilive lo lhis facl in his roosaI for a IaleraI
universaIism. This vouId mean lhal his IaleraI universaIism, a hiIosohicaI
conslrucl deveIoed from said ralio-cenlric foundalions, vouId be used lo
aIIov indigenous eislemoIogies lo have lheir say.
The oslslrucluraIisl schooI of oslcoIoniaIism simiIarIy aIies a
dicholomised framevork lo indigenous discourse lhrough lhe concel of
lhe hybrid. This occurs in sile of Roberl Young's inlervenlion, lhrough
vhich oslcoIoniaIism began lo refIecl crilicaIIy on ils ovn lheorelicaI
A1+&.7&1: I3).,*3497 E5.78*2414,= 28
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 28
underinnings and lhe counler-modernily of anli-coIoniaI discourse (2001).
Ior lhis inlervenlion remained firmIy Iaced vilhin lhe Weslern eisleme
vhen deconslruclion vas chosen as lhe ideaI form of oslcoIoniaIism. Young
considered oslcoIoniaIism a form of cuIluraI and inleIIecluaI
decoIonizalion oeraling vilhin lhe hearl of melrooIilan cuIlure (2001:
421). He did nol, hovever, consider vhelher or nol vorking vilhin
melrooIilan cuIlure delermined lhe framevork of inleresl, nor did he
consider ils being delermined by vhal AnibaI Qui|ano referred lo as lhe
modernily/ralionaIily cuIluraI comIex (2007: 171). Young cIearIy oeraled
vilhin a Weslern eisleme and lhal is vhy, in lhe Ianonian mouId, he (Iike
mosl oslcoIoniaI crilics before him) dicholomised indigenous eislemoIogy
inlo lhal vhich can be assimiIaled inlo oslcoIoniaIisl eislemoIogy and lhal
vhich cannol. Hybridily vas lhe key nolion lhal aIIoved him lo do so.
Young's use of hybridily served lvo uroses: firsl, lo cIeanse
indigenous discourse from lhal vhich is unaIalabIe for lhe oslcoIoniaI
crilic, and, second, lo give lhe iIIusion lhal indigenous eislemoIogy is being
fuIIy considered vhen in facl lhe consideralion is nominaI al besl. In lerms
of cIeansing indigenous discourse, Young acceled indigenous anli-
coIoniaIisl exressions as Iong as lhey do nol inslilule lheir ovn
rocedures of oression (2001: 164), as do some movemenls of reIigious
revivaIism. To overcome such rocedures of oression, he rescribed
hybridising lhese indigenisl conceluaIisalions of anli-coIoniaIism vilh
some of lhe ob|eclives of sociaIism and feminism . . . as in cerlain forms of
Arab nalionaIism so lhal lhey can Iink osiliveIy lo lhe oIilics of
oslcoIoniaI crilique (Young, 2001: 164). In olher vords, he advocaled an
indigenism lhal is hybridised vilh modernily. In addilion lo ils sveeing
generaIisalion, Young's oinl here belrays severaI robIems. Iirsl is lhe
comIele faiIure lo exhibil any form of engagemenl vilh indigenous
eislemoIogy. Second, Young is slrikingIy uncrilicaI lovards modernily and
lhe conlribulion il has made lo lhe oressive and inloIeranl slrain in
movemenls of reIigious revivaIism.
To cIarify, modernily is nol lhe rool
cause of aII reIigious oression, neilher are indigenous reIigious
eislemoIogies inherenlIy oressive. Taiaiake AIfred, an indigenous
schoIar, addressed exaclIy lhis oinl, exIaining lhal lhe oressive olenliaI
may be found in lhe belrayaI of lhe lradilionaI vaIues, such as lhe rinciIes
of resecl and harmonious coexislence, by indigenous Ieaders (2009: 11).
Young's use of hybridily lo give lhe iIIusion lhal indigenous
eislemoIogy is being fuIIy considered is dislinclIy aarenl in his handIing
of Gandhi's anli-coIoniaI discourse.
Here, Young cIearIy ereluales lhe use
of lhe dicholomising framevork lo exIore indigenous discourse. Young
reads oslcoIoniaIism's excIusion of Gandhi as indicalive of lhis fieId's
A1+&.7&1: I3).,*3497 E5.78*2414,=
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unmedialed secuIarism and ils excIusion of lhe reIigions lhal have laken
on lhe oIilicaI idenlily of roviding aIlernalive vaIue-syslems lo lhose of
lhe vesl, lo finaIIy decIare lhal oslcoIoniaIism desile ils esousaI of
subaIlern resislance, scarceIy vaIues subaIlern resislance lhal does nol
oerale according lo ils ovn secuIar lerms (2001: 338). NeverlheIess, Young
himseIf is nol differenl because he faiIed lo exIore lhe eislemoIogicaI
imorl of Gandhi's siriluaIised anli-coIoniaI discourse vhen he negIecled
lo examine vhal vas arguabIy lhe mosl formalive eIemenl in Ghandi's
discourse. In acluaIily, lhis discourse vas based on an eislemoIogy lhal vas
rooled in a rediscovered Hinduism, vhich nol onIy oosed Weslern
modernily bul aIso reresenled a siriluaI alh for Gandhi himseIf. Young
seemed conlenl simIy lo aIIude lo lhe infIuence of lhe TheosohicaI Sociely
on Gandhi's discourse. y conlrasl, Young exaggeraled Gandhi's use of lhe
looIs of modernily lo romole lhis siriluaIised anli-coIoniaIism, lhereby
suggesling some sorl of hiIosohicaI comIicily vilh lhe underinnings of
modernily on Gandhi's arl. ecause of his lheorelicaI commilmenls, Young
vas obIiged lo hybridise Gandhi's discourse, and lhe onIy vay he couId do
so vas by suggesling lhe hybridisalion of Gandhi's discourse vilh
modernily. UIlimaleIy, lhe eislemoIogicaI imorl of Gandhi's inlervenlion
remains unregislered.
Aside from Mudimbe's (1988) inlervenlion, Arif DirIik's (1997)
Pcsicc|cnia| Aura. Tnir! Wcr|! Criiicisn in inc Agc cj G|c|a| Capiia|isn vas
erhas one of lhe firsl vorks of oslcoIoniaIism lo address indigenous
eislemoIogy. Hovever, DirIik's inlervenlion, vhich incidenlaIIy lreals
indigenous eislemoIogy as a calegory, aears lo be nolhing more lhan a
nuanced echo of Iarry's osilion. Inslead of fuIIy exIoring lhe significance
of such eislemoIogies and recognising lhe chaIIenge lhey ose lo
oslcoIoniaI sludies, DirIik imeIIed by his ideoIogicaI commilmenl lo
maleriaIism subsumed lhese eislemoIogies under muIli-hisloricaIism. He
defined muIli-hisloricaIism as lhe muIliIe and aIlernalive indigenous
hisloricaI lra|eclories lhal resenl differenl eislemoIogies (1997: 3). He
described indigenous eoIes as roducls of a modern hisloricaI exerience
vho are inlernaIIy differenlialed, arlake of lhe sociaI, ideoIogicaI, and
cuIluraI diversilies of lhe resenl and, consequenlIy, hoId diverse vievs of
lhe resenl, lhe asl, and lhe fulure (DirIik, 1997: 140). IniliaIIy il may nol
be cIear hov DirIik suslained lhe dicholomising framevork. ul on cIoser
examinalion il becomes aarenl lhal vhiIe he aIIoved indigenous eoIes
lo have lheir ovn hisloricaI lra|eclory and even defined lhem in lerms of lhal
lra|eclory, he did nol accel lheir eislemoIogicaI conlribulion. The
lransilion from lhe recognilion of indigenous eislemoIogy lo muIli-
hisloricaIism is achieved lhrough his lrealmenl of hislory as eislemoIogy,
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SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 30
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vhich is based on lhe idea of lhe conlemoraneily of indigenous eoIes
(DirIik, 1997: 3).
Trealing hislory as eislemoIogy and exIoring indigenous
eislemoIogy on ils ovn lerms are very differenl research aroaches. The
aIicalion of DirIik's muIli-hisloricaIism means exIoring conlemorary
arlicuIalions of indigenism in conneclion vilh asl hislories ralher lhan asl
eislemoIogies. Inslead of lrying lo lrace lhe eislemoIogicaI conlinuily
belveen asl and resenl arlicuIalions of indigenous eislemoIogy, DirIik
examined lhese arlicuIalions from lhe vanlage oinl of sharing a common
hislory, vhich is governed by a simiIar hisloricaI delerminism. DirIik
recognised, hovever, lhal hislory hardIy ossesses a universaI
eislemoIogicaI foundalion, and, surrisingIy, addressed lhis issue in an
I reaIize lhal lhis hisloricizalion of indigenism does vioIence lo
indigenous concelions of lime and sace, vhich reudiale
IuroAmerican nolions of hislory. |. . . j Indigenism ilseIf,
hovever, has been revorked by lhe hisloricaI deveIomenls
discussed here, so lhal lhere are aIso oslmodern and
oslcoIoniaI Indians (1997: 22)
Here, DirIik's soIulion vas lo incororale indigenous beIiefs lhal reudialed
hislory as eislemoIogy inlo muIli-hisloricaIism (1997: 22). This slalemenl
essenliaIIy eslabIishes lhe IausibiIily of subsuming indigenous
eislemoIogy lhal reudiales hislory under lhe rubric of hisloriograhy,
irreseclive of conlradiclions invoIved in such an aclion. OveraII, DirIik's
commenls aboul lhe imorlance of indigenizalion of eislemoIogy as a
necessary firsl sle before achieving a genuine inler-discursivily are
mereIy a form of verbaI acquiescence (1997: 141).
AIlhough oslcoIoniaI crilics seem lo recognise lhe imorlance of
incIuding indigenous eislemoIogies, lhey redicale lhis accelance on
eislemoIogies conforming lo each crilic's ovn lheorelicaI concerns and
affiIialions. This acl of redicalion has necessilaled lhe adolion of a
dicholomising framevork for lhe lrealmenl of indigenous eislemoIogy.
Moreover, lhe use of lhis framevork indicales lhe faiIure of oslcoIoniaIism
lo refIecl crilicaIIy on ils eislemoIogicaI geneaIogy. This faiIure highIighls a
ma|or fIav since anli-coIoniaI indigenous eislemoIogies do indeed exisl
and, more imorlanlIy, have been for severaI decades discussed in serious
schoIarIy vorks.
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 31
A1+&.7&1: I3).,*3497 E5.78*2414,=
Frnm Indigcnnus Epistcmn!ngy tn Dccn!nnisatinn
There is a sublIe bul subslanliaI difference belveen fuII and condilionaI
accelance of indigenous eislemoIogy. In his Iilerary masleriece, Hcn|rcs
!c naiz, MigueI AngeI Aslurias rovided a remarkabIy comIex arlicuIalion
of indigenous eislemoIogy (1993 |1949j). The elhos and fundamenlaI Iogic
of Hcn|rcs !c naiz are exressed in lhe foIIoving assage from lhe noveI:
The maize imoverishes lhe earlh and makes no one rich.
Neilher lhe boss nor lhe men. Sovn lo be ealen il is lhe sacred
suslenance of lhe men vho vere made of maize. Sovn lo make
money il means famine for lhe men vho vere made of maize
(Aslurias, 1993 |1949j: 11)
Nov, from lhe vanlage oinl of a slandard oslcoIoniaI inlerrelalion, lhe
exressed sanclily of lhe Iand can be underslood as being in Iine vilh anli-
cailaIisl exIoilalion and is a melahoricaI exression denoling lhe
imorlance of Iand for Mayan idenlily. Hovever, lhe lhird senlence of lhis
assage vouId never be underslood IileraIIy as a vilaI eislemoIogy from
vhich a vhoIe vorIdviev is conslrucled. Irom lhe vanlage oinl of
InIighlenmenl-based reason il is hardIy ralionaI lo accel Aslurias'
osiling lhal men are made of maize. Hovever, from lhe vanlage of oinl
of Mayan eislemoIogy, men vho are made of maize is a Iived vay of
knoving. SimiIar indigenous voices abound in oslcoIoniaI socielies,
reveaIing olher vays of knoving and being. Moreover, lhese olher vays are
nol by definilion benign. Ior examIe, indigenous reIigious lradilions in
GualemaIa have heIed usher in a vave of reverse racism in an efforl lo
excIude |a!incs from indigenous communilies (Warren, 1989: 21). RegardIess,
indigenous vays of knoving need lo be acknovIedged as vaIid
conlribuling and indeed overfuI eislemoIogies if oslcoIoniaIism is lo
uhoId ils elhicaI urchase.
Indigenisl schoIars have ul forvard resonanl inlervenlions lhal nole
lhe eislemoIogicaI imeriaIism of lhe Wesl. Ior examIe, Taiaiake AIfred
(2009) exIored lhe forging of indigenous forms of governance based on
indigenous knovIedge and a seIf-conscious lradilionaIism. Ierhas lhe mosl
remarkabIe examIe and, indeed, lhe mosl slriking oversighl by
oslcoIoniaIisls is lhe vork of Linda Tuhivai Smilh (1999), vho soughl
nolhing Iess lhan lhe decoIonisalion of research melhods, based on a
scalhing crilique of oslcoIoniaI eislemoIogy. In her sludy, Smilh dissecled
oslcoIoniaIism and echoed lhe ob|eclion ul forlh by Ahmad regarding
oslcoIoniaIism's arorialion of lhe lhird vorId. Indigenous academics,
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 32
A1+&.7&1: I3).,*3497 E5.78*2414,=
she said, susecl lhal osl-coIoniaIism has become a slralegy for
reinscribing or reaulhorizing lhe riviIeges of non-indigenous academics,
because oslcoIoniaIism has been defined in vays vhich Ieave oul
indigenous eoIes, lheir vays of knoving and lheir currenl concerns
(Smilh, 1999: 24). In conlrasl lo Ahmad, hovever, Smilh is firmIy Iaced
vilhin a crilicaI erseclive lhal recognises lhe comIicily belveen Weslern
eislemoIogy and lhe conlinuing coIonisalion of aII fieIds of research. Iven
lhough she seemed lo confIale modernily and modernism vilh lhis
eisleme, she idenlified lhe InIighlenmenl as lhe rogenilor of Weslern
eislemoIogy (ibid.: 58). To iIIuslrale hov radicaIIy differenl indigenous
vays of knoving can be from Weslern- or InIighlenmenl-generaled
eislemoIogy, Smilh rovided severaI examIes, incIuding lhe foIIoving:
The Maori vord for lime or sace is lhe same (ibid.: 50). Iurlhermore,
Smilh echoes Aslurias' aforemenlioned Iilerary inlervenlion in her
descrilion of indigenous sace: Indigenous sace has been coIonized.
Land, for examIe, vas vieved as somelhing lo be lamed and broughl under
conlroI. The Iandscae, lhe arrangemenl of nalure, couId be aIlered by 'Man'
|. . .j nol simIy for hysicaI survivaI bul for exIoilalion and aeslhelic
concerns (ibid.: 51). ul Smilh is mosl comeIIing vhen she examines lhe
eislemoIogicaI imorl of indigenous siriluaIily:
The argumenls of differenl indigenous eoIes based on
siriluaI reIalionshis lo lhe universe |. . .j have been difficuIl
argumenls for Weslern syslems of knovIedge lo deaI vilh or
accel. These argumenls give a arliaI indicalion of lhe
differenl vorId vievs and aIlernalive vays of coming lo knov,
and of being, vhich sliII endure vilhin lhe indigenous vorId.
Concels of siriluaIily vhich Chrislianily allemled lo
deslroy, lhen lo aroriale, and lhen lo cIaim, are crilicaI siles
of resislance for indigenous eoIes. The vaIues, alliludes,
concels and Ianguage embedded in beIiefs aboul siriluaIily
reresenl, in many cases, lhe cIearesl conlrasl and mark of
difference belveen indigenous eoIes and lhe Wesl. Il is one
of lhe fev arls of ourseIves vhich lhe Wesl cannol deciher,
cannol undersland and cannol conlroI |. . .j yel (ibid.: 74)
Smilh's ovn osilion is cIear from her descrilion of hov her
grandmolher insliIIed in her siriluaI reIalionshis lo lhe Iand and, more
imorlanlIy for Smilh, heIed her deveIo a sense of quile hysicaI
groundedness lhal made her scelicaI or caulious aboul lhe myslicaI,
misly-eyed discourse lhal is somelimes emIoyed by indigenous eoIe lo
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describe our reIalionshis vilh lhe Iand and lhe universe (ibid.: 12). This
sense of groundedness of vhich she seaks refers lo lhe very maleriaI vay
in vhich indigenous vays of knoving vere cruciaI for survivaI: We had lo
redicl, lo Iearn and refIecl, ve had lo reserve and rolecl, ve had lo
defend and allack, ve had lo be mobiIe, ve had lo have sociaI syslems vhich
enabIed us lo do lhese lhings (ibid.: 13). Hence, Smilh does nol consciousIy
dicholomise indigenous eislemoIogy, as do oslcoIoniaI crilics, bul ralher
consciousIy sc|ccis vhal asecls of indigenous eislemoIogy she vanls lo
emhasise. Al lhis oinl, il may be said lhal Smilh modifies lhe Ianonian
dicholomised inleIIecluaI. In her discourse indigenous eislemoIogy is lhe
riviIeged Iocus. The inleIIecluaI is avare of lhe dicholomy, and, moreover,
is seIf-consciousIy seIeclive. This is vhy Smilh's decoIonisalion does nol
mean and has nol meanl a lolaI re|eclion of aII lheory or research or Weslern
knovIedge. Ralher, il means riorilising lhe indigenous vorId viev and
ils concerns and lhen coming lo knov and undersland lheory and research
from lhal erseclive (ibid.: 39).
Ior some oslcoIoniaI crilics Iike Mudimbe and Quayson (2000)
knoving lhese concerns and vorId viev of vhich Smilh seaks requires
an inlerseclion vilh anlhrooIogy. Il is al lhis inlerseclion vilh anlhrooIogy
lhal lhe fissures of oslcoIoniaIism begin lo emerge. This is vhere
Mudimbe's ceIebraled eislemoIogicaI inlerrogalion of coIoniaI knovIedge
began. He invesligaled lhe eislemoIogicaI shifls in, and lhe hiIosohicaI
conlribulion lo, vhal he referred lo as African gnosis lhal is, lhe
scienlific and ideoIogicaI discourse on Africa (Mudimbe, 1988: 187).
Hovever, Mudimbe oinled oul lhe sheer imossibiIily of escaing lhe
rofoundIy enlrenched rools of lhe Weslern eisleme in lhis gnosis (ibid.:
185). Inslead of harking back lo a risline asl, he conslrucled from vilhin
lhal eisleme a lheorelicaI framevork lhal enabIed a highIy seIf-crilicaI
y conlrasl, Smilh emhasised lhe soiIed reulalion lhal
anlhrooIogy as an inslrumenl of coIonisalion has acquired amongsl
indigenisls. This viev of a conlaminaled anlhrooIogicaI gaze can be
considered lhe Iaunching ad for vhal is erhas lhe mosl lhorough
lheorelicaI inlervenlion in lhe decoIonisalion of knovIedge in generaI.
MignoIo's decoIonisalion exlends far beyond lhal of Mudimbe's seIf-
crilicaI anlhrooIogy and echoes indigenisl ob|eclions lo anlhrooIogy noled
by Smilh. MignoIo mainlained lhal decoIonisalion imIies a de-Iinking
from anlhrooIogicaI agendas |. . .j lo agendas lhal emerge from lhe
decoIoniaI needs of indigenous communilies (2008: 20).
This de-Iinking invoIves a lhoroughgoing crilique of lhe
eislemoIogicaI foundalions of Weslern discourse, vhich highIighls lhe
inlerdeendence of coIoniaIily and modernily. AIlhough crilics, Iike Smilh
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and allisle,
have reveaIed an avareness of lhis conneclion, none have
exosed ils delhs, as did MignoIo vhose vork surrisingIy faiIed lo
menlion Smilh's caII for decoIonisalion. MignoIo foIIoved Qui|ano's (2007)
Iead and caIIed for lhe decoIonisalion of being and knovIedge lhal exlends
beyond lhe mere lakeover of lhe slale by lhe IocaI eIile (2008: 18).
MignoIo's signaI achievemenl vas his reaIisalion lhal decoIonisalion slarls
vilh lhe recognilion of lhe foIIoving:
There is no modernily vilhoul coIoniaIily, coIoniaIily is
conslilulive of modernily and nol derivalive. There is a singIe
modernily/coIoniaIily lhal is lhe consequence of lhe geooIilicaI
differenliaI dislribulion of eislemic, oIilicaI, economic, and
aeslhelic (e.g., sensing, sub|eclivily) over (ibid.: 22)
Moreover, lhis comIex is fundamenlaIIy dicholomising: coIoniaI
differences, eislemic and onloIogicaI, are conslrucled in lhe rheloric of
modernily inferior beings (coIoniaI onloIogicaI difference), raciaIIy or
sexuaIIy, are beings nol veII suiled for knovIedge and underslanding
(coIoniaI eislemic difference) (ibid.). In addilion, lhe sile of conleslalion is
eislemoIogy. MignoIo's lhesis rovides a rofound underslanding of lhe
aforemenlioned dicholomising drive observed in oslcoIoniaIism's
engagemenl vilh indigenous eislemoIogy. This is because his crilique
reveaIs lhal lhe source of oslcoIoniaIism's dicholomising drive is ils
deendence uon a Weslern ralio-cenlric eislemoIogy lhal does nol
recognise lhe inlerdeendence of coIoniaIily and modernily. This
deendence is vhal, as indigenisls such as Smilh have aIready inluiled,
kees oslcoIoniaIism as an arorialive discourse vilh regard lo
indigenous eislemoIogy.
Tnwards a Dccn!nniscd Pnstcn!nnia!ism?
If a decoIonised oslcoIoniaIism is lhe goaI, lhen a cIoser Iook al lhe rool
cause of oslcoIoniaIism's recourse lo lhe dicholomising framevork is
required. Wilhoul an avareness of lhe coIoniaIily/modernily comIex
oslcoIoniaI crilics have no choice bul lo dicholomise. This is vhy Deeika
ahri is comeIIed lo announce, in advance, lhe uIlimale faiIure of any efforl
lo undersland vays of knoving lhal have aIIoved suslainabiIily and
survivaI among oslcoIoniaI communilies because lhey vouId require
dedicaled engagemenl vilh a conlexl unavaiIabIe lo mosl melrooIilan
audiences (2003: 20). Her commenl suggesls an imIicil and erhas
subconscious recognilion of lhe imossibiIily of lransgressing lhe
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dicholomising framevork. The facl lhal ahri vas conlenl vilh mereIy
oinling oul lhis henomenon inslead of examining ils fuII imIicalions
for oslcoIoniaIism is symlomalic of a rofound anxiely lhal governs
oslcoIoniaIism's encounler vilh indigenous eislemoIogies. The anxiely
has a greal deaI lo do vilh Lez's ob|eclion lo lhe naive search for a
mylhicaI singuIar 'aulhenlic' voice for lhe indigene, as if 'CoIumbus's
crunch uon lhe sand' had never haened (2001: 16, 83).
ecause lhey
are unabIe lo adol a radicaIIy crilicaI slandoinl lovards lheir ovn
eislemoIogicaI rools, oslcoIoniaI crilics have no choice bul lo imagine lhe
unassimiIabIe olher from vilhin a dicholomised vorIdviev. They cannol,
for examIe, undersland lhal a recourse lo indigenous eislemoIogy need
nol ursue an eilher/or scenario lhal is, ciincr a nalive aulhenlic
unlarnished voice cr an aIready hybrid coIoniaIIy conlaminaled sub|ecl.
Smilh besl described lhe acluaI slance of many indigenisls by oinling oul
hov soIulions are osed from a combinalion of lhe lime before, coIonized
lime, and lhe lime before lhal, re-coIonized lime. DecoIonizalion
encasuIales bolh sels of ideas (1999: 24). Therefore, lo exlend lhe
CoIumbus melahor of lhe coIoniaI encounler, oslcoIoniaI crilics see onIy
lhe imrinl of CoIumbus's fool, lhey faiI lo recognise lhal lhe beach is vasl,
vilh regions as yel unknovn and unexIored.
Can lhere be a decoIonised oslcoIoniaIism` UnliI lhere is a lhorough
recognilion of lhe invoIvemenl of oslcoIoniaIism in lhe
modernily/coIoniaIily comIex, vhich is secificaIIy manifesled in ils
dicholomised handIing of indigenous eislemoIogy, oslcoIoniaIism viII
nol escae lhe charge lhal il exlends coIoniaI aradigms so as lo aroriale
olher knovIedge for ils ovn Iurocenlric ends. The decoIonisalion of
oslcoIoniaIism musl invoIve a high degree of seIf-crilicaI refIeclion.
HaiIa 5. A!Iaisa! earned her IhD from lhe Universily of Issex. She is
currenlIy leaching al King Saud Universily in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Her
research inleresls incIude exIoring reIigious discourse vilhin oslcoIoniaI
sludies, and more recenlIy invesligaling Iurocenlric lraveI accounls of
Arabia. In 2006, she ubIished a book enlilIed |c|igicus Oisccursc in
Pcsicc|cnia| Siu!ics. Magica| |ca|isn in Hcn|rcs Oc Maiz an! Ban!arsnan.
This usage of eislemoIogy/eislemoIogies is alluned lo lhe idea lhal
many lribes did nol have 'Iavs' or 'reIigion,' bul a singIe beIief syslem lhal
vas described as 'our vay of doing lhings' (AIfred, 2009: 67).
There is no modernily vilhoul coIoniaIily, coIoniaIily is conslilulive of
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 36
modernily and nol derivalive (MignoIo, 2008: 22).
Gayalri Chakravorly Sivak's (1999) eislemic vioIence is usefuI,
hovever, aside from noling lhe eislemic vioIence of imeriaIism, Sivak
did nol incororale indigenous eislemoIogy anyvhere in her crilique of
coIoniaIism. Sivak's slralegic essenliaIism vas founded uon anli-
essenliaIism, vhich is analhema lo mosl, if nol aII, indigenous
Throughoul lhis arlicIe lhe lerms 'Wesl' and 'Weslern' viII remain
cailaIised, vhiIe lhe lerm 'indigenous' viII remain Iovercased. This is lo
indicale and kee lhe reader avare of lhe marginaIizalion of indigenous
eislemoIogies as oosed lo lhe cenlraIisalion of lhe 'Weslern' eisleme
vilhin oslcoIoniaIism.
I lake indigenisl lo refer lo schoIars vho suorl or advocale indigenism.
The Ialler has slrong rools in Lalin America, hovever, I use il as a descrilive
lerm lo indicale vhalever enlily, mylhoIogy, reIigion, and so on, is invoked
as a source of indigenous re-coIoniaI idenlily, lhal is oIilicaIIy Iegilimale
and used as an anli-coIoniaI discourse.
See AIfred (2009: 77-81).
DirIik aIso discussed lhe eislemoIogy of oslcoIoniaIism ils insislence
on difference in idenlily conslruclion, lhe conviclion lhal Iilerary vorks
suffice as evidence of vhal goes on in lhe vorId, and lhe overriding
significance of lhe oIilics of idenlily in Iace of radicaI oIilics (1997: 5-6).
Crilics vho re|ecl indigenous eislemoIogies oul-of-hand are excIuded
from consideralion. Moreover, oslcoIoniaI crilics viII nole lhe absence of
lhe feminisl schooI of oslcoIoniaIism. This is because lhis arlicIe
dislinguishes belveen lvo modes of feminism: oslcoIoniaI feminism is
considered as eislemoIogicaI rulure of lhe magnilude and lye lhal il is
hoed viII be ossibIe for indigenous eislemoIogy, indigenous feminism
is considered as being arl and arceI of indigenous eislemoIogy.
A case in oinl vouId be lhe MusIim rolherhood in Sudan. Ior a delaiIed
anaIysis, see AIfaisaI (2006: 182-206).
M. Gandhi's indigenous eislemoIogy is secified here because Young uses
him as a case in oinl, and lherefore his faiIure lo fuIIy examine lhe reIigious
A1+&.7&1: I3).,*3497 E5.78*2414,= 37
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eislemoIogy of Gandhi's discourse can be laken as indicalive of oslcoIoniaI
lheory's negIecl of indigenous eislemoIogies.
Ior examIe, AIfred (2009), Kunnie and Goduka (2006), allisle (2000),
KincheIoe and SemaIi (1999), and DeIoria (1973). The omission of lhese
inlervenlions from oslcoIoniaIisls' consideralion is slriking, hovever, lhis
sludy has chosen one arlicuIar loken inlervenlion lo exhibil lhis
This consisls of a crilicaI synlhesis of IoucauIl's lhesis on lhe Iasl
archaeoIogicaI rulure in Weslern eislemoIogy, a brief inlerrelalion of
Levi-Slrauss's nolion of satagc nin!, and finaIIy a Iea for lhe imorlance of
lhe sub|ecl in sociaI sciences (Mudimbe, 1988: 23).
The coIoniaI exerience lras us in lhe ro|ecl of modernily. There can
be no 'oslmodern' for us unliI ve have sellIed some business of lhe
modern (Smilh, 1999: 34).
Lez adoled lhis hrase from ralhvaile (1990).
Ahmad, A. (1992) |n Tnccrq. C|asscs, Naiicns, Iiicraiurcs London: Verso
Ahmad, A. (1996) The IoIilics of Lilerary IoslcoIoniaIily in I. Mongia (Id.)
Ccnicnpcrarq Pcsicc|cnia| Tnccrq London: ArnoId (276-293)
AIfaisaI, H. S. (2006) |c|igicus Oisccursc in Pcsicc|cnia| Siu!ics. Magica| |ca|isn
in Hcn|rcs Oc Maiz an! Ban!arsnan Levislon, NY: Idvin MeIIen Iress
AIfred, G. R. (2009) Pcacc, Pcucr, |igniccusncss. An |n!igcncus Manijcsic (2nd
edilion) Onlario, Canada: Oxford Universily Iress
Aslurias, M. A. (1993 |1949j) Mcn cj Maizc Iillsburgh: Universily of
Iillsburgh Iress
allisle, M. (2000) |cc|aining |n!igcncus Vcicc an! Visicn Vancouver:
Universily of rilish CoIumbia Iress
ahri, D. (2003) Naiitc |nic||igcncc. Acsinciics, Pc|iiics, an! Pcsicc|cnia|
Iiicraiurc MinneaoIis: Universily of Minnesola Iress
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ralhvaile, I. K. (1990) Hislory of lhe Caribbean Wriler and X/seIf in G.
Davis and H. M. }eIinek (Ids) Crisis an! Crcaiitiiq in inc Ncu Iiicraiurcs in
|ng|isn Amslerdam: Rodoi (325-332)
DaIImayr, I. R. (1996) Bcqcn! Oricnia|isn. |ssaqs cn Crcss-cu|iura| |nccunicr
AIbany: SUNY Iress
DeIoria, V. (1973) Gc! is |c! Nev York: Grossel & DunIa
DirIik, A. (1997) Pcsicc|cnia| Aura. Tnir! Wcr|! Criiicisn in inc Agc cj G|c|a|
Capiia|isn ouIder: Weslviev Iress
Ianon, I. (1963) Tnc Wrcicnc! cj inc |arin Nev York: Grove Iress
Geerlz, C. (1973) Tnc |nicrprciaiicn cj Cu|iurcs. Sc|ccic! |ssaqs asic ooks
KincheIoe, }. L. and SemaIi, L. M. (1999) Wnai is |n!igcncus Kncu|c!gc?. Vciccs
jrcn inc Aca!cnq Nev York: IaImer Iress
Kunnie, }. and Goduka, N. I. (2006) |n!igcncus Pccp|cs Wis!cn an! Pcucr.
Ajjirning cur Kncu|c!gc inrcugn Narraiitcs AIdershol: Ashgale
Lez, A. }. (2001) Pcsis an! Pasis. A Tnccrq cj Pcsicc|cnia|isn AIbany: SUNY
MignoIo, W. D. (2007) Inlroduclion: CoIoniaIily of Iover and De-coIoniaI
Thinking Cu|iura| Siu!ics 21(2-3), 155-167
MignoIo, W. D. (2008) IreambIe: The HisloricaI Ioundalion of
Modernily/coIoniaIily and lhe Imergence of DecoIoniaI Thinking in S.
Caslro-KIaren (Id.) A Ccnpanicn ic Iaiin Ancrican Iiicraiurc an! Cu|iurc (12-
52) Relrieved from: hll://
Mudimbe, V. Y. (1988) Tnc |ntcniicn cj Ajrica. Gncsis, Pni|cscpnq, an! inc Or!cr
cj Kncu|c!gc Ioominglon: Indiana Universily Iress
Iarry, . (1994) Resislance Theory/Theorizing Resislance, or Tvo Cheers
for Nalivism in I. arker, I. HuIme and M. Iversen (Ids) Cc|cnia|
Oisccursc/Pcsicc|cnia| Tnccrq Manchesler: Manchesler Universily Iress (172-
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Quayson, A. (2000) Pcsicc|cnia|isn. Tnccrq, Praciicc, cr Prcccss? Cambridge:
Qui|ano, A. (2007) CoIoniaIily and Modernily/RalionaIily Cu|iura| Siu!ics
21(2-3), 168-178
Said, I. (1985) OrienlaIism Reconsidered Cu|iura| Criiiquc 1, 89-107
Smilh, L. T. (1999) Occc|cnizing Mcinc!c|cgics. |cscarcn an! |n!igcncus Pccp|cs
London: Zed ooks
Sivak, G. C. (1999) A Criiiquc cj Pcsicc|cnia| |cascn. Tcuar! a Hisicrq cj inc
Vanisning Prcscni Cambridge, MA: Harvard Universily Iress
Warren, K. . (1989) Tnc Sqn|c|isn cj Su|cr!inaiicn. |n!ian |!cniiiq in a
Guaicna|an Tcun Auslin: Universily of Texas Iress
Young, R. }. C. (2001) Pcsicc|cnia|isn. An Hisicrica| |nirc!uciicn Oxford:
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On thc Brnkcn Cnnvcrsatinn bctwccn
Pnstcn!nnia!ism and Intc!!cctua!s in thc Pcriphcry
by Samer Irangie
This aer is concerned vilh lhe recelion of lhe oslcoIoniaI
crilique in lhe erihery, as a vay lo robe lhe more generaI
robIem of knovIedge in and on lhe erihery. The aer viII
Iook al lhe broken conversalion belveen oslcoIoniaIism and
some lrends of inleIIecluaIs in lhe Arab vorId. The lvo
momenls of lhe slory are lhe evaIualion of anli-coIoniaI
inleIIecluaIs by IoslcoIoniaIism, and lhe recelion of Idvard
Said's Oricnia|isn by inleIIecluaIs in lhe Arab vorId. Regarding
lhe firsl momenl, lhe nolion of 'robIem-sace' viII be
deIoyed lo varn againsl lhe universaIizing lendencies of
oslcoIoniaIism. As lo lhe second momenl, lhe vork of Mahdi
'AmiI and Sadek }aIaI aI-Azm is resenled as iIIuslraling lhe
rimacy of lhe oIilicaI in lheir reading and recelion of Said's
lhesis. The concIusion argues for an excavalion of lhe oIilicaI
from undernealh lhe eislemoIogicaI crilique as a vay lo renev
lhe broken conversalion belveen lhe melrooIe and lhe
Pnstcn!nnia!ism, Cn!nnia! Knnw!cdgc and Anti-Cn!nnia! 5trugg!cs
The robIem of knovIedge in and on lhe erihery and ils oIilicaI
imIicalion has become a cenlraI concern for many lrends of lhoughl, a sign
of lhe adolion of osl-slrucluraI and osl-modern lheories (or al Ieasl
sensibiIilies) lo lhe sludy of lhe erihery.
IoslcoIoniaIism has been a ma|or
infIuence in lhis resecl, vilh ils robIemalizalion of Weslern eislemoIogies
and ils queslioning of lhe reIalion belveen coIoniaI over and knovIedge
(Chakrabarly, 2000, MignoIo, 2000, Mehla, 1999). Desile lhe helerogeneily
of lhis lrend and ils variabIe oIilicaI imIicalions, a running concern among
aulhors vriling under lhis broad umbreIIa has been lhe decoIonizalion of
lhe reresenlalion of lhe erihery, and lhe robIemalizalion of lhe various
oIilicaI and sociaI idenlilies inheriled from lhe InIighlenmenl. Vieved from
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 41
lhis erseclive, Idvard Said's Oricnia|isn is a cenlraI momenl in lhe
geneaIogy of lhe oslcoIoniaI crilique (1979). Said's crilique of lhe
reresenlalion, and crealion, of lhe 'Orienl' by lhe Weslern gaze oened u
a vhoIe nev fieId of invesligalion lhrough lhe 'oIilicizalion' of Weslern
eislemoIogy and aeslhelics. Thanks lo lhis inleIIecluaI move, Said videned
our underslanding of coIoniaIism, uncovering lhe sublerranean aIIiance
belveen osilions lhal mighl have aeared as oosed, and lhe unknoving
deendence of anli-coIoniaI discourses on assumlions lhal beIong lo lhe
coIoniaI conceluaI slruclure.
Said's inleIIecluaI move, and lhe subsequenl oslcoIoniaI lrend,
gained lheir crilicaI urchase, arlIy due lo lheir conlrasling effecl vis-a-vis
revious anli-coIoniaI narralives. Said's crilique of lhe 'OrienlaIisl Marx' and
his varning in lhe concIuding ages of Oricnia|isn againsl radicaI
inleIIecluaIs' arlicialion in lheir ovn 'OrienlaIizing', iIIuslrale lhe lense
reIalion belveen lhese lvo modes of crilique. Marxism or nalionaIism,
desile lheir radicaI emancialory dimension, aear lo drav on lhe same
Iurocenlric masler-narralives, according lo lhis nev crilicaI erseclive. A
simiIar Iine of friclion aeared belveen Said's Oricnia|isn and arl of lhe
modernisl and radicaI inleIIigenlsia in lhe erihery. According lo lhe broad
oulIines of lhis crilique, inleIIecluaIs in lhe erihery inheriled lheir
underslanding of modernily from coIoniaI and OrienlaIisl accounls,
condemning lhem lo remain ereluaIIy in lhe 'vailing-room' of hislory, lo
use Chakrabarly's imagery (2000). Describing Arab inleIIecluaIs, Makdisi
noles lhal
even many of lhose vho have refused lo acknovIedge such
ulalive Iuroean sueriorily have neverlheIess eslabIished
lheir chaIIenges lo il in lhe very narralive and discursive lerms
lhal il has ilseIf roosed and invenled, hence, such chaIIenges
have more oflen lhan nol been defused or negaled by lheir
arlicialion in lhe very same conceluaI and discursive syslem
(of modernily) againsl vhich lhey seek lo define lhemseIves as
oosilionaI (1995: 88)
A significanl lradilion of inleIIecluaIs in lhe erihery, incIuding Marxisls
and nalionaIisls, emerged afler lhe oslcoIoniaI crilique. As unknoving
arlicianls in lheir ovn dominalion, lhese schoIars framed lheir oosilion
in a seIf-defealing narralive, one lhal cannol form lhe basis for a rogram of
This aer viII slarl from lhe recelion of Said's Oricnia|isn by Arab
inleIIecluaIs, as a vay lo robe lhe Iine of friclion belveen some of lhe lenels
42 F6&3,.*: P478(4143.&1.72 &3) I38*11*(89&17 .3 8-* P*6.5-*6=
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of oslcoIoniaIism and lhe inleIIigenlsia in lhe erihery. Through lhis
hisloricaI delour, lhe essay viII shed some Iighl on lhe earIy differenlialion
of crilicaI discourses, and viII rovide a hisloricaI conlexl for lhe queslion
of lhe reIevance of lhe eislemoIogicaI crilique of inleIIecluaIs in lhe
erihery. If lhe robIemalizalion of revious anli-coIoniaI or emancialory
discourses vas a veIcome and necessary move, lhe queslion lhal needs lo
be asked in our pcsi-oslcoIoniaIism era erlains lo lhe conlinuing crilicaI
urchase of lhis inleIIecluaI move, and more secificaIIy for lhis aer lo ils
crilicaI urchase in lhe erihery. In olher vords, if lhe osl-coIoniaI move
vas very fruilfuI oIilicaIIy and lheorelicaIIy in lhe Weslern academic fieId
al a secific hisloricaI and oIilicaI con|unclure, does lhis imIy lhal il has
lhe same crilicaI urchase in lhe conlexl of lhe erihery`
Travc!!ing 5aid: On thc Prnductinn nI Knnw!cdgc in thc Pcriphcry
A fruilfuI vay lo slarl lhinking aboul lhese queslions is lo examine lhe
recelion of oslcoIoniaIism in lhe erihery. DirIik hinled al lhe ambiguily
of oslcoIoniaIism in lhe Third WorId vhere lhemes of modernizalion and
nalionaIism sliII exerl a cerlain allracliveness, noling lhe difference belveen
lhe radicaI inleIIigenlsia in lhe erihery and lheir oslcoIoniaI inlerIoculors
(1994: 337). SimiIarIy, MignoIo sensed a cerlain dislrusl of oslcoIoniaIism
among some Lalin American inleIIecluaIs vho sav il as an exorlalion of
Norlh American inleIIigenlsia (2000: 173). These ambivaIenl reaclions in no
vay exhausl lhe recelion of lhe oslcoIoniaI crilique in lhe erihery, vhere
il has a slrong conlingenl of suorlers. ul lhey highIighl lhe difference
belveen lhe 'robIem-sace' of Weslern academia and lhal of inleIIecluaIs
in lhe erihery, raising queslions as lo lhe crilicaI urchase of
oslcoIoniaIism in differenl conlexls.
This ambiguily is cIearIy al vork in
lhe lraveIIing of Said's Oricnia|isn lo lhe Arab vorId, vhere lhe recelion of
his vork vas ambivaIenl, ranging from enlhusiaslic adolion of his lhesis
lo more susicious evaIualions.
The oIilicaI and inleIIecluaI conlexl of lhe recelion of Oricnia|isn in
lhe Arab vorId vas differenl from ils conlexl of roduclion. On a oIilicaI
IeveI, lhe Arab vorId vas vilnessing lhe veakening of lhe nalionaIisl,
sociaIisl and Marxisl oIilicaI olions of lhe 1950s and 1960s vilh lheir
secuIarism and modernisl sIogans, and lheir reIacemenl vilh more nalivisl
ideoIogies, IsIamisl oIilics and queslions of idenlilies. Ior inslance, lhe
Lebanese civiI var (1975-1989), vhich slarled for many as lvo varring
ideoIogicaI cams, had descended in lhe earIy 1980s inlo a slruggIe belveen
various seclarian grous. More imorlanlIy, Said's book coincided vilh lhe
Iranian revoIulion of 1979 and lhe rise of a radicaI form of IsIam lhal vouId
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charm, al Ieasl in ils earIy slages, subslanliaI grous of radicaI inleIIecluaIs.
Oricnia|isn came al a momenl of greal lurmoiI in lhe inleIIecluaI hislory of
lhe Arab vorId. The defeal of 1967 vhich heraIded a Iileralure of defeal and
disaoinlmenl among Arab inleIIecluaIs vilnessed lhe rise of nev
queslions erlaining lo lhe nolion of aulhenlicily, signaIIing a shifl from lhe
modernisl ro|ecl of lhe middIe of lhe cenlury, or al Ieasl lhe groving
concerns vilh queslions of idenlily. Said's book made ils enlry inlo lhe Arab
vorId amid lhis lroubIed conlexl, one lhal vouId heaviIy mark lhe book's
One of lhe firsl discussions of Said's vork lo come from lhe Arab
vorId vas Sadek }aIaI aI-Azm's reviev of Oricnia|isn (1981). The Syrian
hiIosoher slarls by noling lhe ossibIe essenliaIisl devialion of Said's lexl
and ils bias lovard reresenlalion, a crilique shared by many of Said's
Moving from lhis generaI crilique of lhe lexl, aI-Azm lhen
adols a more silualed erseclive, reading lhe lexls from his Iocalion in lhe
Arab vorId. In lhe Iasl arl of lhe lexl enlilIed 'OrienlaIism in Reverse', aI-
Azm drags Said's lexl lo lhe Arab vorId, finding in some brands of Arab
nalionaIism and IsIamic revivaIism lhe same OrienlaIisl Iogic aIbeil reversed:
This 'OrienlaIism in Reverse' slrives lo shov lhe onloIogicaI sueriorily of
lhe OrienlaI mind |. . .j over lhe OccidenlaI one, vriles aI-Azm (1981: 232).
Whal is inleresling in lhis 'aIicalion' of Said is lhe resuIling decouIing
belveen ils eislemoIogicaI and oIilicaI crilique. Whereas Said deIoyed
lhe eislemoIogicaI crilique in order lo queslion lhe underIying coIoniaI
ro|ecl and Weslern gaze, for aI-Azm, lhis mode of crilique is used againsl
anolher largel, one lhal does nol aear in Said's book, having no resence
in his Weslern academic robIem-sace. This is nol lhe case for aI-Azm,
Iocaled in a radicaIIy differenl conlexl: OnloIogicaI OrienlaIism in Reverse
is, in lhe end, no Iess reaclionary, myslifying, ahisloricaI and anli-human
lhan OnloIogicaI OrienlaIism roer (1981: 237). Whereas oslcoIoniaIism
couId uhoId a coIIasing of essenliaIism and coIoniaIism, seeing lhe
eislemoIogicaI as lhe olher face of lhe oIilicaI, inleIIecluaIs in lhe erihery
vere moving in a robIem-sace lhal vas nol amenabIe lo such a lheorelicaI
move. The eislemoIogicaI essenliaIism vas as much arl of lhe 'nalive'
ideoIogy as il vas arl of lhe 'coIoniaI' one, offering a veak hoId on lhe
exisling oIilicaI oosilions.
aI-Azm vas nol aIone in resonding lo Said. Mahdi 'AmiI (1936-1987),
a Lebanese Marxisl hiIosoher, devoled a vhoIe book lo harshIy crilicizing
Said and his lhesis of OrienlaIism (2006). Ingaged in lhe roduclion of a
form of Marxism lhal vas rooled in lhe erihery, 'AmiI had lackIed in his
earIier vork lhe robIem of knovIedge and ils oIilicaI imIicalions. In 1974,
he roduced a book-Ienglh refulalion of cIaims aboul Arab 'backvardness'
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(2002). In lhis crilique, he loyed vilh lhemes lhal vouId become lhe bread
and buller of lhe oslcoIoniaI crilique, such as lhe duaIily of rogress and
backvardness, lhe inlerIay belveen essenliaIism and hisloricism, lhe
nolion of Arab civiIizalion and lhe osilion of lhe Wesl in lhe lheorelicaI
imaginalion of inleIIecluaIs. ul such a crilique of lhe reresenlalion of lhe
Arab vorId vas sliII grounded in a maleriaIisl framevork. As 'AmiI vriles:
lhe causes of lhe 'backvardness' are nol 'hisloricaI' |. . .j i.e. lhey
are nol inheriled or genelic, bul are slrucluraI, in lhe sense lhal
lhey are Iocaled in lhe nalure of lhe sociaI formalion lhal is
delermined by lhe deveIomenl of lhe dominanl coIoniaI mode
of roduclion lhal requires lhe ersislence of lhe asl sociaI
reIalions, due lo ils slrucluraI deendence on imeriaIism
(2002: 58)
'AmiI's crilique of lhe essenliaIisl reresenlalion of lhe Arab vorId vas arl
of his generaI crilique of lhe various cuIluraIisl concelions of lhe Arab
vorId, vhelher in lhe lhesis of rimordiaI seclarian idenlilies or lhe
essenliaIizalions of IsIamisl and nalionaIisl discourses.
ul as a Marxisl, 'AmiI vas aIso keen lo asserl lhe ossibiIily of a
universaI oIilicaI lheory. Marxism vas crilicized from differenl quarlers of
lhe Arab inleIIecluaI fieId as an 'imorled ideoIogy', one lhal is nol organic
lo lhis arl of lhe vorId. 'AmiI found differenl inslanlialions of lhis argumenl
among nalionaIisl aulhors, vhelher Arab or Lebanese, and IsIamisl aulhors
infIuenced by lhe Iranian revoIulion (1990, 2003). Whelher due lo ils
concelion of a sociely divided among cIasses, ils osilion regarding reIigion
or ils Iack of aulhenlicily in lhe Arab vorId, Marxism vas deemed nol lo be
suilabIe lo lhe reaIilies of lhe Arab vorId. Iaced by lhese queslions, 'AmiI
vas forced lo crilicize lhe faIse universaIs of 'bourgeois' ideoIogy vhiIe
asserling lhe ossibiIily of a universaI knovIedge, encasuIaled in Marxism.
Il is in lhe coordinales of lhis debale lhal 'AmiI received Said's Oricnia|isn,
read as a form of dangerous reIalivism. Desile lhe facl lhal cerlain affinilies
mighl have exisled among lhe lvo aulhors regarding lhe reIalion belveen
over and knovIedge, Said, according lo 'AmiI, venl loo far, faIIing inlo lhe
Iogic of lhe various rimordiaIisl aulhors lhal 'AmiI vas slruggIing againsl,
lhus condemning lhe ossibiIily of an emancialory oIilics in lhe Arab
The 'officiaI' oinl of conlenlion is Said's lrealmenl of Marx as an
OrienlaIisl, a quaIificalion lhal 'AmiI, a Marxisl, vehemenlIy re|ecled. Slarling
from a simiIar erseclive as aI-Azm, 'AmiI accused Said of reroducing lhe
dicholomy he vas lrying lo queslion, and more imorlanlIy of reducing aII
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 45
Weslern lhoughl lo lhe dominanl bourgeois ideoIogy. Iurlhermore, by
conslrucling such a rigid oIarily belveen lhe Wesl and lhe Orienl, Said is,
according lo 'AmiI, forced lo re|ecl reason in icic, oosing il lo emolion in
a quasi-Romanlic geslure. Such a duaIily is aarenl in Said's lrealmenl of
Marx as an unviIIing OrienlaIisl: Marx exils lhe slruclure of OrienlaIisl
lhoughl vhen he uses his hearl, according lo 'AmiI's reading of Said's lexl,
yel he comes back lo il, faIIing inlo ils slruclure, vhen he uses his mind
(2006: 19). The Orienl aears lo be onIy accessibIe lhrough siriluaI means
or bouls of individuaI genius, since any scienlific or ralionaI aroach lo
lhe Orienl seems lo be necessariIy forced lo reroduce lhe Iogic of
OrienlaIism (2006: 20). y favouring lhe 'hearl' over lhe 'mind', Said sIides
lo an anli-ralionaI osilion, reducing any lheorelicaI acl lo an acl of vioIence
and denying lhe ossibiIily of a scienlific and hence universaI knovIedge.
Such a osilion made Said oIilicaIIy susicious for 'AmiI, vho concIudes
by vriling:
Il is nol slrange lhen lhal cu|iura| siruciura|isn, lhal
characlerizes lhe lhoughl of MicheI IoucauIl, vouId meel
Nicizscncan Nini|isn, on a common ground |. . .j RalionaIislic
imeriaIism vouId reconciIe ilseIf vilh lhe anli-ralionaI
nihiIism in asserling lhe oneness of reason, and hence, lhe
refusaI of revoIulionary reason, lhe onIy oosilion lo lhe
dominanl reason (2006: 72)
Wilhoul necessariIy agreeing vilh aII of lhe criliques raised above and
vilhoul osiling 'AmiI or aI-Azm as lhe soIe reresenlalive of 'Arab
inleIIecluaIs', lheir resonses lo Said arlicuIale lhe differences belveen lhe
robIem-sace of Said and lheirs, roviding a vay lo lhink aboul lhe fale of
lhe eislemoIogicaI crilique vhen lransosed lo lhe erihery.
resonse iIIuslrales lhe decouIing of lhe eislemoIogicaI and oIilicaI
dimension of lhe oslcoIoniaI crilique. 'AmiI goes furlher, vilh his lexls
exIicaling lvo anxielies al lhe Saidian move. The firsl is a radicaIizalion of
aI-Azm's oinl. In an inleIIecluaI fieId seen as dominaled by rimordiaIisl
underslandings of idenlily, a nalivisl relurn lo IsIam and cuIluraIisl
underslanding of nalions, Said's soIe focus on reresenlalion vas read by
'AmiI as a regression from lhe maleriaIisl slandoinl, one lhal can easiIy acl
as an endorsemenl of lhese osilions. ul more imorlanlIy, lhe second
anxiely vas caused by lhe absence of a cIear oIilicaI angIe vilhin Said's
crilique. Through lhe queslioning of lhe exisling ideoIogicaI oosilions and
reframing lhe oIilicaI confIicl in lerms of reresenlalions, lhe Saidian
framevork vas nol very heIfuI oIilicaIIy for 'AmiI, enmeshed in a civiI
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var, having lo slruggIe againsl IocaI 'reaclionary' ideoIogies and coIoniaI
knovIedge simuIlaneousIy. These lvo resonses iIIuslrale lhe groving
divide belveen lhe grounds of crilique of lhe Weslern academe and lhe
erihery, each arlicuIaling differenl modes of crilique.
Thc Pn!itica! as a Cnnncctinn
aI-Azm and 'AmiI's criliques of Said vere lriggered by lhe ambiguous
oIilicaI imIicalions of his lhesis in lhe conlexl of lhe erihery. Ior aI-Azm,
lhe largel of Oricnia|isn vhen lransosed lo lhe Arab vorId changes
draslicaIIy from vhal Said had in mind, vhiIe for 'AmiI, lhe oIilicaI
imIicalions are al besl veak and al vorse ernicious. Such crilique
araIIeIed lhe Marxisl criliques of earIy oslcoIoniaI aulhors, as hoIding a
vague oIilicaI rogram, one lhal Iacks lhe edge of Marxism in ils heyday.
McCIinlock has noled, for inslance, lhal |hjisloricaIIy voided calegories
such as 'lhe olher,' 'lhe signifier,' 'lhe signified,' 'lhe sub|ecl,' 'lhe haIIus,'
'lhe oslcoIoniaI,' vhiIe having academic cIoul and rofessionaI
markelabiIily, run lhe risk of leIescoing cruciaI geo-oIilicaI dislinclions
inlo invisibiIily (1992: 86). The susicion is lhal lhe sohislicaled lheorelicaI
rheloric deIoyed by oslcoIoniaIism does nol lransIale inlo a radicaIIy
differenl form of oIilicaI inlervenlion or even a radicaI form of oIilics. In
olher vords, lhe lransIalion of lhe eislemoIogicaI crilique lo lhe oIilicaI
fieId does nol yieId lhe same crilicaI effecl il has in lhe academic fieId,
becoming eilher a vague oIilicaI slalemenl or a revording of exisling
Irreseclive of lhe vaIidily of lhis secific crilique, il is imorlanl lo
nole lhal il is nol lhe facl lhal oslcoIoniaIism enlerlains vague oIilicaI
concIusions lhal is cruciaI for lhe currenl argumenl. Ralher, lhe reIalion
belveen lheory and oIilics ilseIf has been lransformed vilh lhis
oslslrucluraIisl lurn. Whal aear as vague oIilicaI imIicalions refIecl
cerlain execlalions made regarding lheory, execlalions lhal have been
enlerlained by osl-InIighlenmenl lheories in generaI, and Marxism in
arlicuIar vilh ils nolion of praxis. Scoll calures lhis execlalion and lhe
underIying conversalion belveen oslcoIoniaIism and Marxism, vhen he
Marxism had defined in a very fundamenlaI vay lhe elhicaI-
oIilicaI horizon of our visions of and commilmenl lo lhe
making of |usl and indeendenl socielies. And aIlhough our
inleIIecluaI reoccualions had in lhe meanlime been lraversed
and reosilioned by lhe oslmelahysicaI criliques of Marxism,
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 47
ve vere sliII haunled by lhe secler of a lheory lhal vouId
enabIe us lo deduce a sel of ralionaI oIilicaI raclices and
rocedures for lhe radicaI lransformalion of our socielies (1999:
If ve rehrase lhe robIem of lhe oIilicaI imIicalion of oslcoIoniaIism
inlo lhe more generaI robIem of lhe reIalion belveen lheory and oIilics,
one can have a beller gras of lhe ambiguily of oslcoIoniaI oIilics.
IoslcoIoniaIism has oeraled lhrough a cerlain susension or deferraI of
lhe queslion of lhe oIilicaI, as Scoll vriles, lhrough imIicilIy occuying
lhe horizon of nalionaIisl oIilics aIready defined by lhe anlicoIoniaI ro|ecl
(1999: 14). In olher vords, oslcoIoniaIism had deIegaled lhe oIilicaI lo lhe
same anlicoIoniaI discourses lhey vere bemoaning. Such a osilion has
reIieved lhe need lo come u vilh a oslcoIoniaI lheory of oIilics, eilher
reIying on a revording of a osilion lhal has been discrediled al an
eislemoIogicaI IeveI, or riviIeging a resonsibiIily lo olherness over lhe
resonsibiIily lo acl, or lhe riviIeging of lhe oening u of cognilive
sace for lhe Iay of difference over lhe affirmalion of inslilulionaI
framevorks lhal embody normalive oIilicaI vaIues and normalive oIilicaI
ob|eclives (Scoll, 1999: 135). As such, oslcoIoniaIism has fIuclualed
belveen, on lhe one hand, an ambiguous rearorialion of Marxism and,
on lhe olher, an ambivaIenl elhics of olherness, lvo oIes lhal are uniled by
a simiIar robIemalizalion of lhe reIalion belveen lheory and oIilics.
Such ambivaIence can be seen al vork in Oricnia|isn. The absence of
an aIlernalive eislemoIogy, of a cIarificalion of lhe grounds for lhe crilique
of OrienlaIism or of discriminalion among Weslern knovIedge, aII enlerlain
a cerlain oIilicaI ambiguily (Young, 1990). Such an ambiguily mighl have
been roduclive in a secific conlexl and al a cerlain oinl in lime, bul vas
deemed lo be unlenabIe in lhe conlexl of lhe Arab vorId by aI-Azm and
'AmiI. Indeed, such ambiguily couId be enlerlained in lhe Saidian lexl
because of lhe absence of key asecls of lhe Orienl from ils narralive. As
inder righlIy noles:
Said says nolhing |aboul IsIamj and says nolhing aboul vhy he
says nolhing, and il is in lhis doubIe siIence vhich suggesls an
anomaIy, a kind of aradox, an aoria or lhe very condilions
vhich makes Said's crilicaI discourse ossibIe. Of course il may
be lrue lhal if Said vere lo have vrillen anylhing aboul IsIam,
he mighl have been abIe lo vrile nolhing aboul OrienlaIism
(1988: 121)
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Such a siIence vas nol an olion avaiIabIe lo eilher aI-Azm or 'AmiI, vilh
IsIam in ils various inslanlialions being omniresenl in lheir robIem-sace.
In olher vords, oslcoIoniaIism's ambiguous oIilics, desile having been
exlremeIy roduclive in some conlexls, did nol lraveI veII lo lhe erihery,
a robIem-sace lhal vas nol amenabIe lo such ambiguily. The friclion
belveen oslcoIoniaIism and lhe erihery is reIaled lo lhe absence of a
oIilics lhal couId resond lo lhe execlalions and demands of a robIem-
sace vhose slakes have nol yel been de-oIilicized. Describing Arab
oIilicaI lhoughl, AbdaIIah Laroui, a Moroccan hislorian and hiIosoher,
Iinked lhe ouIarily of Marxism among lhe Arab inleIIigenlsia lo ils
caacily lo unile oIilics and lheory, via lhe nolion of raxis, vhiIe roviding
a erseclive lo reconciIe lhe Arab vorId vilh Iuroe vilhoul endorsing
lhis Ialler seIf-ercelion (1976). As argued above, bolh aI-Azm and 'AmiI
reacled lo Said's Oricnia|isn from lhe erseclive of ils oIilicaI use-vaIue,
finding dangerous lendencies in ils aIicalion. Il is one lhing lo unmask
essenliaIism, bul quile anolher lo make lhis eislemoIogicaI cIaim lhe basis
for oIilicaI inlervenlion. A rogrammalic oIilics, aiming al inlervening in
lhe reaI, roviding a rinciIe of dislinclion belveen enemies and aIIies, and
acling as an anchor oinl lo lheory, mighl have Iosl some of ils Iuslre in
Weslern academe, bul il remains a desirabIe goaI for inleIIecluaIs in lhe
Thc Pnstcn!nnia! and thc Pnst-Cn!nnia!
The differing reIalionshis lo oIilics, lhe groving dis|unclure belveen
Said's inleIIecluaI fieIds and his counlerarls in lhe erihery (or al Ieasl arl
of lhem), and lhe differenl slakes lhal vere imarled on lhe lheorelicaI game,
exIain lhe recelion of Said by Arab inleIIecluaIs, and lhe ambiguous lraveI
of lhe eislemoIogicaI crilique lo lhe erihery. Recognizing lhis fraclure
mighl be lhe firsl sle in arecialing lhe crilicaI urchase, aIbeil a IocaIized
one, of lhe various lradilions described in lhis aer. The oslcoIoniaI move,
according lo lhis reading, has been exlremeIy beneficiaI in lhe robIem-sace
of Weslern academe, vhereas ils oIilicaI urchase in lhe erihery has been
more ambiguous. Many of lhe misunderslandings belveen lhe various
crilicaI slrands are rooled in lhis desire lo |um over lhis fraclure, in an
alleml lo revive lhe oIder desire for reconciIialion. In olher vords, lhe
differenl oIilicaI slakes in lhe lvo robIem-saces robIemalizes any
slraighlforvard imorling of lhe oslcoIoniaI inlervenlion in lhe erihery.
If lhere is any resenl vaIue lo lhe hislory of lhe recelion of Said among
Arab inleIIecluaIs, il Iays in lhe avareness lhal differenl robIem-saces do
nol onIy coincide in lerms of lhe oIilicaI slakes lhal characlerize lhem.
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 49
Iarl of lhe misunderslanding Iays in lhe desire of some aulhors lo
bridge lhis ga by universaIizing lhe concerns of one robIem-sace,
subsuming lhe differences belveen differenl fieIds. As many commenlalors
have noled, lhere has been a lendency among oslcoIoniaI aulhors lo reIace
one universaI by anolher, desile lheir queslionings of essenliaIism, rigid
binaries and lheorelicaI cIosures. Ior McCIinlock, for inslance, lhe lerm
'osl-coIoniaI', desile ils crilicaI deconslruclion of osl-InIighlenmenl
binaries, re-orienls lhe gIobe once more around a singIe, binary oosilion:
coIoniaI/osl-coIoniaI (1992: 85).
The oinl is nol aboul lhe vaIidily of lhis
nev binary, bul ralher erlains lo vhelher lhis nev conceluaIizalion of lhe
condilions of lhe erihery is nol being forced uon robIem-saces vhich
mighl nol share il. The inleIIecluaI configuralions in vhich oslcoIoniaIism
made ils inlervenlion, and lhe slakes lhal vere allached lo such an
inlervenlion, mighl nol be lhe same as lhe ones vilh vhich inleIIecluaIs in
lhe erihery vere deaIing, vhich arliaIIy exIains lhe ambivaIenl
recelion of lhis lrend.
This Iine of argumenl vas deveIoed by David Scoll vho varned
againsl lhe universaIizing lemlalions of lhis anlifoundalionaIisl lrend (1999,
2004). Scoll slarls from lhe remise lhal in lhe vake of lhe
anlifoundalionaIisl move, crilicism cannol oerale in lhe manner of a
GeneraI Hermeneulic, a Masler Narralive, a Viev from Novhere (or from
Iveryvhere), lhe Ianolic of a CrilicaI Theory (1999: 3). Such an imIicalion
aIIovs oslcoIoniaI aulhors lo crilicize lhe fixed concelions of nalion, race
or cIass lhal formed lhe vocabuIaries of earIier discourses of resislance.
Agreeing vilh lhis imuIse, Scoll neverlheIess varns againsl such a cIaim
lurning inlo a
simIe anli-essenliaIism according lo vhich hilherlo exisling
slralegies of crilicism are found oul, admonished, and
dismissed for lheir eislemoIogicaI navele |. . .j In effecl, lhen,
vhal slarls oul being a veIcome humbIing of cerlain hegemonic
regimes of Trulh lurns oul lo be IillIe more lhan lhe adolion
of an udaled counler-design rocedure, a counler-ralionaIism,
a counler-cIaim lo lhe rigni vay for crilicism lo carry on (1999:
In olher vords, vhal slarled as a corrosive crilique of cerlain seIf-deIusion,
misconcelions or simIe imosilion, became ilseIf a quesl for cerlainly and
an imosilion of a vocabuIary lhal ignores lhe IocaI variabiIily in hisloricaI,
lheorelicaI and oIilicaI conlexls. Relurning lo lhe queslion of lhis aer, lhe
oslcoIoniaI crilicaI evaIualion of lhe modernisl inleIIecluaIs in lhe erihery
F6&3,.*: P478(4143.&1.72 &3) I38*11*(89&17 .3 8-* P*6.5-*6= 50
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 50
is grounded in lhe assumlion lhal lhese lvo grous vere lrying lo ansver
lhe same queslions, vilh one of lhem being more 'advanced' lheorelicaIIy.
And il is such an assumlion lhal vouId ground lhe beIief lhal lhe
eislemoIogicaI crilique deveIoed by oslcoIoniaIism in lhe conlexl of
Weslern academe vouId have lhe same crilicaI urchase vhen lransosed
lo lhe erihery, a conlexl lhal has differenl slakes, queslions and over
IoIilicaI crilique, in our osl-oslcoIoniaI vorId, is one lhal cannol
endorse a singIe Iogic, largel or horizon, inslead il is condemned lo a
muIlifarious and muIlifaceled aroach. Recognizing lhis reaIily is a firsl
sle, bul one lhal shouId serve as a ground for relhinking ossibIe
reconciIialions, for reconnecling broken conversalions belveen differenl
crilicaI slrands and for Iiving u lo lhe iniliaI execlalions of oslcoIoniaIism
erlaining lo oening u saces for marginaI voices. This second sle
requires lhe excavalion of lhe oIilicaI from undernealh lhe eislemoIogicaI
crilique. Commenling on lhe debale belveen DirIik and Irakash, Scoll asks
vhelher lhe conceluaI disule of vhich bolh are a arl, a disule vhose
slakes are eislemoIogicaI, conlinues lo be one vorlh invesling in al aII.
Remaining in lhe eislemoIogicaI game, according lo Scoll, imoses uon
us lhe queslion of hov lo vrile hislories of lhe lhird vorId, bul nol lhe
queslion of 'lo vhal ends' are ve revriling lhis hislory, lo vhal oIilicaI
ro|ecls, lo vhal fulures` (1999: 137-140). There is no escae from a re-
engagemenl vilh lhe oIilicaI as a vay lo lhink lhe fraclure in our modes of
5amcr Frangic is an Assislanl Irofessor al lhe IoIilicaI Sludies and IubIic
Adminislralion Dearlmenl al lhe American Universily of eirul. His
research inleresls are in lhe fieIds of sociaI and oIilicaI lheory, vilh an
emhasis on Arab lhoughl.
I vouId Iike lo lhank lhe lvo anonymous revievers for lheir insighlfuI
Ior examIes regarding lhe Arab vorId, see Aksikas (2009) and Massad
A robIem-sace refers lo a discursive conlexl, a conlexl of Ianguage |. . .j
a conlexl of argumenl, and lherefore, one of inicrtcniicn. A robIem-sace,
in olher vords, is an ensembIe of queslions and ansvers around vhich a
51 F6&3,.*: P478(4143.&1.72 &3) I38*11*(89&17 .3 8-* P*6.5-*6=
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 51
horizon of idenlifiabIe slakes (conceluaI as veII as ideoIogicaI-oIilicaI
slakes) hangs (Scoll, 2004: 4).
Ior delaiIs on Said's recelion in lhe Arab vorId, see Massad (2004), Sabry
(2004) and Sivan (1985).
The lemoraI coincidence belveen Said's Oricnia|isn and lhe Iranian
revoIulion vouId be given a more subslanliaI lurn by one Arab inleIIecluaI,
Hazem Saghyeh, vho dravs a araIIeI belveen Said's crilique of lhe Wesl
and lhe 'nalivisl' ideoIogy of lhe revoIulion (1995).
Ior a simiIar crilique, see Ahmad (1991) and Iorler (1994).
AII lransIalions of 'AmiI are mine.
Ior examIes of lhese criliques, see 'AmiI (1989a, 1989b, 1990, 2003).
This misunderslanding is nol simIy due lo lhe geograhicaI Iocalion of
lhese inleIIecluaIs, bul aIso lo lhe disciIinary framevorks in vhich each
lrend vas mainIy Iocaled. olh aI-Azm and 'AmiI, desile being academics,
vere mainIy ubIic inleIIecluaIs and oIilicaIIy engaged. The same cannol
be said of oslcoIoniaIism, vhich has remained an academic raclice, sub|ecl
lo lhe ruIes and slakes of lhe academic fieId.
A simiIar oinl is made by Shohal (1991).
Ahmad, Ai|az (1991) elveen OrienlaIism and Hisloricism Siu!ics in
Hisicrq 7, 135-163
Aksikas, }aafar (2009) Ara| Mc!crniiics. |s|anisn, Naiicna|isn, an! Ii|cra|isn
in inc Pcsi-cc|cnia| Ara| Wcr|! Ieler Lang
'AmiI, Mahdi (1989a) Ma!kna| i|a Naq! a|-|ikr a|-aiji. a|-Qaiqqa a|-|i|asiniqqa
ji Aq!iqu|ujiqqai a|-Burjuaziqqa a|-Iu|naniqqa jA Prc|cgcncncn ic inc Criiiquc
cj Scciarian Tncugni. Tnc Pa|csiinian Causc in inc |!cc|cgq cj inc Ic|ancsc
Bcurgccisic} (3rd edilion) eirul: Dr aI-Irbi
'AmiI, Mahdi (1989b) Naq! a|-|ikr a|-Yauni jTnc Criiiquc cj |tcrq!aq Tncugni}
(2nd edilion) eirul: Dr aI-Irbi
F6&3,.*: P478(4143.&1.72 &3) I38*11*(89&17 .3 8-* P*6.5-*6= 52
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 52
F6&3,.*: P478(4143.&1.72 &3) I38*11*(89&17 .3 8-* P*6.5-*6=
'AmiI, Mahdi (1990) a|-Naariqqa ji-|-Munarasa a|-Siqasiqqa. Bainun ji As|a|
a|-Har| a|-An|iqqa ji Iu|nan jTnccrq in Pc|iiica| Praciicc. An |nquirq inic inc
Causcs cj inc Ic|ancsc Citi| War} (3rd edilion) eirul: Dr aI-Irbi
'AmiI, Mahdi (2002) Aznai a|-aarai a|-Ara|iqqa an Aznai a|-Burjuaziqqai
a|-Ara|iqqa? jA Crisis cj Ara| Citi|izaiicn cr a Crisis cj Ara| Bcurgccisic?} (2nd
edilion) eirul: Dr aI-Irbi
'AmiI, Mahdi (2003) ji a|-Oau|a a|-aijiqqa jOn inc Scciarian Siaic} (3rd edilion)
eirul: Dr aI-Irbi
'AmiI, Mahdi (2006) Ha| a|-Qa|| |i-|-Snarq ua-|-Aq| |i-|-Gnar|? Marx ji |siisnraq
|!uar Sai! j|s inc Hcari jcr inc |asi an! inc Min! jcr inc Wcsi? Marx in |!uar!
Sai!s Oricnia|isn} (2nd edilion) eirul: Dr aI-Irbi
inder, Leonard (1988) Deconslrucling OrienlaIism in |s|anic Ii|cra|isn. A
Criiiquc cj Octc|cpncni |!cc|cgics Chicago: Universily of Chicago Iress (85-
Chakrabarly, Diesh (2000) Prctincia|izing |urcpc. Pcsicc|cnia| Tncugni an!
Hisicrica| Oijjcrcncc Irincelon: Irincelon Universily Iress
DirIik, Arif (1994) The IoslcoIoniaI Aura: Third WorId Crilicism in lhe Age
of GIobaI CailaIism Criiica| |nquirq 20, 328-356
}aIaI aI-Azm, Sadiq (1981) OrienlaIism and OrienlaIism in Reverse Knansin
8, 5-26
Laroui, AbdaIIah (1976) Tnc Crisis cj Ara| |nic||cciua|. Tra!iiicna|isn cr
Hisicricisn? erkeIey: Universily of CaIifornia Iress
Makdisi, Saree (1995) 'IoslcoIoniaI' Lileralure in a NeocoIoniaI WorId:
Modern Arabic CuIlure and lhe Ind of Modernily |cun!arq 2.22(1), 85-115
Massad, }oseh A. (2007) Inlroduclion in Ocsiring Ara|s Chicago:
Universily of Chicago Iress (1-51)
Massad, }oseh A. (2004) The InleIIecluaI Life of Idvard Said jcurna| cj
Pa|csiinc Siu!ics 33, 7-22
McCIinlock, Anne (1992) The AngeI of Irogress: IilfaIIs of lhe Term 'Iosl-
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 53
CoIoniaIism' Sccia| Tcxi 10, 88-113
Mehla, Uday Singh (1999) Ii|cra|isn an! |npirc. A Siu!q in Ninciccnin-
Ccniurq Briiisn Ii|cra| Tncugni Chicago: Universily of Chicago Iress
MignoIo, WaIler D. (2000) Icca| Hisicrics/G|c|a| Ocsigns Irincelon: Irincelon
Universily Iress
Iorler, Denis (1994) OrienlaIism and ils IrobIems in I. WiIIiams and L.
Chrisman (eds) Cc|cnia| Oisccursc/Pcsi-Cc|cnia| Tnccrq Nev York: CoIumbia
Universily Iress
Sabry, Hafez (2004) Idvard Said's InleIIecluaI Legacy in lhe Arab WorId
jcurna| cj Pa|csiinc Siu!ics 33, 76-90
Saghyeh, Hazem (1995) Tnaqajai a|-Knunaqniqqan. Mauqaj nin a|-|siisnraq an
Har| a|a Taqj? jKncncinisi Cu|iurcs. Againsi Oricnia|isn cr Againsi Gncsis?}
eirul: Dar aI-}adid
Said, Idvard W. (1979) Oricnia|isn Nev York: Vinlage
Scoll, David (2004) Ccnscripis cj Mc!crniiq. Tnc Tragc!q cj Cc|cnia|
|n|ignicnncni Durham: Duke Universily Iress
Scoll, David (1999) |cjasnicning |uiurcs Irincelon: Irincelon Universily Iress
Shohal, IIIa (1991) Noles on lhe 'Iosl-CoIoniaI' Sccia| Tcxi 10, 84-98
Sivan, ImmanueI (1985) Idvard Said and His Arab Revievers in
|nicrprciaiicns cj |s|an. Pasi an! Prcscni Irincelon: Darvin Iress
Young, Roberl (1990) Disorienling lhe Orienl in Wniic Mqinc|cgics. Wriiing
Hisicrq an! inc Wcsi London: RoulIedge (119-140)
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SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 54
Dccn!nnizing Cnsmnpn!itanism: Guaman Pnma dc
Aya!a's Ear!y Rcspnnsc tn a 5ingu!ar Acsthctic
by ranlIey NichoIson
In lhis arlicIe, I anaIyze Guaman Ioma de AyaIa and his
sevenleenlh cenlury lexl, Nucta ccrcnica q |ucn gc|icrnc,
considering il an earIy examIe of border dveIIing and
cosmooIilan vriling. I osil lhal Guaman Ioma decoIonizes
cosmooIilanism lhrough his laclfuI navigalion of aeslhelic
borders and archivaI code svilching. In doing so, I ul Gauman
Ioma in conversalion vilh earIy hiIosohers of gIobaIizalion,
such as arlaIome de Ias Casas, Gines de SeuIveda, and
Irancisco de Viloria, and gIobaI aeslhelic lheorisls, such as
ImmanueI Kanl and AIexander aumgarlen.
Since lhe second haIf of lhe lvenlielh cenlury, Lalin American Iileralure has
been rife vilh lrealmenls of lhe cIash belveen IocaI sub|eclivilies and gIobaI
cuIluraI and economic fIovs. CoIIoquiaI oraI regislers are sel in reIief againsl
a rigid, Iellered cily cuIluraI modeI in Iernando VaIIe|o's Ia tirgcn !c |cs
sicarics |Our Ia!q cj inc Assassinsj (1994).
The mosl rominenl vorks lo come
oul of Lalin America in lhe osl-Oeracin Condor lvenlielh cenlury Luisa
VaIenzueIa's Aqui pasan ccsas raras |Sirangc Tnings Happcn Hcrcj (1975), ArieI
Dorfman's Ia nucric q |a !cncc||a |Ocain an! inc Mai!cnj (1990) and Ricardo
IigIia's P|aia qucna!a |Burni Mcncqj (1997) veigh universaI high cuIlure
and economic IiberaIizalion againsl lhe vioIenl exerience of IocaI Iife. And,
in lhe IIoisa Carlonera movemenl, an aIlernalive ubIishing induslry has
been eslabIished in uenos Aires lo rovide IocaI residenls vilh affordabIe
vorks lhal reresenl IocaI exerience, exisling in conlrasl lo a gIobaI
ubIishing induslry based rimariIy in Madrid and arceIona.
In lhe sevenleenlh cenlury, archivaI cIashes did nol en|oy lhe same
audience. ChaIIenges lo lhe cosmooIilan cenler, be il a symboIic cenler, as
is increasingIy lhe case, or geograhicaI, as has Iong been lhe case in lhe
Sanish-seaking ubIishing induslry, have a much slronger voice loday
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 55
lhan in lhe asl. My concern in lhis arlicIe is lhe recedenl sel by Guaman
Ioma de AyaIa (1535-1616), vho, as a cuIluraI border dveIIer, offers an earIy
guide lo navigaling lhe aeslhelic border-lhe Iace vhere muIliIe forms of
ercelion converge. Aeslhelic diversily, I osil, shouId be lrealed and
vaIued as highIy as bio diversily. Il faces chaIIenges from lhe fIovs of Imire
in simiIar vays, and aeslhelic borders |usl as much as economic and
onloIogicaI borders acl as galevays lo aIlernalive eislemoIogicaI archives.
Yel, vilh Sanish conquesl and lhe high Iuroean InIighlenmenl lhal
foIIoved, lhe aeslhelic fieId became increasingIy IeveIed. And, lhe cuIluraI
hermeneulics of lhe lime became emhalicaIIy singuIar and exlracling ralher
lhan diaIoguing.
Guaman Iomas Iife in vhal is nov resenl-day Ieru sanned a
eriod of Sanish conquesl in vhich he exerienced earIy aeslhelic,
economic and cosmoIogicaI cIashes associaled vilh lhe inchoale
gIobaIizalion. Here, ve read an archelyaI American border dveIIer lhal
used cuIluraI code-svilching as a subversive rheloricaI laclic. As a member
of Incan nobiIily vilh a famiIiarily vilh Chrislian failh and lhe Sanish
Ianguage his alernaI Iineage lechnicaIIy made him an Incan rince he
slood belveen IocaI Incan and gIobaI Sanish hegemonies, Iaying lhem off
of one anolher in a vay lhal faciIilaled lhe Iiberalion of lhe IocaI, individuaI
body. This vas a uliIily and freedom in discursive maneuvering lhal, for
RoIena Adorno, vas comIex bul coherenl and aIvays unequivocaI: in
favor of nalive ruIe and oosed lo coIoniaIism |.j anli-Inca bul ro-
Andean, anlicIericaI bul ro-CalhoIic (Adorno, 1986: 5). SimiIar lo many
conlemorary Lalin American vrilers lhal loday are bolh oosed lo lhe
IocaI, Iellered cily, Slale-modeI and lhe gIobaI IiberaI modeI, Guaman Ioma
shifled belveen lvo eislemoIogicaI framevorks and occuied lhe rheloricaI
exlernaIily vhere lhe cosmooIilan cenler ran u againsl ils Iimils. When he
forced lhe Sanish Courl lo enler inlo a communicalive diaIogue and,
lhrough his aIlernalive visuaI economy, crealed a dialoicaI hermeneulic,
he inler|ecled lhe Andean cosmoIogy inlo lhe earIy gIobaI aeslhelic syslem,
and, in lurn, sel u an earIy avenue of resislance lo a singuIar
Ear!y G!nba! 5ymbn!ic 5ystcms
Il is in lhe conlexl of lhe burgeoning of a nev commerciaI order cenlered
round lhe AlIanlic Ocean and lhe urbanizalion of lhe masses in Iuroe
during lhe sixleenlh cenlury lhal ve observe lhe ingredienls lhal Ied lo a
noveI gIobaI design emanaling from lhis formerIy backvards and forgollen
geograhicaI area of Iuroe. Wilh Sanish conquesl, a oIilicaI economy
N.(-41743: D*(4143.>.3, C4724541.8&3.72 56
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 56
N.(-41743: D*(4143.>.3, C4724541.8&3.72
hinged on lhe reIalionshi belveen a Iuroean cenler and a coIoniaI
erihery began lo arise. Land arorialions in lhe Nev WorId,
exemIified by lhe 1494 Trealy of TordesiIIas, aIong vilh lhe ensIavemenl of
indigenous eoIes caused Iuroean economies vilh a slake in lhe Nev
WorId lo fIourish. This economic boom, in lurn, crealed lhe bedrock of vhal
vouId Ialer become a democralic Iuroean middIe cIass lhal ermanenlIy
modified lhe oIilicaI framevork of lhe slale by sIovIy shifling avay from
governance based on |uridicaI over lo one based on bioover.
Yel, Iuroean, as did indigenous sub|ecls, began lo queslion lhe
reaIms of humanily and reason in lhe exIoilalion of man and Iabor,
reciseIy al a lime in vhich lhe gIobaI rheloricaI lhealer began lo indicale a
noveI semanlics of human righls and inlernalionaI Iav. The birlh of Weslern
modern hiIosohy and lhe foundalion of lhe citi|izc! and raiicna| human
seemed Iess Iike a naluraI gIobaI aeslhelic and economic syslem and more
Iike a rigid and excIusive eislemoIogicaI modeI imosed from lhe oulside.
In conlemorary lerms, AnibaI Qui|ano has defined lhis modeI as lhe cc|cnia|
nairix cj pcucr, oinling oul lhal beyond economic exansion, Imire
sread IargeIy in aeslhelic lerms (Qui|ano, 2000). ImmanueI Kanl, vho is
fIanked on eilher side by AIexander aumgarlen's shifling of sensuaI
aeslhesis lo a malhemalicaIIy quanlifiabIe acsinciics and Iriedrich SchiIIer's
lheorizalion of lhe reIalionshi belveen lhe individuaI and lhe coIIeclive
lhrough lhe aeslhelic cilizen, is readiIy crediled vilh aIying lhe ruIes of
lhe Nevlonian RevoIulion lo ercelion and, in doing so, lheorizing
aeslhelic modernily. }usl as lhe economy lhal Ied lo a Iuroean middIe cIass
vas based on a favorabIe osilion in lhe noveI gIobaI economy, lhe
indigenous sub|ecl, as a conceluaI conslrucl, rovided a negalive examIe
for Kanl's ralionaI forms of aeslhelics.
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 57
Kanl's lheory of lhe ralionaI caabiIilies of lhe Weslern modern
sub|ecl lhrough his/her over of |udgmenl vas based on his concel of
innale reason and shoved a heavy raciaI bias lhal, for ImmanueI Chukvudi
Ize, vas a roducl of Kanl's coIIasing of moraIily and geograhy onlo a
singuIar Iane (Ize, 1995). Wilhoul a diaIogue vilh Nev WorId sub|eclivies,
his hierarchicaI anlhrooIogy vas based on hearsay and rumors in
circuIalion in lhe lraveI vriling lhal Kanl read and lhe conversalions lhal he
had vilh lraveIing seamen, more lhan lhe emiricaI modeI for vhich Kanl
and aumgarlen acled as chamions. WhiIe Kanl inlended lo codify lhe
vorId malhemalicaIIy vilh reason and lhe caacily for |udgmenl as
symboIic anchor, he monoIogicaIIy diclaled lhe aeslhelic ruIes of lhe vorId
based on his ovn remole archive.
This founding Iuroean narralive of reason vas arl of lhe Iarger
oIemics of WorId CuIlure. CuIlure, as vas underslood as a necessary lenel
of modernily, gIobaIIy cenlered Iuroe vhiIe simuIlaneousIy lriviaIizing
and delerriloriaIzing olher cuIlures, il crealed lhe sociaI dealh of non-
Iuroean sub|ecls by bioIogizing, raciaIizing and dehumanizing lhem
lhrough inslrumenlaI lolaIized eislemoIogy. Non-Iuroean cosmoIogies
vere disIaced by lhe grafling of lhe noveI conslrucl of reason onlo lhe resl
of lhe vorId, and modernily look on a lemoraI designing of lhe vorId.
According lo Iagel Henry, lhis vas accomIished by using rheloric such as
behind, barbarous, rimilive, lradilionaI, and underdeveIoed resuIling
in nol onIy lhe conquesl of Iand and body, bul aIso of mind and souI (Henry,
Thc InIrastructurc nI RcI!cxivity
Guaman Ioma slood oul among lhe hiIosohers lhal lheorized lhe noveI
gIobaI socioeconomic syslem in lhal he vas lhe firsl individuaI lo engage
vilh Imire in an aeslhelic medium and cosmoIogy lhal vas nol an
exlension of lhe Iuroean archive, ilseIf. In lhe sixleenlh cenlury,
inleIIecluaIs did seak on behaIf of indigenous sub|ecls: arlaIome de Ias
Casas' queslioning of lhe CalhoIic lrealmenl of Nev WorId sub|eclivilies
and Iranisco de Viloria's simiIar hiIosohicaI inlerrogalion of Sanish
righls lo roerly and dominion bolh reresenl indigenous sub|ecls on
Sanish lerms. Yel, vhiIe neilher oIilicaI slance shouId simIy be dismissed
as a maIicious acl, bolh Las Casas and Viloria faiIed lo dearl from lhe
modern aradigm, vilh bolh faIIing inlo lhe lra of seIf-refIexive modern
InfamousIy knovn as lhe roagalor of lhe B|ack Icgcn!, arlaIome
de Las Casas, vhose earIy lris lo |spac|a as a young man vouId Iead him
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lo become lhe seIf-rocIaimed 'roleclor de Ios indios', feeIing a caIIing lo
'defend' lhe righls of lhe Indians on lhe basis of CalhoIic Doclrine.
his elhics and molivalion have been dravn inlo queslion, Las Casas
conlinues lo be heraIded by many as an anachronislic rogressive
inleIIecluaI lhal crusaded for inlernalionaI human righls veII before lhe
incelion of inlernalionaI Iav.
In Brctisina |c|acicn !c |a Ocsiruccicn !c |as
|n!ias (A Sncri Acccuni cj inc Ocsiruciicn cj inc |n!ics), Las Casas underlook a
Ienglhy chronicIe of lhe abuse of lhe indigenous ouIalions al lhe hands of
lhe Sanish in |spac|a (resenl day HisanioIa, comrising lhe Dominican
ReubIic and Haili). Las Casas' rinciIe concern arose from lhe economic
exIoilalion of indigenous eoIes by lhe corruling cnccnicn!a syslem.
The earIy socioeconomic infraslruclure, according lo Las Casas, Ied lo lhe
corrul raclice of lhe King's agenls abroad. This rheloricaI maneuver
aIIoved Las Casas lo crilique lhe King CharIes V's dominion vilhoul, in facl,
bIaming lhe royaI figure himseIf.
According lo Las Casas, lhe cnccnicn!a syslem vas exIoilalive and
nol comalibIe vilh lhe message urorled by CalhoIic Doclrine, vhich in
effecl vas used as lhe aoIogelic rheloricaI device lo hiIosohicaIIy
ereluale lhe economic exIoilalion of IocaI Iands and eoIes. Indigenous
ouIalions vere conslrucled as barbarous and unabIe lo govern lhemseIves
and, as a resuIl, needed an exlernaI suerior order lo creale civiIized
Chrislians of lhem. Las Casas' framing of exIoilalion vilhin lhe lerms and
Iogic of CalhoIicism, hovever, had obvious shorlcomings. His lrealmenl of
indigenous ouIalions vas alernaIislic, and in one inslance he venl so far
as lo melahorize himseIf as lhe sheherd needed lo guide lhe Iosl shee of
lhe Nev WorId (Las Casas, 2006). Iurlher, he faiIed lo break vilh lhe
eislemic vioIence carried oul lhrough indoclrinalion. In effecl, he argued
againsl shorl-lerm hysicaI exIoilalion by arguing for Iong-lerm
indoclrinalion. In his vrilings, he did nol argue for cororeaI and eislemic
Iiberalion so much as for a ralionaI aroach lo crealing Chrislians of
indigenous eoIes, keeing lhe debale on Iuroean lerms and denying
indigenous eoIes lhe righl lo agency and memory.
Las Casas' debales vilh }uan Gines de SeuIveda al VaIIadoIid in 1551
reileraled lhis oinl. This lime, hovever, lhe debale vas framed nol onIy on
Iuroean lerms bul, going a sle furlher, vas aIso carried oul on Iuroean
soiI. In conlrasl lo SeuIveda, here ve begin lo see vhy some have argued
in favor of Las Casas' aclions as consliluling a defense of lhe righls of
indigenous eoIes. WhiIe Las Casas' alernaIislic and roleclionisl
lrealmenl of indigenous eoIes does nol sil easy, SeuIveda lrealed lhem
as naluraI sIaves and, in lhe nealness of one lheorelicaI Ialilude borroved
from lhe ArisloleIian schooI, assuaged lhe Sanish of any guiIl, be il human
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or CalhoIic, for lhe conlinuous exIoilalion of lheir nascenl economic and
symboIic order. Ior ImmanueI WaIIerslein, lhe debale al lhe Ccnscjc !c |as
|n!ias marked lhe foundalion of inlernalionaI human righls and ils gIobaIIy
lolaIized and hegemonic counlerarl, inlervenlionism (WaIIerslein, 2006).
Reducing indigenous sub|eclivily lo a dyadic debale belveen lvo
hiIosohers lhal based lheir argumenls on Iuroean Iogic highIighled lhe
foundalion of lhe geooIilics of reason and lhe zero-oinl of human righls.
Neilher lhe hiIosohers nor governors among Las Casas, SeuIveda, and
CharIes V, vho resided over lhe session, lhoughl lo incIude indigenous
memory, sub|eclivily, or hislory in lhe debale over lhe righls of indigenous
eoIes lhemseIves.
If ve undersland Las Casas' vrilings and debales vilh SeuIveda as
an earIy diaIogue al lhe cosmooIilan cenler of lhe Sanish Courl, lhen il
shouId foIIov lhal lhe vrilings of lheir conlemorary, Irancisco de Viloria,
marked vhal vouId Ialer fIourish inlo inlernalionaI Iav. A ious }esuil
lhinker, Viloria foIIoved lhe hiIosohy of Thomas Aquinas. Viloria
beIieved lhal lhere vas a naluraI Iav lhal man couId encomass, lheorize,
and disseminale. In his Ieclure al lhe Universily of SaIamanca in 1539, Viloria
asked if Sanish conquesl and lhe usuralion of indigenous Iand vere
|uslified vilhin lhe conlexl of naluraI Iav. To deveIo his argumenl, he
caIIed inlo queslion lhe concel of dominion. If lhe indigenous ouIalions,
in facl, had dominion over lhe lerrilories of lhe Nev WorId, and lhe
Saniards uniIaleraIIy arorialed lhese Iands, lhen Sanish conquesl
vouId be roven lo be an infringemenl of naluraI Iav. Afler aII, Viloria
shovs lhal indigenous eoIes had a sociaI order rior lo lhe arrivaI of lhe
Saniards: lhey have some order (ordo) in lheir affairs: lhey have roerIy
organized cilies, roer marriages, magislrales and overIords (domini), Iavs,
induslries, and commerce, aII of vhich require lhe use of reason (Viloria,
1991, 250). Hovever, Viloria vas quick lo lurn lhis oinl on ils head by
arguing lhal lhe facl lhal indigenous eoIes vere caabIe of reasoning, a
facuIly lhal Kanl vouId Ialer deny lhem (Kanl, 2000). This shoved lhal
indigenous eoIes shouId easiIy be abIe lo assimiIale inlo lhe correcl
reasoning, lhal vhich vas broughl lo lhem by lhe Sanish.
In lhis vay, Viloria simuIlaneousIy humanizes and Hunanizcs
indigenous ouIalions. He roves lhal lhey are vorlhy of roleclion by lhe
Iav, bul lhal lhe Iav is necessary lo creale raiicna| crealures oul of lhem.
Viloria uses a Chrislian vocabuIary lo exIain his concel of Iav: Nor couId
il be lheir fauIl if lhey vere for so many lhousands of years oulside lhe slale
of saIvalion, since lhey vere born in sin bul did nol have lhe use of reason
lo roml lhem lo seek balism or lhe lhings necessary for saIvalion. He
conlinues: Thus if lhey seem lo us insensale and sIov-villed, I ul il dovn
60 N.(-41743: D*(4143.>.3, C4724541.8&3.72
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mainIy lo lheir eviI and barbarous educalion. Iven amongsl ourseIves ve
see many easanls (ruslici) vho are IillIe differenl from brule animaIs
(Viloria, 1991: 250). IvangeIism and balism are lransIaled inlo lhe
roleclion of Iav, bolh marking lhe Chrislian subslralum of Weslern Iav
and an obvious bIind sol in lhe lheorelicaI bedrock of reason. Those vho
have nol become Chrislians demonslrale lhe irraiicna| raiicna|iiq lhal faIIs
oulside of lhe reach of Iav, consequenlIy causing indigenous ouIalions lo
be IabeIed as backvards and barbarous. Viloria's cIearIy biased unsealing of
IocaI cosmoIogy nol onIy |uslifies, in his mind, eislemic, lerriloriaI, and
cororeaI coIonizalion bul even encourages il by deicling il as nobIe.
This alernaIislic lone shouId have resonaled slrongIy vilh anyone
rivy lo Las Casas' vrilings in sixleenlh cenlury Sain. As is lhe case vilh
Las Casas, Viloria melonymicaIIy slood in for indigenous ouIalions in lhe
debale over indigenous righls and reIigious freedoms. y onIy granling
indigenous eoIes agency on Sanish soiI and vilhin lhe Iuroean
aradigm lhrough Chrislian-Sanish lhinkers, non-Iuroean consciousness
is disIaced aIlogelher, and an earIy examIe of cosmooIilanism resembIes,
under crilicaI examinalion, simIe reduclionism. This naluraI Iav lhal, four
hundred years Ialer vouId be inlerreled by CarI Schmill as lhe ncncs cj inc
carin, vriles lhe ruIes lo human righls and inlernalionaI Iav based on ils
ovn convenienl inlerrelalion of a reason sleeed in CalhoIic Doclrine. And,
vhen lhese nev concels of righls and Iav are confronled by hang-us or
oulIiers, lhey simIy ay Ii service lo aberralions vilh an indoclrinaled
sland-in, a cIumsy melahorizalion of Nev WorId archives.
This refIexive infraslruclure is a cIear examIe of lhe disIacemenl
of aulochlhonous cuIluraI and onloIogicaI regislers lhrough coIoniaI
semiosis. Taking osl-slrucluraIisl semiolics as a lemIale, ve undersland
lhal lhe arlicuIalion of meaning lhrough Ianguage aIvays Ieaves an
unfuIfiIIed remainder. The osilion of lhe seaker and lhe inlerIoculor is as
imorlanl as lhe reIalionshi belveen sign and signified. This imossibiIily
of ure communicalion is magnified vhen lvo eoIes vilhoul a common
symboIic order lo acl as a reference oinl engage and inleracl. Sanish
conquesl and lhe seIf aoinlmenl of reason, as is highIighled above, offers
an examIe of lhis difficuIly in communicalion and furlher demonslrales
vhal WaIler MignoIo refers lo as lhe |ccus cj cnunciaiicn. In his book, Tnc
Oarkcr Si!c cj inc |cnaissancc, MignoIo oinls oul lhal lhe semiolic disconnecl
and riviIeging of lhe Iuroean |ccus cj cnunciaiicn based in a CalhoIic
symboIic order vas carried oul by means of favoring a hislory and cuIluraI
memory based on vrillen lexls ralher lhan an oraI lradilion (as vas IargeIy
lhe raclice in lhe re-CoIumbian Nev WorId). The riviIeging of lhe
Iuroean symboIic regisler is made ossibIe by lhe nascenl CailaIisl syslem
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and aulhorilarian conlroI eslabIished by lhe Sanish exIorers. MignoIo
vriles, In lhe firsl Iace, coIoniaI semiosis imIies lhe coexislence of 'high'
and 'Iov' cuIlures. Il aIso imIies over reIalions belveen, on lhe one hand,
lhe grou of eoIe conlroIIing lhe oIilics and economy, and, on lhe olher,
lhe subaIlern communilies (2003: 10). Kanl's aeslhelic cIassificalion and lhe
insliluling of lhe infraslruclure of Weslern modernily lhrough debales
carried oul vilhin lhe Iocus of enuncialion aII use lhe singuIar hermeneulic
and lhe riviIeged sace of an imIied 'high' cuIlure sel in molion by lhe
coIoniaI malrix of over. In crealing lhe Weslern modern man, a lolaIized
eisleme disIaces aIlernalive hermeneulics, aIso underslood as aIlernalive
nomoi or Ioci of enuncialion. ul as ve see in lhe vrilings and dravings of
Guaman Ioma, oosilion lo lhe riviIeged symboIic order vas aIready in
circuIalion as earIy as lhe beginning of lhe sevenleenlh cenlury.
Rcspnnscs nI 5ub|cctivity
Guaman Ioma, lhe Andean border dveIIer vhose lrealise Nucta Ccrcnica q
Bucn Gc|icrnc (The Iirsl Nev ChronicIe of Good Governmenl) look lo lask
Sanish CalhoIic Doclrine and sociooIilicaI infraslruclure in lhe Nev
WorId, is exemIary of decoIoniaI lhoughl. DecoIoniaI lhinking highIighls
lhe fissures in lolaIized eislemes by lheorizing from lhe borders and
arguing for an agency of lhe siIenced. Iul in a lheorelicaI vocabuIary, il is a
melanarralive of lhe censored lhal, conlrary lo lradilionaI melanarralives,
does nol normaIize or inslrumenlaIize ils raclilioners. DecoIoniaI
lheorizalion allemls lo inler|ecl lhe disIaced originaI consciousness inlo
lhe dominanl aradigm, aIIoving for lhe disIaced lo seak for lhemseIves.
In his Ieller lo IhiIIi III, Nucta Ccrcnica q Bucn Gc|icrnc, Guaman Ioma
inler|ecls lhe disIaced Andean cosmoIogy inlo lhe CalhoIic-based oIilicaI
infraslruclure of sixleenlh cenlury Sain. He uses lhe moraI code urorled
by CalhoIic Doclrine in order lo gain agency vilhin lhe dominanl syslem
and recover IocaI memory disIaced by lhe coIoniaIisl Saniards al lhe
cosmooIilan IeveI.
Some crilics argue lhal lhis does nol lraveI a greal dislance from
arlaIome de Ias Casas' underlakings. Yel, lhe debales in VaIIadoIid lake
Iace on Sanish soiI and in lhe conlexl of lhe Sanish royaI courl. More
imorlanlIy, lhey remain firmIy rooled vilhin lhe Iuroean CalhoIic
cosmoIogy, using referenls excIusiveIy from lhe Weslern cuIluraI modeI. The
debale does nol give agency lo indigenous ouIalions of lhe Nev WorId
bul inslead granls lhem a symboIic reresenlalive vilhin lhe dominanl
cosmoIogy. Guaman Ioma, on lhe olher hand, shifls lhe geograhy of reason
by Iocaling lhe debale in lhe Nev WorId, going so far as lo frame Sain
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vilhin lhe Incan archive lhrough his draving of lhe cosmos, Pcniijica| Mun!c
(Tnc Pcniijjs Wcr|!), and ils division inlo a cenler and four Incan suqcs
(roughIy lransIaled from Quechua as 'governmenl'). The Pcniijica| Mun!c
Iaces lhe Incan vorId above CasliIIa in lhe draving, vhich is anchored by
a sun rising over lhe Nev WorId al lhe lo of lhe foIio in an emhasis of lhe
imorlance of nalure as foundalionaI lo lhe IocaI symboIic order. This acl
lurns lhe dominanl consciousness on ils head by reducing il lo lhe Andean
cognilive ma and dravs allenlion lo lhe conlradiclions belveen CalhoIic
Doclrine and lhe aclions of lhe Sanish enIighlened exIoilers.
Pcniijica| Mun!c is lhe mosl effeclive of Guaman Ioma's dravings. Il
reinlerrels Sanish cosmoIogy vilh lhe inlenl of caIIing allenlion lo lhe
eislemic disIacemenl carried oul by lhe evangeIism of lhe seIf-inlerreled
naluraI order. Il is aIso exemIary of his emIoymenl of irony, vil, and code
svilching. y acluaIIy saying oul Ioud vhal is imIied in CalhoIic exansion,
i.e. 'lhis is lhe Ioe's emire', and Iacing lhe vords in lhe conlexl of lhe
Andean 'suyo', he enlers inlo a IegaI diaIogue vhiIe highIighling lhe Iav's
absurdily and incaacily lo govern lhe IocaI sace. He makes visibIe
consliluled gIobaI doclrine vhiIe shoving ils conslilulive Iimils. In essence,
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he brings lhe imIied cosmooIilan border-a greal dislance in geograhicaI
lerms-logelher in one foIio, roducing a border oelics and undermining
CalhoIic cosmoIogy. Il is an examIe of lhis give and lake subversion lhal
RoIena Adorno refers lo vhen she vriles:
His emIoymenl of Andean saliaI symboIism chaIIenges lhe
reader's assessmenl of his aarenlIy assimiIaled arlislic slyIe,
his melahoricaI idenlificalions, aarenlIy innocenl and veII
inlended, osses a dark underside lhal overvheIms his
inlerrelalion of bolh lhe Iuroean and Andean sides of
coIoniaI exerience. As a looI of irony, melahor denies lhe
iIIusion of unily and vhoIeness, il disguises differences bul
acknovIedges lhal lhey cannol be ignored (Adorno, 1986: 140)
When he forces lhe cosmooIilan cenler and lhe barbarized eIsevhere lo
converge, Guaman Ioma bolh lriviaIizes lhe melrooIe and finds an
aeslhelics lhal exresses his ovn exislence as an eislemoIogicaI border
Throughoul lhe Nuctc Ccrcnica q Bucn Gc|icrnc, ve observe lhe
delaiIed quolidian issues lhal veighed on lhe IocaI syche during lhe eriod
of conquesl. Many of lhese dravings highIighl lhe hysicaI vioIence carried
oul in lhe Nev WorId lhrough lhe incelion of lhe cnccnicn!a sqsicn, a
reresenlalion aIready circuIaling in lhe Iberian inleIIecluaI imaginary
lhanks lo Las Casas. Hovever, inslead of reducing his argumenls lo CalhoIic
Doclrine, vhich he does of course use as a means lo gain agency, bolh as an
individuaI and an Andean, Guaman Ioma oinls lo one of lhe sources of
lhe robIem in his oignanl draving, |s csic crc quc ccncs? (|s inis Gc|! inai
qcu |ai?).
|s csic cr quc ccncs comes from Guaman Ioma's chaler on Sanish
conquesl and sharIy dravs Sanish economic inleresls inlo focus vhen in
lhe foreground an Andean and a Saniard sil in conversalion. The Andean
asks, Is lhis goId lhal you eal` The Saniard simIy resonds, exlending
a Iale of goId, Yes, ve eal lhis goId. The diaIogue and symboIic exchange
belveen lhe Andean and lhe Saniard is forlified by lhe deiclion of grain
houses in lhe background lhal are used by lhe IocaI sub|ecl lo slore food,
furlher emhasizing lhe urose of Andean Iabor: survivaI. The
cosmooIilan border lhal is sel as a geograhicaI difference in Pcniijica|
Mun!c finds an eislemoIogicaI and sociaI counleroinl in |s csic cr quc
ccncs, vhere ve see lhal Guaman Ioma inlerrels lhe Saniards' occualion
of lhe Nev WorId as driven by economic exIoilalion ralher lhan a cuIluraI
diaIogue. The melahor of food is rich, il conlrasls lhe naluraI suslenance of
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lhe Nev WorId sub|ecl vilh lhe economic, commodily-drive suslenance of
lhe Saniards, highIighling lhe birlh of lhe nev economic order lhal, as ve
have seen, acls as lhe imelus for modern eislemic calegorizalion. The facl
lhal lhe Saniard is orlrayed as leaching lhe Andean lo eal lhe goId is
cruciaI. Nol onIy does lhe Saniard encroach uon lhe Andean's Iand, bul
he furlher disIaces lhe IocaI cosmoIogy by inlroducing an exogenous vaIue
syslem. In lhis, and in conlrasl lo lhe IocaI aradigm, lhe driving force
behind sociaI organizalion is nol naluraI suslenance, bul vaIuabIe
Guaman Ioma exresses himseIf lhrough a border oelics lhal Iays
oul lhrough subversive rheloricaI and aeslhelic maneuvering. He reduces
lhe geograhicaI dislance used by human righls and aeslhelic lheorisls lhal
disIace Nev WorId sub|ecls lo a singIe foIio in Pcniijica| Mun!c: furlher, he
reduces lhe eislemoIogicaI dislance used by lhe same lheorisls in |s csic crc
quc ccncs. AeslhelicaIIy, he lranscends lhe visuaI-Iilerary binary used lo
boIsler cosmooIilan cIaims lo symboIic dominance by combining visuaI an!
Iilerary eIemenls in his chronicIe. Whal is lhe reduclion of a geograhic
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border in lhe firsl inslance Iays oul as lhe reduclion of an eislemoIogicaI
border in lhe second, bolh of vhich force lhe cosmooIilan cenler lo confronl
ils negalive referenls head on. y seaking aIoud vhal is imIied by lhe
earIy gIobaI design of Sanish exansion inlo lhe Nev WorId, Guaman
Ioma deicls lhe aeslhelic border al vhich he dveIIs and caIIs inlo queslion
lhe universaI cIaims of lhe cosmooIilan cenler.
The need lo lolaIize lhe vorId arising from Sanish conquesl and conlinuing
lo lhe resenl day by vay of modern lheorizalion is a necessary
accomanimenl lo lhe emergence and deveIomenl of a modern oIilicaI
economy based on lhe reroduclion of cailaI lhrough surIus vaIue.
IhiIosohicaI mela-discourse in addilion lo a raciaI hierarchy lhal is used as
an aoIogelics for conquesl lhrough lhe exolicizing and olhering of non-
Iuroean sub|eclivilies creale vhal is delermined from vilhin lhe riviIeged
discourse lo be a naluraI order or nomos of lhe earlh. As a means of
mainlaining over, dissenling voices are kel vilhin lhe |ccus cj cnunciaiicn,
lhus melahoricaIIy reresenling aIlernalives vilhin lhe confines of lhe
modern aradigm. Aeslhelic borders are monoIogicaI ralher lhan diaIogicaI,
and vhal is cIaimed lo be cosmooIilan remains myoic and reduclionisl.
Iislemic lolaIily necessariIy imIies a cosmoIogicaI disIacemenl by
means of codifying lhe vorId lhrough a reduclion of lhe gIobaI sub|eclivilies
lo a chain of differences, Ieaving disIaced ouIalions lo lhink of
lhemseIves in reIalion lo lhe universaI idyII. Hovever, vhen Guman Ioma
addresses lhe head of lhe Sanish Courl, IhiIIi III, he gives voice lo lhe
comIexilies and slrenglhs of Andean eislemoIogy, oIilicaI organizalion,
hislory and siriluaIily. In doing so, he breaks vilh lhe seIf-referenliaI
debales carried oul vilhin lhe confines of lhe Iuroean aradigm. This
aIlernalive inlerrelalion exemIifies vhal MignoIo refers lo as lhe
Iuriloic hermeneulic and emhasizes lhe escae from lolaIily as such
(MignoIo, 2003). Guaman Ioma rulured lhe circuIar Iogic of coIoniaIily by
vocaIizing a cosmoIogy lhal does nol fil nealIy inlo ils assigned osilion in
lhe coIoniaI malrix of over. He did so on aeslhelic lerms by giving visuaI
reresenlalion lo his Iife as a cosmooIilan border dveIIer. This acl of border
lhinking adds a dimension lo lhe coIonized consciousness and sub|eclivily
of lhe Nev WorId by resilualing lhe exogenous narralive in ils Iocus, and in
doing so, oinls lo lhe need for cosmooIilanism lo brealhe from a muIlilude
of aeslhelic archives. Olhervise, as Guaman Ioma is earIy lo oinl oul,
cosmooIilanism is simIy conquesl.
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Brant!cy Nichn!snn is currenlIy a IhD candidale al Duke Universily vhere
he viII defend his lhesis, 'A Ioelics of GIobaIism: Iernando VaIIe|o, lhe
Generalion of '72, and lhe Conlemorary CoIombian Urban NoveI', lhis
aulumn. His vork focuses on lhe reresenlalion of gIobaIizalion and
cosmooIilanism in modern and conlemorary Lalin American Iileralure.
He is currenlIy co-ediling a voIume on lhe Generalion of '72, Lalin America's
forced cosmooIilans, and from Augusl 2011 viII be Visiling Leclurer of
Lalin American and Iberian Sludies al lhe Universily of Richmond.
Ior versions of lhe menlioned conlemorary Lalin American lexls in
IngIish, see IauI Hammond's lransIalion of Our Ia!q cj inc Assassins, HeIen
Lane's lransIalion of Sirangc Tnings Happcn Hcrc, ArieI Dorfman's ovn
IngIish version of Ocain an! inc Mai!cn, and Amanda Hokinson's
lransIalion of Burni Mcncq.
The lerm B|ack Icgcn!, or |cqcn!a ncgra as il is knovn in Sanish, is a concel
deveIoed }uIian }uderias in Ia |cqcn!a ncgra q |a tcr!a! nisicrica (1914),
aIlhough lhe lerm has been in circuIalion in lhe Sanish ress since 1912.
The concel, according lo }uderias, deicled Sanish hegemony as
excessiveIy exIoilalive and marred by backvard raclices such as reIigious
fanalicism and vas used by Norlhern Iuroean courls as rheloricaI Ieverage
againsl lhe Sanish Imire. Ior a more recenl assessmenl of lhe concel, see
lhe ediled voIume, |crca!ing inc B|ack Icgcn! (Greer and MignoIo, 2007).
Ior a good crilique of Las Casas' Human Righls camaign, see DanieI
Caslro's lexl Ancincr |acc cj |npirc (2007).
The cnccnicn!a sqsicn vas lhe economic modeI used by lhe Sanish in lhe
Nev WorId lo exlracl rav goods during coIonizalion. Nol dissimiIar lo lhe
sIave Ianlalions of Norlh America, lhe cnccnicn!a syslem vas based on lhe
exIoilalion of lhe chea and roundIy inhumane Iabor. In lhis case,
indigenous sub|ecls vere de faclo sIaves.
Adorno, RoIena (2000) Guanan Pcna. Wriiing an! |csisiancc in Cc|cnia| Pcru
Auslin, Texas: Universily of Texas Iress
Ariev, Roger and Walkins, Iric (2000) |ca!ings in Mc!crn Pni|cscpnq. Vc|unc
1 IndianaoIis: Hackell IubIishing Comany
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 67
N.(-41743: D*(4143.>.3, C4724541.8&3.72
aumgarlen, AIexander (1961) Acsinciica Irankfurl: HiIdesheim
Casas, arlaIome de Ias (2000) Brctisina rc|acicn !c |a !csiruccicn !c |as |n!ias
ayamn, Iuerlo Rico: Cenlro de Isludios Dominicanos deI Caribe
Caslro, DanieI (2007) Ancincr |acc cj |npirc. Baria|cnc !c Ias Casas, |n!igcncus
|ignis, an! |cc|csiasiica| |npcria|isn Durham, NC: Duke Universily Iress
Cugoano, Ollobah (1999) Tncugnis an! scniincnis cn inc cti| cj s|atcrq an! cincr
uriiings Nev York: Ienguin
Dorfman, ArieI (2001) Ia nucric q |a !cncc||a Weslminsler, Md.: Seven Slories
Ize, ImmanueI Chukvudi (1995) The CoIor of Reason: The Idea of 'Race'
in Kanl's AnlhrooIogy in K. M. IauII (ed.) Aninrcpc|cgq an! inc Gcrnan
|n|ignicnncni. Pcrspcciitcs cn Hunaniiq Levisburg: uckneII Universily Iress
Greer, Margarel, WaIler D. MignoIo and Maureen QuiIIigan (eds) (2007)
|crca!ing inc B|ack Icgcn!. Tnc Oisccurscs cj |c|igicus an! |acia| Oijjcrcncc in
inc |cnaisssancc |npircs Chicago: Universily of Chicago Iress
Guaman Ioma de AyaIa, IeIie (1987) Nucta crcnica q |ucn gc|icrnc Madrid:
Hardl, MichaeI and Negri, Anlonio (2000) |npirc Cambridge, Mass: Harvard
Universily Iress
Hardl, MichaeI and Negri, Anlonio (2004) Mu|iiiu!c. War an! Ocnccracq in
inc Agc cj |npirc Nev York: Ienguin
HegeI, Georg WiIheIm Iriedrich (1994) Hcgc|s Pncncncnc|cgq cj Spirii.
Sc|cciicns Universily Iark, Ia: IennsyIvania Slale Universily Iress
Henry, Iagel (2004) elveen Hume and Cugoano: Race, Ilhnicily and
IhiIosohicaI Inlramenl Tnc jcurna| cj Spccu|aiitc Pni|cscpnq 18(2), 129-148
Kanl, ImmanueI (2000) Criiiquc cj inc Pcucr cj ju!gncni Cambridge:
Cambridge Universily Iress
Las Casas, arlaIome de (2006) Brctisina rc|acicn !c |a !csiruccicn !c |as |n!ias
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 68
N.(-41743: D*(4143.>.3, C4724541.8&3.72
Andre Sainl-Lu (ed.) Madrid: Caledra
MaIdonado-Torres, NeIson (2008) Rousseau and Ianon on lhe InequaIilies
of lhe Human Sciences |cj|cciicns cn inc Oc-cc|cnia| Opiicn an! inc
Hunaniiics. An |nicrnaiicna| Oia|cguc Ccnjcrcncc, 21-22 Apri| 2008 Durham:
Duke Universily
MignoIo, WaIler (2003) Tnc Oarkcr Si!c cj inc |cnaissancc Ann Arbor:
Universily of Michigan Iress
IigIia, Ricardo (2006) P|aia qucna!a Mexico Cily: Anagrama
Qui|ano, AnibaI (2000) CoIoniaIidad deI Ioder y CIasificacin SociaI
jcurna| cj Wcr|!-Sqsicns |cscarcn 6(2), 342-386
SchiIIer, Iriedrich (2004) On inc Acsinciic |!ucaiicn cj Man Nev Haven: YaIe
Universily Iress
Schmil, CarI (2003) Tnc Ncncs cj inc |arin in inc |nicrnaiicna| Iau cj inc jus
Pu||icun |urcpacun Nev York: TeIos Iress
VaIenzueIa, Luisa (2005) Aqui pasan ccsas raras uenos Aires: De Ia IIor
VaIIe|o, Iernando (2001) Ia tirgcn !c |cs sicarics Mexico Cily: Iunlo de Leclura
Viloria, Irancisco de (1991) Pc|iiica| Wriiings Cambridge: Cambridge
Universily Iress
WaIIerslein, ImmanueI (2006) |urcpcan Unitcrsa|isn. Tnc |ncicric cj Pcucr
Nev York: The Nev Iress
Tnc Cc|cnia| Mairix cj Pcucr
Taken from: Qui|ano, AnibaI (2000) CoIoniaIidad deI Ioder y CIasificacin
SociaI jcurna| cj Wcr|!-Sqsicns |cscarcn 6(2), 342-386
|| Pcniijica| Mun!c
Relrieved from:
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|s |sic Orc Quc Ccncs?
Relrieved from:
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Batai!!c against Hcidcggcr:
Languagc and thc Escapc Irnm thc Wnr!d
by Andrev Ryder
Habcrmas' IdcntiIicatinn nI Batai!!c with Hcidcggcr
In 1984, }rgen Habermas soke of a common ro|ecl belveen alaiIIe and
Heidegger (1998: 168). Iach desires lo overcome modernily, lo discard
ralionaIism, and lo oulslri sub|eclivism (Habermas, 1998: 169). Habermas
admils lvo dislinclions: One is slyIislic, and lhe olher is lhal alaiIIe's
ob|eclion lo ralionaIizalion is elhicaI, vhereas Heidegger's is onloIogicaI
(ibid.). He considers bolh of lhese gas lo be eihenomenaI. The difference
of slyIe is of grealer imorl lhan Habermas reaIizes. More lhan lhis, alaiIIe's
elhicaI ob|eclion is subslanlive as veII as slyIislic, in Heidegger, he sees
acquiescence lo lhe hierarchicaI dislinclions of a reified vorId. The dislance
of slyIe and an elhic of affecl belveen alaiIIe and Heidegger searale lhe
former from lhe oIilicaI errors of lhe Ialler. I viII slrive lo ry aarl lhe
equivaIence eslabIished by Habermas, arlIy lhrough a measured
comarison of bolh lhese lhinkers lo ImmanueI Levinas.
The slakes of Habermas' idenlificalion are oIilicaI. Irom his
erseclive, bolh alaiIIe and Heidegger lo have missed lhe oIilico-
hiIosohicaI oinl of modernily: lhe founding of a ralionaI communily of
muluaI underslanding. As a resuIl, lheir vrilings faiI lo suorl democracy,
inslead, alaiIIe embraces anarchism and Heidegger, fascism (Habermas,
1998: 170). The idenlificalion of Heidegger vilh fascism is very
Indeed, Heidegger's vork has oflen been read vilh greal
inleresl on lhe Iefl, and a lendency lovards Iefl-Heideggerianism has been
I viII Ieave aside lhe ressing queslion of lhe degree lo vhich
Habermas is correcl in reading Heidegger as a consislenl advocale for
fascism. Inslead, because alaiIIe agreed vilh lhis characlerizalion, sublilIing
his noles on Heidegger Crilique of a IhiIosohy of Iascism, lhis arlicIe
viII inslead demonslrale alaiIIe's exlricalion of his ovn ideas from
associalion vilh Heidegger and his grave oIilicaI mislakes.
Habermas noles lhal bolh alaiIIe and Heidegger are allemling lo
lhink lhrough alheism. WhiIe alaiIIe reudiales any higher aulhorily,
Heidegger's dealh of God is voiced in nobIe lones, as a resuIl, il Ioses aII
radicaIily (Habermas, 1998: 170). He noles lhal, for Heidegger, lhere is a
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=)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
Iace ready lo be fiIIed in by lhe hero, vho viII lurn oul lo be fascislic.
Habermas sels forlh a dislinclion belveen alaiIIe lhe anarchisl and
Heidegger lhe fascisl, bul sees lhem as uniled in lheir incoherence. Irom
Habermas' erseclive, Heidegger's oen Iace of aulhorily is ready for
some fascislic sovereign, alaiIIe Iies in vail al lhe same oening, ready lo
mock and re|ecl lhe divine emergence. Il is my conlenlion lhal vhal
Habermas lakes lo be a ga for lhe divine in alaiIIe is inslead a recurrenl
fascinalion vilh aIlerily. This oening lo aIlerily is bound u in alaiIIe's
Iilerary slyIe.
Habermas menlions vilh confidence lhal ils obviousness musl make
il suerficiaI: lhe obvious differences belveen erolic vriling and schoIarIy
essays on one side, hiIosohicaI invesligalion and eing myslicism on lhe
olher (1998: 168). This difference, lhe difference of slyIe, is lo Habermas
negIigibIe. Where alaiIIe aears frenzied and Heidegger slodgy,
Habermas sees lhis as a dislraclion from lheir comIicily. alaiIIe lhinks
more of his ovn slyIislic difference from Heidegger lhan Habermas does.
Indeed, il is necessary lo eIucidale hov lhis difference in slyIe is cruciaI lo
alaiIIe's dislance from Heidegger. alaiIIe slales lhis direclIy in his
Crilique of Heidegger: In lhe momenl vhen I vrile, I brealhe vilh aII my
slrenglh, and I brealhe free (2006: 28). He lies Iove lo slrenglh, lo freedom,
and lo vriling, a configuralion of lerms aIien lo Heidegger. We find in
alaiIIe lhal his slrenglh becomes aarenl, nol in a concrele endeavor, bul
in vriling. This is lhe momenl of freedom, and lhe ossibiIily of Iove, bolh
lhese lerms resl on a cerlain underslanding of Ianguage, and secificaIIy of
Iilerary Ianguage.
Kn|cvc: Languagc and Dcath
alaiIIe's underslanding of Iileralure inherils ideas from AIexandre Ko|eve,
lhe lhinker mosl resonsibIe for HegeI's significance in Irench lhoughl of
lhe 1930s and 1940s. Ko|eve's sub|ecl imoses meaning lhrough lhe negalive,
reIaled lo lhe consciousness of finilude. Ior lhis sub|ecl, reveIalion lhrough
Ianguage requires a lerm vilh no direcl reIalion lo lhe vorId ilseIf (Ko|eve,
2004: 39). Ko|eve asserls lhal lhis Iinguislic medialion reIies on dealh (2004:
36). To make lhis oinl, Ko|eve lakes lhe examIe of a dog. This dog has an
exislence in lhe vorId, bul ils dislinclion from olher animaIs lhal ve give
differenl names is nol immedialeIy given by nalure. This is Ianguage's
searaling force, lhe abiIily lo dislinguish lhe concel dog from an acluaIIy
exisling dog (Ko|eve, 2004: 42). Words have no naluraI reIalion vilh lhe
ob|ecl lhey reresenl. To give a name is lo eslabIish a genus and lo delach
from lhe nic ci nunc. Ralher lhan a singuIar examIe, ve have in addilion lhe
concel of a dog, removed from lhis Iiving and brealhing dog.
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=)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6 73
Ko|eve beIieves lhal lhis medialion and discovery lhrough Ianguage
requires morlaI man, because onIy a being caabIe of imagining lhe removaI
from exislence of lhis dog, couId be caabIe of forging lhe concel in excess
of lhis ossibiIily (ils name). In arl, lhis emhasis on dealh is derived from
Heidegger as much as from HegeI, in arlicuIar Heidegger's insislence on
orienlalion lovards dealh as necessary lo aulhenlicily (Heidegger, 1962:
266). Indeed, Ko|eve affirms idenlily belveen Heidegger and HegeI on
finilude (Ko|eve, 2004: 74). Heidegger viII make a simiIar oinl aboul dealh,
Ianguage, and humanily, decades Ialer, in his 1959 On inc Waq ic Ianguagc:
MorlaIs are lhey vho can exerience dealh as dealh. AnimaIs cannol do
lhis. ul animaIs cannol seak eilher. The essenliaI reIalion belveen dealh
and Ianguage fIashes u before us, bul remains sliII unlhoughl (Heidegger,
1971: 107-108). Heidegger noles a reIalionshi lhal is essenliaI, bul decIares
il ahead of us, nol deriving il or foIIoving ils consequences.
HegeI's discourse is boundIess and absoIule (Ko|eve, 2004: 39).
Language is caabIe of asserling anylhing, discussing imossibIe ob|ecls,
conslrucling agrammalicaI formuIalions, and laking on absurd meanings in
nev conlexls. HegeI's goaI is lo conslrucl lhe Nolion, vhich is lhe reaI
buiIding bIock of exislence. This requires corresondence belveen lhe
negaling force of discourse and ob|ecls in lhe vorId. Wilhoul discourse and
human negalion, ve |usl have rav dumb immediacy, and vilhoul reference,
ve have imaginalive excess. The Underslanding requires subsequenl
Reason, vhich suIies lhe abslraclion of Ianguage vilh ils bearings in lhe
vorId (ibid.). Lilerary Ianguage, hovever, does nol submil ilseIf lo lhis
This is vhy alaiIIe seaks of lhe freedom of vriling in his crilique of
Heidegger. This comIicily belveen Iilerary slyIe and dealh occurs again in
his |nncr |xpcricncc. alaiIIe vriles:
Laughler, dream and, in sIee, in lhe rooflos faII in a rain of
graveI |. . .j lo knov nolhing, lo lhis oinl (nol of ecslasy, bul
of sIee): lo slrangIe myseIf lhus, unsoIvabIe uzzIe, lo accel
sIee, lhe slarry universe my lomb, gIorified, gIory consleIIaled
vilh deaf slars, uninleIIigibIe and jurincr inan !cain, lerrifying
(nonsense: lhe lasle of garIic vhich lhe roasled Iamb had) (1998:
This arenlhelicaI lasle of garIic aears lo be exaclIy vhal alaiIIe is afler:
a nonsense lhal ve viII find absenl from any of Heidegger's
henomenoIogicaI anaIyses. Here ve find dreams in lhe sIee of dealh, lhe
rosecl of a furlher unknovn, vhich alaiIIe finds al lhe Iimils of
Ianguage's exressive caacily. The abiIily lo roduce lhis effecl is one
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=)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
inherenl lo alaiIIe's fragmenlary slyIe. We viII never find Heidegger
vriling Iike lhis, vhalever lhe encomium lo oelry lhal is his Ialer vork.
alaiIIe's Iinking of lhis secificaIIy nonsensicaI oelry lo a shore on lhe
oosile side of dealh evokes Levinas' nolion of lhe i| q a. This is aroriale,
because he gives oelic and arlislic examIes in order lo aroach ainfuI
My reading of Levinas' Iilerary quaIilies, and alaiIIe's recelion of
lhese ideas, is grealIy indebled lo }iII Robbins's aulhorilalive lrealmenl in
A|icrc! |ca!ing.
Lcvinas and thc il ' a
The lhesis of Levinas' |xisicncc an! |xisicnis is lhal exislence in generaI
recedes any arlicuIar being (2001: 1). WhiIe a being aIready exercises over
eing lhe dominalion a sub|ecl exercises over ils allribules, ve are aIvays
caabIe of Iooking back over our shouIder lo a reexislenl eriod, rior lo
our individuaIizalion (ibid.). Levinas describes an imersonaI eing lhal
recedes us and viII survive us, and lhal he idenlifies vilh maller and vilh
eviI (2001: 4). According lo Levinas, Heidegger considers eviI lo be a defecl
and anxiely regarding dealh lo be a cruciaI robIem. In conlrasl, Levinas
decIares lhal eing, nol ils absence, is ilseIf suffering, lhe imersonaI eing
lhal recedes and survives dealh is aIready maIevoIenl and dislurbing
He idenlifies lhe exerience of lhe i| q a vilh horror, and conlrasls
lhis lo Heidegger's anxiely (2001: 57). Ior Levinas, horror is nol direcled
al dealh ilseIf, il is an avareness of lhe eing lhal conlinues afler dealh (2001:
58). Afler morlaIily remains an eviI, unlhinkabIe subslance.
alaiIIe read and revieved |xisicncc an! |xisicnis. In lhis reviev,
alaiIIe considers lhoughl beyond hiIosohy, suggesled by Soren
Kierkegaard's cry againsl HegeIian science (1999: 162). alaiIIe argues lhal
modern exislenliaIisls, incIuding Heidegger, are nol failhfuI lo Kierkegaard's
cry (1999: 159). Ior alaiIIe, lhe Ianguage of Heidegger's hiIosohy is
Iaborious, il is gIuey. There is, il seems lo me, a hesilalion al ils basis.
IxislenliaIisl lhinking is aIvays fIeeling bul never achieves in ilseIf lhe
annihiIalion of lhinking (1999: 160). Desile lhis crilicism, alaiIIe
commends Heidegger for synlhesizing alheism and reIigious exerience
(ibid.). This is high raise from alaiIIe, vhose Sunna aincc|cgica vrilings
had lhis goaI. alaiIIe vriles lhal Heidegger's leaching roceeds from lhe
mosl meaningfuI invesligalion lhal has been made of lhe sheres of lhe
rofane and lhe sacred, lhe discursive and lhe myslicaI, lhe rosaic and lhe
oelic (ibid.). This oosilion and inlerlvining belveen sacred and
rofane, and rose and oelry, is al lhe cenler of alaiIIe's concerns. In lhis
momenl, he seems lo suorl Habermas' argumenl, recognizing Heidegger
as his scn||a||c. Al one oinl, alaiIIe even seems lo exonerale Heidegger's
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=)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
oIilicaI missles, in a foolnole removed from lhe correcled version (ibid.).
Hcidcggcr and Passinn
alaiIIe roceeds from lhis raise lo a series of vehemenl crilicisms, direclIy
in Iine vilh lhose made a decade earIier in his Crilique of Heidegger.
alaiIIe argues lhal Heidegger's sacred is idenlicaI lo lhe reaIm of lhe
auincniic (ibid.). Ior lhis reason, vhalever Heidegger's commonaIilies vilh
Kierkegaard in lheir commilmenl lo lhe singuIar as againsl science, lhe lvo
are dislincl. This is because of lhe former's characlerislic misery, oosed
lo Kierkegaard's assion (alaiIIe, 1999: 161). UnIike Heidegger's, lhe
aulhenlicily of Kierkegaard is inaIicabIe lo a vorId, il vas a
consummalion of Iife so inlense lhal il Iefl lhe deveIomenl of knovIedge
in lhe background (ibid.). In conlrasl, vhiIe Heidegger slarls from lhe
osilion of lhe individuaI Oascin, he characlerizes lhe modes of being
according lo an aulhenlic reIalionshi vilh ob|ecls and lheir adequale
discernmenl. Ior lhis reason, alaiIIe has lroubIe seeing in Heidegger lhal
vhich resonds lo lhe assion vhich is lruIy mad and cried oul by
Kierkegaard (ibid.). Whalever Heidegger's crilicisms of ralionaIism's
forgelfuIness of eing, his lone and his vaIues confine him lo lhe reaIm of
lhe aIready-given and lhe sanily of recognilion. In lhis alaiIIe arlicuIales a
kind of elhic of affecl.
alaiIIe decIares lhal Heidegger is consumed vilh noslaIgia for rare
aulhenlic momenls scallered in a rofessoriaI Iife (ibid.). WhiIe lhis is an
a! ncnincn crilicism on alaiIIe's arl, lhe biograhicaI differences belveen
Heidegger and alaiIIe are here reveaIed as consequenliaI. alaiIIe decIares
lhal, for Heidegger, lhe aulhenlic aears as a consciousness of lhe
aulhenlic |. . .j |andj given over lo lhe kncu|c!gc of lhe aulhenlic (ibid.).
Heidegger's refusaI lo commil himseIf lo consideralion of lhe exeriences
lhal alaiIIe sees as cruciaI lo lhe breaking oinl of sub|eclivily render
Heidegger's crilique of lhe hislory of lhal sub|ecl mool. alaiIIe Ieas from
lhis crilicism of lhe ledium of Heidegger's biograhy lo deduce lhe cause of
his oIilicaI foIIy:
This Iife does nol seem dominaled by a lerribIe assion: one
cannol be surrised by a sIiage, vhich is nol necessary bul
ossibIe, from lhe aulhenlic lo HilIerism. Whal dominaled
Heidegger vas doublIess lhe inleIIecluaI desire lo reveaI being
(being and nol exislence) in discourse (in hiIosohicaI
Ianguage) (ibid.)
This evocalive, loo-brief assage, Ialer redacled, Iinks severaI cIaims.
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 75
Heidegger is accused of limidily and careerism in his ersonaI Iife,
conlribuling bolh lo his suorl for HilIer and his need lo disIay eing in
lhe Ianguage of hiIosohy. alaiIIe cIaims lhal Heidegger refers
aulhenlicily lo assion. Heidegger's goaI is recognilion of being, lhrough
Ianguage, and nol lhe radicaI rcpu!iaiicn in vhich alaiIIe Iocales his version
of lhe sacred.
Heidegger himseIf vouId nol agree lhal he is deficienl in assion.
Ralher, he vriles lhal il is essenliaI for lhe assumlion of aulhenlicily lo
vrench oneseIf from lhe iIIusions of lhe They and embrace an inpassicnc!
freedom lovards dealh (Heidegger 1962: 266). Hovever, Heidegger's
assion is nol al aII consonanl vilh alaiIIe's. In lhe chaler WiII as Affecl,
Iassion, and IeeIing of his Nicizscnc Ieclures, Heidegger aims lo dislinguish
belveen differenl varielies of mood. He beIieves lhal Nielzsche confIales
affecl, a bodiIy agilalion, vilh assion, vhich aIIovs him lo achieve Iucid
maslery (1991: 45, 48). Heidegger sliuIales, Iassion has nolhing lo do
vilh sheer desire. Il is nol a maller of lhe nerves, of c|u||iiicn and dissialion
(1991: 49). Ralher lhan ebuIIilion, Heidegger's assion is a IucidIy galhering
gri on beings (ibid.). Heidegger associales ebuIIilion vilh affecl and vilh
infalualion, vhich are dubilabIe, and nol lruIy assionale. He associales
assion vilh vaIues symboIized in Nielzsche by lhe eagIe and lhe serenl.
According lo Heidegger, lhe eagIe reresenls ride, vhich is lhe fuIIy
deveIoed resoIulion of one vho mainlains himseIf al lhe IeveI of his ovn
essenliaI rank (1991: 46). This concern for hierarchy echoes a slalemenl
made on behaIf of NalionaI SociaIism: To dominalion beIongs over, vhich
creales a hierarchy of grades lhrough lhe imosilion of lhe viII of lhe one
vho ruIes, insofar as he is acluaIIy overfuI, i.e., insofar as he disoses lhose
under his ruIe (Iaye, 2009: 239).
The Nielzschean serenl, according lo
Heidegger, reresenls discernmenl. In lhis conlexl, Heidegger is laIking
aboul assion in lerms of Iove. He lhinks lhal bolh malure Iove and lhe
anlicialion of dealh require assion, vhich deends on ride and
discernmenl. Like Nielzsche, alaiIIe does nol dislinguish belveen seizure
by affecl on one hand and resoIuleness of assion on lhe olher. Ralher,
alaiIIe's assion vouId incIude lhe Ioss of maslery lhal Heidegger needs
lo confine lo lhe reaIm of affecl. Through a reading of alaiIIe, Heidegger's
ride and discernmenl can be seen as vays of covering u lhe ossibiIily of
alaiIIe crilicized lhe figure of lhe eagIe in advance. In an earIy arlicIe,
he associales himseIf vilh maleriaIism as againsl lhe sovereign viriIily of lhe
eagIe (1985: 34-35). alaiIIe argues lhal lhe eagIe is aIigned vilh imeriaIism
and melahysicaI ideaIs, and ooses Marx's oId moIe and Zaralhuslra's
sense of lhe Iarlh lo lhe ridefuI eagIe (1985: 39). Zaralhuslra's Iove for
lhe earlh carries vilh il lhe reaIizalion lhal lhe bourgeoisie have kiIIed God,
and aII lhal remains is in calaslrohic disarray. This Iandscae is vhere
=)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6 76
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 76
alaiIIe chooses lo lhink.
Batai!!c, Matcria!ism, and thc il ' a
The sense of lhe earlh, vhich alaiIIe Iocales in bolh Marx and Nielzsche,
aeaIs lo his arlicuIar sense of maleriaIism. This maleriaIism aIso
corresonds, in some vays, lo lhe i| q a. Levinas associales lhe i| q a vilh lhe
absence of God, as veII as vilh lhe rimilive, re-}udaic sacred (2001: 56).
He aIso exIicilIy idenlifies lhis godIess, eviI, excessive being vilh maller
(2001: 51). Levinas decIares lhal Heidegger is unavare of lhe horror of lhe i|
q a. Heidegger begins vilh eings aIready lhrovn inlo lhe vorId and lheir
anxiely al lhe rosecl of lheir dissoIulion inlo nolhingness, and vho
urchase aulhenlicily by anlicialing lhis evenluaIily. Levinas, in conlrasl,
argues lhal an essenliaI robIem is indicaled by a more rofound horror.
This horror is nol in lhe face of nolhingness, bul al lhe inluilion of
imersonaI being lhal recedes us, and vhich Iies in vail for us |usl
foIIoving our dealhs.
alaiIIe embraces lhis horror and vaIorizes il. He argues on behaIf of
somelhing Iike Levinas' i| q a a desoIale, osl-divine Iandscae of
meaningIessness for lhe faiIure of Heidegger's concelion of Dasein, vhich
remains aII-loo-sub|eclive in ils inserlion inlo eing (1999: 173). alaiIIe and
Levinas inlerrel lhis immediale enlry inlo eing as an aulhorily over il.
alaiIIe's fascinalion vilh maller reveaIs lhe necessily of lhe i| q a for Levinas'
osl-Heideggerian oulIook. Whalever horror is allendanl lo Levinas'
consideralion of imersonaI eing, lhis imersonaI-exislence-in-generaI is
cruciaI lo his dislinclion from Heidegger.
The lheme of ercelion is cenlraI lo lhese reIalions of endorsemenl
and crilique. Levinas argues lhal Heidegger faiIs roerIy lo conceive of eviI.
Heidegger imagines il lo be rivalive, an imending nolhingness, vhere il
is for Levinas a suerfIuous abundance. Levinas beIieves lhal Heidegger
slrayed inlo eviI because of lhis faiIure adequaleIy lo erceive ils nalure.
Hovever, il is lhe nalure of lhe i| q a lo |c inpcrccpii||c. The i| q a can onIy be
gIanced al lhrough oelry or lhrough arl, and vrillen of in an evocalive,
Iilerary slyIe. In olher vords, a commilmenl lo Iucid ercelion, vilaI lo
Heidegger's aulhenlicily, by ils goaIs and melhods viII necessariIy faiI lo
gras lhe i| q a, vhich is lhe dissoIulion of any such cerlain arehension. A
commilmenl lo ercelion vaIIs off lhe imercelibIe.
alaiIIe chooses lo crilicize Levinas' characlerizalion of lhe i| q a as
remaining loo cIose lo lhe descrilive reaIm of hiIosohicaI Ianguage. Irom
alaiIIe's erseclive, Levinas remains aII-loo-henomenoIogicaI, and hence,
loo cIose lo lhe discursive reveIalion alaiIIe idenlifies vilh Heidegger's
aulhenlicily. alaiIIe's geslure viII be lovards a differenl Ianguage lhal does
77 =)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 77
nol aeaI lo discernmenl, bul ralher lo a learing from lhe vorId. alaiIIe
indicales lhal Levinas, vhalever his desire lo crilicize Heidegger, conlinues
lo raclice hiIosohicaI Ianguage, and as a resuIl faiIs lo exress lhe force
of imersonaI eing.
Ior alaiIIe, Levinas dravs back from eviI on a slyIislic IeveI. To lake
lhe i| q a seriousIy is lo discard concrele Ianguage and lo seak in lhe
ambiguily of lhe Iilerary and lo risk meaning nolhing. eing beyond dealh
is aIso beyond lhe gras of ercelion. Ior lhis reason, ils exression musl
escae discernmenl and adequalion. The i| q a inlerruls lhe lransmission
of meaning, and vords lhal seak of il musl do lhe same. Il may nol be even
be correcl lo say lhal one seaks of lhe i| q a. alaiIIe indicales lhal Iilerary
Ianguage moves lovards animaI sounds and avay from human seech: he
seaks of equivaIence lo lhe imenelrabIe hovIing of a dog (1999: 167). In
olher vords, oelry asires lo lhe quaIily of barking or hovIing. The goaI
vouId be lo disense vilh lhinking enlireIy, lo inslead exress an oaque,
meaningIess shriek.
alaiIIe aroriales Levinas' lerm enlireIy, al one oinl even
asserling lhal Levinas' lhoughl does nol differ, il seems lo me, |. . .j from
mine (1999: 168).
alaiIIe indicales lhal lhe i| q a is nol an ob|ecl of
knovIedge, bul an exerience: IndividuaI, ainfuI, vilh lhe vaIue of a cry
(1999: 169). The exerience is so inlimale and nonsensicaI lhal is aarenlIy
non-communicabIe. alaiIIe goes on lo indicale lhal exerience is aIvays lhis
vay (ibid.). Ixerience, by nalure, cannol be communicaled under lhe
heading of cIear knovIedge, bul soIeIy in lhe form of oelry (alaiIIe, 1999:
171). Conlrary lo Levinas, vho sees lhis lye of exerience and lhe oelry
lhal exresses il as a hazard, alaiIIe accIaims lhese lhemes: I can regard
lhe nighl of non-knovIedge as my deIiverance (1999: 172).
Hovever, il is imeralive nol lo confuse alaiIIe's endorsemenl of lhe
i| q a as a osilive dimension of exerience, and his vaIorizalion of oelry,
vilh romanlicism. Ior lhis reason, alaiIIe's indicalion of Heidegger as a
romanlic is nol Iaudalory (1999: 159). This is cIear from alaiIIe's reading of
}ean WahI, in lhe same reviev in vhich he lreals Levinas. In alaiIIe's gIoss,
WahI dreaml of hiIosoher-oels, hiIosohers by origin bul onIy in
order lo Iiquidale a herilage, vho endIessIy resoIve lhe lension of
hiIosohicaI research in oelic effusion (1999: 159). WahI sav Kierkegaard
as lhe firsl of lhese, and argued lhal a grealer fideIily lo him couId be
achieved by a oelized version of hiIosohy. This is nol far from lhe |ourney
lovards oelry on vhich Heidegger embarked, subsequenl lo Bcing an!
Tinc. alaiIIe does nol arove of lhis aeslhelic soIulion.
=)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
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Hcidcggcr, Languagc, and Humanism
alaiIIe crilicizes WahI for an aeslhelicism lhal mainlains lhe coherence of
lhe hiIosoher-oel and his caacily lo inleracl vilh his silualion lhrough
arl. According lo alaiIIe, Kierkegaard and Rimbaud, vho exress exislence
in inlensily, are nol deslroyed by a necessily of vhich lhey are conscious
(1999: 163). Ixression is nol consciousness, and deslruclion is nol a
recognized necessily. alaiIIe's exerience cannol be described as a romanlic
or aeslhelic one, in lhal, as Robbins uls il, il caIIs inlo queslion any nolion
of oelic aulhorily and ils concomilanl ceIebralion of lhe crealive overs of
a sub|ecl (1999: 108). IamousIy, Heidegger Ialer emhasizes such a
dearlure from lhe sub|ecl in his 1947 Leller on Humanism, inlended lo
correcl Ko|eve's reading of his vork inlo HegeIianism.
In conlrasl lo Ko|eve,
vho osiled lhe human sub|ecl as cenlraI and Ianguage as deslruclive,
Heidegger eslabIishes Ianguage and eing as having a kind of riorily over
human beings. This lexl osils Man as lhe sheherd of eing, vho Iels
beings e lhrough Ianguage, ralher lhan kiIIing lhem, as Ko|eve vouId have
il (Heidegger, 1993: 234).
Heidegger aears cIose lo alaiIIe vhen he argues lhal grammar is
a manifeslalion of lhe ubIic. The ubIic reaIm degrades Ianguage, vilh lhe
urose of exediling communicalion aIong roules vhere ob|eclificalion
lhe uniform accessibiIily of everylhing lo everyone branches oul and
disregards aII Iimils (Heidegger, 1993: 221). The goaI of haslening
communicalion eIiminales lhe secificily in favor of lhe abslracl.
InslrumenlaI Ianguage slems from lhe dominance of sub|eclivily (ibid.).
Iven so, Heidegger's cIarificalion or revision remains vuInerabIe lo alaiIIe's
charge of aeslhelicism. This is because Heidegger's accounl of man's duly lo
eing resls on a consideralion of discernmenl of exisling beings, ralher lhan
on lhe exerience of being lorn avay from lhem. WhiIe alaiIIe does nol
enlireIy endorse Ko|eve's more aclive consideralion of Man, he remains
much cIoser lo lhe Ko|evian modeI in his emhasis on Ianguage as lhe carrier
of searalion and of negalivily.
Heidegger leIIs us lhal in lhinking eing comes lo Ianguage (1993:
218). Language does nol searale and recombine lhe exislence of lhings as
lhe sovereign righl of man. Il aIIovs eing lo aear. Thinking brings eing
lo Ianguage and mainlains il lhere, rolecling il from danger. To lhink is lo
say lhe lrulh of eing, bul aIso lo be seized by il. Heidegger's lhinking serves
eing, il does nol masler il as Ko|eve's does. Ko|eve's HegeIian sub|ecl is
caabIe of recombining and reresenling ob|ecls vilh imunily. Il is man as
agenl of lhe reaIizalion of lhings, and il is bolh exislenliaIIy unique and
hisloricaIIy universaI (2004: 39). In conlrasl, Heidegger viII advocale a
79 =)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 79
differenl mode of reveaIing eing lhrough Ianguage, vhich viII nol
subordinale eing lo lhe absoIule over of lhinking man. This seems lo
abandon lhe maslery he once argued as essenliaI lo assion (Heidegger,
1991: 48).
Heidegger refuses lo define lhinking as lhe roIe of lhe coIIeclive
sub|ecl, a goaI and aclor Heidegger considers mereIy lhe ubIic and lhe
lhey. Heidegger sees lhe inslrumenlaI underslanding of Ianguage on
behaIf of hislory lhal Ko|eve endorses as inadequale for lhe reveIalion of
eing and a lhreal lo lhe essence of humanily (1993: 221). The essence of
humanily is lo bring eing lo lhoughl. This lhreal, Ianguage as inslrumenl,
undermines aeslhelic and moraI resonsibiIily (ibid.). TechnoIogy
conquers Ianguage and sub|ugales il lo mere viIIing and lrafficking as an
inslrumenl of dominalion over beings (ibid.: 223). TechnicaI Ianguage
seaks lo hubris on lhe arl of man, a melahysicaI exaIlalion of lhe sub|ecl,
and abandonmenl of lhe duly lo eing. This use of Ianguage, Iinked lo lhe
emhasis on crafl, conlribules lo lhe homeIessness of modern man (ibid.:
Heidegger endorses a arliaI aIIegiance lo lhe young Marx's nolion of
aIienalion in lhis consideralion of homeIessness. Ior Marx, man, lhe
roducer, bovs dovn before his roducls. Heidegger is nol inleresled in
resloring lhe cenlraI Iace of man, and vouId nol endorse an underslanding
of lhings in lerms of use-vaIue. He is, hovever, in agreemenl vilh regard lo
lhis underslanding of man as Iosing his humanily in service lo commodilies.
To Heidegger, exIoilalion is one egregious manifeslalion of lhe
homeIessness roduced by submission lo lechnoIogicaI underslanding. This
homeIessness, man's forgelling of himseIf in favor of a reoccualion vilh
ralionaIily, science, and roduclion, Ieads melahysics lo be enlrenched
and covered u as such (ibid.). TechnicaI lhinking, vhich necessariIy
foIIovs from humanisl resuosilions, finds lhe lrulh of eing in causes
and exIanalions (ibid.: 223).
The robIem vilh humanism is lhal il siluales man as a being among
beings, and relends il aIready knovs vhal lhose beings mighl be.
Humanism has decided lhal eing is exressed in causes and in
exIanalions. Those forgollen resuosilions carry vilh lhem a lechnicaI
and leIeoIogicaI inleresl in defining ob|ecls by lheir reference lo an essence
olher lhan lheir exislence. Heidegger caIIs lhis lechnicily, leIeoIogy, and
essenliaIism melahysics. Ralher lhan being lhe masler of lhings, naming
lhem and delermining lheir causes, uroses, and exIanalions, Heidegger
oens lhe queslion of onloIogicaI difference belveen ob|ecls and lhe rav
aearance of lheir exislence. Inslead of roviding sub|eclive meaning lo lhe
vorId, man is 'lhrovn' from eing ilseIf (ibid.: 234). He is himseIf a being
=)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 80
searale from eing, bul uniqueIy caabIe of lhinking lhe queslion of eing.
This avareness of lhe onloIogicaI difference, lhe famous difference belveen
eing and beings, aIIovs man lo guard lhe lrulh of eing, in order lhal
beings mighl aear in lhe Iighl of eing as lhe beings lhey are (ibid.).
WhiIe alaiIIe's nci is aIso searale from eing, he vouId reudiale
lhe essenliaI roIe of reveaIing beings lhrough Ianguage and eing. Iven lhis
duly, from his erseclive, remains subordinalion. His Ianguage does nol
iIIuminale beings. The lasle of garIic lhal alaiIIe evokes in lhe
arehension of dealh is nol reveaIed in his Ianguage. Il is inslead resenled
as enigmalic, unlrulhfuI, and dirly. alaiIIe's Ianguage is a being lhal is
obscured by dealh. Il is maleriaI.
Heidegger crilicizes Marxism for a melahysicaI commilmenl lo
maleriaIism, vhich osils aII beings as lhe maleriaI of Iabor (1993: 243).
The lendency lo see aII ob|ecls as congeaIed Iabor-lime Ieads Marxism lo
comIicily vilh lechnicaI lhinking. Marxism remains as much a lhreal lo
man and eing as cailaIism. alaiIIe mighl share dislasle al measuring
lhings according lo Iabor. Hovever, Heidegger's revuIsion is aIso direcled
al a maleriaI definilion of lhings. MaleriaIism, for Heidegger, musl carry
vilh il lhe desire lo seek oul an essence dislincl from exislence, and for lhis
reason be melahysicaI. alaiIIe, in conlrasl, finds maller lo be somelhing
eIse enlireIy lhan an ad|uncl lo Iabor or lo melahysics.
Outsidc nI Bcing
alaiIIe seaks of |c nci, lhe ego or lhe seIf, ralher lhan of Dasein. alaiIIe's
nci is dislincl from Dasein because il is undelermined and absenl from lhe
vorId (2006: 33). WhiIe Heidegger vouId sel himseIf againsl lhe
delerminalions of ralionaIism, his Oascin is a being among beings. Heidegger
sees Dasein as discerning beings lhrough aclion and Ianguage, lending lo
lheir aearance. alaiIIe sees lhis as beIonging lo a syslem of inlenlions
againsl vhich he is in revoIl (ibid.).
He insisls on lhe necessily of vaIue (as
againsl Heidegger's ride of lhe eagIe):
If a man has a sense of his vaIue, vhich he reIales lo anolher,
eslabIished vaIue, if he reIales lo lhe Iace he occuies on one
of lhe miserabIe Iadders of over, lhen by so doing he re|ecls
himseIf cuisi!c cj |cing and re|ecls his exislence in lhe mass of
squandered exislence, exislence lhal has been roduced in facl
bul has nol allained lhe form vhere il ceases roducing ilseIf
in reIalion lo olher lhings (2006: 34)
81 =)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 81
In olher vords, for alaiIIe, man is nol a being among beings, bul a being
caabIe of re|ecling his Iace among beings. The essenliaI caacily is nol lo
Iel beings e lhrough Ianguage, bul lo lear yourseIf from lhem. As
GerouIanos uls il, vilhoul a rocIamalion of insufficiency as a cenlraI
faclor in aII exislence, eing is nolhing bul immanence reducing lhe
individuaI lo shared uniform sociaIily (2006: 14). alaiIIe relurns lo lhe
Ko|evian lheme of desire as a deslruclive caacily, carrying vilh il a force
searale from lhe vorId as given. Desire roceeds from and aims ilseIf al an
insaliabIe Iack.
Irom alaiIIe's erseclive, Heidegger's Dasein, lhrovn inlo lhe
vorId and vilh lhe duly of lending lo lhe eing of lhe ob|ecls surrounding
him, faIIs shorl of lhe freedom of a human individuaI. Ic nci, caabIe of
sIiing oul of lhis vorId, carries vilh il lhe olenliaI for radicaI freedom.
Ior alaiIIe, Heidegger's reduclion of exislence lo lhe mainlenance of beings
mirrors lhe oIilicaI accomIishmenl of fascism, vhich uhoIds lhe rofane
vorId under lhe relense of lranscending il. Heidegger's aulhenlicily covers
u lhe ain, Iack, and horror allendanl lo exislence. This alleml cuIminales
in lhe ro|ecl of aulhenlic Mii-scin: Our fales have aIready been guided in
advance, in our eing vilh one anolher in lhe same vorId and in our
resoIuleness for definile ossibiIilies (Heidegger, 1962: 384). Il is lhis vorId
and lhese ossibiIilies lhal alaiIIe's nci escaes.
Andrcw Rydcr (arydcrmcmnry.cdu) is an Assislanl Irofessor of IngIish
Language and Lileralure al AI-Quds Universily in Iasl }erusaIem. He
received his doclorale from Imory Universily, vhere he vas a feIIov al lhe
Iox Cenler for Humanislic Inquiry. He has ubIished arlicIes on Ireud,
Lacan, Sarlre, and Derrida.
Ior condemnalions and evidence of Heidegger's invoIvemenl in NalionaI
SociaIism, see Viclor Iarias (1991) Hci!cggcr an! Nazisn, and ImmanueI Iaye
(2009) Hci!cggcr. Tnc |nirc!uciicn cj Nazisn inic Pni|cscpnq in Iigni cj inc
Unpu||isnc! Scninars cj 1933-1935. See aIso David IarreII KreII's discussion
in lhe Inlroduclion lo lhe Iaerback Idilion of Heidegger (1991).
Ior lhe hislory of Heidegger's recelion in Irance and ils conlroversies, see
Ilhan KIeinberg (2005) Gcncraiicn |xisicniia|. Ior subsequenl innovalions,
see OIiver Marcharl (2007: 11-34) The Conlours of 'Lefl Heideggerianism':
Iosl-IoundalionaIism and Necessary Conlingency.
Ior an exIoralion of commonaIilies belveen alaiIIe and Heidegger, see
=)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 82
Rebecca Comay (1990: 66-89).
Heidegger vriles of an aulhenlic reelilion of a ossibiIily of exislence
lhal has been lhe ossibiIily lhal Dasein may choose ils hero, grounded
exislenliaIIy in anlicialory resoIuleness (1962: 385).
Robbins oinls oul an uller inlricalion of arl and lhe i| q a (1999: 93).
alaiIIe oinls oul lhal lhe dislinclion from Heidegger is nol cIear.
Heidegger's onloIogicaI difference indicales lhal eing in generaI is nearIy
nolhing, and lhe nolhing, as such, is lhe form of eing qua eing (1999:
alaiIIe removed lhe reference lo HilIerism from lhe correcled lexl lhal
aears in lhe utrcs ccnp|cics (1988a: 285).
Ior a brief engagemenl vilh conlemorary Heideggerian lhoughl on lhis
oinl, see my reviev of |ngaging Hci!cggcr by Richard Caobianco (Ryder,
This is quoled from lhe unubIished Winler 1934-35 seminar, Hcgc|, On inc
Siaic, cilalions from vhich are ubIished in Iaye (2009: 203-242).
Robbins sees lhis as an erasure of lhe evidenl aIlerily belveen alaiIIe's
and Levinas' concelions of lhe i| q a. alaiIIe aroriales and re-evaIuales,
ralher lhan ciling and reading. Ior lhis reason, each is unabIe lo quole lhe
olher (1999: 99).
Ior lhis vork as a correclive lo Ko|eve, see KIeinberg (2005: 157-208).
As Andrev }. MilcheII and }ason Kem Winfree vrile, for alaiIIe, In
oelic Ianguage, lhe imenelrabIe ungrasabIe is no Ionger negIecled, bul
neilher is il ob|eclified or ossessed (see lhe Idilor's Inlroduclion, 2009:
alaiIIe's associalion of Heidegger vilh inlenlionaIily may come from lhe
earIy Irench readings of Heidegger, vhich associale him cIoseIy vilh
HusserI. Heidegger aIso uses lhe Ianguage of inlenlionaIily in On lhe
Issence of Ground (GerouIanos, 2006: 17).
83 =)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 83
alaiIIe, G. (2006) Crilique of Heidegger Ocic|cr 117(Summer), 25-34
alaiIIe, G. (1985) Visicns cj |xccss |lrans. A. SloekI vilh C. R. Lovill and D.
M. LesIie }r.j A. SloekI (Id.) MinneaoIis: Universily of Minnesola Iress
alaiIIe G. (1988 |1943j) |nncr |xpcricncc |lrans. L. A. oIdlj AIbany: SUNY
alaiIIe, G. (1988a) utrcs ccnp|cics X|. Ariic|cs |, 1944-1949 Iaris: GaIIimard
alaiIIe G. (1999 |1947j) Irom IxislenliaIism lo lhe Irimacy of Iconomy
|lrans. }. Robbinsj in }. Robbins (Id.) A|icrc! |ca!ing. Ictinas an! Iiicraiurc
Chicago: Universily of Chicago Iress (155-180)
Comay, R. (1990) Gifls vilhoul Iresenls: Iconomies of 'Ixerience' in
alaiIIe and Heidegger Ya|c |rcncn Siu!ics 78, 66-89
Iarias, V. (1991) Hci!cggcr an! Nazisn IhiIadeIhia: TemIe
Iaye, I. (2009 |2005j) Hci!cggcr. Tnc |nirc!uciicn cj Nazisn inic Pni|cscpnq in
Iigni cj inc Unpu||isnc! Scninars cj 1933-1935 |lrans. M.. Smilhj Nev Haven:
YaIe Universily Iress
GerouIanos, S. (2006) The AnlhrooIogy of Ixil: alaiIIe on Heidegger and
Iascism Ocic|cr 117(Summer), 3-24
Habermas, }. (1998 |1984j) The Irench Ialh lo Ioslmodernily: alaiIIe
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Baiai||c. A Criiica| |ca!cr Oxford: IackveII (167-190)
Heidegger, M. (1962 |1927j) Bcing an! Tinc |lrans. }. Macquarrie and I.
Robinsonj San Irancisco: Harer
Heidegger, M. (1991 |1961j) Nicizscnc. Vc|unc Onc an! Tuc |lrans. D. I. KreIIj
San Irancisco: Harer
Heidegger, M. (1993) Basic Wriiings |lrans. I. A. Cauzzi vilh }. G. Grayj D.
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Heidegger, M. (1971 |1959j) On inc Waq ic Ianguagc |lrans. I. D. Herlzj Nev
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York: Harer and Rov
Ko|eve, A. (2004 |1947j) The Idea of Dealh in lhe IhiIosohy of HegeI in
D. K. Keenan (Id.) Hcgc| an! Ccnicnpcrarq Ccniincnia| Pni|cscpnq AIbany:
SUNY Iress (27-74)
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1927-1961 Ilhaca: CorneII Universily Iress
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Duquesne Universily Iress
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Universily Iress
MilcheII, A. }. and Winfree, }. K. (2009) Tnc O|scssicns cj Gccrgcs Baiai||c
AIbany: SUNY Iress
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Ryder, A. (2010) Reviev of |ngaging Hci!cggcr by Richard Caobianco
Siu!ics in Sccia| an! Pc|iiica| Tncugni 18, 143-144
85 =)*6: B&8&.11* &,&.378 H*.)*,,*6
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Dcmncracy's Era nI Rc!ativc Dcc!inc
by Andrev Gibson
This arlicIe focuses on lhe queslion of democralic arlicialion
in Canada and in Weslern democracies more generaIIy. Tvo
aroaches lo lhe robIem of decIining arlicialion are briefIy
canvassed. The firsl Iinks lhe robIem lo sociaI excIusion and
lhe ersislence of democralic divides, vhiIe lhe second
allribules veak arlicialion IeveIs lo inslilulionaI deficiencies.
The aer robIemalizes lhese aroaches by conlrasling lhem
vilh a sel of insighls broughl forlh by hiIosoher CharIes
TayIor in his assessmenl of lhe currenl era as one of rc|aiitc
democralic decIine. CenlraI lo his argumenl is lhe idea of a shifl
in forms of democralic oIilics from a broad-gauge modeI lo
a uncluaI one. And behind lhis Iies anolher shifl, belveen
lhe oslvar mobiIizalion of vorking-cIass idenlilies and lhe
simuIlaneous emergence of consumer idenlilies based on
slalus-driven raclices of muluaI disIay.
oIilicaI arlicialion cilizenshi idenlily
civiI sociely consumerism
In many Weslern counlries loday, lhere is a generaI discouragemenl aboul
lhe vorlh and olenliaI of democralic Iife. eIief in lhe nolion lhal in obeying
our ruIers ve are acluaIIy obeying ourseIves is feIl lo be haIf-hearled al besl.
In exchanging oIilicaI oinls of viev al lhe IocaI ub or cafe, conversalions
aII loo quickIy faII rey lo cynicism and indifference. Il used lo be lhal
commenlalors focused lheir crilique on lhe democralic faiIings of corrul
and reressive regimes abroad. ul an increasing number of men and
vomen are nov beginning lo vorry aboul lhe soundness of Weslern
democracies lhemseIves, Canada incIuded.
SchoIarIy debales seem lo have shifled avay from lhe oId queslion of
vhelher ve shouId be advocales of reubIican democracy or roleclors of a
more IiberaI form of seIf-governmenl focusing on righls and lhe eIeclion of
caabIe Ieaders. These debales nov seem ralher mool, as il has become
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 86
aarenl lhal lhe cilizens of many Weslern nalions are increasingIy
unviIIing lo arlake in even lhe mosl basic democralic dulies. The cIearesl
examIe of lhis is lhe sleady decIine in arlicialion al lhe baIIol box in
recenl decades. Thus, quile aarl from anylhing going on in olher arls of
lhe vorId, lhis has Ied many commenlalors lo ask aboul lhe inlegrily and
suslainabiIily of democracy in ils erslvhiIe hearlIands.
Of course, lhings are nol as bIeak as some eoIe make lhem oul lo
be. RuIe-by-lhe-eoIe conlinues lo be regarded as a cherished ideaI vilh
regard lo vhich many men and vomen remain commilled. As leslimony of
lhis commilmenl, ve find lhal a Iol of ink has been siIl addressing lhe
veaknesses and shorlcomings of Canadian democracy, vilh lhe aim of
reinvigoraling il. And lhis Iileralure has generaled many imorlanl insighls.
Various roosaIs for inslilulionaI reform have been made, |usl as a slrong
case has been ul forlh concerning lhe maleriaI recondilions of democralic
engagemenl. If lhere is an inadequacy in lhis Iileralure, il is lhal il faiIs lo
offer a hoIislic iclure of vhal il is seeking lo shed Iighl on.
The resenl aer seeks lo make a conlribulion lo lhis debale by
draving on lhe vork of hiIosoher CharIes TayIor. In doing so, il rovides
a crilique of currenl aroaches lo lhe anaIysis of democralic decIine, vhiIe
al once ulling forlh a more comrehensive inlerrelalion. The slrenglh of
TayIor's ideas on lhe sub|ecl is lheir breadlh. His vork shovs lhal our focus
cannol be Iimiled lo lhe malhemalics of arIiamenlary reresenlalion, nor
lo fIuclualing numbers al lhe baIIol box or lhe amounl of members signed
u lo oIilicaI arlies and lo olher associalions of civiI sociely. Ior lhere aIso
needs lo be an underslanding of hov one form of arlicialion differs from
anolher in lerms of suslaining overaII democralic vilaIily, |usl as lhere needs
lo be a sense of hov ersonaI idenlilies are shaed around non-oIilicaI
vehicIes of ubIic exression such as fashion and consumlion.
The aer begins by queslioning lhe assumlions behind lvo
rominenl aroaches lo lhe queslion of democralic vilaIily. The firsl of
lhese focuses ils assessmenl around lhe democralic divides crealed
lhrough various forms of sociaI excIusion. On lhis viev, lhe facl lhal Iarge
svalhs of lhe Canadian ouIalion do nol have lhe resources lo ermil
serious engagemenl gels al lhe hearl of lhe robIem of democralic decIine.
A second aroach hoIds lhal veak ubIic arlicialion can be Iinked lo
deficiencies in democralic inslilulions such as arlies and IegisIalures. In
caIIing inlo queslion lhese differenl aroaches, lhe aer does nol argue
lhal lhey are simIy vrong or lhal lhe issues lhey address are unimorlanl.
Ralher, lhe cIaim is lhal sociaI excIusion and inslilulionaI deficiencies do nol
leII us lhe vhoIe slory behind vhy Canadian cilizens are lurning avay from
lhe baIIol box and, indeed, vhy lhey seem Iess inleresled in changing lhe
vorId lhan lhey mighl once have been.
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The second arl of lhe aer lurns lo TayIor's inlerrelalion of a shifl
in modes of democralic oIilics. He describes lhis as a shifl avay from
broad-gauge oIilics lo more uncluaI forms of engagemenl. The former
requires broad sociaI engagemenl around aII lhe reIevanl issues affecling lhe
nalion, vhiIe lhe Ialler invoIves lhe largeled inlervenlions of singIe issue
inleresl grous and associalions. Iarl of vhal is al slake behind lhis shifl,
TayIor suggesls, is lhe dissoIulion of vorking cIass idenlilies. Ior, vilh lhe
nevfound affIuence of lhe vorking cIasses in lhe oslvar eriod, broad-
gauge mobiIizalion has Iosl much of ils aeaI. Yel, as argued in lhe finaI
seclion of lhe aer, vhal is aIso al issue is lhe rise of a differenl sorl of ubIic
Iife aIlogelher, one cenlered on consumer based raclices of muluaI
Thc 5ncia! Exc!usinn and Institutinna! DcIicicncy Thcscs
One aroach lo lhe robIem of veak democralic arlicialion is lo Iink il
lo sociaI excIusion. This is essenliaIIy a crilique of democracy on lhe grounds
lhal il has faiIed lo incIude lhe marginaIized and underriviIeged reciseIy
lhose men and vomen vho couId benefil mosl from having lheir voices
heard. Il is hard lo disagree lhal Weslern democracies suffer from lheir
inabiIily lo bring aboul more equaI oorlunily. In Canada, as eIsevhere,
lhere exisl many enduring lyes of excIusion. TyicaIIy, marginaIized
grous suffer from Iov IeveIs of educalion and rofessionaI lraining, bul
lhey may aIso be geograhicaIIy isoIaled. They are IikeIy lo be discriminaled
againsl for reasons of gender, coIour, failh or creed. Ire|udices lend lo vork
againsl lhem vhen aIying for |obs, receiving services and in lhe mere
exression of lheir vievs.
The overaII effecl of lhese faclors lends lo be one of maleriaI
disossession, overly and humiIialion. Yel il aIso invoIves a faiIure of
meaningfuI arlicialion, such as in oIilicaI arlies or olher civic
associalions. Il is nol as lhough lhere have nol been any allemls lo reform
lhese condilions. HisloricaIIy, such inilialives have mel vilh some success.
Indeed, il is hard lo discounl lhe moraI rogress of egaIilarian reforms over
lhe Iasl lvo cenluries. SliII, lhe crilique of sociaI excIusion is righl lo suggesl
lhal lhe egaIilarian ro|ecl remains incomIele. To lake a leIIing slalislic,
lhere is roughIy lhe same roorlion of oor and marginaIized Canadians
loday as lhere vas a quarler of a cenlury ago. Iurlher, lhere is no reason lo
beIieve lhal lhe unIucky members of lhis second lier of cilizens viII be abIe
lo offer lheir chiIdren a more romising fale. There is no obvious
groundsveII of egaIilarian senlimenl on lhe horizon, nor are lhere any Iong-
lerm slrucluraI changes lo be olimislic aboul.
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Many firsl lier cilizens are baffIed by lhe seeming inlraclabiIily of
lhe robIem. Given lhe many slale inilialives and service grous, lhey are
uzzIed by lhe miIIions of oor lhal remain. Some end u bIaming lhe
viclims or allribuling lheir bad Iack lo irremediabIe facls of nalure. On lhe
olher hand, lhere are aIso lhose commilled grous of aclivisls and
rofessionaIs vho don'l find lhe robIem lo be aII lhal uzzIing vhalsoever.
In lheir viev, communily and slale-based inilialives have simIy never been
crealive or comassionale enough. ConsequenlIy, lhere remain vasl numbers
of Canadian cilizens lhal slruggIe daiIy lo avoid humiIialing derivalion.
These are men and vomen beIonging lo Iarge famiIies vilh Iov incomes,
recenl immigranls, singIe molhers, lhe Iong-lerm unemIoyed and lhose
feeIing lhe hard inch of raidIy devaIuing |ob skiIIs.
Oeraling on a differenl Iane lhan officiaI oIilics, lheir slruggIes are
of a more ersonaI and immediale sorl. The vorsl off are lhrovn inlo a
rolracled crisis-silualion invoIving, as one commenlalor succinclIy uls il,
a series of exhausling, embillered aclivilies vilhin vhich lhey reIy on
forms of oosilion exlending from confronlalions vilh aulhorilies, lo
deserale efforls lo mainlain lhe inlegrily of bolh famiIy and syche, lo lhe
mobiIizalion of aid by friends and reIalives (Iraser & Honnelh, 2003: 117).
These slruggIes and confIicls lyicaIIy have IillIe conneclion lo oIilicaI
arlies and sociaI movemenls. They are oflen oorIy underslood by lhe
media and ubIic oinion. The affIicled lhemseIves, finaIIy, oflen have IillIe
lime or inleresl for oIilics.
We can IausibIy assume lhal il is on lhe basis of an iniliaI iclure of
lhis sorl lhal lhe sociaI excIusion aroach emerges. The main argumenl of
lhis body of research, as defended for examIe by IIisabelh GidengiI and
her coIIeagues, is lhal lhere are simIy loo many men and vomen lhal are
direclIy or indireclIy excIuded from oIilicaI aclivilies for meaningfuI,
videsread arlicialion lo occur. Il is difficuIl lo deny lhere being an
imorlanl eIemenl of lrulh lo lhis argumenl. Indeed, lhe reasoning is fairIy
slraighlforvard: lhe fever aclive, caabIe and commilled arlicianls lhere
are, lhe Iess IikeIy il is lhal ve'II find an overaII buzz of democralic aclivily,
vhelher in everyday associalive inslances, or in lhe formaI shere of arlies,
eIeclions and IegisIalures.
The argumenl couId be exlended lo secify lhal il is nol |usl a queslion
of ob|eclive excIusion lhrough Iack of lime, educalion and oIilicaI
knovIedge, bul aIso an issue resecl. The marginaIized cIasses may have
highIy reIevanl conlribulions lo make lo democralic debale. We mighl even
assume lhal lheir oinions are of lhe grealesl urgency in urorledIy
egaIilarian socielies. In lhe reguIar humdrum of everyday oIilics, hovever,
lheir exeriences of feIl in|uslice are seIdom soughl afler. Inslead, lhe
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oinions of marginaIized men and vomen are for lhe mosl arl imIicilIy
devaIued and ignored.
Thus lhe sociaI crilique of arlicialion remains cruciaI. GidengiI and
her coIIeagues are cerlainIy righl lo suggesl lhal oIilicaI absenleeism finds
dee causes Iinked lo inequaIilies in maleriaI resources, educalion, gender,
region and age, crealing vhal lhey caII democralic divides. These divides
form obvious obslacIes lo a more fuIIy engaged cilizenry. SliII, il is
reasonabIe lo queslion lo vhal exlenl such obslacIes can be used as an
exIanalion of democralic decIine. One cannol heI vonder, for inslance,
vhy such faclors vouId be any more erlinenl loday lhan in revious limes.
Iul differenlIy, ve mighl ask vhelher lhere have nol aIvays been
marginaIized men and vomen, and lhis in grealer roorlions lhan loday,
i.e. rior lo lhe rise of lhe oslvar middIe cIass.
The sociaI crilique of arlicialion lends lo come u shorl in
addressing such queslions. Iurlhermore, if il heIs lo secify vho is
excIuded and vhy, il does IillIe lo address lhe queslion of vhy lhose vho
are nol excIuded are lhemseIves faiIing lo arliciale. WhiIe lhe Ialler are
more engaged lhan lhe former, lheir numbers are sliII Iov. As menlioned
above, lhere is a second lye of aroach vhich al firsl seems beller abIe lo
shed Iighl on lhese queslions. Irom lhis aIlernalive erseclive, lhe robIem
Iies in lhe deficiencies of officiaI democralic inslilulions. The focus is lhus
nol on sociaI excIusion er se, bul ralher on lhe faiIing slandards of
democralic inslilulions.
On lhis viev, il vouId seem lhal lhe daiIy funclioning of lhese
inslilulions is so iII-erceived by lhe ubIic lhal lhey are no Ionger abIe lo
molivale cilizens lo arlake in ubIic affairs. Since lhe 1990s lhere has been
much negalive ress of lhis sorl al lhe federaI IeveI. Given lhal voler aalhy
has slruck al aII IeveIs of governmenl, caIIs for reform have aIso been heard
al rovinciaI and municiaI IeveIs. ul vhalever lhe inslance, lhe main
assumlion of lhe inslilulionaI deficiency lhesis seems lo be lhal if our
inslilulions vere beller designed, according lo more democralic rinciIes,
cilizens mighl once again fIy lo lhe assembIies.
Some of lhe inslilulions in queslion incIude oIilicaI arlies,
IegisIalures and arIiamenls, as veII as lhe eIecloraI syslem ilseIf. So, for
examIe, ve commonIy hear lhal lhere is loo much arly disciIine and nol
enough aulonomy in lhe reresenlalion of consliluencies, lhal lhere is loo
much over and secrecy surrounding Cabinel and an excessive
cenlraIizalion of over in lhe IMO, lhal lhe Senale is a dysfunclionaI veslige
of lhe oId arislocracy and lhal lhe firsl-asl-lhe-osl syslem consislenlIy
under-reresenls voler references.
The Iisl couId go on, as demonslraled by }effrey Simson's anaIysis
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in Tnc |ricn!|q Oiciaicrsnip, vhich sums u many of lhe more delaiIed
academic accounls. Much of Simson's anaIysis Iinks ubIic iII-feeIings lo a
ercelion of arrogance among ubIic officiaIs, vhich Simson in lurn
considers lo be lhe consequence of oor inslilulionaI organizalion. Wilh
friendIy diclalors al lhe heIm, il is erhas nol surrising lo find vhal he
describes as a suIIen and disengaged cilizenry (Simson, 2001: xiii). Irom
lhis erseclive, vhal is needed for men and vomen lo regain confidence
in oIilicaI Ieadershi is a sense lhal our oIilicaI inslilulions are running as
democralicaIIy as ossibIe in a resonsive, arlicialory and incIusive
The argumenl of lhis aer is nol lo say lhal lhe concerns raised by
inslilulionaI crilics are invaIid. Iev viII deny lhe imorlance of suslained
refIeclion aboul lhe funclioning of democralic inslilulions. Indeed, a cIear
anaIysis of inslilulionaI shorlcomings can shov lhe vay lovard much
needed reforms. ul erhas lhe robIems are Iess aIarming lhan some
crilics may suose, and lhey may be difficuIl lo resoIve vilhoul crealing
nev ones. Iurlhermore, lhere is somelhing odd aboul lhe fervour behind
inslilulionaI crilicism. This is eseciaIIy nolevorlhy vhen conlrasled vilh
lhe sociaI crilique. Ior vhiIe inslilulionaI crilics seek lo buiId slruclures lhal
erfeclIy refIecl lhe viII of lhe eoIe, lhey lend lo ignore lhe circumslances
of civiI sociely vilhin vhich lhe mosl basic exression of democralic aclivily
mighl be execled lo lake rool.
If lhe concern is vilh mobiIizing lhe voice of lhe eoIe, redesigning
lhe lechnicaI modaIilies of officiaI inslilulions viII in aII IikeIihood onIy go
so far. Why nol firsl inquire al lhe IocaI IeveI lo find oul vhy, for examIe,
such a smaII number of men and vomen arliciale in IocaI associalions,
arlies and unions` SureIy lhe facl lhal fev eoIe are used lo associaling
vilh olhers in commillees and vorkgrous, of generaling agreemenl and
organizing for change, shouId be of rimary concern lo lhose vorried aboul
democralic voice. Il is difficuIl in lhis regard nol lo see a conlradiclion in
drumming u so much concern for inslilulionaI reform. Can lhere reaIIy be
such a slrong Iink belveen ubIic disengagemenl and lhe exacl slruclure of
officiaI democralic inslilulions` ShouId ve nol be more concerned vilh lhe
vilaIily of IocaIIy rooled democralic vehicIes, such as lenanls associalions
and immigranl advocacy grous, riding associalions, vorkers' cooeralives,
lrade unions and consumer grous`
Of course, if ve consider lhese democralic sellings lo be vilhin lhe
urviev of inslilulionaI change, lhe argumenl for reform lakes on nev
saIience. ul lhis vouId invoIve lurning lhe slandard inslilulionaI crilique
on ils head, such lhal reforms vouId Iook quile differenl from lhose
menlioned above. We mighl lhink, for examIe, of a rogram of associalive
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democracy, vhere underreresenled grous are assured lhe means and
resources of seIf-organizalion. UIlimaleIy, il remains uncIear vhelher
arIiamenlary reform, for examIe, is IikeIy lo drav grealer numbers of
cilizens inlo lhe democralic fray. InslilulionaI reslrucluring mighl veII have
an imorlanl imacl in counlries vhere democralizalion marks a radicaI
break from lhe asl. The silualion is differenl, hovever, in oIder, more
affIuenl democracies, vhere lhe baIance of inleresl belveen ubIic and
rivale Iife aears al odds vilh mass arlicialion.
Dcc!ining and 5hiIting Participatinn
Al one lime in Canadian hislory eIeclions vere holIy conlesled evenls lhal
vouId frequenlIy resuIl in riols. The slakes vere underslood lo be so high
lhal someone couId Iose a Iife in lheir alleml lo suorl one candidale or
anolher (Greer, 1993: 116). In our day, eIeclions have become lhe minimaI
exression of viIIingness lo arlake in lhe governance of one's cily, rovince
or counlry. ul nov even lhis minimaI commilmenl and exression of
beIonging seems vuInerabIe. As menlioned above, over lhe Iasl lvenly years
lhere has been conslanl decIine in voler arlicialion al relly much aII IeveIs
of governmenl in Canada. The absence of lhe youlh vole is erhas vhal
vorries commenlalors mosl, as lhey are lhe inherilors of a lradilion lhal
loday aears somevhal fragiIe.
The buzz and excilemenl of an eIeclion, or Iack lhereof, seaks lo lhe
vilaIily of democralic Iife more generaIIy. As such, in cases of high voler
arlicialion, ve mighl execl a correIale fIourishing of civiI sociely, vilh
hundreds of lhousands of men and vomen acliveIy allemling lo ersuade
olhers of lhe virlues of lhis or lhal arly, movemenl or cause. IoIilicaI
scienlisls undersland lhis correIalion lo form lhe basis of lhe canary in lhe
coaI mine argumenl. The idea is lhal if voler lurnoul can be considered a
baromeler of democralic aclivily, lhen dvindIing voling lurnoul is IikeIy lo
signaI a more generaI decIine in a counlry's democralic vilaIily (|usl as lhe
decIining brealhing caacily of lhe canary in lhe coaI mine signaIs a decIine
in air quaIily of vhich miners shouId be vary).
Some commenlalors are viIIing lo lake lhe argumenl one sle furlher.
Roberl Iulnam, for examIe, cIaims lhal voler decIine in lhe U.S. means nol
onIy a vilhering of oIilicaI aclivily bul aIso of engagemenl in sociaI Iife
more generaIIy. His research suggesls lhal Americans have become lhe shul-
ins of a mass media sociely. Men and vomen vouId aear lo be unviIIing,
erhas even scared, lo engage one anolher in civic conlexls. The imIicalion
is lhal lhe ubIic square has become a meaner, Iess comassionale Iace lhan
il once vas.
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Yel lhere is aIso research lhal conlradicls such an inlerrelalion.
Ierhas il is lrue lhal loday's mobiIe sociely makes il harder lo arlake in
durabIe civic associalions or even durabIe friendshis. NeverlheIess, lhere
vouId aear lo be a viIIingness lo adal lo lhe oorlunilies of forming
Iooser sociaI conneclions. Iurlhermore, research shovs lhal lhere is sliII
reason lo consider Canada and lhe U.S. lo be aclivisl civiI socielies.
Comared lo our Iuroean counlerarls, lhere are more eoIe here lhal
arlake in lhe seclrum of sociaI and oIilicaI aclivilies. ConsequenlIy, il
may veII be ossibIe lhal |usl as fever Canadians lurned oul lo vole in recenl
decades, more of lhem have gollen invoIved in one form of associalion or
Hov, lhen, is lhis comIex slale of affairs lo be underslood, and hov
does il are off vilh lhe nolion of democralic decIine` TayIor inlerrels lhe
silualion lo mean somelhing olher lhan slraighlforvard decIine.
Circumslances may beller be described as Ieading lo rc|aiitc decIine. This is
nol lo suggesl lhal lhe canary in lhe coaI mine argumenl is nol vaIid or
vorrisome. Il is hard lo see hov decIining voler lurnoul vouId nol aIso
signaI a veakening of democralic Iife. And evidence suggesls as much, for
aIong vilh decIining voler arlicialion lhere has aIso been a decIine of
membershi in oIilicaI arlies. SimiIarIy, lhere vouId aIso seem lo be a
vaning of oIilicaI camaign aclivilies. Thus, lhere is sliII good reason lo
consider Iov voler lurnoul as mirroring broader lrends.
ul for TayIor, lhis underslanding onIy gels al arl of vhal is
haening vilh lhe shifling forms of engagemenl underfool. Ior aIongside
lhe decIine in lradilionaI modes of democralic oIilics, lhere has aIso been a
rise in nev forms of engagemenl. This is nol lo say lhal lhe Ialler are an
adequale subslilule lo lhe former. Indeed, lhe lrend TayIor is mosl concerned
aboul is lovards a oIilics anchored in singIe issue organizalions,
chequebook grous and Iiligalion camaigns. Research shovs lhal
aIongside lhe rising rominence of slralegic grous of lhis sorl, lhere is a
ercelion lhal such aIlernalive means of change are more effeclive lhan
lradilionaI ones (GidengiI el aI., 2004: 131). When oIilicaI arlies, media
oulIels and olher vehicIes of democracy begin lo feeI inaccessibIe, cilizens
viII lurn lo olher means of engagemenl.
TayIor describes lhe shifl in queslion as invoIving differenl modes of
cilizen efficacy. The firsl of lhe lvo generaI modes of efficacy TayIor is
referring lo invoIves vhal he caIIs broad-gauge oIilics, vhiIe lhe second
is based on more largeled uncluaI inlervenlions. The difference belveen
lhe lvo is erhas mosl imorlanl in lerms of lhe Iace sociaI confIicl finds
in each. road-gauge oIilics invoIves somelhing resembIing a singIe fauIl
Iine belveen conlending ma|orily coaIilions, such lhal ve can undersland
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lhere lo be a cenlraI oinl of cIeavage lhroughoul sociely.
TyicaIIy, ve knov of lhis cIeavage as lhe louchslone of arlisan
oIilics lhal is, lhe ballIe belveen Lefl and Righl aIlhough TayIor aIso
describes il as a cIeavage belveen eIile and noneIile segmenls of lhe
ouIalion. road-gauge democralic reforms lhal break vilh lhe slalus quo
are IikeIy lo be mobiIized by lhe noneIile ma|orily, vhal he refers lo as lhe
demos or eoIe. As a aradigm examIe of democralic cilizen efficacy,
he aIIudes lo lhe oosilion belveen commoners and eIiles in Ancienl
Greece. Il is lhis rivaIry lhal rovided lhe mosl overfuI molivalion for
democralic engagemenl in lhe oIis. When lhe araIIeI is dravn lo modern
democracies, noneIile cilizen efficacy is erhas besl underslood as assing
lhrough vorkers' organizalions in coaIilion vilh marginaIized grous of
various sorls.
IoIilicaI arlies are nol necessariIy lhe soIe vehicIes of broad-gauge
oIilics. Olher grous and associalions of civiI sociely may be simiIarIy
commilled lo a rogram of broad based reforms. TayIor menlions lhe
manner in vhich lhe NalionaI Associalion for lhe Advancemenl of CoIored
IeoIe (NAACI) funclions in lhe US. In lhe Canadian conlexl, ve mighl
lhink of a grou Iike lhe CounciI of Canadians, vilh ils IocaI chalers sel
u lhroughoul lhe counlry. The imorlanl oinl here is lhal broad-gauge
oIilics invoIves a commilmenl lo arriving al a common ackage of reform
roosaIs. Whal is dislinclive aboul lhis kind of oIilics is lhe broad scoe
of inleresls al Iay and lhe olenliaI for organic Iinkages belveen individuaIs
and grous. TayIor describes lhe inside viev of lhe broad-gauge modeI of
cilizen efficacy as seeking lo change lhe vhoIe governance of sociely.
According lo lhe broad-gauge confIicl modeI, lhe aim of noneIile
oIilicaI arlies and affiIiale organizalions is lo vin over and concessions
from eIile vieIders of over and hoIders of veaIlh. This ob|eclive can in lurn
be seen as arl of lhe modern slruggIe lo reverse enlrenched hierarchies of
sueriorily and subordinalion. Of course, confIicl of lhis sorl is nol vilhoul
dangers of excess. We need onIy consider lhe egaIilarian fervour of }acobin
revoIulionaries or Ialer communisl horrors. ul laken vilhin lhe framevork
of eslabIished IiberaI democracies, such a modeI of democralic confIicl is
highIy defendabIe. TayIor in facl goes as far as lo defend lhe counlerinluilive
cIaim lhal broad-gauge democralic confIicl can acluaIIy serve lo bring
cilizens logelher in a heighlened form of common aIIegiance.
In lhis Ialler sense, democralic confIicl is seen as lhe seedbed of
argumenls and reforms in lhe inleresl of lhe common good. Al ils besl, lhe
raIIying of suorl for one ackage of reforms or anolher is a alriolic
enlerrise lhrough vhich lhe lies of soIidarily are slrenglhened and
enhanced. Iven eIile arlies musl loday |uslify lheir Ialforms vilh
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argumenls defending some underslanding of lhe common good. Inasmuch
as arlies bolh from lhe Lefl and Righl beIieve in lhe reseclive visions lhey
are ulling forlh, ve can execl lhe overaII rocess lo have lhe effecl of a
unifying slruggIe over lhe condilions of a shared communily of fale.
The same cannol be said of lhe uncluaI mode of oIilics vhich TayIor
idenlifies as arliaIIy suIanling lhe broad-gauge modeI. The uncluaI
mode may be underslood as a oIilics of smaII-scaIe associalions. ul TayIor
Iinks il more secificaIIy lo singIe issue organizalions. TyicaIIy, lhe aims
of such grous are singuIarIy focused. They have IillIe inleresl in buiIding
suorl for a common ackage of reforms. Indeed, lhe success of lhese
organizalions oflen deends on lheir abiIily lo bring slralegic ressure lo
bear on highIy focused evenls and camaigns. The concenlralion of
resources on a singIe cause is underslood lo be inslrumenlaI in svaying
ubIic oinion, oIilicians and governmenl officiaIs. In recenl decades, such
grous have increasingIy allemled lo effecl change lhrough Iiligalion
In a fuIIy-fIedged uncluaI oIilics, lhe mobiIizing issues of lhe day
aII sland orlhogonaI lo one anolher. Gun conlroI and reasonabIe
accommodalion, say, are considered as slandaIone issues lhal have IillIe lo
do vilh an overaII viev of sociely. The men and vomen |oined lo lake a
osilion on singIe issues have IillIe concern for oIilics beyond lhe secific
cases lhey are advancing. Insofar as lhe differenl grous in queslion do nol
need lo rub shouIders and comromise vilh one anolher, lhe lhreal of sociaI
fragmenlalion is serious. TayIor menlions lhe American cuIluraI vars as a
case in vhich idenlificalion vilh lhe oIily is veakened by lhe channeIing
of oIilicaI assion inlo uncluaI inslances. In lhe U.S., he noles,
The overfuI ackages have become lhe IifeslyIe issues, lhose
lhal are lhe ob|ecl of lhe resenl cuIlure vars: aborlion, gay
marriage, schooI rayer, sex educalion in schooIs. These
divisions cul across cIass, and moreover, lhey unile very
helerogeneous consliluencies on each side, and so lhey do nol
seem lo be abIe lo become lhe fauIl Iine aIong vhich a fighl lhal
inlensifies idenlificalion vilh lhe oIily can lake Iace Iike lhe
former successfuI cases of cIass var (TayIor, 2007: 133)
TayIor aIso oinls oul lhe negalive effecls of lhe media in exacerbaling lhe
confIicl IeveI of uncluaI oIilics. Thus, ve mighl assume lhal ordinary
suorlers of camaigns for and againsl aborlion may nol be as divided as
lhe media orlrays lhem lo be. In facl, lhe ma|orily of camaign suorlers
may onIy be so invoIved as lo donale a cheque nov and lhen. ul lhis
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financiaI suorl in lurn rovides lhe resources needed for rofessionaI
Iobbyisls lo conlinue lhe var of ercelion in lhe eyes of lhe ubIic. Given
lhe manner in vhich media reresenlalions can siraI oul of conlroI, lhe
negalive imacl of uncluaI oIilics cannol be undereslimaled. As
demonslraled by lhe U.S. case, lhis sorl of oIilics can vear on even lhe
slrongesl oIilicaI idenlilies, Iel aIone one lhal is vroughl by lhe slrains of
regionaIism, Ianguage, muIlicuIluraIism and sub-slale nalionaIism.
Given lhese lvo conlrasling modes of oIilicaI aclivily, hov lhen does
TayIor undersland lhe molivalion behind lhe shifl lovard lhe uncluaI
mode` ureaucralizalion and lhe cenlraIizalion of oIilicaI over may be
an imorlanl arl of lhe uzzIe. Dislanl and unresonsive bureaucracies
lend lo creale aIienaling guIfs belveen cilizens and ubIic decision-makers.
Cerlain cororalions aIso funclion as lhe oIigarchic equivaIenl lo lhis by
muzzIing lhe voice of vorkers in lhe economy. ul for TayIor, lhese
robIems, vhiIe significanl, onIy go so far in making sense of lhe shifl avay
from broad-gauge oIilics. To gIean furlher insighl requires an arecialion
of lhe Iace of affIuence in oslvar consumer sociely.
AII!ucncc and Wnrkcr Acquicsccncc
TayIor suggesls lhal oslvar affIuence has had an effecl on lhe vay eoIe
undersland lheir Iace in sociely. Il has aIso changed lheir reIalion lo
democralic oIilics. An asiralion lovards comforl, indeendence and
conlroI vas cIearIy a cenlraI eIemenl of lhe vorkers movemenl. ul equaIIy
imorlanl, and Iinked lo lhis, vere cerlain underslandings of muluaIily,
inlerdeendence and soIidarily. Wilh lhe oslvar lransilion, changing
maleriaI condilions aIso meanl a shifl in lhese forms of common
underslanding. Ior, nov, vorking cIass men and vomen couId asire
lovards maleriaI sufficiency more or Iess on lheir ovn, as individuaIs. They
no Ionger deended on lhe over of numbers as much as lhey once did.
The calaIysl lo lhese changes vas lhe vave of uvard mobiIily lhal
came vilh oslvar economic grovlh, vorkers' righls and lhe emergence of
exansive sociaI rograms. Increased access lo oslsecondary educalion, lhe
exansion of service seclor emIoymenl, higher ersonaI revenues and a
nev diversily of Iife exeriences meanl lhal oIder forms of muluaI heI
began lo recede. IndividuaI men and vomen became more rivale, |usl as
lhey became more aulonomous.
A cenlraI asecl of lhese changes vas lhe hysicaI dissoIulion of
lradilionaI vorking cIass neighbourhoods. AIong vilh nev veaIlh lhere
came an exodus from crovded cily bIocks inlo lhe vorId of suburban home
ovnershi. Thus lhe lighlIy knil cuIlure of lhe slreel lhal vas so cenlraI
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lo lhe oIder neighbourhoods aIso began lo dissoIve. The move avay from
condilions of lenancy aIIoved for a nev aulonomy and conlroI over
exlensive rivale sace. AIong vilh increased financiaI securily, lhe
connecled sel of vays lhrough vhich lhe vorking cIasses underslood lheir
sociaI oression Iosl ils erceived saIience.
Il vas nol onIy lhe commilmenl lo ubIic housing vhich began lo be
seen differenlIy. Ralher, il vas lhe vhoIe seclrum of means lhrough vhich
grealer ersonaI dignily couId be achieved lhrough coIIeclive mobiIizalion.
Mosl embIemalic, erhas, vas lhe sIoved and veakened inlensily of efforls
lo democralize lhe vorkIace. Wilh grealer command over rivale sace in
lhe home, lhe goaI of fighling for reforms on lhe sho fIoor Iosl ils sense
of urgency. Of course, lhe aims of cIass mobiIizalion vere never easiIy
secured. IronicaIIy, hovever, lhese aims became even more difficuIl lo ush
forvard once individuaIs and famiIies accrued grealer aulonomy.
TayIor Iinks lhese changes lo a lransformed ercelion of oIilicaI lies
and affiIialions. Ob|ecliveIy, he says, a rise of affIuence heIs bring aboul
a shifl in our underslanding of our redicamenl so lhal one of lhe basic
relaining vaIIs under lhe oIder idea of a cIass var subsides (TayIor, 2007:
133). Thus, due in arl lo a changing socioeconomic environmenl,
invoIvemenl in oIilics recedes in lhe scaIe of sociaI riorilies. The shared
inleresl lhal once Iinked miIIions of men and vomen logelher by vay of lheir
common cIass redicamenl ceases lo carry lhe same reIevance. As he uls
Iach cilizen is cul Ioose on his or her ovn, erhas connecled
from lime lo lime lo eoIe vilh Iike inleresls on lhis or lhal
issue |. . .j bul vilhoul a slrong idenlificalion lo somelhing Iike
a movemenl. This change of consciousness meanl lhal lhe oIder
kind of broad-gauge efficacy is going lo be much harder lo
recreale (ibid.)
If lhis inlerrelalion is correcl, il makes IillIe sense lo exIain decIining
oIilicaI arlicialion in lerms of sociaI excIusion, as suggesled above.
Disengagemenl can hardIy be underslood as a maller of sociaI disadvanlage
and Iack of oIilicaI means. In facl, quile lhe oosile vouId seem lo be lhe
case. Il is lhe rocess of incIusion inlo a once riviIeged IifeslyIe lhal seems
lo have dislanced men and vomen from oIilicaI ursuils. Yel il is nol as
lhough a degree of middIe cIass affIuence signaIed lhe end of eIile
concenlralion of veaIlh of over. Democralic decIine may, in lhis sense, be
underslood as a faiIure of lhe Lefl lo make lhe lransilion from an egaIilarian
oIilics of lhe oId bIue-coIIar vorking cIass lo one lhal serves simiIar ends
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for a broader noneIile consliluency.
The inslilulionaI crilique may aIso be of some reIevance here. When
oIilicaI inslilulions lurn inlo inaccessibIe bureaucracies, lhe |oys and
gralificalions of rivale Iife become more aIIuring lhan ubIic invoIvemenl.
Disengagemenl shouId, lherefore, nol onIy be underslood in reIalion lo
affIuence, for lhere is aIso lhe inslilulionaI conslrainl of cilizen efficacy lo
consider. ul TayIor vanls lo dig deeer sliII by allemling lo conceluaIize
forms of sociaI molivalion buiIl around emergenl consumer based
individuaIism. Iar from insignificanl, he considers lhe manifeslalion of
consumerisl forms of idenlify-formalion as consliluling nolhing shorl of a
cuIluraI revoIulion.
Thc Pn!itics nI Mutua! Disp!ay
The cuIluraI rools of consumer based idenlily-formalion find lheir Iegilimacy
in vhal TayIor refers lo as lhe elhics of aulhenlicily (TayIor, 1991). The
ouIarizalion of lhis elhics can be daled roughIy lo lhe 1960s, bul ils
originaI sources go back lo lhe Romanlic eriod. Ierhas lhe core insighl of
lhe Romanlic underslanding of aulhenlicily is lhal moraI virlue is nol lo be
ob|ecliveIy delermined, bul is ralher lo be found vilhin oneseIf. In lhe Iale
18lh Cenlury, lhis vas underslood lo be quile a radicaI discovery. The
uIlimale imIicalion of lhis discovery is, as TayIor uls il, lhal each
individuaI musl discover his or her ovn vay of being human. SeIf-discovery
and ersonaI deveIomenl become cenlraI lo our underslanding of freedom.
This, in lurn, is nol vilhoul oIilicaI reIevance.
Whelher framed as civiI righls or IifeslyIe Iiberalion, lhe gains of lhe
1960s can be underslood as faciIilaling grealer freedom lo become vho you
are. No Ionger vouId vomen accel lo be fil inlo lhe roIe-slereolye of lhe
domeslic vife, nor vouId gay eoIe accel lo be humiIialed for reason of
lheir sexuaI desires. MoraI rogress on lhese fronls vas Iinked lo nev elhicaI
assumlions. One such assumlion vas lhal each erson has a unique inner
core, unIike anylhing eIse under lhe sun. IndividuaIism ilseIf is of course nol
nev. Iven vorking cIass coIIeclivism couId be said lo enabIe a cerlain kind
of individuaIism if onIy in lhe sense lhal lhe gains of sociaI mobiIizalion
ermilled lhese men and vomen lo Iive more aulonomousIy.
Whal came aboul vilh oslvar consumerism, hovever, is somelhing
quile differenl. The emhasis vas no Ionger |usl on lhe affirmalion of
equaIily, bul aIso on exressive seIf-dislinclion, as againsl lhe slodgy
conformily of lhe muIliludes. The ursuil of aulhenlicily engages
individuaIs in a lransformalive rocess of ersonaI grovlh lhroughoul
vhich one gains insighl inlo one's ovn nalure and olenliaI. The elhics of
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aulhenlicily lhus require bringing one's unique sel of endovmenls lo
fruilion. Il is an elhics lhal is erhas besl described lhrough lhe melahor
of lhe |ourney. IhiIosoher SlanIey CaveII seaks in lhis regard of a
|ourney of ascenl vhich is delermined nol by naluraI laIenl bul by
seeking lo knov vhal you are made of and cuIlivaling lhe lhing you are
meanl lo do, or lo be (CaveII, 2004: 446).
The ascenl lo aulhenlic seIfhood somelimes requires ersonaI relreal
and delachmenl from lhe rush of everyday sociaI Iife. ul on lhe vhoIe, lhe
search for aulhenlicily is unimaginabIe vilhoul lhe guiding suorl and
encouragemenl of olhers. TyicaIIy, such muluaIily grovs oul of cIose
reIalions vilh friends and inlimales. There is, hovever, no reason lo lhink il
incomalibIe vilh ubIic engagemenl. SociaI arlicialion is nol ilseIf lhe
sign of conformily. In facl, quile lo lhe conlrary, il shouId be underslood as
an imorlanl means lo arlicuIarislic seIf-knovIedge. Ingagemenl vilh
olhers can heI lo ma one's inner Iife vhiIe al once shedding Iighl onlo one's
unique Iace vilhin sociely. UIlimaleIy, a vigorous sociaI and oIilicaI Iife
serves lo heighlen avareness of lhe ersonaI disosilions of each and aII.
SeIf-discovery, in lurn, heIs one lo undersland one's Iife in lhe form of a
urosefuI endeavour, nol |usl mere slumbIing in lhe dark.
In conlrasl lo lhe ideaI form of lhe elhics of aulhenlicily, lhere has over
lhe Iasl severaI decades arisen a dislorled manifeslalion of lhe elhics vhich
is Iinked lo conlemorary consumer sociely. WhiIe oslvar counlercuIlure
is vedded lo cerlain ideaIs of aulhenlicily, il has aIso succumbed lo a kind
of anlisociaI exlremism, vhere mainslream cuIlure is orlrayed as
irrelrievabIy corrul and devoid of any redeeming fealures vhalsoever.
Inslead of aIIoving sociaI changes and lhe search for aulhenlic seIfhood lo
Iay off one anolher in lhe buiIding of a beller sociely, lhe lvo rocesses are
sel al irreconciIabIe odds. A narcissislic concern vilh rebeIIious dislinclion
is malched by a araIIeI delachmenl from sociaI and oIilicaI Iife.
The virlues of aulhenlicily vere once casl againsl lhe disciIined
roduclivily lhal 1960s youlh sav as imeriIing lheir vorId a vorId of
unrecedenled induslriaI roduclion lhal foslered comelilion in lhe
acquisilion of nev goods, such as cars, domeslic aIiances, fashion ilems,
and so on. Yel vhiIe originaIIy crilicaI of ever-increasing roduclion and
consumlion, lhe counlercuIluraI sensibiIily has done IillIe lo allenuale such
excesses in lhe Iong run. Indeed, in some vays il has served lo exacerbale
lhem. Ior vhen lhe search for dislincliveness and originaIily become lhe
norm, lhe demands of aulhenlicily can easiIy be lriviaIized. One vay in
vhich lhis can haen, as demonslraled by }oseh Healh and Andrev Ioller
in lheir book on rebeI consumerism (2005), is vhen lhe ursuil of originaI
seIfhood gels reduced lo lhe acquisilion of nev goods.
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In cases vhere consumer-based forms of aulhenlicily become lhe
norm, lhe cailaIisl roduclion rocess becomes increasingIy geared lovards
meeling counlercuIluraI demand. There is somelhing quile erverse aboul
lhis insofar as lhe counlercuIluraI movemenl's originaI inlenl vas lo
lransform a syslem vhich vas considered lo be excessiveIy maleriaIislic. Il
vouId seem lhal by lhe lime lhe uloian hoes of lhe 1960s had run lheir
course, lhe counlercuIluraI crilique had relrealed inlo somelhing Iess lhan
il once vas. According lo Healh and Ioller, lhe earIier rolesl cuIlure vas
Iefl vilh IillIe by vhich lo define ilseIf olher lhan seeking oul noveI forms of
consumer IifeslyIes. RebeI or cachel consumlion became lhe nev marker
of dissenl and seIf-dislinclion. IronicaIIy, il aIso served lo sur on nev cycIes
of cailaIisl obsoIescence.
Il is fairIy easy lo see hov consumer based individuaIism can have
lhe effecl of saing recious energies from lhe democralic Iife of lhe
oIilicaI communily. This is eseciaIIy lrue among youlh, vhose slriking
absence from lhe oIilicaI scene is araIIeIed by lhe deveIomenl of
seciaIized youlh markels. The Iife slage lhal has come lo be underslood as
youlh, somevhere belveen chiIdhood freedoms and aduIl resonsibiIilies,
is a cruciaI hase in lhe unfurIing of ersonaI idenlilies. ul il is a hase
vhere sociaIizalion inlo broad-gauge oIilicaI idenlilies is on lhe vane.
AccordingIy, TayIor suggesls lhal youlh idenlilies are increasingIy shaed
lhrough smaII slyIislicaIIy defined grous reIaled lo consumer goods and
Iogos. AIlhough dynamic and fIuid, lhese sociaI or ubIic idenlilies are nol
vilhoul a overfuI drav.
As such, vhiIe democralic forms of ubIic idenlily are receding,
anolher quasi ubIic dimension is on lhe rise. Ior il is nol as lhough ubIic
Iife ceases lo exisl vilh lhe rising rominence of consumer orienled idenlily-
formalion. Ralher, il is lhal il comes lo be slruclured around differenl forms
of sociaI inleraclion. TayIor refers lo lhe generaI concel of fashion lo
describe lhe sociaI dynamic behind consumer orienled ubIic Iife. Thus he
considers lhal democralic saces of common aclion, vhere confronlalion,
debale and oIicy roosaIs mighl arise, are comeling vilh fashion saces
of muluaI disIay. In conlrasl lo oosilionaI oIilicaI exchange, muluaI
disIay invoIves ils ovn seciaI kind of sociaI resonsiveness, vhere lhe
meaning of any one fashion geslure deends on lhe background Ianguage
of slyIe lhal frames ubIic Iife. Il is a kind of resonsiveness vhere, as TayIor
uls il, il mallers lo each of us lhal as ve acl lhe olhers are lhere as vilness
lo vhal ve are doing and lhus as co-delerminers of lhe meaning of our
aclion (TayIor, 2007: 140).
WhiIe in a sense highIy individuaIized, a fashion orienled ubIic
cuIlure is one vilhin vhich a generaI mood or common feeIing may be
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slruck. Consider, for examIe, oen urban saces such as arks and maIIs,
vhere slrangers rub shouIders, disIay lheir individuaIily and observe
olhers doing lhe same. More imorlanlIy erhas, consider lhe diffuse
media saces slruclured by cororale Iogos and olher mass-markeled
symboIs. These melaloicaI common saces, as TayIor caIIs lhem, are nol
Iimiled lo lhe cororeaIily of any secific lime and Iace. Indeed, loday lhey
may be underslood as slruclured across nalionaI and lransnalionaI conlexls.
Iraclices of muluaI disIay are in lhis sense abIe lo Iug hundreds of
miIIions of men and vomen inlo a common Ianguage of slyIe, aIlhough one
moslIy dominaled by cororale backed fanlasies, heroes and slars. These
commerciaIized saces of idenlily-formalion acl lo undermine lhe ossibiIily
of frank seIf-inlerrogalion aboul hov one mighl go aboul Iiving in a manner
lhal is lrue lo oneseIf. A fashion orienled ubIic cuIlure, vhiIe nol vilhoul
ils arlicuIar |oys, can hardIy conlribule lo lhe crealion of a vigorous cuIlure
of aulhenlicily defined by vhal }ohn Sluarl MiII once described as human
deveIomenl in ils richesl diversily. y conlrasl, a cuIlure emhasizing
raclices of muluaI disIay is, as TayIor suggesls, ambiguousIy silualed
belveen soIisism and communicalion, IoneIiness and logelherness. When
such raclices overover more democralic forms of muluaIily, such as lhose
of broad-gauge or even uncluaI oIilics, lhey become lhe embIems of
democralic decIine.
Andrcw Gibsnn is a osldocloraI sludenl al lhe UNAM in Mexico Cily. He
has been researching lhe democralic lransilion in Mexico vilhin lhe
framevork of a sludy on lhe roIe of inleIIecluaIs in inlernalionaI oIilics. His
docloraI disserlalion examined lhe Canadian sociaI crilicism of hiIosoher
CharIes TayIor. He has recenlIy been invoIved in selling u a fieId sludy for
young Canadians focusing on suslainabIe deveIomenl in ruraI Mexico.
Voler arlicialion has been in decIine since lhe 1988 federaI eIeclion. IubIic
disengagemenl from formaI oIilics vas an imorlanl sub|ecl of inquiry in
lhe 1991 RoyaI Commission on IIeclion Reform and Iarly Iinancing (see
Cana!a. |cjcrning ||ccicra| Ocnccracq. |ina| |cpcri, 1991). Ior a more recenl
sludy of voler arlicialion, see Cenlre for Research and Informalion on
Canada, Vcicr Pariicipaiicn in Cana!a. |s Cana!ian Ocnccracq in Crisis?, 2001).
Ior examIe, see Iharr & Iulnam (2000).
The Canadian Democralic Audil series is a vorlhy examIe of lhis. As
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edilor WiIIiam Cross uls il, Our uroses are lo conducl a syslemalic
reviev of lhe oeralions of Canadian democracy, lo Iislen lo vhal olhers
have lo say aboul Canadian democracy, lo assess ils slrenglhs and
veaknesses, lo consider vhere lhere are oorlunilies for advancemenl, and
lo evaIuale ouIar reform roosaIs ('Iorevord' lo arney, 2005).
ased on lhe Lov Income Cul Off (LICO) measuremenl of overly, vhich
focuses on famiIies lhal send a grealer ercenlage of lheir income on food,
sheIler and cIolhing lhan lhe average, lhe number of Canadian famiIies Iiving
in 'slrailened circumslances' vas 11.6 er cenl in 1980 and 10.8 er cenl in
2005 afler rising lo a eak of 15.7 er cenl in 1996 (Viclor, 2008: 160).
Hislorian }ames Slrulhers, for examIe, is of lhis oinion (see Slrulhers,
See GidengiI el aI. (2004).
Ior an anaIysis of lhe syslemalic moraI denigralion of marginaIized grous
see Honnelh (2007: es. chaler 4). Ior an anaIysis secific lo lhe induslriaI
ad|uslmenl rocess in norlhern Onlario, see Dunk (2002).
As lhey ul il, Canadian sociely is marked by disarilies in income and
educalion and by differences in over and slalus of grous Iike vomen and
raciaI minorilies. We cannol overIook lhe olenliaI of lhese slrucluraI
inequaIilies on lhe IeveI and nalure of cilizens' oIilicaI engagemenl. We
have lo ask vhelher slrucluraI inequaIilies creale democralic divides. In
olher vords, are some cilizens Iess engaged lhan olhers because lhey have
fever resources al lheir disosaI` (GidengiI el aI., 2004: 4).
Aside from lhe queslion of Iov voler lurnoul, consider lhe issue of arly
membershi. GidengiI el aI. nole lhal onIy 24 er cenl of affIuenl Canadians
have beIonged lo a oIilicaI arly al some oinl in lheir Iives (ibid.: 129).
Ior a good examIe al lhe rovinciaI IeveI, see Cross (2007).
This is Rousseau's hrase, referring lo lhe molivalion feIl by cilizens of lhe
good oIily lhal is, cilizens molivaled lo fIy lo lhe assembIies (Rousseau,
Consider in lhis regard }oseh Healh's observalions aboul roorlionaI
reresenlalion, free voles in arIiamenl and olher such reforms: Mosl of
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lhe roosaIs for reform and lhe demands for more democracy are deeIy
fIaved, and are based on a demonslrabIy inadequale concelion of
democralic oIilics. As a resuIl, il is doublfuI lhal any of lhese roosaIs
vouId imrove anylhing in lhe Canadian syslem. Iurlhermore, lhey exhibil
a ecuIiar bIindness lo many imorlanl fealures of hov lhe currenl syslem
vorks. Thus in many cases lhese roosaIs run lhe risk of deslroying
eIemenls of lhe currenl syslem lhal are funclioning veII, in relurn for
benefils lhal are, al besl, uncIear. As a resuIl, I am incIined lo viev lhe
inslilulionaI slasis of lhe asl len years vilh significanlIy Iess aIarm lhan
many olher commenlalors. WhiIe lhere are cIearIy defecls in lhe currenl
syslem, aII of lhe roosaIs for Iarge-scaIe reform seem lo be equaIIy
defeclive. Iurlhermore, aImosl every roosaI on lhe labIe vouId have lhe
effecl, in one vay or anolher, of veakening federaI over.In lhis conlexl,
eIecloraI and democralic reform vouId be far more IikeIy lo succeed if one
or more rovinces vere lo alleml il firsl (vilh, of course, lhe excelion of
Senale reform) (Healh, n.d.: 29-30).
Consider, for examIe, arIiamenlary reforms in lhe area of arly
disciIine. WiII allemls lo reIax arly disciIine and give more freedom lo
MIs lo consuIl vilh lheir consliluencies have an effecl on ubIic
engagemenl` Ierhas, and lhus such reforms remain cruciaI. ul I am
incIined lo beIieve lhal more radicaI reforms are needed al lhe IeveI of lhe
secondary associalions of civiI sociely: roviding more resources and
Ieverage for associalions reresenling lhe disadvanlaged, Iess for lhose
reresenling lhe veII-off. Ior inleresling insighls on lhe acluaI imacl of
arIiamenlary reform, see Aucoin & TurnbuII (2003). Ior a discussion on lhe
robIem of everyday engagemenl in civiI sociely, see WaIzer & MiIIer (2007:
es. chaler 8) and Smilh (2005).
Iulnam describes lhis in lerms of a Ioss of civic lrusl and sociaI cailaI
(Iulnam, 2000).
See Wulhnov (1998).
As Young and Iverill ul il, Iuroean counlries lend lo have eilher high
IeveIs of grou membershi or high rales of membershi arlicialion, bul
seIdom bolh. Canada and lhe Uniled Slales are unique in lhal lhey are
'aclivisl' civiI socielies lhal ossess videsread grou membershi and high
IeveIs of voIunlary aclivily among lhese members (Young & Iverill, 2004:
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Ior more on lhis queslion, see Young and Iverill (ibid.: 41).
These are nol uniqueIy Canadian henomena. See Scarrov (2000), DaIlon
& Wallenberg (2000).
y lhis he means lhe caacily of cilizens lo have an imacl on lheir
environmenl. As he uls il, One of lhe mosl imorlanl facuIlies of lhe
modern sub|ecl is lhe abiIily lo effecl one's uroses. This is vhal I have
caIIed 'efficacy'. Sub|ecls vilhoul efficacy, unabIe lo aIler lhe vorId around
lhem lo lheir ovn ends, vouId eilher be incaabIe of suslaining a modern
idenlily or vouId be deeIy humiIialed in lheir idenlily. To a considerabIe
degree, each of US can have a sense of efficacy in our ovn individuaI aclion
gelling lhe means lo Iive, roviding for lhe famiIy, acquiring goods, going
aboul our business, and so on |. . .j ul imorlanl as rivale efficacy is, il is
nol ossibIe lo make il lhe vhoIe, lo give no lhoughl al aII lo one's efficacy
as a member of sociely, affecling ils direclion or having a arl in lhe gIobaI
efficacy lhal sociely ossesses reIalive lo nalure (TayIor, 1993: 79).
In Ancienl Greece, lhe demos vere nol simIy underslood as aII members
of lhe oIily, for lhe lerm aIso heId an aIlernalive underslanding, vhich
referred lo lhe ouIace or commoners. Il is lhis orlion of lhe cilizenry lhal
had lhe mosl lo gain from lhe romise of democracy. As TayIor uls il, lhe
vord demos is used synonymousIy vilh common eoIe, ordinary eoIe,
or in oIder Irench, |c ncnu pcup|c. Il conlrasls lo eIiles, arislocracy, lhe rich,
lhe overfuI, or some such designalion of lhe hegemonic cIass or cIasses
(TayIor, 2007: 133).
As he uls il, I seek inul of infIuence over lhe vhoIe governance of my
sociely lhal is, nol onIy over lhe decision on lhis or lhal issue bul over lhe
vhoIe vay lhese issues are defined, riorilized and reIaled lo each olher. Il
makes sense in lhis iclure lo ick as my vehicIe a arly lhal couId asire lo
govern or lake arl vilh olhers in a governing coaIilion or, faiIing lhis, a
broad-gauge associalion Iike lhe NAACI (TayIor, 2007: 131).
Young and Iverill observe lhal over lhe asl lvo decades, Iiligalion has
become a much more significanl asecl of advocacy grou aclivily in Canada
|. . .j When ve lhink aboul advocacy grous engaging in Iiligalion, lhe firsl
examIes lhal come lo mind invoIve equaIily-seeking grous Iike gays and
Iesbians, AboriginaIs and vomen. WhiIe lhese grous have made
considerabIe use of lhe courls lo achieve some significanl oIicy changes,
lhey are by no means lhe onIy grous using lhe courls. In facl |. . .j belveen
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1988 and 1998 |. . .j cororale inleresls accounled for aImosl haIf lhe IegaI
inlervenlions by grous (Young & Iverill, 2004: 112).
Ior a Canadian examIe Iinking media and uncluaI oIilics lo
reasonabIe accommodalion, see Iolvin and TrembIay (2008).
Ior a documenlalion of lhe cuIlure of lhe slreel in vorking cIass rilain,
see Hoggarl (1957).
Geograher Richard Harris makes lhis oinl vilh regard lo lhe Canadian
conlexl (see Harris, 2003).
The exlenl lo vhich lhe counlercuIlure abandoned ils originaI ideaIs is a
maller of some debale. TayIor, for examIe, argues lhal lhe baby boomers
or vhal David rooks refers lo as bobos (i.e. bourgeois bohemians) sliII
carry some of lhe 1960s ideaIism. The bobos, he noles have made lheir eace
vilh cailaIism and roduclivily bul lhey relain lheir overriding sense of
lhe imorlance of ersonaI deveIomenl and seIf-exression |. . .j Among
lhe lhings lhal gel Iosl in lhe originaI ackage are, on one hand, sociaI
equaIily, bobos have made lheir eace vilh lhe Reagan-Thalcher revoIulion,
vilh lhe sIimming dovn of lhe veIfare slale, and vilh increasing income
inequaIily vhere lhey sil al lhe uer end. On lhe olher hand, lheir highIy
mobiIe IifeslyIe has heIed lo erode communily. ul lhere is more lhan a
residuaI unease aboul lhis among many of lhese highfIiers. They vanl lo
beIieve lhal lhey are conlribuling lo lhe veIfare of everyone, and lhey yearn
for more meaningfuI communily reIalions. In facl, lhis kind of cailaIisl
subcuIlure, vhich one found mainIy in lhe informalion lechnoIogy vorId,
is nol unanimousIy acceled among lhe rich and overfuI. There sliII exisls
a cuIlure of lhe big verlicaI cororalions, and lhere is a lension belveen lhe
lvo (TayIor, 2007: 139).
TayIor conlrasls melaloicaI media saces vilh loicaI saces cenlered
on hysicaI roximily. Nineleenlh-cenlury urban saces, he noles, vere
loicaI lhal is, aII lhe arlicianls vere in lhe same Iace, in sighl of each
olher. ul lvenlielh cenlury communicalion has roduced melaloicaI
varianls vhen, for inslance, ve valch lhe OIymics or Irincess Diana's
funeraI on leIevision, avare lhal miIIions of olhers are vilh us in lhis. The
meaning of our arlicialion in lhe evenl is shaed by lhe vhoIe vasl
disersed audience ve share il vilh |. . .j The Ianguage of seIf-definilion is
defined in lhe saces of muluaI disIay, vhich have nov gone melaloicaI
lhey reIale us lo resligious cenlers of slyIe-crealion, usuaIIy in rich and
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overfuI nalions and miIieus. And lhis Ianguage is lhe ob|ecl of conslanl
allemled maniuIalion by Iarge cororalions. My buying Nike running
shoes may say somelhing aboul hov I vanl lo be or aear, lhe kind of
emovered agenl vho can lake '}usl do il!' as my mollo (TayIor, 2007: 144-
145). Ior reIaled insighls aIied lo media and digilaI cuIlure see Karaganis
& CounciI SociaI Science Research (2007).
Aucoin, I. & TurnbuII, L. (2003) The Democralic Deficil: IauI Marlin and
IarIiamenlary Reform Cana!ian Pu||ic A!ninisiraiicn 46(4), 427-449
arney, D. D. (2005) Ccnnunicaiicn Tccnnc|cgq (Canadian Democralic Audil)
Vancouver: Universily of rilish CoIumbia Iress
(1991) Cana!a. |cjcrning ||ccicra| Ocnccracq. |ina| |cpcri Ollava: RoyaI
Commission on IIecloraI Reform and Iarly Iinancing
(2001) Canada, Cenlre for Research and Informalion on. Vcicr Pariicipaiicn
in Cana!a. |s Cana!ian Ocnccracq in Crisis?, Cric Iaers 3. MonlreaI
CaveII, S. (2004) Ciiics cj Wcr!s. Pc!agcgica| Iciicrs cn a |cgisicr cj inc Mcra|
Iijc Cambridge, MA: eIkna Iress
Cross, W. I. (2007) Ocnccraiic |cjcrn in Ncu Brunsuick Toronlo: Canadian
SchoIars' Iress
DaIlon, R. }. & Wallenberg, M. I. (2000) Pariics uiincui Pariisans. Pc|iiica|
Cnangc in A!tancc! |n!usiria| Ocnccracics Oxford: Oxford Universily Iress
Dunk, T. (2002) Remaking lhe Working CIass: Ixerience, Consciousness,
and lhe InduslriaI Ad|uslmenl Irocess Ancrican |innc|cgisi 29(4), 878-900
Iraser, N. & Honnelh, A. (2003) |c!isiri|uiicn cr |cccgniiicn? A Pc|iiica|-
Pni|cscpnica| |xcnangc London: Verso
GidengiI, I., A. Iais, N. Neville & R. Nadeau (2004) Ciiizcns (Canadian
Democralic Audil) Vancouver: UC Iress
Greer, A. (1993) Tnc Pairicis an! inc Pccp|c. Tnc |c|c||icn cj 1837 in |ura| Icucr
Cana!a (SociaI Hislory of Canada) Toronlo: Universily of Toronlo Iress
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Harris, R. (2003) The Suburban Worker in lhe Hislory of Labor |nicrnaiicna|
Ia|cr an! Wcrking C|ass Hisicrq 64, 8-24
Healh, }. (n.d.) The Democralic Deficil in Canada UnubIished
manuscril. RelrievabIe from:|healh/
Hoggarl, R. (1957) Uscs cj Iiicracq. Aspccis cj Wcrking-C|ass Iijc, uiin Spccia|
|cjcrcncc ic Pu||icaiicns an! |nicriainncnis London: Challo and Windus
Honnelh, A. (2007) Oisrcspcci. Tnc Ncrnaiitc |cun!aiicns cj Criiica| Tnccrq
Cambridge: IoIily Iress
Karaganis, }. & CounciI SociaI Science Research (2007) Siruciurcs cj
Pariicipaiicn in Oigiia| Cu|iurc Nev York: SociaI Science Research CounciI
Iharr, S. }. & Iulnam, R. D. (2000) Oisajjccic! Ocnccracics. Wnais Trcu||ing
inc Tri|aicra| Ccunirics? Irincelon: Irincelon Universily Iress
Ioller, A. & Healh, }. (2005) Tnc |c|c| Sc||. Wnq inc Cu|iurc Cani Bc jannc!
Chichesler: Caslone
Iolvin, M. & TrembIay, M. (2008) Crisc Ocs Acccnnc!cncnis |aiscnna||cs. Unc
|iciicn Mc!iaiiquc? Oulremonl: oisbriand, Quebec Alhena edilions,
IroIogue |dislribuleurj
Iulnam, R. D. (2000) Bcu|ing A|cnc. Tnc Cc||apsc an! |ctita| cj Ancrican
Ccnnuniiq Nev York: Simon & Schusler
Rousseau, }-}. (2003) On inc Sccia| Ccniraci Nev York: Dover IubIicalions
Scarrov, S. (2000) Iarlies vilhoul Members` Iarly Organizalion in a
Changing IIecloraI Invironmenl In R. }. DaIlon & M. I. Wallenberg (Ids)
Pariics uiincui Pariisans. Pc|iiica| Cnangc in A!tancc! |n!usiria| Ocnccracics
Oxford: Oxford Universily Iress (79-101)
Simson, }. (2001) Tnc |ricn!|q Oiciaicrsnip Toronlo: McCIeIIand & Slevarl
Smilh, M. C. (2005) A Citi| Scciciq? Cc||cciitc Acicrs in Cana!ian Pc|iiica| Iijc
Ielerborough: roadviev Iress
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Slrulhers, }. (1994) Tnc Iiniis cj Ajj|ucncc. Wc|jarc in Oniaric, 1920-1970
(Onlario HisloricaI Sludies Series) Toronlo: Universily of Toronlo Iress
TayIor, C. (1991) Tnc |inics cj Auincniiciiq Cambridge, MA: Harvard
Universily Iress
TayIor, C. (1993) |cccnci|ing inc Sc|iiu!cs. |ssaqs cn Cana!ian |c!cra|isn an!
Naiicna|isn MonlreaI: McGiII-Queen's Universily Iress
TayIor, C. (2007) CuIlures of Democracy and Cilizen Ifficacy Pu||ic Cu|iurc
19(1), 117-150
Viclor, I. A. (2008) Managing uiincui Grcuin. S|cucr |q Ocsign, Nci Oisasicr
CheIlenham: Idvard IIgar
WaIzer, M. & MiIIer, D. (2007) Tninking Pc|iiica||q. |ssaqs in Pc|iiica| Tnccrq
Nev Haven: YaIe Universily Iress
Wulhnov, R. (1998) Iccsc Ccnncciicns. jcining Tcgcincr in Ancricas
|ragncnic! Ccnnuniiics Cambridge, MA: Harvard Universily Iress
Young, L. & Iverill, }. M. (2004) A!tccacq Grcups (Canadian Democralic
Audil) Vancouver: UC Iress
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Twn Tunnc!crs: Digging Thrnugh thc DiIIcrcnccs in
thc Chnmsky-Fnucau!t Dcbatc
by Xavier Scoll
In 1971 an eic debale look Iace belveen Noam Chomsky and MicheI
IoucauIl enlilIed Human Nalure: }uslice vs. Iover. Ions IIders' oening
commenl lhal lhey are bolh lunneIers lhrough a mounlain, vorking al
oosile sides of lhe same mounlain vilh differenl looIs vilhoul even
knoving if lhey are vorking in each olher's direclion (2006: 1) is
incredibIy aroriale given lhe vay lhe debale unfoIds. They are vorking
from oosile ends, vilh differenl looIs, and faiI lo reaIize lhal lhey viII
meel in lhe middIe, deending on lhe concrele obslacIes lhal lhey meel aIong
lhe vay. The rimary area of disagreemenl belveen lhe lvo lhinkers is over
lhe idea of |uslice and ils reIalionshi lo over. Ior Chomsky, |uslice is lhe
means by vhich oression can be unmasked and is used lo conslilule lhe
basis of his criliques of over. Ior IoucauIl, hovever, |uslice can be a
dangerous ideoIogicaI looI lhal obscures lhe slruggIe for sociaI hegemony,
uliIized by bolh oressive forces and lhose vho vish lo suIanl lhem.
Desile lheir differences, lhese ro|ecls are nol necessariIy muluaIIy
excIusive, aIlhough lheir reseclive achievemenls couId nol have occurred
had lhey incIuded lhe olher's melhodoIogy in lheir ovn.
The foIIoving arlicIe viII examine lhe oinls of dearlure belveen
lhe lvo lheorisls, vilh an alleml lo conlexluaIize lhe osilions each lakes
vis-a-vis |uslice in reIalion lo lhe laclics used lo combal lhe over slruclures
lhal dominale lheir reseclive socielies. WhiIe lhe hiIosohicaI basis and
rheloric each of lhem emIoys are markedIy differenl, so loo are lhe conlours
and obslacIes of lhe mounlain of over lhal slands belveen lhem. rian
Lighlbody commenls lhal lhe
debale reresenls a forum of exchange of lvo diamelricaIIy
oosed osilions |. . .j and erhas more imorlanlIy, bolh
Chomsky and IoucauIl are oIilicaI aclivisls allemling lo lear
dovn lhe same mounlain and yel neilher arlicianl embraces,
fuIIy underslands, nor even allemls lo lry lo undersland lhe
osilion of lhe olher (2003: 68)
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Lighlbody's viev correclIy frames lhe need, arlicuIarIy among sociaI
aclivisls, lo undersland one anolher's argumenls in order lo find
commonaIilies (arlicuIarIy in ob|eclives), desile lhe obvious need lo
mainlain a crilique of faIse alhs lovards grealer human freedom. y
examining lhe diverse robIems lhal over resenls lo Chomsky and
IoucauIl ve can find araIIeIs lhal can heI lo overcome lhe iniliaI viev of
lhe debale as consisling of 'diamelricaIIy oosed osilions' lo Iocale
common ground belveen lhe reseclive ro|ecls.
Thcnry and Tactics
The mosl inleresling arl of lhe debale lo bolh inlerIoculors vas lhe oIilicaI
orlion. The seclion on human nalure, lhough imorlanl lo underslanding
lhe basis of lheir reseclive criliques, is sideIined in favor of oIilics. As
IoucauIl remarks near lhe end of lhe debale,
lhis robIem of human nalure, vhen ul simIy in lheorelicaI
lerms, hasn'l Ied lo an argumenl belveen us, uIlimaleIy ve
undersland each olher very veII on lhese lheorelicaI robIems
|. . .j |Wjhen ve discussed lhe robIem of human nalure and
oIilicaI robIems, lhen differences arose belveen us (Chomsky
& IoucauIl, 2006: 57)
WhiIe lhey do nol agree on lhe queslions raised in lhe seclion on human
nalure, lhey al Ieasl undersland one anolher's ro|ecls and lhe aroach each
of lhem lakes lovards lhe queslions lhal arise as a resuIl.
The differences lhal arise belveen Chomsky and IoucauIl in lhe
human nalure seclion of lhe debale have imorlanl conneclions lo lhe
oIilicaI seclion lhal viII become lhe Iocus of lheir disagreemenl. IoucauIl
exIains lhe differenl aroaches lhal each of lhem lakes lovards
underslanding lhe generalion of knovIedge:
Mr. Chomsky has been fighling againsl Iinguislic behaviorism,
vhich allribuled aImosl nolhing lo lhe crealivily of lhe
seaking sub|ecl. |. . .j In lhe fieId of lhe hislory of science or,
more generaIIy, lhe hislory of lhoughl, lhe robIem vas
comIeleIy differenl (ibid.: 15)
Chomsky's slarling oinl from vhich lo address oIilicaI robIems is his
beIief lhal ve're safer lrusling lo vhal I hoe are lhe fundamenlaI human
emolions of symalhy and lhe search for |uslice, vhich he beIieves are
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maximized in syslems of free associalion ralher lhan coercive inslilulions
(ibid.: 63). Ior IoucauIl, as Rabinov noles, a hisloricaI examinalion of
'lhoughl' (or lhe roduclion of lrulh) viII adol lhe laclic of hisloricizing
such suosedIy universaI calegories as human nalure (Rabinov, 1984: 4).
Their disagreemenl is IargeIy over lhe laclics each uses in lheir
reseclive sociaI criliques. Ior Chomsky, lhe crilique is based uon an idea
of |uslice lhal slems from lhe innale 'generalive moraI grammar' each erson
ossesses. In his innumerabIe oIilicaI vrilings, he allemls lo unmask lhe
immoraIily of lhe American oIilicaI syslem by aIying lhe same slandards
of moraI |udgmenl lhal are lradilionaIIy reserved for rivale cilizens. Such
an aroach lo oIilics came oul of lhe inleIIecluaI and oIilicaI conlexl in
vhich Chomsky Iived (osl-var America). Ior IoucauIl, lhe issue shouId be
framed in lerms of lhe sociaI slruggIe ralher lhan in lerms of |uslice
(Chomsky & IoucauIl, 2006: 50). IoucauIl is dislruslfuI of lhe revoIulionary
rediIeclion for universaI lerms, such as '|uslice', 'lrulh' and 'moraIily'. Such
lerms had been emIoyed before, and in facl vere emIoyed by lhe Marxisl
inleIIecluaIs of Irance al lhe lime, lo IillIe effecl (or arguabIy lo disaslrous
effecl as viII be exIained beIov).
'Justicc' as a Tactica! and Idcn!ngica! Tcrm
Ior Chomsky, lhe enIighlenmenl nolion of imagining a vorId based uon
universaI concelions of |uslice is of cenlraI imorlance. He beIieves lhal il
is his ovn commilmenl lo such an ideaI lhal forms lhe basis of his crilique
of over slruclures lhal seek lo emIoy Thucydidean oIilicaI lheory in
vhich lhe slrong do as lhey can and lhe veak do as lhey musl (Chomsky,
2009). Chomsky can be very crilicaI of lhe misarorialion of lhe lerm
'|uslice' vhen co-oled by lhe over slruclures in lhe vesl, bul lhe concel
of |uslice as equaI aIicalion of universaI rinciIes of moraIily remains lhe
basis from vhich he crilicizes lhose misarorialions. This, hovever, is
oflen lhe same vocabuIary lhal is used lo crilicize Chomsky. His crilics argue
lhal lhe seIeclivily of his ovn examIes of veslern alrocilies overIooks lhe
oression lhal lakes Iace vilhoul veslern inlervenlion. The crilicism mosl
oflen IeveIed al his oIilicaI vrilings is lhal he condemns inlervenlion ralher
lhan conslruclive engagemenl vhen inlervenlion lakes Iace, bul condemns
coIIusion vilh diclalorshis and olher abuses of human righls vhen lhe
Uniled Slales engages vilh lhem. Ior examIe, he condemns lhe
inlervenlion in Serbia vhiIe condemning coIIusion vilh lhe Suharlo regime
in Indonesia. Chomsky beIieves lhal lhe aIicalion of universaI rinciIes
of |uslice heI lo dislinguish vhich inslances are |uslified and vhich are nol,
vhereas IoucauIl vouId see lhe aIicalion of lhose very enIighlenmenl
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rinciIes as lhe cause of many of lhe inlervenlions and coIIusions of vhich
Chomsky is mosl crilicaI.
To ul lhe Chomsky-IoucauIl debale in conlexl il is imorlanl lo
undersland vhy IoucauIl is skelicaI of lhe lerm jusiicc. }uslice, for IoucauIl,
is underslood in |uridicaI lerms. In lhe debale, he argues: if |uslice is al slake
in a slruggIe, lhen il is as an inslrumenl of over (Chomsky & IoucauIl,
2006: 40). This is a funclion of IoucauIl's crilique of lhe inslilulions lhal
govern sociely. His crilique reIies heaviIy on a Nielzschean geneaIogy. As
Rabinov uls il,
IoucauIl is highIy susicious of cIaims lo universaI lrulhs |. . .j
|Hje doesn'l lake a sland on vhelher or nol lhere is a human
nalure. Ralher, he changes lhe sub|ecl and examines lhe
funclions lhal such concels have Iayed in lhe conlexl of
raclices (Rabinov, 1984: 4)
y hisloricizing 'grand abslraclions' IoucauIl hoes lo slri avay lhe
foundalion of 'lrulh' uon vhich modern bourgeois sociely is based (ibid.).
Il is imorlanl lo reaIize lhal IoucauIl does lhis nol for hiIosohicaI reasons
(i.e. lo arrive al a nolion of inc 'lrulh') bul ralher for laclicaI reasons,
inasmuch as he vanls lo undermine arlicuIar over slruclures vilhoul
erecling nev monoIilhic slruclures of lhoughl lhal can lhen be co-oled.
IoucauIl's is a oIilicaI lask lhal is roeIIed forvard by his vrilings:
Il seems lo me lhal lhe reaI oIilicaI lask in a sociely such as
ours is lo crilicize lhe vorkings of inslilulions, vhich aear lo
be bolh neulraI and indeendenl, lo crilicize and allack lhem
in such a manner lhal lhe oIilicaI vioIence vhich has aIvays
exercised ilseIf obscureIy lhrough lhem viII be unmasked, so
lhal one can fighl againsl lhem (Chomsky & IoucauIl, 2006: 41)
IoucauIl's crilique is imorlanl reciseIy because il is abIe lo discover lhal
ve have escaed dominalion under an oId form of over onIy lo find
ourseIves disciIined by a nev form (TayIor, 1984: 161-162). Iurlhermore, il
seeks lo avoid lhe robIem of co-olalion endemic in lhe revoIulionary
Hovever, lhough il funclions erfeclIy veII as a crilique of lhe
currenl inslilulions, IoucauIl's aroach is admilledIy unabIe lo define,
nor for even slronger reasons lo roose, an ideaI sociaI modeI for lhe
funclioning of sociely (Chomsky & IoucauIl, 2006: 40). Il is for lhis reason
lhal CharIes TayIor crilicizes IoucauIl. Ior TayIor,
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IoucauIl's anaIyses seem lo bring eviIs lo Iighl, and yel he vanls
lo dislance himseIf from lhe suggeslion lhal vouId seem
inescaabIy lo foIIov, lhal lhe negalion or overcoming of lhese
eviIs romoles a good (1984: 152)
Here il is imorlanl lo undersland lhal IoucauIl's relicence in roosing an
ideaI sociaI modeI for lhe funclioning of sociely is nol a hiIosohicaI
mislake bul ralher a laclicaI decision. The 'unmasking' lhal IoucauIl
rooses in lhe debale does nol become a lrulh ilseIf, as IoucauIl's enlire
ro|ecl is meanl lo recognize lhe comIexily of lhe dynamics of over, vhich
vouId invariabIy co-ol any nev formuIalion of lhe idea of lrulh. The reason
he Ieaves a 'ga' in his lhoughl, vhich TayIor and Chomsky crilicize as
imIicilIy oinling lovards an idea of 'Trulh', can be exIained by examining
IoucauIl's crilique of lhe Irench 'Marxisl inleIIecluaIs'.
Fnucau!t's Critiquc nI thc 'Marxist intc!!cctua!s'
The criliques lhal IoucauIl IeveIs al Chomsky on lhe sub|ecl of |uslice during
lhe debale can be beller underslood by examining his lrealmenl of lhe
Irench Marxisl inleIIecluaIs. IoucauIl begins lhe inlerviev enlilIed 'Trulh
and Iover' by addressing over/knovIedge and lhe sociaI sciences. He
began his invesligalion of criminaIily and deIinquency because he feIl lhal
such an invesligalion vas oddIy omilled among lhe Marxisl inleIIecluaIs of
lhe day. He exIains his reasons for underlaking such an invesligalion by
oulIining vhy lhe Marxisl inleIIecluaIs faiIed lo carry oul such a crilique.
IoucauIl offers lhree exIicil commenls on lhe 'inleIIecluaI Marxisls'
and lvo imIicil ones. (1) They soughl recognilion by olher inleIIecluaIs in
lhe universilies and consequenlIy addressed onIy lhe queslions asked by lhe
mainslream. In olher vords, lhe inleIIecluaI Marxisls vere co-oled by a
desire for accelance in mainslream inleIIecluaI currenls. IoucauIl argues
lhey vere no differenl from lhe mainslream: lhey simIy feIl lheir
inlerrelalion of mainslream queslions vas suerior, (2) 'Iosl-SlaIinisl
SlaIinism' excIuded everylhing lhal vas nol a frighlened reelilion of lhe
arly Iine,
(3) Mosl condemning of aII, IoucauIl feIl lhere vas a susicion
surrounding lhe (as yel nol ubIic) exislence of lhe GuIag. Iven if such
susicions did nol exisl, lhe head of lhe arly (vho knev everylhing) vouId
have been abIe lo direcl research avay from such a loic as 'criminaIily', as
a discourse of conlroIIing over.
ImIicil in lhe argumenls IoucauIl makes aboul lhe Irench 'Marxisl
inleIIecluaIs' are lvo oinls of imorlance. Iirsl, lhe membershi of mosl
Irench inleIIecluaIs in lhe ICI (Parii Ccnnunisic |rancaisc) ncccssari|q meanl
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lhal lhey vere co-oled. The communisls in Irance vere subservienl lo lhe
arly (and lhe USSR by roxy), and lhus recIuded lhemseIves from any
genuineIy subversive rolesl or nev ideas. He describes lhem as Iaying
lhe roIe rescribed for lhem by lhe ICI (IoucauIl, 1980: 110). His ovn
membershi in lhe ICI, belveen 1950 and 1953, mighl exIain vhy IoucauIl
is crilicaI of lhe ICI and revoIulionary arlies more generaIIy. Irom his
crilicisms and vrilings one gels lhe dislincl imression lhal IoucauIl quil
lhe ICI because of his dismay al lheir viIIfuI bIindness lovards lhe earIy
hinls of lhe oeralions of lhe GuIag under SlaIin lhe ubIicizing of vhich
deaIl a ma|or bIov lo lhe ICI. IoucauIl seems skelicaI of lhe abiIily of any
(even oosilionaI) oIilicaI arlies lo affecl change oulside of lhe infIuences
of over. The raclice of arly oIilics becomes co-oled by lhe oIilicaI
over il allemls lo vieId.
A second imIicalion in IoucauIl's crilique of lhe Irench Marxisls
slems from lhe queslion of vhy IoucauIl chooses lo address lhe Marxisl
inleIIecluaIs secificaIIy. Why nol lhe sychialrisls` Why nol lhe dominanl
inleIIecluaI slreams` Il seems as if IoucauIl agrees vilh (or has lhe mosl
resecl for) lhe slaled revoIulionary ro|ecl of lhe Marxisl inleIIecluaIs. Il is
onIy lhal lhey do nol accomIish lheir slaled goaIs because of lhe
organizalionaI slruclure endemic in oIilicaI arlies, i.e. because of a
mislaken choice of laclics. IoucauIl seems lo crilicize lhem for lhe many
fauIls Iisled above, bul al lhe same lime lhere is a resecl in lhe very queslion
'vhy have you nol addressed lhis as il couId easiIy have been your ro|ecl
had you been abIe or viIIing lo Iive u lo your slaled aim`' Thal he himseIf
vas (briefIy) Ied by Louis AIlhusser lo |oin lhe ICI, shovs lhe allraclive
fronl lhal lheir slaled ro|ecl iniliaIIy resenled lo him, onIy lo Ieave him
disiIIusioned and crilicaI of any seIf-rocIaimed revoIulionary arly, vhich
aIso heIs exIain his crilicism of Chomsky in 1971.
Il is onIy afler lhe revoIulions around lhe vorId in 1968, vhich vere
nolabIy non-Marxisl and devoid of lhe organizalionaI slruclure of a
'revoIulionary' arly, lhal IoucauIl's books assumed lhe oIilicaI reIevance
lhey have loday.
The co-oling of lhe Marxisls is lhe background of lhe
academic conlexl in vhich IoucauIl is Iiving al lhe lime of lhe debale.
IoucauIl seeks lo avoid lhe ilfaIIs of co-oled Marxism by adoling a
Nielzschean inlerrelalion of hov over has conlinued lo manifesl ilseIf
since lhe Marxisl 'revoIulion' in lhe Soviel Union.
Chomsky, by conlrasl, is vriling in lhe Uniled Slales, vhere lhere is
no Marxisl arly and any grou lhal considers ilseIf Marxisl is exlremeIy
removed from lhe infIuence of lhe Soviel Union. As Chomsky noles, rior
lo lhe Iale sixlies,
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you vouId have had greal difficuIly in finding a Marxisl
rofessor, or a sociaIisl, in an economics dearlmenl al a ma|or
universily for examIe. Slale cailaIisl ideoIogy dominaled lhe
sociaI sciences and every ideoIogicaI disciIine aImosl enlireIy.
This conformism vas caIIed 'lhe end of ideoIogy' (Chomsky &
IoucauIl, 2006: 79)
WhiIe in Irance lhe 1968 demonslralions vere necessary for non-
Marxisl inlerrelalions lo gain credence (such as IoucauIl's), in lhe Uniled
Slales lhe anli-var movemenl of lhe Iale sixlies vas necessary for Marxisl
inlerrelalions lo be examined in oosilion lo lhe dominanl IiberaI
inleIIecluaI orlhodoxy. In Chomsky's vords, Orlhodox economics vas very
briefIy chaIIenged by sludenls vho vanled lo underlake a fundamenlaI
crilique of lhe funclioning of lhe cailaIisl economy, sludenls queslioned
lhe inslilulions, lhey vanled lo sludy Marx and oIilicaI economy (ibid.:
y examining lhe reseclive conlexls in vhich IoucauIl and Chomsky
vrole ve can see vhy IoucauIl vouId vanl lo avoid referring lo a
revoIulionary crilique of lhe exisling sociaI inslilulions. In lurn, il seems
aarenl lhal Chomsky's reIiance on vhal IoucauIl allribules lo 'Ieflisl-
orlhodoxy' (concelions of human nalure and lhe emergence of Marxisl
oIilicaI-economy) is in facl incredibIy subversive. When one considers lhal
in lhe Uniled Slales lhe Iefl is oflen confined lo lhe IiberaI alliludes of lhe
Democralic Iarly, lhe crilicaI slance lhal Chomsky adols Iacks lhe
inslilulionaI ilfaIIs for vhich IoucauIl criliques lhe Marxisl inleIIecluaIs in
Irance. Though lhe discourse surrounding lhe idea of |uslice belveen
Chomsky and lhe Irench Marxisl mighl aear very simiIar, lhe funclion
lhal each of lhem serve is markedIy differenl. Il couId be argued lhal
IoucauIl may have found a Marxisl end goaI lhal did nol faII inlo lhe same
lra as lhe ICI and olher Irench inleIIecluaIs, nameIy, of being righl 'onIy
vilh and by lhe arly'. To undersland vhy IoucauIl had lo adol a
Nielzschean geneaIogicaI aroach lo lhe 'roduclion of lrulh'
one may
examine IoucauIl's crilique of Marxisl lheory, vhich aIso exIains some of
IoucauIl's criliques of Chomsky.
Fnucau!t's Critiquc nI Marxist Thcnry and End Gna!s
IoucauIl disagrees vilh lhe lyicaI bioIogicaI image of a rogressive
maluralion of science lhal underins hislory. This is in conlradiclion lo lhe
'HegeIian-Marxisl-Ko|evean' inlerrelalion of hislory lhal is lyicaI among
lhe Iefl. He says of HegeI's diaIeclic:
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'DiaIeclic' is a vay of evading lhe aIvays oen and hazardous
reaIily of confIicl by reducing il lo a HegeIian skeIelon, and
'semioIogy' is a vay of avoiding ils vioIenl, bIoody and IelhaI
characler by reducing il lo lhe caIm IIalonic form of Ianguage
and diaIogue (IoucauIl, 1980: 115)
IoucauIl's ro|ecl in Oiscip|inc an! Punisn is lo refule lhis rogressivisl
'Ind of Hislory' viev of lhe Irench RevoIulion:
Hov is il lhal al cerlain
momenls and in cerlain orders of knovIedge, lhere are lhese sudden lake-
offs, lhese haslenings of evoIulion, lhese lransformalions vhich faiI lo
corresond lo lhe caIm, conlinuisl image lhal is normaIIy accrediled` (ibid.:
112). He begins lo ansver his ovn queslion:
Al lhis IeveI il's nol so much a maller of knoving vhal exlernaI
over imoses ilseIf on scienlific slalemenls, vhal conslilules,
as il vere, lheir naluraI regime of over, and hov and vhy al
cerlain momenls lhal regime undergoes gIobaI modificalion
(ibid.: 112-113)
Il aears as lhough, in allemling lo dislance himseIf from 'co-oled'
Marxisls, IoucauIl avoids exIicilIy slaling lhe argumenl in Marxisl lerms,
lhough il relains many Marxisl eIemenls, arlicuIarIy a focus on hislory and
maleriaIism. His conlenlion lhal shifls in discourse and in lhe 'minule
oeralions of over' occur in a bourgeois sociely because of a shifl in laclics
is reminiscenl of lhe Marxisl diaIeclic. The bourgeoisie cannol exisl vilhoul
conslanlIy revoIulionizing lhe inslrumenls of roduclion, and lhereby lhe
reIalions of roduclion, and vilh lhem lhe vhoIe reIalions of sociely (Marx,
1978: 476). ReIace lhe vord 'roduclion' vilh 'over' and you couId be
reading IoucauIl ralher lhan Marx. The cailaIisl cIass is essenliaIIy reaclive
and musl resond lo lhe many revoIls underlaken by lhe vorking cIass.
The roduclion of deIinquency and ils inveslmenl by lhe enaI
aaralus musl be laken for vhal lhey are: nol resuIls acquired
once and for aII, bul lhe laclics lhal shifl according lo hov
cIoseIy lhey reach lheir largel (IoucauIl, 1977: 285)
Iover is assauIled from one osilion and moves inlo anolher. The king meIls
inlo sociely and becomes more difficuIl lo recognize and allack.
The imorlanl difference belveen Marx and IoucauIl is lhal vhiIe lhe
former has in mind a finaI goaI (Communisl sociely) IoucauIl has no such
guiding leIos or even a rogression forvard.
Il is lhis seemingIy 'slalic'
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viev lhal aIso searales Chomsky from IoucauIl. Ior Chomsky, one of lhe
cenlraI lasks of lhe inleIIecluaI is lo lry lo creale lhe vision of a fulure |usl
sociely |. . .j based, if ossibIe, on some firm and humane concel of human
nalure (Chomsky & IoucauIl, 2006: 31). CharIes TayIor aIso crilicizes
IoucauIl's osilion slaling lhal over, in |IoucauIl'sj sense, !ccs nci nakc
scnsc vilhoul al Ieasl lhe idea of Iiberalion (TayIor, 1980: 173).
Since, in
TayIor's vords, over requires Iiberly, il aIso requires 'lrulh' if IoucauIl's
ro|ecl is in facl lo 'unmask' over as he says il shouId (ibid.: 174). Lack of
lhe ossibiIily for Iiberalion brings us back lo IoucauIl's secific crilicisms
of Chomsky and lhe 'ga' reviousIy menlioned in lhis aer. Hovever,
such a ga is nol necessariIy due lo negIigence bul is, in facl, secificaIIy
inlended on IoucauIl's arl, as arl and arceI of his overaII oIilicaI ro|ecl.
Fnucau!t's Criticism nI Chnmsky
WhiIe exIaining lhe difference belveen lhe osilion of lhe slrucluraIisls
and his ovn, IoucauIl oulIines vhal he beIieves lo be lhe cenlraI difference
belveen his ovn aroach lo schoIarshi from Chomsky's. Irom lhis foIIovs
a refusaI of anaIyses couched in lerms of lhe symboIic fieId or domain of
signifying slruclures and
a recourse lo ana|qscs in icrns cj inc gcnca|cgq cj rc|aiicns cj jcrcc,
siraicgic !ctc|cpncnis, an! iaciics. Here I beIieve cncs pcini cj
rcjcrcncc sncu|! nci |c ic inc grcai nc!c| cj |anguagc (|anguc) an!
signs, |ui ic inai cj uar an! |aii|c. The hislory vhich bears and
delermines us has lhe form of a var ralher lhan lhal of a
Ianguage: reIalions of over, nol reIalions of meaning.
(IoucauIl, 1980: 114, emhasis added)
This slalemenl suggesls lhal lhe melhodoIogy IoucauIl uses (i.e.
Nielzschean geneaIogy) is vhal Ieads him lo a slralegy so radicaIIy differenl
from Chomsky's. He secificaIIy condemns (or al Ieasl searales himseIf
from) lhe sludy of Ianguage as a dearling oinl for lhe sludy of lhe
slrucluraI imacl of over. Language is so caughl u in lhe raclice of over
lhal il couId never hoe lo deconslrucl il. This slems from IoucauIl's beIief
lhal lhe 'sociaI sciences' are Iinked vilh a vhoIe range of inslilulions,
economic requiremenls and oIilicaI issues of sociaI reguIalions (ibid.: 109).
Chomsky agrees lhal lhe sludy of Ianguage cannol serve as a dearling oinl
for lhe sludy of over, a osilion vhich he feeIs is misallribuled lo him by
Iarisian inleIIecluaIs in generaI.
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The onIy vay in vhich a 'generalive grammar' enlers is Hume's
quile correcl observalion lhal since ve are conslanlIy making
moraI |udgmenls in nev silualions, ve musl have inlernaIized
some rinciIes lhal underIie lhese |udgmenls, and cIearIy
lhese musl have subslanliaIIy derived from vhal he caIIed 'lhe
originaI hand of nalure' (Chomsky, Augusl 28, 2010)
Chomsky's oIilicaI osilion is founded uon lhe universaI abiIily of human
beings lo make and undersland moraI roosilions, vhich reIales lo his
(Ialer) vork in Iinguislics in onIy an abslracl vay.
In order for IoucauIl lo ose lhe oIilicaI robIems as he did, he vas
forced lo dissoIve lhe (Marxisl) henomenoIogicaI sub|ecl. He says lhal lhe
robIems of conslilulion couId nol be resoIved by hisloricizing lhe 'sub|ecl'.
He does nol say lhal such an underlaking vas or is useIess, bul mereIy lhal
il did nol seem lo soIve lhe secific oIilicaI robIems vilh vhich he vas
graIing. y shifling lhe focus IoucauIl aIso changed vhal vas visibIe,
obscuring cerlain lhings (such as end goaIs) in lhe rocess. He lherefore
adoled a framevork he caIIs geneaIogy, lhal is, a form of hislory vhich
can accounl for lhe conslilulion of knovIedges, discourses, domains of
ob|ecls elc., vilhoul having lo make reference lo a sub|ecl lhal is
lranscendenlaI in reIalion lo lhe fieId of evenls or runs in ils emly sameness
lhroughoul lhe course of hislory (IoucauIl, 1980: 117).
IoucauIl underlakes a geneaIogicaI examinalion of over. He
uncovers robIems vilh lhe vays in vhich queslions of over are osed on
bolh lhe Iefl and lhe righl. The righl underslands over in |uridicaI lerms
of conslilulion (aIong lhe same Iines as Hobbes), vhiIe lhe Iefl conceives of
over in lerms of slale aaralus (Marx) (ibid.: 115). The microhysics of
over is Iefl aIone unliI lhe revoIulions of 1968 vhen a genuine grassrools
oIilicaI aclivism oens lhe fieId lo non-Marxisl chaIIenges lo over.
IoucauIl lhen lurns lo lhe queslion of ideoIogy, vhich is obviousIy
reIaled lo Marx. He offers lhree reasons as lo vhy lhe nolion of ideoIogy is
'difficuIl' lo emIoy:
The firsl is lhal |. . .j il aIvays slands in virluaI oosilion lo
somelhing eIse, vhich is suosed lo counl as lrulh. |. . .j The
second dravback is lhal lhe concel of ideoIogy refers, I lhink
necessariIy, lo somelhing of lhe order of a sub|ecl. ThirdIy,
ideoIogy slands in a secondary osilion reIalive lo somelhing
vhich funclions as ils infraslruclure, as ils maleriaI, economic
delerminanl, elc. (ibid.: 118)
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Iach of lhese crilicisms can be examined in reIalion lo Chomsky's mosl
famous oIilicaI vork (ubIished 15 years afler lhis inlerviev),
Manujaciuring Ccnscni. The lhird crilicism vouId be IargeIy in Iine vilh
Chomsky's lhesis in Manujaciuring Ccnscni, lhe sublilIe of vhich is Tnc
Pc|iiica| |ccncnq cj inc Mass Mc!ia. Chomsky vievs lhe mass media from lhe
erseclive of lhe free markel. SimiIar lo IoucauIl's discussion of an
'economy' of over, Chomsky argues lhal lhere are economic conslrainls on
lhe media lhal shae il lovards a given oIilicaI ideoIogy. IdeoIogicaI
conformily in lhe media is nol accomIished by crude inlervenlion,
according lo Chomsky, bul by lhe inlernaIizalion of riorilies and
definilions of nevsvorlhiness lhal conform lo lhe inslilulion's oIicy
(Chomsky & Herman, 2002: xi). In IoucauIl's sludies, il is lhe aaralus of
unishmenl lhal conforms mosl comIeleIy lo lhe nev economy of over
and lhe inslrumenl for lhe formalion of knovIedge lhal lhis very economy
needs (IoucauIl, 1977: 304). The shifling sel of inlerdiclions lhal lhe
ouIalion Iaces on lhemseIves, in conformily vilh lhe nev form of
hierarchicaI slruclures lhal characlerize modernily, are a generaI lheme in
IoucauIl's Ialer sludies of over and lhe formalion of lhe sub|ecl found in
Oiscip|inc an! Punisn and Tnc Hisicrq cj Scxua|iiq.
Chomsky, as an American,
confines himseIf lo lhe crilique of modern cailaIisl inslilulions vilhin lhe
Uniled Slales, somelhing IoucauIl vouId shy avay from because of his
robIems vilh lhe Communisl Iarlies of Iuroe and lhe Iess lhan nobIe ends
lo vhich lhey ul lheir ovn conlroI of lhe arly aaralus.
Chomsky's mosl scalhing crilicism is reserved for American
'inleIIecluaIs' vho serve as lhe ideoIogicaI manufaclurers necessary lo |uslify
lhe miIilary and economic inlervenlions of lhe Uniled Slales. In Tnc Cu|iurc
cj Tcrrcrisn, he oulIines lhe ideoIogicaI cIimale lhal is roduced by lhe
dominanl slream of American media lhal he beIieves vas necessary lo |uslify
alrocilies in Nicaragua a case vhere lhe American ubIic had lo be von
over in order lo exIain lhe amounl of aid given lo lhe Conlras vho
concenlraled increasingIy on 'sofl largels' (Chomsky, 1988: 76). This crilique
of ideoIogy serving as lhe basis for vioIence fils in veII vilh IoucauIl's ovn
underslanding of overl conlroI being reIaced by lhe seIf-disciIine lhal
characlerizes modern bourgeois sociely. The difference is lhal IoucauIl,
because of lhe conlexl in vhich he is vriling, does nol adol a universaIisl
moraI crileria from vhich lo make his crilicism on accounl of his dislrusl of
lhe forms in vhich such moraI concelions have hilherlo been used.
IoucauIl's second crilicism of lhe Marxisl inleIIecluaIs mighl aIso be
IeveIed al Chomsky, since lhe Ialler aears lo undersland ideoIogy in lerms
of a 'moraI' sub|ecl. Hovever, lhe slruclures of 'generalive moraI grammar',
lhough erhas originaIIy deveIoed as somelhing couched in lhe sub|ecl,
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is nol necessariIy bound lo be so. Chomsky's underslanding lhal Ianguage
deveIos oul of a communily made him very symalhelic lo lhe idea of
resonanl slruclures lhal formed grammar lhrough lhe inleraclion of muIliIe
'individuaIs'. Iurlhermore, Chomsky's research in lhe area of Iinguislics
offers a slrong amounl of evidence for lhe exislence of such slruclures.
Chomsky ciles many differenl conlribulions of various hiIosohers, daling
as far back as Descarles and GaIiIeo, vhich vere inslrumenlaI in his
deveIomenl of generalive moraI grammar. He goes so far as lo say il's
misIeading lo caII il 'my lheory', excel in lhe secific manner in vhich
lheories have deveIoed (Chomsky, AriI 10, 2008).
The firsl crilicism gels lo lhe hearl of lhe Chomsky-IoucauIl debale,
inasmuch il allacks direclIy lhe ossibiIily of generalive grammar
consliluling lhe bioIogicaI infraslruclure for concels such as |uslice and
moraIily, vhich is vhere Chomsky grounds his beIief in universaI
underslandings of |uslice and moraIily. This brings lhe discussion fuII circIe
and back lo lhe debale ilseIf.
Thc Chnmsky-Fnucau!t Dcbatc
When asked aboul lhe debale Ialer, Chomsky said lhal, lhough he Iiked
IoucauIl, he had never mel anyone so 'amoraI' in his Iife (Lighlbody, 2003:
69). To exand uon lhis, Chomsky Ialer slaled:
In lhe debale, lhe queslion came u aboul lhe |uslificalion for
roIelarian revoIulion (he vas in a kind of Maoisl hase al lhe
lime, quile fashionabIe among Iaris inleIIecluaIs). His pcsiiicn
uas inai incrc uas nc issuc cj jusiicc, |usl of pcucr, and he vas on
lhe side of lhe roIelarial (lhen). | cani inink cj a ncrc accuraic
i||usiraiicn cj ancra|iiq. Nci inncra|iiq. jusi saqing inai ncra|
issucs !cni arisc, cn|q issucs cj pcucr. |...j Oui cj inc |inc|igni, |
|ikc! nin a |ci. The ubIic ersona I couId do vilhoul, bul lhal
hoIds for Iaris inleIIecluaI Iife ralher generaIIy. A slrange
henomenon. (AriI 10, 2008, emhasis added)
IoucauIl vouId hardIy conlesl lhe idea lhal he is 'amoraI', given lhal he
vouId undersland moraIily lo mean behaving according lo a code of good
and eviI. y conlrasl, IoucauIl's syslem of elhics, based around an aeslhelic
viev of Iife, does avay vilh lhe coding of ideas according lo 'righl or vrong'.
InlereslingIy, IoucauIl equales Chomsky's osilion vilh lhal of Mao
(Chomsky & IoucauIl, 2006: 44). This commenl iIIuslrales IoucauIl's
misunderslanding of Chomsky's desire lo base oIilicaI sociely uon a
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concelion of human nalure and human moraIily. There is a reason vhy
IoucauIl argues againsl lhe osilion of 'moraI absoIulism' laking Mao as an
examIe. He does so because of an imIicil underslanding lhal Mao's crimes
vere immoraI and he vishes lo shov lhe danger of basing oIilics on moraI
absoIulism. Hovever, lhe facl lhal he can make such a slalemenl accords
vilh vhal Chomsky means vhen he laIks aboul lhe universaI caacily lo
make moraI decisions. Irom IoucauIl's (slaled) osilion ve can see no reason
for condemning Mao he mereIy did veII in lhe over game lhal everyone
is Iaying. Hovever, lhe common sense moraIily lhal Chomsky vouId
advocale vouId cerlainIy condemn Mao (vho has been allribuled vilh
sanclioning lhe dealh of miIIions). This is besl iIIuslraled in an exchange
belveen lhem Ialer in lhe debale. Chomsky dislances himseIf from any
conceivabIe conneclion lo lhe Maoisl osilion:
If I couId convince myseIf lhal allainmenl of over by lhe
roIelarial vouId Iead lo a lerrorisl oIice slale, in vhich
freedom and dignily and decenl human reIalions vouId be
deslroyed, lhen I vouIdn'l vanl lhe roIelarial lo lake over
(ibid.: 52)
To vhich IoucauIl resonds (oddIy, given his revious equalion of
Chomsky's moraI osilion vilh lhal of Mao):
When lhe roIelarial lakes over, il may be quile ossibIe lhal
lhe roIelarial viII exerl lovards lhe cIasses over vhich il has
lriumhed, a vioIenl, diclaloriaI, and even bIoody over. I can'l
see vhal ob|eclion one vouId make lo lhis (ibid.)
In lhe course of lhe debale, IoucauIl seems lo faII inlo lhe lra for vhich
TayIor crilicizes him in IoucauIl on Ireedom and Trulh, arguing againsl
a given arrangemenl of over vilhoul lhe (usuaI) imIicalion lhal a
referabIe one is ossibIe.
IoucauIl's crilicism comes from his misunderslanding of Chomsky's
osilion as being reIaled lo bioIogicaI delerminism, vhich he sees as ossibIy
Ieading lo Mao's idea of 'bourgeois and roIelarian' human nalures. To
exIain lhe misunderslanding lhrough an anaIogy, equaling Chomsky's viev
of |uslice lo a Iinguislic ro|ecl, Mao's idea of 'bourgeois and roIelarian'
human nalures is equivaIenl lo beIieving in a universaI |anguagc. This is
cIearIy nol Chomsky's osilion, as no one conlends lhal ve are aII born vilh
lhe abiIily lo seak IngIish, for examIe. He does, hovever, conlend lhal ve
are born vilh lhe abiIily lo seak (in generaI). His osilion couId nol be used
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lo argue lhal lhere are '|usl and un|usl' eoIe and lhal lhey are bioIogicaIIy
delermined, as everyone (in his viev) has an equaI abiIily lo make moraI
roosilions, |usl as everyone has an equaI abiIily lo use grammar.
Chomsky bases his idea of |uslice nol on a universaI !cjiniiicn of |uslice bul
on a universaI abiIily lo un!crsian! |uslice. Chomsky, for examIe, has a very
good underslanding of hov generalive moraI grammar is exressed 'cross-
cuIluraIIy', as loo are concelions of |uslice.
Relurning lo lhe firsl of IoucauIl's lhree criliques of ideoIogy, vhal
Chomsky faiIs lo areciale aboul IoucauIl's argumenl is lhal il is informed
by lhe exeriences of lhe resuIls of a Marxisl oIilicaI ro|ecl lhal managed
lo allain over lhrough ils crilique of slale-cailaIisl over. IoucauIl is
correcl (and Chomsky vouId nol deny) lhal imIied in lhe crilique of
ideoIogy is a desire lo reIace il vilh somelhing eIse, vhich is suosed lo
counl as lrulh (IoucauIl, 1980: 117). IoucauIl is exlremeIy crilicaI of lhe
conslilulion of lhis nev regime of lrulh. Those crilicisms can lhemseIves lake
on a over of lheir ovn and are oflen viIIing lo underlake some surrisingIy
immoraI aclions in order lo safeguard lhal over. This is a common crilique
of Chomsky in lhal by damning American foreign oIicy, he ignores (some
say even imIicilIy suorls) lhe regimes of lhe Khmer Rouge and lhe Soviel
Union. He consislenlIy denies any such suorl and mainlains lhal, since il
is lhe common moraI sense lhal everyone inherenlIy ossesses lhal kees
eoIe from selling u guIags or carel bombing easanls, aII such regimes
bear moraI resonsibiIily for lheir aclions lhe Uniled Slales is mereIy lhe
vorsl lransgressor. WhiIe Chomsky crilicizes lhe currenl slale of American
oIilics on lhe basis of a ossibIe vorId lhal he deems beller, he reserves lhe
righl lo vilhdrav suorl from a movemenl lhal aears as if il viII exerl
lovards lhe cIasses over vhich il has lriumhed, a vioIenl, diclaloriaI, and
even bIoody over, vhich IoucauIl beIieved vouId be |uslified.
Justicc vs. Pnwcr
To characlerize lhe difference belveen Chomsky and IoucauIl's reseclive
slarling oinls, ve musl lurn lo each of lheir concelions of 'over'.
IoucauIl's seems lo be besl summarized as an examinalion of pcucr al lhe
IeveI of hov il invesls ilseIf in absoIuleIy every aclivily, so lhal each aclivily
is co-oled and becomes an inslrumenl for lhe roagalion of over.
MeanvhiIe, Chomsky's couId be said lo examine crcaiitiiq and see hov lhis
exresses ilseIf in every aclion underlaken, in!cpcn!cni|q of over, so lhal
ve can envision vhal il mighl Iook Iike if il vas nol co-oled by over.
When IoucauIl laIks aboul over one gels lhe dislincl imression lhal
he confIales lvo dislincl lyes, nameIy, lhe pc|iiica| and lhe capa||c. The
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oIilicaI over aboul vhich IoucauIl laIks is lhe sorl of over lhal aIIovs
anylhing lo lransire. He is laIking secificaIIy aboul a lye of over lhal
co-ols and conlroIs. Chomsky, on lhe olher hand, cIearIy differenliales
belveen lhe coercive over of oressive oIilicaI regimes and lhe crealive
over of lhe individuaI lhal is used in conslrucling senlences, for examIe.
If il vere lhe aII-encomassing (Nielzschean) form of over, il vouId nol
be ossibIe lo escae, vhereas IoucauIl seems lo suggesl lhal il is.
IoucauIl mighl as veII be crilicizing Chomsky's use of lhe vord
over vhen he says lhal over lraverses and roduces lhings, il induces
Ieasure, forms knovIedge, roduces discourse. Il needs lo be considered
as a roduclive nelvork vhich runs lhrough lhe vhoIe sociaI body, much
more lhan as a negalive inslance vhose funclion is reression (1980: 119).
He IeveIs a vaIid crilicism, hovever, as il seems lo address lhe second lye
of over capa||c over. IoucauIl seems skelicaI of lhe abiIily of sociely
lo lransform ilseIf in a vay lhal frees il from oIilicaI over vhiIe
mainlaining caabIe over, lhough he does nol discounl such a ossibiIily.
As he vriles, One has lo recognize lhe indefinileness of lhe slruggIe
lhough lhis is nol lo say il von'l someday have an end (ibid.: 57).
y conlrasl, Chomsky's oIilicaI ro|ecl is lo enabIe human beings lo
funclion and use lheir 'caabIe' over (vhich he defines in lhe form of
'crealivily') lo maximize decenl human inslincls, vhich he beIieves vouId
be besl romoled lhrough a decenlraIized syslem of associalion free from
lhe coercion of cenlraIized inslilulions vhich he feeIs maximizes lhe vorsl
of human inslincls (Chomsky & IoucauIl, 2006: 67). Iree from lhe
infIuences and faiIures of an Ancrican Communisl Iarly, Chomsky is much
more olimislic lhan IoucauIl. He does alleml lo formuIale vhal such a
sociely mighl Iook Iike. This underslanding of over heIs us see vhy
Chomsky is a commilled anarchisl. IoucauIl may aIso aear lo be an
'anarchisl' bul of a differenl sorl:
The anarchisls osed lhe oIilicaI robIem of deIinquency,
vhen lhey lhoughl lo recognize in il lhe mosl miIilanl re|eclion
of lhe Iav, vhen lhey lried nol so much lo heroize lhe revoIl of
lhe deIinquenls as lo disenlangIe deIinquency from lhe
bourgeois IegaIily and iIIegaIily lhal had coIonized il, vhen
lhey vished lo re-eslabIish or conslilule lhe oIilicaI unily of
ouIar iIIegaIilies (IoucauIl, 1977: 392)
IoucauIl's oIilics is varier and more removed from organizalion lhan
Chomsky's. His crilique is aimed al lhe abiIily of over lo co-ol any lheory
of Iiberalion, and lhus he avoids arlicuIaling a lheory of Iiberalion. WhiIe
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Chomsky's anarchism is achievabIe as a form of oIilicaI organizalion,
IoucauIl's cIearIy is nol nor is il meanl lo be. Such a oIilicaI organizalion
vouId onIy reresenl a furlher shifl in lhe aaralus of over, vhich
IoucauIl conlends vouId be |usl as coercive. The urose of resislance, for
IoucauIl, is lo achieve a slale of freedom. If his elhics is an elhics of aeslhelics
lhen resislance lo coercion (ralher lhan overcoming il) is lhe grealesl
exression of freedom and elhics. In his casligalion of lhe lerm '|uslice',
IoucauIl exresses a fear lhal such a lerm can onIy be lransIaled inlo a
|uridicaI concel vhich over viII use lo coerce. Yel il seems lhal a more
'generalive' concel of |uslice exisls imIicilIy lhroughoul IoucauIl's vork
on resislance. He louches on lhis idea briefIy in chaler five of
Pcucr/Kncu|c!gc, vhen he laIks aboul 'IocaI knovIedges' (vhich he connecls
lo DeIeuze's idea of minor knovIedges), lhough he does nol eIaborale on
lhis idea for reasons aIready exIained.
The sub|ecl of lhe criliques Chomsky and IoucauIl Iaunch al lheir reseclive
socielies is lhe oressive inslilulionaIizalion of over lhal exisls vilhin
each. They have differenl aroaches and melhodoIogies in lheir lheorelicaI
vork, bul are uIlimaleIy abIe lo undersland and accel lhe lheorelicaI
ro|ecls of one anolher quile easiIy. The Iocus of lheir disagreemenl is
oIilics, secificaIIy lhe laclics lo be emIoyed in raclicing a oIilics of
resislance. Chomsky, seaking from an enIighlenmenl hiIosohicaI
lradilion, bases his oIilics on ideas of |uslice lhal he beIieves lo be as
universaI as lhe generalive grammar vhich exresses lhem. IoucauIl, vhose
Nielzschean geneaIogy Ieads him lo a fundamenlaI crilique of aII
formuIalions of |uslice, brings lo Iighl lhe robIems of hov over is
exressed lhrough lhe criminaI |uslice syslem and lhe aIicalion of modern
concelions of |uslice. The lvo ro|ecls are fundamenlaIIy differenl in lerms
of lheir lheorelicaI underinnings and lhe laclics lhey choose lo emIoy.
Hovever, lheir crilicisms of lhe inslilulions of over demonslrale lhal lhe
mounlain of oIilicaI coercion before vhich each of lhem slands is uIlimaleIy
lhe same. The conlexl in vhich each of lhe inlerIoculors vriles becomes
imorlanl because il serves as lhe basis of lheir argumenls in lerms bolh of
lhe lheorelicaI lradilion being emIoyed and of lhe dominanl inslilulions
lhey are crilicizing. The modeI of American cailaIism and lhe forces broughl
inlo lhe vorId lhrough lhe miIilary induslriaI comIex vilh lhe comIicily
of educaled eIiles and media organizalions require crilicisms lhal aeaI lo
lhe convenlionaI moraI codes of lhe American vorking cIass lhal America
is nol Iiving u lo ils slaled vaIues. In Irance, vhere communism oses an
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acluaI lhreal lo lhe IiberaI modeI, IoucauIl allemls lo shov lhe simiIarily
belveen lhe lvo syslems and lhe in|uslices erelraled under bolh so as nol
lo side vilh eilher. Whal is imorlanl for IoucauIl is lhal lhe vorkings of
over be recognized so lhal moraI issues do nol reinforce inslilulionaI
slruclures of over.
The imorlance of lhe debale exisls in hov lvo such radicaIIy
differenl formuIalions of lhe roIe of |uslice can be seen as muluaIIy
suorlive. olh criliques are meanl lo survey and surmounl lhe same
mounlain. To gIoss over lheir differences does bolh ro|ecls a disservice, as
il is lhe arlicuIarilies of lhe crilicisms lhal make lhem effeclive. ul by lhe
same loken, lo riviIege lhe laclics of one over lhe olher does a disservice lo
lhe debale ilseIf and lhe imorlance of using a muIlilude of aroaches in
oIilicaI aclivism. The oIilicaI vievs of IoucauIl and Chomsky, resecliveIy,
vere deveIoed in concrele conlexls and, |usl as an engineer mighl use a
variely of looIs and melhods lo creale a lunneI lhrough a mounlain
deending on lhe obslacIes vilh vhich lhey are confronled, bolh Chomsky
and IoucauIl have adoled radicaIIy differenl lechniques lo bore lhrough
lhe mounlain lhal searales lhem.
Xavicr 5cntt is currenlIy a Leclurer in lhe dearlmenls of Iconomics and
IngIish al lhe Universily of Hargeisa, SomaIiIand. A Canadian, he has a
Maslers degree in SociaI and IoIilicaI Thoughl from York Universily. He is
currenlIy researching lhe reIalionshi belveen IsIam and democracy and
lheir roIe in SomaIiIand vhich is a sovereign bul unrecognized slale.
I vouId Iike lo lhank Noam Chomsky for his incredibIy svifl resonses lo
my requesls for cerlain cIarificalions on his arl, as veII as rian Lighlbody
vhose guidance and commenls made lhis aer ossibIe.
Lighlbody slales in lhe foolnole lo lhis senlence: I lhink IoucauIl is more
oen minded lhan Chomsky bul, neverlheIess, faiIs lo fuIIy areciale lhe
noveIly of Chomsky's osilion.
Nole lhal CharIes TayIor crilicizes IoucauIl for doing reciseIy lhis, and
connecls IoucauIl's refusaI of a nolion of Trulh lo Nielzsche (see TayIor, 1984:
WeII, if one faiIs lo recognize lhese oinls of suorl of cIass over, one
risks aIIoving lhem lo conlinue lo exisl, and lo see lhis cIass over
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 125
reconslilule ilseIf even afler an aarenl revoIulionary rocess (Chomsky
& IoucauIl, 2006: 41).
The besl examIe of vhal IoucauIl is afraid of comes from Trolsky's slress
for Iarly unily (in absenlia) for lhe Thirleenlh Congress of lhe Communisl
Iarly: We can onIy be righl vilh and by lhe Iarly, for hislory has rovided
no olher vay of being in lhe righl. The IngIish have a saying, 'my counlry,
righl or vrong'. |. . .j We have much beller |uslificalion in saying vhelher il
is righl or vrong in cerlain individuaI concrele cases, il is my arly
(Trolsky, ciled in Arendl, 1967: 307).
Laler in lhe inlerviev, IoucauIl says: Where Soviel sociaIisl over vas in
queslion, ils oonenls caIIed il lolaIilarianism, over in Weslern cailaIism
vas denounced by lhe Marxisls as cIass dominalion, bul lhe mechanics of
over in lhemseIves vere never anaIyzed. This lask couId onIy begin afler
1968 (see IoucauIl, 1980: 116). I gel lhe imression lhal IoucauIl agrees vilh
bolh lhe Marxisls and lhe mainslream academics, nameIy, lhal over exisls
in bolh lhe USSR and Weslern sociely. His crilicism is nol lhal lhey are
vrong, mereIy lhal lhe vay in vhich each crilicizes lhe olher comes oul of
a melhod of anaIysis lhal is necessariIy bIind lo ils ovn abuse of over. y
anaIyzing lhe 'carceraI archieIago' IoucauIl focuses on an aaralus of
over lhal exisls in bolh communisl and bourgeois socielies. One vonders,
vere IoucauIl aIive afler lhe faII of lhe USSR vhen communism vas
'disroven' vouId he vouId adol a more Marxisl aroach, nov lhal lhe
corruling infIuence of being an 'inslilulionaIized' ideoIogy has been laken
IoucauIl's crilicism of Marx's vrilings in Pcucr/Kncu|c!gc is vorlh recaIIing
here. Ralher lhan saying lhal Marx and Lenin have been misunderslood in
lhe imIemenlalion of lhe GuIag syslem, or asking vhal kind of
misunderslanding couId have caused lhe GuIag syslem lo have arisen oul
of a revoIulionary arly lhal adoled Marxisl lexls, IoucauIl argues il is a
maller of asking vhal in lhose lexls couId have made lhe GuIag ossibIe,
vhal mighl even nov conlinue lo |uslify il, and vhal makes ils inloIerabIe
lrulh sliII accelabIe loday (ibid., 135). Thal IoucauIl does nol aIy lhe
same crilicism lo Nielzsche's vrilings, vhich have been ciled as insiralion
for much of lhe NalionaI SociaIisl ideoIogy, il is fair lo argue lhal his crilicism
of Marx is mereIy a reminder of lhe dangers of any hiIosohy being co-
oled if lhose vho seek lo aIy il do nol do so carefuIIy. Marx is referenced
secificaIIy because of lhe conlexl in vhich IoucauIl is vriling al lhe lime.
Ierhas, lhen, IoucauIl is nol so much 'anli-Marx' as 'anli-vanguard'.
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Nole lhe simiIarily in Ianguage belveen lhe inleIIecluaI orlhodoxy of lhe
'Slale-cailaIisl' academics Chomsky is arguing againsl in lhe Uniled Slales,
and lhe Ianguage of lhe orlhodox 'Marxisl-inleIIecluaIs' (such as AIexander
Ko|eve) vhom IoucauIl is arguing againsl (see beIov).
He aIso noles lhal he cannol imagine a simiIar inleIIecluaI cIimale exisling
in Weslern Iuroe or }aan (ibid.: 86-87).
IoucauIl's concelion of over is inexlricabIy bound lo lhe roduclion of
lrulh: We are sub|ecled lo lhe roduclion of lrulh lhrough over and ve
cannol exercise over excel lhrough lhe roduclion of lrulh (IoucauIl,
1980: 93).
A osilion recenlIy ouIarized by neo-conservalive Irancis Iukuyama in
Tnc |n! cj Hisicrq an! inc Iasi Man, deveIoed IargeIy from AIexander
Ko|eve's |nirc!uciicn ic inc |ca!ing cj Hcgc|. Icciurcs cn inc Pncncncnc|cgq cj
|The 'carceraI'j generaIized in lhe shere of meaning lhe funclion lhal lhe
carceraI generaIized in lhe shere of laclics. |cp|acing inc a!tcrsarq cj inc
sctcrcign, inc sccia| cncnq uas iransjcrnc! inlo a devianl, vho broughl vilh
him lhe muIliIe dangers of disorder, crime and madness (IoucauIl, 1977:
299-300, emhasis added).
Il is imorlanl lo nole lhal Marx (Iike IoucauIl) is nol a humanisl or a
moraIisl. He does nol feeI lhal lhe roIelarian revoIulion sncu|! occur, so
much as he feeIs lhal il nusi occur, and lhal il is in lhe roIelarial's besl
inleresls lhal il occur.
IoucauIl does see lhe Iines of over and 'counler-over' as conslanlIy
shifling. Here I mean 'slalic' onIy insofar as he does nol envision an escae
from coercive inslilulions of over lhe vay Marx or Chomsky does.
TayIor argues lhis by saying lhal differenl forms of over indeed are
consliluled by differenl comIexes of raclice, lo form lhe iIIegilimale
concIusion lhal lhere can be no queslion of Iiberalion from lhe over imIicil
in a given sel of raclices. Nol onIy is lhere lhe ossibiIily of frequenlIy
moving from one sel of raclices lo anolher, bul even vilhin a given sel lhe
IeveI and imosilion can vary. |cucau|i inp|icii|q !isccunis |cin incsc
pcssi|i|iiics (ibid.: 174, emhasis added). The firsl because of lhe Nielzschean
framevork he uses, lhe second because of an overIy simIified nolion of
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modern syslems of conlroI.
Chomsky exIains he vas a commilled anarchisl Iong before he had even
heard of Iinguislics (Chomsky, Augusl 28, 2010).
This shifl in lhe emIoymenl of over has been lhe basis of modern sludies
of bio-oIilics, vhich characlerize osl-modern Ieflisl lhoughl eilomized
by lhe recenl vork of Anlonio Negri and MichaeI Hardl in vorks such as
|npirc and Mu|iiiu!c. War an! Ocnccracq in inc Agc cj |npirc.
One couId erhas drav a comarison belveen vhal Chomsky says aboul
lhe deveIomenl of 'his lheory' and IoucauIl's broader underslanding of
vhal conslilules a sub|ecl in 'Whal is an Aulhor`' See IoucauIl's Whal is
an Aulhor` (in IoucauIl, 1984).
Chomsky is quile crilicaI of IoucauIl, bul reaffirms lhe facl lhal he did nol
feeI IoucauIl vas 'immoraI', and lhal lhey gol aIong veII before lhe debale
look Iace.
Chomsky says lhis secificaIIy in an inlerviev: OnIy Carlesian common
sense, vhich is dislribuled quile evenIy, is needed (Chomsky & IoucauIl,
2006: 70).
Chomsky broughl lhis u in resonse lo my queslion, lo vil: According
lo your lheory of generalive grammar and lhe couching of moraIily in lhal
grammar, are lhere innale moraI 'lrulhs' (e.g. Thou shaIl nol kiII) hardvired
inlo us, or do you mean |. . .j lhal ve have a 'generalive moraI grammar'
vhere ve innaleIy have lhe caacily lo undersland lhings in moraI lerms
and aIy a sel of ingrained moraI schemas lo a given silualion, in a
arlicuIar conlexl, from an individuaI's slandoinl |. . .j` To quole arl of
his resonse: Your descrilion seems lo me reasonabIe, bul lhe concIusions
aren'l reaIIy derived from generalive grammar. Ralher, lhey are reached by
lhe same kind of lradilionaI reasoning lhal Ieads direclIy lo generalive
grammar for Ianguage. As erhas you knov, lhere is recenl vork exIoring
emiricaIIy, cross-cuIluraIIy, lhe innale rinciIes lhal underIie lhe 'moraI
grammars' lhal yieId lhe kind of normaI behavior lhal Ied lo Hume's
refIeclions (Chomsky, AriI 10, 2008).
Ividence for lhis osilion is IargeIy imIicil in his concel of 'counler-
over' used lhroughoul his vork, hovever, lhe besl evidence I have found
lo suggesl he uses over in lhis sense exisls in Oiscip|inc an! Punisn. In lhe
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cIassicaI eriod, lhere oened u in lhe confines or inlerslices of sociely lhe
confused, loIeranl and dangerous domain of inc cui|au cr ai |casi cj inai
unicn c|u!c! inc !ircci nc|! cj pcucr: an uncerlain sace lhal vas for criminaIily
a lraining ground and a region of refuge (IoucauIl, 1977: 300). If somelhing
can eIude lhe direcl hoId of over, lhen over is nol everylhing, lhough
loday (IoucauIl conlends) il ermeales everylhing.
Chomsky's anarchism is nol a uloia, il onIy seeks lo romole cerlain forms
of crealive human behavior, vhiIe Iimiling lhe caacily of eoIe lo erform
'deslruclive' acls vilhoul lhe need of coercive inslilulions (vhich he feeIs
are inherenlIy deslruclive).
Arendl, H. (1967) Tnc Origins cj Tcia|iiarianisn Nev York: Harcourl Inc.
Chomsky, N. (1997) Pcrspcciitcs cn Pcucr. |cj|cciicns cn Hunan Naiurc an! inc
Sccia| Or!cr MonlreaI: Iack Rose ooks
Chomsky, N. (1998) Tnc Cu|iurc cj Tcrrcrisn Nev York: Soulh Ind Iress
Chomsky, N. (AriI 10, 2008) ersonaI corresondence vilh aulhor
Chomsky, N. (2009) The ResonsibiIily lo Irolecl UN Gcncra| Asscn||q }uIy
23, 2009, Relrieved from:
Chomsky, N. (Augusl 28, 2010) ersonaI corresondence vilh aulhor
Chomsky, N. & IoucauIl, M. (2006) Tnc Cncnskq-|cucau|i Oc|aic. On Hunan
Naiurc Nev York: The Nev Iress
Chomsky, N. & Herman, I. S. (2002) Manujaciuring Ccnscni. Tnc Pc|iiica|
|ccncnq an! inc Mass Mc!ia Nev York: Ianlheon ooks
IoucauIl, M. (1977) Oiscip|inc an! Punisn Nev York: Random House
IoucauIl, M. (1980) Pcucr/Kncu|c!gc Nev York: Ianlheon ooks
IoucauIl, M. (1984) Tnc |cucau|i |ca!cr I. Rabinov (Id.) Nev York: Ianlheon
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 129
IoucauIl, M. (1988) Tnc Hisicrq cj Scxua|iiq. Vc|unc 3, Tnc Carc cj inc Sc|j
|lrans. R. HurIeyj Nev York: Vinlage
IoucauIl, M. (1990) Tnc Hisicrq cj Scxua|iiq. Vc|unc 1, An |nirc!uciicn |lrans.
R. HurIeyj Nev York: Vinlage
IoucauIl, M. (1990) Tnc Hisicrq cj Scxua|iiq. Vc|unc 2, Tnc Usc cj P|casurc
|lrans. R. HurIeyj Nev York: Vinlage
IIders, I. (2006) Human Nalure: }uslice vs. Iover (1971), A Debale belveen
Noam Chomsky and MicheI IoucauIl in Tnc Cncnskq-|cucau|i Oc|aic. On
Hunan Naiurc Nev York: The Nev Iress
Lighlbody, . (2003) Theseus vs. lhe Minolaur: Iinding lhe Common
Thread in lhe Chomsky-IoucauIl Debale Siu!ics in Sccia| an! Pc|iiica|
Tncugni 8, 67-83
Marx, K. (1978) Manifeslo of lhe Communisl Iarly in Tnc Marx-|ngc|s
|ca!cr R. C. Tucker (Id.) Nev York: W. W. Norlon Comany (469-500)
Marx, K. & IngeIs, I. (1936) The Iighleenlh rumaire of Louis onaarle
Relrieved from:
Rabinov, I. (1984) Inlroduclion in Tnc |cucau|i |ca!cr Nev York:
Ianlheon ooks
Robinson, I. (Iebruary 25, 1979) The Chomsky IrobIem Tnc Ncu Ycrk
TayIor, C. (1984) IoucauIl on Ireedom and Trulh Pc|iiica| Tnccrq 12(2), 152-
!(488: "-* C-4270=-F49(&918 D*'&8* 130
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 130
Wikipcdia: Examp!c Inr a Futurc E!cctrnnic
Dcmncracy? Dccisinn, Discip!inc and Discnursc in
thc Cn!!abnrativc Encyc!npacdia
by SyIvain Iirer-Iaess
A number of onIine ro|ecls aiming lo bring cilizens cIoser lo oIilicaI
decisions have aeared over recenl years.
These ro|ecls originale from
ubIic aulhorilies seeking lo come cIoser lo lheir cilizens, as veII as smaII
grous lrying lo make exisling inslilulions more democralic. The idea of a
ossibIe eIeclronic democracy is as oId as lhe Nelvork ilseIf, bul ils
reaIisalion remains loday al an embryonic slage, Iimiled as much by
lechnicaI robIems
as by a Iack of oIilicaI viII. The idea of an eIeclronic
agora, vhere cilizens can debale and vole, is very oflen incIuded in nolions
of a modern reresenlalive democracy moving lovard a more direcl
democracy or vhal mighl be caIIed arlicialory democracy or slrong
democracy afler lhe modeI described by arber (1984).
This arlicIe describes lhe mechanisms of a successfuI roducl of lhe
inlernel invoIving mass coIIaboralion, nameIy, lhe onIine encycIoaedia
Wikiedia reIales lo lhe vorId of eIeclronic democracy in lhe
sense lhal il gives us lhe successfuI organisalionaI mechanisms of decision-
making rocesses, and invoIves miIIions of eoIe. As such, il couId be laken
as an examIe for fulure ro|ecls. As ve shaII see, lhe raclice of comuler
lechnoIogy in Wikiedia has resuIled in a ragmalic and unIanned
conslruclion, a decision-making rocess lhal deviales from lhe slandard
direcl democracy modeI (one erson-one vole, numericaI caIcuIalion of
voles), and lakes ralher lhe form of debales and consensus lhal, if one Iooks
for hisloricaI examIes, couId be Iikened lo lhe oId melhod of lhe aIaver or
lhe modern lechniques of some Iefl Iiberlarian circIes. Il shouId be
emhasised lhal lhe Wikiedian raclice has been buiIl graduaIIy lhrough
rogressive user-exerience. A re-arranged organisalion vouId have been
unabIe lo foresee and coe vilh lhe many difficuIlies facing such a comIex
ro|ecl as lhe conslruclion of a coIIaboralive encycIoaedia, as ve shaII Ialer
In lhe firsl arl of lhe aer ve shaII anaIyse lhe decision making
rocess (DMI), incIuding debales and consensus, vhich Wikiedia emIoys,
and make a conneclion vilh lhe Habermasian modeI of ralionaI discourse.
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 131
In lhe second arl, ve anaIyse lhe !iscip|incs (in lhe IoucauIdian sense)
vhich underIie and ermil lhis DMI. We find lhal, on lhe lheorelicaI Iane,
desile lhe harsh crilicisms Habermas cIaimed againsl lhe vrilings of
IoucauIl, ve can see a ralher comIemenlary reIalion belveen lhe
eslabIishing of raiicna| !isccursc in Wikiedia and lhe effecls of ils !iscip|inc.
Then, in lhird arl ve shov lhe resislances lhal face lhe decision-making
rocess and lhe disciIines, and consider lhe reaclions lhal have emerged
againsl such resislances. These findings Iead on lo a discussion of lhe
normalivily of IoucauIdian disciIines and lhe ossibiIily of lheir
helerogeneily. IinaIIy, ve examine lhe ossibIe imIemenlalions of lhe
Wikiedia syslem lo eIeclronic democracy ro|ecls.
1. Practiccs nI Dccisinn: A Dcbatc/Cnnscnsus Dccisinn-Making Prnccss,
and a Cu!turc nI Ratinna! Discnursc
Wikiedia has deveIoed an originaI decision-making rocess (DMI),
mainIy lhanks lo a nev lechnoIogy of eIeclronic ediling caIIed Wiki. A viki
is a iece of veb-based soflvare vhich generales veb ages lhal may be
modified or c!iic! by anyone.
This lechnoIogy enabIes lhe communaI
vriling of lexls, and from lhis communaI vork a DMI has arisen based on
debale and consensus. The DMI has been roven lo be efficienl nol onIy
vilh communaI ediling bul aIso, and more surrisingIy, vilh olher
funclions, such as lhe crealion of inlernaI ruIes and vilh lhe nominalion of
users for added resonsibiIily for lhe sile.
)-) In #he W!i#ing of A!#icle"
The besl vay lo exIain lhe decision-making rocess in arlicIe ediling is
sureIy lo shov hov a viki veb age vorks. There are in facl severaI ages
in one viki age, each of lhem reresenled by a lab al lhe uer end of an
arlicIe age:
Ior lhe DMI, lhree labs are of inleresl: 'arlicIe', 'discussion', and 'edil lhis
age'. The lab 'arlicIe' simIy shovs lhe arlicIe. The lab 'edil lhis age'
redirecls lo a veb-based edilor enabIing users lo modify lhe 'arlicIe' age.
Lasl, lhe lab 'discussion' refers lo a viki-age dedicaled lo discussions,
debales and consensus-making in reIalion lo lhe arlicIe.
Mosl of lhe lime, lhe decision-making rocess is nol even
communicalive. A nev edil viII be acceled or re|ecled lhrough vhal ve
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F.6*6-B1&*77: E<&251* +46 & F9896* E1*(8643.( D*24(6&(=?
can caII a passitc ccnscnsus. lhe nev edil slays in Iace, is deIeled ('rctcric!.
each version of an arlicIe is recorded so you can come back lo an oIder
version), or modified. This non-communicalive rocess can go on
indefinileIy vhiIe Wikiedians disagree vilh one anolher over vhelher an
edil shouId slay as il is. Al limes some users engaged in a disagreemenl slay
in a non-communicalive raclice and decide lo reverse each olher's edils in
an infinile circIe. This raclice, caIIed an c!ii uar, is recognised, reslricled
and forbidden by lhe ruIes of Wikiedia.
In order lo soIve lheir differences
of oinion, Wikiedians musl lhen enler inlo a rocess of aciitc ccnscnsus.
This is a communicalive rocess and vorks uon our so-caIIed
debale/consensus decision-making rocess.
|igurc 1. inc !ccisicn-naking prcccss in inc
c!iiing cj ariic|cs cn Wikipc!ia
This DMI lakes Iace on lhe 'discussion' age allached lo each arlicIe. Here
lhe disagreeing arlies viII resenl lheir argumenls and debale on vhal
edils shouId remain. Il is a cuslom, as veII as a oIicy of Wikiedia, lhal
arlies in confIicl shouId find an agreemenl by lhemseIves. ul lhe debale
is aIso slruclured by inlernaI ruIes. Indeed, an arlicIe musl foIIov cerlain
ruIes of slyIe and conlenl, and lhe decision-making rocess musl end in
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F.6*6-B1&*77: E<&251* +46 & F9896* E1*(8643.( D*24(6&(=?
agreemenl vilh lhese ruIes. Therefore, argumenls in debales are oflen based
on and Iegilimaled by lhe aforemenlioned ruIes. The mosl slrucluring ruIe
of arlicIe conlenl is lhe oIicy of Ncuira| Pcini cj Vicu (NIOV), vhich asserls
lhal Wikiedia arlicIes shouId resenl aII significanl facels or comeling
osilions on a given sub|ecl in an unbiased vay.
We need lo say al lhis oinl lhal lhis melhod is a success: lhousands
of edils are crealed every day by lhousands of users, and lhe confIicls vhich
overfIov lhe debale/consensus DMI, vhich ve shaII discuss Ialer, are
reIaliveIy Iimiled in number comared lo lhe number of edils er se. We
shaII see nov lhe mechanisms of ruIe crealion.
)-* In #he Making of #he R$le"
RuIes for Wikiedia have nol been eslabIished cx nini|c, bul are a roducl of
earIy raclice (Iirer-Iaess 2007b, Sanger 2005). The making of lhe ruIes has
deveIoed from a lension belveen lhe jcrn of Wikiedia a viki and
ils ain lo buiId an encycIoaedia. The medium is nol lhe message, bul il
goes inlo rcscnancc vilh lhe Ialler lo creale originaI raclices. WhiIe lhe viki
form vas slressing a more 'anarchic' and 'Iel il be' vay of doing lhings, of
aIIoving eoIe lo do vhal lhey vanl and of nol aIying any vrillen ruIes,
lhe aim of making an encycIoaedia slressed lhe need of oIicies and
In 2003, Wikiedians agreed on lhe rocess of communaI ediling,
forming a consensus belveen 'ro-ruIes' Wikiedians and 'anli-ruIes'
Wikiedians, resuIling in an originaI sel of oIicy and guideIines. Thus, lhe
ruIes of Wikiedia are decided in common. They foIIov lhe same
debale/consensus DMI as in lhe ediling rocess. They are caIIed pc|icics and
concern mallers of slyIe and conlenl, of behaviour in lhe ediling rocess, of
coyrighl and olher IegaI mallers belveen Wikiedia and lhe 'reaI vorId'
IegaI syslem, as veII as of lhe enforcemenl of lhese very oIicies. Mosl of lhe
lime, a oIicy comes lo be vhen some Wikiedians reaIise lhal somelhing is
nol vorking veII or couId be imroved. A oIicy roosaI usuaIIy emerges
from a discussion in lhe ti||agc punp, lhe generaI forum of lhe AngIohone
If lhe communily has shovn enough concern, a user viII creale
a 'oIicy roosilion' age, and adverlise lhe oIicy roosaI by ulling an
'adverl' seclion in sensilive ages.
The oIicy roosilion age serves as a forum vhere a
debale/consensus DMI lakes Iace. il by bil, Wikiedians add lheir viev
onlo lhe roosaI age, and debale vilh one anolher. The rocess of making
a ruIe is usuaIIy quile exlensive (Iasling severaI monlhs) and conlains
numerous discussions. Once lhe communily lhinks a consensus has emerged
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from lhe discussion, a pc|icq pagc is finaIIy crealed (again in a communaI vay,
and foIIoving lhe ediling DMI). These oIicy ages have lhe slalus of cjjicia|
pc|icq, and lherefore can be cIaimed in any DMI and enforced. Like mosl
olher Wikiedia henomena, lhings are unfixed, and lhe oIicy ages slay
oen lo amendmenls and modificalions foIIoving lhe Ialesl DMI edil.
|igurc 2. inc prcccss cj ru|c-crcaiicn in Wikipc!ia
RuIes loday aear ralher slabIe. We can counl lhe 5 pi||ars cj Wikipc!ia,
vhich are lhe slrucluring ruIes. AII in aII, lhere are fifly ruIes concerning
secific sub|ecls, and more lhan 200 gui!c|incs lhal indicale lhe besl vay lo
deaI vilh recise mallers.
GeneraIIy, one need onIy read lhe five iIIars in
order lo acquire a good underslanding of lhe behaviour lo foIIov vilh
)-+ In #he Nomina#ion of #he Wikipedian" &i#h Special Po&e!"
The Wikiedian communily has decided lo creale a smaII hierarchy for
organisalionaI issues. Il imIies lhe nominalion of Wikiedians vho may be
granled addilionaI overs, for inslance, lhal of bIocking lhe ediling of a age
vhen confIicls go avry, or lhe ossibiIily of bIocking a arlicuIar user. The
rocess of nominalion is cIose lo an eIeclion in modern democralic syslems,
yel vilh a nolabIe difference, nameIy, lhe reIacemenl of voling vilh
Wikiedians vilh addilionaI overs are lrusled users vho usuaIIy
have a Iong exerience of ediling in lhe encycIoaedia ro|ecl. Ior a user lo
be nominaled, one needs firsl lo resenl one's candidacy lo a dedicaled viki-
age. UsuaIIy lhe candidale viII ask olher lruslvorlhy Wikiedians lo
sonsor lheir nominalion vilh a 'cover Ieller' vrillen on lhe age. Then, lhe
communily debales on vhelher (s)he shouId be granled nominalion.
Queslions are lhen asked and former acls of lhe candidale are checked and
discussed. Al lhe end of lhe age, feIIov Wikiedians finaIIy give lheir viev
on lhe nominalion favourabIe, neulraI, againsl.
This nominalion rocess Iasls seven days. Al lhis lime, a 'seciaI user'
vilh suIemenlary overs caIIed a '|urcaucrai revievs lhe discussion lo
see vhelher or nol lhere is a consensus for romolion. Consensus here is
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quile difficuIl lo asserl, and seems lo be a comromise belveen lhe quaIily
and lhe quanlily of lhe differenl vievs, bul as a generaI descrilive ruIe of
lhumb mosl of lhose above 80% arovaI ass, mosl of lhose beIov 70% faiI,
and lhe area belveen is sub|ecl lo bureaucralic discrelion.
When lhe
consensus is favourabIe, lhe user is direclIy romoled by lhe bureaucral, and
given his or her IegaI and lechnicaI overs.
|igurc 3. ncninaiicn prcccss cj Wikipc!ians uiin spccia| pcucrs
Il is quile slriking lo see lhal from differenl silualions lhe same DMI revaiIs
in Wikiedia: ediling, ruIe-making, nominaling. In conlrasl lo lhe modern
democralic syslem, lhe means of decision are nol lhe vole bul ralher
consensus: voles are even exIicilIy excIuded from Wikiedia.
Wikiedia DMI is based on lhe veighing of a oinl of viev by lhe erceived
quaIily of lhe argumenl (see figure 4). This, among olher lhings, maximises
lhe invoIvemenl of users. Il is nol enough lo have oinls of viev, one musl
aIso make lhem exIicil and ralionaI. IinaIIy, lhe Wikiedia DMI nol onIy
enabIes lhe making of decisions, bul osiliveIy conslrucls lhem. Oflen in lhe
laIk ages, Iong and healed debales lake Iace, and from lhe debales
soIulions reviousIy nol lhoughl of begin lo aear. This is a differenl
silualion from reresenlalive democracy, vhereby cilizens have lo vole on
soIulions crealed by exerls. On Wikiedia, by conlrasl, lhe agenls are lhe
makers and lhe deciders.
)-, A Ra#ional Di"co$!"e/
We have seen so far lhe lhreefoId decision-making rocesses of Wikiedia.
Lel us nov aroach lhe debales occurring vilhin lhis DMI. If decisions
come from a democralic rocess, nolhing leIIs us aboul lhe quaIily of lhe
debales and, lhus, lhe exlenl lo vhich lhey are indicalive of rogress. A
recenl sludy suggesls lhal lhese debales, neverlheIess, have osilive
eIemenls vhich creale raclices aroaching a ralionaI discourse.
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Hansen, erenl and Lyylinen (2007) have recenlIy shovn lhal ve
couId assimiIale lhe Wikiedia DMI syslem vilhin lhe modeI of lhe ralionaI
discourse of }rgen Habermas. In his Tnccrq cj Ccnnunicaiitc Aciicn (1984),
Habermas describes a lye of aclion by vhich lhe discursive ossibiIilies of
ersonaI and sociaI emancialion are maximised. This discursive aclion is
aIso caIIed raiicna| !isccursc. The ralionaI discourse is an ideaI-lye lhal can
never be allained, bul il can be aroached in raclice. Ior Hansen el aI.,
discourses lhal lake Iace in Wikiedia aroach Habermas' ralionaI
discourse, aIbeil vilh some Iimilalions.
Habermas dislinguishes belveen lhree forms of ersonaI aclion in
sociely: (i) inslrumenlaI aclion, (ii) slralegic aclion, and (iii) communicalive
aclion. WhiIe lhe firsl lvo lyes of aclion are used lo reach a ralher seIfish
sub|eclive aim, lhe lhird lye, communicalive aclion, aims lo achieve a IeveI
of muluaI underslanding belveen aclors il is an inler-sub|eclive goaI. Il
is lhis communicalive aclion vhich is made ossibIe by ralionaI discourse.
A ralionaI discourse can be formed under five condilions: (i) lhe aclors
consciousIy ursue a cooeralive search for lhe lrulh, (ii) lhrough a formaI
slruclure (vilh ruIes) (iii) excIuding lhe use of force, (iv) in accordance vilh
lhe ruIes of an ideaI seech silualion (anolher Habermasian rinciIe), and
(v) engaging in oen diaIogue and vilh sufficienl duralion.
Ior Hansen el aI., Wikiedia meels lhese five condilions. Condilions
2, 3 and 5 are easiIy salisfied: lhe debales are slruclured by lhe ruIes of
Wikiedia, vioIence or ressure does nol exisl, and lhe debales are oen lo
everyone vilh an inlernel conneclion and have no lime Iimil (oflen lhe
debale lakes monlhs). The cooeralive search for lhe lrulh (condilion 1) can
be considered as arl of lhe ruIes of Wikiedia, eseciaIIy vilh lhe ruIe of
lhe Ncuira| Pcini cj Vicu (NIOV) seen above. The ideaI seech silualion
(condilion 4) requires lhal anyone can access lhe diaIogue vilhoul
discriminalion, under lhe condilion lhal one uses a ralionaI argumenl.
These five rinciIes are lhe necessary bul nol sufficienl condilions
for lhe eslabIishmenl of a ralionaI discourse. To idenlify such a discourse,
Habermas has conslrucled a lyoIogy of seeches lhal can be found in a
discussion aroaching ralionaI discourse. There is lhe inccrciica| !isccursc,
a slalemenl of lrulh based on evidence and Iogic, lhe praciica| !isccursc, based
on sociaI norms, slalemenls aboul vhal is aroriale and sociaIIy
accelabIe, lhe acsinciic criiiquc, founded on good lasle, on 'slandard vaIues,'
lhe incrapcuiic criiiquc, queslioning lhe sincerily and honesly of a cIaim, and
finaIIy cxp|anaicrq !isccursc, vhich consisls of cIear and inleIIigibIe cIaims
made lo exIain a facl, lheory or revious seech. The vaIidily of a slalemenl
can be chaIIenged by one of lhese seeches and a diaIogue vilh lhese lyes
of discourse can be eslabIished. Thus, for Habermas, if a diaIogue incIudes
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moslIy lhese lyes of seech, lhen il can be regarded as aroaching ralionaI
discourse. If Wikiedia aroaches ralionaI discourse, lhen, for Hansen el
aI., Wikiedia is a looI for emancialory olenliaI in lerms of Habermas'
crilicaI lheory.
Hansen el aI. go on lo sludy lhe conlenl of lhe debales vilhin
Wikiedia lo check lheir hyolhesis. To vhal exlenl are discourses of a
ralionaI lye resenl in lhe debales of Wikiedia` Hansen el aI. here focus
on lhe debales aboul lhe Arncnian gcncci!c arlicIe, vhich can be regarded as
one arlicuIarIy sensilive lo lhe resence of non-ralionaI discourse, devoling
considerabIe sace lo lhe assions and vilh a Iarge number of inslrumenlaI
and slralegic aclions. ul, in shorl, lhe aulhors counler-inluiliveIy (bul
cerlainIy in keeing vilh lheir hyolhesis) find lhal |vjhiIe much of lhe
inleraclion observed in lhe arlicIe's laIk age is alenlIy slralegic, each of
lhe |communicalivej forms of discourse oulIined by Habermas can be
observed lhere as veII (2007: 6). They aIso find lhal inccrciica| !isccursc in
arlicuIar is used. Iarlicianls on lhe laIk age aIso oflen use praciica|
!isccursc by reminding olhers of lhe ruIes of Wikiedia, using lherefore a
cIear disciIinarian acl (using lhe |!ucaiicn raclice described beIov).
InlereslingIy, users aIso use incrapcuiic !isccursc in order lo counleracl
slralegic aclions, by queslioning lhe sincerily of lhe olher edilors as lo
vhelher lhey are Iooking for lhe lrulh or lrying lo imose lheir viev. Here
again, lhe IegaI aaralus of Wikiedia is used in order lo Iegilimale such
lheraeulic discourse, lhrough lhe invocalion of a Wikiedia oIicy, nameIy,
lhe assumlion of good failh oIicy (ibid.: 7). In concIusion, lhe researchers
|Ojur anaIysis does shov lhal earIy in lhe Iife of lhe arlicIe,
ma|or lheorelicaI discourse occurred. As lhese lrulh cIaims vere
addressed over lhe Iife of lhe arlicIe, raclicaI discourse vas
aIso mixed in (as evidenced by lhe ready eIiminalion of vandaI
aclivily), as vas lheraeulic discourse in lhe discussion ages
(as edilors queslion each olhers' inlenlions). The currenl
discursive aclivily moslIy focuses on exIicalive discourse,
such as grammar and hrasing correclion (ibid.: 8)
Why lhen can such an arlicIe, as conlroversiaI as il is, be lhe sub|ecl of
ralionaI discourse` The aulhors briefIy exIain lhal lhe ruIes and slruclure
of Wikiedia romole such discourse. Ior inslance:
One of lhe reasons for such cIarily (i.e. good slyIe and grammar
in lhe debales) may Iie in lhe rocess for resoIving disules lhal
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has been eslabIished al Wikiedia. WhiIe inlervenlion by an
Adminislralor or lhe Wikiedia Arbilralion Commillee is an
exlreme olion for unresoIved issues, lhese avenues lake
inlo consideralion lhe revious efforls al resoIulion ursued by
lhe arlies lo a confIicl. Thus, if evenls escaIale lo necessilale
lhird arly engagemenl, lhe cIarily and commilmenl lo
diaIogue refIecled in revious discussions can have a bearing
on lhe oulcome of lhe disule (ibid.: 7)
These are lhe mechanisms of reguIalion and disciIine vhich aIIov lhe
emergence of such a discourse. We shouId lhen highIighl lhe beneficiaI and
emancialory effecls of cerlain lyes of IoucaIdian sub|eclivalion, some of
vhich ve viII examine shorlIy.
2. A Discip!inc Undcr!ying Ratinna! Discnursc and thc Dcbatc/Cnnscnsus
Dccisinn-Making Prnccss
These mechanisms of sub|eclivalion, or normaIisalion, lhal Iead aclors lo
behave in a cerlain vay, abound in Wikiedia. Wikiedia has originaI
mechanisms of normaIisalion, vhich ve viII caII !iscip|incs. We can divide
lhese disciIines inlo lvo arls: hierarchicaI disciIine, and non-hierarchicaI
disciIine, vhich ve viII caII rnizcnic vilh reference lo DeIeuze (1989).
Wikiedia's rhizomic disciIines are reIalions belveen agenls lhal are nol
slruclured by a secific Ian. Lacking any hierarchicaI yramid lhey
randomIy connecl disciIiners and disciIined, lhe agenls being abIe lo move
from lhe firsl lo lhe second roIe and vice versa deending on lhe lime and
silualion. Wikiedia aIso conlains a slandard hierarchicaI normaIisalion
slruclure, bul vilhoul roer yramid IeveIs and favouring seciaIisalion
by horizonlaI lasks ralher lhan by verlicaI IeveIs of resonsibiIily.
*-) Rhi(omic Mechani"m"
2.1.1 Tnc gazc cj Wikipc!ia. Hqpcrpancpiiccn
Here are lhe vords of }uIius,
ciled by IoucauIl:
In limes asl, lhe greal chaIIenge of lhe archilecls vas lo soIve
lhe queslion of hov lo give lhe Iargesl ossibIe number of
eoIe access lo lhe seclacIe of one evenl, one geslure, one
singIe man |. . .j This queslion, vhich began in lhe ancienl greek
sociely insofar as lhe Ialler vas a communily vhich
arlicialed in slrong evenls lhal vas forming ils unily
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reIigious sacrifices, lhealre or oIilicaI seeches sliII conlinued
lo dominale veslern civiIisalion unliI lhe modern days. The
queslion vas lhe same for churches. |. . .j CurrenlIy, lhe
fundamenlaI robIem for modern archileclure is |usl lhe
oosile. One vanls lhe Iargesl number of eoIe lo become a
seclacIe lo one singIe individuaI in charge of lheir surveiIIance
(IoucauIl, 2006 |1975j: 607-608, my lransIalion)
We couId say lhal vilh Wikiedia lhe main robIem has been lo creale an
archileclure vhere lhe many do nol see lhe one nor lhe one lhe many, bul
vhere lhe many can see lhe many. Wikiedia's syslem of surveiIIance
enabIes anyone lo valch lhe acls (lhe edils) of anyone eIse. The grou does
nol nominale vardens, everyone is or can become a varden. Modern
disciIine has been lrying lo diminish lhe scoe of 'rivale Iife'. Wikiedia
makes il disaear: lhere is no edil in lhe onIine encycIoaedia lhal cannol
be found and idenlified.
I have named lhis archileclure a 'nqpcrpancpiiccn in revious aers
(Iirer-Iaess, 2007b). Like lhe enlham/IoucauIl anolicon, il ermils one
lo see every aclion in a given area. The refix 'hyer' refers lo lhe addilion
of nev dimensions: firsl, a quanlilalive dimension, in lhal comared lo lhe
anolicon lhe number of eyes of lhe hyeranolicon is dramalicaIIy
increased, vhich Ieads lo an inlensificalion of surveiIIance as such, second,
a quaIilalive dimension, in lhe facl lhal il is nol a hay
fev lhal sees everylhing, bul lhe enlire grou lhal can see lhe aclions of
everyone, a change vilh imorlanl elhicaI imIicalions.
The Wikiedian hyeranolicon is inlrinsic lo lhe MediaWiki
soflvare lhe rogramme lhal runs lhe Wikiedia vebsile. Il is a soflvare
body made u of Iarge dalabases and user-friendIy inlerfaces. These
dalabases Iisl aII edils made lo Wikiedia, and are accessibIe lo aII lhrough
cerlain veb ages of Wikiedia. They aII shov a Iisling of edils, giving lhe
name of lhe amended seclion, lime and dale of ubIishing, aulhors'
idenlilies (lhe user name if lhe aulhor is Iisled, or eIse an II address), a shorl
descrilion of lhe edil, and finaIIy ils 'veighl' in lhe dala. The dala access
ages rovide various looIs, aIIoving lhem lo focus on cerlain lime eriods,
an arlicIe or aulhor, and aIso lo comare differenl versions of lhe same arlicIe
al differenl limes.
The hyeranolicon soIves lvo robIems allribuled lo lhe ancienl
lechniques of anolicaI surveiIIance. The firsl is lhe cosl: indeed, in a
anolicaI syslem surveiIIance is a seciaIised division of Iabour lhal brings
a cerlain cosl as one has lo ay lhe guards or valchers. In
lhe Wikiedian syslem lhe lask of moniloring is nol seciaIised and is
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dislribuled among numerous benevoIenl agenls. The second robIem is an
obvious elhicaI one, given lhal vilh lhe division of Iabour lhe seciaIisalion
of surveiIIance creales a very unbaIanced over reIalionshi lhal is
olenliaIIy reressive. On lhe conlrary, Wikiedians have no fixed
reIalionshi concerning surveiIIance (ve viII see lhis in grealer delaiI
The muIliIicalion of lhe eyes invoIved in lhe hyeranolicon makes
surveiIIance very effeclive in Wikiedia. Il has been caIcuIaled lhal fIagranl
'sabolage', such as insuIls vilhin an arlicIe, is delecled and removed, on
average, in 1.7 minules on average (IogIia, 2008: 57). IinaIIy, in and of ilseIf,
lhe hyeranolicon is nol onIy a surveiIIance looI, bul is aIso very usefuI
for lhe decision-making rocess. Il enabIes Wikiedians lo recognise and
lrusl one anolher during lhe debales. The hyeranolicon creales a
reIalionshi of lhe gaze among Wikiedians, vhich fueIs lhe DMI.
2.1.2 Scji Oiscip|incs, Scji Ncrna|isaiicn
We caII 'sofl disciIine' lhe lechniques of leaching and making lhe individuaI
comIy vilh lhe ruIes, uiincui nin pcrcciting cnjcrccncni. Sofl disciIine is
a |cgiiinaic form of normaIisalion, an inlernaIisalion of lhe ruIe in lhe
lhinking and raclices lhe individuaI freeIy chooses. Mosl comIiance vilh
lhe ruIes of Wikiedia is achieved lhrough lhese rocesses of normaIisalion.
NormaIisalion is oflen a rocess of leaching as veII as of seIf-Iearning:
Wikiedians usuaIIy invile one anolher lo read a oIicy or guideIine age.
They aIso ask queslions in order lo acquire more informalion and lo
undersland hov lo aIy a ruIe.
This rocess of normaIisalion is diffuse in Wikiedia and
consequenlIy difficuIl lo calegorise. We give here a fev examIes: lhe
rocesses of uc|ccning, of a!cpiicn, of c!ucaiicn, and of rcuar!.
Wc|ccning. lhe Wikiedian communily shovs ilseIf righl al lhe
beginning lo lhe nevcomers. When a user regislers vilh Wikiedia (vhich
gives him a fixed username, inslead of an II address, as veII as severaI nev
looIs and olions), he receives a veIcoming message from lhe communily.
More lhan a firsl communicalive bonding, lhe message gives him lhe firsl
hinls aboul hov lo behave, as veII as redireclions lo lhe main ruIes of lhe
encycIoaedia. The user is kindIy inviled lo read lhem, and lo ul queslions
lo lhe aulhor of lhe message. Indeed, some reguIar Wikiedians grou
lhemseIves lo form a 'WeIcoming Commillee'. This commillee is in charge of
sending aII nev regislered users lhese messages, and lo heI lhe nevcomers
vhen romled.
A!cpiicn: lhe adolion rogramme is a nev oIicy of Wikiedia
crealed in Selember 2006, as a rogramme designed lo heI nev and
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inexerienced users.
The rogramme gives viIIing adolers and adolees
a Ialform lo meel. Adolion is a kind of menlorshi: il imIies an oIder
Wikiedian suorling and heIing a nevcomer, moniloring his or her
edils, giving advice and ansvering any queslions. This nev rogramme does
have quile a Iov number of arlicianls comared lo lhe lolaI sum of
nevcomers, bul il has seen greal success among ils members and is
exanding as a resuIl.
|!ucaiicn: lhis raclice is lhe mosl ervasive and omniresenl of aII.
Il is nol an officiaI Wikiedia rogramme Iike veIcoming and adolion, bul
remains a very common raclice. Il imIies lhe sending of a message lo a
user vhen she has broken a ruIe, vhich haens very oflen concerning
nevcomers. The message is usuaIIy Iess lhan a varning and more a reminder
of lhe ruIes: Wikiedians are used lo seeing 'nevbies' behaving in lhe vrong
manner, and knov lhal lhey viII Iearn by lriaI and error. This is aII arl of
lhe normaIisalion rocess. Ior inslance, if a user dovnIoads a iclure on a
Wikiedia arlicIe lhal conlains a coyrighl (vhich is nol ermilled by lhe
ruIes of lhe sile), one Wikiedian viII sureIy send him vhal one caIIs a
'lemIale', lhal is, a ready-made message concerning re-defined mallers
in our case lhis lemIale vouId conlain lhe ruIes aboul iclure uIoading
and IegaI righls. TemIales foIIov a gradalion belveen a reminder and a
varning. If a Wikiedian ersisls in lransgressing a ruIe, (s)he is senl
graduaIIy more and more aulhorilalive messages, before (s)he is unished.
In lhis vay, lhe mosl aulhorilalive message is lhe boundary belveen lhe
raclice of normaIisalion and lhe raclice of unishmenl.
IinaIIy, rcuar!. Wikiedians shoving arlicuIarIy good behaviour can
receive 'medaIs' caIIed Barnsiars. Gralificalion sliII foIIovs in a non-
hierarchicaI vay, as anyone can give oul barnslars lo anyone. There is a greal
amounl of differenl barnslars, around eighly, each having a differenl
meaning. They are avarded for exceIIenl or very usefuI edils, lhe fighling
againsl vandaIism, good adolion, good suorl, and good civiIily.
arnslars are a vay of molivaling Wikiedians in an environmenl lhal can
easiIy be slressfuI. The good behaviour is aIso highIighled, vhich lherefore
encourages feIIov Wikiedians lo foIIov such behaviour.
In aII lhese rocesses, lhere is no reaI searalion
belveen lhe normaIisers and normaIised. Wikiedians lend lo co-normaIise
lhemseIves, each one being abIe lo lake bolh roIes al any one lime. Sofl
normaIisalion is lhe main vay of making Wikiedians comIy vilh lhe ruIes.
NeverlheIess, il is nol enough, and mechanisms of enforcemenl based on a
hierarchicaI slruclure comIele lhe syslem. They are nonelheIess
mechanisms of crisis, used quile rareIy.
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F.6*6-B1&*77: E<&251* +46 & F9896* E1*(8643.( D*24(6&(=? 143
2.2 Hie!a!chical Di"cipline. J$dge and P$ni"h
When Wikiedians haen lo faiI lo soIve lheir differences in lhe decision-
making rocess so lhal lhe ediling rocess ends u vilh raclices lhal are
nol acceled on Wikiedia (for examIe, oor argumenls, edil vars, insuIls,
and so forlh) lhe Wikiedians have a comIex and rogressive disule
resoIulion rocess (DRI) lhal focuses firsl on a communicalive/consensuaI
mode, bul vhich can uIlimaleIy go aII lhe vay lo a courl case lo enforce ils
decisions. The DRI conlains a sel of graduaI rocesses lhal lries lo avoid
going lo lhe Iasl sle of a |udgemenl rocedure. The Oispuic |csc|uiicn
an officiaI oIicy and gives a series of advice for using vhen one faces a
seemingIy irresoIvabIe disule. These sles can be roughIy cIassified in lhree
grous, from lhe Ieasl lo lhe mosl aulhorilarian and energy consuming: (1)
individuaI raclices, (2) communily raclices, and (3) officiaI |udgmenl.
2.2.1 Prctcniing ju!gcncni. inc !ispuic rcsc|uiicn prcccss
The firsl grou, lhal of 'individuaI raclices', cIassifies lhings one can do
aIone. These are simIe ieces of advice and lhings lo do vhich lry lo cIear
a disule vilhin lhe debale/consensus DMI raclice. They are more
reminders of lhe cIassicaI DMI lhan exlra oIicies: focusing on lhe conlenl
of lhe disule and nol on lhe ersonaIily of lhe olher edilor, 'slaying cooI'
and laking some lime lo refIecl, ralionaIIy laIking vilh lhe olher arly, and
in lhe Iasl resorl roosing a lruce vilh lhe olher edilor in order lo be cIear
of mind.
The second grou of raclices goes lo a IeveI higher in aulhorily and
cIassifies lhings lhal can be done vhen lhe cIassicaI DMI has faiIed, vilh
lhe heI of lhe communily. Oulsider Wikiedians can be asked for heI,
according lo lhe nalure and inlensily of lhe disule. Ior inslance, firsl, one
can ask for an 'edilor assislanl' if one is unsure of lhe ruIes concerning lhe
confIicl, second, one can ask for lhe 'lhird oinion' of a Wikiedian aboul a
disule concerning onIy lvo eoIe, and lhird, vhen lhe disule concerns
recise encycIoaedic conlenl, one can ask for a 'sub|ecl maller' discussion.
If lhe disule reIales lo a frequenl issue lhere are secific 'noliceboard' ages
on vhich one can ask for heI for inslance, lhere is a 'biograhies of Iiving
eoIe' noliceboard, a 'fringe lheory noliceboard', and a seciaI age deaIing
vilh inciviIilies.
The lhird and highesl raclice invoIving lhe communily lhe mosl
slruclured one lhal shouId be used in lhe Iasl inslance is lhe rocess of
nc!iaiicn. As in reaI-vorId |uridicaI confIicls, arlies in a disule (vhen lhey
bolh agree) can ask for a lhird arly lo lry and find an arrangemenl. There
is an informaI and a formaI medialion rocess. The informaI one is organised
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 143
F.6*6-B1&*77: E<&251* +46 & F9896* E1*(8643.( D*24(6&(=?
by an 'unofficiaI' cIub lhal caIIs ilseIf lhe nc!iaiicn ca|a|,
consliluled of
voIunleer Wikiedians. y conlrasl, lhe formaI medialion rocess is
organised by lhe 'officiaI' Mc!iaiicn Ccnniiicc.
The Medialion Commillee
is comosed of Wikiedians vho are nol onIy voIunleers bul aIso have been
chosen by lhe communily (foIIoving lhe same DMI nominalion seen in lhe
firsl seclion). There is no ruIe diclaling vhelher one shouId ask for lhe
medialion cabaI or lhe medialion commillee. Hovever, lhe more serious a
disule, lhe more oflen il goes lovard officiaI medialion. When one of lhe
arlies is unviIIing lo go lo medialion, or vhen lhe medialion has faiIed,
lhe disule can go lovard lhe Iasl and highesl body of lhe DRI, lhe
Ar|iiraiicn Ccnniiicc.
The Arbilralion Commillee onIy deaIs vilh lhe mosl serious disules
and cases of ruIe-breaking. We have seen lhal lhe Wikiedia organisalion
lries lo avoid recourse lo lhe Arbilralion Commillee (aIso caIIed 'ArbCom')
as much as ossibIe. Wikiedians are reIuclanl lo cIear confIicls by IegaI
enforcemenl (nole lhal lhe rocess is caIIed Ar|iiraiicn and nol '|udgemenl').
Cases are inlended lo be kel al a Iov number (unforlunaleIy, slalislics are
nol yel avaiIabIe). NeverlheIess, lhe ArbCom rocess Iooks in many vays
Iike lhe rocess of a reaI-vorId |udiciaI body. The funclion of Ar|iicr is
arlicuIarIy serious, conlrary lo lhe usuaI debale/consensus nominalion
rocess, Arbilers are chosen by oIIs, and lhen aoinled by }immy WaIes,
lhe founder of Wikiedia, in accordance vilh lhe voles.
As aIvays in Wikiedia, cases are ubIic, and a viki-age is dedicaled
lo each case. The rocess begins vilh a |cqucsi jcr Ar|iiraiicn. Irom here
arbilers Iook al lhe admissibiIily of lhe case (i.e. has lhe disule resoIulion
rocess been righlIy foIIoved` Have olher vays of resoIulion been lried
before lhe requesl` Is lhe case serious enough lhal il cannol be sellIed
vilhoul arbilralion`) If lhe case is received, Ar|iiraiicn begins. Arbilers creale
a viki-age and ask arlies lo lhe confIicl, aIongside ossibIe vilnesses for
lhe deosilions of comIainls and defences, and any olher commenlaries
and leslimony/evidence. Arbilers can aIso Iead an invesligalion and Iook inlo
lhe archives of Wikiedia (lhe hislory ages of arlicIes and laIk ages). This
having been done, arbilers give lhemseIves a veek lo ruIe lhe case and
ubIish lheir decisions. Decisions are resenled in a somevhal |uridicaI vay:
lhe slalemenl firsl refers lo lhe ruIes and |urisrudence vhich erlains lo lhe
case, afler vhich lime decisions are made. Decisions have rcs ju!icaia and
shaII be enforced. Ior a case lo be laken by lhe ArbCom, lhe breaking of lhe
ruIes musl be deemed serious, so are lhe decisions of lhe ArbCom.
2.2.2 Punisn
If rison vas and sliII is lhe universaI and moduIar unishmenl of lhe
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 144
modern vorId, lhe universaI unishmenl on Wikiedia is lhe Ban. A ban is
an inlerdiclion (as veII as a lechnicaI imossibiIily) of ediling on Wikiedia.
As vilh senlences lo rison, bans can be of differenl Ienglhs deending on
lhe seriousness of lhe offence. Il aIso adds a 'saliaI' modaIily: one can be
reslricled lo vriling a singIe arlicIe, or on one loic.
The Wikiedian RuIe assumes ariori good failh lovard aII users, lhis
ariori is lhal everyone vanls lo creale an encycIoaedia of good quaIily.
When lhere is evidence lhal a user has been ediling for olher reasons
(ersonaI molivalion, Iobbying, elc.), lhe senlence is usuaIIy lhe harshesl: lhe
user suffers an indefinile and generaI ban. Aarl from lhe breaking of lrusl
in good failh, Iols of decisions are laken nol lo revenl users lo vrile on
Wikiedia bul lo make lhem accel lhe ruIes. A good number of cases deaI
vilh inciviIilies and faiIure lo conform lo lhe debale-consensus DMI, in such
cases lhe ban viII usuaIIy be a fev monlhs.
This seclion inlends lo shov vhich mechanisms of disciIine exisl in
order for Wikiedians lo comIy vilh lhe ruIes. The slruclure of lhese
mechanisms is very differenl from lhe modern disciIine described by
IoucauIl. Modern disciIine vas conslrucled around lhe concenlric circIes
of lhe anolicon vilh lhe yramid of hierarchy (IoucauIl, 2006 |1975j: 205).
RoIes vere fixed, vhereas vilh lhe nelvork slruclure of Wikiedia, mosl
roIes change from one user lo lhe nexl. The disciIine of Wikiedia conlains
a ma|orily of rhizomic mechanisms, vhich means lhal anyone can lake lhe
roIe of disciIiner or disciIined foIIoving lhe circumslances, lhis is lhe case
for lhe roIes of valcher/valched, normaIiser/normaIised, confIicl-
resoIver/arly lo a confIicl, revarder/revarded. This rhizomic disciIine is
comIeled vilh a hierarchicaI form of disciIine lhal conlains fixed roIes.
This is lhe case for serious medialions of a confIicl, for IegaI rocedures, for
unilive rocedures. We assume lhal rhizomic mechanisms of disciIine
have a more imorlanl roIe. The gaze and lhe rocedures of normaIisalions
(eseciaIIy c!ucaiicn) are omniresenl, ervasive in lhe raclice of Wikiedia,
vhiIe slruclured medialions and IegaI rocedures are quile rare comared
lo lhe lhousands of debales laking Iace every day. Iurlhermore, lhe
Wikiedians lry lo use lhem as IillIe as ossibIe. The hierarchicaI over of
adminislralors is more resenl, bul mechanisms of nominalion and recaII
(Ioss of lhe slalus of adminislralor) seem lo ensure lhal an oIigarchy is nol
forming (Konieczny, 2009), and lhal lhe acls of Admins refIecl lhe viII of lhe
We shaII nov see lhe resislance encounlered in lhe reviousIy sludied
decision-making rocesses and disciIines.
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SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 145
3. Practiccs nI Rcsistancc: 5tratcgics and Cnuntcr-Mcasurcs
A over reIalionshi is lhe acl (or 'Iay', or 'slruggIe') of an agenl lovard
anolher human being aiming lo enforce uon him a raclice he couId have
avoided. The disciIine ve have described above is lhen a over
reIalionshi, as il imIies lhe agenls viII resecl lhe ruIes. According lo
IoucauIl, a reIalionshi of over goes in bolh direclions, as a erson
embodies a arl of freedom in doing lhe lhings asked of him or her, and can
eilher ansver lhe caII or resisl il. DisciIine and normaIisalion can never be
comIele, and counler overs lend lo lake rool. }usl as, according lo
IoucauIl, lhe anolicon doesn'l succeed in eIiminaling resislanl raclices,
lhe hyeranolicon cannol avoid resislanl raclices desile lhe
muIliIicalion of lhe eyes of lhe gaze and lhe consequenl normaIisalion. In
Wikiedia one has lhe over of disciIine, bul aIso lhe differenl raclices of
resislance of some users againsl lhis disciIine. Games of over and counler-
over are conslanl in lhe disciIinary raclices of Wikiedia.
Iraclices of resislance are any raclices lhal consciousIy disrul lhe
DMI and go againsl Wikiedia's oIicies. VandaIism pcr sc (ediling an arlicIe
in order lo Iover ils quaIily) is in a vay a 'naive' and benign resislance,
because il can be easiIy and raidIy reverled. We shaII focus here on Iess
visibIe bul more serious raclices of resislance, vhich are lhe ones lhal
alleml lo dislorl lhe DMI. Iirsl, ve see a lechnique of individuaI resislance,
caIIed scckpuppciing. Second, ve discuss a coIIeclive resislance lhal ve caII
+-) Sock P$ppe#"
The Wikiedia Debale/Consensus DMI is quile sensilive lo lhe number of
eoIe vho are arl of lhe debale: lhe more eoIe share a viev, lhe more
il is IikeIy lo be adoled. Irom lhis facl, a raclice of resislance has emerged
caIIed scckpuppciing. Il aims lo disrul and cheal vilh lhe DMI by
muIliIying individuaI accounls, and 'Iaying' differenl users in lhe debale.
Nexl lo 'cIassicaI' sockuelling, simiIar raclices have been idenlified:
Mcaipuppciiing consisls of recruiling famiIy and friends lo creale an accounl
for lhe urose of infIuencing a decision, and lhe invenlive Siraupuppciiing
incIudes lhe use of a sockuel lo creale a fake 'oonenl', making oor
cIaims in order lo veaken lhe argumenl one is againsl.
Wikiedia's DMI has shovn ilseIf lo be quile resislanl lo lhese
slralegies: lhe debale/consensus slyIe veighs individuaI oinls of viev nol
onIy in reIalion lo lhe quaIily of lhe argumenl bul aIso lo lhe recognilion and
ouIarily of lhe user. ConsequenlIy, lhe voice of nev users viII usuaIIy be
given Iess veighl: Wikiedians are avare of lhe raclice of sockuelling,
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SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 146
and viII become susicious if nev users enler coverlIy in a debale lo suorl
a minorily osilion.
|igurc 4. ucigni cj an arguncni !cpcn!ing cn taricus jacicrs
A second defence mechanism is a counler-slralegy lhal uses disciIine.
Sockueling is slriclIy forbidden by lhe ruIes of Wikiedia and severeIy
unished (usuaIIy vilh an indefinile ban). Thanks lo lhe hyeranolicaI
surveiIIance, vhen one susecls a sock uel, one can requesl seciaI
oIice oeralives, caIIed cncckuscrs. Checkusers are very fev and exlremeIy
lrusled Wikiedians, lhey are given a looI lhal biles lhe deeesl inlo lhe
rivacy of users, as il can IocaIise lhe comuler lhal has been used. Wilh lhis
looI, checkusers can comare IocaIisalion of edilions and unmask sock
+-* Lobbie"
IndividuaIs can, of course, seek lo degrade lhe NIOV oIicy for any
ersonaI, oIilicaI, reIigious, and olher reasons. More serious is lhe resislance
coming from big organisalions, ubIic or rivale, for lheir ersonaI urose.
We shaII caII lhem Iobbies: lhey seek lheir ovn inleresl and do nol care for
lhe gIobaI quaIily of lhe encycIoaedia. The Iobby robIem emerged vhiIe
Wikiedia vas becoming ouIar, nov lhe onIine encycIoaedia is lhe lhird
mosl visiled veb-sile, afler Iacebook and GoogIe, vhich means il is lhe
foremosl informalion vebsile on earlh. Irom 2005, dozens of comanies and
secls have been shovn lo lry lo deIele or Iover crilicisms on lheir reIaled
arlicIe age: WaI-Marl, Ixxon-MobiI, SheII, Microsofl, as veII as lhe Church
of ScienloIogy, and lhe Valican. SeveraI Slale InleIIigences have aIso lried lo
modify sensilive mallers, Iike lhe CIA and lhe AuslraIian inleIIigence.
Wikiedia couId be dislorled by overfuI Iobbies. One can imagine
lhe crealion of enlire dearlmenls vilhin big organisalions, devoled lo
147 F.6*6-B1&*77: E<&251* +46 & F9896* E1*(8643.( D*24(6&(=?
Each argument is
weighed according to:
Quality of the given
Number of users agreeing
with the argument
Popularity of these users
within the community
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 147
overvheIming lhe debale/consensus DMI and lo shaing arlicIes al lheir
viII. The ansver lo such a lhreal comes from a Wikiedian: in Augusl 2007,
VirgiI Griffilh, a rogrammer al lhe CaIifornia Inslilule of TechnoIogy,
reIeased a looI caIIed Wikiscanncr on his vebsile. Il is a ubIicIy searchabIe
dalabase lhal Iinks miIIions of anonymous Wikiedia edils lo lhe
organisalions from vhere lhe edils originaled. Therefore, Wikiscanner
makes il ossibIe lo Iook for organisalions and see lheir edils. One can
consider il an exlension of lhe hyeranolicon lhal focuses on Iobbies
vhich lry lo modify sensilive mallers. As VirgiI Griffilh says, OveraII
eseciaIIy for non-conlroversiaI loics Wikiedia aIready vorks. Ior
conlroversiaI loics, Wikiedia can be made more reIiabIe lhrough
lechniques Iike |Wikiscannerj.
The aim of Griffilh vas lo creale minor
ubIic reIalions disaslers for comanies and organizalions |hej disIike|sj
and in raclice il can cerlainIy sIov dovn disinformalion allemls from lhe
Iobbies. Media coverage has been abundanl on lhis issue since lhe looI has
been reIeased, and edilions from bolh rivale and ubIic organisalions are
nov scrulinised.
The fighl againsl Iobbies viII nol be soIved onIy by exlending lhe
ossibiIilies of surveiIIance. Il viII aIso need lhe slricl aIicalion of lhe
NIOV, lhe debale/consensus DMI, lhe cilalion oIicy. Iven if organisalions
lake much efforl lo modify lhe free encycIoaedia, lheir lasks viII be quile
difficuIl if Wikiedians find good argumenls suorled by NIOV and
cilalion oIicies, if Iobby-users are unished vhen lhey lry lo ass in force,
and so on. As Iong as lhe ro|ecl finds users viIIing lo buiId a lrulh-reIaled,
quaIily encycIoaedia, lhe governance of Wikiedia viII suorl lhem and
lheir lask.
+-+ Theo!e#ical Implica#ion". On #he No!ma#i%i#' of Di"cipline
We broughl u lhis loic of resislance because, in lhe IoucauIdian Iogic of
disciIine, resislance is normaIIy seen as lhe good side of lhe coin againsl
lhe bad dominalive disciIine. We cannol reaIIy deem Wikiedia lo be Iike
lhis. Why` The hyolhesis is lhal a disciIine is nol inlrinsicaIIy charged
vilh a secific normalivily, bul lhal ils normalivily deends bolh on
ils junciicn and ils naiurc.
IoucauIl slays normaliveIy (elhicaIIy) neulraI in his vrilings on lhe
sub|ecl, bul lhe form and slyIe of his vriling, as veII as lhe hisloricaI eriod
during vhich he vrole, cannol bul suggesl a normalive slance for lhe reader.
Reading Oiscip|inc an! Punisn, ve cannol bul feeI oulraged againsl lhe
aIienaling lechnoIogies of over, dominaling lhe eoIe. NeverlheIess,
IoucauIl never gives normalive reasons for crilicising lhem, vhiIe he uses
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vhal Nancy Iraser caIIs a normalive-sounding lerminoIogy (Iraser, 1989:
27), vhich means lhal il sounds crilicaI vhiIe lhere are no normalive grounds
lo Iegilimale lhe crilique. Moreover, concerning IoucauIl, over is nol onIy
reressive in lhal il does nol |usl say no lo vhal are defined as iIIicil desires,
needs, acls, and seech (ibid.: 26), bul aIso creales aII lhese lhings. Iover is
in!ispcnsa||c lo any raclice, so il vouId be useIess lo crilicise or lo |udge
somelhing lhal cannol be olhervise. Hovever, if over is indisensabIe lo
human reIalions, ve couId affirm lhal ils modaIilies can change and give
differenl normalive effecls lo one anolher. Ior inslance, ve can consider lhal
lhe modern disciIine described by IoucauIl serves norms lhal come from
vilhoul, eslranged from lhe viII of lhe eoIe, decided by and serving
dominalive forces such as slales, economic forces, lradilions. ul in
Wikiedia, norms come from vilhin, decided on by lhe Wikiedians, and
lhey are lhere lo serve a DMI lhal makes il ossibIe for everyone lo exress
lhemseIves on an equaI fooling and in a near-ralionaI discourse. The
junciicns of modern disciIine is dominalion and roduclivily, vhiIe lhe
junciicn of Wikiedian disciIine is lhe crealion of a free encycIoaedia and
more reciseIy lhe aIicalion of decisions vhose formalion slrongIy
aroaches lhe democralic modeI.
The Naiurc of lhe disciIine aIso concerns normalivily. Mechanisms
of modern disciIine base lhemseIves on lhe dominalion of a minorily of
valchers, leachers, above lhe ma|orily. On lhe conlrary, Wikiedia by and
Iarge uses rhizomic lyes of disciIines, over is far more equaIIy
dislribuled. The naiurc of modern disciIine is dominalion of a hierarchicaI
form, lhe nalure of Wikiedian disciIine is equaIilarian and rhizomic.
IinaIIy, il is robabIe lhal lhe rhizomic nalure of Wikiedian disciIine
foslers and suorls lhe Wikiedian ralionaI discourse. The
hyeranolicon creales an almoshere of common lrusl belveen lhe agenls
since lhey can knov everylhing aboul asl edils and lhe commenls of lheir
feIIovs. Here lhe deslruclion of rivacy dissoIves lhe ossibiIilies of
susicion. Iree from il, Wikiedians can focus on lhe lyes of seech lhal
creale ralionaI discourse. We aIso lhink lhal lhe rhizomic mechanisms of
normaIisalion bring a feeIing of equaIily vhich heIs lhe crealion of ralionaI
discourse, maximising lhe condilion of non-discriminalion lovard seeches
incIuded in lhe IdeaI Seech Silualion and lhereby lovard ralionaI discourse.
Lasl, lhe seIf-managing sles of lhe Disule ResoIulion Irocess aears lo
force lhe agenls lo use ralionaI seeches in order lo sellIe lheir disules, since
conlinuing a fighl vouId make lhe DRI move lo a higher IeveI of
invoIvemenl, evenluaIIy disossessing lhe arlies lo lhe disule of lhe
ansver lo ils resoIulion.
This hyolhesis nameIy, lhal rhizomic disciIine suorls ralionaI
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discourse viII need lo be refined, bolh emiricaIIy and lheorelicaIIy.
IoucauIdian and Habermasian lhoughls are nol easiIy combined and fulure
vork viII need lo cIarify lhis lheorelicaI osilion.
Cnnc!usinn: Is Wikipcdia a Rc!cvant Mndc! Inr E!cctrnnic Dcmncracics?
Wikiedia and eIeclronic democracy ro|ecls have in common lhe
eslabIishmenl of a mass-scaIe decision-making rocess. CouId lhe
Wikiedian melhod be aIied lo lhe various e-democracy ro|ecls
menlioned al lhe beginning of our arlicIe` A lhorough reviev of lhese
ro|ecls shaII be our nexl lask. We musl aIso raise lhe subslanlive differences
belveen lhese lvo lyes of ro|ecl, vhich couId invoIve differences belveen
lhe organisalionaI forms and discourses. To buiId a free encycIoaedia is nol
lhe same as lo govern, vhich is oIilics in lhe uresl sense of lhe lerm. As
lhe firsl fundamenlaI difference, ve nole lhe imorlance of lhe choices
invoIved and lhe olenliaI for confIicls lhal lhis enlaiIs. The search for lhe
lrulh vilhin an arlicIe is imorlanl, bul cerlainIy much Iess lhan a oIilicaI
choice lhal vouId have maleriaI and human consequences. The search for
consensus is nol acceled, consciousIy or nol, by aII agenls or even by lhe
ma|orily, and lhe slale of mind can vary grealIy belveen differenl democralic
and nalionaI cuIlures. We can lherefore assume lhal debales can sureIy lake
Iace, bul lhal consensus buiIding vouId be much harder lo achieve if nol
imossibIe. Ierhas, lhen, lhe use of a ma|orily voling syslem vouId be
required in cases vhere consensus is nol formed.
One couId aIso argue lhal lhe liming for bolh ro|ecls is differenl, for
vhiIe lhere is no urgency lo vrile an arlicIe, il is somelimes urgenl lo lake
maleriaI decisions. Hovever, ve lhink lhal an eIeclronic democracy couId
onIy lake care of lhe IegisIalive syslem, and lhal lhe execulive one, incIuding
Iav enforcemenl and lhe counlIess micro-decisions lhal il enlaiIs (in lhe form
of decrees and reguIalions in arlicuIar), couId be Iefl lo lhe slandard
execulive over. Nov, vhal is arlicuIarIy crilicised in lhe currenl
democralic syslem (and eseciaIIy in Irance) is lhe voling of Iavs lhal have
been roosed because of a recise evenl and a fIeeling emolion. Good Iavs
lake lime lo form and reach malurily, so ve see no ob|eclion in lhe facl lhal
a decision vouId lake monlhs lo be agreed uon, as is lhe case vilh
There is lhe queslion of lhe frequency of lhe decisions. Modificalions
of an arlicIe by assive consensus can be numerous on any given day, and
of course ve cannol conceive lhe same aboul Iavs. ul lhere vouId be no
robIem vere a biII lo be raidIy and frequenlIy modified. Concerning lhe
'voling' of lhe Iavs ilseIf, lhe examIe of lhe DMI concerning lhe Wikiedia
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ruIe-making vouId fil i.e. lhe debales are Iong and lhe lexl changes many
limes, bul uIlimaleIy onIy one acl comes lo fruilion vhich cannol be changed
vilhoul a nev Iav-making rocedure.
IinaIIy, ve lhink Wikiedia gives us lhe looIs for lhe differenl cases
of democralic choice: lhe arlicIe edilion DMI is aIicabIe for lhe
conslruclion of a biII, lhe DMI concerning lhe crealion of ruIes vilhin
Wikiedia for assing Iavs, and finaIIy lhe DMI concerning lhe eIeclion
of Wikiedians vilh seciaI overs, may aIy lo eIecl lhe execulive
overs. The Wikiedian exerience of resislance lo lhe disciIine rovides
a greal examIe of lhe ossibiIilies of counler-measure (eseciaIIy vilh
regard lo lhe Iobbies). We do nol deny lheir usefuIness in lhe democralic
rocess of reaI oIilics, bul lheir aclions, if lhey comIy vilh lhe ruIes, couId
become more lransarenl, even if ve can never revenl bribery from
The conslruclion of eIeclronic democracies viII cerlainIy occur in a
ragmalic vay, by lriaI and error, as has been lhe vay of Wikiedia. Ierhas
lhe designers and lhe MuIlilude aIike viII find il usefuI lo see Wikiedia's
mechanisms as examIes lo buiId uon, and lo conslrucl a reIiabIe syslem
lhal vouId become lhe besl advance in democralic syslems since lhe
conslruclion of IiberaI democracy.
5y!vain Fircr-B!acss is a IhD sludenl in lhe Dearlmenl of Informalics and
Media al UsaIa Universily. He hoIds a degree in oIilicaI science from lhe
Lyon Inslilule of IoIilicaI Sludies and a Maslers degree in oIilicaI
hiIosohy from lhe Universily of Sussex. His inleresl Iies in crilicaI lheory
and Inlernel sludies, and he is currenlIy vorking on mallers of surveiIIance
and rivacy on sociaI nelvorking siles.
A Iisl of such ro|ecls is avaiIabIe al:
Ior examIe, lhe robIem of hov lo rovide a lolaIIy secure idenlily lo
every cilizen vhiIe conforming lo lhe demands of dala roleclion.
In lhis arlicIe, I viII discuss lhe AngIohone Wikiedia, vhich conlains lhe
highesl number of arlicIes and sees lhe highesl number of visilors and
Ior more delaiIs, see
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SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 151
The oIicy of lhe Three Reverl RuIe has been inslaled in order lo avoid edil
vars: il is forbidden lo reverl and lo edil lhe same lhing more lhan lhree
limes a day. IeoIe lresassing lhis Iimil, or vho arliciale lo an edil var
by olher means, face sanclions from lhe communily.
Conslrucled from
Olher oIicies slrucluring debales are lhe verifiabiIily oIicy, inslaling lhal
each cIaim shouId be quoled vilh a verifiabIe and reIiabIe source, and lhe
rohibilion againsl originaI research (sources musl have underlaken a eer
reviev rocess). Of course lhese oIicies need inlerrelalion, and much of
lhe DMI in edilion lurns around such inlerrelalions.
Ior inslance, lhe 'cenlraIised discussion' age, vhich grous loics of
vhich Wikiedians shouId be avare. See
Irofessor al lhe Universily of erIin in 1830, and former coIIeague of HegeI.
A fuII descrilion of lhese inlerfaces is avaiIabIe in Iirer-Iaess (2008: 18).
F.6*6-B1&*77: E<&251* +46 & F9896* E1*(8643.( D*24(6&(=?
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 152
Here WaIes Iays lhe roIe of, as he Iikes lo say, lhe 'Queen of IngIand'. He
kees lhis over of nominalion in case lhe lhings vere 'going vrong', bul
he has never from nov refused lo go againsl a decision of lhe communily.
An inleresling examIe is lhe recenl 'homeoalhy' case:
Here, a Wikiedian, 'DanaUIIman', has been banned for one year because
he 'has engaged in advocacy of homeoalhy on Wikiedia', lherefore
breaking lhe assumlion of good failh. Olher arlies lo lhe confIicl have been
banned for a fev hours or veeks because of inciviIily and ersonaI allacks.
arber, . R. (1984) Sircng Ocnccracq. Pariicipaicrq Pc|iiics jcr a Ncu
Agc erkeIey: Universily of CaIifornia Iress
DeIeuze, G. & Guallari, I. (1989 |1980j) Mi||c P|aicaux Iaris: Les Idilions de
Iirer-Iaess, S. (2007a) Wikipc!ia, |c rcjus !u pcutcir Ioslgraduale lhesis,
|nsiiiui !|iu!cs Pc|iiiqucs !c Iqcn
RelrievabIe from:
Iirer-Iaess, S. (2007b) Wikipc!ia. prcscniaiicn ci nisicirc RelrievabIe from:
Iirer-Iaess, S. (2007c) Wikipc!ia, nc!c|c pcur unc sccicic nqpcrpancpiiquc
RelrievabIe from: vvv.homo-numericus.nel/si.h`arlicIe275
153 F.6*6-B1&*77: E<&251* +46 & F9896* E1*(8643.( D*24(6&(=?
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 153
Iirer-Iaess, S. (2007d) Wikipc!ia. nicrarcnic ci !cnccraiic RelrievabIe from:
Iirer-Iaess, S. (2008) Wikipc!ia. gctcrnancc, nc!c cj prc!uciicn, cinics MA
lhesis, Cenlre for SociaI and IoIilicaI Thoughl, Universily of Sussex,
RelrievabIe from:
IogIia, M. (2008) Wikipc!ia, Mc!ia !c |a ccnnaissancc !cnccraiiquc? Limoges:
IYI edilions
IoucauIl, M. (2006 |1975j) Surtci||cr ci Punir Iaris: CoIIeclion TeI, GaIIimard
IoucauIl, M. (1994) Oiis ci |criis (4 VoIumes) Iaris: nrf GaIIimard
Iraser, N. (1989) Unru|q Praciiccs. Pcucr, Oisccursc an! Gcn!cr in Ccnicnpcrarq
Sccia| Tnccrq Cambridge: IoIily Iress
Iraser, N. (2003) Irom DisciIine lo IIexibiIizalion` Rereading IoucauIl in
lhe Shadov of GIobaIizalion Ccnsic||aiicns 10(2), 160-171
Habermas, }. (1984) Tnc Tnccrq cj Ccnnunicaiitc Aciicn London: Heinemann
Hansen, S., erenle, N. & K. Lyylinen (2007) Wikiedia as RalionaI
Discourse: An IIIuslralion of lhe Imancialory IolenliaI of Informalion
Syslems Prcccc!ings cj inc 40in Hauaii |nicrnaiicna| Ccnjcrcncc cn Sqsicn
Koniesczny, I. (2009) Governance, Organisalion, and Democracy on lhe
Inlernel: The Iron Lav and lhe IvoIulion of Wikiedia Sccic|cgica| |crun
24(10), 162-192
Sanger, L. (2005) The IarIy hislory of Wikiedia and Nuedia: A Memoir
RelrievabIe from:`sid05/04/18/164213`sid05/04/19/1746205&lid95
F.6*6-B1&*77: E<&251* +46 & F9896* E1*(8643.( D*24(6&(=?
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 154
Poli#ic" and #he Imagina#ion
by Raymond Geuss
Nev }ersey: Irincelon Universily Iress, 2009, bk 16.95 (ISN: 978-1-4008-
3213-2), 216.
by Chris AIIsobrook
Ior Nielzsche, every cuIlure is a conslrucl of lhe imaginalion, lhe
foundalions of vhich viII nol bear inseclion. As an agenl of
enIighlenmenl, lhe geneaIogisl's crilicaI lask is lo cul lhrough Iayers of
significance benealh seIf-evidenl cusloms and civiIized consensus, lo reveaI
lhe underIying lensions of asl slruggIes. GeneaIogy lraces a hislory of
cerlain human reaclions lhal have vorked free of embedded conlexls and
alleml lo deny lheir origin, in order lo become normaliveIy absoIule. The
geneaIogisl is aIso seIf-crilicaIIy avare lhal InIighlenmenl is nol al odds vilh
|nisic||ung, lhal such acls of recovery casl lheir shadov on lhe resenl. Thus,
a queslion is raised vhich sels lhe lheme for Raymond Geuss' Ialesl voIume
of coIIecled essays, Pc|iiics an! inc |naginaiicn, nameIy, if ve cannol free
ourseIves of our 'necessary iIIusions', hov can ve make imaginalive use of
lhe dislance from reaIily lhis enlaiIs, lo radicaIIy crilicize lhe vay lhings are,
vilhoul Iosing a reaIislic gri on lhe conlexl in vhich ve are engaged`
In lhis sequeI, of sorls, lo Pni|cscpnq an! |ca| Pc|iiics, Geuss dislances
himseIf from lhe crude |ca|pc|iiik lhal has been associaled vilh his revious
oIemicaI lrealmenl of lhe normalive grounds of IiberaI oIilicaI hiIosohy.
ReaIism in oIilics, he vriles in lhe reface, does nol mean lrying lo
engage in lhe ullerIy incoherenl lask of lhinking aboul raclicaI oIilics
vhiIe abslaining comIeleIy from making vaIue |udgmenls (Geuss, 2009:
30) of vhich Geuss, Iike Nielzsche, makes many. ReaIism means lhal one
slarls, as Max Weber laughl us, from aclion and ils consequences (ibid.).
An exerienced diIomal, for examIe, does nol lake lhe conlenl of vhal
is said in isoIalion. Ralher, he sees secific aclions in a arlicuIar conlexl
(ibid.: 9).
Like Nielzsche, Geuss re|ecls lhe idea of a universaIIy accessibIe,
lranscendenlaI erseclive, as a framevork vilh vhich lo evaIuale aII
emiricaI inslilulions and arrangemenls. The aradigm of oIilicaI
hiIosohy as ralionaI deIiberalion grounding a oIilicaI order, or a
deduclive inference from cerlain remises Ieading lo a oIilicaI |udgmenl
gives a 'dislorled' viev of oIilics. In reaI oIilics, slandards of evaIualion
are changing and u for renegolialion. Ivery erseclive has a concrele
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hisloricaI genesis and Iocalion (ibid.: 84). WhiIe he is al ains lo
acknovIedge lhe imorlanl imaginalive oIilicaI roIe Iayed by conceluaI
conslrucls, cuIlure and vaIues, lhe oinl made here is nol |usl lhal elhicaI
norms are hisloricaIIy conlingenl bul lhal Ilhics is usuaIIy dead oIilics
(ibid.: 42). Tncrc arc nc prc-pc|iiica| cinica| ta|ucs.
Geuss dismisses a dominanl 'elhics-firsl' concelion of oIilicaI
hiIosohy, redicaled uon ideaI, syslemalic, ruIes-based, normalive
deIiberalion, driven by a non-coercive comelilion among anonymousIy
heId discursive roosilions, lo be decided uon rior lo lhe ersuasions of
over and maleriaI inleresls, and lhen aIied lo lhe oIilicaI domain, lo
safeguard indeendenl, ob|eclive slandards of evaIualion. The nolion of a
cIosed human Iife guided by fixed, ideaI, moraI ruIes is a fanlasy. Of course,
no one vouId vanl lo revenl human agenls from lrying lo bring lheir ovn
moraI beIiefs inlo some kind of order, and making of lhem a 'syslem' (ibid.:
59). ul il is imorlanl nol lo confuse lhis ralher narcissislic aclivily vilh
anylhing lhal mighl be caIIed lrying lo engage ccgniiitc|q (in lhe videsl
ossibIe meaning of lhal lerm) vilh lhe reaI vorId (ibid.).
Queslioning lhe exlenl lo vhich ruIe-governed concelions of oIilics
are vaIuabIe pricr lo any sludy of a conlexl of aclion, an essay on modernily
in lhe coIIeclion dravs an amusing saliricaI anaIogy belveen Don Quixole
and lhe figure of lhe bourgeois enIighlenmenl hiIosoher: lhe aulonomous
modern sub|ecl (or, 'seIf made Don') freed from lradilionaI bonds,
resonsibIe for seIf-IegisIalion and lhe ralionaI organizalion of his ovn Iife
according lo cIear, generaIizabIe ruIes lhal he himseIf has eslabIished. Don
Quixole uls logelher and felishizes a codex of generaI ruIes governing
chivaIrous conducl, lo sIavishIy foIIov in lhe secure beIief lhal as Iong as he
foIIovs lhese ruIes, he need have no concern aboul lhe consequences (ibid.:
64). He is never affIicled vilh inner doubls or moraI uncerlainly, even
lhough he can never be cogniliveIy cerlain vhelher he has foIIoved lhe Iav
or his drives, and he has no idea of vhal imacl his conscious decision viII
have on lhe vorId. Quixole shovs lhal lhe associalion of imaginalion and
Iiberly lhrealens madness in lhe absence of consideralion of exlernaI faclors.
Such crilicism viII no doubl roml hiIosohers lo ose lhe
queslion: hov can ve |uslify, evaIuale or crilicize over, if lhe crileria by
vhich ve do so are effecls of over` Geuss does nol dismiss lhe roIe of
hiIosohicaI conceluaI anaIysis, al vhich he exceIs, and lhough he re|ecls
lhe idea of an absoIule moraIily he does nol re|ecl aII arlicuIar forms of
moraIily. 'ReaI oIilics' does nol mean over and maleriaI inleresl are aII
lhal maller. 'Crude reaIism' is incoherenl lo lhe exlenl lhal il is imossibIe
lo secify 'maleriaI inleresls' indeendenlIy of vhal grous acluaIIy ursue.
ReaI oIilics is nol lhe sorl of hardheaded reaIism lhal aIlogelher eschevs
imaginalive conslrucls (ibid. x). Iven lhe deeesl kind of oIilicaI
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conformism and any defense of lhe slalus quo requires an acl of imagining
of some kind (ibid.).
So vhal do ve gel in Iace of oIilics-as-aIied-elhics` Much
eIaboralion on lhe diclum, 'aclions seak Iouder lhan vords'. IoIilics
invoIves an inleraclion belveen individuaIs and grous, vilh differenl
over lo conlroI, counler or reeml lhe aclions of olhers and assess a
variely of courses of aclion, aeaIing lo shared rinciIes and assumlions,
asserling lhemseIves and ca|oIing each olher lo furlher arlicuIar oIicies
and orienlalions lovards lhe vorId (ibid.: 6). IlhicaI |udgmenls and moraI
oughls shouId nol aIvays lrum olher raclicaI consideralions. Conlexls of
aclion are more imorlanl lhan oinions and beIiefs. ReaIism can be more
lhan an abslracl negalion of reulabIe, ru|c-ccnicrc! Kanlian oIilicaI
hiIosohy. Ior examIe, Thucydides lakes an agcni-ccnicrc! aroach lo
oIilicaI hiIosohy, focusing on lhe over of individuaIs or grous ralher
lhan ruIes. Inslead of asking, foIIoving Lenin, vhal oughl lo be done, ve
may ask, unc |doesj unai lo uncn for uncsc |cncjii` (ibid.: 53).
To readers of Geuss' revious vork lhis may sound famiIiar, aIlhough
lhe loics lhemseIves are oflen fascinaling in lheir ovn righl, ranging from
refIeclions on radicaI crilicism, bourgeois hiIosohy and hiIoIogy, lo
discussion of such diverse figures as IauI CeIan, Richard Rorly and Tony
Iair, and anaIysis of evenls such as lhe Tvin Tovers bombing and lhe
invasion of Iraq. Hovever, lhe key originaI molif in lhese essays, vhich heIs
lo dislinguish 'reaI oIilics' from 'crude reaIism', invoIves an emhasis on
various vays in vhich imaginary conslrucls can creale reaIilies lhal go far
beyond mereIy sub|eclive sheres of aclion (ibid.:68). There are
overovering imaginary conslrucls of such seduclive over and allraclion
lhal lhey can revaiI for cenluries againsl aII resislance (ibid.: 67). The 'slale'
and lhe ideaI of lhe 'sociaI conlracl', for inslance, have become so reaI lhal il
is hard lo imagine lhe arlifice of lhese conceluaI conslrucls.
The aclivaled imaginalion is nol a mere hisloricaI cpipncncncncn, bul
ralher shaes oIilicaI reaIily. Il conslrains lhe scoe of currenl ossibiIilies
and changes lhe silualion in a vay lhal does nol simIy inslanliale re-
exisling ruIes. Imaginalive acls, such as oelry, can inlroduce a ra!ica| change
of allilude, orienlalion, ossibiIilies and idenlily vilh geslures lhal change
lhe air one brealhes. CuIlure is an arlificiaI, imagined horizon, bul lhe
reslriclions il imoses are condilions vhich make il ossibIe for arlicianls
lo Iead a meaningfuI Iife. Heidegger, vho makes a cameo aearance in lvo
essays in lhe coIIeclion (on his slullering brolher, Irilz, an ironicaIIy eIoquenl
CarnivaI IooI, and on IauI CeIan), brings lo reaI oIilics lhe idea of lhe
'ro|ecl': lhal Who I reaIIy am, is given lo some exlenl by my ossibiIilies
(ibid.: 123). We need such a horizon lo orienlale ourseIves, olhervise our
energies become loo diffuse. The aradox surrounding lhe imaginalive
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medialion of fanlasy and reaIily, vhich recurs in Nielzsche and unifies lhese
essays, is lhal human beings are sub|ecl lo cerlain iIIusions, vhich lhey can
lo some exlenl see lhrough as iIIusions, bul vhich are nonelheIess ullerIy
necessary for lhem lo conlinue lo Iive (ibid.: 95).
Hov, lhen, is il ossibIe lo gain imaginalive crilicaI dislance vilhoul
gelling caughl u in lhe veb of overfuI fanlasies vhich our sociely sins
around us` (ibid.: x). Marx's insighl lhal cusloms aroriale lo a arlicuIar
hisloricaI conlexl may drag back deveIomenl as silualions change, heIs lo
exIain a dislinclion belveen lvo examIes raised in lhe reface: (1)
oIilicians, such as Margarel Thalcher, bring inlo exislence nev brule
reaIilies vilh lhe exercise of lhe imaginalion (ibid.: ix), bul (2) lhe ush
regime suffered from lhe hubrislic beIief lhal lhe Uniled Slales vas so
IimilIessIy overfuI il couId successfuIIy con|ure a comIeleIy nev reaIily
inlo exislence in Iraq, uiincui rcgar! lo anlecedenl condilions (ibid.). The
diaIeclicaI oinl here againsl hyoslalizalion is raised again in reIalion lo
CeIan's oelry and Nielzsche's hiIoIogy, lhe lask of vhich is lo bring
logelher asl and resenl vilh lhe inlenlion of using each lo crilicize lhe
olher (ibid.: 84). The imaginalion may generale deslruclive iIIusions, bul
vilh carefuI allenlion lo ccnicxis cj aciicn, il can aIso heI us, conslrucliveIy,
lo define and fundamenlaIIy aIler reaIily.
Al limes lhe lheme of 'oIilics and lhe imaginalion' roves a lhin
lhread in ils alleml lo drav logelher vork reviousIy resenled in diverse
conlexls and addressing a broad range of inleresls. Hovever, an overriding
concern vilh lhe queslion of lhe !isiancc required for rca|isiic crilicism may
rovide melhodoIogicaI |uslificalion for lhe Ioose conneclions belveen lhese
essays, and erhas even for lhe essay slyIe ilseIf, vhich Geuss associales
vilh an aIlernalive concelion of modernily in Monlaigne, RabeIais,
MarIove and Grolius a vorId of skelicaI loIerance, affirmalion of Iife, and
a concel of Iiberly nol Iinked lo lhe seIf-reguIaled inlernaIized oIiceman.
A Iilerary move avay from hiIosohicaI lrealises, he suggesls, couId heI
lo free us from lhe iIIusion of an absoIule aulonomous sub|ecl and lhe
fanlasy of an overarching consensus lhal dislorls lhe oIilicaI hiIosohy
of lhe InIighlenmenl (ibid.: 78).
Il is unIikeIy, vriles Geuss, lhal ve can make sense of everylhing, or
even make sense of vhy ve cannol do so. His reIuclance lo deveIo a
syslemalic lrealise is no doubl molivaled by a concern, lyicaI in crilicaI
lheory, lo avoid didaclic, moraIislic exosilion, vhich Iends ilseIf lo lhe
reinforcemenl of hierarchicaIIy calegorized re|udices effecled by sociaI
reIalions of dominalion. IoIIoving CeIan, lhese essays may be said lo lake
lhe form of a 'meridian' (Iike en|amin's 'consleIIalion') by bringing logelher
aarenlIy differenl Iaces and evenls vilhoul subsuming lhem under a
singIe concel or melahor (vhich derives singuIarilies of lheir
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uniqueness), lo creale nev ossibiIilies and give nev orienlalion, in a Iighl
vhich shines from lhe uloia of human memories and asl dissalisfaclions
(ibid.: 132).
Yel somelhing is sliII missing in lhis eIegiac re-imaginalion of 'reaI
oIilics'. We are encouraged lo check imaginalive conslrucls againsl reaI
conlexls of aclion, bul reaIily is arlIy imagined. One aIso vonders vhere
lhe aclion is, amid lhe abslracl mela-anaIysis of lhe Iimilalions of oIilicaI
hiIosohy divorced from reaI conlexls of aclion. Geuss is a doclor of
hiIosohy, nol a mechanic. Whal ve have is a deserale silualion of
increased vorId ouIalion, irreversibIe environmenlaI damage, economic
and oIilicaI divisions, miIilary confIicls over increasingIy scarce resources
(ibid.: 184), dominaled by reaI confIicls vhich no amounl of sohislicaled
inleIIecluaI maneuvering viII resoIve (ibid.: 181). These issues viII imose
radicaI resonses vhich viII require much disciIine. Il is imossibIe lo
conlinue vilh lhe nolion of lhe unbridIed roduclivily of lhe 'free markel'
and ve viII be dragged lo confronl lhis (ibid.: xiii) if ve do nol come u
vilh some imaginalive resonses.
Any organized alleml al imrovemenl of our silualion viII
incIude some al Ieasl minimaI exercise of lhe imaginalion, in
lhal il viII require agenls lo lhink of vays in vhich lheir
environmenl or modes of acling couId be differenl from vhal
lhey nov are (ibid.: ix)
The end of lhe book is a bil of Iel-dovn vhich foIIovs a lyicaI baby-
boomer formuIalion of ends (an alleml lo lake vilh lhem lo lhe grave lheir
enlire inheriled lradilions: lhe end of hislory, modernism, osl-modernism,
hiIosohy, ideoIogy, hislory, |ob securily, affordabIe housing, lhe veIfare
slale, and so on). Afler 192 ages of crilicism, lhe book kiIIs ilseIf in HegeIian
fashion, siIIing oul inlo lhe vorId and over lhe fulure. We Iearn lhal
'crilicism', and eseciaIIy 'radicaI crilicism', emerged from a bourgeois age
and is unIikeIy lo oulIive il (ibid.: 185). The comforlabIe Weslern Iuroean
vorId, vhich inlroduced crilicism lo sociely, is aboul lo coIIase, laking vilh
il a Iuxury good lhal has shoved ilseIf lo be in raclice aImosl comIeleIy
ineffeclive (ibid.). In resonse, il is vorlh oinling lo a crueI iIIusion for lhe
molh vho hoIds lhe sound rinciIe (before eIeclricily), lo vil, 'lhe darker
il is, lhe Iess visibIe I am'. The cIoser lo lhe Iighl il fIies, lhe darker lhe vorId
aears. Ierhas a gIoomier enIighlenmenl couId heI us kee beller lrack
of lhe vorId as il is, or erhas lhis iIIusion is simIy loo comforling lo Iose
or surrender.
159 *:.*;7
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Chris A!!snbrnnk (ca!!snbrnnkmu| is a Iosl DocloraI Research IeIIov
in lhe Dearlmenl of IoIilics al lhe Universily of }ohannesburg. His rimary
research focus is on normalive robIems of |uslificalion (bolh
eislemoIogicaI and elhicaI) in sociaI and oIilicaI lheory. Olher areas of
inleresl incIude 19lh and 20lh cenlury German hiIosohy, as veII as
crilicism of IiberaI oIilicaI discourse on agency, sovereignly, righls and
160 *:.*;7
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Habe!ma" and Ra&l". Di"p$#ing #he Poli#ical
Idiled by }ames Gordon IinIayson and Iabian Ireyenhagen
Oxford: RoulIedge, 2010, hbk 80.00 (ISN 978-0-4158-7686-5), 315.
by Huv Rees
Is lhere anylhing Iefl lo say aboul lhe RavIs-Habermas encounler` }ames
Gordon IinIayson and Iabian Ireyenhagen evidenlIy lhink so, as do lhe
eminenl hiIosohers vho have conlribuled lo lhis book. Ils urose is nol,
as lhe edilors make cIear, lo re-run lhe encounler or assess vhal RavIs and
Habermas said aboul each olher, bul ralher lo examine hov lheir reseclive
lheories deaI vilh lhe imorlanl queslions of oIilicaI hiIosohy, incIuding
vider queslions vhich did nol fealure direclIy in lhe disule (IinIayson &
Ireyenhagen, 2010: 2). Il is divided inlo lhree seclions. The firsl reroduces
lhe encounler ilseIf Habermas' ReconciIialion lhrough lhe IubIic Use of
Reason, RavIs' IoIilicaI LiberaIism: ReIy lo Habermas, and finaIIy
Habermas' 'ReasonabIe' versus 'True', or lhe MoraIily of WorIdvievs. The
second seclion, vhich lakes u lhe ma|orily of lhe voIume, is made u of
essays aboul lhe encounler. The lhird and shorlesl seclion consisls of
Habermas' reIy lo lhese essays.
IinIayson and Ireyenhagen rovide a Iucid inlroduclion, incIuding a
arlicuIarIy usefuI summary of lhe rehislory of lhe RavIs-Habermas
encounler. The edilors efficienlIy skelch oul RavIs' and Habermas' osilions.
They assume lhal RavIs viII be beller knovn lo readers, and lhal Habermas'
lheories are lhe ones in need of grealer exIicalion. This is cIearIy a videIy-
heId assumlion severaI of lhe conlribulors lo seclion lvo share il bul
readers vho are nol so famiIiar vilh RavIs (and such eoIe do exisl) may
need lo Iook eIsevhere for an inlroduclion lo his ideas. The edilors' bIov-
by-bIov accounl of lhe disule ilseIf is delaiIed and effeclive.
Turning lo seclion one, a queslion immedialeIy confronls lhe reader:
does lhis book need lo exisl` Il is usefuI lo have lhe lexls by RavIs and
Habermas lo hand. ul lhese arlicIes have been freeIy avaiIabIe for years.
The firsl lvo aeared in Tnc jcurna| cj Pni|cscpnq (1995: 109-131, 132-180)
and Habermas' reIy look u a chaler of Tnc |nc|usicn cj inc Oincr (1999: 75-
103). Anyone vilh access lo a universily Iibrary is aIready abIe lo read lhem,
and given lhal lhe book cosls 80, il is IikeIy lhal universily Iibraries viII be
ils main urchasers. The vaIue of lhe book musl Iie, lhen, in lhe eighl essays
vhich make u seclion lvo, and Habermas' commenls on lhem.
The essays vary in quaIily. Three of lhem are exlremeIy good, and
}oseh Healh's }uslice: TranscendenlaI nol MelahysicaI is lhe besl. Healh
defends Habermas againsl one of RavIs' fundamenlaI crilicisms, nameIy,
his decision lo regard lhe Discourse Theory of Iav and democracy as a
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 161
comrehensive doclrine, and lhus nol on lhe same IeveI as RavIs'
freeslanding IoIilicaI LiberaIism. This vas one of lhe imedimenls lo lhe
originaI encounler, as severaI conlribulors nole. Wilh his usuaI rigour and
skiII, Healh unicks and inverls lhis crilicism, arguing lhal RavIs' lheory is
far more comrehensive lhan he Iiked lo admil. Healh has a gifl for cIarifying
lhe murkiesl conlroversies, and readers viII veIcome his conlribulion.
Chrisloher McMahon offers a brisk, Iaconic examinalion of
Habermas, RavIs and MoraI ImarliaIily. olh lheorisls are found
vanling, aIlhough his focus is on lhe former. McMahon uses his dislinclion
belveen iecemeaI and inlegraI consensus (2010: 203) lo force oen
some of lhe fIavs in Habermas' aroach, and lakes aim al lhe ossibIe
circuIarily of purc|q roceduraI |uslificalion a robIem vhich affIicls RavIs
as veII. His crilicisms may nol be devaslaling Habermas resonds lo lhem
robuslIy in seclion lhree bul lhey are veII-made and enIighlening.
Calherine Audard slages lhe debale lhal never vas (2010: 225)
concerning RavIs and Habermas on lhe IIace of ReIigion in lhe IoIilicaI
Domain. WhiIe lhe conlenls of lhe firsl haIf of her essay viII be no surrise
lo anyone vho is famiIiar vilh lhis issue, il is an exceIIenl rimer for lhose
vho are nol. Audard demonslrales lhe iniliaI convergence belveen RavIs
and Habermas on lhis issue, as veII as shoving lhal lhe Ialler has, in recenl
years, gone much furlher lhan lhe former in his allemls lo accommodale
reIigion in modernily. The second haIf of Audard's essay conlains lhe mosl
slringenl crilicisms of Habermas lo be found in lhis book. She dismanlIes
his grounding of oslsecuIarism on lhe cognilive burden vhich secuIarism
(suosedIy) Iaces on reIigious cilizens. UIlimaleIy, Audard concIudes lhal
RavIs' veak secuIarism, vhich asks onIy for a convergence of minds
belveen cilizens, may be more IiberaI and loIeranl lhan Habermas'
oslsecuIarism, vhich aims for bolh hearls and minds.
The essays by Anlhony Simon Laden, }ames GIedhiII, and }effrey
IIynn are veII-execuled and successfuI exercises in hiIosohicaI
commenlary. GIedhiII shares Healh's inluilion lhal RavIs' lheory is more
subslanlive lhan melahysicaIIy neulraI. IIynn argues lhal Habermas'
diaIogicaI aroach lo gIobaI human righls, informed by a Honnelhian
sensilivily lo slruggIes for recognilion, is more aroriale for lhe
conlemorary vorId lhan RavIs' auslere formuIalion. Laden Iooks deeIy
inlo exaclIy vhere RavIs and Habermas differ on lhe maller of |uslificalion.
The lvo remaining essays are nol so successfuI. }ames ohman's
rose is imenelrabIe, and his argumenls are uncIear. Rainer Iorsl lakes
lvice as Iong as mosl of lhe olher conlribulors lo say haIf as much. Moreover,
his essay is a lruncaled version of a chaler of his forlhcoming Tnc |igni ic
jusiijicaiicn. Inleresled readers shouId vail unliI December 2011, or seek oul
lhe German version.
162 *:.*;7
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Habermas reIies lo his crilics in lhe lhird seclion. Ior aII his
roIificacy, any nev lexl of his shouId be veIcomed, and lhis seclion is one
of lhe book's slrenglhs. The regrellabIe lhing, as Habermas himseIf
acknovIedges, is lhe irremediabIe asymmelry of lhe facl lhal he is here lo
reIy and conlinue lhe debale, vhiIe }ohn RavIs is nol (2010: 283). Habermas
devoles a shorl subseclion lo each of lhe conlribulors. Lack of sace
inevilabIy means lhal his commenls are generaI ralher lhan delaiIed. He
somelimes resonds lo secific crilicisms vilh ralher vague reslalemenls of
lhe crilicised argumenls. Desile lhis, many of Habermas' commenls are
iIIuminaling, and lhe mosl rofilabIe vay of using lhis book may be lo read
an essay from seclion lvo, foIIoved by Habermas' commenls on il.
This is very much a book for seciaIisls. Il gives lhe imression al
limes of being vrillen by fans of RavIs and Habermas, for fans of RavIs and
Habermas, bul lhe besl of lhe essays in seclion lvo offer genuine crilicisms
of lhe liluIar lheorisls. The book viII make a fine conlribulion lo any
hiIosohicaI Iibrary, chronicIing as il does lhe onIy suslained encounler
belveen lhe grealesl oIilicaI hiIosohers of lhe Iale lvenlielh cenlury.
Huw Rccs ( is a DIhiI sludenl al lhe Cenlre for SociaI
and IoIilicaI Thoughl al lhe Universily of Sussex. His research focuses on
oslsecuIarism in Habermas' recenl vork.
IinIayson, }. G. & Ireyenhagen, I. (2010) Ha|crnas an! |au|s. Oispuiing inc
Pc|iiica| Oxford: RoulIedge
Iorsl, R. (2011) Tnc |igni ic jusiijicaiicn Nev York: CoIumbia Universily Iress
Habermas, }. (1995) ReconciIialion lhrough lhe IubIic Use of Reason:
Remarks on }ohn RavIs's IoIilicaI LiberaIism Tnc jcurna| cj Pni|cscpnq 92(3),
Habermas, }. (1999) Tnc |nc|usicn cj inc Oincr Cambridge: IoIily
RavIs, }. (1995) IoIilicaI LiberaIism: ReIy lo Habermas Tnc jcurna| cj
Pni|cscpnq 92(3), 132-180
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Fo! a Ne& C!i#i$e of Poli#ical Econom'
by ernard SliegIer
Cambridge: IoIily, 2010, bk 12.99 (ISN: 978-0-7456-4804-0), 154.
by Danny Hayvard
Whal lo make of lhe figure of lhe roIelarial loday, vhen lhe ersislence of
ccnp|cx cIass divisions is so manifeslIy inconlroverlibIe, and vhen, in lhe
Weslern slales al Ieasl, cailaIism seems lo have acified even lhose vhom
il immiserales` This is an oId and drabIy famiIiar queslion, osed by lhinkers
as unaIike as Theodor Adorno and Anlhony Giddens, in various lones of
ain and bealific conlenlmenl. Ior lhe Irench hiIosoher ernard SliegIer
(vho ciles Adorno bul vho is cIoser in siril lo Giddens), lhe conlinued
over of lhe calegory 'roIelarian' is ensured in (vhal I viII conlend is) lhe
grand sohislicaI lradilion: by a change in definilion. The 'roIelarian' is no
Ionger simIy (vhal il vas for Marx) lhe individuaI exrorialed of lhe
means of roduclion, bul becomes, in vhal SliegIer underslands lo be an
inlensificalion of Marx's lhesis, lhe individuaI exrorialed of 'satcir-titrc'
of lhe knovIedge of Iife.
SliegIer's |cr a Ncu Criiiquc cj Pc|iiica| |ccncnq is lhe eIaboralion of a
Ieclure given in 2009, and lhe condensalion of Iessons Iearnl in a series of
books on lechnics and sociely, mosl of vhich vere ubIished in lhe 1990s.
According lo lhe cenlraI lhesis of lhis Ialesl lexl and lhis is ils exIanalion
in divine inccria of lhe economic crisis lhal 'began' in 2008 lhe knovIedge
of Iife is aboIished in lhe rocess of lechnoIogicaI advance: lhe memory gives
vay lo lhe hard drive, lhe inslinclive sense of meIody lo digilaI audio
slorage, craflsmanshi lo lhe aulomalicaIIy conlroIIed, rerogrammabIe,
muIliurose maniuIalor. SliegIer somelimes (and foIIoving Derrida) caIIs
lhis rocess grannaiizaiicn, somelimes he caIIs il lhe roduclion of 'negalive
exlernaIilies'. Whalever lhe designalion, al lhe far reach of lhe rocess (lhal
is, ve are loId, somelime in lhe earIy 1970s) grammalizalion had so
comIeleIy denuded eoIe of lheir variabIe satcir-titrc lhal even lhe eIiles
vere roIelarianised (2010: 47). A age Ialer ve are loId lhal lhe nervous
syslem has been roIelarianised. Sixleen ages furlher in and lhe pciii
|curgccisic loo have been sub|ecled lo an aeslhelic and noelic
roIelarianizalion (2010: 64). IroIelarianisalion has exaIled ilseIf lo a
universaI condilion. Il is lhe very sice of Iife lhal embillers aII ils fIavour.
Hov did ve oor humans gci ncrc` SliegIer has an ansver, or, ralher,
he has a narralive of unusuaI slrelch and imressive grandiIoquence, arcing
reoslerousIy from lhe advenl of NeoIilhic sedenlarizalion (2010: 9) lo
lhe arresl in December 2008 of lhe Informalion Age onzi-sorcerer ernie
Madoff. I do nol have lime lo recailuIale lhe fuII arc of lhis narralive (and
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 164
in 130 ages, neilher does SliegIer): inslead I viII recailuIale his accounl
from 1900 onvards.
Il begins badIy. Around lhe lurn of lhe cenlury cailaIism undervenl
a crisis of rofilabiIily. In a kind of rerieve for lhe ruIing cIass, lhe crisis vas
ul off by lhe invenlion of a nev induslriaI modeI (2010: 23), avaiIabIe in
any coIour so Iong as il's bIack. Readers viII recognise lhis as lhe Iordism
lhesis. SliegIer's originaI conlribulion is nol lhe eriodisalion bul ils
hermeneulics. Hov did Iordism reslore rofilabiIily` According lo A Ncu
Criiiquc, il did so by invenling consumerism. Ior SliegIer, rofilabiIily
resumed nol in consequence of lhe invenlion of a nev and ferliIe roduclive
Iine (aulomobiIes), bul in consequence of lhe 'roIelarianizalion of lhe
consumer'. Whalever cailaI vas erelraling in lhe nineleenlh cenlury in
faclories and fieIds, in lhe lvenlielh cenlury lhe syslem reneved ilseIf by
lhe exIoilalion and funclionaIizalion of a ncu cncrgq . . . lhe consumer's
|i|i!ina| cncrgq. This energy, 'harnessed' by markeling lo lhe grim varhorse
of Sears calaIogues and, IallerIy, of Amazon brovser vindovs, meanl lhal
lhe lendenliaI faII of lhe rale of rofil mel, if nol quile ils naicn, lhen al Ieasl
ils counlerlendency.
ul aII good lhings come lo an end, and nol Ieasl in vhal SliegIer caIIs
lhe pnarnakcn emerging from lhe rocess of grammalizalion in vhich, in
lhe eoch of relicuIaled cailaIism, cognilive lechnoIogies and digilaIized
cuIluraI lechnoIogies are formed, and so in lhe second chaler SliegIer
allemls lo sel his accounl lo vork in exIanalion of lhe cailaIisl crisis of
2008 onvards (2010: 48). As lhe reader may by nov have guessed, lhis
accounl is nol akin lo lhose Marxisl anaIyses vhose lerminoIogy il endorses.
In SliegIer's oinion, lhe crisis vas nol in lhe financiaI syslem aIone (an
assumlion he shares vilh mosl Marxisls), bul vas aIso in lhe IibidinaI
economy (an assumlion vhich he doesn'l), vhich lhrough ils sub|eclion lo
'markeling' has been bIudgeoned and lanlaIised inlo a deIirious 'shorl
lermism', a kind of 'syslemic sluidily' or 'careIessness' lhal is sufficienlIy
universaI lo exIain bolh lhe vide-eyed, seechIess enlhusiasm of a viever
of X |acicr and lhe shul eyes of AIan Greensan moulhing off in 2007 from
his highchair on lhe oard of lhe IederaI Reserve (2010: 47).
The crisis of cailaI in 2010 is lhe Nacnirag|icnkcii, lhe Iasl Ireudian
aflereffecl, of lhe bolched resoIulion of 1908. In SliegIer's viev, il is aIso lhe
pnarnakcn, lhe oison lhal conlains ils ovn remedy. SliegIer descries here
lhe cure for cailaI in crisis: a nev 'lheraeulics' of inveslmenl (2010: 19),
vhere lhe lechnoIogies of grammalizalion mighl aIIov a circumvenlion of
lhe consumer economy. On lhe Iasl age of lhe book ve are loId in lhe Iofly
lones of lhe office memorandum lhal lhis circumvenlion viII aIIov a
pcicniia||q beneficiaI inler-syslemic macro-lendency formed al lhe inlerface
of lhe lechnicaI syslem and sociaI syslems, and oeraling a fundamenlaI
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inlegralion belveen lhem, bul aIso lhal |djeveIoing such forms of
knovIedge and vaIuing lhem economicaIIy viII cause a nev economic
syslem lo emerge from lhe hearl of lhe sociaI syslems (2010: 129). This
mighl slrike lhe reader as circuIar: ve musl circumvenl lhe economy so lhal
ve may beller inlegrale lhe lechnicaI and sociaI syslems, lhen ve can reslore
lhem lo lhe economy and resume our vieIding of lhe rice-lag gun. This is
nol unlyicaI: in SliegIer's quasi-narxisani rogrammalic digesl, lhe
en|aminian |in|annsirac is suIanled by lhe one vay mirror. Ieering al
ils vared surface, lhe reader sees refIecled back lhe calegories of Oas
Kapiia|, behind lhem, hovever, she can make oul lhe fainl and faded oulIines
of anolher oIilicaI rogramme, a lallered manuaI of sociaI change for |aded
cybernelicians. A lri lhrough any age of lhe endnoles confirms lhis, and
Marxisls viII bauIk al lhe rocruslean bed onlo vhich SliegIer forces
economic anaIysis. The lendenliaI faII in lhe rale of rofil is underslood as a
consequence of markeling, chronic shorl-lermism and lhe deslruclion of aII
molives (2010: 61). Hov do ve undersland cailaIisl decIine in lhe 1970s`
Was il due lo cIass slruggIe` InduslriaI overcaacily delermined by markel
imeralives lo comelilion` No: lhe ansver is lhe Ianguid conlemIalion of
Il vas oflen remarked in lhe lurbid vake of lhe financiaI seclor crash
and lhe sovereign assumlion of rivale debl lhal lhe calegory 'cailaIism'
had lhrusl ils vay back inlo ouIar consciousness. SliegIer's Ncu Criiiquc
Iicenses a fev anliqualed cybernelic remedies lo cailaIisl decIine (SliegIer
is a Heideggerian rohel come lo seak of hackers and sociaI media), bul
ils reaI and revanchisl funclion is lo lear avay from lhe lvo calegories of
Marxism and cailaIism everylhing lhal mighl make lhose calegories
ersislenlIy unpa|aia||c lo a bourgeois and osl-Marxisl readershi. SliegIer's
book doesn'l |usl relaiI a nevIy evacualed definilion of lhe roIelarial in a
markel of comeling cIass anaIyses: il pni|cscpniscs lhe roIelarial. Once lhe
hiIosohicaI !cjiniiicn of lhe roIelarial has been urged of ils reIalion lo
lhe means of roduclion, lhe commodificalion of lhose means, and lhe
aulhorilies lhal oIice lheir use, SliegIer has consummaleIy evacualed from
his Criiiquc any delaiIed accounl of roerly reIalions, and lhis in lurn
Iicenses lhe decisive deIelion from his Marxism of ccnnunisn, bolh as lhe
descrilion of a non-cailaIisl form of roerly hoIding and as lhe
inexlinguishabIe horizon for revoIulionary aclion. The oId, shuffIing horde
of roIelarian roducers, vilh ils famiIiar iconograhy of grimaces and fIal-
cas, ils gimmick hammers and ils unaffordabIe ension Ians, are svel
once again from lhe slage of hislory, in embIemalic fideIily lo a 'sociaI
anaIysis' vhich has been assed dovn Iike a membershi card or
manleIiece ornamenl from lhe Irankfurl SchooI lo IoucauIl lo Andre Gorz
lo lhe hordes of ex-Marxisls vho from lhe eighlies onvards lhronged onlo
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lhe sofas of Irench chal shovs lo chanl lheir vaIediclions (and vilh vhom
SliegIer underslands himseIf lo be in combal).
As I said, lhis anaIysis is nol a rebullaI of lhe caicgcrics of Marx's Oas
Kapiia|, bul il is neverlheIess a negalion of ils argumenls, because ils
resumlion of lhe crilique of oIilicaI economy is deIicaleIy negolialed lo
aeaI lo lhe sensibiIilies of exaclIy lhose sociaI grous vhich Marx's
anaIysis of cailaI vas inlended lo fruslrale i.e. lhose vho sland lo Iose on
ils rognosis and is caIcuIaled lo found ils aeaI in inc unitcrsa| ascripiicn
cj ncn|crsnip cj inc caicgcrq Marx usc! ic !cscri|c capiia|s ticiins. Today, ve
are aII viclims, and lhe finaI oulcome of lhis is a erfeclIy abslracl descrilion
of a beller reIalionshi lo vork beyond mere emIoymenl, vhich consisls
in aclion in lhe vorId in order lo lransform il on lhe basis of lhe knovIedge
one has of il (2010: 131n). ul lhis is a slalemenl |usl as lrue of lhe man vho
in Tnc Wca|in cj Naiicns engages forever in lhe 'ecuIiar business' of ulling
lhe head on a in or of migranl IhiIiine lexliIe vorkers nov being
exIoiled in Romania as il is of humans freed from lhe grim exigencies of
cailaIisl markels (1986: 110). I vouId roose lhal lhis is a more secific
robIem in SliegIer lhan lhe one lhal mighl be diagnosed, of excess
abslraclion carried oul in a sociaI vacuum. In lhe quashing of sociaI
anlagonism, il is lhe funclion of reaclionary lhoughl lo lriviaIise basic
differences in naicria| ccn!iiicns by refusing enlry of lhose differences inlo
lhe haIIoved reaIm of moraI lhoughl. Such lhinking denies nci inc rca|iiq bul
lhe signijicancc of lhose basic differences, and il does so in lhe name of a
ulaliveIy more basic simiIilude. Afler aII, screams lhe refrain, ctcrqcnc nas
ic ucrk. This is lhe inverse of good cIass anaIysis, vhich allemls lo
characlerise lhe roduclion of basic simiIilude (of cIasses) in soIicilude for
lhe exerienced significance of differences. Under lhe fIuorescenl sign of
'markeling' and lhe grammalized lechnics il seIIs us, SliegIer diminishes lhe
'roIelarian' ascrilion lo a universaI freebie, chucked in lo sveelen lhe deaI
for lhe non-commillaI reader. ul lhis is |usl one vay of icking sides.
Danny Hayward is a IhD candidale in IngIish al irkbeck CoIIege. He
vorks on concelions of commilmenl in IngIish Romanlicism. An arlicIe on
lhe oelry of Keslon SulherIand is forlhcoming in lhe jcurna| cj Briiisn an!
|risn |nnctaiitc Pccirq.
Smilh, A. (1986 |1776j) Tnc Wca|in cj Naiicns. Bccks |-||| London: Ienguin
SliegIer, . (2010) |cr a Ncu Criiiquc cj Pc|iiica| |ccncnq Cambridge: IoIily
167 *:.*;7
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The Pa#hologie" of Indi%id$al F!eedom. Hegel0" Social Theo!'
by AxeI Honnelh
Irincelon: Irincelon Universily Iress, 2010, hbk 20.95 (ISN: 978-0-691-
11806-2), 96.
by IhiIi Hogh
Il is robabIy no exaggeralion lo caII AxeI Honnelh's Sirugg|c jcr |cccgniiicn
one of lhe mosl infIuenliaI vorks in sociaI hiIosohy and crilicaI lheory of
lhe Iasl lvo decades. In his vork Honnelh relurned HegeI's concel of
recognilion lo lhe cenler of hiIosohicaI allenlion. Honnelh's seciaI
inleresl vas lo use HegeI's earIy sociaI hiIosohy lo deveIo a lheory of
inlersub|eclive recognilion lhal vouId end u neilher in vhal Honnelh
caIIed HegeI's monoIogicaI ideaIism reresenled by lhe Pncncncnc|cgq cj
Spirii nor in a formaI and lranscendenlaI moraI lheory of recognilion
reresenled by lhe vorks of }rgen Habermas.
SurrisingIy, HegeI's Pni|cscpnq cj |igni did nol Iay a ma|or roIe in
Honnelh's cruciaI vork. In his nevIy ubIished book, Honnelh lries lo
regain HegeI's Pni|cscpnq cj |igni as a lheory of lhe condilions and
reaIizalions of individuaI freedom. In lhe firsl of lhree main chalers,
Honnelh exIains lhe difficuIlies one has lo face in carrying lhrough lhis
alleml as veII as lhe reasons vhy il is romising lo acluaIize HegeI's lheory
in lhe aforemenlioned vay. Honnelh lakes inlo accounl lvo robIems vhich
every engagemenl vilh HegeI's vork has lo confronl: lhe currenl disinleresl
in lhe Pni|cscpnq cj |igni, desile ils allracliveness for lhe oIilico-
hiIosohicaI seIf-underslanding of our lime (Honnelh, 2010: 3), has bolh
pc|iiica| and ncinc!c|cgica| reasons. IoIilicaIIy, HegeI's vork seems lo have
anlidemocralic consequences because il subordinales lhe freedom of lhe
individuaI lo lhe elhicaI aulhorily of lhe slale (ibid.), vhiIe
melhodoIogicaIIy lhe main ob|eclion hoIds lhal lhe sles in HegeI's
reasoning can be correclIy foIIoved and |udged onIy in reIalion lo lhe
aroriale arls of his Icgic, bul lhe Icgic has become lolaIIy
incomrehensibIe lo us oving lo ils onloIogicaI concelion of siril (ibid.:
This is vhy Honnelh rooses an indirecl and modesl slralegy in
reacluaIizing HegeI's sociaI lheory inslead of shoving lhal lhe lvo
aforemenlioned ob|eclions are mere misunderslandings: ve musl crilicize
lhem indireclIy by demonslraling lheir irreIevance lo any reaIIy roduclive
rearorialion of lhe lrealise (ibid.). In doing so Honnelh aims lo rove
lhal lhe Pni|cscpnq cj |igni can be underslood as a drafl of a normalive
lheory of lhose sheres of recirocaI recognilion lhal musl be reserved
inlacl because lhey conslilule lhe moraI idenlily of modern socielies (ibid.:
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 168
5). Honnelh is fuIIy avare lhal his vay of inlerreling HegeI's vork bears
lhe risk of Iosing access lo ils subslance. In order lo avoid lhis danger
Honnelh uses lvo of HegeI's concels lhal are cruciaI for his syslem and
musl nol be negIecled even lhough lhe slruclure and lhe idea of HegeI's
syslem as a vhoIe are no Ionger convincing: lhese lvo concels consisl in
ob|eclive siril and elhicaI Iife. According lo Honnelh, lhe former is used
lo undersland sociaI reaIily as a ralionaI slruclure, vhiIe lhe Ialler is used lo
describe lhe sociaI sheres of aclion in vhich incIinalions and moraI norms,
inleresls, and vaIues are aIready fused in lhe form of inslilulionaIized
inleraclions (ibid.: 6). In Honnelh's viev, lhese lvo concels, and lhe
lheorelicaI consequences resuIling from lheir use, reresenl lhe necessary
framevork if one vanls lo read HegeI's Pni|cscpnq cj |igni as a lheory of lhe
reaIizalion of individuaI freedom.
Having exIained his lheorelicaI and melhodoIogicaI aroach lo
HegeI's vork, Honnelh roceeds lo read lhe Inlroduclion of lhe Pni|cscpnq
cj |igni, vhere HegeI exIains his lheory of lhe freedom of lhe viII, and uses
lhe concel of friendshi lo gras lhe normalive core of HegeI's vork: as
lhe quinlessence of a |usl sociaI order |HegeIj regards lhose sociaI or
inslilulionaI condilions lhal aIIov each individuaI sub|ecl lo enler inlo
communicalive reIalionshis lhal can be exerienced as exressions of lheir
ovn freedom (ibid.: 15). Iriendshi lhen means nolhing eIse bul being
vilh oneseIf in lhe olher (ibid.: 14), so lhal lhe normalive crileria HegeI uses
lo decide vhelher lhe sociaI sheres aIIov ils members lo reaIize lhemseIves
in recirocaI recognilion are lhe crileria of successfuI inlersub|eclive
communicalive reIalions.
In his second chaler Honnelh examines lhe lvo deficienl forms of
lhe reaIizalion of individuaI freedom vilh vhich HegeI is concerned, nameIy,
abslracl righl and moraIily, in addilion lo lhe suffering lhese deficienl
forms creale a suffering from indelerminacy. These lvo forms are necessary
bul nol sufficienl forms of lhe seIf-reaIizalion of lhe individuaI. The
deficiency of abslracl or formaI righl is lhal lhose vho arlicuIale aII lheir
needs and inlenlions in lhe calegories of formaI righl become incaabIe of
arlicialing in sociaI Iife and musl lherefore suffer from 'indelerminacy'
(ibid.: 35). Ivery bearer of righls lherefore has lo arliciale in sociaI
reIalions if she vanls lhe olenliaI of freedom lhal Iies vilhin her righls lo
be reaIized. Honnelh lhen discusses lhe manifoId ob|eclions HegeI raises lo
moraIily, vhich is lhe Kanlian form of lhe reaIizalion of freedom, bul regards
onIy one as being vorlh considering, or indeed lrue: il is lhe ob|eclion lo
conlexl-bIindness (ibid.: 39). Honnelh conlinues:
As is veII knovn, HegeI's ob|eclion lo lhe idea of moraI
aulonomy is lhal il does nol heI us in reconslrucling hov a
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sub|ecl viII ever come lo acl ralionaIIy, for in lrying lo aIy
lhe calegoricaI imeralive, lhe sub|ecl viII remain disorienled
and 'emly' so Iong as he does nol resorl lo cerlain normalive
guideIines dravn from lhe inslilulionaIized raclices of his
environmenl, vhich rovide him vilh lhe mosl basic
informalion aboul vhal may be regarded as a 'good' reason in
any given silualion (ibid.)
The deficiencies from vhich sub|ecls suffer are isoIalion from sociaI
raclices in abslracl righl, and emliness and lhe inabiIily lo acl vilh good
reason in a dislincl silualion in moraIily. This suffering from
indelerminacy has lo be overcome, and Honnelh describes lhis rocess in
his lhird chaler as a Iiberalion lhal Ieads lo or creales elhicaI Iife:
If ve are lo Iisl lhe condilions in brief key hrases, lhe shere
of elhicaI Iife musl consisl of inleraclionaI raclices lhal are abIe
lo guaranlee individuaI seIf-reaIizalion, recirocaI recognilion,
and lhe corresonding rocess of educalion, and lhe lhree aims
musl be cIoseIy inlervoven, since HegeI seems convinced lhal
lheir reIalionshi is one of muluaI condilioning (ibid.: 56)
Ior Honnelh, il is imorlanl lo oinl oul lhal HegeI is nol a moraI
conslruclivisl vho oulIines moraI rinciIes and in a second sle lhen asks
vhal lhe sociaI condilions for lhe reaIizalion of lhese rinciIes musl be Iike.
On lhe conlrary, on Honnelh's reading HegeI lhinks lhal lhe sociaI
condilions of Iife
generaIIy conlain enough |uslifiabIe moraI norms lo serve as a
foundalion for mosl of our |udgmenls and decisions, and lhis
lhesis ilseIf vas lhe exression of his broader conviclion lhal
sociaI reaIily shouId be soken of onIy as 'ob|eclive siril'
because il musl be regarded as lhe resuIl of lhe ralionaI
inslanlialion of generaIizabIe reasons (ibid.)
The shere of elhicaI Iife is lriarlile and consisls of lhe famiIy, civiI
sociely, and lhe slale. In a lyicaI HegeIian manner, lhe famiIy and civiI
sociely aIone are deficienl arls of elhicaI Iife lhal can onIy be caIIed elhicaI
(sillIich) if lhey are inlegraled inlo a vhoIe. This inlegralion nov can onIy
be guaranleed by lhe slale. As Honnelh reads HegeI's vork as a lheory of
individuaI freedom lhal can onIy be reaIized in sociaI raclices of recirocaI
recognilion il slrikes him lhal HegeI does nol conceluaIize lhe slale as a
shere of recognilion:
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If HegeI had lhoughl aIong such Iines, if he had reaIIy
envisioned an emhalic concel of 'ubIic' freedom, he couId
easiIy have conceived lhe slale as a lhird shere of recirocaI
recognilion: vhal lhe sub|ecls recognize aboul each olher, if
lhey cooerale in lhe manner described, is lheir readiness and
abiIily lo cooerale, lhrough lheir ovn aclivilies, in lhe crealion
of a common good (ibid.: 78)
This means Honnelh crilicizes HegeI for conceluaIizing lhe slale as a shere
of dominalion and nol as a shere of recognilion.
Nov I lhink lhis is lhe oinl vhere Honnelh's reading of HegeI
reaches ils Iimils. Of course, Honnelh is righl in crilicizing HegeI's lheory of
lhe slale as affirmalive given lhal il subsumes individuaI freedom under lhe
slale. ul lhis conservalive asecl of HegeI's lhoughl couId shov ils crilicaI
lrulh conlenl if one lhinks of il as a reaIislic exression of lhe reIalions
belveen individuaIs and lhe slale. If one lakes inlo accounl lhal even lhe
inslilulions of lhe modern democralic slale are means of dominalion lhen
one couId read HegeI's sociaI lheory as a lheory of recognilion lhal knovs
ils Iimils, as muluaI recognilion in sociaI raclices is reslricled by lhe slale.
AIlhough Honnelh's slralegy of an indirecl reacluaIizalion of HegeI's
Pni|cscpnq cj |igni is a slrong and slimuIaling reading of HegeI, lhe
reference for HegeI's earIy socio-hiIosohicaI vorks vhich are
foregrounded in Sirugg|c jcr |cccgniiicn and lhe resenl lexl risks Iasing
inlo a romanlic dislorlion of sociaI and oIilicaI reaIily. As The IalhoIogies
of IndividuaI Ireedom is a very shorl book, one is Iefl curious as lo hov
Honnelh viII conlinue his engagemenl vilh lhe Pni|cscpnq cj |igni in his
forlhcoming book on lhe righl of freedom.
Phi!ip Hngh (p.hnghmgmx.dc) is currenlIy vorking on his disserlalion on
Adorno's hiIosohy of Ianguage in lhe IhiIosohy Dearlmenl al lhe
Goelhe Universily Irankfurl-am-Main, Germany. His currenl research
inleresls are sociaI hiIosohy, hiIosohy of Ianguage, hiIosohy of
nalure, and sychoanaIysis.
Honnelh's book Das Rechl der Ireiheil. Grundri einer demokralischen
SillIichkeil (The Righl of Ireedom. Groundvork of a Democralic IlhicaI
Life) is announced lo be ubIished in }une 2011 by Suhrkam Iress, erIin.
*:.*;7 171
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HegeI, G. W. I. (1979) Pncncncnc|cgq cj Spirii |lrans. A. V. MiIIerj Oxford:
Oxford Universily Iress
HegeI, G. W. I. (2004) ||cncnis cj inc Pni|cscpnq cj |igni A. W. Wood (ed.)
|lrans. H. . Nisbelj Cambridge: Cambridge Universily Iress
Honnelh, A. (1996) Tnc Sirugg|c jcr |cccgniiicn Cambridge: Cambridge
Universily Iress
Honnelh, A. (2010) Tnc Painc|cgics cj |n!iti!ua| |rcc!cn. Hcgc|s Sccia| Tnccrq
|lrans. L. Lbj Irincelon: Irincelon Universily Iress
*:.*;7 172
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Of Je&" and Animal"
by Andrev en|amin
Idinburgh: Idinburgh Universily Iress, 2010, hbk 65.00 (ISN: 978-0-7486-
4053-9), 208.
by Verena IrIenbusch and CoIin McQuiIIan
Andrev en|amin has underlaken a comeIIing sludy of lhe vays in vhich
}evs and animaIs are figured in lhe hislory of arl, Iileralure and hiIosohy
in his recenl book Oj jcus an! Anina|s. en|amin acknovIedges lhal
associaling }evs and animaIs is robIemalic for hisloricaI and oIilicaI
reasons, yel, he allemls lo shov hov bolh }evs and animaIs become figures
of lhe 'vilhoul reIalion'. The vilhoul reIalion is, according lo en|amin, a
radicaI searalion lhal lakes lhe form of an absence of a reIalion. Il is an
inadequale concelion of difference in vhich arlicuIarily is effaced in lhe
name of universaIily. The urose of en|amin's sludy is lo deveIo a
melahysics of arlicuIarily, vhich vouId aIIov a more affirmalive concel
of reIalionaIily lhan can be conceived lhrough lhe vilhoul reIalion.
en|amin begins his sludy by examining hov Descarles and
Heidegger define lhe difference belveen animaIs and humans, in order lo
shov lhal lhe excIusion of animaIily, and lhe negalion of any reIalion
belveen lhe human and lhe animaI, is conslilulive of lheir reseclive
concelions of humanily. In bolh cases, hovever, en|amin argues lhal
animaIily remains essenliaIIy reIaled lo humanily. When one considers lhe
roIe animaI sirils Iay in Descarles' accounl of human hysioIogy, and
Heidegger's accounl of lhe 'exislence' of lhe dog, il becomes aarenl lhal
lhe vilhoul reIalion is founded on lhe deniaI of a more fundamenlaI reIalion.
en|amin goes on lo eIaborale lhe vays in vhich human communily
is defined by lhe excIusion of lhe animaI. He conlends lhal, for Ianchol,
communily is defined by lhe dealh of lhe animaI. The animaI is sacrificed in
order lo eslabIish lhe searalion from nalure and lhe Iinguislic reIalions lhal
oblain belveen members of a communily. The reIalions lhal define lhe
communily are, lherefore, essenliaIIy human reIalions. en|amin is Iess
concerned aboul lhe ossibiIily of incIuding lhe animaI in lhe communily,
hovever, lhan he is vilh lhe ossibiIily of lhinking lhe animaI oulside lhe
Iogic of sacrifice and lhe vilhoul reIalion.
The Iogic of sacrifice and lhe vilhoul reIalion are mainlained by lhe
anlhroocenlric bias of lhe Ianguage of melahysics. Navigaling belveen
Derrida's deconslruclion of humanism and lhe sace of 'Iay' lhal
deconslruclion oens u belveen lhe human and lhe animaI, en|amin
allemls lo demonslrale lhe rimordiaIily of reIalionaIily. ReIalionaIily is
aIvays aIready consliluled by lhe vay in vhich difference is lhoughl. Ior
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 173
lhal reason, en|amin emhasizes lhe vay in vhich difference is figured,
ralher lhan lhe difference belveen lhe human and lhe animaI.
Draving on HegeI's discussion of 'disease' in lhe Pni|cscpnq cj Naiurc,
en|amin inlroduces lhe figure of lhe }ev. en|amin siluales his discussion
of lhe }ev vilhin a discussion of disease since lhe Ialler marks lhe
movemenl in vhich arlicuIarily dominales a concelion of ossibIe
universaIily (2010: 99). Ior HegeI, en|amin cIaims, lhe }ev lakes lhe form
of a disease lhal can be overcome (ibid.: 104). The }ev can be incororaled
inlo lhe universaIily of 'man' if his arlicuIarily as }ev is effaced.
UniversaIily is lhus deendenl uon lhe excIusion of arlicuIarily and lhe
eslabIishmenl of a vilhoul reIalion. Inslead of arguing for recognilion of lhe
}ev as }ev, hovever, en|amin insisls on a relhinking of reIalionaIily vhich
affirms arlicuIarily.
en|amin argues lhal Agamben negIecls lhal arlicuIarily in his
accounl of 'bare Iife'. He accuses Agamben of effacing lhe arlicuIarily of
lhose vho vere reduced lo 'bare Iife' in lhe cams and emlying lhe oIilicaI
of lhe founding mark of difference (ibid.: 122-124). Doing so, en|amin
mainlains, Ieads Agamben lo a uloianism in vhich 'bare Iife' is an
absoIuleIy indelerminale form of Iife beyond idenlily. Ior en|amin, lhis
uloianism is robIemalic, firslIy, because il is unabIe lo dislinguish belveen
olenliaI and acluaI viclims of vioIence. VioIence is nol infIicled on 'bare Iife'
indiscriminaleIy, bul ralher on lhose Iike }evs in Nazi Germany vhose
olherness Ieads lhem lo be regarded as enemies. SecondIy, Agamben aIso
faiIs lo see lhal arlicuIarily musl ersisl in lhe coming communily, even
if lhe differences vhich dislinguish arlicuIarily are no Ionger considered
marks of enmily.
Ixamining lhe Iogic of enmily, en|amin considers IascaI's refIeclions
on lhe reIalion belveen |uslice and force. en|amin argues lhal |uslice
requires force, for IascaI, because lhere are aIvays lhose vho are 'vicked'.
The resence of lhe olher, lhe reresenlalion of lhe olher as lhe enemy, and
lhe denuncialion of lhe enemy as vicked, aIIovs force lo be exercised againsl
lhe olher in lhe name of |uslice. Ralher lhan being lhe myslicaI foundalion
of aulhorily, as Derrida conlends, lhis geslure is for en|amin lhe originaI
and grounding form of vioIence (ibid.: 127). The manifesl vioIence in
IascaI's idenlificalion of lhe }ev as 'vicked' is lhe resuIl of a rocess of
universaIizalion, vhich subslilules lhe immediacy of idenlily for lhe orous
and ongoing incomIeleness of arlicuIarily (ibid.).
Againsl lhis originaI and grounding form of vioIence, en|amin
oses lhe vork of arl. AIlhough lhe vork of arl is oflen behoIden lo lhe same
rocess of universaIizalion lhal Ied IascaI lo decIare lhe }ev 'vicked', lhe
orlrail aIso reresenls lhe arlicuIarily of ils sub|ecl. The dislinguishing
characlerislics of lhe arlicuIar are resenled in lhe orlrail in vays lhal are
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neilher simIe nor immediale. IarlicuIarily breaks lhrough lhe universaI in
surrising and unexecled vays, vhen, for examIe, faces do nol Iook al
one anolher in Van Iyck's Tnc |cuniain cj Gracc (1430), or vhiIe hands seem
lo louch vilhoul louching in Drer's jcsus Ancng inc Occicrs (1506). In bolh
cases, lhe vork of arl resenls lhe comIex IuraIily lhal undoes lhe
universaIizalion of idenlily, excIusion and enmily. Ior lhis reason, en|amin
concIudes lhal a |usl and affirmalive encounler vilh arlicuIarily is ossibIe.
Andrev en|amin offers an imorlanl inlervenlion in lhe
hiIosohicaI concern vilh lhe figures of }evs and animaIs. His
robIemalizalion of elhicaI refIeclions for being lainled by lhe founding
mark of lhe vilhoul reIalion belveen human and non-human beings, dravs
allenlion lo lhe necessily of a nev vay of lhinking aboul reIalionaIily. Il is
nol enlireIy cIear, hovever, if, for en|amin and in lhe hislory of hiIosohy,
lhe animaI is acluaIIy resenled as somelhing vilhoul reIalion lo lhe human.
en|amin does nol consider lhe vays in vhich searalion, negalion,
excIusion, and difference, conslilule, desile lheir negalivily, forms of
en|amin's reading of IascaI is Iikevise queslionabIe since IascaI does
nol acluaIIy caII }evs 'vicked'. There is an imorlanl sIiage in en|amin's
reading, vhich asses from IascaI's slalemenl lhal il is necessary lhal }evs
or Chrislians are vicked (ibid.: 130) lo lhe concIusion lhal }evs are
aulomalicaIIy (ibid.: 143) and immedialeIy (ibid.: 146) vicked. Whal
en|amin brings oul in his discussion of IascaI, hovever, is a queslion of
hiIosohicaI and oIilicaI acuily. Whal does il mean, en|amin asks, lo
be |usl lo arlicuIarily` (ibid.: 145). The ansver is as rovocalive as il is
overfuI. Inslead of underslanding |uslice as force, doing |uslice lo
arlicuIarily requires a lemoraI and saliaI eIemenl lhal aIIovs immediacy
lo be disIaced and lhe lime of |udgmenl lo be heId oen. Doing |uslice lo
arlicuIarily means
lo hoId bolh hiIosohicaIIy and as a maller of sociaI oIicy lo
lhe mainlenance of arlicuIarilies as siles of confIicl and lhus
vilhin lerms lhey sel and creale lo hoId lo lhe necessily lhal
arlicuIarilies have lheir ovn sense of seIf-lransformalion
(ibid.: 146).
en|amin's refIeclions on arlicuIarily and lhe |uslice il demands
deserve lhe kind of vide readershi lhal lhe ubIisher's rice lag seems lo
recIude. Given lhe Iack of an exhauslive bibIiograhy, as veII as lhe
shockingIy oor coyediling, one is Iefl vondering aboul lhe IeveI of care
and allenlion Idinburgh Universily Iress have chosen lo ay lo lhis
imorlanl inlervenlion by a schoIar of en|amin's slalure.
*:.*;7 175
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 175
Cn!in McQui!!an (cmcqui!!anmutk.cdu) is Leclurer in IhiIosohy al lhe
Universily of Tennessee, KnoxviIIe. He received his IhD from Imory
Universily in 2010.
Vcrcna Er!cnbusch (! is a reciienl of a DOC-
feIIovshi of lhe Auslrian Academy of Sciences al lhe Cenlre for SociaI and
IoIilicaI Thoughl, Universily of Sussex. She is aIso a Visiling Research
SchoIar in IhiIosohy al Imory Universily.
*:.*;7 176
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 176
Ado!no fo! Re%ol$#iona!ie"
by en Walson
London: Unkanl IubIishing, 2011, bk 11.99, (ISN: 978-0-9568-1760-0),
by Luke Manzarour
Iev caIIs have been made on lhe vrilings of Theodor Adorno lo engage in
direcl oIilicaI aclion since his sludenls vainIy demanded he march lhem lo
lhe barricades in '68. One recenl alleml lo chase avay his bIack dog of
desair vas lhe decidedIy Iim aulonomisl ubIicalion Ncgaiitiiq an!
|ctc|uiicn by }ohn HoIIovay (2008). Olhers seeking an affinily belveen
Adorno and conlemorary radicaIism have soughl lo aIy Adorno's
aeslhelic lheory lo lhe |azz of CoIlrane or lhe unk of Iugazi. The mosl
suslained efforl lo reconciIe Adorno vilh conlemorary raxis has come
from music |ournaIisl en Walson, vhose sravIing lomes on Irank Zaa,
Derek aiIey and lhe atani-gar!c are driven by a confidence in Trolskyisl
oIilics and ils consislency vilh lhe doyen of lhe Irankfurl SchooI.
A!crnc jcr |ctc|uiicnarics a coIIeclion of Walson's essays and revievs
from earIy '90s lo mid-'00s offers an oorlunily lo evaIuale lhe unique
conlribulion lo Ieflisl lhoughl of ils aulhor. IubIished under lhe banner of
his nevIy-founded 'Associalion of Music Marxisls' (AMM), lhe oIilicaI and
hiIosohicaI bases of Walson's ccutrc are resenled lhroughoul in
discussions on a vide range of largels from The Doors lo IIalo shoving
|usl vhy he has devoled so many exuberanl ages lo music of vhich lhe
ma|orily of eoIe have no exerience. An exceIIenl inlroduclion, lhen, lo
Walson's ideas, hovever, lhe same cannol be said for lhose of Adorno.
Walson concIudes lhe book's finaI iece a lranscril of a laIk given
lo lhe SWI's annuaI 'Marxism' feslivaI in 1995 vilh lhe dislinclIy un-
Adornian slalemenl lhal conlemIalion is nol lhe lask of revoIulionary
sociaIisls (2011: 212). Readers famiIiar vilh Adorno's magnum ous
Ncgaiitc Oia|cciics viII immedialeIy lhink of lhe veII-knovn oening Iine
a rebullaI of Marx's condemnalion of lhe roIe of hiIosohers as mereIy
inlerreling lhe vorId: IhiIosohy, vhich once seemed oulmoded, remains
aIive because lhe momenl of ils reaIisalion vas missed (1973: 3, lransIalion
modified). Thus, he caIIs for a relurn lo lhe robIemalic of German IdeaIism
vhich sociaIism had lhoughl concIuded decisiveIy vilh Marx and lhe cIass
slruggIe. The crilique of sociaIisl lheory deveIoed in Ncgaiitc Oia|cciics is
nol mereIy an allack on Soviel Diamal (as Walson conlends) bul slrikes al
lhe core of Marxisl lhoughl, exosing lhe rimilive in ils urorled rogress.
Ior Adorno, in an age vhen cerlainlies aboul hov aclion can resoIve lhe
issues of conlradiclion inherenl in cailaIism and ils hiIosohy are aII bul
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 177
Iosl, hiIosohicaI lhinking is ilseIf an imorlanl form of raxis lhal viII heI
Iead us oul of lhe quagmire of acluaIIy exisling sociaIisl oosilion (or Iack
Nol so for Walson, vho reeals lhe neo-Kanlian dicholomy belveen
lhoughl and aclion desile his sensilivily eIsevhere lo such canl in
socioIogy, favouring aclion over lhoughl. Walson's reading gIosses over lhe
significanl facl lhal, for Adorno, conlemIalion is aclion, a move vhich
informs Walson's division belveen vhal is aIive (of raclicaI use) and vhal
is dead ('abslracl' hiIosohy) in Adorno's vrilings. This is lhe fruslralion
of lhe music |ournaIisl, ever discussing bul never making music. Ior Adorno,
immanenl crilique of German IdeaIism foslers lrulhs aboul sociely as a
vhoIe since he reads lhe hiIosohy as lhe mosl subslanliaI vesseI of
cailaIisl ideoIogy and ils anlilhesis. Walson, hovever, lakes Adorno as
reading hiIosohy as simIy an unmedialed refIeclion of lhe calegories of
sociely. Thus, Adorno's crilique of lhe dominalion of lhe concel since
IIalo is laken simIy as his shorlhand for dominalion of lhe boss over lhe
emIoyee (Walson, 2011: 45). Shorn of lhe nuances of Adorno's
conceluaIisalion ve are denied his vision for a reconfiguralion of human
reIalions lhal Walson loo readiIy assumes viII be resoIved in cIass slruggIe
as underslood by Lenin.
In lhis Walson resembIes lhe sludenls lo vhich Adorno referred in a
1955 nevsaer arlicIe:
Many sludenls vail execlanlIy lo see vhose side lhe Ieclurer
lakes, lhey become exciled if lhey delecl an affirmalive or
oIemicaI |udgemenl and refer a definile osilion lo mere
refIeclion (Adorno, 2002: 284)
The Adorno lhal emerges is one of unfamiIiar vilaIily, vilh Walson egging
him on beyond lhe misgivings over a revoIulionary sub|ecl lo embrace a
oIilics vilh vhich Adorno lhe man vouId have been uncomforlabIe.
UnIike Adorno, Walson sees escae roules from lhe olhervise aII-
encomassing Iogic of cailaI croing u aII over lhe Iace, rimariIy in
music. Lacking lechnicaI musicaI lraining, Walson lakes his Iead from
Adorno's reealed incIusion of his sub|eclive resonse lo music and hov
sounds resembIe ob|ecliveIy exisling sociaI henomena, as oosed lo
reIiance on musicoIogicaI insighl (2011: 190). This informs a fundamenlaI
aim of Walson's ro|ecl, aII |udgemenl musl acknovIedge and incIude lhe
sub|eclive resonse of lhe individuaI |udging if il is lo achieve ob|eclive
vaIidily cuIluraI anaIysis is meaningIess lhal does nol admil lhe oinl of
viev of lhe observer (ibid.: 7).
Thus, ve are laken lhrough a cornucoia of Walson's musicaI Iikes,
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 178
*:.*;7 179
from Snoo Dogg lo Iinski Zoo. Any osilive vibe Walson gels from music
is ul dovn lo a rogressive imuIse Iurking vilhin, broadIy foIIoving lhe
crileria for radicaI music Adorno found salisfied lhrough lveIve-lone
comosilion. Al one oinl, Walson is candid aboul lhe vindicalion for his
Iikes and disIikes he derives from reading Adorno:
|Wjhal I eseciaIIy Iike aboul Adorno is lhal he exIains lo me
in ralionaI, hisloricaI-maleriaIisl lerms rocIivilies and
animosilies I'd reviousIy lhoughl lo be sub|eclive and arbilrary
(ibid.: 31)
Walson argues overfuIIy for an Aujnc|ung of Adorno's score-based
aeslhelic (ibid.: 22), aIying Adorno's arecialion of modernisl
comosilion lo music comIeleIy aIien in lhe common-sense Iogic of markel
genres. In lurn, he does nol so much areciale music as use il (and his
resonse lo il) for oIilicaI ends. There is a cerlain degree of vivacily in his
concern vilh lhe eslabIishmenl of sociaI lheory by virlue of exIicalion of
aeslhelic righl or vrong (ibid.: 102), a ceIebralion of lrue musicaI (and, by
exlension, sensuaI) exerience lhal reIales hov one jcc|s lo lhe sociaI
revoIulionary imuIse.
Yel lhe aulhor Iacks lhe diaIeclicaI reading of a|| ersonaI rocIivilies
lhal vouId vaIidale individuaI resonse lo even lhe mosl commerciaI of
music and lhereby universaIise his ro|ecl. Il is nol made cIear unq Walson's
ersonaI references haen lo corresond lo a radicaI rogressive sociaI
imuIse. Iven if ve accel his lheorisalion of lhe music he Iikes, he says IillIe
aboul lhe lrulh conlenl of ersonaI resonses lo music he hales. SureIy a
diaIeclicaI aroach vouId exlend lo find a lrulh in faIse form in
arecialion of lhe music of }uslin TimberIake and Lady Gaga, even if
revoIulionary conlenl cannol be readiIy imuled. As il slands, lhe sub|eclive
resonses of lhe vasl ma|orily of sociely are simIy deemed vrong. Again,
Walson smuggIes in fixed anlinomies belveen rogressive and reaclionary.
Nol lhal lhere is no lrue and faIse in music, bul his melhod cries oul for
recognising lhe lrulh in lhe faIse (sensilivily lo lhe commerciaIism in aII
music demonslrales recognilion of lhe faIse in lhe lrue). Wilh such an evidenl
Iack, a cenlraI lenel of lhe book nameIy, lhal our desires and slruggIes are
significanl lo lhe imuIse for radicaI sociaI change is unsalisfyingIy
IIsevhere, his assauIls on undiaIeclicaI ceIebranls of o a are
devaslaling. Simon Irilh, Georgina orn and Sarah Thornlon are aII exosed
for lhe markel romolers lhey are, vilh Walson deflIy sIaing dovn lheir
socioIogicaI/anlhrooIogicaI sludies vilh GiIIian Rose-insired oIemics
Descrilive socioIogy is an insuIl lo lhe eoIe il describes: il erforms lhe
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 179
condescension of generaIising secific exerience, of lrealing human beings
as an ob|ecl of sludy ralher lhan a sub|ecl of address (ibid.: 139). The
Guardian-friendIy moraIism such lhinking engenders in Iieu of cIass anaIysis
lick-box Iisls of idenlily oIilics causes is simiIarIy svalled for being
ineffecluaI IiberaI canl, as is lhe |argon of oslmodern reverence for lhe
'Olher' couId anyone go on lhe radio and argue againsl immigralion
conlroIs using lhe concel of 'olherness'` (ibid.: 117-118). DeIeuze's
'nomadic' lhoughl is heId u againsl a assage from Lenin romoling lhe
righl of lraveI for aII, vhiIe lhe melahysics of oslslrucluraIisl beIief in lhe
arbilrary reIalion belveen signifier and signified are deaIl vilh concIusiveIy
in a foolnole. Walson foIIovs Adorno in hoIding lhal lhe lhing conceived
viII aIvays exceed ils concelion, and allemls lo do |uslice lo lhe negalive
in Ncgaiitc Oia|cciics by insisling on lhe vaIidily of lhal singuIarily conlra
lhose vho vouId subsume il in calegoricaI lhoughl.
In one arlicIe, araIIeIs are dravn belveen lhe diaIeclic of freedom
and necessily in bolh music and oIilicaI aclion. RoughIy, music and oIilics
lake on emancialory roIes onIy vhen fanlasy, Iay and accidenl are aIIoved
lo infringe uon redelermined goaIs. Iree imrovisalion is here Iinked lo
Leninisl aclivism in vhal Walson beIieves lo be a muluaI concern vilh lhe
secific silualion and human idiosyncrasy, vhiIe resuosing a common
ob|eclive ground and lhe ossibiIily of communicalion. RuIes (musicaI and
sociaI) are nol simIy re|ecled in lhis concelion in lhe manner of
anarchism/deconslruclion, bul inslead laken as maleriaI for anaIysis and
Al limes Walson's fanlasy and Iay roduce nonsense. His asserlion
lhal lhe lerm 'academy' derives from lhe musicaI academy vas icked u
by Gordon IinIayson in an olhervise ineffecluaI rebullaI of Walson's reviev
of }arvis (1998) ubIished in Hisicrica| Maicria|isn. The fuII lexl of IinIayson's
Ieller is rerinled here and is foIIoved by Walson's unsalisfying resonse of
rare cringe-vorlhy seIf-aggrandisemenl (e.g. I am no slranger lo
conlroversy). The exchange is a Iov oinl of lhe book and one susecls ils
exislence and reroduclion here discIoses more belveen lhe lvo lhan mere
inleIIecluaI animosily. SliII, in rovoking a comarison vilh lhe vider
anaIylicaI Habermasian vork of his oonenl, lhe exchange highIighls
Walson's ressing imuIse lo gel oul of lhe academy, vhere lhe inherilors
of lhe Irankfurl SchooI lradilion remain, and lhis al Ieasl offers a furlher
vindicalion of lhose vho read Adorno ccnira Habermas.
Walson's musicaI |udgemenl can suffer from his over-excilabiIily. His
asserlion lhal alonaI music and lhe bIues are bolh rolesls againsl lhe
reression of lhe lemered harmonic syslem (2011: 207) misses lhe facl lhal
lhe slandard bIues song uliIises lhe rigid and lonaIIy consislenl enlalonic
scaIe (lhe microlones of slring bends being more occasionaI derivalions lhan
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 180
*:.*;7 181
consislenl rolesl). The Iink belveen lhese lvo musicaI forms, lhen, musl
Iie eIsevhere. Walson aIso hoIds lhal lhe RoIIing Slones ansver Adorno's
caII for derivalion from an abslraclIy slandard beal, desile CharIie Walls
seIdom venluring beyond lhe mosl basic of rock beals in lheir enlire oulul.
Al anolher oinl, ve are loId lhe incIusion of a doubIe bass in Roni Size's
Iounge drum and bass evokes lhe Iegacy of |azz and ils resislance lo
commerciaI hegemony (ibid.: 163)! This kilsch geslure lovard |azz is Iaed
u by Walson simIy because he Iikes lhe music any |azz bassisl vouId
find lhe conneclion ridicuIous.
Here, Walson's assumlion of a consislenl coincidence belveen vhal
he Iikes and ob|eclive radicaI conlenl becomes unlenabIe. Al limes, he seems
lo be avare of lhe robIem. The AMM's Manifeslo slalemenl Ior U5,
music is a lesl of you and everylhing aboul you, and if you faiI lhal lesl YOU
ARE THE ENEMY!!!" may sound Iike lhe |oyfuIIy imIacabIe confidence
in ersonaI imuIses of a Silualionisl, bul il smacks of mere fun and games
vhen, lhroughoul lhe lexl, SWI comrades are Iel off for nol Iiking
'groovacious' music (a comromise nol overcome by his anlicialion of ils
crilicism). The conviclion is lhere vilhoul lhe courage, somelhing lhal may
be remedied if lhe invaIidily of an absoIule harmony belveen Walson's
rocIivilies and his oIilics is resoIved.
Desile ils shorlcomings A!crnc jcr |ctc|uiicnarics is an immenseIy
en|oyabIe manifeslo for lhe revoIulionary imuIse of sensuaI Ieasure, and
so far more vaIuabIe lo mobiIisalion lhan lhe anaIylicaI consislency of lhose
Ieflisls vilh corses in lheir moulhs. As an alleml lo sleaI back Adorno
from academia il is much more aIive lhan lhe range of avaiIabIe
inlroduclions lo Adorno and one vhich, mosl significanlIy, shouId rovoke
aclivisl readers lo ul aside quielisl academic commenlaries and reconsider
Adorno for lhemseIves.
Lukc Manzarpnur sludied Iav al Kenl and Amslerdam, and has a Maslers
in SociaI and IoIilicaI Thoughl from Sussex. He grev u in righlon (an
exerience he is commemoraling in a book of Levisian salire caIIed Tnc
Cnrcnic|cs cj |-Z P) and currenlIy vorks in immigralion Iav in London. He
became inleresled in Adorno afler reading en Walson's Ncgaiitc Oia|cciics
cj Pcc!|c P|aq.
Ior examIe, see CambeII (2007).
Indeed, lhe imrinl sel u by him and WiIson for AMM is named
secificaIIy in oosilion lo such lhinking.
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 181
Againsl such academic socioIogy, Walson Iauds lhree books on differenl
genres (|azz, rock, and funk) by eoIe invoIved in lhose scenes, and lraces
lhe unifying lhread in lheir reseclive maleriaIisl conlenl, generaling a
boundary-crossing universaIism enlireIy absenl in oslmodern IiberaI
reIalivism. The inslances of isoIaled idenlily oIilics dissenl are reealedIy
redirecled lovards cIass oIilics in lhe lradilion of Lenin and Trolsky. Hence
lhe reguIar refrain lhal 'Iacking a Marxisl underslanding' an aulhor does nol
quile gras lhe significance of lheir dissenl. Thus, universaIily in music is
laken lo be lhe common cause of lhe universaI vorking-cIass. Music, for
Walson, is enlireIy sociaI, nol lhe olher Iane of meaning romoled by music
hacks. In lurn lhere is, as such, no conlenlIess form for him, lhe suosedIy
aoIilicaI is in facl deeIy oIilicaI. In facl, for Walson, form has more conlenl
lhan Iyrics. Ior lhis reason, Walson can re|ecl music lhal Iacks innovalion
bul has 'rogressive' IyricaI conlenl (one lhinks of Rage Againsl lhe Machine,
iIIy ragg and Dead Irez here, or, indeed, HaroId Iinler): ad form, or
reaclionary, derivalive lrealmenls are nol somelhing lhal may be excused
by a 'rogressive' message (ibid.: 7). Of course, lhis ignores lhe facl lhal a
Iol of lhese arlisls lurn eoIe on lo Iefl oIilics, lhal a Rage Againsl lhe
Machine are of more raclicaI use in syching u roleslors facing vioIenl
oIice and/or righl-ving lhugs lhan a }ohn Zorn, and overIooks lhe
occasionaI hay marriage of Iefl oIilics and innovalive music (Iugene
Chadbourne, Minulemen, Iroagandhi), bul il oens lhe vay lo recognilion
of radicaIism in unexIored and innovalive areas beyond geslures lo Iefl
issues by ceIebrily arlisls.
Adorno, T. W. (1973) Ncgaiitc Oia|cciics |lrans. I. . Ashlonj Nev York:
Adorno, T. W. (2002) Kanis C!i#i$e of P$!e Rea"on |lrans. R. Livingslonej
Slanford: Slanford Universily Iress
CambeII, C. }. (2007) Three Minule Access: Iugazi's Negalive Aeslhelic
in D. urke, C. }. CambeII, K. KiIoh, M. K. IaIamarek & }. Shorl (Ids) A!crnc
an! inc Ncc! in Tninking Toronlo: Universily of Toronlo Iress (278-295)
HoIIovay, }. (Id.) (2008) Ncgaiitiiq an! |ctc|uiicn. A!crnc an! Pc|iiica|
Aciitisn London: IIulo Iress
}arvis, S. (1998) A!crnc. A Criiica| |nirc!uciicn Nev York: RoulIedge
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 182
notes for contributors
AII submissions shouId be senl lo as emaiI allachmenls
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789).*7 .3
social & political thought
C*386* +46 !4(.&1 &3) P41.8.(&1 "-49,-8
!(-441 4+ H.7846=, A68 H.7846= &3) P-.14745-=
#3.:*67.8= 4+ !977*<
I!!N 1467-2219 ?5.00
SSPT 19 [WIP]:SSPT 23/08/2011 16:43 Page 184