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A. THE AFFIRMATIVE ADVOCACY CALLS FOR ACTION BASED UPON THE METRICS OF CALCULATION AND EFFICACY, IMPLORING US ALL TO ACT IN THE NAME OF THEIR NET BENEFITS. THIS CALL ANESTHTIZES THE HARMS WE FACE, RENDERING THEM EXTERNAL TO OURSELVES, SOMETHING TO BE ACTED UPON FROM OUTSIDE. THE AFF REJECTS RECOGNIZING THE MEANS BY WHICH THESE HORRORS CONSTITUTE US THROUGH SHAME. SHAME IS THE PRIMORDIAL EXPERIENCE THAT COMES FROM ACKNOWLEDGING THE HORRORS THAT MAKE OUR EXISTENCE POSSIBLE, AND KNOWING SIMULTANEOUSLY THAT ESCAPE FROM THOSE HORRORS IS IMPOSSIBLE. SHAME IS NOT SOMETHING ONE SOLVES FOR WITH A PLAN TO ADDRESS EXTERNAL HARMS – INDEED, THE ATTEMPT TO SOLVE IS PRECISELY THE ATTEMPT AT ESCAPE THAT NULLIFIES THE EXPERIENCE OF SHAME ITSELF. INSTEAD, SHAME OFFERS US AN ETHICO-POLITICAL OPENING TO
OUR RESPONSIBILITY AS AGENTS WHO ARE PART OF A CONTEXT AND A WORLD OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THAT IS GREATER THAN OURSELVES.

Murphy 04 [Ph.D., New South Global Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales, The Political Significance of Shame
Volume 3 Number 1, 2004, http://www.borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au/vol3no1_2004/murphy_shame.htm]
12. One of the notable characteristics of Levinas’s earliest discussion of shame is that it does not occur in reference to the ethical relation. In the very early essay "On Escape" shame is figured as a mode of the subject’s relation to the world, and notably not in reference to others. Indeed, Levinas explicitly notes that shame should not be reserved only for phenomena of the moral order. (Levinas 1932: 63) As Levinas resists locating shame in reference to morality, he claims that shame is first and foremost a phenomena resulting from our inability to escape ourselves. "Shame

is founded in the solidarity of our being;" it is what demands that we take responsibility for ourselves. It is rendered, here, as a function of the self’s very being, and not as a response to some determinate act. What appears in shame is the fact of being "riveted to oneself," "the unalterably binding presence of the I to itself" (Levinas 1932: 64). "Shame is, in the last analysis, an existence that seeks excuses," but it is equally an existence that is unable to escape itself (ibid.: 65). Hence shame is at once the necessity of the impulse to flee the recognition of one’s responsibilities and the very impossibility of this flight. This notion of shame as an inescapable
binding to the self is revived in Levinas’s later work, Otherwise than Being. 13. Whereas shame was once rendered as a riveting to the self, it is now described as identity’s "gnawing away at itself" in remorse (Levinas 1974: 114). What earlier appeared as the cementing of identity, however, is described in the later work as an "exasperated contracting" of the self, a persecution "which the limits of identity cannot retain" (ibid). Hence while this accusation, persecution, and remorse that I feel in the face of the Other may indeed be a function of the impossibility of my fleeing myself, it is likewise, a "riveting" to the self that motivates the dissolution of identity and not its reification. Shame, writes Levinas, "is on the hither side of the limits of identity" (ibid). "It is to hold onto oneself while gnawing away at oneself" (ibid). In "On Escape," shame arose in the binding of the self to itself, and in the inability to fail to take responsibility for others. What emerged was the sedimentation of the self in shame. What is noteworthy, then, about the later discussion of shame is that it now disturbs the boundaries of the self and troubles the limits of identity. Shame is in this sense destructive of a notion of responsibility that is finite and historically contiguous; indeed, shame corrodes the very coherence of the subject. 14. It is difficult to understand Levinas’s conception of shame without making recourse to his thought on freedom. In Totality and Infinity, Levinas critiques the European philosophical tradition for its failure to recognize that shame

is above all founded in an experience of unworthiness, and not in the experience of an inadequation or failure to live up to this or that moral stricture (Levinas 1961: 83). To prioritise a conception of shame that invests itself in the knowledge of success or failure in regard to certain norms is to once again subordinate the ethical to the theoretical as shame remains, here, a function of knowing. It hence prioritises the experience of the theoretical over the ethical, and the dimension of interiority over exteriority and the exposure to alterity.
15. Freedom is not a spontaneous faculty that stands to be limited by the moral law. The exact inverse is true for Levinas; shame this reason that Levinas critiques the traditional understanding of guilt. The

and responsibility found freedom. It is for guilt complex presupposes an initial freedom that is responsible for others after the performance of a certain act, but for Levinas, there is no original or spontaneous freedom that preexists the assumption of responsibility for others. Rather, "the freedom that can be ashamed of itself founds truth" (ibid.: 84). My shame before the other founds my freedom. The Other is not presented as an obstacle, a hindrance, an imposition, rather, "he is desired in my shame" (ibid). Levinas claims that "shame does not have the structure of consciousness and clarity. It is oriented in the
inverse direction; its subject is exterior to me" (ibid). 16.In the later discussion of finite freedom in Otherwise than Being, Levinas speaks of a responsibility "over and beyond" one’s freedom. Refusing

to reduce the self to "the auto-affection of a sovereign ego that would be, after the event, ‘compassionate for another,’" Levinas persists in arguing for a sense of responsibility that precedes the deliberation between good and evil. Indeed, it is in the context of this indeclinable
responsibility to others that the world is rendered intelligible in these terms (Levinas 1974: 123). To be sure, there is no way in which the presumption of an original responsibility detracts from the dignity of freedom, for Levinas. Responsibility does not limit but founds my freedom (ibid: 124).

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B. REIMAGINING POLITICS ORIENTED AROUND THE RECOGNITION OF OUR SHAME RATHER THAN THE COMPARISON OF NET BENEFITS ACKNOWLEDGES THAT SUBJECTIVITY COMES PRIOR TO PRACTICE, AND THAT THE RELATION TO THE OTHER COMES PRIOR TO THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF OUR IDENTITIES. WE MUST REJECT ATTEMPTS TO ECONOMIZE RESPONSIBILITY, AND OPEN OURSELVES TO SHAME, TO THE THINKING OF OUR SUBJECT POSITIONS AS THOSE WHO ADVOCATE ON BEHALF OF HARMS AND HORRORS THAT WILL NOT BE RESOLVED BY OUR ADVOCACY. DOING SO FORCES
US TO ACKNOWLEDGE OUR COMPLICITY WITH THE HORRORS IN THE WORLD AROUND US AND TO ACT AS IF OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT IN THE WAKE OF THOSE HORRORS IS INFINITE.

Murphy 04 [Ph.D., New South Global Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales, The Political Significance of Shame
Volume 3 Number 1, 2004, http://www.borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au/vol3no1_2004/murphy_shame.htm]
18. History’s

soil is too finite a ground upon which to situate the limitless responsibilities one has for and to others. Inasmuch as recent politics testify to the uncharitable and restrictive ways in which many chose to take on the issue of justice to the past, Levinas argues for a sense of responsibility that escapes history not to evade it, but because such arguments are for him symptomatic of the contractual and legalistic understanding of shame and responsibility that he critiques. In direct contradistinction to those who would indict charity and shame alike, on the grounds that these responses somehow pervert political rationality, Levinas argues for the priority of care over contemplation. If complicity in
the suffering of others is not to be debated or chosen, if it is rather constitutive of the very notion of a self, then Levinas is compelled to put forward a notion of responsibility that is ahistorical by virtue of its expansive and infinite nature, and not by virtue of any desire to deny responsibility for history’s horrors. 19. Shame, for Levinas, is derived from an absolute passivity that forbids a coherent notion of self to emerge from the continuity of one’s past. To

locate shame in reference to a certain historical moment would seemingly forego the type of responsibility that Levinas wishes to illuminate. It would confine this responsibility to the interests of law courts and tribunals and hence refuse its irrecusable nature. Regarding,
more specifically, the issue of shame and history, Levinas could be no more explicit. The responsibility that fills me with remorse is found in the "prehistory" of the ego. Elsewhere, Levinas describes responsibility as an "immemorial susceptiveness" to the call of the other (Levinas 1964: 122). It does not concern the concrete past, for "persecution is the disqualification of apology" (ibid.: 121).
20. Levinas is not only reticent to situate responsibility in reference to history because such a move would render responsibility finite. His reluctance is also grounded in the belief that to situate an individual with reference to history is in some way to compromise the alterity of the Other. It is none other than this worry that motivates his critique of the phenomenological tradition. 21. Levinas embraces Merleau-Ponty’s account of intersubjectivity as affectivity, and radicalises it such that responsibility for others comes to be the condition for the possibility of sensibility. "This describes the suffering and vulnerability of the sensible as the other in me" (Levinas, 1964: 124-125). Shame before another becomes much more than an indictment of self, it becomes a symptom of sensibility. Compassion and responsibility appear as the condition for the possibility of sense at all. This resituating of humanity in a capacity for sensibility, and not in the human capacity for reason, marks an important and radical symmetry between Merleau-Ponty and Levinas. Despite this congruence, however, Levinas distances himself from the phenomenologists when it comes to the way in which history is understood to inform meaning. 22. Indeed, the Levinasian descriptions of shame and freedom are consistent with his thinking on the relationship between history and meaning (sens). "Meaning" in the French phenomenological tradition carries the connotation of a certain directedness of thought, a prereflective content that endows thought and history alike with an intention derived from an originary subjective project. Levinas takes the phenomenological tradition to task for its historicism, an historicism that manifests as an affront to alterity and that is hence ethically problematic. Against the historically laden account of meaning that emerges in the phenomenological tradition, Levinas describes an absolute responsibility that transcends history. The indictment of phenomenology, here, concerns the focus on the totality, continuity, and unity of history as it is grasped by consciousness, a unity and totality that refuses the alterity of others.

23. For Levinas, the

integrity of ethics is bound to exteriority – the transcendence of the Other – a face of humanity that overflows any idea, concept, or representation. (Levinas, 1961: 53) Indeed, the experiences of conscience, of the self accused, and of shame, are not commensurate with any conceptual experience; it is a "conceptless experience" as it is irreducible to representation or disclosure within the political arena. Levinas would distance himself from the language of intention and experience that pervades the phenomenological tradition. The ethical relation in
Levinas is consistently figured as a relation that disrupts totality, and the seamless continuity of a world that is given over to a constituting consciousness. For Levinas, the power of ethics is contingent precisely upon the transcendence of the Other, or more precisely the Other’s transcendence of history, his or her irreducibility to soil of the collective past. Levinas leaves no doubt of this when in the preface to Totality and Infinity he equates history with war, totality, and politics, and laments the sacrifice of the future to the "already plastic forms of the epic" (Levinas 1961: 22). The responsibility to the Other before whom I feel shame exists prior to any contract that would isolate or prescribe a moment of reciprocity.

24. To

understand shame and the attendant conception of responsibility as constitutive of the self is to indict thinking that would progressively retreat from the legitimacy and necessity of social and political generosity through appeal to the finite nature of one’s obligations to others. As is always the case with Levinas, however, his theory is not readily imported into debates about reconciliation and reparation, collective guilt and responsibility, without complication. Because the locus of shame resists location in history, the discussions of guilt and exoneration with which we are familiar would be, for him, situated firmly in the realm of the political. Hence despite the intimate ties that bind ethics to justice, the unassumable nature of shame and responsibility problematize their location in history. Levinas complicates the historical nature of responsibility, however, not in order to deny complicity for past wrongs, but in order to call attention to a notion of responsibility that is more expansive. The problem is not that we cannot be responsible for history, but rather that we cannot be responsible enough.

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C. MORAL ISSUES CANNOT BE RESOLVED, SCHLAGS CLAIMS OF INACTION ARE BASELESS – BUT WE MUST TAKE ACTION – A FIRST STEP IS THE ONLY WAY TO PRESERVE MORALITY
Bauman 1993 [ Zygmunt. Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds. "He is known worldwide for his recent work in the social theory of modernity
and postmodernity." Postmodern Ethics.] Pp. 246-250

But the moral crisis of the postmodern habitat requires first and foremost that politics – whether the politics of the politicians or the policentric, scattered politics which matters all the more for being so elusive and beyond control – be an extension and institutionalization of moral responsibility. Genuine moral issues of the high-tech world are by and large beyond the reach of individuals (who, at
best, may singly or severally purchase the right not to worry about them, or buy a temporary reprieve from suffering the effects of neglect). The effects of technology are long-distance, and so must be the preventive and remedial action. Hans Jonas's `long-range ethics' makes sense, if at all, only as a political programme – though given the nature of the postmodern habitat, there is little hope that any political party competing for state power would be willing, suicidally, to endorse this truth and act upon it. Commenting on Edgar Allan Poe's story of three fishermen caught in the maelstrom, of whom two died paralysed with fear and doing nothing, but the third survived, having noticed that round objects are sucked into the abyss less quickly, and promptly jumping into a barrel – Norbert Elias sketched the way in which the exit from a non-exit situation may be plotted. The survivor, Elias suggests, began to think more coolly; and by standing back, by controlling his own fear, by seeing himself as it were from a distance, like a chessman forming a pattern with others on a board, he managed to turn his thoughts away from himself to the situation in which he found himself . . . Symbolically representing in his mind the structure and direction of the flow of events, he discovered a way of escape. In that situation, the level of self-control and the level of process-control were . . . interdependent and complemen¬tary.15 Let us note that Poe's cool and clever fisherman escaped alone. We do not know how many barrels there were left in the boat. And barrels, after all, have been known since Diogenes to be the ultimate individual retreats. The question is – and to this question private cunning offers no answer – to what extent the techniques of individual survival (techniques, by the way, amply provided for all present and future, genuine and putative maelstroms, by eager-to¬oblige-and-profit merchants of goods and counsels) can be stretched to embrace the collective survival. The maelstrom of the kind we are in – all of us together, and most of us individually – is so frightening because of its tendency to break down the issue of common survival into a sackful of individual survival issues, and then to take the issue so pulverized off the political agenda. Can the process be retraced? Can that which has been broken be made whole again? And where to find an adhesive strong enough to keep it whole? If the successive chapters of this book suggest anything, it is that moral

issues cannot be `resolved', nor the moral life of humanity guaranteed, by the calculating and legislative efforts of reason. Morality is not safe in the hands of reason, though this is exactly what spokesmen of reason promise. Reason cannot help the moral self without depriving the self of what makes the self moral: that un-founded, non-rational, un-arguable, no-excuses-given and non-calculable urge to stretch towards the other, to caress, to be for, to live for, happen what may. Reason is about making correct decisions, while moral responsibility precedes all thinking about decisions as it does not, and cannot care about any logic which would allow the approval of an action as correct. Thus, morality can be `rationalized' only at the cost of self-denial and self-attrition. From that reason-assisted self-denial, the self emerges morally disarmed, unable (and unwilling) to face up to the multitude of moral challenges and cacophony of ethical prescriptions. At the far end of the long march of reason, moral nihilism waits: that moral nihilism which in its deepest essence means not the denial of binding ethical code, and not the blunders of relativistic theory – but the loss of ability to be moral.
As far as the doubts in the ability of reason to legislate the morality of human cohabitation are concerned, the blame cannot be laid at the doorstep of the postmodern tendency to dismiss the orthodox philosophical programme. The

most pronounced manifestations of – programmatic or resigned – moral relativism can be found in the writings of thinkers who reject and resent postmodern verdicts and voice doubts as to the very existence of a postmodern perspective, let alone the validity of judgements allegedly passed from its vantage-point.
Apart from value-signs added (often as an afterthought), there is little to choose between ostensibly `anti-postmodern', scientific recordings of the ways and means of `embedded selves', and the arrogantly `postmodern' declarations that `everything goes', given enough space and enough time. There

is little disagreement between them as to the assumption – authenticated by the long managerial efforts of modern times and the realities of the social habitat these efforts managed to produce – that in order to act morally the person must first be disowned of autonomy, whether by coercive or purchasable expertise; and as to another assumption (which also reflects the realities of the contemporary mode of life), that the roots of action are likely to be assessed as moral, and the criteria to assess the morality of acts, must be extrinsic to the actor. There is little difference between two ostensibly opposite standpoints in the way they disallow or neglect the possibility that it may be precisely the expropriation of moral prerogatives and the usurpation of moral competence by agencies extrinsic to the moral self (multiple agencies, contestant and combative, yet equally vociferous in their claims to ethical infallibility) which stand behind the stubborn unassailability of ethical relativism and moral nihilism.

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There is little reason to trust the assurances of the expropriating/ usurping agencies that the fate of morality is safe with them; there is little evidence that this has been the case thus far, and little encourag¬ment can be derived from the scrutiny of their present work for the hope that this will be more of the case in the future. At the end of the ambitious modern project of universal moral certainty, of legislating the morality of and for human selves, of replacing the erratic and unreliable moral impulses with a socially underwritten ethical code – the bewildered and disoriented self finds itself alone in the face of moral dilemmas without good (let alone obvious) choices, un¬resolved moral conflicts and the excruciating difficulty of being moral.

Fortunately for humanity (though not always for the moral self) and despite all the expert efforts to the contrary, the moral conscience – that ultimate prompt of moral impulse and root of moral responsibility – has only been anaesthesized, not amputated. It is still there, dormant perhaps, often stunned, sometimes shamed into silence – but capable of being awoken, of that Levinas's feat of sobering up from inebriated torpor. The moral conscience commands obedience without proof that the command should be obeyed; conscience can neither convince nor coerce. Conscience wields none of the weapons recognized by the modern world as insignia of authority.
By the standards which support the modern world, conscience is weak. The proposition that conscience of the moral self is humanity's only warrant and hope may strike the modern mind as preposterous; if not presposterous, then portentous: what chance for a morality having conscience (already dismissed by the authority-conscious mind as fickle, `merely subjective', a freak) for its sole foundation? And yet.. . Summing up the moral lessons of the Holocaust, Hannah Arendt demanded that human beings be capable of telling right from wrong even when all they have to guide them is their own judgment, which, moreover, happens to be completely at odds with what they must regard as the unanimous opinion of all these around them. . . These few who were still able to tell right from wrong went really only by their own judgments, and they did so freely; there were no rules to be abided by. . . because no rules existed for the unprecedented. 16 What we know for sure is that curing ostensible feebleness of moral conscience left the moral self, as a rule, disarmed in the face of the `unanimous opinion of all these around them', and their elected or self-appointed spokesmen; while the power which that unanimous opinion wielded was in no way a guarantee of its ethical value. Knowing this, we

have little choice but to place our bet on that conscience which, however wan, alone can instill the responsibility for disobeying the command to do evil. Contrary to one of the most uncritically accepted philosophical axioms, there is no contradiction between the rejection of (or scepticism towards) the ethics of socially conventionalized and rationally `founded' norms, and the insistence that it does matter, and matter morally, what we do and from what we desist. Far from excluding each other, the two can be accepted or rejected only together. If in doubt — consult your conscience.
Moral responsibility is the most personal and inalienable of human possessions, and the most precious of human rights. It cannot be taken away, shared, ceded, pawned, or deposited for safe keeping. Moral

responsibility is unconditional and infinite, and it manifests itself in the constant anguish of not manifesting itself enough. Moral responsibility does not look for reassurance for its right to be or for excuses for its right not to be. It is there before any reassurance or proof and after any excuse or absolution.
This is, at least, what one can find out looking back at the protracted modern struggle to prove — to make real — the opposite.

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AT: Shame is Narcissistic
BLIND FIXATION UPON RESPONDING TO POLITICAL PHENOMENA FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE OTHER MUTES
THE NEED TO FEEL SHAME AND GUILT FOR OUR ROLE IN THE CREATION OF THOSE ILLS AND IS SYMPTOMATIC OF A DENIAL OF RESPONSIBILITY UNDERMINING POSITIVE POLICY ACTION

Murphy 04 [Ph.D., New South Global Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales, The Political Significance of Shame
Volume 3 Number 1, 2004, http://www.borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au/vol3no1_2004/murphy_shame.htm] 1. In recent debates

concerning the responsibilities that individuals and nations should or should not assume, the issue of justice to the past looms large. In recent politics, we witness an increasing reluctance on the part of individuals to acknowledge and apologize for the horrors of history. Witness, for instance, the various debates surrounding reparation and apology in the United States and Australia. The current denigration of collective responsibility – accomplished through an ahistorical understanding of obligation and justice – attests to a dangerous unwillingness on the part of many to consider the ways in which past wrongs reverberate in the present. It is argued that political responsibilities cannot be delineated by history, for this would make them too expansive. It is this ahistorical rendering of responsibility that has contributed to an ever diminishing sense of shame and responsibility in politics.
2. The insistence on the ahistorical nature of responsibility is particularly obvious when one takes note of the denigration of shame and guilt in current politics. Shame

is of interest as a political phenomenon to the degree that it signals cognisance of individual and collective responsibility. Knowing this, one should take note of the dangerous dismissal of guilt and shame in contemporary politics by both the right and the left. The right’s
attack on guilt has frequently been couched in terms of the "bleeding heart liberal," whose attempts to be empathetic to others is condemned as a delusional and wrongheaded approach to issues of cultural difference. In an attempt to publicly undermine the efficacy of social policies such as welfare, the right has persisted in labelling the advocates of such policies "bleeding hearts," whose rational capacity for judgment has been clouded by their emotions. Allegedly, "bleeding hearts" cannot be trusted to rationally deliberate issues of politics. This line of argumentation is likely grounded in the belief that we inherit from Kant, and those who work in his wake, that justice in its proper sense is to be rendered via the avenues of reason, and not those of the heart. In this context, shame and guilt become problematic insofar as they hamper political rationality. 3. It would be disingenuous, however, to assign blame wholly to the political right. To be fair – and admittedly with a few notable exceptions – the discourse on shame has arguably suffered equal abuse at the hands of the left. While there is no disputing the claim that the right has frequently coopted the discourse on empathy in order to shirk certain social responsibilities, it is also the case that the left has demonstrated a marked reluctance to delve into the politics of collective guilt. Particularly amidst

a theoretical landscape – inherited from Levinas and Derrida – that privileges the stranger, the foreigner, and the radically other, the worry surrounding guilt and shame is that there is something in the experience of these emotions that is perhaps narcissistic, indulgent, and even patronizing. In short, the fear of addressing shame and guilt is grounded in the worry that these emotions in the end only recuperate certain privileges. Shame and guilt are self-regarding emotions, and so one worries that they may detract from the genuine consideration of others and that at heart they are egoistic. Add to this the worry that guilt in and of its own right does not necessarily motivate concrete action, and one sees why even those with progressive political
agendas express reticence regarding the issue of guilt, not simply in regard to the danger of appearing patronizing, but likewise out of suspicion regarding its efficacy in motivating action. 4. What

is worrisome, however, is the fact that the hesitations surrounding the issues of guilt and shame may be read as symptomatic of the diminished sense of responsibility that seems to reign in politics these days. Perhaps just as ominous is the fact that the very same dispassionate thinking that is used to pathologize and vilify shame is also being employed to undermine charitable social policy. This refusal to acknowledge the importance of shame
and guilt is tied to the indictment of charity insofar as both are motivated by a refusal to assume responsibility for others, and most especially for the privileges that one inherits historically. For the purposes of this essay, I would like to explore what is behind the progressive erosion of social responsibility, an erosion that motivates not only the devaluation of shame and guilt but likewise the virtues of political generosity.

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Turn: Responsibility to the Other as Obligation rather than a call is Bad
CONCEIVING RESPONSIBILITY AS AN OBLIGATION TO ANOTHER PRESUMES THAT COMPLICITY IS SOMETHING TO BE CHOSEN – THIS ERODES THE CONCEPT OF A CHARITABLE JUSTICE
Murphy 04 [Ph.D., New South Global Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales, The Political Significance of Shame
Volume 3 Number 1, 2004, http://www.borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au/vol3no1_2004/murphy_shame.htm] 6. To

presuppose that one’s responsibilities to another are to be derived from a social contract – however tacit one’s consent to this contract may be – is to presuppose that these obligations are finite and calculable, and that consequently they are responsibilities from which one might excuse oneself. Hence the litany of excuses that have become all too familiar regarding one’s responsibility for past injustices, excuses that have come to mark various discourses on reconciliation, reparation, and apology. ("I wasn’t even alive then, why should I be held accountable," etc.) Such excuses are indebted firstly to a convenient amnesia regarding the way in which past injustices reverberate in the present – and consequently continue to bestow benefits on some and injustice on others – and second to an inability to recognize that the very being of the oppressor/colonizer has grown and defined itself in reference to the subjugation of the oppressed. It is to presume that complicity is to be debated and chosen, and that it is not always already constitutive of the self. In order to deny one’s complicity in the oppression and suffering of others, one must somehow denigrate the ties that bind one to others historically and materially. To conceive of responsibility as strictly contractual is in many ways to do just that.
7. As Nancy Fraser has suggested, the result of the increasing hegemony of contractual norms is that there appears to be less and less conceptual space for the forms of noncontractual reciprocity and solidarity that constitute the moral basis of citizenship (Fraser 1994: 61). As

justice is rendered in reference to the calculus of contract and legality, the space for charity and political generosity is being eroded. This erosion seems to be accomplished as a double movement; firstly in the division of justice and charity, a breach that seems to imply that the two are antithetical, and secondly in the increasing erosion of charity by the calculus of justice. As charity is increasingly construed as the "other" of justice, it is – not unlike the experience of shame – construed as an phenomenon that surpasses and exceeds the obligations to others that are dictated within the parameters of the law, or the discourse on rights. Thus justice and charity are increasingly thought in opposition to each other, as though there is something in charity that is excessive and superfluous, something that the scales of justice do not and should not weigh. The dangerous implication of this way of thinking is that justice is not – nor should it strive to be – charitable.
8. And this is to say nothing of the way in which charity itself is being subsumed beneath the calculus of distributive (and retributive) justice. As

the hegemony of the contract helped create the illusion of charity as its other, "charity appeared as a pure, unilateral gift, on which the recipient had no claim and for which the donor had no obligation" (Fraser 1994: 67). When defined only against
contractual relations, charity does not simply become the other of more legalistic bonds of reciprocity, but even becomes politicised, as the giver is typically the beneficiary of social commendation while the recipient is only further stigmatised. Thus

charity may readily morph into its opposite, a means of subjugation. It is here that one sees the emergence of the now familiar discourse on the gift that has been with us since Marcel Mauss, who argued that receiving a
gift may well result in one’s social subordination so long as the gift is situated within the horizon of a symbolic economy wherein the recipient of the gift becomes materially or socially indebted. A number of the authors writing in this tradition would agree; Charity has ceased to be – ideologically or concretely – a relation of reciprocity. Presumably, this is why Derrida (1991) claims that the condition for the possibility of the gift is forgetting, as to recognize the gift as such is to annul it by situating it within the confines of a cultural economy. 9. If we take seriously the claims emerging from the discourse on generosity and gift-giving, when generosity is thought within the confines of contract, it may become an occasion for the substantiation of debt. In a political time where the space for the conception and establishment of charitable and empathetic political institutions is being eroded by a politics that favours the language of economy and retribution, we

are in dire need of a different elaboration of the place of shame and complicity in politics. As political generosity becomes warped and diminished by this political calculus, shame comes to be figured as problematic as well, to the extent that it also signals a responsibility that is not being accommodated in contemporary politics, a responsibility that is vilified due to its alleged "excesses." Yet it is precisely this excess that Emmanuel Levinas applauds it seems, concerned as he is to illuminate a responsibility to others that he names
"unconditional, undeclinable, and absolute" (Levinas 1974: 124). While the Levinasian elaboration of responsibility may indeed serve as a corrective to more contractual and legalistic understandings, it is not clear that Levinasian responsibility is not ahistorical in its own right. However, the reticence that Levinas displays concerning the historical location of responsibility and obligation is testament to the infinite nature of responsibility, as Levinas understands it. Hence the Levinasian account of responsibility is ahistorical by virtue of its infinite and irrecusable nature, and surely not by virtue of any desire to deny responsibility for the past.