Editorial collective Caroline Bassett, Howard Feather, Peter Hallward, Esther Leslie, Kevin Magill, Stewart Martin, Mark Neocleous, Peter Osborne, Stella Sandford, Alessandra Tanesini Contributors Kate Soper is Professor of Philosophy at London Metropolitan University. Her latest book, with Martin Ryle, is reviewed in this issue. Julian Petley teaches Media and Communications at Brunel University. He is co-editor of Ill Effects: The Media Violence Debate (Routledge, 1997; 2001). Stella Sandford teaches philosophy at Middlesex University. She is the author of The Metaphysics of Love: Gender and Trancendence in Levinas (Continuum, 2000). Antonio Negri has taught at the universities of Padua and Paris VIII. His books in English include: Insurgencies (University of Minnesota Press, 1999) and, with Michael Hardt, Labor of Dionysus (University of Minnesota Press, 1994) and Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000). Danilo Zolo is Professor of Philosophy of Law at the University of Florence. His books in English include: Cosmopolis: Prospects for World Government (Polity Press, 1997) and Invoking Humanity: War, Law and Global Order (Continuum, 2002). Joanne Winning is Lecturer in the School of English and Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London. Ann Smock is Professor of French Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, the translator of Blanchotʼs The Space of Literature and The Writing of the Disaster, and the author of What is There to Say? (University of Nebraska Press, 2003). Layout by Petra Pryke Tel: 020 7243 1464 Copyedited and typeset by Illuminati Tel: 01981 241164 Production by Stewart Martin, Peter Osborne and Stella Sandford Printed by Russell Press, Russell House, Bulwell Lane, Basford, Nottingham NG6 0BT Bookshop distribution UK: Central Books, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN Tel: 020 8986 4854 USA: Bernard de Boer, 113 East Centre Street, Nutley, New Jersey 07100 Tel: 201 667 9300; Ubiquity Distributors Inc., 607 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, New York 11217 Tel: 718 875 5491 Cover: Beetle, 2003 Published by Radical Philosophy Ltd. www.radicalphilosophy.com

War and Democracy


Kate Soper ...................................................................................................... 2

Consumers or Citizens? Re-regulating Communications
Julian Petley.................................................................................................... 7

Going Back: Heidegger, East Asia and ‘The West’
Stella Sandford ..............................................................................................11

Empire and the Multitude: A Dialogue on the New Order of Globalization
Antonio Negri and Danilo Zolo ................................................................... 23

Beatrice Hanssen and Andrew Benjamin, eds, Walter Benjamin and Romanticism Helga Geyer-Ryan et al., eds, Benjamin Studies, Volume 1: Perception and Experience in Modernity Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre, Romanticism against the Tide of Modernity Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 3: 1935–1938 Nickolas Lambrianou ................................................................................... 38 Fredric Jameson, A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present David Cuningham ......................................................................................... 41 Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory Joe Brooker ................................................................................................... 43 Étienne Balibar, Politics and the Other Scene Kate Soper .................................................................................................... 45 Jodi Dean, Publicityʼs Secret: How Technoculture Capitalizes on Democracy Esther Leslie.................................................................................................. 47 Martin Ryle and Kate Soper, To Relish the Sublime? Culture and Self-Realization in Postmodern Times Terry Eagleton ............................................................................................... 50 David Theo Goldberg, The Racial State Bob Carter ..................................................................................................... 52

Monique Wittig, 1935–2003
Joanne Winning ............................................................................................ 55

Maurice Blanchot, 1907–2003
Ann Smock.................................................................................................... 58


Radical Philosophy Ltd


War and democracy
Kate Soper


hether they welcomed the prospect of the ʻnewʼ world order it would supposedly inaugurate, or were appalled by its imperial ambitions and the disasters it would unleash, few can have doubted the historic import of the decision to go to war with Iraq. Those who have committed the globe to this aggression may have done so in philistine disregard of the past, but its impact in shaping the future will be immense, and its economic, political and ecological consequences will resonate for decades to come. This makes it reasonable to reflect on its democratic credentials, all the more so given that it was trumpeted in the name of a ʻdemocracyʼ on which it never intended to deliver, and in defiance of overwhelming international opposition. One analyst who has reflected long on the first point is Milan Rai. He argues convincingly that the very narrow US definition of the ʻregimeʼ (Saddam Hussein and family), the coup-centred war plan, and the early assassination attempt, all indicate that the aim was not to empower the Iraqi people but rather to stimulate a military uprising that would topple the dictator and his immediate circle but would leave the rest of the security system intact.1 The aim, in short, was regime stabilization rather than change. As late as March this year, a US official in Newsweek shocked human rights activists by claiming that the bias ʻwould be toward forgiving as much of the past as possibleʼ; in other words, most of the crimes that had been used to drum up war fever in the West were ʻto be forgivenʼ. The planned coup failed to evolve, and the invading forces have ended up killing or dispersing more of the future ʻstabilizingʼ personnel than they intended. The war plan has therefore only succeeded in part: Saddam Hussein has gone, but the regime remains extremely unstable. Because of this, the USA may, paradoxically, end up having to concede a little more in the way of participation than it originally wanted. (But whatever arrangements get made, one thing looks certain: they will be by the boys for the boys.) As far as the elitism of the decision to go to war is concerned, we know that this was taken without UN endorsement, despite a historically unprecedented degree of dissent in both Europe and the USA, and against the wishes of the majority of the electorate even in those countries whose governments supported it and were to become militarily involved (notably the UK). It was a decision made without public consultation or concern for accountability, long before any of the rituals designed to lend it a veneer of legitimacy (renewed and ʻfailedʼ arms inspection, the processes of UN and national parliamentary debate and mandate) were entered upon. There are, however, some qualifications to this picture of global disempowerment. There is the fact that the Bush administration, despite high levels of opposition, did indeed have (and still enjoys) extensive backing from its electorate for its war efforts. How far one can count this as a democratic mandate is disputable, given the dubious quality of Bushʼs election in the first place (without which war might never have become an option), and its contingency upon the highly specific and in many respects distorting impact of 9/11 on public perceptions of threat. That electoral judgements were based on very partial information is indicated by surveys showing that 42 per cent of the American public believes that Saddam Hussein is directly responsible for
Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03)

the September 11 attacks, and 55 per cent that he supports al-Qaida. Still, there is no disputing the scale of enthusiasm for the war in the US itself. From a differing point of view, we should also factor in the restraining impact of the huge opposition to the war. This placed considerable difficulties in the way of its smooth pursuit, and there will clearly be consequences for those governments who have ignored the strength of public hostility to it. The UN proved more of an obstacle to American plans than many had foreseen, exposing the limitations of any argument to the effect that it is simply a rubber stamp for US foreign policy. Popular resistance in Turkey proved a serious stumbling block to the implementation of the ʻidealʼ US war plan, and it will be a complicating factor in the management of postwar Iraq. In Germany, the opposition of the Social Democrats to the war has been hugely popular and reinforced the partyʼs standing with the electorate. In Spain, where Aznar went against the wishes of 90 per cent of voters, he will almost certainly have to pay the political price by ceding power to the socialists at the next election. So too may Berlusconi, given the nearly comparable opposition to the war in Italy. In the UK, the strength of the anti-war movement forced the Ministry of Defence, on the eve of the parliamentary debate, into making panicked contingency plans for Blairʼs resignation and the disengagement of British troops from the invasion. And even though dissent was quelled in the Commons, and there has been a surge in public support for war since the beginning of hostilities, New Labour may still reap a bitter electoral harvest from their agreement to go to war.

What does democracy mean? These considerations illustrate the complexities surrounding any invocation of democracy in a context such as this. The very high level of US support for war raises important issues, for example about the relationship between knowledge and democracy, or, to be more precise, about the extent to which votes corresponding to professed, though profoundly ill-informed, wishes can (or should) count as a genuine exercise of democracy. Clearly, democracy means nothing unless it allows individuals to express their own subjective wishes rather than those others might wish them to wish. On the other hand, since knowledge, or belief based on it, plays so critical a role in the determination of the will, democracy is imperilled whenever significant numbers cast their votes on the basis of seriously inaccurate, skewed or partial information. The range of argument brought into play by concerns of this kind is very extensive, and by no means confined in its application to the conflict in Iraq. But the intensification of propaganda, the control of the media, especially in the USA, and the notoriously accident-prone nature of truth in times of war, bring these questions into very sharp focus. The question of the autonomy of the UN Security Council also presents its complexities, though at a somewhat less abstract level.2 On the one hand there is no doubting the degree to which on this, as on so many issues in the past, the UN has been either made to serve American interests, or disregarded if it stands against them. As the quest continues for the elusive weapons of mass destruction (now rapidly coming to figure as a conveniently mobile casus belli), even the ever temperate Blix has made clear his frustrations. Few can doubt now, in the aftermath of conflict, that the UN ʻvitalʼ role in Iraq will be as lively as the US administration chooses to permit. Nor in the run-up to the war did anyone seriously believe that the ʻcoalition of the willingʼ, whose countries include some of the most debt-ridden in the world, was anything but a creature of US economic bullying and its blatant manipulation of aid packages. It is clear that not one of the smaller countries was able to operate free of this duress, and to a greater or lesser extent this has also been true in the case of the more significant players. On the other hand, those who insisted (like Tariq Ali in Februaryʼs Red Pepper) that the Security Council was bound to green-light the invasion have certainly been proved wrong. How much should one read into this? Should we hail the resistance to a second resolution as a victory for some kind of democratic accountability against
Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03)


ʻBlessed are the cheesemakersʼ) may have sung the praises of the French. This has been especially evident recently in the case of Russia. One is the confusion and division that appear to reign still in Washington on whether to invoke or repudiate UN authority. to temper any enthusiasm for ʻoldʼ European dissidence with a large dose of realpolitik. Of more significance to an assessment of the relative autonomy of the UN as a counter to US hegemony are two further factors. post-bellum. are now busily mending the diplomatic fences and seeking to find some accommodation with the ʻcoalitionʼ forces. Let us not forget that the privileged status of the ʻgang of fiveʼ in the Security Council is hardly a compelling model of international parity.the unilateralism of the Bush–Blair alliance? Only in the most limited sense. This has been very evident in the fact that the key hawks in the Bush administration who are now. The dialectic here is thickly pleated. The reasons for the rapprochement are in part geopolitical. From a dialectical point of view. Chirac was denounced for vetoing the war because of French interests in Iraq by a Bush–Blair team that had shown no compunction about buying the votes of a score of other nations. France and Germany. too. and basked in popular plaudits for being so. Deeply opposed as they have been throughout to any plans to replace the Baʼath regime by a US protectorate. insisting on the anachronism and irrelevance of the UN were the same who justified the war precisely because the resolutions of this outdated international institution were being flouted by the Iraqi regime. it must forfeit all claims to legitimacy save those that derive from the rightness of its own might. and the UN is in this sense a grossly undemocratic institution. Yet the rationale for the French and Russian vetos was hardly very principled. much of it being compromised by commercial considerations and a reflex anti-Americanism. One needs. But an authority that is overall derided cannot continue indefinitely to provide endorsement as the occasion demands. But charges of economic compromise are always double-edged and can be pressed both ways. To the extent that the USA has conducted the war and will manage the peace in defiance of the UN. It is here that we might bring in the other factor: the multiple levels of interaction between governments and their electorates. The obvious answer to this is that UN authority (like the Geneva Convention) is invoked when it suits and not when it does not. The peace marchersʼ banners (ʻVive la France!ʼ. this is not a very comfortable or secure. position for the USA to be in over the long term. The discomforts of isolationism might be reinforced were the UN over time democratically to reform itself. or even necessarily a very powerful. where governments that were very much in tune with their publics in opposing the war. Nor has oneʼs faith in French political sophistication been greatly enhanced by polls during the war showing one in four backing the Baʼath regime. these are nations that are understandably keen to have their say in any discussions influencing the future 4 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . and the Germans may now be advocating ʻdʼaccordʼ in place of ʻOKʼ and ʻtricotʼ instead of ʻT-shirtʼ.

rather than in deference to what the voters want. and that it only came about because many MPs directly flouted the wishes of their constituents. the other concerning the ʻdemocracyʼ of the behaviour of those MPs who voted against the war but who have retained the Labour whip. In the second instance – and this applies with particular urgency to the situation in Britain at the present time – it must seek to provide those committed to an alternative of this kind with a fairer representation in the arena of official politics. Resistance to war has to be yoked to an ongoing and altogether more muscular. interests of transnational company directors. it might be said that this is a perennial issue of representational government. in other words. They have. have a certain logic about them – in that they bring into focus the intimate connection between affluent consumer expectations and the politics of aggression. The economic duress to which governments capitulate. but because this subservience is so thoroughly tied up with the consumer and investment interests of the electorates upon whom they themselves depend for power. that the decisive vote for war did not represent the wishes of two-thirds of the people. they should be guiding public opinion as well as listening to it. is likely to make little headway against the countering dynamic of the military–industrial system sustained by the mainstream parties. one about the accountability of MPs. This is not simply because governments are subservient to the elite. On the first count. tacit though it may be. forward-looking and positive mode of campaigning. Time to regroup? In pressing for this in Britain at the present time. Unfortunately. have a pastoral as well as a representative role. resistance to that ʻold–newʼ one imposed under American dominance. Better pastoral guidance was provided by schoolchildren at the anti-war rallies than by many of our New Labour MPs. whether it seeks to develop a base in ʻoldʼ Europe or anywhere else. This should be designed. naive as they obviously are in many respects. it cannot be in the present instance where it is starkly obvious that the Labour MPs in question were looking more to protect the prime minister and the stability of the Labour Party than they were to the rights and wrongs of perpetrating an illegal and devastating war. to ensure that a compelling image of an ʻalternative world orderʼ everywhere shadows. then their protest. but also to the compulsion of the economic agendas upon which their publics expect them to deliver. although persuasive on such issues as capital punishment. in the first instance. it does indeed now seem difficult to endorse the retention of the Labour whip by MPs who voted against the war and have since campaigned Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 5 . and admittedly greedily self-seeking. On the second count. whether in the form of economic pressures or through recourse to military means. however ardent at the time. MPs. been elected with an agreement. It is here that we can locate the most fundamental obstacle to the realization of any democratically mandated alternative to the bellicose politics of the ʻnew world orderʼ. and these are indicative of the limits placed by a deregulated global market economy on the autonomy of national politics. But there are also powerful economic reasons propelling those who opposed the war to renew the dialogue with its perpetrators. that there will be occasions when they feel the need to vote on principle and according to their own lights. It is here that the calls for those opposed to the war to give up driving their motor cars. And unless the peace movements are prepared more directly to acknowledge and campaign around that connection. it is important to keep in mind that opposition to the conflict even now remains extensive. reluctantly doing business with very unpopular agencies and processes (the furore around the US use of Shannon airport in the supposedly neutral Republic of Ireland would be an obvious case in point) testifies not simply to the way in which ʻtheyʼ defy their publics politically. and in particular to see the UN playing the major role in the process of political reformation.of Iraq. it will be argued. and wherever possible directly confronts and fuels. This raises two questions.

puts some Labour MPs at risk. Perhaps. ʻStart the Peaceʼ is not an organization. or join the discussion list at http://groups. March/April 2003. 25–30 and 31–2. the electorate.j-n-v. and the impact his resignation might have had on Bushʼs options. and sustainability. social and global justice. Notes 1. ʻCasuistries of Peace and Warʼ. As for the danger of helping the Conservatives.) 2. to make a definitive break with New Labour. Why.org. have recently been arguing. Nothing. the Green Party. Arrow Anti-War Briefing 42. November/December 2002. But any Labour MP who intends to canvass anti-war votes in 2005/6 should resign the Labour whip now and seek backing to stand as an Independent Labour candidate next time round. pp. This is one to seize. then. which aims to use electoral politics as a focus for a positive long-term project. 3. and of all those who are motivated by a vision of an alternative order of global coexistence. at any rate.com/group/startpeace. and have felt so acutely their disenfranchisement over recent weeks. Its strategy is threefold: (1) to ensure that in forthcoming local.yahoo. ʻWhatʼs Left of Cosmopolitanism?ʼ RP 116. 12–13. the Socialist Alliance or the nationalist parties. no doubt. say. given the British electoral system (which New Labour decided not to change). pp. See Milan Raiʼs analysis in ʻPartial Victoriesʼ. On the specific issue of war in Iraq and the UN role. respectively). will argue that they remain an altogether more effective influence by remaining with New Labour. Moments to check the current drift towards a de-democratizing of American-style clientele politics have been few and far between. 6 March 2003. The arithmetic certainly gives disproportionate influence to any anti-militarist candidate winning significant support: defection of even a small proportion of Labour voters to. see the interesting and wide-ranging debate on cosmopolitanism between Bruce Robbins and David Chandler in recent issues of Radical Philosophy (Bruce Robbins. see the April issue of Red Pepper. pp. both in RP 118. (Briefings can be downloaded from the ARROW website www. Verso. (3) to build a new political formation committed to anti-militarism. but is designed to foster discussion on the issues outlined above. there was surely more of a responsibility to themselves. than they managed to discharge. (2) to encourage anti-war coalitions to organize locally in support of parties who have opposed the war and seek the elimination of British weapons of mass destruction and the closure of US bases here. For more information on the initiative. then. the continued presence of American bases. ʻReply to Chandlerʼ. this is a nettle that has now to be grasped. ʻThe Cosmopolitan Paradox: Response to Robbinsʼ. in any case.3 If it succeeds. would more help what remains of the Left inside Labour than a serious anti-war electoral challenge outside. we have to ask. New Labour pays the maximum political price for taking Britain into the war with Iraq. and the extended treatment in his book War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against the War on Iraq. was the opposition they did offer from this favoured position so little and so late? Why did they prove so feeble in what should have been the moment of their ascendancy? Given how precarious Blairʼs position came to be on the eve of the critical vote in the Commons. and the arms trade. Bruce Robbins. European and parliamentary elections. this project may in places advantage the Conservatives. including myself. They themselves. at times expressing themselves very polemically at the various anti-war demonstrations. is the stance adopted by the recently launched ʻStart the Peaceʼ initiative. This. 11 April 2003. as some. London. Nor in truth can they claim to have been very loud over the years in their canvassing against the partyʼs militarism: its policies on the renewal of Trident. London Review of Books. see Perry Anderson. In this connection. 6 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . David Chandler. and indeed the world at large. and to work for a political formation that can better respond to the needs of the newly mobilized youth against the war. the time has finally come to regroup.against it. 2002. 30–37.

many citizens may well regard these as highly necessary and desirable safeguards. One of the main reasons for this is to attract inward investment. it is much less of a financial risk to keep on exploiting the same well-known star names. or who find that their pensions look set to be entirely inadequate in retirement. that these changes will benefit media users too: ʻby eliminating undue burdens on business we can drive innovation. deregulation will be a key means whereby ʻthe UK reinforces its position as one of the most attractive places for communications companies to do businessʼ. and regulate if we have to. conversely. or. those now quite unable to afford to buy a house. even though most viewers prefer home-grown programmes. Similarly. those who have lost their jobs through ʻdownsizingʼ. In particular. Even these introductory remarks raise a number of profound issues. may well thoroughly dislike the fact that Britain has the most deregulated labour force in the EU. however. began her speech by asking. deregulation all too easily leads to relentless competition for the mass audience and a corresponding homogenization of programming. in general terms. the Communications Bill 2003. ʻA not bad answer is this: promote competition where we can. the consumer. Here. This strategy may have worked well in the telecommunications sector. familiar formats and current successes than to invest in untried Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 7 . which is not a marketplace like any other. First. however. ʻWhat is the point of government?ʼ A reasonable question. As the policy document accompanying the draft bill bluntly states: ʻacross the economy. but the broadcasting ecology is different. Second. to protect the public. may well curse the day that the financial services industry was deregulated. it is by no means clear that the best way to ʻdrive innovationʼ is to reduce regulation. deregulation brings benefits for consumers and businesses … unnecessary regulations need to be removed wherever possibleʼ. raise employment and bring better services to consumersʼ. The reason why American programmes are so cheap to import is that many of them have already covered their production costs via sales to their vast home market and can thus be sold abroad at rock-bottom prices – a form of cultural ʻdumpingʼ. the UK Culture Secretary. increase investment. such as health and safety regulations. in terms of broadcasting.Consumers or citizens? Re-regulating communications Julian Petley A t a seminar on the recent Communications Bill in Britain. those forced to work long or ʻflexibleʼ (often erratic) hours. It is also argued. Why? Because of the economics of broadcasting. as the document explains. in respect of domestically produced programmes. The answer. many would argue that deregulation does not necessarily bring benefits to consumers and businesses alike. Then. In the first place. whilst business interests are indeed prone to condemn all regulations as ʻred tapeʼ and ʻbureaucracyʼ.ʼ It is this spirit which animates a measure likely to change utterly and for ever the face of British broadcasting over the next few years. was less so – at least to those who gasped in audible surprise on hearing that. Tessa Jowell. it is far cheaper to import ready-made programmes from America than to invest in original UK production.

as the policy document announces: ʻwe will abolish all rules on foreign ownershipʼ. And this in spite of the fact that the Independent Television Commissionʼs Review of the UK Programme Supply Market. to allow the UK to benefit rapidly from new ideas and technological developments. which is now dominated by just two companies. Carlton and Granada. Why such a drastic – and unpopular – measure? Because ʻthe Government wants to encourage inward investment from non-EEA [European Economic Area] sources. aiding efficiency and productivityʼ. A share of the action The problem with the existing ownership rules. it would be perfectly possible for Tony Blairʼs friend Silvio Berlusconi to buy it instead. In terms of Channel 3. The government appears unshakeable in its belief that what British broadcasting needs more than anything else is an injection of investment so great that it can come only from overseas. the virtual destruction of the Channel 3 regional network. this means that Carlton and Granada will finally be allowed to merge. especially in face of the unremitting campaign against it in the Murdoch press – tends to narrow the diversity of what is broadcast. such as Italy. And as for Murdoch. It might be thought that as the rapid changes of the past decade have included global merger-mania of the most ill-thought-out and rapacious kind (witness the disastrous AOL/Time Warner tie-up). there is a contradiction between the Communications Billʼs aim of bringing better services to media audiences and the means chosen to fulfil this aim. Or maybe. UK companies have to be allowed to grow. and as the ʻinterestsʼ referred to are clearly those of Murdoch. and in particular to tear the hated BBC limb from limb. then perhaps the existing rules actually have a good deal to commend them. New Zealand and. like much of Britainʼs rail system. innovative programming. of course. the increased casualization and shedding of staff. For although Thatcherʼs revanchist scheme to dismember public-service broadcasting. intense competition for ratings – brought about in the commercial sector by the need to attract advertisers. And. not being allowed to buy it may not worry him too much anyway. This contradiction becomes even more acute when we examine the billʼs most controversial deregulatory measures. This has been amply demonstrated by studies of the television schedules of those countries which have surrendered to the deregulatory impulse. to find new opportunities to reduce costs and attract new investment. finally. it could go to a French water company. the ascendancy of the safe. daring and risky. and the significant loss of studios and facilities. since itʼs perfectly possible that a Murdoch-owned Channel 5 could rapidly wipe the floor with Channel 3. and in the case of the BBC by the need to justify the existence of the licence fee. namely deregulation. of course. But no: ʻthe Government proposes to deregulate. he will be freed to buy Channel 5 if he so desires. British broadcasting was nonetheless submitted to a considerable degree of deregulation by the 1990 Broadcasting Act. Clearly. formulaic and proven over the innovative. is that ʻthey are not flexible enough to respond to the rapid change we have seen in media marketsʼ and that they appear ʻdirected at particular media interestsʼ. those pertaining to media ownership.new talent and challenging. according to the aforementioned policy document. which was published at 8 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . although the rule preventing any company which controls more than 20 per cent of the national newspaper market from holding a licence for Channel 3 will be retained. The consequences have been generally disastrous: a narrowing of the broadcast agenda. Meanwhile. if they are to bring better products to consumers.ʼ Thus the government intends to retain ʻonly the minimum level of media ownership regulation necessary to ensure that a wide range of voices will always be heardʼ. was finally defeated by saner counsels. In all likelihood the resulting single company will then be bought by a US conglomerate such as Disney or Viacom because. In that case. thus denying him that particular prize. the UK itself.

its very function is ʻto minimise regulatory burdensʼ and it will be required to ʻensure that regulation is kept to the minimum necessaryʼ. given that the current regulator. just like the government itself. these are two quite separate and distinct ways of Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 9 . any idea that the further deregulation of broadcasting might not actually be in the public interest is clearly too marginal to merit more than the most cursory consideration. First. whose interests will be uppermost for OFCOM. the media can always claim. the Radio Authority and the Radiocommunications Agency. the Broadcasting Standards Commission. as evidenced by the fiasco over News at Ten and the steady decline in regional production – then how on earth is an even ʻlighter touchʼ regulator going to do so in the ever more competitive environment which the Communications Bill will most certainly engender? OFCOMʼs responsibility to safeguard public service broadcasting is quite at odds with its overall remit. since media self-interest has led to a virtual conspiracy of silence on the matter. of course. And no wonder too that weʼve heard so little about such a far-reaching measure. Its export performance is second only to the USA. The chief executives at Carlton and Granada must be eagerly anticipating the riches awaiting once their merger has allowed them to flog off the resulting company to the highest transatlantic bidder. However. Given such self-seeking. of course. which will combine the functions of the Independent Television Commission. And. Government supports business There are at least two fundamental questions here. All this. As the policy document puts it. Meanwhile broadcast revenues have been steadily growing over the past five years. has been largely unable to halt the decline of public-service values – on Channel 3 in particular. noted that the UK has one of the most powerful domestic television production sectors in the world and that it spends more on indigenous television programming (new and repeat) per head than any other developed market – including the USA. The BBC is terrified of raising its head above the parapet for fear of further fuelling the daily campaign waged against it by the Murdoch press. will viewers and listeners be regarded primarily as consumers to be entertained (and. the arrival of OFCOM means that ʻred tape and the frictional cost of regulation will be reducedʼ.around the same time as the Communications Bill. the Independent Television Commission. or as citizens with specific communicative rights? In spite of the billʼs elisions and weasellings. is in line with the Better Regulation Task Forceʼs stipulation that economic regulators should withdraw from competitive markets when regulation is no longer ʻnecessaryʼ. which is a thoroughly deregulatory one. that public service principles will be safeguarded by the new super-regulator OFCOM. reaching almost £7. OFTEL. No wonder the global media giants have been lobbying so fervently for a share of the action. sold to advertisers).7 billion in 2001. whilst the papers themselves – and not only Murdochʼs – are salivating at the thought of the profits to be made from their expansion into the broadcasting sector at both national and local levels. of course. the publicʼs or the communications industryʼs? Second.

in fact. in the virtues of deregulation. The idea that markets work properly as long as they are left alone ignores the inconvenient fact that governments are central to the modern capitalist system. profoundly and passionately. it is neither the market nor technological changes nor OFCOM that will play the key role in the future shaping of communications. Here. but the government itself. Senior Policy Advisor at No. Whatever the case. competition and other neoliberal totems are inherently beneficial. The by now considerable. Indeed. and was no more likely to be swayed by public or backbench opinion on the deregulation of communications than on the war against Iraq. imported content accounted for a staggering 91. 10ʼ. I was told by one of its senior members that the impetus for the bill came ʻstraight from No. indeed begs for. the amount of current affairs programming across the four main terrestrial channels fell by 35 per cent. however. from which flow very different conceptions of what forms broadcast content should take. starkly concluded that ʻthe international documentary is virtually dead. There is no room. we come to the nub of the matter: what this bill is really all about is not deregulation but re-regulation. and allied to a particularly crude form of technological determinism. which showed that. it was soon to become common knowledge that the major driving force behind the measure was Ed Richards. Tessa Jowellʼs lamentable public performances in promoting the bill made it abundantly clear that it certainly hadnʼt come from her. for the research published by the ITV Network Centre in January 2003 which showed that. under the patronising guise of ʻgiving people what they wantʼ. are receiving less attention from mainstream UK television than at any time in the last thirteen years. That is. before the welcome advent of Childrenʼs BBC and CBeebies. that the idea that deregulation. and religious programmes were cut by nearly 75 per cent. It is altogether unsurprising. in the increasingly competitive broadcasting environment ushered in since the 1990 Broadcasting Act. therefore. There is no room for the Institute of Public Policy Research report They Have Been Watching…. closely followed by Bill Bush.9 per cent of childrenʼs programming on the non-terrestrial channels. many of their interventions. for the seven reports on television coverage of international affairs produced by the Third World and Environment Broadcasting Project. finally. As chair of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. The notion of ʻderegulationʼ is. imported content on the public service channels rose from 5. and never more so than when.7 per cent in 1972 to 28. as it has done all along. either. In the months that followed.ʼ There is no room. in terms of programming for children and young people. I have been involved in lobbying on this bill from the start. just after the Joint Committee to scrutinize the draft bill had been formed.6 per cent in 2002. and that big business relishes. In peak time there has been a 133 per cent increase in shows devoted to hobbies and leisure. Losing Reality. Special Policy Advisor to Tessa Jowell. 10. the number of arts programmes more than halved. namely the 1998 Green Paper. It has been an instructive experience. finally. whose most recent report. The realities of life for the majority of the worldʼs people. regulations designed to protect and enhance citizensʼ communicative rights are. and a 125 per cent increase in soaps. Never mind that a hundred-plus Labour MPs signed an early day motion highly critical of the bill. in communications as elsewhere. 10 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . empirically detailed literature on the negative consequences of the deregulation of broadcasting is simply ignored.conceptualizing media audiences. who live in developing countries. Regulating Communications: Approaching Convergence in the Information Age. although in the acres of print to which it has given rise over the past four years there is absolutely nothing offered in the way of demonstration. runs like a mantra through the bill. and that in 1997. and that I never found a Labour MP who supported it: ʻNew Labourʼ believes. little more than a convenient smokescreen behind which the government is remoulding the communications landscape into a corporate playground. being replaced by those designed to further the economic interests of vast global media corporations.

and particularly Japanese. Graham Parkes even spoke of ʻcongruenciesʼ between Heideggerʼs work and these ancient sources being ʻpat- terned by some thing. thought. Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 11 . (Heideggerʼs Japanese interlocutors and students often expressed amazement at the tendency of Heideggerʼs German contemporaries to find his work obscure and difficult.5 More recent work suggests the rethinking of these congruencies in terms of the disavowed influence of ancient East Asian sources on Heideggerʼs philosophy. however. Tanabe Hajimeʼs 1924 Japanese-language essay ʻA New Turn in Phenomenology: Heideggerʼs Philosophy of Lifeʼ is widely thought to be the first substantial commentary on Heidegger in any language. Furthermore. It questions both its transcendental conceptual ground – the conditions of possibility for the comparative exercise – and its account of Heideggerʼs philosophy itself. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s a number of scholars who would become major figures in Japanese philosophy (such as Miki Kiyoshi and Nishitani Keiji) visited Heidegger and attended his lectures.3 It is interesting. The point of this critical examination of the comparative literature is not. therefore. the ease with which Heidegger was read in twentieth-century China and Japan. in Japanese) was the first book-length study in any language. can only make its specific claims. event. both in terms of its immanent logic and its relation to Heideggerʼs conception of the history of philosophy. I will look first at the claims typical in the advocatory comparative literature and then at the problematic conceptual ground of the comparison. with a reading of that project that represses most of what is fundamental to Heideggerʼs conception of philosophy and almost everything that we know about his politics. he was also the only Marxist. and particularly Japanese. that most of the now voluminous literature on the relationship between Heideggerʼs philosophy and East Asian thought centres on what Reinhard May calls the ʻcorrespondencesʼ between Heideggerʼs work and ancient Chinese and ancient Indian thought. I will argue. sympathetic to the Heideggerian philosophical project. For the comparative literature. It is to reveal what is at stake in the mobilization of the imaginary geopolitical and geophilosophical unities of ʻthe Eastʼ and ʻthe Westʼ in relation to Heideggerʼs political-philosophical thinking of ʻthe Westʼ. Heideggerʼs work was embraced. Kuki Shuzoʼs 1933 The Philosophy of Heidegger (again. or processʼ. This article comprises a critical examination of some aspects of the English-language comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought.2 Of these Japanese philosophers Miki Kiyoshi was the only one seriously to criticize Heidegger after 1933. The claims The comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought is surprisingly large.) In his early work on Heidegger. as Tanabeʼs writings in particular show. The most influential reception of Heideggerʼs work fed into the philosophical justification of fascism in Japan. and five further Japanese translations of the work appeared in the following thirty years. in its emphasis on the ancient it facilitates the repression of the history of Heideggerian fascism in modern East Asian.Going Back Heidegger. Accordingly. twentythree years before the first English translation. disseminated and even canonized in some Japanese schools of thought long before it made a significant mark on European philosophy. philosophy is well known.4 ʻcorrespondencesʼ which perhaps explain. East Asia and ‘the West’ Stella Sandford Heideggerʼs influence on some important strands of modern East Asian. The basic motivation and the substantial content of its main strand is well represented by Joan Stambaugh (translator of many of Heideggerʼs works. to some degree. to expose a misreading of Heidegger. bringing them into even closer relation. including Being and Time).1 Being and Time was translated into Japanese in 1939.

Rudolf Otto. then. that although Heidegger could not read Chinese.14 To find this tradition upheld by an old-fashioned scholar of Heideggerʼs ilk is not surprising. From the standpoint of the current relative ignorance in the Western philosophical academy concerning ancient Chinese and Indian sources. he ʻvalued and appreciated East Asian thought.ʼ17) This 12 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . a major ideological issue in the field of comparative philosophy more generally: the geopolitical contestation of the definition of philosophy itself. To an extent. but that they communicate with each other in the true sense of the word.16 Heidegger. are always in part ideological enterprises. as in comparative religion. between this ʻwayʼ and Heideggerʼs ʻSayingʼ. (Thus Elisabeth Feist Hirsch writes: ʻIn an age of constantly narrowing distances between nations it is most important that East and West not only come to a deeper appreciation of their respective intellectual commitments. either because of the various alleged conceptual and grammatical inadequacies of Chinese or because of the regrettable absence of Western political forms in China. and often discussed them. where the nothing is thought beyond its traditional metaphysical definition. beyond its definition as ʻthe complete negation of the totality of beingsʼ: ʻThe nothing does not remain the indeterminate opposite of beings but reveals itself as belonging to the Being of beings. that is. but justified – to a greater or lesser extent – with reference to Heideggerʼs ʻclearly stated interest in Eastern thinkingʼ. It is often implied. in the wake of the eighteenth. it seems. Heideggerʼs attempt to think ʻNothingʼ outside of the Western history of nihilism (nihilism.) Reinhard May. it is clear that Heidegger was familiar with much ancient Chinese and Indian philosophy as it has survived in the form of the texts we know today. and in other records of conversations and letters between Heidegger and others. that is. Translations of the ʻthe daoʼ as ʻthe wayʼ give rise to obvious comparisons between this ʻwayʼ and Heideggerʼs ʻwaysʼ (Wege) of thought. as one of the Westʼs ʻothersʼ. of the ʻcorrespondence between being and nothingʼ. is Heideggerʼs 1929 lecture ʻWhat is Metaphysics?ʼ. Other ʻresonancesʼ (to use Graham Parkesʼs word)9 between Heideggerʼs philosophy and ancient East Asian sources are not difficult to find.ʼ15 In most of the comparative literature. as to many of the compatibilist claims.11 The prominent place of death in Daoist thought may also be compared to the place of death in Being and Time.6 Central to this. as Heidegger understands it: ʻThe essence of nihilism is the history in which there is nothing to being itselfʼ8) is most easily understood in terms of the non-dualism of Daoist thought and the basic Daoist insight. the congruencies between Heideggerʼs philosophy and East Asian thought are not explained as cosmic parallels. Karl Jaspers and Karl Löwith all had interests in Asian thought. it is immediately obvious that there is more to the comparative literature than the mere noting of congruencies. is presented as having led the way in East–West comparative philosophical studies.10 and even to an identification of the dao with what Heidegger calls Being itself. And the context of the comparative literature on Heidegger reveals. May says. almost by way of justification of the comparative project. institutionally. In many of the published reminiscences of friends and students of Heidegger. and the extension of the comparison to his own work is therefore natural. This claim is in turn justified by reference to Heideggerʼs well-documented interest in ancient East Asian thought. that the discovery and explication of these parallels may help us to better understand or appreciate the significance of Heideggerʼs thought.who finds ʻa basic compatibilityʼ between Daoism and Heideggerʼs attempt to think beyond metaphysics.and nineteenth-century German Romantic traditions in which knowledge of these texts – both originals and translations – was not uncommon. particularly with his Japanese interlocutors.12 the role of silence in Zen may be compared with the place of silence in Heideggerʼs later work. The history of modern Western philosophy includes – and not just as an interlude – the oft-repeated claim that. as Reinhard May puts it. even limiting the discussion here to a consideration of the English-language literature on Heideggerʼs relationship to ancient Chinese (specifically Daoist) sources. Heidegger had already been introduced to some of these texts by the early 1920s.13 and this by no means exhausts the comparative field. China not only in fact never produced an indigenous properly ʻphilosophicalʼ tradition. Graham Parkes and others cite Heideggerʼs familiarity with Buberʼs Reden und Gleichnisse des Tschuang-Tse. But Heidegger and his contemporaries lived. literature. and there is no doubt. one of the two major works of Daoism. Studies in comparative philosophy. in a particularly explicit manner. Heideggerʼs knowledge may seem remarkable. a German translation of the Zhuangzi (or Chuanz-tzu) anthology. (Martin Buber. the comparative literature in English is based on the presumption that this claim is wrong and on the desire to open ʻthe Westʼ up to dialogue with the philosophical traditions of ʻthe Eastʼ.ʼ7 For many commentators. However. and Daoist ideas above all. that is. anthropology and so on. but was necessarily incapable of doing so. Max Scheler.

claims that are the basis of the ensuing comparison with what he sees as the most fundamental philosophical commitments of Heideggerʼs work. His claim is that Heideggerʼs work from the mid-1920s. for the history of modern Western philosophy. himself Japanese. edited by Needham until his death. The ʻLack of Conscious Use of General Lawsʼ and the ʻGrammatical Ambiguity of Chinese Language and Thoughtʼ (more section titles) means that ʻ[w]e should not expect … the Chinese language would be as suitable as the Greek for philosophizingʼ.21 The discussion of these correspondences. as Needham says. with the publication in 1989 of Reinhard Mayʼs Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources (translated into English in 1996). clearly adduces these conceptual and linguistic differences as evidence of the superiority of Western models of philosophical thinking. which.essentially well-meaning urge is often true of EuroAmerican comparative studies more generally.and anti-metaphysical philosophy from a totally different historical and cultural situation lend[s] considerable weight to Heideggerʼs claim to have succeeded in overcoming the western metaphysical traditionʼ. constitutes the inadequacies of Chinese language and thought. read through another optic. China. are the basis for the claim that Heideggerʼs project of the overcoming of metaphysics finds ʻresonancesʼ in the ancient sources.22 To this extent. physical Nature (with all that implied at the highest levels) sufficed. in a number of cases of central importance appropriated ideas germane to his work from German translations primarily of Daoist classics but presumably of Zen Buddhist texts as well. congruencies and compatibilities took a different turn. if not before. For sinologists like Joseph Needham. others descriptions are less sympathetic. a structure unfit for expressing logical conceptionsʼ. One chapter of Hajime Nakamuraʼs Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples. constitutes. entitled ʻNon-Development of Abstract Thoughtʼ. claims that the ʻLack of Consciousness of Universalsʼ (a section title) is ʻsymptomatic of the general lack of consciousness of genus and differentia in the abstract among the Chineseʼ. Organic naturalism was their philosophia perennis. it is said. For Graham Parkes. for many. May refers his readers to Nakamuraʼs section on ʻNon-development of Metaphysicsʼ. The Chinese were extremely loath to separate the One from the many or the ʻspiritualʼ from the ʻmaterialʼ. on the whole. Mayʼs book is not at odds with what we could call the mainstream of the comparative literature.ʼ23 May Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 13 . as well as to Needhamʼs comments. but it has a peculiar twist in the case of comparisons with Heidegger: what. Greek and German. its precise superiority and its point of contact with Heidegger. nor did its peoples ever feel the need for. without stating his sources. did not ever have. The Japanese (which ʻhas had. These same differences. However. for the comparative literature.18 While Needham means these remarks to be complimentary. however. finding these parallels with ʻa non. are the sine qua non of Western philosophy. In the second volume of the massive multi-volume Science and Civilization in China. which – with their non-dualistic logic and this-worldly emphasis – had. and that ʻit seems probable that Heidegger. the characteristics Nakamura finds lacking in Chinese thought – preponderantly. feel the need for metaphysics. however. ʻpersistently eluded all metaphysicsʼ. and other ʻdefectsʼ) is likewise considered inferior in comparison with the Sanskrit.19 Nakamura. the characteristics of a philosophical practice founded on Aristotelian logical categories – are easily identified with the categories of Western metaphysics. as Heidegger understands it. this refers to the absence of those distinctions. for authoritative support for his claims about Chinese philosophy. his central claim is considerably stronger than anything previously found in it. at least in the past. he writes: we believe that the Chinese mind throughout the ages did not. was influenced by these East Asian sources to ʻa hitherto unrecognized extentʼ.20 That is to say. ʻmetaphysicsʼ. unacquainted with the philosophy of Heidegger.

if it is to retain its status as comparative. In the Englishlanguage literature under discussion here that third term is most often defined negatively as the absence (in Chinese thought) or the overcoming (in Heidegger) of ʻWestern metaphysicsʼ. ʻstandard practice in traditional dialogues in both East and Westʼ. for example. explicitly. of a true dialogue. but one in which the parts of both ʻthe Japaneseʼ and the ʻInquirerʼ are in fact played by Heidegger. translated into English as ʻA Dialogue on Language: Between a Japanese and an Enquirerʼ. in which the position of only one of the interlocutors is properly developed. both the traditional and the specifically Heideggerian senses of the history of Western philosophy as metaphysics seem to exclude consideration of Chinese thought as philosophy in a certain sense. of the West (here. May implies that Heideggerʼs indebtedness to these sources extends even to the thinking of Being itself. from the equally but differently Western Heideggerian perspective of the overcoming of Western metaphysics. First. Tokyoʼ. However. and according to the preoccupations. While May reads it as proof both of Heideggerʼs indebtedness to East Asian sources and his attempts to cover this over. so conceived. it is equally plausibly read as a statement of Heideggerʼs belief in the fundamental and incommensurable differences between philosophical traditions. However. assures its entry into that same history. just as most readers assume that Plato wrote all the parts in his. Accordingly. ʻoriginated in 1953/54. nor. distinct from either of the comparandae (here.25 Graham Parkes. the basis and the specific content of both types of claims are. Mayʼs English translator. is also a recognizable genre. although Heidegger would never openly acknowledge this.claims. the same thing that. The comparison There thus seem to be two different types of claims in the comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought: claims about ʻresonancesʼ and claims about Heideggerʼs secret indebtedness. I will suggest. is primarily a dialogue of the West with itself. according to Heidegger. ancient Chinese thought was completely remote from the assertion of ʻeternal truthsʼ. a text which. that Heidegger sought and found his new beginning in philosophy from these East Asian sources. This structure of internality besets the comparative literature: that is. it is not misleading in the way May suggests: most readers would probably presume that Heidegger plays both parts in this dialogue. from the traditional Western philo- sophical perspective. Although there is something a little creepy about the dialogue (Heidegger is unstinting in his praise for his own work through the mouth of ʻthe Japaneseʼ). begins his essay ʻA Philosophy of Comparison: Heidegger and Lao Tzuʼ with the claim that the notion of ʻcomparisonʼ animating such studies needs articulation in a philosophy of comparison (not just comparative 14 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . on the occasion of a visit by Professor Tezuka of the Imperial University. as if Heidegger was trying to pretend that the words spoken by ʻa Japaneseʼ should be directly attributable to Tezuka. albeit with a different understanding of what is implied in this exclusion. Documenting the various ancient East Asian texts and thinkers with which Heidegger was undoubtedly familiar and comparing these – in great detail – with many of the major themes in Heideggerʼs work leads May to the following conclusion: Where [Heideggerʼs] thinking has from early on received its (ʻsilentʼ) directive from is now not difficult to surmise. the overcoming of Western metaphysics). Michael Heim. dubious on several counts. and of the extraordinary difficulty. From ancient Chinese thought – for metaphysics. generally requires a context including – crucially – some mediating third term. above all. its content is preoccupied with the issue of the possibility or impossibility of an East–West dialogue in a deeper sense.27 If Heideggerʼs ʻDialogueʼ is only a ʻdialogueʼ in the sense that that word names a particular genre of writing. which belong according to Heidegger ʻto the residue of Christian theology that has still not been properly eradicated from philosophical problematicsʼ. As noted. if not the impossibility. of which Malebrancheʼs 1708 dialogue between a Christian and a Chinese philosopher is a notable example. Being neither indebted to Aristotelian logic nor receptive to an ontology involving a subject–object dichotomy. despite the best intentions of the interlocutors.26 May treats this essay as something of a scandal. was never developed there.24 Interpreting some of Heideggerʼs retrospective marginal notes in Being and Time.28 Even where the comparative literature acknowledges in some way the problem of internality it does not mange to avoid it. is thoroughly convinced by Mayʼs evidence and has pursued these claims further. its alleged East–West dialogue. conducted from the point of view. writes China out of the history of philosophy. being conditioned by any theology. This kind of one-sided exchange. Heideggerʼs philosophy and ancient Chinese thought) according to which the comparandae are compared. a comparison. in so far as they are both dependent on an untheorized logic of comparison. the epitome of the comparative literature on Heidegger is an essay written by Heidegger himself.

and that the ʻplaceʼ of such a philosophy is not outside or above the comparandae but somehow between them. this ʻlackʼ was often considered decisive. to its being crossed through and to the restoration of its archaic German spelling (Seyn). but by paying attention to its own hints at another concealingly-unconcealed understanding of Being. then. The project of the overcoming of Western metaphysics.32 In the exclusion of Chinese thought from the realm of the philosophical in the traditional history of Western philosophy and its others. For some. and thus suffer from the same internality. although confusion of these two senses continued to cause problems in philosophy for many centuries. Aristotle distinguishes what we now call the copulative and the existential senses of being. the negative space between Heidegger and Lao Tzu is characterized. I will argue. but that is another story. that one subject rarely broached in the comparative literature on Heidegger is the absence in Chinese of the verb ʻto beʼ and of the abstract noun ʻBeingʼ. and as the reality of ʻinternational communicationʼ is really the homogenization of communication ʻin a planetary culture [that] is the triumph of Western technology coupled with the culmination of the logos traditionʼ (by which he means the hegemony of ʻthe ideological public statementʼ as distinct from ʻpersonal human truthʼ). Stepping back. a presumption in which the linguistic and the anthropological were inseparably entwined. (It may be. but it is intriguing. In fact. at first sight.33 If the claim in the comparative literature is that it is the non-metaphysical aspects of Chinese thought that bear comparison with Heideggerʼs philosophy. where ʻWestern metaphysicsʼ means. In the eyes of at least one prominent sinologist. but one thing seems clear. briefly. of course. it looks like the stronger claims made by May and Parkes avoid them.30 which would lead.C. the category of the ʻunspeakableʼ is deployed as the ʻfree openingʼ or ʻnegative spaceʼ in which comparative philosophy might operate. in wholly Heideggerian terms. That is. Of course. There is no question of a clean break.philosophy). how should we understand its conception of the overcoming of Western metaphysics. That it is not foregrounded may at first sight appear as the passing over of an embarrassing lack of resonance devastating for the comparative case. not only empirically (in the fact of the return) but also more fundamentally. Heidegger. The empirical fact of ʻthe interpenetration of East and Westʼ means that comparative philosophy can no longer orient itself ʻon a simple geographical or cultural dualityʼ. the success of which is crucial to many of the claims in the comparative literature? The answer to this is complex. the absence of the verb ʻto beʼ and of a unifying concept of being is one of the main features recommending ancient Chinese philosophy. however. more particularly his observation that being is said in many ways. ought surely to be foregrounded. in the animating belief in the necessity of that return and in what is thereby to be achieved. as is well known. most obviously. above all. repeatedly refers to the importance for him of Aristotleʼs posing the question of the meaning of being. these stronger claims are subject to the same logic of comparison. the understanding of the Being of beings as constant presence. this was the mark of the Chinese incapacity for metaphysical thought. then this.) These sorts of criticism apply. ultimately. hence the tendency (unbelievably. this ʻnegative spaceʼ (between. it is the illusion of an overarching unity of the sense of being – an effect of the inherent ambiguity of the verb and of the capacity for IndoEuropean languages to derive from it an abstract noun – that is the mistake in Western philosophy. among other experiments. that the discourse of Heideggerianism is constitutively incapable of reflection in non-Heideggerian terms. This is not actually quite so.31 but never to its abandonment. ʻClassical Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 15 . still not yet dead) to speak of ʻthe Chinese mindʼ (a truly astonishing construction of the unity of China). and in the privileging of the ancient Chinese sources in the comparison – Heideggerʼs philosophical categories being.29 That is. is not achieved through the dismissal of its history. perhaps the most un-metaphysical aspect of all. According to A. into Heideggerʼs history of philosophy. for many. both in the historical location of a series of appropriations. Graham. It is remarkable. a ʻtranslationʼ of these sources. And. This is evident in Heideggerʼs incessant return to the texts that comprise that history. to the comparative literature that sets out to uncover resonances between Heideggerʼs philosophy and East Asian thought across the millennia. However. for example. no question of two separate histories of metaphysical and post-metaphysical thinking or of a leaping outside of the history of Western metaphysics. in some sense. the word ʻBeingʼ itself belongs to what Heidegger calls ʻthe patrimony of the language of metaphysicsʼ.34 In separating out the different senses of being. Heidegger and Lao Tzu) ʻcan be characterized in any set of philosophies by showing in what way the comparandae contribute to the culmination of the logos tradition in the unspeakable or in what way the comparandae contribute to the cultivation of the unsayableʼ.

but if a concept of Being is peculiar to Indo-European languages and absent in Chinese. a translation of the German/English concept back into the Chinese. several of which have other functions outside the scope of “to be”. the fact that symbolic logic has no symbol for being in this sense38 and that everyday use of the verb ʻto beʼ is almost exclusively copulative (the existential functions having been taken over by phrases such as ʻthere isʼ. In that case. ʻintroduce into Chinese thought the error of treating existence as a predicate. This is certainly how much of the comparative literature – albeit unwittingly – expresses the relation. unfortunately. in the sense that logical positivists demand that philosophy be non-metaphysical (that is. embodied in chapter 2 of the Laozi. he says.ʼ39 For Graham. it must be equally. and if Heidegger continues to speak of Being as differentiated from all ontic determinations of beings. which it took the West 2000 years to exposeʼ. a word that has no function in the language except in the translation of Western texts. ʻbut one may well ask in what sense Western thinkers. however confidently they may talk of Being. once again. but. Chinese translators have. to the effect that yu (being) and wu (nothing) mutually produce one another. ʻil y aʼ. specifically: ʻThe East Asian way of thinking distinguishes itself in Daoism through the ancient insight. Grahamʼs objection is that ʻbeingʼ is ambiguous.ʼ40 This looks like a translation of the Chinese characters into English (German in Mayʼs original).36 Graham did not. for example. anti-metaphysical).37 For Graham. coined a new word with the syntax of the English ʻexistʼ (a syntax otherwise foreign to Chinese). Feist Hirsch. The ghost of the old concept still walks. according to Graham. according to Grahamʼs argument above. A large part of Mayʼs case against Heidegger is the argument that the (silent) appropriation of one basic insight forms the basis of Heideggerʼs discussion of the nothing in ʻWhat is Metaphysics?ʼ and An Introduction to Metaphysics. and that we should therefore drop it in philosophy. his philosophical position on fundamental ontology may be extrapolated from his various remarks about ʻthe oddity of the Western tradition … in which the concept of Being covers the whole range of the Indo-European verb “to be”ʼ. thus avoiding the kind of confusion germane. may be said to retain a concept which no longer has a place in either their natural or their artificial languages. it is difficult to see how this does not mark a decisive dissimilarity with ancient Chinese philosophy. but this is the kind of objection on which Heidegger pours scorn in the opening pages of Being and Time. Classical Chinese has different and specific words for the copulative and the existential senses of the word ʻbeingʼ. One may thus. However. ever discuss the Chinese translations of Being and Time. for example. having ʻdiscoveredʼ its own categories in the thought of another tradition. writes that ʻZen Buddhism … arrives at the conclusion 16 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . the alleged affinity is between Heideggerʼs philosophy and Western renderings of ʻEast Asian thoughtʼ which. and it would make more sense to say that Heidegger failed to learn from it. This is a complex linguistic issue. one of the virtues of ancient Chinese philosophy is that in ʻlackingʼ the concept of Being it is non-metaphysical. It is not an objection that the authors of the comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought are therefore likely to countenance.ʼ35 In particular. however. to Anselmʼs ontological argument. as May does. However. than that it was his inspiration. if not more so. he says. are really a dialogue of the West with itself. In translating Anselmʼs argument without the benefit of an ambiguous verb ʻto beʼ. as Heidegger was reading German translations of Classical Chinese that imposed categories from Western philosophy (as a necessity of translation) there would still be grounds to claim.Chinese deals with the various functions covered by our verb “to be” by means of at least six different sets of words and constructions. ʻes gibtʼ) suggests that philosophers should abandon ʻbeingʼ as incurably ambiguous. that these texts were influential.

that the world man lives in points to Buddhahood. Thus Zen agrees with Heideggerʼs view to the effect that Being-there transcends toward Being.ʼ41 Mayʼs reversal, despite appearances to the contrary, cannot but fall under the same suspicion. In this case the mediating third term of the comparison, here an understanding of Being in some way ʻbeyondʼ Western metaphysics, is really internal to one of the comparandae and imposed on the other, as is most clear in Feist Hirschʼs claim.

‘The West’
Exposing this structure of internality is not intended as a criticism of the motivation of the comparative literature so much as an argument for the necessity for critical reflection on its immanent logic and its founding categories, ʻthe ʻEastʼ and the ʻWestʼ. The need is particularly acute in comparative studies on Heidegger and ʻthe Eastʼ not because Heidegger fails to address the function of these categories, but, on the contrary, precisely because of the way in which he makes an articulation of the category of ʻthe Westʼ central to his philosophical concerns. Any attempt to compare the specificity of Heideggerʼs philosophy and any ʻEasternʼ source must surely take this articulation into account. That the comparative literature does not do this further undermines the viability of the comparison between Heideggerʼs philosophy and East Asian thought, on grounds immanent to Heideggerʼs philosophy itself. For important aspects of the comparative case can in fact only be made when Heidegger is rendered unHeideggerian with respect to some of his fundamental philosophical commitments regarding ʻthe Westʼ. This argument needs to be made against the comparative literature, I will argue, not as a defence of Heidegger against May et al., but in order to remove an obstacle to criticism of Heidegger, criticism that the comparative literature neutralizes and in so neutralizing obviates its own best impulse. This is clearest in the elaboration and justification of Mayʼs and Parkesʼs stronger claim about the East Asian influence on Heidegger: the idea that these similarities are not coincidental (as Parkes previously believed) but evidence of Heideggerʼs ʻclandestineʼ42 indebtedness, more fundamental to his thought than any indebtedness to the Western tradition. In pursuing these claims further Parkes concludes, too, that Heidegger not only kept silent about the debt he owed to these sources, but disavowed them; more bluntly, he lied. To anyone familiar with certain of Heideggerʼs silences and his revisionist memories of relations and allegiances, this is all too easy to believe. Still, neither May nor Parkes actually give a reason for Heideggerʼs

reticence or dishonesty here. May quotes Heidegger referring more or less obliquely to his ʻhidden sourcesʼ (Heideggerʼs own phrase43), and of a ʻdeeply hidden kinshipʼ between his thinking and aspects of Japanese thought: ʻIn other words, he speaks of a connection based on his adoption of some essential traits of East Asian thinking which, for reasons easy to understand, he declined to reveal.ʼ44 May contrasts the details of his comparison between Heideggerʼs philosophy and the ancient East Asian sources with the very few published references to East Asian thought in Heideggerʼs work and with his explicit denials of their influence or of the current importance of these texts for Western thinkers, but concludes that Heidegger left behind ʻwell-encoded signs of a confessionʼ.45 He ends his book, not with a criticism of Heidegger, but with the idea that Heidegger ʻhas paid tribute in a unique wayʼ to the Westʼs task to devote itself to non-Western thinking: ʻHeidegger has, in his own special way, demonstrated the necessity of transcultural thinking.ʼ46 Similarly, despite Heideggerʼs ʻreticenceʼ in acknowledging his debts, Parkes concludes that to the extent that Mayʼs demonstration is successful, ʻrather than diminish Heideggerʼs significance as a thinker it makes him in many ways even more interestingʼ.47 Further, Parkes suggests that in bringing these hidden sources to light May operates in accord with Heideggerʼs own method, thinking what is unthought in Heideggerʼs texts, following Heideggerʼs own maxim in his lecture course on Platoʼs Sophist: ʻIt is in any case a dubious thing to rely on what an author himself has brought to the forefront. The important thing is rather to give attention to those things he left shrouded in silence.ʼ48 What, however, remains shrouded in silence in the comparative literature itself? Remarking that ʻthe Eurocentrism of so much Heidegger scholarship in the West has rendered it oblivious to the long and interesting history of the reception of Heideggerʼs ideas in the non-Western intellectual worldʼ,49 Parkesʼs implication seems to be that Heideggerʼs work is not itself Eurocentric. Heideggerʼs frequent remarks about Europe, and especially about the historic role of the ancient Greeks and the destiny of the German people, are left uncriticized and unexamined. What is in fact obvious in Heideggerʼs reluctance to ʻadmitʼ the East Asian influence on his work – namely, the profoundly, almost parodically, Eurocentric commitment at the heart of his philosophy – simply vanishes. That is, it is vanished in and by the comparisons with ʻEasternʼ sources. This is not only because these aspects of Heideggerʼs work must be among the most embarrassing paragraphs for his

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sympathetic readers, second only – but intimately related to – his enthusiasm for German ʻNational Socialismʼ. It is also because the philosophical position expressed in them is profoundly at odds with the comparative project. It would be easy enough to pick oneʼs way through Heideggerʼs work and find numerous references to the essentially Greek nature of Western philosophy and to the necessity to return to the Greek origin. I shall quote just one example. In the interview with Der Spiegel (conducted in 1966) Heidegger says of the ʻreversalʼ – that is, the overcoming – of the technicization of the modern world, which is the ʻcompletionʼ or result of Western metaphysics:
it is my conviction that a reversal can be prepared only in the same place in the world where the modern technological world originated, and that it cannot happen because of any takeover by Zen Buddhism or any other Eastern experiences of the world. There is a need for a rethinking which is to be carried out with the help of the European tradition and of a new appropriation of that tradition. Thinking itself can be transformed only by a thinking which has the same origin and calling.50

May says we must understand this passage as ʻa tactically necessary “cover-up” manoeuvre that turned out to be necessary for the preservation of his secretʼ. Parkes says Heideggerʼs denial, in a letter to Jaspers, of any ʻresonances with Eastern thinkingʼ in his work ʻspeaks volumesʼ, by which he seems to want to suggest that the denial is itself a covert admission.51 The major presumption of the comparative literature – both in extremis in May and less combatively in Parkes and elsewhere – is thus that remarks and denials such as these must either be taken to be extra-philosophical opinions that say something about the man but not about the philosophy (as many would read Heideggerʼs political ʻopinionsʼ too), or they must be taken to represent a philosophical position that somehow contradicts the true Heidegger or the true Heideggerian philosophy. This is a familiar tactic in many apologetic discussions of the racist or sexist or misogynistic ʻopinionsʼ of various philosophers; a tactic recently and persuasively criticized by Robert Bernasconi. 52 According to this way of reading, Heideggerʼs remarks must be taken to be reprehensible, as lies or mistruths, but may be dismissed. In fact, Heideggerʼs remarks are perfectly consonant with, perhaps even exemplary of, philosophical commitments that were evident in his work before the 1920s and which endured to the end – turns and new beginnings notwithstanding. The peculiar form of Heideggerʼs basic insistence on the historicality of

Dasein means that we are supposedly indebted to the Greek origin ʻwhich goes to the essence of our Dasein, i.e., its total existenceʼ. In The Essence of Truth, for example (the lecture course from 1931/2), we are said to ʻremain bonded and obligated to that beginning whether we know it or not … our Dasein stands in the history of the beginning of Western philosophyʼ and contemporary life, even the fact that today we ʻtravel by tram … means nothing else but that the beginning of Western philosophy, albeit without our recognizing it, is immediately effectiveʼ.53 For ʻusʼ, then, going back to the Greek origin, trying to grasp the Greek understanding of being, is ʻnot a matter of acquiring external historical knowledgeʼ, but of investigating its ʻconstant (albeit hidden) influence on our contemporary existenceʼ.54 If, as Heidegger claims, ʻman finds the proper abode of his existence in languageʼ,55 it seems that we must assume a difference in the nature of what he calls ʻEuropean existenceʼ and ʻEast Asian existenceʼ, ʻsince the nature of language remains something altogether different for the Eastasian and the European peoplesʼ. If language is the house of being, ʻthen we Europeans presumably dwell in an entirely different house than Eastasian manʼ, he says in ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ.56 Despite the fact that Heidegger talks, in ʻThe Origin of the Work of Artʼ, about perished worlds, world-withdrawal and world-decay,57 he assumes some continuity of existence, in some sense, between ancient Greece and modern Europe because of the linguistic family relation. (Why the Indic branch of the Indo-European family is excluded is not explained.) Further, this linguistic affinity supposedly ensures that we can return to the Greek origin and that we can, according to Heidegger, experience aletheia in the Greek sense,58 or actually think ʻin Greek termsʼ.59 It is this imaginary, purely cultural-linguistic continuity that, for Heidegger, unifies ʻthe Westʼ. Everything suggests that for Heidegger the task of the overcoming of Western metaphysics is, for essential reasons, a ʻEuropeanʼ task for ʻEuropeanʼ peoples: a task which could only be a task for European existence and which only European existence could undertake, even after what he calls the Europeanization of the world.60 To the extent that this argument is based on linguistic affinity, it turns out that for Heidegger ʻEuropeʼ means ʻGermanyʼ. The Germans, Heidegger says in the interview with Der Spiegel, have a special role in the task because of
the inner relationship of the German language with the language of the Greeks and with their thought. This has been confirmed for me today again by the French. When they begin to think, they speak Ger-

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man, being sure that they could not make it with their own language.61

Heidegger stuck to this view for more than 35 years. In The Essence of Human Freedom (a lecture course from 1930) he says that the extent to which all genuine languages are philosophical like the Greek (ʻit philosophizes in its basic structure and formationʼ) ʻdepends on the depth and power of the people who speak the language and exist within it. Only our German language has a deep and creative philosophical character to compare with the Greek.ʼ62 In this bizarre, arbitrary linguistic nationalism it is impossible not to see a relationship between Heideggerʼs conception of Western philosophy and his politics. If the comparative literature on Heidegger tends to leave this out of account, preferring instead an abstract conception of ʻHeideggerʼs thoughtʼ detached not just from its historical and political context but from its own (even its own-most) being-historical and being-political, its concomitant silence on the fascist reception of Heidegger in Japan becomes comprehensible. The two are, simply, too closely connected. The idealist ground of the comparison facilitates this silence: the ideas in two sets of texts are interpreted and compared without consideration of their historical situations and meanings. This is more obvious with the first type of comparative claim about congruencies,63 but it applies equally to the stronger claims about the East Asian influences on Heidegger, in so far as they neglect Heideggerʼs historico-political situation. Radically dehistoricized, uprooting thought from the factic basis on which Heidegger himself insisted, these comparisons are alien to any sense of the necessity of social-cultural or political context in the understanding of any given philosophical position or project. This is not to say, of course, that resonances cannot still be found, especially if one is looking for them. The idealism of comparative philosophy does not refute its own findings; on the contrary, it is one of its conditions of possibility.

The choice of Greece
None of this necessarily constitutes a refutation of any of the specific claims of influence in the comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought. But in failing to address the extent to which Heidegger locates the problem and the task of philosophy, and the form of existence adequate to it, in a radically reduced German nationalist idea of Europe, the comparative literature overlooks what is actually foundational to its own project: the construction of a history of Western philosophy in a determining opposition to the East. Heidegger was not the first to imagine ancient Greece

as the birthplace of Western philosophy, but his work – especially as mediated by Levinas and Derrida – is largely responsible for the status that this idea continues to enjoy in continental philosophy. To the extent that the self-conception of continental philosophy as an engaged relation with the history of philosophy presumes just this history of philosophy – so often presumes, as one may read over and over, that philosophy is Greek64 – the very idea of continental philosophy appears to be mortgaged to it. Until the middle of the eighteenth century, it was presumed in Europe that the wisdom of the Greeks was derived from non-European sources, specifically (but not exclusively) Egypt, Persia and India. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, this was supplanted by the completely different – and now hegemonic – story of the exclusively Greek origin of what began to be called ʻWestern philosophyʼ. As Robert Bernasconi points out, the narrowing of the history of philosophy to its origins in Greece needs to be understood in relation to a certain narrowing of the conception of philosophy itself, making it possible for us to speak now of the exclusion of certain traditions of thought, including the Chinese, from the Western conception of philosophy.65 (On this much, at least, the continental and the Anglo-American analytic philosophical traditions of the twentieth century have been in agreement.) Only after this exclusion can comparisons be made, because only after this exclusion are there two distinct traditions to be compared. Despite the best intentions of the comparative literature on Heidegger, it cannot avoid a paradoxical collusion with this kind of history of Western philosophy, a history which has, indeed, been the condition of possibility for the field of East–West comparative studies in philosophy. ʻWestern philosophyʼ and ʻAsian thoughtʼ (the latter internally subdivided into the imaginary unities of East Asian and Indian thought) are themselves ʻWesternʼ categories. The categories both provide the conceptual ground for comparative studies, as that which is to be compared, and throw the ground of that comparison into doubt in so far as they are internal to the Western problematic, just as the categories metaphysical/non-metaphysical are internal to the Western problematic. The obvious deconstructive fillip – the ʻEastʼ is, of course, therefore internal to the definition of the ʻWestʼ – does not refute, but rather confirms this, rendering the critical investigation of the categories all the more compelling. The problems with the East–West comparative model are quite general, but, as I have argued, the use of the model in relation to Heideggerʼs work poses its own unique difficulty. For Heidegger the question of the Greek ʻoriginʼ of philosophy and of Western

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532.. p. p. p. ʻCreative Hermeneutics: Taoist Metaphysics and Heideggerʼ. a necessary choice for Heidegger (ʻit is my conviction that a reversal can only be prepared in the same place…ʼ) and it is a choice that excludes ʻthe Eastʼ. once again. 21. Volume II. Heidegger and Asian Thought. Philosophy East and West 20. reprinted in Peter Osborne and Stella Sandford. 56. Continuum. n. This is. the resolute repetition of a tradition. p. revised edition by Philip P. constitutively. trans. in May. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. 4. In Heideggerʼs resolute repetition of the Western tradition a choice has been made – the choice of Greece. May. ʻMartin Heidegger and the Eastʼ. See Graham Parkes. not an empirical question. eds. 30. p. in this context. Routledge. Charles WeiHsun Fu. Elisabeth Feist Hirsch. The editorʼs Preface (p. it seems to enable the metonymic construction of Heidegger as himself a timeless source. p. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. wholesome and sharp. ʻIntroductionʼ. which is in so many ways anathema to the ideological presuppositions of the comparative project. 27. Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India – China – Tibet – Japan.67 In so far as the comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought constitutes such a ʻgoing backʼ the mediating third term in the comparison – something beyond Western metaphysics – is also inflected in it as this idea of ʻgoing backʼ (inseparable. on the back of Heideggerʼs return to ancient sources. 263. ʻThoughts on the Wayʼ. 1910. May. and the Question of Metaphysicsʼ. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. 9. 1976. 13.. See Graham Parkes. Cambridge. On Tanabe see Naoki Sakai. Honolulu. May.. This both rules out the possibility of a comparison with modern East Asian philosophy and sails dangerously close to that orientalism for which ʻthe Eastʼ signified the ancient in distinction from the modernity of ʻthe Westʼ. 1982. ed. 533–5.ʼ Demiéville is clearly pleased – if a little taken aback – at Nakamuraʼs mastery of the ideology and vocabulary of the sinology and Japanology of the period. the choice of Europe and the choice of Germany. 186.civilization was not a question of any historiographic or factual beginning. Notes 1. p. 98. 1993. 81–7. Routledge. University of Hawaii Press. 4. May. Science and Civilization in China. 7. 5. in Parkes. pp. 2002. but it does suggest that the comparative literature ought to include a critical reflection on Heideggerʼs political-philosophical position on ʻthe Westʼ. 4 10. 254. the choice of the West. 18. pp. 247. Parkes. 187. 1964. Ibid. See Parkes. ʻLanguage and Silence: Self-Inquiry in Heidegger and Zenʼ. See also Stambaugh. Heidegger and Asian Thought. 93. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. p. 4. and the Question of Metaphysicsʼ. 11. HarperCollins. Volume II: History of Scientific Thought. Demiéville on Nakamuraʼs work: ʻI was particularly struck by the part on Japan which occupies nearly half of the work. in Parkes. Martin Heidegger. 199. ed. 8. ed. London. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources: East Asian Influences on His Work. Parkes. avoiding the historically and culturally located specificity of his philosophical-political position. Parkes. Culture. Joan Stambaugh. Capuzzi. Overcome By Modernity: History. Nietzsche.. Journal of Chinese Philosophy. for example. Martin Heidegger. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. p. 37–8. 107. xi) quotes ʻrenowned sinologueʼ Professor P. such as you would not have thought written by a Japanese. 4.. David Farrell Krell.68 Furthermore. University of Hawaii Press. See. Once again. Martin Buber. Radical Philosophy 95. Science and Civilization in China. ʻIntroductionʼ. for example. On Miki see Harry Harootunian.66 But it is precisely this conception of the origin as resolute repetition that stymies the comparative project of the literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought. pp. The quotation from Heidegger can be found 20 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . pp. for example. 1996. Joseph Needham.. Graham Parkes. p. 358–414. ʻThoughts on the Way: Being and Time via Lao-Chuangʼ. 17. Parkes. p. p. Cambridge University Press. See. 3. 15. Ibid. The positing of the Greek origin constituted. 108. Philosophies of Race and Ethnicity. in G. Though Heidegger was obviously gratified by the interest in his work in East Asia. a resolute philosophical choice that not only sanctioned but also necessitated a disregard for the historical ʻfactsʼ about the empirical origins of philosophy. p. Princeton University Press. Honolulu. Princeton and Oxford. 19. Heidegger and Asian Thought. ix. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. p. ed. 24. trans. ʻWhat is Metaphysics?ʼ. 24. p. 56. 51. Volume IV. ʻHeidegger. 3. ed. this does not refute the claim that Heidegger was influenced by Daoist texts. thus. 12. in Basic Writings. 25. p. ʻRising Sun over Black Forest: Heideggerʼs Japanese Connectionsʼ. London. 1970.. Leipzig. moreover. one consequence of his relation to the ʻoriginalʼ texts of his own tradition was his apparent belief that East Asians should go back to the ʻoriginalʼ texts of theirs. Taoism.. May. Tetsuaki Kotoh. in Parkes. Hajime Nakamura. pp. London and New York. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. in Reinhard May.. See. 201. Reden und Gleichnisse des Tschuang-Tse. 2. Heidegger and Asian Thought. p. Ibid. 23. 16. 1969. See May. 88. quite emphatically. See Graham Parkes. Needham. pp. 6. Heidegger and Asian Thought. from the idea of ʻancientnessʼ). ʻEthnicity and Species: On the Philosophy of the Multi-ethnic State in Japanese Imperialismʼ. 1990. Frank A. May/June 1999. pp. Ibid. ʻHeidegger. 20. 43. 138. 14. 82. Heidegger and Asian Thought. ʻRising Sun over Black Forestʼ. Feist Hirsch. and Community in Interwar Japan. 22. Taoism. Weiner. for it constitutes a national self-criticism. 136. p. at least in so far as it claims to be Heideggerian. p. 4. trans. and sidestepping the necessity for critique. ʻTranslatorʼs Prefaceʼ. it was. 38. for Heidegger. 2000. ʻMartin Heidegger and the Eastʼ. 89. in Parkes. p. p. New York.

trans. 2002. LaSalle IL. Sein und Zeit. 35–6. ʻMalebranche and Chinese Philosophyʼ. See. 87–8. p. ʻHegelʼs Racism? A Response to Bernasconiʼ. Heidegger. Cambridge University Press. In Translation and Subjectivity (University of Minnesota Press. 51. p. 37. See. p. January/February 2003. p. p. Metaphysics. 1933. Maria P.. 65) in Heideggerʼs ʻWinkeʼ. Martin Heidegger. See Otto Pöggeler. x. for example. 250. ed. p. 15. Parkes acknowledges the problem in a general way in ʻAfterwords – Languageʼ. 38. Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 21 . 1987. trans. Indiana University Press. 59. p. 63. Ibid. 33. ʻThe Origin of the Work of Artʼ. See also Joseph McCarney. 1992. in Heidegger. 323. See. Martin Heidegger.C. 1982. 42. for example. 3. Graham. 199.. Ted Sadler. p. 57. Categories and Translation. p. in Unreason Within Reason. Heidegger and Asian Thought. 1990. 26. Heidegger. Understanding the Chinese Mind: The Philosophical Roots. Ralph Manheim. p. 113. Cambridge MA.). LaSalle IL. Cambridge. 56. Joan Stambaugh. For a critique of Grahamʼs general approach to this question. and Bernasconi. Cambridge. State University of New York Press. p. my emphasis. 57. ʻHegelʼs Racism: A Reply to McCarneyʼ. 33. 310. p. Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Arguments in Ancient China. 1999) translates Seyn as ʻbe-ingʼ. pp. 5. Vittorio Klostermann. p. 53. ʻBeing in Linguistics and Philosophyʼ. Parkes quotes from the letter in ʻRising Sun over Black Forestʼ. 309. p. p. in Parkes. in On the Way to Language. London. 272. 1992. Gesamtausgabe. p. Taoism. p. Bloomington. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. 319. Alter and John D. in Heidegger. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. 52. Unreason Within Reason: Essays on the Outskirts of Rationality. ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ.. in May. 67. which is not a predicate but a quantifier. 57. ʻThe End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinkingʼ. 57. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. 316. trans. Allison (ed. 1962. 408. Disputers of the Tao. The Essence of Truth. ed. a. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. 3–5. 47. Continuum. Oxtoby. The Essence of Human Freedom. 35. Volume 13. 39. David E. ʻConceptual Schemes and Linguistic Relativism in Relation to Chineseʼ. 43. Hugh Tredennick. ʻAus einem Gespräch von der Sprache – Zwischen einem Japaner und einem Fragendenʼ. 113. Robert Bernasconi.. William McNeill. ʻIn symbolic logic the verb “to be” dissolves into the sign of existence (∃). Martin Heidegger. p. 166. Blackwell. 40. 53. an equivalent of ningen. Feist Hirsch. 229. Graham. 34. p. 61. p. 58–9. Caputo. 45. Cambridge University Press. in Richard Wolin. ʻAn Hour with Heideggerʼ. Loeb Library. ibid. 27. Ibid. ʻOn the Question of Beingʼ. Discovering China: European Interpretations in the Enlightenment. An Introduction to Metaphysics. p. See also Martin Heidegger. ed. See. p. 19.ʼ Graham. 29. pp. p. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. VII 1028a. in Heidegger. n. ʻThe Relation of Chinese Thought to the Chinese Languageʼ. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. MIT Press. 215–16. 50. Tübingen. Heidegger and Asian Thought. p. Heidegger. trans. p. 28. ʻ“Only a God Can Save Us”ʼ. ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ. 58. ʻHeidegger. ʻOn Time and Beingʼ. class membership (∈) and class inclusion ( ). May. Hertz. Minneapolis and London. Yale University Press.ʼ A. pp. 1997. 58. 448. ʻWill the Real Kant Please Stand Up: The Challenge of Enlightenment Racism to the Study of the History of Philosophyʼ. p. The Essence of Human Freedom. A. 1993. 37–9.26. 59. in Parkes. Pfullingen. The Essence of Human Freedom. 36. and three separate copulae. see Robert Wardy. Frankfurt am Main. both in Radical Philosophy 119. 87. in Julia Ching and Willard G. Robert E. May. Albert Hofstadter. See also Heidegger. ʻMartin Heidegger and the Eastʼ. London.. ʻWest–East Dialogue: Heidegger and Lao-tzuʼ. Oxford University Press. 48. x. p. 1984. pp. The English translation by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly (Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning). pp. for example. ʻA Dialogue on Language: Between a Japanese and an Inquirerʼ. 60. New York.. Harper & Row. Graham. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ. especially pp. trans. ʻThe Nature of Languageʼ. An Introduction to Metaphysics. ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ. Parkes. 86) Naoki Sakai discusses Watsuji Tetsuroʼs treatment of the same issue in Japanese: Watsuji ʻpoints out the difference between the term sonzai (being). 413. May. 55. Aristotle. 93. Basic Writings. p. p. 101–2. ix. p. in ibid. 23. p. Oxford. 1959. p. p. Heidegger. Concerning the line (crossing Being) see Martin Heidegger. Ted Sadler. ʻA Philosophy of Comparison: Heidegger and Lao Tzuʼ. Graham. and German Sein. ʻTranslatorʼs Prefaceʼ. Appendix 2. Michael Heim. 78. Heidegger. p. especially pp. in May. To be found. Radical Philosophy 117. p. in On the Way to Language. In this book Graham addresses the issue of the allegedly unphilosophical nature of Chinese philosophy directly. Cited by Parkes. Albany NY. p. 41. xviii. 1989. trans. Martin Heidegger.C. A. trans. Stambaugh. Studies in Chinese Philosophy and Philosophical Literature. (in a slightly different translation) in Being and Time. 31. Peter D. Pathmarks. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. 32. Frankfurt am Main. see also ʻConceptual Schemes and Linguistic Relativism in Relation to Chineseʼ. 52. ed. in Parkes. Mungello. 44. ʻ“Only a God Can Save Us”ʼ. On ʻBeingʼ in Indo-European languages and philosophy. New Haven and London. 1993. Continuum. 307. Unterwegs zur Sprache. Martin Heidegger. 30. ⊃ 46. Tezukaʼs own account of his meeting with Heidegger. May.C. Open Court. pp. viii. trans.. 1989. pp. The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader. see also p. 49. trans. confirms the fictional status of the dialogue. 3... Mayʼs chapter 5 is titled ʻA Kind of Confessionʼ. Oxford and Hong Kong. ʻIntroductionʼ. 1989. Basic Writings. Ibid. according to Parkes (in May. pp. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 11. 62. Max Niemeyer Verlag. Vittorio Klostermann. Heidegger uses Seyn in his Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis). 45. 53. Heidegger and Asian Thought. Open Court. 414. May/June 2003. Harvard University Press. Aristotle in China: Language. Cambridge MA. the signs of identity (=). ʻ“Being” in Western Philosophy Compared with Shih/Fei and Yu/Wu in Chinese Philosophyʼ. so as to exemplify the grammatical limitation of European languages that Western ontology has taken for granted. Rochester NY. trans. 2002. Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources. Heidegger. Martin Heidegger. 7. 2000. 1998. 311. University of Rochester Press. 54. See also Parkes. eds. for example. Indiana. May.

Duquesne University Press. eds. no. Baltimore and London. forthcoming. Chung-Ying Cheng and Nicholas Bunnin. it is also fundamental to Emmanuel Levinasʼs Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. See. ed. Cultural Practice. in which the ʻJapaneseʼ says: ʻProfessor Tanabe often came back to a question you once put to him: why it was that we Japanese did not call back to mind the venerable beginnings of our own thinking. Stella Sandford. London. 64. October 1995. no. vol. Pittsburgh. On tradition and repetition see. Blackwell. but surely the true spirit of his thought. it is surprising to note that they share some basic thoughtsʼ (ʻMartin Heidegger and the Eastʼ. 3. Contemporary Chinese Philosophy. is part of the effort to address Western ignorance of contemporary Chinese philosophy.” This is not exactly Heideggerʼs language. ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ. eds. instead of chasing ever more greedily after the latest news in European philosophy. 434–439. 22 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . 66. Benita Parry and Judith Squires. 1997. Lawrence & Wishart. 1969. 221. See Harry Harootunian. 2002. in Keith Ansell Pearson. trans. especially p. vol. and the Question of Everyday Life.and the Question of Metaphysicsʼ. Cultural Readings of Imperialism: Edward Said and the Gravity of History. Christian calendar]. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. La Renaissance du Livre. trans. 1934. Robert Bernasconi. Columbia University Press. 41. p. Historyʼs Disquiet: Modernity. 90: ʻthe tao has been described … as “the rhythm of the space–time structure. §74. New York. ʻOn Heideggerʼs Other Sins of Omission: His Exclusion of Asian Thought from the Origins of Occidental Metaphysics and His Denial of the Possibility of Christian Philosophyʼ. Alphonso Lingis. 2. Robert Bernasconi. 69. for example. 26. itself remaining accessible to any specific actualization. Feist Hirsch: ʻAlthough there are wide areas of disagreement between Samkara [a Hindu philosopher of the eighth and ninth centuries. 256). 1997. ʻHow the West Was One: Heidegger and the Greek Origin of Continental Philosophyʼ. Paris. pp. Despite a critique of ethnocentrism.ʼ Stambaugh is quoting from Marcel Granet.. Johns Hopkins University Press. ʻHeidegger and the Invention of the Western Philosophical Traditionʼ. p. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology. for example. Ancient and Continental Philosophy. Similarly. Robert Bernasconi. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. p. 65. 67. Oxford. in John Sellars. La Pensée chinoise. 2000. 37. p.” as “an uncircumscribed power ruling the totality of perceptible givens. Being and Time. ʻPhilosophyʼs Paradoxical Paro-chialismʼ. this conception of ʻWestern metaphysicsʼ and its basis in ʻGreek conceptualityʼ is particularly marked in Jacques Derridaʼs Of Grammatology.ʼ 68.

my impression is that a careful and exacting reading of Empire. especially in Germany – well. AN I like that. Antonio Negri Thank you. modern and contemporary. the international success it is enjoying. ambitious and extensive work. Jacques Derrida and especially Michel Foucault. We were interested in underlining the need to change register: the political philosophy of modernity (and the institutions with which it interacted) is over. Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 23 . this grand narrative was what people had been waiting for.Empire and the multitude A dialogue on the new order of globalization Antonio Negri and Danilo Zolo Danilo Zolo For a long time I resisted the calls. the book you co-authored with Michael Hardt. after the triumph of ʻweak thoughtʼ. it is already growing old with respect to the pace of events. After all. a reading the book surely deserves and inspires one to. invests a large quantity of intellectual resources in the attempt to offer a contribution to understanding the world we live in and denounces the atrocities and risks of the present ʻglobal orderʼ and tries to indicate ways of overcoming it. After the 1980s. I overcame my initial hesitations. In this transfiguration of concepts. The fact remains that now. in my view. however. I was inhibited by a sense of impotence before such a complex. Michael Hardt and I had no desire to reach hard and fast conclusions. after the defeat of various struggles. If for no other reason Empire deserves. a leading role is played by the post-structuralism of authors such as Gilles Deleuze. To attempt a critical evaluation of a work of this kind – you define it as ʻwidely interdisciplinaryʼ – entails to some extent sharing the theoretical ambition that moved you to write it. In Empire. a jolt was needed: Empire provided it. which has prompted a debate of exceptional scope and intensity on both sides of the Atlantic. However. It is a syntax that transfigures some fundamental Marxist categories by interpolating them with elements taken from a great variety of Western philosophical traditions: classical. It is a book that. to publicly debate Empire. it is a book that risks transmitting more in the way of theoretical uncertainties than certainties. Despite its often prescriptive and assertive tone. DZ Empire is a difficult book not only because of its size and its thematic breadth but also because its philosophical and politico-theoretical syntax is extremely original. alongside the sheen of ʻbanalityʼ the book had from the start (it appears almost as if it were a film rather than a book). whatever one thinks of it. leads inevitably to controversial interpretative results. The ʻgrand narrativeʼ that was responsible for the success of the book – facilitating its reception on American campuses in the wake of Seattle. the processes constituting empire are still largely open. The theory that goes from Marsilio to Hobbes and from Althusius to Schmitt is finished. from many quarters. because I became convinced that after September 11 it would be irresponsible not to take seriously a book such as Empire. and subsequently all over the world. Empire marks a new theoretical threshold.

In our interpretation (which differs from yours). despite the richness of its motivations. For me. egalitarian. understood as the expression of a critical trend that has traversed modernity and that has always been attacked by it: this is the path that leads from Machiavelli to Spinoza and on to Marx. There is always a point when the decision upon the new and the strong erupts. we became aware of being in postmodernity. and still are. organic society. There is such pleasure in being able to finish with the pale fictions of the modern. linked operaismo with post-structuralism and with tendencies in the broad field of subaltern studies and other postcolonial approaches. I personally have enormous respect for what theoretical Marxism was in the last century. Deleuze and Guattari already recognized this influence in A Thousand Plateaus. to be fundamental. who proved the ideal element for this ontological encounter. For me the recovery and renewal of Marxism have the same powerful significance that the patristic apologetics had in the first centuries of the history of Christianity: it consists in 24 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . mutatis mutandis. Or. as far as my own development is concerned. still seems constrained by Marxist orthodoxy. rules thought… DZ Before discussing the central themes of Empire. since the end of the 1960s. it seems to me that you throw away the baby with the more or less dirty – often it has even been filthy – bath water. As far as we are concerned. the theory of the withering away of the state and the associated refusal of the rule of law and of individual rights. I had already begun this operation during my years in prison (between 1979 and 1983) while working on Spinoza. if we could reduce Marxism to the three theoretical pillars you mention. we deepened this analysis and immersed ourselves in that common ʻauraʼ that had. Personally. rather. By publishing a collection of subaltern studies in the 1980s. especially when they declare that they have adopted Karl Marxʼs Capital as one of their models of exposition. we were. However. regardless of how innovative and critical in form they may be. I took my leave of Marxism because I could not share its three theoretical pillars: the dialectical philosophy of history with its ʻscientific lawsʼ of development. However. I am not inclined to look favourably today on returns to or re-foundations of Marxist philosophy.DZ The philosophy of Marx and that of Foucault – to put it in a very summary way – are divergent theoretical vectors: Marxism prefigures a solid. Your communism. with Rawls or Habermas. However. I settled my accounts with theoretical Marxism almost thirty years ago – I remember debating it intensely with you too – and I think I did it sincerely. with Hardt also in Paris. AN Many things have changed since the debates of thirty years ago. in Paris. which is for me synonymous with modern materialism. And with enormous enthusiasm we can now assert with Machiavelli (and all the others) that class struggle. Spivak provided unequivocal proof of this. Foucault is the author of an anthropology that is certainly libertarian but not individualistic. I must make another confession. he constructs a biopolitics within which it is no longer the individual but the subject that is moulded (and with such singularity!). in which he extends the genealogy of the processes of exploitation from the factory to the social. disciplined. convinced that Marx can be put to work within the analytical methodologies of postmodernity. AN We have kept Foucault and Marx together. I would not be a Marxist (and I do not think I would have been thirty years ago either). the labour theory of value as the critical basis of the capitalist mode of production and as the premiss of communist revolution. hybridizing my operaismo – my workerism – with the perspective of French post-structuralism. between the 1980s and the 1990s. Moreover. it was a crucial moment when I realized that Italian operaismo was anything but provincial. though largely unacknowledged. Within this framework. Then. I can say that I ʻrinsed my clothesʼ in the Seine. in a new epoch. In contrast. I want to reclaim Marxism. The idea of confronting a treatise whose authors are self-proclaimed ʻcommunistsʼ still causes me unease. at least. we take Foucaultʼs reading of Marx. whereas Foucault is an acute and radical critic of disciplinary power in the name of an individualist and libertarian anthropology. less so for the experiences of ʻreal socialismʼ that claimed allegiance to it.

is the one that relates to the very notion of ʻempireʼ. are provoked by the force of workersʼ struggles. and it would be a serious theoretical mistake to confuse the two. ambiguous forms of nationalism and populism would become elements of the anti-globalization movement. Marx never left us a book on class struggle. other than as pallid. rather than to Marx himself. Empire or imperialism? DZ The part of Empire that seems to me to be the most successful. missing from Capital. you believe ʻempireʼ to be the most appropriate name for this new kind of global power… AN One must add that we are not at all nostalgic for nation-states. In the book. it is a question of grasping. Do I interpret your position correctly? AN Correct. the central moment of the exercise of exploitation. and whose political and normative basis is that of cosmopolitan universalism. The world is no longer governed by the political system of states. Anti-Americanism and faith in nation-states almost always go hand-in-hand. present Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 25 . In order to proceed in this direction we must advance some essential points of Marxist theory: we must construct. one that raised numerous doubts that I partly share. which are both real and conceptual. Clearly you and Hardt think that the new global order imposed by globalization has led to the disappearance of the Westphalian system of sovereign states. we must further the analyses of valorization through the notion of the general intellect in the period of the (complete) real subsumption of society by capital. Moreover. Many impediments to the development of Marxist legal and state theory are linked to the limits of capitalist development. in the critique of sovereignty (as the point of coincidence of the economic and the political). it is governed by a single structure of power that bears no significant analogy with the modern state of European origin. The last third of the twentieth century was dominated by these movements. in the sense that Machiavelli gave this dispositif. ʻcan today form the centre of an imperialist projectʼ. beyond the labour theory of value. Therefore. DZ It would thus be wrong to think that empire – or its central and expansive core – is constituted by the United States and their closest Western allies. There are no longer national states. it appears to us that these developments that you describe so well. Despite proposing to do so. DZ This is a very delicate point. could only have been written once the space of sovereignty had become as extensive as the world – that is. as you and Hardt assert firmly in your book. Were this to occur. of anti-colonial struggles and finally of the struggles against the socialist management of capital – and for freedom – in the countries of ʻreal socialismʼ. The only nation-state Marx could have spoken of was that muddle of elements from the Middle Ages and modernity that even capitalist development had difficulty making inroads into. against the dialectics of history. global empire is something completely other than classical imperialism. once it was possible to confront empire with the multitude. of mystification and of the destruction of subjectsʼ rights. Only today. and that poses the need for a new ʻstrategicʼ reflection on the structure and functions of processes of global integration. a non-teleological theory of class struggle. Only an international and internationalist proletariat could pose the problem of the state. It is a decentred and deterritorialized political system that makes no reference to national or ethnic traditions and values. so far as the theory of the state is concerned. can revolutionary theory correctly take up the problem of the state. or – and especially lacking – a book on the state. I would like to add that it became apparent at Pôrto Alegre in particular just how dangerous the reliance of the emerging ʻmovement of movementsʼ on nation-states would be. In fact the book on the state.a ʻreturn to principlesʼ. when capital advances and structures itself on the global market. Neither the United States nor any other nation-state. For these reasons. formal structures that still survive within the juridical ordering of international institutions. This is the latest muddle inherited from Third Worldist socialism – which always seemed to me to be as serious a deviation as was Soviet Marxism. empire seems to fade into a sort of ʻcategory of the spiritʼ: it is like God.

nothing is imperial. after all. we identify certain sites or forms of imperial government: the monarchic function that the United States government. and consist in the distortion of economic development. In several places you refer to the functions of ʻinternational policingʼ and even to juridical functions exercised by empire. New imperial command is exercised through political institutions and juridical apparatuses whose objective is essentially the maintenance of global order – that is. military. We are only at the beginning of a ʻThirty Years Warʼ. if not the political-military apparatus of the great Western power – imprimis of the USA – exercises these imperial functions? 26 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . the G8 and other monetary institutions have attributed to themselves. in the destruction of planet Earth and in the growing attempts to appropriate what is ʻcommonʼ to humanity between the Earth and sky. In this phase empire is characterized fundamentally by a great tension between an institutional non-place and a series of global (though partial from the point of view of sovereignty) instruments used by collective capital. It is certainly true that the global movement of the multitude (born after Seattle) has shown uncertainty when attempting to identify the points against which to exercise critique and resistance within the continuous creation of misery and exclusion and the violent. military response to protests – all of which are nonetheless very real. However. economic. nothing is imperial. cultural.… The paradox of the present moment (and what renders the situation so remarkable) is that empire will only be able to form its structures in response to the struggles of the multitude: but this entire process is that of the clash of powers à la Machiavelli. at most. You rightly say that if everything is imperial. a ʻstable and universalʼ peace that would allow the normal functioning of the market economy. as was the case with imperialism and the colonialism of nation-states between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. the modern state took no less time to crystallize. I basically agree with you but have a reservation: who.everywhere because it coincides with the new global dimension. DZ You claim that ʻimperial constitutionʼ distinguishes itself from the constitution of nation-states in terms of its functions: the objective of imperial sovereignty is not the political-territorial inclusion or assimilation of subordinate countries and peoples. ideological control? AN The process of imperial constitution is under way. and so on. How do we identify supranational subjects that bear imperial interests and aspirations in order to make them the targets of global struggle? Against whom do we enact anti-imperialist critique and resistance if states and their political forces are not the enemies to focus on? What sort of an empire is it that does not exercise political-military power? Does it express itself merely through instruments of economic or. But one could object that if everything is imperial. the aristocratic power of multinationals that extend their web on the global market. Empire is the limit towards which the instruments of global capital tend: these instruments are sovereign. following Polybiusʼ example.

Imperial power is even invoked by its subjects for its capacity to solve conflicts from a universal point of view – that is. I fully share these analyses. There can be no doubt. of that substantive modification of international private law in which it is surely no longer nation-states that are the legislators but rather the law firms? Then. ʻhegemonicʼ. I believe. or something else. As such. Later. However.AN It does not seem strange to me that empire endeavours to guarantee the global order through a stable and universal peace by means of all the political-military instruments at its disposal. this medieval and typically universalist and imperial doctrine is. Nevertheless. and that Bushʼs policies are those of a small minority within the global aristocracy of multinational capitalism. Anti-Americanism is a dangerous state of mind. we will return to the question of war as a specific form of imperial control. as the recent Quadrennial Defense Review Report of the US State Department claims. Here it is my turn to pose some questions: what does the power of the state mean now in the face of the lex mercatoria – that is. neutrally and impartially. in the course of this conversation. flourishing again. just as we finally abandoned the Americanism of Alberto Sordiʼs movies. AN I disagree. and the political-military apparatus he employs. not least because they take up theses that I affirmed some years ago. that the United States – that is. the fact that the power of command and influence of the United States radiates across the entire world to the extent that it has become a ʻglobal powerʼ. Bushʼs clique make declarations of peace whilst engaging in acts of war on a daily basis. an ideology that mystifies the analytic data and hides the responsibility of collective capital. I think that the present imperialist ideology and practice of the Bush government are fast placing themselves on a collision path with other capitalist forces that. from Cosmopolis to Chi dice umanità. as I prefer. as you do. political and military powers that are concentrated in the geopolitical space of the American superpower – is today the central motor of this global strategic project. DZ You maintain that the juridical imperial order is essentially engaged in a jurisdictional or quasi-judicial arbitrating function. putting aside certain judgements and arguments till later. how the political and legal categories of modernity have been not only offended against but definitively trampled upon) are able to propose a definition of the current process of governance of the world market that still turns on the modern categories of imperialism. For now I just want to insist on the fact that the military and policing functions of war are becoming. I insist. I really cannot understand how you (who taught us in your writings. DZ In my view. so far as international public law is concerned: how is it possible not to feel pity before the pathetic attempts to relaunch the United Nations in this situation? The thing is that talking about the United States as the motor of a global strategic imperialist project entails all sorts of contradictions. Rather. at the level of empire. and this today still largely means a constitution and the authoritative structure of the state-form. at the global level. We should distance ourselves from it. whether one calls it. work for empire. Anti-Americanism confuses the American people with the American state. I would like once again to insist on the fact that anti-Americanism is a weak and mystifying attitude in the present phase of the critical definition of the new global constitution. increasingly indistinguishable. or ʻimperialʼ. in Cosmopolis in particular. in the last decade. we must not confuse Bushʼs gang. The situation is completely open. economic. it has functions of ʻcoercive pacificationʼ but also resorts to classical forms of war of aggression. does not contradict the fact that this power is territorially and culturally placed in the United States and that it Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 27 . It fails to recognize that the United States is inserted in the global market just as much as Italy and South Africa are. It is of significance – as you note perceptively in your book – that after a long period of eclipse the doctrine of the bellum justum. But. the cognitive. communicative. and that this is not a merely marginal factor. particularly if one wants to assign the United States government an exclusive capacity of command (as is implicit in modern theories of national sovereignty and imperialism). with the government of empire. in my view these only make sense if the ʻimperial constitutionʼ is conceived as a political constitution.

global empire represents a positive overcoming of the Westphal28 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . that they cannot do without the intermediation of the political-administrative – and especially military – power of states. The United States president is elected because he is financially supported by multinational corporations – I am thinking of the oil. that today the only concrete and realistic way to bring down Bushʼs gang is through the aristocratic power of the multinationals. they are elements internal to the imperial structure in its becoming. AN That multinationals participate in the elections of the American president is an argument in favour of empire. I find what you have just outlined largely acceptable. Those who destroyed the Twin Towers are the same ʻleadersʼ of mercenary armies who were hired to defend petrol interests in the Middle East. I only insist on another idea: that the power of the United States is subjected to (or in any case forced to dialogue with and/or contest) economic and political structures other than itself. I believe the autonomy of capitalist strategies to be still sufficiently extensive. The terrorist attack on September 11 was. as Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson persuasively argued in Globalization in Question. DZ Obviously we all know that great corporations. To Hirst and Thompsonʼs book I would add that of Mittelman. It is clear that in the Arab. But. Having said that. among other things. as we know. In other words. The imperial dialectic DZ There is another aspect of your theory of empire that I find questionable. political and military power of the United States as the new imperial power. Multinational companies are becoming increasingly powerful because they are capable of drastically reducing labour costs as well as escaping from the fiscal demands of nation-states. Furthermore. And this is good news. They have nothing to do with the multitudes. Moreover. to underline how complex is the synergy among agents as much as the hierarchy among imperial spaces. I think we could say that the American leadership is profoundly weakened precisely at the times when it expresses these imperialist tendencies. also the demonstration of an open civil war between forces that intend to be structurally represented in the imperial constitution. On no account must we underestimate the civil war that is unfolding at the imperial level. information and intelligence network that encircles the world today. The September 11 terrorist attack also clearly expressed this: it intended to hit the symbols of economic.can be identified with the American superpower also at the symbolic level. AN I do not doubt that the United States is a ʻglobal powerʼ. from the monetary standpoint. According to you. the United States is increasingly exposed and weakened in the financial markets – and this is another excellent piece of news. The overwhelming power of the United States military is. arms and tobacco industries – and they then influence the decision of the administration. there is still a complex synergy between the economic policies of industrial powers and the economic/financial strategies of corporations whose headquarters are in their geopolitical space. It is an aspect that I attribute to the implicit ʻontologyʼ (to use your term) that acts as the metaphysical counterpoint to your analyses: the dialectic of history that is typical of Hegelian Marxism and Leninism. not to mention that ʻother continentʼ called China. the European and the socialist worlds. one cannot ignore the fact that the United States is also the centre of the television. in all probability the United States will soon be forced to stop being imperialist and recognize itself in empire. I am not Leninist but simply Machiavellian when I think. including those of the new economy. and that this is also true of the United States. operate according to strategies that are largely independent of the political command of states. This is desirable because it would provide the movement of global multitudes with time and space to advance the process of configuration of a democratic power within empire. these tendencies are unacceptable. and at any rate largely independent of nation-states. But it is evident that the large companies perform only very indirect political functions. largely neutralized by the impossibility of being used in its nuclear potential. for instance.

this order has nothing to do. I cannot share this dialectical optimism of evident Hegelian and Marxist ascendancy. ateleological and hazardous) that constitutes the basis of our method.ian system of sovereign states. Our narrative speaks of a concrete telos. In this framework there is no room for nostalgia and the defence of the nation-state – that absolute barbarism of which Verdun. You show little sympathy even for the so-called ʻpeople of Seattleʼ and the network of NGOs linked to it. polyvalent: they intersect and are able. Our political problem. Any attempt to reassert the role of nation-states in opposition to the present imperial constitution of the world would express a ʻfalse and harmfulʼ ideology. DZ Communists. in the course of the last century the working masses always put their faith in the internationalization of political and social relations. I do not know how the ideology of the nation-state can be considered anything other than false and dangerous. you say. cosmopolitan. unless one uses this epithet to mean any analytical approach to historical development. for a joyous life and the elimination of pain. 44. you say. the bombing of Dresden. As you recall. as Marx said. without difficulty. of the risks taken in the struggle of men against exploitation. to build a unitary movement. is that of proposing an adequate space for all the struggles that start from below. are by vocation universalist. rather. There is nothing dialectical here. with the practices of dictatorship and totalitarianism of the last century. Hiroshima and (if you permit me) Auschwitz have given us lasting proof. or in other words as substantially reactionary. As far as our antipathy for some NGOs is concerned (an antipathy that the movements largely share). Having put a stop to states and their nationalism. Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 29 . 218). The philosophy of the anti-globalization and Seattle movements is internationalist and global. For this reason you assert that the global powers of empire must be controlled but not demolished: the imperial constitution is to be preserved and directed towards other objectives. of ʻgeneric human natureʼ. It is class struggle (a dispositif à la Machiavelli: one that is open. then. according to you. we reject all dialectics in favour of class struggle. their horizon is that of humanity as a whole. ʻcatholicʼ. the networks of the movement of movements are. pp. From the point of view of the transition to a communist society the construction of empire is a step forward: empire. In contrast. AN I do not think that the accusations levelled against us can be sustained. as is everything that freely occurs in the world. empire has also ended colonialism and classical imperialism and opened a cosmopolitan perspective that should be welcomed. As anyone who has read the book knows (and you surely have read it). expresses sectarian and inimical operations. Any attempt to stand in the way of this unification and the consequent recognition of common objectives is reactionary. Even though it is true that techniques of policing are the hardcore of the imperial order. The philosophy of the anti-globalization movement and all forms of naturalist environmentalism and localism must therefore be rejected as primitive and anti-dialectical positions. ʻis betterʼ than what preceded it because ʻit does away with the cruel regimes of modern powerʼ and ʻprovides greater possibilities for creation and liberationʼ (Empire. it should not be confused with one for the voluntary sector or the methods of the new militancy. or. indeterminate.

the West is once again engaged in a strategy of control. sometimes socialist. or the misery of the mass worker. The relations between First. DZ The processes of globalization have sped up since the end of the 1980s.AN I do not think that it is fair to call our position one of dialectical optimism. I cannot believe that you prefer archaic. Be wary. AN I can only agree with you on this issue. There is a visible thread of continuity running between classical colonialism and the current processes of imperial globalization. So let me propose an author who is certainly not dialectical and yet is capable of looking forward: Spinoza. though changed. on the other hand. In his philosophy optimism has nothing to do with Hegelʼs understanding of it: it has to do with the freedom and joy of liberation from slavery. Today. todayʼs multitudes. Western countries led by the USA have engaged in a new politics of power that has been perceived by non-Western 30 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . is another matter. then (and this is above all what is narrated by subaltern studies) you can perceive the transformative power of these processes. however. However. movements of resistance and exodus constitute the truly new threat to the global capitalist order. which are mines distributed across the globe. Nonetheless. This is not dialectics but a factual and precise sociological analysis of the transformation of work. it is clear that you are intransigent on this question of dialectics. From this perspective. to the global mobility and temporal flexibility of life and labour. It is here that empire is good in itself.… But I donʼt want to keep up this jousting with saints. and it is no mere coincidence that it aims almost exclusively at the United States. capable of immaterial and intellectual labour and with an enormous capacity for freedom. whereas global terrorism is part of the ʻcivil warʼ for imperial leadership. peasant and artisan traditions embodied in ineffectual myths. after the parenthesis of the Cold War and the ephemeral liberation of colonial countries from direct political subjection to European powers. especially young people. more convincing – I am thinking in particular of subaltern studies. If you look at all this from a spatial viewpoint. Today. for great suffering awaits this ʻcity of menʼ that is only at the beginning… It is the continuation (and at the same time the transfiguration) of the sometimes democratic. but I cannot call by such a name that colossal phenomenon of distancing from the demand for political power that runs through people. and you find the First World at the southernmost point of Africa as in the republics of central Asia. Moreover. in the same way as you find the Third World in the European or American metropolises. From here to becoming good for itself. of military occupation. already hybridized. The expanding of life prospects and the enrichment of the moral and intellectual life of workers seem to me a good thing. mercantile invasion and ʻcivilizationʼ of the non-Western world. DZ I find the analyses of post-colonialism. if you look at these same phenomena and displacements from the standpoint of their intensity. the situation. Since then. and it is not up to Geist but up to the movements to have their say. What is proposed in its place is ʻexodusʼ. of its organization and of the political subjectivity that follows from it. It is precisely against this strategy that the bloody and impotent response of global terrorism fights. This change is even deeper than the one we indicated at the level of political categories from modernity to postmodernity. Second and Third Worlds have not changed in a superficial manner but fundamentally: they have mixed. the movements that in the conditions of the emergence of empire present themselves as antagonistic do not make claims or posit questions that are homologous to imperial power. bound to his chains. That is. Negative dialectics? You could accuse me of this. I would be very careful not to call the liberation of colonial countries ʻephemeralʼ or to think that the cards on the geopolitical table have not altered radically. appears stationary. the multitudes – a multiplicity of singularities. after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the bipolar world order. the most interesting thing that emerges from the observation of the movements is that there is no discourse of the ʻseizure of powerʼ in opposition to the formation of imperial power. always rebel movements that have traversed modernity. I prefer knaves. which outline the path of continuity between classical colonialism and the current processes of hegemonic globalization. Anything you do not like is dialectical.

But states are very far from ʻextinctionʼ. Permit me this cheap jibe: donʼt you think that with these images of classical neo-imperialism you may be giving us an example of bad totalitarian dialectics? DZ In my view it is rather against empire that the struggle needs to be directed. In this hegemonic scenario I am unable to detect any concrete element that could give objective foundation to a perspective of collective emancipation operating within empire – that is. I am not looking nostalgically to a return of nineteenth-century nation-states – though I am not convinced that nation-states are mere historical relics. It is also evident that the articulation of the functions of universal control and domestic public order are organized by nation-states. let alone that they are getting stronger. by contrasting global expansionism and cosmopolitan ideology. Unlike the theorists of communitarian republicanism. This is obvious. It is clear to me that your standpoint is in contrast. Besides. and so on. the precariousness of the imperial structure was also confirmed by the analysis of its genesis: empire is the product of workersʼ and anti-colonial struggles.countries – especially in the Islamic world and East Asia – as a growing challenge to their own territorial integrity. But to say that many of the functions of nation-states survive is not to say that nation-states continue in the same form. in principle. AN Evidently. traversed by transnational dispositifs (à la Beck). I share Ulrich Beckʼs idea that they are changing into ʻtransnationalʼ states whose civil society is crisscrossed by a number of agencies and multinational institutions such as those of big business. if one accepts your description of the situation. I also think that nation-states have not disappeared. we are moving from the ʻpanopticʼ state to the ʻsynopticʼ one. on the basis of the methodological presuppositions we have already announced – that however unyielding imperial biopowers may be. Perhaps never before in the history of humanity has the power of a single country seemed so overwhelming on the political plane and invincible on the military. they are always opposed by and drawn on to the terrain of biopolitical conflict and antagonism – we cannot accept the neo-imperialist framework you depict. this is the manner in which. According to Thomas Mathiesen. of financial markets. with the position that lies at the basis of the analysis of Empire. constituted without the knowledge of citizens. we can perceive its fragility and we can think of intervening in its constitutive processes. the binding together of exploitation and military technology effected by the United States… this scenario appears to leave no room for manoeuvre: once we accept this neo-Marcusian vision of globalization. The whole series of military interventions undertaken by the United States since the Gulf War have demonstrated the growing divide between the military (hence economic. which would leave the structure of ʻcosmopoliticalʼ power intact without coming into conflict with its universalist ambitions. and the proliferation of conflicts is then often impossible to contain. once we look at empire from below as well as from above. The continuity of the old and new imperialism. in the era of globalization. their political independence and their collective identity. On the contrary. and of the revolt against Stalinist totalitarianism. Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 31 . Thus. any rupture is impossible. as Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc Wacquant assert. the culture industry. concentrating more on questions of security and internal public order. thanks to the immense capacity for control offered by new technologies and electronic databases. it opens itself to microphysical dynamics of resistance. the new colonialism and the new imperialism find expression – in linear continuity with their classical. state-based and territorial forms. scientific and technological) potential at its disposal and that available to the rest of the world. In my opinion. Some of them are even getting stronger. It is clear to me that states are redefining their functions. Wherever biopower – that is. nothing can be done. the persistence of colonialism. For this reason it is possible to fight within and against empire. AN I am largely in agreement with you on this and I appreciate the literature you mention. the capacity of power to extend itself over all aspects of life – is exercised. Indeed. of information and communication technologies. United Statesʼ military bases and their espionage centres have spread in a capillary manner across the whole planet and are especially concentrated around the territories of the regional powers. even the association of nation-states.

we deliberate on (and endeavour to establish) new forms of world equilibrium capable of balancing and then weakening and defeating the aggressive strategic unilateralism of the imperial power of the United States. are desirable. Personally. from any point within empire. I admit that you can accuse me of being doctrinaire. and so we must take account of these changes and face up to this problem. which is the product of other periods of thought (periods that were. since it is what is already actually happening. There. 32 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . it will always be about hierarchy rather than equilibrium. Whether or not it is organized in regional terms. I could. Therefore. as Musil teaches us. multi-functionalism rather than multipolarity. as disenchanted as they have all too often been ineffectual). DZ I would rather that. The epochal passage is now given. But if this is the case. I could outline the deep connections and alliances between capitalist ruling classes. it is merely to shorten the discussion. this is already happening within the world market in the process that leads to the construction of imperial sovereignty. I have more faith in the democratic force of the popular American institutions than I do in the European ones. I still believe what I wrote on this question for a conference at the European Institute in Fiesole: that in the framework of empire. A Europe freed from the suffocating Atlantic embrace – a Europe that is less Western and more Mediterranean and ʻorientalʼ – could have an important role in this sense. It is in this direction that Southeast Asia and the northeast Chinese–Confucian bloc are quietly moving. and failing to get my hands dirty with the reality of international relations.must be seen in terms of the processes of hierarchization and specialization that characterize empire. Rather. Which is to say that the question of the universal guarantee of (global) regulation has been posed in irreversible terms. so as to open scenarios of global destabilization. Indeed. Our political and theoretical choices operate within this process. But we have already spoken enough of this. I cannot understand what this process is preferable to. articulated in accordance with a multipolar regionalism. through the mobilization of the multitudes. It is only within this framework that a transformation of the rules of domination and exploitation is possible. where the direct interference of the United States seems greatest. look into what is going on in Latin America. a united Europe could exercise a function that would be subversive of the global order. but that such a function can only be created and develop from below. beyond nation-states. it is clear that I do not accept the concept itself of ʻequilibriumʼ. however. just as an example. the problem is to act. AN New forms of global organization. in the name of multipolar regionalism.

I see only the need to resist a capitalism that is becoming increasingly parasitical and predatory. But this was the premiss from which we began. DZ Following September 11 there has been an escalation of international instability. the attempt to reactivate a participative and normative ʻinternationalʼ system (in the Westphalian sense) has had no effect. There is an enormous literature (that you have explored brilliantly) around the question of the reinvigoration of the United Nations and the construction of a global ʻcivil societyʼ as the potential interlocutor of the sovereign of the new global order. and above all to complete the dual encirclement of the Russian federation from the West and of China from the East. whilst a billion people live in conditions of growing comfort in an ever smaller world within which they are increasingly able to do what they wish. due to the globalization of markets. From this point of view I do not see any trace of an objective historical dialectics that would make the overcoming of the present world order easier. Only on this terrain can one fight. Even when it aims to respond to the subjective rights of citizens and nations. regard itself. of groups and associations. The condition for an international normative system to be able to ritualize and contain the use of force (obliging all agents to submit to predetermined procedures and general rules) is that no agent in the international order should. or be considered by the international community. More than a billion people live in absolute poverty. Empire and international law negate one another. the prospect of an extremely aggressive relaunch of neocolonial strategy – under the pretext of the fight against terrorism – is frighteningly topical. It is an irreversible condition. We have seen the affirmation of a strategy of permanent war that is becoming hegemonic. unlike other global institutions. In my view. as in the case of the constitution of the great world tribunals. In other words. Now more than ever. Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 33 . the abyss that separates rich and powerful countries from the poor and weak widens on a daily basis. Foucault and Deleuze have discussed exhaustively the shift from the disciplinary regimes of classical capitalism (concerned with individuals) to the regimes of control of mature capitalism (concerned with populations). AN But whoʼs talking about dialectics? In this process (that you describe more or less correctly). Thus. AN I agree: empire and international law negate one another. which is without territorial borders and with no time limits. because of its overarching power. it is necessary that ʻimperial constitutionʼ be abolished. The project is to control the vast energy resources present in the territories of the ex-Soviet republics of the Caucasian. Western military-political elites appear to be aware that in order to ensure the security and wealth of industrialized countries it is necessary to exercise increasing military pressure on the whole world. toyed with this idea. However. the strategic aim of the United States goes much further than the repression of ʻglobal terrorismʼ. In this way misery and marginalization are not only maintained but also continuously reproduced by imperial wars. and whose legitimacy (and that of the states and imperial instruments with which it is progressively identified) rests entirely upon war. The aim of the last remaining superpower is that of consolidation of its planetary hegemony in order to ensure a stable military presence in the heart of central Asia. Today war becomes integral to that kind of legitimation.DZ I want to add that a multipolar equilibrium is the necessary condition for international law to exercise even that minimal function. It is largely secretive. and hence my deep scepticism for the ʻcold comfortʼ of UN internationalism. Imperial * This conversation took place in September 2002. Even the World Bank has. and increasingly played out outside the control of international law. It is now certain that the war in Afghanistan was only the beginning of a total war against the so-called ʻaxis of evilʼ: Iraq will surely be attacked too…* And the Palestinian people will continue to endure the merciless persecution of Zionist colonialism and imperialism. which is the containment of the most destructive consequences of modern warfare. as legibus solutus. juridical reformism has already bypassed classical international law. In the meantime. Caspian and trans-Caspian regions.

the class that Marx had elevated to the position of demiurge of history. the worker 34 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . For us. of all imperial Goliaths: the military would call it ʻasymmetric resistanceʼ. What interests me is the David in the face of Goliath. on the contrary. from the standpoint of a renewed sociology of labour. 353–70) of emphatic tributes to the ʻpower of the multitudeʼ – its power to ʻbe. classically. since I think this is how your communist project should be understood. The first terrain of struggle is the universal right of movement. It is not a fight against some improbable Winter Palace (only the anti-imperialists want to bomb the White House). In each of these two cases there is a reduction to an undifferentiated unity. As a matter of fact. DZ You designate the subject of this revolution within empire. all the more so since Hardt and I are zealously working on this notion at the moment. love. we must set against it a topology of resistance. misery and exploitation – can be exercised. we keep finding free spaces. You think. Subcomandante Marcos is from this standpoint more important than the whole American ʻrevolution in military affairsʼ. work and education across the surface of the globe. I am happy to be self-critical. the ʻmultitudeʼ. The revolution we envisage takes place not only within empire but also through empire. The multitude appears to be an evanescent sinopia of the nineteenth-century proletariat. should be a revolution within empire. A second meaning of multitude derives from the fact that we contrast it with the concept of ʻclassʼ. on the other hand. whereas the masses is a concept that realist sociology assumes as forming the basis of the capitalist mode of production (both in the liberal form and the socialist one of the management of capital). In place of an analysis. men and women are singularities. It is for this reason that the global framework of resistance becomes powerful: because despite the relentless and continuous fencing-off operation produced by the imperial armies. we think of it also in terms of a profound anthropological modification: as a mixing and continuous hybridizing of populations – as biopolitical metamorphosis. I use the term ʻrevolutionʼ in its full anthropological significance. holes and folds through which exodus and resistance can occur within globalization.war determines new territorial and racial borders. the least appealing in the whole conceptual arsenal of Empire. Even so. I say ʻdesignateʼ with a critical intention: for me. transform. of a transformation of the world that is not only political but also cultural and ethical. AN Apart from thinking revolution in ethical and political terms. but one directed against all the central and peripheral structures of power. ʻmultitudeʼ is a slippery concept. In the face of all this my only problem is that of understanding what kind of resistance – to war. AN You are right to charge us with lacking an adequate analytical definition of the concept of the multitude in Empire. We think that the multitude is a multiplicity of singularities that can in no way find representative unity. However correct your geography of domination might be. The people is. an artificial unity that is necessary for the modern state to ground the fiction of legitimation. I believe that the concept of multitude in the book can be understood from three different perspectives. Iʼm afraid that you are indebted here to Marxist messianism and its grandiose political simplifications. The first is in polemical opposition to the two definitions that have been given of ʻpopulationsʼ inserted in the framework of modern sovereignty: ʻpeopleʼ and ʻmassesʼ. I say this with bitterness and without irony. for you and Hardt. A revolution of the multitude? DZ I propose to conclude our discussion on one last theme: that of the subject or the subjects of what. a multitude of singularities. the reader comes across many passages (in particular pp. Nowhere in the book do you present an analytical definition of it based on political-sociological categories to help the reader identify this collective subject within determined sociopolitical contexts. in order to drain them of that power and take away the productive capacity of capital. however open these contexts may be to globalization. createʼ – and its ʻdesireʼ for emancipation.

in relation to a multitude of singularities. We regard the multitude as a political power sui generis: new political categories must be defined with respect to it – that is. Your suggestions indicate the need to raise the political struggle to the global level. AN We pay a lot of attention to the information revolution. Now is the time to construe a ʻnew sideʼ – that is. as it was for Spinoza. the adoption of the term ʻmultitudeʼ is for you also a declaration of radical political anti-individualism. an issue Massimo Cacciari recently insisted on in his Duemilauno: Politica e futuro. just as the development of the trade unions or the socialist party had to come to terms with different and changing figures of the proletariat. it also determines new forms of slavery. labour nonetheless remains the source of human dignity and the substance of history. which is the more expressly political one. within the perspective of transformation. Calling it a New Left is banal: unfortunately the problem is much deeper and the prospect is desperate. all this determines new material conditions that must be grasped. there are passages in your text that seem animated by a real technological and industrialist – one might even say labourist – fervour towards the network society. Iʼm afraid this is the point that most divides us. The depoliticization of the world operated by the great powers is not just a negative event. which follows from your claim of the loss of meaning and efficacy of any engagement in the political arenas of nation-states. The IT revolution opens the possibility for new spaces of freedom. On the contrary. to quote Marco Revelli. Empire requires the almost complete exclusion of the European liberal-democratic tradition. what is called for is – à la Spinoza – ʻabsolute democracyʼ. in their positivity. this is the plane across which freedom extends itself: how is the common organized? Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 35 . to the extent that. DZ In my view. DZ In my opinion your book leaves unsolved the problem of the new spaces and new subjects of global contestation and the issue of the ʻnew militantsʼ. But the workersʼ reappropriation of the instrument. In immaterial productive labour this instrument is the brain (and so the Hegelian dialectics of the instrument comes to an end). The problem for us. But this is not the place to advance further with our analysis: I say this with a good dose of irony. We think that these new political categories must be identified through an analysis of the common rather than through the hypostasis of unity. Empire entails the refusal of the tradition of possessive individualism. Time is running out. Consequently. It is as if for you the technological and information revolution are the vectors for an approaching communist revolution. Obviously we do so because we remain Marxists and believe that if the law of value no longer works as a law of measure of capitalist development. with the concept of the multitude. to use Manuel Castellsʼ terms. The problem of political organization must come to terms with this multitude. here we find a third element of definition.is increasingly presented as the bearer of immaterial productive ability. From air to water up to computerized production to networks. is not the bringing together of isolated individuals but of constructing forms and instruments of association through cooperation. the concentration of valorization on the cooperation between cognitive workers. the extension of knowledge and the importance of science in productive processes. But it seems to me that you have paid insufficient attention to the issue of the ʻde-politicization of the worldʼ that has been brought about by the great powers of technology and the economy. a ʻnew wholeʼ of the workers. but I do not think that this also involves the exclusion of the liberal-democratic European tradition. At the moment. He reappropriates the instrument of labour. This singular capacity for work constitutes the workers as a multitude rather than a class. AN I agree that the term ʻmultitudeʼ (and what it comprises) represents a position of radical political anti-individualism. when it is aimed at getting rid of and/or unmasking old powers and forms of representation that no longer have any real referent. and to move towards the (ontological) recognition of the common.

I almost feel that. to me as much as to you. You have surely studied ʻthe withering away of the stateʼ in the Marxist classics more than I have. What does it consist in. This is the strength that breaks the enemyʼs ability to isolate and exploit. but what I also find unsatisfactory is your proposal of ʻnomadismʼ and ʻmiscegenationʼ as instruments of cosmopolitical struggle to be carried out within the parasitical chrysalis of empire. contaminate. 204). miscegenation and cultural creolization are effects of the great migration flows induced by the increasing international disproportion of power and wealth. desire and loveʼ. we are putting forward impressions and static ideas rather than lines of argument. However. I have often confronted Serge Latouche on these issues and I must say that the reason I donʼt accept his position is not that there is no truth to it. You claim that nomadism and miscegenation are weapons to use against the subjection to reactionary ideologies such as the nation. I think they search for freedom. Indeed. ʻdeterritorializationʼ and ʻplanetary uprootingʼ point to a real failure of the project of modernization and to a setback of its Promethean universalism. happiness. I do not believe migrants only flee misery. unacceptable in the globalized world we live in? AN I donʼt know how to reply to your last questions. ʻnavigateʼ. it is also the possibility of many things indicated by desire and produced by labour. as Lenin said. with a certain amount of theoretical enthusiasm. production. xv). concretely? All I could infer from a careful examination of your book is that it would still have an imperial political form. Telling you today that all that seems to me absurd Iʼm sure can only meet with your approval. If anything. the efficacy of our theses on nomadism and miscegenation – I think I can interpret your words in this way. I do not think this is very satisfying either theoretically or politically. generous ʻwishful thinkingʼ to be able to found a practical standpoint of resistance and struggle against all that seems. AN I am very pleased that you see. enriched by the collective intelligence and the love of the communityʼ (p. together with the issues of respect for political minorities and peoplesʼ right to self-determination. humanity squared. poverty is not simply misery. your book ignores the whole doctrine of the ʻstate of lawʼ and of the protection of fundamental freedoms. The migrant has the dignity of those who seek truth. Desire is a constructive power and it is all the stronger when rooted in poverty. I think that your views on this issue belie an underestimation of the fact that nomadism. still within the Marxist orthodoxy that starts with ʻOn the Jewish Questionʼ. the Prometheanism of the poor and of migrants is the salt of the earth and the world is really changed by nomadism and miscegenation.DZ I appreciate the theoretical courage and originality you display when dealing with such difficult issues. Here. global and permanent constituent energy: a collective energy that expresses ʻgenerative power. knowledge and wealth. Serge Latouche has claimed that the effects of ʻdeculturationʼ. since I was more concerned with the problems of the transition. And yet your judgement is inclined towards pessimism. people and race. Empire is the institutional shell within which states and their juridical ordering will be dissolved. I think that 36 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . Yet it is particularly symptomatic of your adherence to a position that closely resembles the Marxist theory of the ʻwithering away of the stateʼ. The ʻmultitudeʼ is a sort of historical uterus from which a new way of life and a new species will emerge: ʻtoward homohomo. Donʼt you think this is all too prophetic. of the ʻalternative political organization of global flows and exchangesʼ? You claim this to be the political organization that the ʻcreative forces of the multitudeʼ are ʻcapable of autonomously constructingʼ (p. DZ I would finally like to ask you – although I realize how difficult it is to answer this – what are the institutional and normative forms of that which you call ʻcounter-empireʼ – that is. I do not understand why one must ridicule as ʻPromethean universalismʼ the migrant fleeing and searching for hope by many people around the world. but simply that I find it ridden with aspects that are all-consuming and catastrophic. and eliminates – as well as the supposed Prometheanism – any heroic and/or theological element from the actions of the poor and the subversive. will ʻwaneʼ (otmiranie). exhausted as we now are. The ʻmultitudeʼ becomes powerful thanks to its ability to circulate. In your book the power of the multitude is conceived as an unlimited. ethnicity.

radicalphilosophy. www. Believe me.com visit the radical philosophy website Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 37 . Translated by Arianna Bove and Matteo Mandarini A shorter version of this conversation was published in Italian in the journal Reset. and that. Finally. October 2002. they are much more capable and intelligent than we were when we were young. on what the multitude will do against empire.the whole doctrine of the ʻstate of lawʼ has also grown decrepit. we must consider anew the substantive element of freedom it contained. I willingly put my trust in what the militants of the global movements think and do. so as not to end up like so many Don Ferrantes who keep philosophizing in the void of meaning.

which imply that Benjaminʼs antipathy towards conventional scholarly exactitude (as Menninghaus perceives it) actually undermines. $51. rests upon ʻnumerous and graveʼ factual and interpretive discrepancies. ʻreflectionʼ. or does ʻmarginal violenceʼ to. were the first to point out how Benjaminʼs argument. Hence the more successful essays here concentrate instead on etymological work at the limits of translatability – itself. violence and critical methodology take preliminary form.. Rather. 0674 00896 0 hb. unashamedly messianic conception of language and temporality (as in the remarkable but much less well known 1820s lectures on The Philosophy of Language) simply was that contradictory. trans. 0 8264 6020 8 hb. 90 420 1285 4 pb. but.50 pb.REVIEWS Neuromancer Beatrice Hanssen and Andrew Benjamin.00 pb. Ideas) to a mature. 2002. However. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 0 8223 2794 5 pb. eds. €46.00. £15. Duke University Press.. Benjaminʼs 1919 dissertation thesis ʻThe Concept of Art Criticism in German Romanticismʼ was not simply an exercise in scholarly historical research – indeed. Helga Geyer-Ryan. 462 pp. ed. 246 pp. Bettine Menke also shows how Benjaminʼs 1925 work The Origin of German Tragic Drama is the place where the disjunction of sound and meaning within the modern era is embodied in the baroque theatrical work: here. 225 pp. Thus the work on Romanticism should be read as a foundational project of what Benjamin called his ʻGerman periodʼ (from around 1915 to the 1928 publication of One Way Street and the book on Baroque Trauerspiel) in which the more well-known reflections on language. as it develops between Fichte and Novalis. Benjamin Studies Volume 1: Perception and Experience in Modernity. 0 8223 2784 8 hb. of course. University of Amsterdam/Rodopi. £55. International Walter Benjamin Association. it may be seen as a failure on this level – but neither was it motivated by mere identification with the Romantic writers. the most central of Benjaminian concerns – which Anthony Phelanʼs ʻFortgang and Zusammenhangʼ and Bettine Menkeʼs ʻ“However one calls into the forest…”: Echoes of Translationʼ provide very well. The Romantic project as a whole was prototypical for Benjamin in its willingness to align just such political. Selected Writings. and the editors. for Benjamin this was already a problem of the limits of the academic form – precisely those limits that the Romantic conception of the criticism and the Gesamtkunstwerk sought to upset. This is fine as far as it goes. as other contributors point out (particularly Fred Rush. £26. In Friedrich Schlegelʼs famous fragment. Continuum. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Cambridge MA and London. Catherine Porter.. ʻEchoʼ and ʻreverberationʼ are 38 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) .. New York and London.00 hb. tensed. 0 8264 6021 6 pb.. Walter Benjamin. Walter Benjamin and Romanticism.. on Benjaminʼs dissertation and related works on Goethe and Hölderlin...99 pb. Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre. ed. form of manifold experience that provided the impetus for Benjaminʼs early epistemological investigations. ʻsobrietyʼ – in determinate contrast to the mystical interpretations of the protégés of Stefan George. Paul Koopman and Klaas Yntema. Beatrice Hanssen and Andrew Benjamin.. Friedrich Schlegelʼs personal transition from youthful radicalism (the Athenaeum fragments. Jennings.95 hb. It is a period which has long deserved thorough analysis. 2002. both included here. have collected in this first in a series of Walter Benjamin Studies a dozen essays. this work aimed to ʻpotentiateʼ the poetic-philosophical terminology of the Romantics – ʻcriticismʼ. the philosophical radicalism of Fichteʼs system is compared to both the artistic experimentalism of Goetheʼs Wilhelm Meister and the politically emancipatory force of the French Revolution.. Volume 3: 1935–1938. Romanticism against the Tide of Modernity. Winfried Menninghausʼs ʻWalter Benjaminʼs Exposition of the Romantic Theory of Reflectionʼ and Rodolphe Gaschéʼs well-known essay ʻThe Sober Absoluteʼ. 2002. both old and new. historical and aesthetic phenomena with the metaphysical developments of post-Kantian idealism. his broader project.. £16. in his excellent essay ʻJena Romanticism and Benjaminʼs Critical Epistemologyʼ).50 hb.. 2001. 317 pp. Durham NC and London. as the editors rightly point out in their introduction to Walter Benjamin and Romanticism. £45.

there is little dissent and more than a little hagiography. there is the persistent danger that the prevalent form of the modern academic essay does a great disservice to the unique linguistic force of Benjaminʼs writing. Benjaminʼs earliest reflections on language. nor ʻmythologizesʼ life itself under the rubric of history (which is what Heideggerʼs Hölderlin interpretation is accused of doing here). in a publication that aims to bring together the divergent and (according to the editors) ʻhostileʼ factions of Benjamin scholarship. Beatrice Hanssenʼs ʻ“Dichtermut” and “Blödigkeit”ʼ and Philippe Lacoue-Labartheʼs ʻPoetryʼs Courageʼ. Also left unexplored are a whole series of broader affiliations with Romanticism that appear throughout Benjaminʼs work. This formulation (and the simultaneous French–German etymological play between Gedichtete/dictamen) allows Lacoue-Labarthe to extract from Benjamin a theory of myth and experience which neither (ideologically) subsumes one under the other. does some useful and original work in analysing the wider and less familiar German sources of Benjaminʼs terminology. performatively utilizes the transfigurative. Benjamin. but rather allows for these ʻmythic attachmentsʼ themselves to be reassessed from within the all-important ʻsacred sobrietyʼ of the critical relationship. specifically around the Goethean term Gedichtete. such as his reliance on the literary and philosophical works of Jean-Paul. in the 1914/15 essay ʻTwo Poems by Friedrich Hölderlinʼ. is Benjaminʼs ambivalent attitude towards Hegel. which. It is a sign of Benjaminʼs current academic stature that we now have the first volume of Benjamin Studien. Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 39 . is a ʻfigure of existenceʼ. interventionist critical methodology. and. examining the ʻtheological-politicalʼ aspects of Heideggerʼs 1930s interpretations before returning again to the problem of Gedichtete. Ludwig Tieck. on a methodological level. Friedrich Hebbel and Büchner was of utmost importance to Benjamin. although generally useful. The historical-philosophical problems of language in Benjamin are always rooted in an immanent understanding of the dramatic. based upon the papers given at the First Congress of the International Walter Benjamin Association in Amsterdam in 1997. a point that is too easily lost in English-language commentaries. quotation and exegesis. who in one sense was the silent yet always present ʻthird partyʼ in his dialogue with Romanticism. Where Hanssen (and the editors of the Selected Works in English) has this as ʻpoetizedʼ. This contrasts with two other ways of approaching Benjamin and Romanticism that have recently appeared. featuring essays in German and English. Lacoue-Labarthe makes a tentative comparative reading of both Benjaminʼs and Heideggerʼs responses to Hölderlin. Karl Ritter and K. poetic and novelistic phenomena in which they emerge. as some of the essays appear to do here. are analysed at length in two excellent essays. such that ʻlife in general is the Gedichtete of poemsʼ. or his involvement with both Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegelʼs later systematic works on literature. do not exhaust all that can be said on this topic. Thus writing about Benjamin is always difficult. and still relatively unexplored in the secondary literature. Whilst Hanssen. and it is too easy to miss what is at stake in the work altogether by ʻinterpretingʼ it into modern academic-speak. acoustical and above all historical-material structure of profane language itself. Of related importance. or. It says something for the recondite nature of Benjaminʼs thought in this early period that the twelve essays in this volume.more than mere tropes of translatability. Finally. in Benjaminʼs own words. However. language and historiography. ʻa sphere akin to the mythicʼ. may on some level be radically incompatible with Benjaminʼs later deliberately non-academic.F. even in his early work. allegorical force of language. but highlight a continuous concern of Benjaminʼs throughout this period with the experiential. For this reason alone the transitional period between Classicism and post-Romanticism and the work of authors such as von Kleist. as Gestalt. almost alone among the contributors. Lacoue-Labarthe refigures this concept as ʻdictamenʼ. both of which again focus on the problem of translatability. indeed.W. Solger.

Beginning by stating that Romanticism may be an ʻundecipherable enigmaʼ. The authors match this definitional woolliness with a polemical tone. Meanwhile. Thus. where they answered questions about the familyʼs postwar fortunes and no doubt fed the audienceʼs appetite for just that kind of personal ʻhearsayʼ Steiner would probably hate. Johann Jakob Bachofen and Eduard Fuchs offer important explicit formulations of Benjaminʼs late theoretical position. is published in June). Susan Buck-Morssʼs ʻRevolutionary Time: The Vanguard and the Avant-Gardeʼ and Samuel Weberʼs ʻBetween a Human Life and a Word: Walter Benjamin and the Citability of Gestureʼ are interesting but only occasionally add anything that is truly original to Benjamin scholarship. whilst Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancyʼs seminal The Literary Absolute gets mislabelled as simply an ʻanthologyʼ of Romantic texts. finally. and his wish to have some sort of control over it. Kafka. There are. seems to be attempting to take over Gerhard Scholemʼs mantle as chief ʻprotectorʼ of Benjaminʼs reputation by proposing twelve prerequisites for anyone wishing to enter their imaginary Benjamin seminar (including a thorough historical knowledge of post-enlightenment Jewish emancipation. appearances in the latest volume of Benjaminʼs Selected Works in English. Benjaminʼs dissertation gets no mention at all. one can only intuit that such attempts at ʻdefamiliarizingʼ Benjamin were thoroughly undermined at the conference by having a discussion panel with Benjaminʼs two granddaughters and his nephew Michael. Like the previous volumes. however. 2001) and Martin Jayʼs ʻWalter Benjamin. Liverpool University Press. many of which were frustratingly left out of the previous editions of the Selected Works. the editors appear to have retained a higher proportion of the shorter fragments from the Suhrkamp Gesammelte Schriften. Ruskin. covering the remaining years up to 1940. ed. Paul Valéry. for example. of course. although a translation has already appeared in The Moment: Time and Rupture in Modern Thought. seduction and illusion not only serves as an image of the German situation at that time. This is. Remembrance and the First World Warʼ. only around 60 per cent of the important works from 1916/17. which was more intriguingly entitled Révolte et mélancolie). but relates to just those historical transfigurations of and in narrative experience which are discussed here in ʻThe Story Tellerʼ. alongside fragments and shorter unpublished writings. which included. some important essays included here. the authors go on to spend two lengthy chapters attempting to offer both a ʻtypologyʼ and a ʻsociologyʼ of Romanticismʼs ʻideal typesʼ before concluding that it is any cultural phenomenon – from ʻany position on the political spectrumʼ – which ʻrejectsʼ modernity and embodies an anti-technological. the explosion of secondary materialʼ on Benjamin. This carnivalesque play of scale. a work about which Benjamin planned unsuccessfully to write a full-scale treatment from 1921. it collects the work chronologically. if circuitous. for example. and are routinely dismissive of much of the more sober scholarship on literary and political Romanticism. surrealism. Both Friedrich Schlegel and Goethe make significant. the film Star Wars. Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre provide an object lesson in how not to address the complex issues of Romanticism in their book Romanticism against the Tide of Modernity (a translation of their 1992 book. both of which introduce the now familiar hidden-dwarf motif. the events of May 1968 and even. Perhaps a more specific theme than ʻPerception and Experience in Modernityʼ would help Benjamin Studien stand out in the future. Marx. In the latter case this is done via Goetheʼs novella Die neue Melusina.George Steiner. Romanticism is to be found not only in Balzac. and the ability to read Benjaminʼs complex German). Whilst one can appreciate Steinerʼs fear in the face of what he calls the ʻcurrent plethora. he continues to employ different strategies of narrating personal and collective experience: autobiographical pieces and allegories such as ʻRastelliʼs Storyʼ and ʻConversation above the Corso: Recollections of Carnival-Time in Niceʼ. the period in which such ongoing analyses of the deceptive. Oswald Spengler. This time. such as Werner Hamacherʼs ʻJetzt: Benjamin zur historischen Zeitʼ (included in German. Heidrun Friese. Dickens. The authorsʼ basic premiss – that Romanticism constitutively opposes modernity – unfortunately demonstrates little or no understanding of the way in which the foundational moments of the Romantic project emerged out of the German Enlightenment itself – the Jena Romantics being the perfect case in point. allegorical power of language were extended by Benjamin to include those equally revolutionary transformations of experience determined by the material-technological developments of modernity. which covers the period 1935 to the middle of 1938 (the final volume. or as near as possible. but also in Weber. Whilst essays here on Brecht. and this allows the reader to engage with the work as a continuum. particularly Volume 1. The two important works in relation to this in the volume are ʻThe Work of Art in the Age of Its Technical Reproducibilityʼ – included 40 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . nostalgic world-view. Hugo.

the use of such ʻapparently redundantʼ qualifiers functions much ʻlike a warning lightʼ which always ʻsignals an uneasiness that demands to be followed upʼ.here in its substantially longer 1936 version – and ʻParis. a ʻpostmodern thingʼ. put them aside … chattering about them can achieve little. theories of colour. More implicitly. to be all about that other old favourite. Unfortunately. For just as ʻpostmodernityʼ rarely appears in this book without a preceding ʻfullʼ. 2002. Indeed. what presents itself as a brave new interpretation of modernity turns out.. the product doesnʼt quite live up to the sales pitch. the source of such uneasiness in this book derives from an anxiety about returns. London and New York. and not only because this supposedly new intervention includes passages lifted. A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present. ʻwhen properly used. the Capital of the Nineteenth Centuryʼ. the ushering back in of ʻall kinds of old thingsʼ carried out ʻto the very sound of windows breakingʼ. And as Derrida has noted. Perhaps the task remains. A ʻmajor new interpretation of the problematicʼ. whether we are attempting to read Benjamin or the Romantics. it forms a more-or-less subtle critique of totalitarianism via the lettersʼ contents. compiles and introduces twenty-five obscure personal letters from philosophers and literary figures from the period 1780 to 1830 – again.00 pb. that important transitional period from Classicism to late Romanticism.… Or do you believe that dialectics can make crushed flowers grow again?ʼ It is not difficult to see why these century-old tensions between metaphysics and experience occupied Benjamin in his own last years. graphology. £15. so too ʻmodernityʼ and ʻmodernismʼ characteristically come dragging a ʻproperʼ behind them. Ostensibly an exercise in unabashed patriotism. which discuss apparently marginal personal events and relationships but accrue into an image of national identity which contrasts strongly with that which was so disastrously demanded of Benjaminʼs generation. marking the final break with Schleiermacher over the non-orthodox religious content of the Ideas: ʻIf my writings cause you only to wrestle with the hollow spectre of comprehension or incomprehension. Nickolas Lambrianou The anxiety of returns Fredric Jameson. the question of translation. as Jameson himself might say. Detlef Holz. and passed by the Reichʼs censors. postmodernity. but for now it is worth pointing out how there is a strong symmetry here between that mammoth task of collection found in The Arcades Project and the briefer yet more directly subversive 1936 project Deutsche Menschen (ʻGerman Men and Womenʼ). which was the ʻpivotal momentʼ in the development of The Arcades Project. political exile. with minimal paraphrase... £40. to be mindful of the distance between this ʻchatterʼ of incomprehension and the power of critique itself. Benjaminʼs alter ego. More crucially. and therefore hold a weak yet palpable redemptive power that Benjamin appears to be utilizing to construct a sort of thematic. as if Benjamin.. the conflicts of religious and political commitment. vicarious. The last letter is from Friedrich Schlegel. estranged fathers and brothers. It is against this background that the rationale for the book Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 41 . asserts the rather excited back cover of Fredric Jamesonʼs latest publication. second. this amazing book (Adorno famously called it a ʻJewish Arkʼ) sold well in Germany for two years before its true intent was spotted and it was placed on the Index by the German Ministry of Propaganda. it would seem to derive from a perceived threat to the contemporary critical standing of the concept of postmodernity itself – as designating. our own presentʼ – with which the fate of Jamesonʼs own theoretical project is now clearly entwined. 250 pp. in the end. Verso. each of the letters can be read as an autobiographical motif. 1 85984 450 2 pb. the privations of literary life. exiled in Denmark. in a rather different context. Its subversion works on two levels: first. Explicitly at least. Here. autobiography: divorce and the pain of conjugal deception. Even the most idiosyncratic of Benjaminʼs passions are represented: childrenʼs books and toys. 1 85984 674 2 hb. the very first words of A Singular Modernity are: ʻIn full postmodernity…ʼ The formulation is significant. from earlier essays. The letter writers here act as (in Benjaminʼs words) ʻrepresentatives of a more understanding posterityʼ.00 hb. No doubt the opportunity to reassess these works will create a new torrent of secondary literature on Benjamin in English. was smuggling himself pseudonym- ously back into German literary life.

philosophical or otherwise. rather than as a legitimate philosophical and political challenge to the concept of postmodernity which has accompanied it from its very first emergence in the intellectual marketplace. and the last: ʻNo “theory” of modernity makes sense today unless it is able to come terms with the hypothesis of a postmodern break with the modern. ʻRegressions of the Current Ageʼ. Significantly. pertinent as they remain. ʻWe cannot not periodizeʼ. Probably the most interesting of these (the third) centres on an argument. As such.as a whole is defined in terms of a need ʻto consider some final return or reinvention of the outmoded in full postmodernity. less concerned with confronting the kinds of philosophical questions that the emergence of a new discourse surrounding subjectivity (from the eighteenth century onwards) involves. If it is hard to believe that he doesnʼt know this. Jamesonʼs book is divided into two halves – one on ʻmodernityʼ and the other on (artistic) ʻmodernismʼ. Jameson is. if so. However. in itself. Nonetheless. there are no references given. it is necessary. I suppose. at the very least. The second part of the book. Jamesonʼs rhetorically inclusive ʻweʼ is. For while it may be true that ʻconsciousness and the subject are representable only by way of the indirection of the object worldʼ – as in fact the likes of Schlegel knew very well – this hardly justifies the stronger claim that. rather than engaging this ʻcontradictionʼ at the ʻconceptualʼ level it requires. once again. The first part is organized around what Jameson proposes as four ʻmaximsʼ of modernity. somewhat typically. be safely dealt with by presenting it as an ʻideologicalʼ phenomenon which may only work to justify the unchecked march of global capitalism. therefore. as a means to mastering anxiety. With its ultimately rather orthodox model of ideological analysis (which can apparently never become ʻoutmodedʼ). This might just. and to rather less plausible effect. This is confirmed by the link evidently envisaged between the first of his maxims. However. The main theoretical objections to Jamesonʼs conception of the postmodern are no doubt well known to readers of this journal – several of them could be developed in relation to the problems surrounding the use of the term ʻoutmodedʼ in the preceding citation – and. Jameson ends A Singular Modernity by proposing the ʻtherapeuticʼ exercise of ʻsubstituting capitalism for modernity in all the contexts in which the latter appearsʼ. justify the argument that modernity only has meaning as a ʻprojectiveʼ framework for so many ʻstorytelling possibilitiesʼ. focused on artistic 42 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . which we had all naively assumed long since to be supersededʼ. makes clear. but. be a plausible ʻsubstitutionʼ if it were restricted to the limited context defined by the ʻpolitical discursive struggleʼ in which the likes of Anthony Giddens have presented themselves as being on the side of ʻmodernizationʼ. the ultimate conclusion they seem designed to elicit is dubious to say the least. To reduce modernity in this way is simply to ignore what is so fundamental about it as a concept – yes. But this does not. I will try not to repeat them here. but a narrative category. while this is indeed the primary reference point given in the introduction. a recurrence … of the very concept of modernity as such. but the reasons why Jameson might want to present them as such are. Actually. its distinctive modes of temporalization. the main body of the text casts its net considerably wider. in its central argument at least. any talk of modernity can. the primacy he accords to the second of his ʻmaxims of modernityʼ: ʻModernity is not a concept. as the bookʼs preface. At any rate. a concept – that is.ʼ I confess that I am unsure why the two should be viewed as opposed in this way. very clear. than he is with displacing them through their rewriting as misrecognized issues of narrative or rhetoric. Hence. if Jameson has some interesting points to make in relation to such debates. his solution is to dissolve it into a question of rhetoric which leaves the dogmatically asserted primacy of the (still essentially chronological and homogenous) time of narrative untouched. or that any attempt to elaborate such a theory will necessarily end up ʻas so much ideological fodderʼ. given these long-standing arguments. a mite presumptuous. developed through some insightful readings of Descartes and Heidegger. ʻno theory of modernity in terms of subjectivity can be acceptedʼ. That Jameson is partly aware of this – and aware of the problems it might create for his own critical project – is evident in his anxious acknowledgement of postmodernismʼs dependence on ʻessentially modernist categories of the newʼ. it is not so hard to see why.ʼ Now. that ʻconsciousness and subjectivity are unrepresentableʼ. For it is essential to the argument of this book that any contemporary discourse of modernity be regarded as simply a reactionary ʻrevivalʼ. one can accept that ʻnarrativeʼ – including its periodizing forms – is not so easily repudiated as some might suppose. Jamesonʼs supposedly new intervention is. In fact. This looks like it might be an engagement with recent debates around subjectivity and reflection. thus. actually little more than an updated version of Perry Andersonʼs wellknown Marxian critique of the category of modernity outlined in his 1984 New Left Review essay ʻModernity and Revolutionʼ.

Adorno and Greenbergʼs positions in a quite different way. as Jean-Jacques Lecercle has recently opined (in RP 109). Nonetheless. memoirs and confes- Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 43 . are anything but concerned with the ideological search for ʻcertainties and reassurancesʼ – and when it is implicitly contrasted to some supposed postmodern overcoming.) This leads on to a rather familiar story concerning artʼs ʻautonomizationʼ.ʼ The equation of the canonguarding mandarin with nostalgia TVʼs chief talking head is intriguing. of course. a friend observes. While the argument involves a not unpersuasive defence of the unavoidable use of ʻgeneral conceptsʼ. The Holocaust. Jameson.50 pb. there is something seriously problematic about Jamesonʼs articulation of the very ʻdesire called Utopiaʼ. 178 pp.(mostly literary) modernism. And clearly there is considerable truth in this if one thinks of Greenberg or the New Critics. Jameson is. Blanchot and Beckett – all of whom. if. there are elements of both in A Singular Modernity. But there are also architectural pastiche. ʻGeorge Steinerʼ. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory. but as a distinctive form of temporality in its own right which unsettles Jamesonʼs narratological terms. in turn. Jamesonʼs ʻnew interventionʼ does little to rectify the situation. as usual. one personʼs majestic sweep is anotherʼs avoidance of the ʻlabour of the conceptʼ. The novelty here is to see the ʻgeneralʼ category of modernism itself as a ʻbelated constructʼ which can thus be revealed as an ideologically motivated retrospective projection carried out from the Cold War perspective of a ʻlate modernismʼ. 2003. Yet. recovered memory. which gives such a ʻdesireʼ its charge of futurity. (To Jamesonʼs conclusion that ʻthe modernʼ is a ʻone-dimensional conceptʼ. Terry Eagleton writes on the back cover. along with many other traumatic discourses – AIDS. the key to ʻunifyingʼ a general concept of modernism might not be as period style. a proliferation of museums. £37. it misses. despite the charge of ideology it necessarily continues to bearʼ. in their very different ways. of course. While After the Great Divide (1986) skilfully framed the history of debates over the twentieth centuryʼs structures of cultural value. ʻis the Stuart Maconie of high culture. this is extended to the likes of Adorno. one would have to counterpose Benjaminʼs emphasis on what he calls the ʻkaleidoscopeʼ of the modern).. 0 8047 4560 9 hb. and the growing importance of public memory. as embodying the promise of a ʻwholesale displacement of the thematics of modernity by the desire called Utopiaʼ: Walter Benjamin and Ezra Pound. if not without some awkwardness. ʻthe mass-marketing of nostalgiaʼ. Present Pasts now gives a wide-ranging summary of the modes of memory which have confirmed its cultural centrality. never short of illuminating juxtapositions or entertaining insights. given that. the concepts of modernity and modernism are indeed ʻhopelessly confusedʼ and ʻmuch in need of clarificationʼ. the possibility that. How far the complexities surrounding the terms ʻmodernityʼ and ʻmodernismʼ have been illicitly reduced becomes clear with the two names that Jameson invokes in his conclusion. however. It is. Twilight Memories (1995) broke a different path. say. what were they on?ʼ) finding its Steinerian counterpart (ʻPound and Heidegger – what were they thinking?ʼ). £15. national heritage sites.. 0 8047 4561 7 pb. as Peter Osborne has argued. Even beyond this. is a theorist ʻwhose writings sweep majestically from Sophocles to science fictionʼ. Moreover. as always. A very fashionable coupling. be used to justify the counter-intuitive prescription that the category of modernity should also be ʻapplied exclusively to the past … [as] a useful trope for generating alternate historical narratives. pondering the growth of memorialism in the 1990s. once again.. the shift from spatial to temporal ʻimplicationsʼ. slavery. not least for the thought of Maconieʼs nervous dismissal of old fads (ʻAll those people wearing leg-warmers – all I can say now is. (This will. equally infuriating and entrancing.95 hb. is itself dependent upon its intersection with emergent ideas of modernity and new forms of time-consciousness. For it is hard to think of two figures whose distinctive philosophical and literary projects are more intimately connected to a certain fundamental conception – and not simply ʻnarrative categoryʼ – of modernity. has dominated public discussion. against the nominalism of ʻthe present ageʼ. as Calinescu reminds us. sad to report. far more problematic when. David Cunningham Syndrome Andreas Huyssen. ʻretro fashions and repro furnitureʼ. Huyssen notes. continues from where the first leaves off. It also serves to unite the two areas in which Andreas Huyssen has done his most significant work: the dialectic of high and low culture. the critical possibilities this might allow are undermined by an inability to imagine that such ʻlarger conceptsʼ could take anything other than a ʻgeneric-periodizingʼ form. but frankly perverse in this context. Stanford. Stanford University Press. This would allow us to think the differences and similarities between. To be fair.

ʻif both observations were true. It deals too with sculpture. or up. ʻwill encage and confine their visitorsʼ. Present Pasts extends the previous bookʼs interests in architecture and urban environments. Present Pasts contains many local diversions: moments meriting their own scrutiny or acclaim. This tour of the issues continually raises pertinent points – but it does not quite cohere into a new level of understanding. But all this and more does not meet the considerable expectations awakened by the first chapter. could cast a different light on the whole concept of the memorial. We may hope that the following chapters will be case studies that will focus all these floating notions. the essay on Maus convincingly steers a subtle course for mimesis beyond the ʻHolocaust sublimeʼ of which Huyssen is cannily suspicious. chapters on Latin America remind us of some lesser-known histories of trauma and representation. in which size no longer matters. ʻwhy? And especially: why now?ʼ The state of the media is one answer. posited by Fredric Jameson two decades ago: the alleged coexistence of a ʻculture of amnesiaʼ with what Twilight Memories dubbed the ʻmemory boomʼ. it seems to boil down. Huyssen also ventures towards a nagging paradox of contemporary memory. Thus Huyssenʼs creative notion of an electronic-age ʻmonumentality of miniaturizationʼ. He then offers a more hard-bitten view: it is ʻthe profit interests of mass marketeersʼ that are ʻpertinent in explaining the success of the memory syndrome. Simply put. But still he insists on asking. If there is a final general explanation. if the boom in memory were inevitably accompanied by a boom in forgetting?ʼ The rhetorical question hints at a substantial answer. then. That sounds like wishfully negative thinking. not to mention the denser questions raised by particular revivals and waves of retrospection. Huyssenʼs most arresting interventions arrive within the first thirty pages. comics (Spiegelmanʼs Maus) and postwar German literature. his commentaries on particular cityscapes are vitiated by a heavily subjective quality which remains hesitant and half-stated. Corporate developments in the heart of Berlin. notably visible in South Africa and Latin America. Thatʼs plausible – but it still begs the question why the past should be so popular. What. he also reminds us of his profound familiarity with German culture and history. ʻthe spread of memory practices in the visual artsʼ. that this remains promising ground for a sequel. notably linked to new technology and in particular the Internet. but they donʼt. Huyssen demonstrates his international range and his readiness to write about different classes of object. They are. suffering and lossʼ. Huyssen complains. to ʻa slow but palpable transformation of temporality in our livesʼ). ʻto collapse memory into trauma … would unduly confine our understanding of memory. the past is selling better than the futureʼ. though it elides the presumably considerable differences between the way that human and computer memories work. Huyssen also points to an international politics of memory. in which a general theory of the dialectics of contemporary memory seems on the cards. marking it too exclusively in terms of pain. Amid a survey of the field. On the other hand. he writes with particular persuasiveness of the limits of trauma as the major mode of memory: while it has been ʻall too tempting to some to think of trauma as the hidden core of all memoryʼ. Little doubt. and 44 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . and Huyssen notes that ʻthe power of our most advanced electronics depends entirely on memoryʼ – a worthwhile observation. focusing especially on post-unification Berlin. His best guess seems to be that memory grows in importance as it is threatened by an amnesia which is itself produced by a memory overload: ʻwe are trying to counteract this fear and danger of forgetting with survival strategies of public and private memorializationʼ. But the essays do not really answer the expectations aroused by the bookʼs early stages. and many more. he asks. but still salutary.sional writing. But Huyssenʼs clear awareness of these issues does not lead him to the sustained meditation on them that we might now expect. The Berlin chapters are informative reports on 1990s Berlin. The point is indisputable. Maybe the Berliners who donʼt feel encaged and confined will feel uncaged and unconfined.

but it is a reminder of the sandy foundations on which Huyssen has elected to build his arguments about architecture – arguments which take up almost half the book. Habit. should be the end of the debate. ʻa two-storey drab shopping mall stuffed with mini-boutiques and fast-food units. like most subjective processes. must have a lot to do with countless private memories. counts as a ʻborderʼ and why? And what is the role of power and the violence of power in its maintenance? These questions. It does seem possible that an eruption of troubling and repressed memories is subtly connected with a delighted fascination with the past – that. let alone George Steiner. or perhaps after. Not that this. sculptures – is understandable. the resisted new is bound to become the basis for another glorified pastʼ – an overstatement. an individual experience before.. 2002. sees a single process at work in the twin booms of trauma and nostalgia. in another it must surely have the same shady status as the ʻcollective unconsciousʼ to which few now refer. £15. murderers and madeleines. Huyssenʼs deliberate neglect of this results in a book which has rather little to say about the actual activity of memory – activity to which modern literature. could give us a lot of pointers. in any case. some subterranean bond links Art Spiegelman and Stuart Maconie. In the next sentence he graciously admits that ʻthe public seems to accept it with open armsʼ. are they all condemned to failure? Where does this leave ʻpublic memoryʼ and our desire to locate it in a spot we can walk around? My real doubt is not so much about monuments as about public memory as such. making his case for the centrality of memory. The problems of subjectivity also arise in an opposite fashion. [which] resembles the inside of a prison more closely than a consumer paradiseʼ. which routine has nonetheless flattened into background. What is distinctive about these essays is their organization around an antiHobbesian analysis of violence as ʻpost-institutionalʼ: Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 45 . we might hazard. nasty and nice. Public memory. perhaps. 172 pp. Huyssen himself remarks that ʻ[In] city culture particularly. 1 85984 267 4 pb.wonder where to go for a coffee. that they were written before 9/11 and left unrevised – although in this case it only goes to confirm the mistake of fetishizing that date.. are at the heart of Balibarʼs latest collection in English. how are we to conceive of its character. or anything. terrorism and ʻTiger Feetʼ – is a conundrum that Present Pasts never seeks to solve. Huyssenʼs interest in externalized memory – in monuments. In so far as this view is based on a reluctance to get involved with psychoanalysis or with narcissistic confessional writing. for instance. is a great deadener. To note their daunting transience and inaccessibility is to suspect the challenges that a theory of contemporary cultural memory might involve. But an account of memory which eschews the personal does sound a little like a mountain climber with a fear of heights. a concept we need. But just what the connection might be – what perverse dialectic might bind pain and pleasure. memorials. Huyssen insists early on that ʻtoo much of the contemporary memory discourse focuses on the personalʼ. Such a theory must be indebted to Huyssenʼs work in the field. In a discussion of Times Square. The perceptual gap becomes manifest when Huyssen declares that the new Potsdamer Platz is ʻrather appallingʼ. If we can speak of a European ʻpeopleʼ or identity. Presumably an invisible monument is a forgotten one: an object intended to be ceaselessly obtrusive. is culturally determined and collectively conditioned. Predicting strangersʼ feelings is a risky basis for such a sober analysis as this. since there is little here that is not of relevance to those events and their aftermath. it is anything else. One should add too. It is also. but he has little to say about the latter. and what would constitute ʻEuropean citizenshipʼ? Could there be a communal identity or polis without borders? What. If this is the fate of all monuments. Joe Brooker What radicals want Étienne Balibar. notes Beckettʼs Vladimir.00 hb. 1 85984 725 0 hb. but a wise enough note of caution against making long-range generalizations from oneʼs own resistances. but made even more so by recent global events and the foreign policy schisms they have created within the European Union. if it exists. I can sympathize. But he more than once quotes Robert Musilʼs remark that nothing is as invisible as a monument – an aphorism whose implications he does not pursue. apt enough before. Huyssen. Verso. But it might try talking about kinds of reminiscence that go unexamined here – for instance. these essays being an extension to earlier treatments in French and American editions. £40.00 pb. happy memories... Politics and the Other Scene. London and New York. and how much any analyst will be forced to omit. given their reassuring solidity and visibility. In one sense. With none of these topics does Balibar break new ground. Memory. the term seems to denote a plausible entity.

Balibar argues that power. For Balibar what is at issue here is the interface or interference between the respective logics of the ideological-imaginary and the economico-social. is nonetheless complexity-reducing by virtue of the ʻtautologicalʼ ideality upon which its relies for its legitimacy (God is God. the impact of a capitalist logic that ʻmustʼ neutralize or destroy what might otherwise prosper and come to oppose it. more genuinely democratic politics of ʻcivilityʼ based on recognition of the ambiguities of ʻidentityʼ and the fictive nature of organicist conceptions of nation and ethnicity. although certainly never stabilized and centrally located. He also insists at the same time. Some of this is based on an assessment of the present state of social movement politics that seems questionable or inconsistent. The only way out of the circle is to introduce a ʻpolitics of violenceʼ – to embed the idea of violence and the means of countering it within the concept of the political itself. the neoliberal ʻempireʼ and its opposition. moreover. says Balibar. and although at one point Balibar recognizes the attempts of the ecology and peace movements to build a transnational momentum. but ʻopenʼ. we must locate and scrutinize its ʻother sceneʼ. in a Lacanian inflection. If we can speak meaningfully of a European ʻidentityʼ or ʻcitizenshipʼ. it can only be in an understanding that identity is always both individual and other-dependent. and. and without the Derridean rhetoric. based. that is. removing in the process any potential for these victims to present themselves as offering resistance in some recognizable political discourse of ʻrightsʼ or ʻemancipationʼ (or in any form of ʻself-stylingʼ. is clearly responsive in these out-ofjoint times to the summons of a spectral ontology that complicates any straightforward application of historical materialism. narrowing conceptions of identity. genocidal warfare. fascism and anti-fascism. Balibar. the potential for a new. With the former is linked the failure of agents to comprehend the determinants of their actions and the invisibility (misrecognition) of ʻenemiesʼ and victims. 46 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . that there is always an unlocatable ʻthirdʼ to the dialectics of power and counter-power. In essays more specifically addressed to the European situation. on the convergence of groups originating from all parts of the world on European soil. Another obvious comparison and contrast – alluded to at a number of points – is with Foucault. exclusionary policies on immigration and growing racism. ʻnaturalʼ catastrophes. decolonization and neocolonialism. has no symbolically mediated relation with reality. is the extent to which the violence exercised through power exterminates subjects (as when the world market abandons ʻexcessʼ populations to pandemics. a matter of representation. What the latter looks to unveil are the motivating forces of the ʻinfrastructure of the infrastructureʼ. Balibar explores the dialectic of violence and counter-violence as manifested in. after the ʻdialecticsʼ of revolution and counter-revolution. although he comes to it from within a much longer and deeper engagement with Marxism than some others. rather than seeing politics as either the negation of violence or its legitimate use. Balibar implies. we want to deal with the less predictable and intelligible aspects of violence. These would include the promotion of transcultural movements of a kind that would both cut across existing cultural borders and at the same time reach beyond the viewpoint of cultural identities. a term taken from Freud which Balibar uses in reference both to the repression of information (and its consequences) in the ʻinformation ageʼ. come to that). the secretion of the ʻother scenesʼ of mass impoverishment. What the Foucaldian framework overlooks. namely the ʻcrueltyʼ which seeks and takes enjoyment (jouissance) in the exercise of power and which. on the other. and to the historical method or interpretative strategy which focuses on the overdetermining and material effects of the political ʻimaginaryʼ. provided these face up to the initiatives needed at local and transnational levels. since Balibar contests any theorization of power exclusively in terms of the ʻconstructionʼ of subjectivity. in a kind of inversion of the Marxist penetration of ʻrealʼ (economic) relations beneath ʻsurfaceʼ (ideological) relations that yet avoids (or seeks to avoid) any idealist imputation of efficacy to ideas alone. the Law is the Law…). An intensification of racism in Europe is acknowledged. then. What we have to accept today. Balibar argues. on the one hand.as not preceding the imposition of ʻcivil societyʼ but as its effect and well-nigh ineradicable accompaniment. and the like). is that extreme violence arises as much from institutions as it does against them. Anti-globalization campaigns are not discussed. and an understanding of ʻcitizenshipʼ that is no longer nationally rooted. but analysed as a reaction to arrested social development and the impact of neoliberal economics and presented as a process that is not yet beyond the control of democratic forces. subjective resistance and the ʻaesthetics of the selfʼ. If. unlike the violence wielded in the name of legitimating principles or ideals. In a further series of counter-Foucaldian qualifications. suicidal and exterminist policies that emerge in conjunction with extreme institutional violence. the cycle of attack and retaliation that marks the New World Order.

xi + 210 pp. the convictions of men it trusts. Cornell University Press..95 hb. unlimitable access to facts. opinions and influences. labelled by Dean ʻthe public-supposedto-believeʼ. What it takes to be true are the opinions of others. there is a problem with these essays. one has a sense that we have been here before.. Balibar is not dreaming of utopia. It is a world that recently revealed itself dramatically in the Gulf War conflict. £26. at least theoretically. European media to Al Jazeera and Indymedia and the group of Russians in Iraq posting on aeronautics. 0 8014 3814 4 hb. yet neither is he without a hope for the emergence of new forms of agency. (As I write. is generally impressive. however qualified to speak. a small group of the privileged who have time and inclination for immersion in public affairs. if found alive. Balibar is not the most lucid or accessible of theorists. the possibilities of fascist revival. The text message voting for Yes stands at 69 per cent. too little given to specification of the institutions or forms of action or future political imaginaries that might take us beyond them. of satellite television and digital radio stations. 2002. 0 8014 8678 5 pb. Bentham promoted the idea of a powerful public tribunal that collates ʻall the wisdom and justice of the nationʼ and ʻdecides the destiny of public menʼ. This Dean tags ʻthe public-supposed-to-knowʼ. be accessed globally. only to suggest that there is a weariness that comes from academic balance and scruple itself where this is so remote from the centres of political influence and action. His treatment of key concepts. on the other hand. It is as if phenomenological exposure is all that is left to the radical intellectual.he elsewhere suggests that any politicization of youth that we see in Europe at the present time is absorbed in proto-fascist agitation. unable to judge in the welter of conflicting opinions. in effect. Jodi Deanʼs book tackles a world steeped in information sources. But he is in many respects the kind of commentator a radical wants at the present time: a materialist fully wised-up to Marxismʼs limits and aporias. is the conundrum that interests Dean. As harvest of all this official infotainment. is reliant on publicity or information.) Immeasurable information and copious opportunities to express opinions – this. At issue are not the contents of knowledge. precisely because of its informed attention to detail and dialectical insight (qualities which tell against any adequate reproduction here). This is not to deny the sophistication and seriousness of his engagement.. Mohammed Saeed Al Sahhaf. however. The war was fought across these media fronts as openly as across any other.. Publicityʼs Secret: How Technoculture Capitalizes on Democracy. too. Airtime was even given to the extravagant briefings from the Iraqi Minister of Information. but the very authority invested in the public – that it actively and constantly makes it its business to know. £11. from BBC and ITN to CNN. such as it. is the contemporary meaning of democracy. that Balibarʼs reformulations are all very well but do not necessarily advance the understanding much further than it has reached in other sensitive post-Marxist accounts. At times. That everyone can add to a publicly mediated mélange of opinion.95 pb. is not wholly a matter merely of will (or wishfulness) but based on sensible estimation of political realities. and an intellectual pessimist whose optimism. Much of this new ʻtechnocultureʼ can. it is that they are almost too scrupulously descriptive of their ʻscenesʼ. To unmask the ʻother sceneʼ is also to expose the impotence of those with the understanding. so that it might judge Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 47 . The public-supposed-to-know. These too played their part in legitimizing and delegitimizing the war. myriad public opinion polls were updated regularly. If. a solidarity against any renewal of fascism. say some. todayʼs poll on a London radio station asks whether Saddam Hussein should be put to death. apart from their congested expression. a thinker keenly attuned to the dark sides of the European situation – its lurking forms of apartheid. as voiced by Jeremy Bentham. Kate Soper Habermasochism Jodi Dean. This is a public easily influenced. media info-bites and online factfiles. Publicityʼs Secret opens with the historical and philosophical connections between the public sphere and democracy. Ithaca and London. This is the world of Internet and chat groups. These formats and forums promise endless commentary and analysis.ru. Various sources of information were locatable. Set against this is Benthamʼs other public.

and ultimately superscepticism.) And so the bookʼs concerns are set up. If publicity is freely available to them. You can vote as many times as you like. it is not a reading that Habermas sustains or takes seriously enough for Dean. Conspiracy theory ʻmarks the decline of symbolic efficacy. as constituents of a burgeoning public sphere. Having established a historical context. Habermasʼs legacy is a faith in the public sphere as a place of discussion and exposure. However. This has not led to transparency and the possibility of judgement. The secret was not only crucial to sovereign power. according to whether it has the capacity to know and judge. such as the Freemasons. it also locks us into other sinister networks – insidious commercialism. that the whole notion of a public sphere. The idea of the secret allows Dean to reject Habermasʼs sunnily optimistic notion of the public sphere as a self-transparent realm of universal reason. they may make rational decisions that the public-supposed-to-believe will trust. opinions and data. Critical debate is assumed to convert the public-supposed-to-believe into the public-supposed-to-know. until she realized. There is another public – the ʻpublic-supposed-not-to-knowʼ – and the secret that it must not know most of all is that it does not exist. secret societies too. revealing the toppling of Saddamʼs statue in Baghdad to have been a ʻcarefully staged media eventʼ laid on by the US Army in conjunction with Ahmed Chalabiʼs Free Iraqi Forces militia. Habermasʼs historical account of the formation of an enlightened public sphere may be tenable. but as contemporary desideratum is wanting. This is consecrated in contemporary clichés. Instead he turns to the literary public and the domestic sphere. Dean endorses Reinhart Koselleckʼs work on John Locke and freemasonry in Critique and Crisis: its key stance being that the emergence of the public consecrates the transfer of an auratic and mystical power from the monarch to society via the arguments of critics.) . secrecy. Or if scepticism is not the product. the sweeping. mouthed from politicians to cyber-boosters to 48 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) advertisers and publicists: the right to know. then. a deconstructionist paradox: inherent in the notion of publicity is its ʻotherʼ. One chapter is on conspiracy theory. As scepticism. Dean examines Hillary Rodham Clintonʼs evocation of a conspiratorial conservative plot to destroy her husbandʼs presidency. However. and Ziek is promoted. were indeed proto-publics. notes Habermas. Deanʼs argument turns to deconstruction. Everybody demands knowledge and everyone is entitled to an opinion. is a fiction. Deanʼs critique of what she terms ʻHabermasochismʼ kicks in. and that all the opinion polls that claim to be its voice are ʻnothing more than buttresses for already particular claimsʼ. amidst the welter of ideas. but rather the opposite – a fragmented ʻpublic-destined-to-be-scepticalʼ. Inasmuch as publicity bears out Habermasʼs promise of a democratic realm of informed citizens. Dean traces the development of excess publicity. operating according to principles of critical reason. Habermas is bashed now  and again. The Web – the place that ʻrealizes the fantasy of the publicʼ – is analysed as a forum that incubates conspiracy explanations.responsibly. Conspiracy theorists are prime examples of the suspicious citizens typical in an age of media overdose (though the founding moment of the USA – the Declaration of Independence – is shown by Dean to be based likewise on identification of a conspiracy). (Update: the text message voting now stands at 70 per cent Yes. The secret fills out the gap and conceals the inconsistency between the public-supposed-to-know and the public-supposed-to-believe. the subject of Deanʼs previous book. disarticulating power of publicity to reflexivize everything and destroy any reference pointʼ. On this point. rationality and the law. ʻthe realization of publicity turns into its oppositeʼ. Thus ʻsecrecy becomes a condition for the publicity of reasonʼ. Habermas does indeed admit the ʻconstitutive place of the secretʼ. Attraction to conspiracy theory is identifiable even in those closest to power. the possibility in which the believing public needs to believe. Dean discovers a secret Habermas inside Habermas. and the chapters that follow twirl around the ideas of publicity and secrecy in various guises. then it is the flight into banalization as bulwark against information. It holds open the reassuring possibility that the judging public will judge correctly. This is the key twist of the book. The public is split. an episode that she found more riveting than the ʻboring Whitewater investigationsʼ. the duty to get informed. as a result of its untrammelled access to opinions. via the good services of  Slavoj Ziek. She finds nestling at the heart of Benthamʼs notion of publicity the idea of the secret. Her attraction to gossip made her feel guilty. Within contemporary ʻtechnocultureʼ there is only a vast pool of information sources. (A JPEG has just arrived by email. surveillance society. Each vote costs 20p plus charges. The secret marks the absence necessary to sustain belief in the publicsupposed-to-know. Enlightenment seeps out. Dean admits her own fascination with Monica Lewinskyʼs sex acts with Bill Clinton. despite some dissent regarding the conception of democracy. knowledge as power.

It identifies a new and consequential amalgam of public and new technologies. It discovers the contradictions in the notion of our contemporary public – the ʻpublic-supposed-to-knowʼ. The next chapter deals with ʻcelebrityʼ. (An email has just arrived from InstantDemocracy. £18. To Relish the Sublime? Culture and Self-realization in Postmodern Times. were respectively a robust defender of state education who doubted the wisdom of academic English. celebrity as a ʻmode of subjectivizationʼ connects to the fact that there are no stable reference points any longer and so ʻwe see accompanying the endorsement of an absence of authority.. oneʼs own personal  tally of Google hits. The arguments are laid out in a Now/ Then attribute table comparing old-style ʻpublic sphereʼ to new style ʻneo-democraciesʼ. Esther Leslie Whipping boy Martin Ryle and Kate Soper. the search for ever more information (indeed secrets) about stars and other ʻothersʼ. ʻDoes Iraq really have weapons of mass destruction?ʼ 65 per cent have texted Yes so far. ranging from political theory to psychoanalysis and cultural studies. inasmuch as it held to be a conflictual space. Some solace – our governments donʼt listen anyway. Itʼs another day. Here the argument turns briefly to economics: the fact that the World Wide Web and other networked communications have developed under the impetus of neoliberal market-oriented policies. Deanʼs book coalesces a number of approaches to the public and publicity. and belief as a matter of intuition and inclination. But nasty real-world effects are perhaps a little too absent from Deanʼs world of ideological wrangles where guilt means watching prurient television instead of White House politics and the trickiest moral decisions are whether to shop at the local grocerʼs or at the supermarket with its mini-discounts exchanged for a consumption-patterns-tracking loyalty card. 1 85984 461 8 pb. Theories of post-ideological technocratic society are examined through Habermas and Marcuse. Verso. a longing for authorityʼ. £45. with its constant access to information sources. 1 85984 686 6 hb. London and New York.co.00 hb. Here the focus is. Leavis. weird hybrid of kneejerkism and half-truths.The following chapter delivers a history of the Internet and its publicity. It warns of the dangers posed by information overload and generalized scepticism. This converts the ideology of ʻthe publicʼs right to knowʼ into an alibi for structures of commercial gain. here interpreted as net presence – for example. organized around the ʻdriveʼ and notions of self and other.. another text message poll. psychoanalytical. 262 pp. And so it goes on: the dangerous banality of public opinion. After all this. updating the metaphor of Big  Brother to one of little brothers (derived from Ziekʼs appellation for Bill Gates) ʻwho thrive in the excesses of the information economyʼ.R. ʻShould we go to war with Syria?ʼ 52 per cent say Yes. again via Ziek. Credibility replaces rationality. It is ironic that two of the cultural Leftʼs favourite bogeymen. Dean makes a final push in favour of the Web as a potential crib of democracy. But how the hell do they know – and why do they think that they know the truth in the absence of any real disclosures by those who might just know something about these WMD that ʻrogue statesʼ alone are not allowed to possess? This is knowledge as belief. Those debates are disarmed by an insight  from Ziek on radical distrust and disagreement as the actual output of any collective decision-making process such as might be favoured by advocates of liberal civil society.. The Web replaces the nation. Matthew Arnold and F. 2002. though. Todayʼs text message poll on the London radio station asks the question. Contestation replaces consensus. or the questions ʻAm I well known enough?ʼ and ʻAre my secrets being revealed far and wide?ʼ As with conspiracy theory.. And such beliefs – acting in this case as retrospective justifications for deeds – are a supplement to nasty real-world effects. and a scourge of belletristic amateurism. or ʻego-surfingʼ.uk asking me to choose between some preset options on ʻWhat Next for Iraq?ʼ) The book closes with an examination of ʻneo-democracyʼ. universally reviled Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 49 .00 pb. And so on. But perhaps focus should be on the ʻpublic-that-presumesin-the-absence-of-knowledgeʼ.

essentialist and individualist. for they were. are taken to be representative of a sinister beast known as liberal humanism. Such humanism can make a fetish of the consensual as much as postmodernism makes one of the idiosyncratic. as we are here. they remind us that the enlightened eighteenth century was as much preoccupied with cults of sentiment and sensibility as with some whipping boy of abstract Reason. irreconcilable to the cultural mainstream. Genuine cultural rednecks are hardly so thin on the ground that the Left need waste its ammunition on a hardworking Inspector of Schools who believed that culture should be general to all. the book is a little defensive: it advances the claim that some cultural works are better than others with all the self-conscious air of unfashionability of the claim that Cilla Black is a hermeneutical phenomenologist. Listening to others or chewing a peach can be instances of it as well. many-sided postmodernists are unlikely to welcome. Understandably enough in the present climate. With commendable judiciousness. Ryle and Soper are perhaps not quite critical enough of the idea of self-realization. you can (perhaps must) realize any ʻappetencyʼ you like as long as it is compatible with the realization of other such impulses. lucid survey of philosophical conceptions of culture as self-realization. One would like to ask these critics why they harbour such an animus against the anti-slavery campaigners. It must not to allowed to squeeze out Gelassenheit or negative capability. in a philosophical milieu which has played this down in the interests of reconstructing him as an early run for Gilles Deleuze. or a self which is constituted in the process of realization. and since we disgruntled leftists respect the autonomous judgements of others. which could suggest either a pre-existent self which then demands realization. The first section of the book is an admirably compact. as in some heady Romanticism or flatfooted naturalism.by the cultural and academic establishment. There can also be something a little too virile and florid-faced about the idea of self-realization. Richards. the New Criticism and others as the dubious assumption that. since the most disreputable kinds of identity politics tend to back the former case. who was pulled in by the Cambridge constabulary for possessing a banned avant-garde novel and who at one point flirted with communism. Self-realization here comes with an organicist price-tag. Politically speaking. They note that it might indefensibly imply that all human powers should be realized simply because they are there. and the more creditable kinds the latter. There is. Chartists and suffragettes. It is also gratifying to be reminded.A. they seem not to have noticed that it began as part of the philosophical baggage of the most revolutionary class history has ever witnessed. a tension in Arnoldʼs conception of culture which 50 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . resonant as it is of some tediously vigorous self-activism. one-sided judgements of it which relativistic. whatever the swim happens to be. Nor does the book really take issue with the potential formalism of the concept. what sometimes seems to matter is not which bits of yourself you realize. even so. The book does a splendid job of making Matthew Arnold sound less like some lily-waving. but because it is quirky. But the other side of its self-consciousness is a certain courage. we heartily respect this particular judgement too. not just disgruntled leftists. of the more obnoxious political aspects of Nietzsche. of course. aberrant. however. Culture is both ideology and utopia – a spiritual reconciliation of social antagonisms which nevertheless exposes the embarrassing rift between its own properly universal values and the inevitable failure of bourgeois society to realize them. In the Anglo-Saxon world. if not heart-stoppingly original. from Plato to post-structuralism. essentialist or individualist. but whether they harmonize with each other. Arnold. and thus the kind of rebuff to absolute. but it is also a timely reminder of that traditionʼs enduring strengths. Both figures. just as much the product of Western humanism as Dante and the EU. for interesting historical reasons. toffee-nosed aesthete than the usual leftist caricature. As far as the modern self goes. as it presses its case for an idea of human self-realization which need not be elitist. It is the bourgeoisie who stand in judgement on themselves. What matters is being in the swim. which is elitist. this makes quite a difference. this passes into the criticism of I. having learned a good deal of our trade from liberal humanism. though they fail to note that most of these poets and philosophers of sentiment hailed. for example. In the lineage from Schiller to Arnold. Martin Ryle and Kate Soperʼs To Relish the Sublime? is in no doubt about the deficiencies of liberal humanism. from the Celtic fringes. and one of the earliest champions of cultural studies. Though the critics of this doctrine are much given to historicizing. in poetry or real life. but they do not attend much to the ambiguity of the concept itself. We need to take the idea out of the gym. finds religious nonconformism distasteful not so much because of its doctrines. Ryle and Soper defend a notion of self-realization which is neither dependent on a withdrawal from the public world nor parasitic on the non-self-realization of others. The critique of post-structuralism is astute.

It is a clash between Hellenism and Hebraism with which George Eliot. E. Ryle and Soper stress how precious this can be. though they are aware that it can be precious in both senses of the word. Arnold. Ryle and Soper certainly stick their necks out. Ryle and Soper are out to challenge what one might call ʻidentity criticismʼ. and that means political agency. they also flirt with the outlandish theory that reading fiction is not quite the same as reading a railway timetable. in contrast to the anti-universalists who consider that it always and everywhere is. this is an argument for their coming to be so. as well as providing some detailed social and cultural history. if only for its own survival. Wells. Jack London. not a case against irony itself. Arnold marks the historical point at which.M. and that one of the deepest indictments of our social order is that it holds out ideals of cultural emancipation to people whom it then goes on to deprive of it.it could well have probed further. along with 98 per cent of the population. Forster and English modernism. There is another sort of inconsistency here. material force is to safeguard those rather older aesthetic standards. ranging from Mary Hays and Jane Austen to Gissing. Yet how can it do so without betraying its own ideals? How can the spirit enter upon material incarnation without self-estrangement? If culture is a question of the whole. Schillerʼs Aesthetic Man is perpetually ready for anything and able to commit himself fully to nothing. which in turn means instrumentalism. So culture is in contradiction with itself in this sense. since it involves both positioning and self-criticism. Unless culture in its broader sense incorporates the militant masses – unless. which (though they are too courteous to say so) is in some ways simply an updated ethnic or gender-based version of the old-fashioned empathetic criticism of Oxbridge gentlemen. yet Schiller. which is already marked in the work of Schiller. too. that universality is a shameful rebuke to middle-class society. These sensitive. the idea of culture must either go social and anthropological or risk going under along with increasingly passé notions of class privilege and private cultivation.G. too. One can put much the same point in terms of culture as a critique of instrumentalism. How is culture not to be degraded by the very changes which might ensure its own flourishing? The second part of To Relish the Sublime?. never ceases to struggle. Culture is useless unless it issues in action. Terry Eagleton Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 51 . But the so-called Culture and Society tradition marks the point where culture needs social transformation just to flourish in its own terms. If a good many men and women are not yet in this privileged position. H. among others. that some works of culture are better than others. Eccentric stuff. not just one of its more paranoid fantasies. then any particular manifestation of it is ipso facto inadequate – a case which translates a certain Romantic or Idealist anxiety about the self into social terms. But one reason why culture must now become an active. Arnoldʼs work is cusped between two notions of culture. Hardy. And action is always either too premature or too disruptive. culture acts as a form of hegemony – culture in the more timeless. taking on historical flesh. unlike a good many cultural analyses these days from the political Left. and is interestingly incoherent on this account. as well as in the senses that Ryle and Soper valuably stress. that cultural selfimprovement is not always and everywhere odiously elitist. Culture is an ideal of spiritual integrity which must have material effects. the early Thomas Mann and a host of others have recourse to it precisely as a high-minded caveat against toopremature or too-disruptive action. Only when you are able to ironize your identity are you truly free. traditional sense (the best that has been thought and said) is likely to perish. Not only do they have the boldfacedness to believe. identity and transcendence. non-reductive readings attend to questions of literary form. in a word. investigates the search for self-realization in various literary works. They see that all genuine interpretation is a form of irony.

one that seeks to link an account of ideas of race with the development of the modern Western state. the distinctiveness of Goldbergʼs work is that he seeks to lay the foundations for a systematic view of the relation between race ideas and state formation. possibilities and impermissibilities. the institutions for managing this threat. 2001. in particular. 336 pp. and a good deal of the plausibility of Goldbergʼs case rests upon this engagement.… So if race matters. There are essentially two ways in which Goldbergʼs claim might be understood. suitably restyled. It (invisibly) defines almost every relation. Oxford. the interpretation he clearly favours. Recent efforts to get the concept ousted from the lexicon of social science (by Paul Gilroy and myself) have been a response to moves to reinstate it (by Lucius Outlaw among others). a racial state is one in which ʻrace is integralʼ to its ʻemergence. recognizes the factitious nature of races – indeed. refining and adapting notions of race for state purposes. prompting increasing efforts to enforce homogeneity. The Racial State. and important. or at least managed and contained. of course. embody the racial condition. Some idea of the difficulties involved is present from the outset of The Racial State. though.. £17. which we might call the ʻweakʼ and the ʻstrongʼ interpretations. the central claim Goldberg advances is that ʻThe modern state … is nothing less than a racial state. wishes to push the argument further by insisting that the modern stateʼs project of managing heterogeneity in terms of race profoundly shapes the nature of that state itself: The racial state. concepts and discourses. Goldberg.. The difficulties generated by this indeterminacy are amplified when the term is connected to an account of the state. The ʻweakʼ interpretation would claim that states are instrumental in inventing races. Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . as a valid description of biologically and culturally constituted social groupings. and transformations…ʼ It is not clear what Goldberg means by ʻraceʼ in this comprehensive claim. integral to this enterprise is an engagement with the meaning of the terms ʻraceʼ and ʻthe stateʼ. Thus the racial state could be said to be everywhere. It fashions not just the said and the sayable. thus becomes the racial characterization of the apparatus. where the term assumes its familiar condition of floating imprecision before transmuting into an independent entity capable. Briefly. the racial state is the means by which this modern dilemma is resolved. These same processes also challenge the stability and integrity of the local. The context for the rise of the racial state. governing all aspects of social and psychological life and adapting subtle strategies and manoeuvres in order to ensure the persistence of ʻthe racial conditionʼ. contours virtually all intercourse.. Again there is some merit in this claim. of ʻmarking and ordering the modern nation-stateʼ. the racial state offers the means of accounting for the threat and unmanageability of the heterogeneous. whilst the second commits him to an exaggerated view of the powers of the state. because modern states more or less. argument. both as forms of socialization and as technologies of order and control. Here the state becomes a protagonist of protean omniscience. However. in Goldbergʼs view. content and character of social silences and presumptions. although one might wish to question how readily the distinctions between the global and the local can be identified. Such a risk is emphatically evident in the ʻstrongʼ interpretation of Goldbergʼs thesis. commodities and people. the stateʼs definition in racial terms. 0 631 19921 7 pb. £50. According to Goldberg. Blackwell. for keeping it out or ultimately containing it. And simultaneously seen nowhere.00 hb.. This is an established. David Goldbergʼs book represents another twist in the already convoluted tale of the concept of race and its proper place in social and political theory. Goldberg takes a different tack altogether. the invented character of races is a core part of his larger argument – yet what the term ʻraceʼ itself is held to refer to is not explicated. the projects. more thickly or thinly. According to Goldberg. The first saves his argument but only at the cost of making its scope familiarly modest. for example. It is this assertion of an identity between contemporary states and ʻthe racial conditionʼ that is unconvincing. but penetrates equally the scope and quality. The state in its racial reach and expression is thus at once super-visible in form and force and thoroughly invisible in its osmotic infusion into the everyday. the done and doable.99 pb.Social superhero David Theo Goldberg. 0 631 19919 5 hb.ʼ This claim is not in itself novel. it is in good part because the modern state has made it. development. but unless it limits itself to exploring the formal use of race concepts in government policies and social classifications it risks attributing powers and projects to ʻthe stateʼ which require much more in the way of historical demonstration than Goldberg makes available. Goldberg. is the development of global capitalism and. the increasing social heterogeneity this brings about through intensified flows of information. Through the routine 52 reproduction of race ideas.

which dominated from the seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. Yet it is difficult to see on the basis of his analysis who would be foolhardy enough to engage in such a one-sided contest as to take on the racial state (as an existential condition or as a form of governance). In such conditions. advocating a ʻpost-racist cosmopolitanismʼ in order to loosen the grip of the racial imaginary on the state does not seem a promising avenue of political advance. or indeed fortunate enough to escape its clutches in order to consider doing so. Such an extravagant (and gloomy) identification is possible because of the indeterminate status of ʻraceʼ in Goldbergʼs analysis and his conflation of state practices with the outcomes of those practices. Once the racial state is seen as both an existential condition and a form of governance it is hard to place any limits to its reach. the problem for Goldberg is precisely that he is committed to challenging the racial state. This ties what states may seek to do far too tightly to what they actually accomplish. there are valuable insights in The Racial State. which dominated from the nineteenth century and is the dominant mode in the contemporary world. the result of people doing things in social contexts for which in some measure they can be held accountable. Goldbergʼs account of the shift from modernityʼs emphasis on naturalist discourses to high modernityʼs focus on historicist discourses. historicist discourses are based on claims about historical immaturity and associated with state formation deriving principally from capital formation and circulation. The seamless connection between the racial and the racist state provides the basis of Goldbergʼs claim that we live in a world which he identifies as a ʻracist world orderʼ. For example. Nazi Germany. is stimulating. apartheid South Africa. inclusions and exclusions. and its embodiment in the administrative and legal lexicon of modern Western states. life worlds and possibilities. but it is to insist that social and political institutions are the complex products of human agency. Thus the racial state is racial not merely because of racist personnel or racist policies. accesses and restrictions. Objecting to this view does not require abandoning a structural view of the state. groups and events.its penetration into common sense. The sense of who is doing what to whom in this account is entirely opaque. This is the state as social superhero. and the progressivist or historicist. which is why it is simultaneously a richly stimulating and a frustrating text. This notion is too often lost in The Racial State. or the Jim Crow Southern USA) may appear exceptional. constituting and effecting racially shaped spaces and places. Nevertheless.ʼ So whilst the racist state (one which pursues explicitly exclusionary policies as in. one that calls all the shots and makes all the projects. but ʻbecause of the structural position they occupy in producing and reproducing. its pervasion (not to mention perversion) of the warp and weave of the social fabric. Bob Carter Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 53 . Naturalist discourses were based on claims of inherent racial inferiority and are associated with state formation deriving principally from coercion. Thus ʻthe stateʼ becomes a powerfully accomplished social actor. conceptions and modes of representation. extinguishing the possibilities for resistance. However. endowed with inexhaustible powers and unalterably committed to its project of ordering social life and defining the modern condition. its possibility is underpinned by the normalcy of the racial state. especially since the racial state ʻis as much a state or condition of being as it is a state of governanceʼ. for example. Goldberg distinguishes between two traditions of conceiving and writing about racial states: the naturalist.

54 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) .

Literature. Or. Envisioning a future time of conflict between the sexes. For Wittig. Le Corps lesbien. 1969 (translated in 1971). plays. including the University of California at Berkeley. and other Others. where she attended university and worked in publishing. 1987). Her literary experimentation is perhaps best represented by the five works of fiction she produced between 1964 and 1985: LʼOpoponax. viewing the range of her output from the 1960s up to the final projects she was working on at the time of her death (including a screenplay based on life at the Mexican border). the women of the text wage war on the language and the bodies of men. concretizing a system of oppression and ʻslaveryʼ in which women.ʼ Monique Wittig. theory and criticism. for which she won the Prix Medicis.ʼ Wittigʼs second novel. Wittig was born in Dannemarie. the text begins with the words ʻGolden Spaces Lacunaeʼ. for Wittig. she wrote. This physical assault in the novel is mirrored in the textʼs assaults on linguistic and literary traditions. pushing them so hard at times that they shattered. Make an effort to remember. previsioning the textual gaps and lacunae that structure the innovative. evokes ʻthe vulval Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 55 . 1979). the coauthored Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des Amantes. After a country childhood. short stories. This circle. allowing new possibilities of form and representation to emerge. is one such ʻwar machineʼ. and Virgile. some pages contain only capitalized paragraphs and others present large gaps between paragraphs to signal breaks in action and sense. the existing languages of patriarchal culture were the enemy of both women and men. 1975). Throughout the novel remains typographically and structurally rebellious. the text tells us. yet in each of these genres her attempt was always to test the generic boundaries. failing that. ʻAny important literary workʼ. Les Guérillères. Opening with the suggestive imagining of a space beyond patriarchal culture. indeed the distinctions between these forms were always problematic to Wittig. experimental form of the novel. It is impossible. At points the text of Les Guérillères is punctuated by pages printed only with a large black circle. Wittig moved with her family to Paris. invent. while both were becoming involved in the French womenʼs liberation movement. She moved to the United States in the mid-1970s and held a number of teaching positions in different institutions. was one of the most provocative and innovative of lesbian feminist thinkers of the twentieth century. 1964 (published in English in 1966). At the time of her death she was Professor of French and Womenʼs Studies at the University of Arizona. New York University. Wittig met her lifelong partner Sande Zeig in Paris in 1975. ʻis like the Trojan Horse at the time it is produced. 1975 (Lesbian Peoples: Material for a Dictionary. non.OBITUARIES Radical inventions Monique Wittig. Her writings include novels. to categorize or delimit Wittigʼs work as either principally literary or theoretical. 1973 (in English. 1985 (Across the Acheron. Duke University and Vassar College. 1935–2003 ʻBut remember. on the Upper Rhine in France on 13 July 1935. For Wittig the attack on patriarchal language meant being a practitioner as well as a theorist. Les Guérillères M onique Wittig. was a discourse with political power and potential. Les Guérillères. become both commodity and fetish. She received her doctorate from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. who has died aged 67.

The subtleties and complexities of Wittigʼs literary experiments with language and form are often lost in the movements of translation from (gendered) French to (ungendered) English. nevertheless uses an exploration of the body of Wittigʼs work to develop her own theoretical mapping of the relationship between societal ʻrealitiesʼ. unitary identity. was keen to identify. In this ʻnewʼ language. cultural fields and the ʻfictionsʼ of gender identity. Though this is translated into English as ʻthe women say…ʼ. it takes existing words and recasts their meaning and intonation. Butler explores Wittigʼs interrogation of the category of ʻsexʼ: Sex is taken as an ʻimmediate given. welding the body to textual representation and at the same time defying normative (and inherently patriarchal) linguistic forms and regulations of representation. In particular. the move to deconstruct language must also be supplemented by a move towards reconstruction. Judith Butler undertakes a full examination of Wittigʼs pronouncements on language. however. By contrast j/e ʻposes the ideological and historical question of feminine subjectsʼ. along with Zeig. lesbians and gay men: 56 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) .ʼ which reinterprets physical features (in themselves as neutral as others but marked by a social system). In ʻThe Straight Mindʼ (1980). lesbian identity and the oppression of women. In Le Corps lesbien. though ultimately critical of Wittigʼs evocation of the lesbian as a coherent. In this respect. The battle over language was. Wittigʼs aim here is to do violent damage to the subject position accorded to the figure of the lover in the Western tradition of love poetry.ringʼ. Laid out in dictionary form. necessarily violent. the speaking subject of the text is inscribed as J/e. produced the fictional Lesbian Peoples: Materials for a Dictionary (1979). Wittig and Zeig demonstrate the role of language in the construction of social ʻrealityʼ by reinscribing words to create a world of solely female habitation in which history and myth are rebuilt and refocused. women are situated at the heart of an alternative culture. In Les Guérillères.ʼ ʻa sensible given. an ʻimaginary formation. But what we believe to be a physical and direct perception is only a sophisticated and mythic construction. as in her extension of de Beauvoir. In her then ground-breaking book Gender Trouble. Wittig.ʼ belonging to a natural order. It was a battle that required theorization as well as explication and the radical potential of Wittigʼs theoretical formulations is perhaps evidenced most fully in the way in which her ideas provided pivotal starting points for the emergence of queer theory. Wittigʼs intention here is to undermine the traditional parameters of the universal subject position – that is to say. such a position has traditionally been ascribed to the male lover. Ultimately it is Wittigʼs delineation of the constructedness of the category of ʻsexʼ that provides the theoretical leverage necessary to prise open normative cultural constructions of the sexed body and allows Butler to develop her own influential notions of the performativity of gender identity. How does a female lover inscribe both her desire for a female love object and her identity as a female lover of women? Writing the preface to the text Wittig stakes her claim for this position. the male subject position. Butler.ʼ ʻphysical features. assertively taking it up and registering difference at the same time in her splitting je into j/e since the former ʻconceals the sexual difference of the verbal personsʼ. since the dominant languages of culture exerted their own violent control over subjectivity. Wittig uses ʻelles dissentʼ when imagining her warrior race. for Wittig. Wittigʼs impulse was always to push thinking and understanding of those structures of oppression which are ʻhiddenʼ within dominant culture. both as theorist and practitioner. In one attempt at this project Wittig. delineate and then overturn those cultural constructions and dominant ideologies which have become sedimented into ʻtruthsʼ. through the network of relationships in which they are perceived. For Wittig. Wittig identifies the dominant cultural ideologies which structure the societal oppressions of women.

some solution exists in the promulgation of the notion of the lesbian continuum. giving an absolute meaning to these concepts when they are only categories founded upon heterosexuality. Wittig was not alone in her delineation of the forms and functions of what she calls the ʻdisciplines. theory was never separate from practice. this is a system in which ʻwomenʼ assume value only inasmuch as they exist as commodities which can be exchanged between men. the symbolic order. perhaps. is both theoretically and symbolically radical: ʻIf we. the American lesbian poet and theorist Adrienne Rich formulated her notion of ʻcompulsory heterosexualityʼ which maps the societal compunction for women to assume a heterosexual identity. and the constructions of other landscapes and languages which centralize the lesbian as another category altogether. by contrast. and current ideasʼ that constitute ʻthe straight mind. we are instrumental in maintaining heterosexuality. Here Wittig accords ʻsocial practiceʼ as much transformative potential as. as both queer theory and gender theory have developed. all epochs. For Wittig. but Wittigʼs radical formulation of the lesbian as a figure who is constructed and constructs ʻherselfʼ outside of dominant patriarchal culture undoubtedly anticipates the kinds of refusals of identificatory practices and the promulgation of notions of disidentification which have become central in queer theory and practice. Jouissance. all individuals. Thus one speaks of the exchange of women. as lesbians and gay men. In this respect she was a truly radical innovator and thinker. the full acknowledgement of the deep emotional and relational bonds that exist between women in a range of behaviours from female friendship. theory. assume identity. for “woman” has meaning only in heterosexual systems of thought and heterosexual economic systems. Joanne Winning Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 57 . through the experience of (biological and non-biological) mothering to sexual intimacy between women.I can only underline the oppressive character that the straight mind is clothed in its tendency to immediately universalize its production of concepts into general laws which claim to hold true for all societies.ʼ Inevitably. continue to speak of ourselves as women and as men.ʼ In the same year as Wittigʼs essay. The essay concludes with the (then) equivalent of theoretical dynamite in the assertion: ʻit would be incorrect to say that lesbians associate. Wittigʼs ʻsolutionʼ. History. Most importantly. the difference between the sexes.ʼ The categories ʻmenʼ and ʻwomenʼ bind both into the constraints of ʻthe heterosexual contractʼ. the Unconscious. Culture. Desire. live with women. nor did it take precedence over it. theories. Moreover. or thought which produces the difference between the sexes. Wittigʼs theoretical moves in ʻThe Straight Mindʼ and other essays link back to her experimental literary endeavours. For Rich. only within the binary relation to men. Lesbians are not women. The most important enterprise for Wittig was to overthrow and then (re-)invent. make love. In particular ʻwomenʼ make sense. in whatever cultural forms came to hand. Wittigʼs evocation of the figure of the lesbian has been criticized for its assertion of lesbian identity as a cohesive and identifiable subject position. as a political and philosophical dogma. if not more than.

The Space of Literature. Blanchot has left us along with them. it is in the streetʼ (LʼEntretien infini. or at the office or in libraries or museums. have no truth proper to them. Blanchot says. and several récits in addition to 58 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . His books always did and still do leave us alone. and was not always of the view that writing is unimportant. left waiting because you missed your chance to wait. They get along all right. ʻWhatʼs the wrong word?ʼ He was an unimportant writer. In LʼÉspace littéraire (1955. 1993). trans. Writing exposes you to it. collected in volumes such as Faux Pas (1943). with Hegelʼs. The everyday is not in our homes. with this line from LʼAttente lʼoubli (1962): ʻFacile mais pas faisableʼ (ʻEasy but not feasibleʼ) – and with ʻThe Ease of Dyingʼ. and this inequality casts a dubious light on everything. for example (1948). Rilke. no doubt. and these include stunning pages on the constellation of modern writers who mattered to him most – Mallarmé. A casual comment. It is not important to write. where we find ourselves. with no way of getting there. as Iʼve indicated: two novels in the 1950s. 1969. He wrote fiction as well. 1982) he called that ʻpositionʼ – the indefensible one he has left us at – ʻthe central pointʼ. and had thus got left there without the means to arrive. He was – but ʻWhatʼs the word?ʼ Beckett would ask. Blanchot wrote a great deal: regular book reviews and critical essays over some forty years. Showing just the ʻbeautyʼ of faces without distinction. and in no position: no position to be there at all. 1907–2003 M aurice Blanchot considered writing unimportant. in 1969. trans. One hears his thought converse with Sartreʼs in these volumes. and with the thought of his friends Levinas and Bataille. with the weakness they are not equal to. trans The Book to Come. He wrote extended reflections on literature such as The Space of Literature and The Infinite Conversation. just after Paulhanʼs death. which is the title Blanchot gave an essay he wrote on Jean Paulhan. Nietzscheʼs. say. Aminadab and Le Très-Haut. LʼArrêt de mort (1948). Le Livre à venir (1959. It is uneventful. Blanchot was born in 1907. with nothing to approve or disapprove. 2003). he said. every day. just where we are. Passers-by pass by. he says – the ʻunqualifiable everydayʼ – is ʻthe inaccessible to which we have always already had accessʼ. showing nothing much. Via some heedless move which has by no means made it reachable weʼve become stranded in it. LʼAmitié (1971). and in his later récits. Rather than reaching it you get left at it. Heideggerʼs. La Part du feu (1949. The everyday. Char. The Infinite Conversation. 1995). believe in or doubt. know this unlikely exile. youʼd been in too much of a hurry and had covered the distance separating you from it too fast. The Work of Fire. Now he has made his exit. which mixes. He wrote a great deal: Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe once told me it was so easy for Blanchot to write that he couldnʼt remember very well what he had written when. or Au Moment voulu (1951) – those wanderers who lack the strength to make it all the way to the end of their strength. the ʻtruthʼ of those destined to pass who. The wanderers in Blanchotʼs novels – in Le Très-Haut. all the time. In newspapers even the absence of events becomes dramatic – a news item – but ʻin the everyday everything is everydayʼ. in my head. with respect to the central point. It is as if.Infinite conversation Maurice Blanchot. Kafka. ʻIf it is anywhere. he said. precisely. just the – what is the wrong word again? – the beauty. trans.

a journal which. of which there are manyʼ. And a pontificator. and his outspoken support for French deserters during the Algerian War. but thereafter became a major preoccupation for Blanchotʼs readers. Rabbi Bereck Kofman. His most serious readers have sought to understand the relation between his postwar leftism. he himself never said anything forthright or clear about these divergences. more like ʻOh. ʻdid give a platform to anti-semitic viewsʼ. In a 1983 essay (reprinted in Legacies of Anti-Semitism in France). As far as I have been able to understand. And: ʻHe writes – does he write?ʼ He was not always of this view. ʻWriting is evidently without importanceʼ. 1986). and his many calls for lawless violence. his call for dissidents in 1937 (ʻDissidents Wantedʼ was the title of a particularly vehement article in Combat). which linked him to friends like Dionys Mascolo. 1986). a scattering of fragments where the distinction between his fiction and his philosophical writing is barely relevant. scorn ʻfutile things. who wrote in the same periodicals as the likes of Brasillach. Foucault wrote the best of all essays on him (La Pensée du dehorsʼ. among them Combat. and to the memory of her father. No doubt the biggest question bears on the continuity between the prewar Blanchot. It was by no means unknown at the time. trans. he said there. murdered at Auschwitz. trans. The Writing of the Disaster. The Thought of the Outside. or the lack thereof. Perhaps his solidarity with students and workers in the streets of Paris stemmed from the kinship he had developed by then with things of which one needs (as he puts it in The Writing of the Disaster) to say ʻThat was quite something! something quite important!ʼ all the while ineptly trying to say something else altogether. for example. thus. the contempt he poured on republican politics generally and on Léon Blum specifically. it resembles LʼAttente lʼoubli in this respect. He wrote for several right-wing papers during the 1930s. I think Leslie Hill gives the best accounting at the beginning Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) 59 . 1992). and his earlier reactionary appeals for anarchy: between. and Le Pas au-delà (1973. Literature became practically his exclusive commitment from 1940 until 1958. Blanchot said that May ʼ68 was an everyday affair. oppposing de Gaulleʼs return to power on the shoulders of insurgent army officers. to write in homage to him a book she also dedicated to Robert Antelme. 1990) – an even better text. Mehlman stressed the nationalism Blanchot expressed in the 1930s.the two Iʼve named already – from Thomas lʼobscur. Literature seems to have had terrific authority in his eyes in those days as an intransigent refusal of everything small-minded and routine and as a challenge. Jeffrey Mehlman drew attention to Blanchotʼs early journalism. it was nothing. students of Blanchotʼs work have been pondering the link in his writing. and the book reviews which he also provided to the rightwing press.ʼ But during the 1930s his political texts. Zone Books. During the 1930s he was a political journalist. a nation mired in what he considered the petty forms of parliamentary politics. and the Blanchot of the 1960s. to La Folie du jour (1973). which appeared in 1941. between radical politics – his voluble concern in the 1930s – and the literature with which he is principally associated. to France. say. Then he again took a strong political stand. Ever since. as Leslie Hill puts it reluctantly but with his characteristic accuracy. who published pages on Judaism and on the Holocaust. The Step Not Beyond. Blanchot said writing was unimportant in LʼEcriture du désastre (1980. I hazard to say. which led Sarah Kofman. than Derridaʼs great collection in Parages (Galilée.

And the sheer unlikeliness of literature persisted ever after at the centre of his thought. preserving that relation and safeguarding it from power of any kind including the power to speak. but too light. You must. ʻIt is like an enclaveʼ. You must speak. in political terms or in any terms. His position on the Algerian War is correct. Blanchot writes). This illegitimacy is what I mean by no position: Blanchotʼs books leave us someplace we are unqualified to be. It is insignificant. we just have to wait. Michael Holland covers all Blanchotʼs political engagements through his choice and organization of the texts in the Blanchot Reader (Blackwell. reclusive individual. indeed. airless preserveʼ. by my lights. These three books together are instructive. remains as impassable as ever. It doesnʼt qualify you. but not you: your unworthiness. without being able to – ʻsans pouvoirʼ. but really we see that that point is not a point so much as a separation. The first book he ever published about literature conveys his startled sense of having floated across a bottomless abyss. however. having been crossed. and through his introduction to each of that volumeʼs four sections. We speak there the way we wait. There we are preserved from legitimacy and speak unjustifiably. No position: that is the central point. or the detachment of a mysteriously aloof. lead to some just political stance and even less inclined to discover a profound ethics therein – still. in other words: it leaves you somewhere with a long way yet to go to get there. but rather by virtue of oneʼs being in no position to do it. Christophe Bidentʼs 1998 biography. On the contrary: if nothing follows politically from meditations like The Infinite Conversation in my view. For my own part. Extreme Contemporary (Routledge. It suggests that Paulhan ferries his reader over a black hole in that book – you only realize afterwards that what you have read implies you canʼt have made the trip. who left us. Blanchot. but it is just a position. having distractedly missed our chance to wait. I dare say that though Blanchotʼs leftism is ten thousand times more sympathetic than his reactionary writing. he has said. or from a fiction such as Celui qui ne mʼaccompagnait pas – if Iʼm not inclined to believe that Blanchotʼs sentences on the relation to the Other. It is not justifiable. calling it How Is Literature Possible? So his half-century-long reflection on writing seems to have begun with a startled sense from Paulhan of literatureʼs implausibility. called that remaining way when no way is left the ʻcentral pointʼ. even if. ʻa dark. but without even the strength of this must to go on. And this is not because it misrepresents the real world but rather because it involves a peculiar sort of transport: a passage across an uncrossable divide which. By which of course I do not mean apathy. speech is for Blanchot the very element of oneʼs relation to others. You could say that it is its own remove: its very own remoteness hollowed out within. There is something improbable about it for Blanchot. Blanchot sometimes speaks of a place within a place. 1997). Blanchot published this small book on Les Fleurs de Tarbes in 1942. say. You must speak. as Iʼve said. Lightened thus of meaning. too indefatigably light to be considered false. but no room to budge. neither is in my opinion especially profound. For only incompetence is (ʻWhatʼs the wrong word?ʼ Beckett would ask) competent: competent to answer. Ann Smock 60 Radical Philosophy 120 (July/August 20 03) . is written in a spirit similar to Hillʼs and Hollandʼs. 1995). whereas the overwhelming – the unimportant – thing in Blanchot is (for me): no position. It is a preserve for all that canʼt be done but is done – done without end or beginning – not because it can or should or must be. 1997). ʻIl faut parlerʼ. and there speech is spared significance just as waiting is when.of his Blanchot. it must (ʻYou must speakʼ. You must. he writes. his persistent return to political commitment throughout his life shows that the ʻessential solitudeʼ of which he speaks in The Space of Literature is not a Withdrawal from the World. Maurice Blanchot: partenaire invisible (Champ Vallon. in The Space of Literature. The book discusses Paulhanʼs Les Fleurs de Tarbes. It leaves you.