Posts Tagged ‘derrida’
David Harvey’s recent book, Justice, nature and the geography of difference (JNGD), engages with a central philosophical debate that continues to dominate human geography: the tension between the radical Marxist project of recent decades and the apparently disempowering relativism and ‘play of difference’ of postmodern thought. In this book, Harvey continues to argue for a revised ‘post-Marxist’ approach in human geography which remains based on Hegelian-Marxian principles of dialectical thought. This article develops a critique of that stance, drawing on the work of Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.
I argue that dialectical thinking, as well as Harvey’s version of ‘post-Marxism’, has been undermined by the wide-ranging ‘post-’ critique. I suggest that Harvey has failed to appreciate the full force of this critique and the implications it has for ‘post-Marxist’ ontology and epistemology. I argue that ‘post-Marxism’, along with much contemporary human geography, is constrained by an inflexible ontology which excessively prioritizes space in the theory produced, and which implements inflexible concepts. Instead, using the insights of several ‘post-’ writers, I contend there is a need to develop an ontology of ‘context’ leading to the production of ‘contextual theories’. Such theories utilize flexible concepts in a multi-layered understanding of ontology and epistemology. I compare how an approach which produces a ‘contextual theory’ might lead to more politically empowering theory than ‘post-Marxism’ with reference to one of Harvey’s case studies in JNGD.
How can activists combat the political paralysis that characterises the anti-dialectical Marxism of Foucault, Derrida and Deleuze, without reverting to a dogmatic orthodoxy? This book explores solutions in the ‘negative dialectics‘ of Theodor Adorno.The poststructuralist shift from dialectics to ‘difference‘ has been so popular that it becomes difficult to create meaningful revolutionary responses to neoliberalism. The contributors to this volume come from within the anti-capitalist movement, and close to the concerns expressed in Negri and Hardt‘s Empire and Multitude. However, they argue forcefully and persuasively for a return to dialectics so a real-world, radical challenge to the current order can be constructed.This is a passionate call to arms for the anti-capitalist movement. It should be read by all engaged activists and students of political and critical theory.
In the spring of 2003, Jacques Derrida sat down for a public debate in Paris with Algerian intellectual Mustapha Chérif. The eminent philosopher arrived at the event directly from the hospital where he had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the illness that would take his life just over a year later. That he still participated in the exchange testifies to the magnitude of the subject at hand: the increasingly distressed relationship between Islam and the West, and the questions of freedom, justice, and democracy that surround it. As Chérif relates in this account of their dialogue, the topic of Islam held special resonance for Derrida—perhaps it is to be expected that near the end of his life his thoughts would return to Algeria, the country where he was born in 1930. Indeed, these roots served as the impetus for their conversation, which first centers on the ways in which Derrida’s Algerian-Jewish identity has shaped his thinking. From there, the two men move to broader questions of secularism and democracy; to politics and religion and how the former manipulates the latter; and to the parallels between xenophobia in the West and fanaticism among Islamists. Ultimately, the discussion is an attempt to tear down the notion that Islam and the West are two civilizations locked in a bitter struggle for supremacy and to reconsider them as the two shores of the Mediterranean—two halves of the same geographical, religious, and cultural sphere. Islam and the West is a crucial opportunity to further our understanding of Derrida’s views on the key political and religious divisions of our time and an often moving testament to the power of friendship and solidarity to surmount them.
Here, Derrida deconstructs the notions of sovereignty, democracy, reason, terrorism, and rogue states. In his typically rigorous fashion, Derrida examines in detail the ways that language constructs and deconstructs our political ideas. Thus, “Pure sovereignty does not exist; it is always in the process of positing itself by refuting itself of betraying itself by betraying the democracy that nonetheless can never do without it.” While democratic sovereign states, those capable of ruling within the bounds of international laws, ostensibly act with reason and justice, they often act outside of those boundaries, thus becoming rogue states. He points to the United States’s flouting of the UN Security Council’s lack of support for a war in Iraq as a perfect example of a sovereign turning into a rogue. With his deft prose, amazing philosophical erudition, and exacting method, he deconstructs the phrase “rogue state” while tracing the legacy of sovereignty from Bacon and Hobbes to the oft-neglected 20th-century political philosopher Carl Schmitt.
In The Politics of Friendship Derrida renews and enriches this orientation through an examination of the political history of the idea of friendship pursued down the ages. Derrida’s thoughts are haunted throughout the book by the strange and provocative address attributed to Aristotle, ‘my friends, there is no friend‘ and its inversions by later philosophers such as Montaigne, Kant, Nietzsche, Schmitt and Blanchot. The exploration allows Derrida to recall and restage the ways in which all the oppositional couples of Western philosophy and political thought ‘friendship and enmity, private and public life ‘ have become madly and dangerously unstable. At the same time he dissects genealogy itself, the familiar and male-centered notion of fraternity and the virile virtue whose authority has gone unquestioned in our culture of friendship and our models of democracy. The future of the political, for Derrida, becomes the future of friends, the invention of a radically new friendship, of a deeper and more inclusive democracy. This remarkable book, his most profoundly important for many years, offers a challenging and inspiring vision of that future.
The only responsible legal response to the attacks—here again Derrida and Habermas agree—is the strengthening, differentiation, institutionalization and enforcement of international law. The answer emphatically is not the fierce return to national power politics, which pretends to enhance respect for law; the right course is legal self-restriction of overwhelming political, economic, military and technological power, the recognition of existing and the creation of new supranational organizations, the universal acceptance of their judgments and decisions and, of course, their transformation from mere deliberative organizations into bodies capable of political and military action to help to create a new world order in which material inequalities can be offset, in part, through assuring equal national rights. Only a West, as Habermas says, that has more to offer than the ideology of consumerism, only a West that revives its universal normative ideal of self-determination and formal equality as means to allow differences in culture and personality will be able to overcome the deep-rooted resentment of (especially Arab and Muslim) non-Western peoples at having been materially expropriated and culturally corrupted.
Read also: Review of Philosophy in a Time of Terror
The meeting between saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman and philospher Jacques Derrida documented here took place in late June and early July 1997, before and during Coleman’s three concerts at La Villette, a museum and performing arts complex north of Paris that houses, among other things, the world-renowned Paris Conservatory. Here Derrida interviews Coleman about his views on composition, improvisation, language and racism. Perhaps the most interesting point of the exchange is the convergence of their respective ideas about “languages of origin” and their experiences of racial prejudice. This interview was originally conducted in English several days before Coleman’s concerts, but since original transcripts could not be located, I have translated it back into English from the published French text.
I shall discuss, in the first section, the manner in which Gilles Deleuze reads Nietzsche‘s reversal of the tradition; more particularly, I will analyze Deleuze’s understanding of will to power as the non-identifiable differential element. In the second section I shall trace the consequences of this reading by placing Nietzsche and Deleuzes writings in the context of the concept of a double-bind. This concept, as developed by Gregory Bateson, was to have a profound influence on Deleuze and Guattari’s work. More importantly, however, this theme can already be seen in the work of Nietzsche, for in Nietzsche one finds a critique which does not depend upon the logic of either/or, but instead resists this logic. In resisting this logic, this critique affirms the both/and that eludes the logic of either/or, and hence eludes the double bind which presupposes it. In the final section I shall compare my reading of Deleuze’s Nietzschean critique with the work of Jacques Derrida and Phillippe Lacoue-Labarthe. This should show that whereas Derrida and Lacoue-Labarthe leave largely unanswered the question of how interpretive critique ought to pro- ceed, we will see that Deleuze and Guattari are very specific and straightforward in answering this question. In short, they set forth a protocol that calls for a critique that affirms and orders the “chaos in oneself’ in a way that prevents this chaos from dying.