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The Liberal Totalitarian System and Gender. A Politics of Philosophy (Chapter 5/6)

Posté par radaivekovicunblogfr le 13 décembre 2009

Apart fromt the separate presentation on this site of the unpublishd book A politics of philosophy,  the latter starts here from its second chapter. The site is under construction and the chapters too. The first chapter of A Politics of Philosophy will not appear here, as it has been shortened and transformed into a paper for the online journal Transeuropéennes,  www.transeuropeennes.eu, where it can be read. That paper is titled “A Politics of Philosophy since Modernity. Indian and Western philosophies”. 

©rada iveković A POLITICS OF PHILOSOPHY 5 The Liberal Totalitarian System and Gender[1] 

As we have entered upon a long term worldwide economically liberal configuration of international relations after the cold war, we seem to witness on the one hand, locally, apparently more and more cultural diversification notwithstanding at the same time a more general uniformisation; and on the other hand, we see, no doubt, more and more uniformity in thinking, in political ideas and projects, to the extent that once opposed systems such as “capitalism” and “socialism” join hands in the new phase of universal capitalism beyond any ideological divides and second thoughts. It is as if any alternatives had disappeared from th political and the social horizon. Once ennemies, the two opposed ideological and political orientations seem not to constitute a dichotomy anymore, and binaries appear elsewhere, in the construction of new “universal” ennemies such as “global Islam”. There is someting totalitarian in this new, triumphant straight “pensee unique”. Some political discourses  and ideological speeches in the global west (and let us be reminded that the west is not located in the west any more) resemble more and more the peremptorious diktat of the One party of yesterday. This is because the spirit of totalitarianism is not linked to such and such an ideology, but is a possibility of many, and is annexed and instrumentalized primarily by a state, a party or a closed community. nIn the present chapter we analyze its intercation with and its dependence on, among othe things, gender relations. Extraordinary, “unexpected” events shape long periods and are crucial turning points in history. In our times, one such turning point is 1989, the end of The Cold War, which makes visible globalization all of a sudden, as if it had not been a long process. Globalization entails both big sweeping uniformization and fragmentation. One turning point from the past still leaves its imprint on us, and it is modernity. It can be described as the time from which continuity has been constructed for the European episteme which, by the same token, has been universalized as Western, while continuity with their own past was interrupted for all other epistemes, if they wanted to access modernity. Modernity was in many ways conditional for them. It was mediated through colonial physical violence, epistemic violence (which is also an aspect of the former), predicated upon conditions concerning both women’s status and the way colonial women are treated by their men within the colonial triangulation etc.  And it was highly symbolically unsettling. 

An aspect of globalisation is thus disintegration. Big and small units traverse each other and resemble twisted projections. Big globalizing features, political and regional unification (for example Europe, ASEAN, ALBA in Latin America) produce at the other end of the scale, locally but in multiple manners, new ways of living through migrant labour and migrant education, and such forms as networks that replicate features of both the local and the global. Disconnection from former affiliation and “belonging” means plugging in into other realities, scales and dimensions and also bridging them. Cultural uniformity (“Coca-Cola”) has as its flipside also great diversity which it introduces within through various types of displacement, shortcuts, synthesis, association, digestion. I shall be interested in the pair – uniformity & diversity – as well as in similar ones, and will call them patterns of the sharing of reason (partage de la raison). Multiculturalism and plurality can be used to enhance real democracy but also to freeze received and closed histories. This is how “identities” are constructed: they freeze one aspect of a situation and give it a name, preferring a particularity to its larger context, dismissed as threatening universality And universality indeed does threaten closed identities since it subsumes them within the hierarchy it represents, through a hegemony it practices. Too much of “cultural” or “ethnic” particularism can be politically as disastrous as none. Let us not forget that culture is also constantly essentialised, that it can work just like a “nature”. Therefore, the concept of multiculturalism doesn’t guarantee getting away from normative identities, quite apart from the fact that it has occasionally – apparently paradoxically – been associated with communalism or with communitarian theoreticians’ politics.  The underlying condition for any of these options is reason and the trust we have in rationality. But is reason reasonable? We eventually need to be wary of the self-motivation of reason itself, and recognise that it operates through a dynamics of dichotomy: reason is usually opposed to the irrational, to the animal etc. It is easily attributed the form of the feminine, of the colonized, and of the regular figure of the underdog. We may best be guided by moderation, but we should pay attention, theoretically, to the partage de la raison, the splitting/sharing of reason. There is some salutary ambiguity in the terms sharing and partage. Our body-and-reason (nāma-rūpa) is an existential paradox, in that we are traversed by differences many of which appear as binaries (for ex. gender), and in that we are at the same time historic and transcendent beings. Historic and limited as individuals, but transcendent as humankind. This existential paradox, the fact of the trembling, ever-vacillating and uncertain identity to ourselves which always uncovers an inadequacy, should never be allowed to be reduced to an “essence”: the difference runs between the vital and thought-producing sharing/division of reason (partage de la raison) as a dynamics, a movement and displacement, – and the lethal, closed, clichés of reason irreparably split (raison partagée). Not all partage is life-halting, or else, it is not to be feared when it means sharing with another, only when it is a definitive shutting down and division without any flexibility. Partage as opening, sharing and displacement is life itself. As closure, it is death, but also death as a moment in the life process. Since each of us individually and all of us in common are at stake in this process of sharing or joining up reason, we are necessarily in a permanent process of translation. Not merely textual translation, but rather inter-contextual: the translator being translated by her own translation. A balance between the extremes of too much and too little cultural diversity means accepting to be put into question by the translation even as we engage in it. Reason is best when shared (joined in with others), or, to be more precise, no-one has access to reason as totality: as a matter of fact, there is no such thing as the whole of Reason, or Reason as a whole, or the Totality of reason. Though there are cases of such pretence, and we have recently been through periods of such historic claims of reason as a whole in different fundamentalist ideologies, be they political or religious. Reason is patched up of bits and pieces that may be disconnected and reside at many different addresses. It is always partial, in all senses. It really has to be shared, being shared is its best way of being. Trying to isolate, cut or localise it (the other meaning of partage, sharing), trying to tie it down at a particular spot, limits it necessarily and is therefore violent as a move. But since sharing means both – splitting or separating as well as sharing – there are situations of temporary undecidability which are the possibility though not fatality of extreme brutality or of physical violence. Such situations can be described, at the level of individual or even collective subjectivity – in another key -, as a void of the subject, an absence of agency; as being de-empowered, or as an impasse, passivity of citizenship. Klaus Theweleit describes such conditions as situations of the Noch-nicht-geborene, the violent individual who hasn’t been constructed as a responsible and sharing subject (who, in our terms, would be rather splitting than sharing), and takes them to be emblematic of fascism.[2] The would-be subject then “compensates” for the lack of subjectivity through violence to others in collective action (many a nation has been constructed in this way) or, more seldom, through violence to oneself. This happens differently when it comes to collectivity – because the non-emergence of individual subjectivity or agency may be due to the communalist, communitarian subjugation of the individual. At the social level, such ambiguous situations are described as profound political and social crises that threaten with always possible yet not fatal civil war, riots etc. In such a crisis situation, called palanka by the philosopher Radomir Konstantinović, violence is possible and virtual, though not necessarily actual, yet it really threatens: translated by “bourg” in French, palanka is the term used by Konstantinović[3] to denote a state of mind and a social, historic situation that is an in-between. It describes a period of an indefinable crisis (of modernity), an immaterialisable (“irréalisable”) state (hence the violence) that is the possibility of all possibilities. A limbo of bottomless inscrutable danger. It may explode as violence, but needn’t. It is the state of mind where life comes short of life itself, where one is no master of one’s destiny. The author makes a concept and a philosophical term out of it. In ordinary language, palanka denotes however a mentally provincial (sub-)urban agglomeration, neither town nor village. While reading Konstantinović, the historian
Daho Djerbal recognized in the palanka the mental horizon of contemporary Algeria torn by the failure of its transition to modernity, and he quotes him in the issue on the “aesthetics of crisis” of the journal Naqd:
“ […] It is here that we can verify the need of a theatre as entertainment. But this theatre is planted in the midst of life itself and not separated from it, not even through the trade of an actor, and nobody can escape such fate. In addition to the need for a living theatre or, precisely and in a way more fatally tragic of this necessity of showing life without any acting, as theatre, and of  introducing within the fatal spirit of the ‘bourg’ at least some simulation of life if not life itself…”
[4] 

Avoiding such possible & threatening brutality implies a reshuffling of the hitherto dominant concept of universal and of its relationship to the particular. Within a configuration of the universal seen as a negotiated and living rapport rather than as the supreme office, the autonomy of the subject is complex, relational  and relative, and regularly double-bound or tied from several sides. Even as a relationship, the universal rewards by confirming the like (that which resembles it) as the majority or as the prevailing group. The “minority” (the “particular”) then has little autonomy besides the purely formal one, though it may give some hint at de-identification and may resist and negotiate. But clearly, it is now the leading subject that will have to de-identify for the move to be really effective: it is a matter of displacement, and displacement seen as salutary. In other words, the subject has to give up some of its authority and normativity in order to share it. It is still rewarded, even through sharing, but at least the move is not unidirectional. I am here pleading for de-identification, as the too oft neglected complementary side to any identification. Another way of putting it is this: there are no cultural differences, no sexes or genders outside the community, or apart from/without language. And there is also no violence outside (the constitution of) the community and apart from communicating through language. Differences, violence, take place in community and within language. In the refusal of jouissance, however, dictated by the community,[5] which describes the situation of palanka (a depoliticised society), brutality and indifference unveil an incapacity for desire and a failed, profoundly divided subject. The split subject usually corresponds to a split society and a split nation. The universe of a general de-investment of citizenship is also one of a terrible demobilisation of desire. Here, the ever new forms of partition, of political and emotional demobilisation, and of division are projected on, identified with, and made to be supported by the founding rift of reason (which they reinforce), from which they gather their further divisive, normative and excluding efficiency. This is why it is also absolutely crucial to be thinking the new political subjects, those that outgrow both the reductive language of citizenship, as well as the depoliticised conceptualisation of governmentality.[6] We must rethink the theory-praxis gap (another example of reason split) and go, today more than ever since we are at the turning point of the geopolitical face of the planet being redrawn, towards political, cultural and social movements. And towards identifying new agencies. The patient construction of a new epistemological apparatus should give us instruments to understand and accompany new political subjectivity. 

The world has been tremendously reshaped, and we have not developed conceptual instruments to understand it fully yet, because our cognitive apparatus was shaped over the 20th century and partly even earlier. For the same reason, we don’t have proper instruments of resistance, and we don’t know yet who the agents of this resistance to the new “liberal totalitarian system” we are in might be.[7] With the end of the cold war, the partition of the world has come to an end first by a one-sided one imperial-like state closure which precludes from decisive international action most countries. This is an example of reason split, reason all lumped on one side, with the idea that only “we” have truth, and therefore “we” rightly fight the Evil (Saddam Hussein and the rest of the world; strangely enough, president Obama too, in his Oslo speech in 2009, asserted that there is evil in the world while justifying his war in receiving the Nobel prize for – peace). And in that “we” are self-legitimated, or legitimated by the UN and international organizations when needed, however reluctantly and nostalgically of non-aligned memories. This situation has imposed a complete separation between popular will and leadership, and in many places hypnotised disoriented people. A world-wide one-party system is being imposed. The “axes of Evil”, if anything, was a religious and an aggressive fundamentalist idea. We were thus reminded that religion has been  actually part of the American state-building and power history from the very beginning[8], and is being spread abroad too.  Evil is of course identified as irrationality, and in the one-dimensionality of the new construction it is forgotten that Reason produces its own flip-side as constitutive of it. Only, the two are not representable together any more, so any sharing of the same scene is out of the question. Off goes the irrational, or Evil, or
Iraq, into disappearance. The one-sidedness of Reason, the impossibility to evaluate it because only one partner “is right” (a case of what the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard called the différend), pre-emptive war, are reason split and not shared.
Jean Baudrillard warns : « Cette dissuasion sans guerre froide, cette terreur sans équilibre, cette prévention implacable sous le signe de la sécurité va devenir une stratégie planétaire.»[9]  He calls “contraception” the pre-emptive character of the war, which is anticipated to the extent that it need not happen and which ousts the original event. Yes we have entered a “contraceptive era” in several regards, not only the one Baudrillard describes, but also in the sense of emotions, judgement and enjoyment being sterilized through pre-emptive treatment and the neutralisation of differences (which amounts to terror), since the other is no longer imaginable. It is an illusion that the other can be relegated outside the system, though this may be claimed by theoreticians of two levels of exclusion (ordinary an absolute): the system will still be built on exclusion, though forbidden or unmentionable. During cold war we at least had a representation of the dichotomy (and thus of a principled plurality), although it was made extremely rigid and didn’t develop at the international level – into softer relations. But when there is no possible representation of anything any more due to the “one truth” dogma, then, Baudrillard says rightly, sovereignty can’t be based on it any longer. The regime then turns against its own population, and eventually becomes suicidal. Since it decides about Truth, it needn’t heed anything, and it may not only bomb civilians, but also burn libraries. Indeed, the Baghdad library was bombed and burned, and the museum allowed to be looted. The Sarajevo library too had been bombed. It is to be noted that a philosopher like
Ernesto Laclau, even before these events, distinguished between two types of exclusion, one absolute (irrepresentability), the other relative, which is also space for the political
[10]
The split of reason is dangerous in this hasty coming to a stop of any  movement, disappearance of any ambiguity, of the plurality of meaning. The cold war, which ended abruptly, was itself a world-wide state of palanka of sorts. Sharing reason here (and keeping it as a constant dynamics) would have meant, on the contrary, that no-one is completely right or completely wrong, and that the two sides have to cooperate, share, de—identify and give in to the other in a delicate and intelligent equilibrium. But we don’t see this happening. It is true that the cold war had not in itself developed features of flexibility or sharing, only two rigid blocs. One side in the game “represented” plurality and democracy in its own eyes (capitalism), while the other side (communism), was roughly put in charge of totalitarianism and of a one-party system. Well, the “one party system”, totalitarianism, have now in some regards been “universalised” and passed on to the other side. This other triumphant side is now the absolute, last truth, the truth of liberalism. Democracy under condition (under the condition of liberalism, of factual inequality and only principled equality of chances based on individual and private economic motives) – is no democracy. At the same time as this happened, the European Union was being reshuffled; the 15 have become 27. It is far from clear where this geopolitical reconstitution and refoundation is heading. 

In his Dreams of the Colonised,
Ranabir Samaddar analyses very subtly the cleavage between political dreams and their realisation. The latter usually limit the political imagination from the first. “Dreams” are indeed those desires which are neither expressed nor taken into account in conclusive Realpolitk or even in research. The split really runs between dreams of freedom and independence accomplished. But this finding doesn’t compel Samaddar to a purely meditative dimension (although…). On the contrary, it makes him expose the involvement of the historian, of the philosopher, of the scholar, as well as the partiality of the method and instruments in following the studied event, and reminds of the responsibility in reading. It is here that the possible political imagination is situated, the one of which the future will be made. This political imagination stems from an open reading of the past event, of alternative histories, open for and towards the future (which means: with multiple and alternative scenarios as much for the past as for the future). Such reading is necessary, we deduce from Samaddar, in order to understand new hybridities and alternative modernities, or non-Western modernities (for Gramsci, referring to Italy in his time, they had been the southern ones). It is necessary to have some political imagination in order to “translate” from one episteme, or from one jargon, into another, from “Indian” to “Western” philosophy or from “meditative” to political philosophy for that matter. 
The question is also what should be the praxis to improve freedom in the contemporary context, knowing that it consists of both an individual and a collective component, and that these two have to be mutually articulated in such a way that collective interests do not erase individual ones, but that individual ones do not lead to solipsism? This is of course the question of democracy which has always been only a project (never an accomplished or a satisfactorily accomplished fact), and which even as such has never been meant to apply to all: “democracy” is itself flawed and constructed on a system of exceptions. But exception allows for sovereignty. Philosophically speaking, this is again a case of the split of reason, of which the gender divide is only one example, though fundamental. Practically speaking, it is a matter of reciprocity, of de-identification (with one’s group), of empathy, of accepting the fact that we are born(e) of/by others. 

There is no difference of principle between gender and other similar divides, as all inequalities are historically constructed. But gender, in addition to profoundly determining subjectivity, takes the pretext of “sexual difference” claiming nature or an essence to justify social, political, economic, cultural inequalities through analogy with an imaginary “natural” inequality, especially in anything having to do with most aspects of public power. Gender (“sexual” social inequality) is the first and the most explicit expression of the « sharing/splitting of reason » ( partage de la raison). The latter lies at the basis of any other dichotomy (and hierarchy, inequality etc.) as a general mechanism and as « primordial », not just of the sexual one. “Sexual” inequality comes in as instrumental to all other forms of discrimination, as the most widely accepted one that works « by analogy » in all other matters too, and that gives its image to all cases. Splitting (with the possibility of sharing) [of  reason] comes first as the mere logic, as the way of functioning of reason, and it is not fundamentally defined by sexual difference. Rather, sexuating everything else is essentially instrumental in achieving sameness, and therefore the sex/gender inequality is so important and civilisationally widespread – quite beyond the scope of subduing women only. “The distance from the beginning is a distance from birth, an effort to efface it by monadic foundationalism, to claim it through paternity and nationalism, or to violently control it through fundamentalism.  The violence of foundation and the violence that the desire for foundation evinces is a violence that is necessarily animated by sexual energies, but more profoundly, by the energy of the dynamic dichotomy itself. The violence is then the desperate inverted mime of that foundational power – two foundations, two origins, one the violence of creative difference, the other the violence of destructive sameness.” (Roger Friedland[11])   “Nation”, claiming a common origin in an imaginary common birth, resorts to constructing a posteriori this origin as as real as if it had always been. For this, it needs the previous general acceptance of the inferiority of women (and the complicity of patriarchy). But both the gender divide, as well as the exclusion on which the nation is established, though mutually and causally intertwined, are expressions of the same and universal « sharing/splitting of reason » (partage de la raison). Both claim “nature” and essentialise the inequality as natural. 

We may well continue to be surprised by the perseverance of the sex/gender discrimination throughout the world, unless we analyse its link to other types of inequality and injustice among humans: this is because the real inequality of sexes, first “naturalised” in order to be globally accepted within a patriarchal regime to start with, is subsequently made into a complicit instrument of the maintenance of all other known hierarchies. It is inbuilt in them.  This happens through the symbolic regime which “feminises” in each of them the weaker term. The “sex war” (or “gender war”) should not be understood as primordial or paradigmatic for other conflicts. There is no such thing as a sex war, though there is a notion, linked to a myth, a “preventive” patriarchal myth like the one on “matriarchy”. But it is true that in any conflict and violence, we find the analogy of sexes as supporting them. In a general way, it is all about the « partage de la raison »[12] which, rather than being itself « sexuated » (or gendered) – manages on the contrary to « sexuate » (to gender) any difference that it is about to transform into a hierarchy. In this sense, the “sexuation”, which is also a naturalisation or an essentialisation, is principally an instrumentalisation for the purpose of appropriation and of the reproduction of the identical and of the same power-relations. This instrumentalisation explains the perseverance with which the inequality of the sexes is maintained although it is only one of the expressions of the splitting and possible sharing of reason. It is fundamental only inasmuch it is instrumental in maintaining other inequalities and injustices, but it is then also in its turn re-enforced through this instrumentality. Sexuality translated into social hierarchy traverses of course the construction of any type of “identity”, in the sense that indeed the distance from the claimed « origin » is necessarily the distance from birth (which is so explicit in the term « nation » itself). But this distancing from an origin is also (patriarchal)  culture itself[13], followed in and by culture through the endeavour to erase alterity in oneself (or: to erase what we owe the other in our own constitution) through a self-asserting “fundamentalism” at the exclusion of others. 

Therefore, violence would somehow have its origin in the cultural gesture of refusing the fact that life itself is always owed to the other, and it would be a desperate attempt to re-establish the imaginary auto-foundation of the self (l’auto-fondation du propre) and a vain effort towards self-generation.[14] In this sense generation, which is at the basis of the idea of nation, conceived only as self-generation, is also potentially (virtually) violent to others and derivatively suicidal. Which, by the way, necessarily means also – self-curbed.[15]
Roberto Esposito writes the following about this mechanism, and the “medical” language makes it even more striking: “Un impulso autodissolutivo che sembra trovare riscontro piú che metaforico in quelle malattie, dette appunto autoimmuni, in cui il potenziale bellico del sistema immunitario è talmente elevato da rivolgersi ad un certo punto contro se stesso in una catastrofe, simbolica e reale, che determina l’implosione dell’intero mecanismo.”
[16] 
It is this deep role of sexuality in the constitution of identities that strikes back at us nowadays. At the time when redefinitions of the nation and of the nation-state are assailing us at the end of an era and the beginning of another one of which we can yet hardly discern the contours in international politics, it is necessary to re-examine the national difference where it intersects with the gender one, because we can clearly see that a crucial knot is there. The deconstruction of sexuated identities (and all are sexuated, but the nation is so even explicitly and maybe even more rigidly than any other) is doubly important, not only with a view to deconstructing the mechanisms of sexism, but moreover with a view to undoing the exclusions and inequalities in all other cases too. Here, like elsewhere, it is salutary to « de-identify” rather than to maintain rigid identity roles. The role played by gender in the construction of other identities but also, by extension, in the setting up of all institutions (from language to the state), is incalculable. Yet it is generally acknowledged only as potentially subversive, rarely as constructive, as that which opposes institutionalisation through the state, the establishment, the army, and through recognised movements or winning historic action. Its positive and inevitable contribution to constructing institutions is not generally considered. Through its marking the nation and the state – a main feature in the organisation of international relations – gender clearly traverses, informs, organises and shapes all activity, institutions, relations as well as minds. The tangle of gender and nation projects its shade onto all other organisational forms, hence its importance. Gender is and will be a living and constant constituting power in shaping anything human, and this role may not be dismissed. It has been used as an instrument, and can be used as an instrument, for the better or the worse. This is why it is invited to play a role in reshaping our future too. Yet it doesn’t do so in the manner of a sealed destiny, and here lies a possibility for action, as well as a chance for theory. The combine promises of gender and irreducibly plural, multiple, interactive sexual “identities” are the scope for social and political plurality. When ignored as a constituting cultural and symbolic element, the component of gender works for inequality, hierarchy, exclusion, violence and discrimination in all other matters too, not only against women and children. But when used with an understanding critical approach (by which it is clear that nothing human is neutral, and nothing is sexually (genderwise) neutral), gender becomes a precious arm to fight all sorts of repression. Feminist theory is here at the centre of all theory as that which can offer directions to a major epistemological problem : how to improve and develop a conceptual framework, an episteme or a paradigm, or how to work out a new epistemological paradigm since the old one has proved incapable of both – grasping the world as well as avoiding war, brutality and exploitation and supporting resistance. 

Political and economic institutions in backward countries, says Gramsci, are not conceived like historic categories, but rather like “natural, perpetual and irreducible”.[17] In this they are naturalised and essentialised, and made into instruments of domination, let’s add, comparable to patriarchy. « E lo stato moderno ne ha rispettato l’essenza feodale », says Gramsci : indeed, this is how modernity, just as in colonised countries, produces « tradition » and fertile soil for conflict. It is important to grasp the usage of the division of reason here: modernity for us, tradition for you or, as Samaddar says, “the nation for us, ethnicity for you”. And as also Subaltern scholars notice too, but here according to Gramsci, « il contadino è vissuto sempre fuori dal dominio della legge, senza personalità giuridica, senza individualità morale : è rimasto un elemento anarchico, l’atomo indipendente di un tumulto caotico, infrenato solo dalla paura del carabiniere e del diavolo [18] In order to be able to avoid the split in yet another important field, it is necessary to recognise the link between religion and politics, and particularly the theological origin of state secularism (and of laïcité) inasmuch they are the secularisation of a divine concept sovereignty itself[19]: “Sovereignty as the creation of law, i.e. its non-legal origin, and the law as a legitimating a posteriori of the illegality that constituted it: the law of exception.”[20] This analysis allows us to better understand why « laicisation” doesn’t always give the expected results: whereas universal projects (such as the “republic”, “democracy”) have been delegitimised with utopias (generally speaking, it is thought that the “end of master discourses”, the end of hope in a transcendence or of awaiting a universal solution /or one through the universal/ is also the end of utopia), particularistic (communitarian) claims are more and more insistent and are supported by the general condescendence to cultural, religious etc. essentialisms. It is here that identitarian excesses and misunderstandings arise such as the one regarding the “Islamic veil” in a country like France, or the constructed problem of the minarets in Switzerland in 2009. This is because “long live the difference!” is a slogan that can be pressed both by racists and antiracists, for opposed reasons. 

The origin of the misunderstanding lies in a bad negotiation of the relationship between the universal and the particular, and not at all in the particular (culture, religion) itself. The revival of religion or the appearance of fundamentalist orientations today has nothing to do with religion itself, but constitute attempts to conquer a protagonist position in political or social matters for the young and for populations that are generally deprived and excluded from active political agency and from effective, meaningful citizenship. This is true of Europe, where active citizenship is fast fading away and where an important part of the economically active population is more and more often without political rights because it is foreign. But it is true of other parts of the world too, where war, hunger, big migrations and the new general geopolitical international configuration is such that not only individual autonomy, but also state sovereignty of individual states is rapidly loosing meaning or at least changing its functionality.  Some expressions of particularism take the shape or pretext of religion and exasperate religious « identitarianism ». The latter is particularly easy to mobilise in a crisis, and thus particularly worrying. This is true of the mentioned fundamentalisms (perceptible in all religions), though their nature is not different from that of other particularistic expressions with a universalising aspiration. The war declared to terrorism on the part of the ”international community” since September 2001 made this point particularly sensitive. The analysis shows how
Third World fundamentalisms are usually an extension of a historic reaction to colonial and imperialistic humiliation as well as to post-colonial failures. But it also shows, on the other side and under other historical circumstances, since the Christian Crusaders , how fundamentalism can itself also be a conquering movement. That which then opposes institutionalisation through the state, armed forces, recognised movements or appropriating action will be disqualified as terrorism and countered at the level of state(s) and, today, by the international community. (Terrorism is generally defined by a state.) It is good to know, however, that each mono-cultural, mono-religious identification consists in a complementary quantity of salutary de-identifications, those that belong to alternative (hi)stories as opposed to received and official history (and to received truth). Those alternative histories
[21]  should be liberated, liberating thereby political imagination. 


[1] A first version of this paper was presented at the conference « Cultural Diversity, Globalisation & Globalisations », organized by François de Bernard, Groupe de recherche sur les mondialisations in Paris, June 4-6, 2003. Some of these ideas have also gone into several other papers such as “The Watershed of Modernity. Translation and the Epistemological Revolution in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, n. ?, 2010; “Towards an epistemological revolution. Reason split. Subjectivity, translation and modernities”  forthcoming in the publication of the conference “Biopolitics, Ethics and Subjctivation: Questions on Modernity”, Chaio Tung University 2009, Taiwan, and “A Politics of Philosophy since Modernity. Indian and Western philosophies », published in www.transeuropeennes.eu, 2009. 

[2] Männerphantasien 1-2, Verlag Roter Stern, Frankfurt am Main 1977, 1978. See also Julia Kristeva, Pouvoirs de l’horreur. Essai sur l’abjection, Seuil, Paris 1981, for the comparable concept of abjet. 

[3] « Sur le style du bourg », from the book Filozofija palanke (The philosophy of the palanka), Nolit, Belgrade 1981 (first ed. 1969), in Transeuropéennes 21, 2001, pp. 129-139. « Sur le nazisme serbe », from the same book, in Lignes 06, 2001, pp. 53-75. See also R. Iveković, « La mort de Descartes et la désolation du bourg (R. Konstantinović) » in Transeuropéennes 21, 2001, pp. 174-178. 

[4]
Daho Djerbal et Nadira Laggoune-Alkouche, « Présentation », Naqd. Revue d’études et de critique sociale, n.
17, automne/hiver 2002, p. 8 ; translated by me [R.I.] from the French.

[5]
Fabio Ciaramelli, La distruzione del desiderio. Il narcisismo nell’epoca del consumo di massa, Dedalo, Bari 2000 ; Radomir Konstantinović, Filozofija palanke, cit. ; Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, De la communauté virtuelle, sense & tonka, Paris 2002.

[6]
Ranabir Samaddar, “Dreams of the Colonised”, manuscript; by the same author: “The Last Hurrah that Continues”, in Transeuropéennes 19/20, 2001, pp. 31-49; “The Destiny of a Translated Constitutional Culture”, in Transeuropéennes 22, 2002, pp. 75-87;  “Utopia and Politics in Muslim Bengal”, in Transeuropéennes 23, 2003, pp. 193-219. 

[7] The « multitudes », according to M. Hardt/T. Negri, Empire, Ed. Exils, Paris 2000.

[8] Martin Amis, «Bush contre Saddam : le choc des délires», le Monde 8 mars 2003, p.14 ; Peter Sloterdijk, Si l’Europe s’éveille, Mille et une nuits , Paris 2003.

[9] «Le masque de la guerre», Libération, lundi 10 mars 2003. 

[10] Laclau, Emancipation(s), Verso 1996. 

[11] I owe to
Roger Friedland the last three sentences, in an e-mail where he summed-up my own argument better than i could in English.  See:
Roger Friedland, « Money, Sex and God. The Erotic Logic of  Religious Nationalism”, in Sociological Theory 20:3  November 2002, pp. 203, p. 418, 419. 

[12] Rada Iveković, Le sexe de la nation (Léo Scheer, Paris 2003). 

[13]
Fethi Benslama, Une fiction troublante. De l’origine en partage, eds. de l’aube 1994 ; La psychanalyse à l’épreuve de l’Islam, Ed. Aubier, Paris, 2002. 

[14] Rada Iveković, Le sexe de la nation, Léo Scheer, Paris 2003. 

[15] In « Civilisation de la mort », in Migrations littéraires  21, été 1992, pp. 42-60 , I wrote about civilisations established upon life-sacrifice :  « le sacrifice sera (…) toujours présenté symboliquement comme le sacrifice de nous-même, dans lequel se cachera le sacrifice réel de l’Autre, des autres ».
Roberto Esposito, Immunitas. Protezione e negazione della vita, Einaudi, Torino 2002.

[16]  Immunitas, p. 21.

[17] La questione meridionale. Alcuni temi sulla questione merridionale, 1926, ER, Roma 1972, p. 73 p. 64.

[18] ibid, p. 64-65. 

[19]
Roberto Esposito, Communitas. Origine e destino della comunità, Einaudi, Torino 1998 ; Immunitas, cit.; Rajeev Bhargava (ed.), Secularism and Its Critics, OUP India, Delhi 1998;
Carl Schmitt, Le Léviathan dans la doctrine de l’Etat de Thomas Hobbes. Sens et échec d’un symbole politique, traduit de l’allemand par Denis Tirerweiler, préface d’
Etienne Balibar, Seuil, Paris 2002 ;
Giorgio Agamben,  Homo sacer, traduit par Marlène Raiola, Seuil, Paris 2002. 

[20]
Roberto Esposito, Immunitas, p. 86. 

[21] Walter Benjamin ;
Ranabir Samaddar
 

 

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