Wednesday, May 11, 2005

tolerance is not the end

What might be said to constitute Derrida's politics is no small source of debate. (I once knew a Heidegger scholar who was fond of remarking, in all sincerity, that a careful reading of The Politics of Friendship would constitute a liberal arts education in itself.) Some potentially useful starting points for those less familiar with Derrida's later writings might be:

From here:
For both Habermas and Derrida, the idea of "tolerance", which is the core of the Enlightenment philosophy, has thus come back on the front scene, since religion and violence are today intrinsically linked and intertwined. Derrida denounces the hypocrisy of the American discourse on tolerance with regard to their war on terrorism. Nevertheless, if Habermas accepts tolerance with its paternalistic connotations - it is the "strong" who permits the "weak" to be, under the former's rules - Derrida considers the latter as "conditional", "scrutinized" hospitality ; he hopes for a Kantian cosmopolitical conception of hospitality, "pure and unconditional" which is open to individuals who are neither expected nor invited, not to promote it as the solution, because [practically impossible to live], but strongly encourages the [thought] of it, since it permits to have the [idea] of the other, of its difference. This should constitute an important progress towards what Derrida calls [democracy to come], which would go beyond a cosmopolitan world citizenship ; rather the philosopher promotes a [living together] without a precise attachment to any nation-state or world state.

And from here:
In the United States, when I saw those massive marches against the imminent war in Iraq, in front of the White House, right by Bush’s offices, I said to myself that if in France protesters assembled in their thousands and marched in front of the Elysée in a similar situation, that would not be tolerated. To be fair, we must take into account this contradiction within American democracy — on the one hand, auto-immunity: democracy destroys itself in protecting itself; but on the other hand, we must take into account the fact that this hegemonic tendency is also a crisis of hegemony. The United States, to my mind, convulses upon its hegemony at a time when it is in crisis, precarious. There is no contradiction between the hegemonic drive and crisis. The United States realises all too well that within the next few years, both China and Russia will have begun to weigh in...

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