Scatter 1: The Politics of Politics in Foucault, Heidegger, and Derrida

Scatter 1: The Politics of Politics in Foucault, Heidegger, and Derrida

Scatter 1: The Politics of Politics in Foucault, Heidegger, and Derrida

Scatter 1: The Politics of Politics in Foucault, Heidegger, and Derrida

Synopsis

What if political rhetoric is unavoidable, an irreducible part of politics itself? In contrast to the familiar denunciations of political horse-trading, grandstanding, and corporate manipulation from those lamenting the crisis in liberal democracy, this book argues that the "politics of politics," usually associated with rhetoric and sophistry, is, like it or not, part of politics from the start.
Denunciations of the sorry state of current politics draw on a dogmatism and moralism that share an essentially metaphysical and Platonic ground. Failure to deconstruct that ground generates a philosophically and politically debilitating selfrighteousness that this book attempts to understand and undermine.
After a detailed analysis of Foucault's influential late concept of parrhesia, which is shown to be both philosophically and politically insufficient, close readings of Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and Derrida trace complex relations between sophistry, rhetoric, and philosophy; truth and untruth; decision; madness and stupidity in an exploration of the possibility of developing an affirmative thinking of politics that is not mortgaged to the metaphysics of presence.
It is suggested that Heidegger's complex accounts of truth and decision must indeed be read in close conjunction with his notorious Nazi commitments but nevertheless contain essential insights that many strident responses to those commitments ignore or repress. Those insights are here developed--via an ambitious account of Derrida's often misunderstood interruption of teleology--into a deconstructive retrieval of the concept of dignity.
This lucid and often witty account of a crucial set of developments in twentieth-century thought prepares the way for a more general re-reading of the possibilities of political philosophy that will be undertaken in Volume 2 of this work, under the sign of an essential scatter that defines the political as such.

Excerpt

Democracy is in ruins, and politics has become a bad joke. With few if any exceptions, politicians and statesmen, leaders, and even “world leaders” turn out to be crooks, cheats, liars, and clowns. Political processes the world over are little more than corrupt conduits for the forces of globalizing capital, of so-called neoliberalism, which have swept all before them. Politicians speak in a threadbare rhetoric that barely bothers to veil, under even an appearance of factual truth, cynical manipulation by “special interests.” “Democracy” covers indifferently for inequalities and injustices of all sorts on the back of “public opinion.” Demagogy is rife. “Culture” is just another branch of the economy, a sector of goods and services subject to market forces and the inexorable logic of capitalism. The academy is slowly and surely being squeezed by corporate models, by metrics and measures, by the vapid discourse of excellence. The university really is now in ruins. The bureaucracy of testing and assessment has put an end to education. Serious scholarship is in retreat. With a few loud and often caricatural exceptions, philosophers and writers have gone quiescent, retreating into the apparent safety of enclaves and niches or else collaborating more or less consciously and directly with the very forces that sooner or later will . . .

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