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The Democratic Promise

The Individual Within the Community


Constance Goh

The Democratic Promise engages Slavoj Žižek’s psychoanalytic and cultural reading of politics and terror, Jacques Rancière’s concept of the partition of the sensible, Alain Badiou’s ethics and politics, and Jacques Derrida’s thoughts on philosophy in a time of terror in order to radically rethink politics in and through aesthetics as analogies of political subjectivity. This book interrogates the a priori rights of an individual as universally declared and what these mean in terms of human agency. By revisiting the philosophical writings of the Western continental tradition through the eyes of contemporary political thinkers, it not only delves into the current debate on democracy but also investigates the connection between exceptionality and democracy. Constance Goh asserts here that inter-national or intra-national conflicts persist despite the global emphasis on cultural diversity and consideration because of the politics of recognition. The Democratic Promise also examines the media politics of China and Tibet’s fraught relations so as to argue that Derrida’s democracy-to-come necessitates an-other principle, an extra-normative tolerance he calls «hostipitality,» a host (un)intentionally transporting a singular other via the vehicle of aesthetics.


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Chapter Two. The (Im)possibility of Justice as the Messianic 29


• C H A P T E R T W O • The (Im)possibility of Justice as the Messianic For the laws are very ancient, centuries of work have gone into their interpretation and by now this has probably become the law itself; there does indeed still remain a certain possible latitude of interpretation, but it is very limited. Besides, the nobility have obviously no call to let their personal interest sway into interpreting the laws to our disadvantage, since these are drawn up in the interests of the noblility from the very beginning; the nobles stand above the law, and that seems to be the very reason why the law has been given over exclusively into their hands. Of course, there is the wisdom in that—who doubts the wisdom of the ancient laws?—but equally there is distress for us; probably that is unavoidable. … One can really only express the matter in a kind of paradox: Any party which would repudiate, not only belief in the laws, but the nobility as well, would instantly have the whole people behind it; but such a party cannot arise, for no one dares repudiate the nobility. It is on this razor’s edge that we live. A writer once summed it up in this way: The one visible and indubitable law that is imposed upon us is the nobility, and could it really be our wish to deprive ourselves of this solitary law? —Franz Kafka (2001, 73) Justice in itself, if such a...

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