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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 Three. The Terra/Terror of Time in Political Action 92


• C H A P T E R T H R E E • The Terra/Terror of Time in Political Action The most common strategy consists always in destabilizing not only the principal, declared enemy but also, at the same time, in a kind of quasi-domestic confrontation, those much closer. Sometimes even one’s own allies. This is another necessary consequence of the same autoimmunitary process. In all wars, all civil wars, all partisan wars or wars for liberation, the inevitable escalation leads one to go after one’s rival partners no less than one’s so-called principal adversary. —Jacques Derrida (2003, 112) The question was often raised: Are those engagements and reflections of the 1990s consistent with the apparently apolitical discourse of Writing and Difference or Of Grammatology? Derrida contended against the skeptics that his political commitments were the straight consequence of the seemingly apolitical concepts of difference and deconstruction. Whether the contention is right or wrong might not be the right question. What is worth examining is whether the link between the concepts of deconstruction and his commitments defines a political thinking, a thinking of the specificity of politics. There are two ways of dealing with the issue. The first consists in reexamining the concepts that define the kernel of deconstructive thought and in discussing whether and how they entail a specific understanding of politics and account for the specificity of his political engagement. I am thoroughly unable to do that. This is why I must try another way, which is more modest...

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