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The Democratic Promise

The Individual Within the Community

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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 Four. The Soul of Ethics in the Writing of Politics 171

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• C H A P T E R F O U R • The Soul of Ethics in the Writing of Politics The specters of Marx: with these words we will name from now on certain figures whose coming Marx will have been the first to apprehend, sometimes to describe. Those that herald the best and whose event he will have greeted, those that arise from or threaten the worst, whose testimony he will have rejected. There are several times of the specter. It is the proper characteristic of the specter, if there is any, that no one can be sure if by returning it testifies to a living past or to a living future, for the revenant may already mark the promised return of the specter of living being. Once again, untimeliness and disadjustment of the contemporary. In this regard, communism has always been and will remain spectral: it is always still to come and is distinguished, like democracy itself, from every living present understood as plenitude of a presence-to-itself, as totality of presence effectively identical to itself. Capitalist societies can always heave a sigh of relief and say to themselves: communism is finished since the collapse of the totalitarianisms of the twentieth century and not only is it finished, but it did not take place, it was only a ghost. They do no more than disavow the undeniable itself: a ghost never dies, it remains always to come and to come-back. —Jacques Derrida (2001, 73) The only thing we can...

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