Universal War, in a Quasi-Industrial Manner

As is more or less well-known, Kant’s writings on the university, collected under the heading of The Conflict of the Faculties, are preoccupied with establishing limits, borders — above all the limits to conflict. On the one hand, there is the distinction between philosophy (which includes the ‘life sciences’ and sociology) and what he refers…

Cutting Democracy’s Knot

In his first extended speech in the midst of the rebellions of the banlieues and an officially declared state of emergency, French President Jacques Chirac announced that the problem confronting France was ‘a crisis of meaning, a crisis of reference points and an identity crisis.’ Some time before this, Jean-Luc Nancy had remarked that ‘the…

Four Remarks on an Emergent(z) World

Discussions of the state of emergency so often render the world in dismal and bloody hues sketched by some transcendent hand that they function as little more than occasions for lyrical indignation or, worse, simply fuel the exquisite sense of urgency that drives the activist — and therefore putatively transcendent — economy of demonstrations, symbolic…

Polemos, Universitas

In discussions of the so-called ‘culture wars’, it is often the case that ‘war’ here implies the intrusion of polemic into the otherwise routinely civil exchanges of the universities or ‘the public sphere’, as distinct from war—polemos —as such. This notion of the ‘public sphere’—most memorably announced in the work of Jürgen Habermas (1989)—bears a…

The Hopes of Political Economy

World War returned. To be sure, wars never really ended, in that they continued to lay waste to much of the world since the Second World War was declared over and, ceremonial announcements aside, in that the war in Iraq has been ongoing since 1991. And yet, it is still I think true to say…

The Anti-War Movement Did Not Happen

There are two undeniable facts. The first is that the rallies in Australia which preceded the bombing of Baghdad were enormous. Precise estimates of attendances in Sydney and Melbourne — ranging from 100,000 to double that figure — are impossible to verify but, in any case, situate those mobilisations as among the largest in recent…