What would facilitate the understanding of pathology slides
Arendt's way of thinking and ways of opening up the 'democratic question'1Copyright (c) 1995 by Zoltán Szankay, all rights reserved. This text may be read and distributed, it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided it is not changed and not sold for a fee. Archiving, further distribution or republication of this text in a modified form or another medium requires the consent of the author.
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If, dear conference guests and friends, this conference and this lecture were under a good star, then both would get something of the character of a good attention exercise.
As we know, a good attention exercise has both the side of a concentration exercise and that of a relaxation exercise. Both together probably distinguish them from a rather one-sided reflexive effort, or from a discussion that merely clarifies points of view.
You can of course ask, dear friends and conference guests:
Does it have to be this double exercise? Wouldn't it be more honest and useful to stick to the normality of the usual form of meetings and lectures? Isn't a type of conference enough in which politically and intellectually interested people come together with political actors and professional political scientists to present theses and explanatory models on contemporary issues? One could then debate these with varying vehemence but, of course, 'openly and tolerantly'.
It would be naive, dear conference guests and friends, to think that we can go completely out of the ordinary setting of meetings of this kind jump out. Nevertheless: there is something about the matter of this conference that wants to relate Arendt's way of thinking and contemporary political questions to one another that is more negotiating and explanatory setting reluctant.
By trying to relate Arendt's way of thinking and questions of the present to one another - and even in such a way that they illuminate one another - we encounter a discrepancy that is initially barely perceived. We will this discrepancy - in an Arendtian sense - understand need if the said thing this session one setting should get that is cheap to her.
There is much to suggest that this discrepancy has only really become noticeable in recent years. Not only Margaret Canovan speaks - now in her second Arendt book - of the fact that historical and theoretical events of the last two decades have given us the Access to a Key dimension of Arendt's thinking. To the one, namely, to which, against the background of the totalitarian incursions, which have marked our century for them, the inappropriateness of the theoretical access to them becomes a central experience. To an experience that also means: Our theoretical structures cannot be relied on when acting.
From this experience, the Arendtian turn of the epoch-making Heidegger's deconstruction of those justification ontologies, which continue to orient our historical and sociological explanations, acquires its political significance, which can hardly be fully grasped.
It is therefore about the discrepancy between the honors in which Hannah Arendt is raised to the podium as the most outstanding political thinker of the century, and the practically complete Ignoring the central concerns of their thinking in all those discourses in which the prevailing modes of reality and understanding of our political historicity are updated.
It is precisely this discrepancy that our political spaces and horizons of action - even in the midst of multiple Arendt references - compared to Arendt's way of thinking seals. She promotes the self-evident with which her thinking is connected like no other with the Dismantling the dichotomy of politics and philosophy, is simply added to 'political philosophy' again and again and almost everywhere. But where should one also classify Arendt's thinking, as long as it is taken for granted that for our, politically action-relevant 'social reality', ultimately, if not the 'structure-explaining' discourses of 'political economy', then at least the interest-functional knowledge of the ' Political Sociology 'or that of mainstream political science? And if, complementary to this, the Political Philosophy remains responsible for the cloudiness of the political Sunday speeches and for power-remote 'autonomous' - and emancipated - publics inside and outside the 'Global Academy'?
If this strange discrepancy is the thing about the matter at this conference that is particularly opposed to a common type of treatment, how should we then, this discrepancy understand? What 'understanding' means in Arendt's way of thinking goes beyond the hermeneutical understanding of interpretation.
It goes beyond that, on the one hand, through on what this Arendtian understanding is excellently related. The formula in which Ernesto Laclau embeds the sense of: 'understanding social reality'. It is:
Translated: Understanding social reality does not mean understanding what society is, but what prevents it from being. (i.e .: what prevents them from doing so as a positive being, as an entity - be it a will entity, or a structure or system entity be.)
In this formulation, however, there is also a meaning of 'understanding', of 'political understanding', especially when it refers to a kind of negativity of the political itself, as here. It is the related meaning of 'confront', or more precisely: 'able to confront'.
A relatively early formulation by Hannah Arendt in the English foreword to the first edition of 'Origins and Elements of Totalitarian Rule' helps us to discover them. Her name is:
For attentive ears, this 'comprehension', which later becomes 'understanding', has clear echoes of the enabling and confrontational understanding of existence of the early Heidegger. So we could perhaps translate the sentence, together with its court of meaning, as follows: 'To be able to understand historically-political (or historically-existential) means to be able to confront and resist reality in a way that is not precalculated and predictable.'
Arendt's 'reality', as the incalculable and dramatically demanding of our historical 'human condition', here almost coincides with what, for Ernesto Lacalau, is the 'impossibility point' of the 'social' which cannot be positively identified.
How far the Arendtian understanding goes beyond the theoretical, or beyond an understanding within the vita contemplativa, shows us another, briefly flashing passage. In an essay from '62 Hannah Arendt suddenly and involuntarily says between the lines:
What is at stake now, dear guests and friends, with this discrepancy? - I think we all noticed this discrepancy when we first looked at it: what could be at stake is whether we accept the logic of this discrepancy consequences, or whether we are them interrupt can. Or, to put it bluntly: whether we keep Arendt's way of thinking with the same trait with which we emphasize it, with which we underline its importance, or whether we can let it get close to us right there. But, dear friends and conference guests, maybe this is too blatant, too clear to say. There is much to suggest that this discrepancy more is stuck as a mere two-valued defense logic of recognition / non-recognition or one of its disguises. There is much to suggest that other temporal relationships in our political historicity also work in this discrepancy. That would mean: it is not only a defensive constellation, but also one in which we could and can preserve a relationship to what has not been redeemed or missed in our political-historical action. It is as if we, in this second constellation of discrepancy, with our Arendt references, are maintaining a space for which there is actually no more space in our theoretical-functional conceptual framework.
I have to confess to you, dear friends and conference guests, that I only became really aware of this highly charged and sensitive relationship dimension of many people from our wider area, to the figure and the thinking space of Hannah Arendt, in the last few weeks. Attentive through the responses to our Arendt initiative and through what could be heard from them.
Only gradually did it become clear to me how in a much larger circle of people than I would have suspected, and which certainly goes beyond the circle of people who, so to speak, professionally deal with Hannah Arendt, the figure and that 'story telling' by Hannah Arendt has a special meaning. It is, subliminally, connected to the only remaining reference to freedom and transcendence, with a promise that also has something cautious and protective about it.
A clever friend from the eventful days of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research recently asked me on the phone:
"Do you know what the biggest problem with your Arendt initiative is?"
- And when I answered no, according to the Socratic game, she said:
"Your biggest problem is that you are twenty years late."
I think we can all hear from this one sentence by a German woman of the 68 generation what is decisive in relation to the history of the political nation of Germans over the past 20 years.
If I may mention that, dear guests and friends, after this sentence, while counting back, I was not only thinking about the twenty-year history of this political nation, of which I am now a citizen. When counting back I came, anxious, to exactly the years in which women and men close to me were cruelly murdered in Santiago and Buenos Aires, in the antagonistic and universally cruel discharge of a world of political and ideological opposites. In it, Arendt's way of thinking, which was already at work at the time, had not the slightest chance of being heard.
What came out of the answer from another friend who would have liked to be there today was only apparently different from the one just reported. Antje Vollmer told us:
"People, Hannah Arendt is the most valuable thing we have. Please be careful with her."
In these and other similar answers, dear friends, we see a different form of what I just mentioned as the central discrepancy.
This figure has more to do with the tension Dilemmas to do as well as with one shift - Derrida would say: with one Differentiation - this tension between what, on the one hand, strengthens Arendt's way of thinking from our flashing political moments of experience as redeemable, and on the other hand the hegemonic principles of reality, which allow these moments to be perceived only as lost, missed and non-transmittable.
This is the first place in this lecture, dear friends and guests, from which I would like to ask ourselves:
Would it be conceivable that today, here, with the hindsight of this twenty-year delay and five years after the events of November '89 that shed light on so many things - also retrospectively - we might begin a conversation that may be about the time? A conversation about the interweaving of this discrepancy, this dilemma with our political-historical experiences on the one hand, and with the problems of our readiness to accept Arendt's way of thinking on the other. That would also mean being able to start a conversation that does not resolve this dilemma but tries to detach it from its fixations. Or also: to transfer it into the opening methods of the democratic question.
In what sense could you now, dear friends and guests, say that it is time to start an ARENDTCH TALK? How are we supposed to do that 'Democratic Question' understand? And what could the transference of the Arendt dilemma mentioned here achieve in this matter?
Before I attempt to answer these questions, I would like to comment on a legitimate doubt about our weighting of the discrepancy that has been discussed. One could say, with a certain justification, that the discrepancy characterized here is an exaggeration. Here, too, at this conference, there are well-known interpreters of Hannah Arendts with us in the wider or closer range - and this applies Ágnes Heller as well as on Ernst Vollrath, on Wolfgang Heuer as well as on Karol Sauerland - for whom this dilemma does not seem decisive and who nevertheless, essentially, think in close proximity to Arendt.
Let me, however, suggest that we are dealing here less with a complete absence of the dilemma in question than with its postponement, which is taking hold. That means: with a shift in the Difficulty admitting Arendt's way of thinking into the perception of our political realities themselves and articulating them together with it.
It is one thing to articulate essential moments of Arendt's way of thinking in more philosophical and political-historical discourses, and it is quite another thing to let such moments become effective in discourses that are not only ideological or theoretical, but also public, have a political character.
In the case of the latter, these moments should not only have a general hermeneutical reference to political questions. Where the relationship to the interrogation methods of the political common sense becomes decisive, they must also be able to really assert themselves against the prevailing political patterns of difference and perceptions of reality. This would have to imply much more than a purely theoretical or ideological intervention.
That's why Arendt-related authors like Ágnes Heller and Ferenc Fehérwho are also - in an American sense - 'public intellectuals' are more difficult in this respect. As we shall see in more detail, it is as if a public, political-oriented discourse, if it wanted to remain one, could only bring about a certain measure of Arendt's way of thinking. This is then, here as there, in its matter as if it were 'shifted' or as 'different'.
I believe the text of Ferenc Fehér, 'Pariah and Citizen ', the Boris Blaha translated us for the occasion is a good example of what has been said.
I would like to say: it is an instructive example of a certain relationship between introduced and 'shifted' moments of Arendt's way of thinking in an action-oriented discourse in which this way of thinking decisive has become.
By 'action-oriented' we do not mean the strategic or normative 'political advice' that proceeds from 'knowledge places' that are not themselves at stake, but that 'attentiveness to reality', that reality-oriented ability to remember that, like David Luban once did said of Hannah Arendt, "more the mark of a political actor than that of a scholar".
That they have become decisive in this Fehér discourse is, we can read off at one essential point. Namely, where Fehér makes the Arendtian differentiation between a-political legitimizing democracy and politically founded republic productive even there, where he also treats this differentiation critically. In the purely state legitimizing, like also In the “anti-state” and “grassroots democratic” modes of that democracy, which presents itself as something based on the will of the majority or the will of the people, the “social” is always a closed disposition and interior space. The 'polish' The nature of what is actually political is always skipped over - even if it cannot be made to disappear entirely. In Hannah Arendt's work, however, 'republic' refers to successful new beginnings in the non-lockable and plural space of freedom of a 'political community'.
Where this differentiation becomes productive, it breaks A matter of course the dichotomy that suppresses the political: 'State / civil society'.This hegemonizes, especially European-continental thinking even where it appears in seemingly completely different forms. (E.g .: in the just like that politically suppressing forms of the dichotomy - which implies a positive total description of the social: 'system / lifeworld'.)
The last section of this MistakeText is that about 'The Politics of Mortals'. Fehér takes this term from Reiner Schürmann on (from the late New Yorker thinker New School, which is widely received in America, in Germany ignored ironically), which draws him to a decisive dimension of the Heidegger Thinking.
The 'mortals' - at Martin Heidegger always in the plural, like it Hannah Arendt noted - are not such in a biological sense: even for the Greeks, only human beings in the true sense are 'mortal' beings and can only be because their constitutive relation to death includes the 'immortal'.
The point of this section that ventures out furthest (and perhaps also the extreme point of a current possibility of incorporating Arendt's way of thinking in a practical text) is the one in which the 'Freedom of the Political' with its peculiar, interrupting temporality, itself as a border and transcendence related at the same time 'Leeway'can claim. The specific reference to transcendence of the political - for Fehér the ultimately not instrumentalizable character of the 'free, public action in the republic' fixable - is then also for him the for the modern, remaining reference to transcendence. (Ágnes Heller calls it: 'transfunctional political activity' and makes, ultimately, Democracy depends on it.)
Only through this the political Not can be included in the self-referential nature of 'society', an arc then also spans from here to that 'understanding' that is mentioned in the above Laclau-Quote ("To understand social reality ... ") is articulated. In truth, it is only in this understanding that the 'reverse metaphysics', which continues to work in the positive, functionalist social fixation, ie, the uncanny, because insecurity co-producing security knowledge, not of the' ideas', but of the positive, self-referential 'basis 'of the human universe.
However: As in all of our modern-political discourses that are 'still' subject to the claim of a rather 'male' autonomy requirement, here too, in this Fehér text, something that is decisive for Arendt's way of thinking is shifted, differentiated.
It is what they, with a word, initially difficult to grasp in its political sense, 'native nature', 'natality' is called. In Arendt's modes of reception, which are less action-oriented than more philosophical in character, it is often registered relatively easily as a constitutive element of their way of thinking.
She is in Arendts Words, 'the gift' of our specific and wondrous 'Coming into the world'which, unlike mere 'generic specimens', enables us 'to start something new'. At first glance, this 'nativeness', this 'natality' even with Hannah Arendt herself seems to have its place in just one philosophical To have discourse. "Philosophically speaking "- we read in 'Power and Violence'- "action is man's answer to being born(my emphasis, Z.Sz.); ... without the fact of the birth we would not even know what it is: something new; all 'action' would either be mere behavior or preservation. "
If we now listen more closely to Arendt's articulation of 'nativeness', we notice: this is what we are dealing with here Not an anthropological and certainly not a biological category. In it there works a seriousness of the early Heideggerian 'thrownness', but also a difference to it. In Arendt's way of thinking, it is above all constitutive of politics: its articulation insists on the simultaneously 'giving' and eventful dimension of that lack, of human beings and their historical we-ways Not with the 'specimens of a genus' and with the 'sociological groups' of such genus specimens. But she insists with her also to a subterranean - because despite the great 'traditional break' effective - Distribution matrix the politically republican dimension of freedom of also Christian West and its, both 'fixation of essence', as well as 'guilt' can interrupt-able reality type.
What 'shifts' the articulability of 'natality' in our policy-related discourses and places of discourse? What does this shift have to do with the phantasms of self-birth that became powerful in the 'political us-s' of modern-occidental history? (In 'materialist' and 'constructivist' variants). After all, what does it have to do with the difficulty of civil rights activists in the former GDR in making the experience of an 'responding act' (in the above sense of Arendt) politically understandable? Wolfgang Ullmann - which the history of the last few years has carried from the GDR's political dissidence center to the European Parliament - characterized with the sentence: "We have found a public language" ?
Could it be that the apparent impossibility of this 'public language' to continue after 1989 has something to do with the fact that the political place, which is not fully socially immanent, where it was spoken, is neither recorded on the political science nor on the instrumental-pragmatic political maps?
Let me try, dear friends, to shed light on this question from the other thread of this lecture. So let's go back to the point where I was wondering if it wasn't time to take up an Arendtian conversation about the 'democratic question', about its ways of opening and closing.
What do we mean by the 'democratic question'? In which dimensions of the political, in which scope of our political and historical identity does it ask? It is widely known - even if not sufficiently in Germany - that the 'Democratic Question' (La question de la démocratie, The Question of Democracy) is a - often used - collective title for the main topic of the writings of Claude Lefort is. That means: the writings that - like hardly any other theoretical work of the last 20 years - mark a turning point in the political thought of the century.
Above all, there are three moments that, in their interplay, bring about this turning point.
The first of these moments, dear friends, is the key experience of the totalitarian. It is first of all the experience of the powerlessness - the intellectual and commercial powerlessness - of the rationalistic and liberal ways to oppose it. But it is also the experience that provides something like a contrast film to the 'historical-political nature' of the democratic. Only through them can we measure and understand what is at stake with the democratic, as the institutional political answer to the modern-occidental.
The second moment is that of an experience-related reliquefaction of the 'political taken for granted' of the last two centuries: i.e. the dualistic constraint framework of our functionalist and historicist social categories - which always excludes the third. That is to say: the reliquefaction of those sediments of the positivist imagination - even within the 'anti-positivist' modes of theory and perception - which every encounter with the occidental-political (that is, with the republican transferred democratic institution and with the unity and temporality of the same) is impossible do.
Finally, the third moment is that dimension of the 'democratic question' which, perhaps, could make decisive figures of our political-historical we-wise capable of - finally - dealing with the inextricable contradictions of modern relations to society and nature to confront. That is, to confront oneself on this side of the illusionary 'problem-solving', instrumental or moral-rational answers and on the other side of the 'false promises' of the ideology of modernity.
As far as the first moment is concerned: The theoretical incision that Lefort comes from the experience of the totalitarian can only be compared with that of Hannah Arendt. In this experience a kind of haunted political identity of modernity takes place. We could also characterize it as the experience of an uncanny duality in the appearance of the modern-democratic.
It is about the uncanny duplicity that we experience on the one hand with the antagonism between the democratic and the totalitarian, and on the other hand in the manifest potential for the transformation of the democratic, its temptation, precisely through the will to realize the sovereign national unity and its claim to transform history into its own To take hand ', to turn into totalitarianism.
Both sides of this duality have been and are repeatedly covered up and made unrecognizable.
The antagosnism of the democratic and the totalitarian, especially in the 'progressive' and 'conservative' political publics of this century, was repeatedly obscured by the ostensibly ostentatious anti-communism and anti-fascism of the National Socialist and Bolshevik totalitarian figures. What was made unrecognizable was the fact that both figures - with the same subtle precision - had their sights on the democratic method of institutionalization within the Occidental-modern political society. In the crosshairs of both was the democratic - or even revolutionary - way of establishing our we-forms, our political forms of unity. In other words: the method of institution that became possible and negotiable in the republican transmission medium of the Judeo-Christian 'covenant' people and the polis-like freedom of the 'political nation'. For both totalitarian figures, it was unbearable not only the way in which this type of institution apparently allowed existential dislocation of the individual, but also and above all the way in which it established its own foundations, that is, the we-wise us should 'hold', exposed to an irreducible plurality and a political antagonism.
Likewise, the historical - and, as it were, 'post-metaphysical' - dimension of this antagonism in the political public sphere of the second post-war period was all too often flattened into an ideological contradiction or one of the legitimacy differences of positive institutions.
The antagonism in question was and is also made unrecognizable in the social and historical understanding of our predominant social and historical sciences. Unrecognizable because, within this understanding of reality, it appears only as a secondary antagonism can.
We all know, dear friends and conference guests, that understanding of the globalized 'human condition' that prevails in the everyday perception of the present, on the background of which the antagonism of the 20th century in question, which is carried over in ways that are as yet difficult to determine, to that which is approaching us, must appear as a relatively secondary one.
How is this antagonism supposed to? Not to be secondary where it has become almost entirely self-evident to us - albeit far from our actual political experience of action - that the really decisive problems are those of a history that involves us allprocess are, therefore, an objective as well as voluntaristic historical process whose self-identical real subject, 'humanity', is identified in the positivity of 'modern society', as is the linear and fully present temporality of its I and we identities?
What is not all secondary, dear friends, if you think you know that the "survival problems of mankind" are the only real or at least the clear priority political questions? And if you think you also know that behind the horrors of the planetary phenomena of violence and exclusion - the problems of which 'politics', of course, instrumentally or morally, would have to solve - is nothing other than those that have not yet been fully secularized and not stable enough civilized strata of human beings - their barbaric or regressive parts? (If they are not perceived as coming from the 'political evil', from the 'fascist nature', from the 'elites' 'lust for power', or from that 'Eurocentric growth mania', which would only have to be switched to 'sustainable development', like us the stupid moralistic warnings and guilt stories of global television every day.)
Is it not clear, dear friends, that within such problem and problem-solving ideas, which claim an exclusive and final reality, the democratic - and thus also their antagonism to the totalitarian - can only claim a secondary importance, especially in relation to the ecological ? Seen from them - objectively - our rational-functional - us, as it were, natural - we-identity, and the 'historical process' on which it sits, ie the two instances through which we should confront the ecological, with the republican-conferred democratic one Institution of our occidental-political we-forms and nothing to do with their temporal ways. Ultimately, it is a question of weighing the means and values as to whether 'we' (whatever this should mean 'objective') want to approach the so-called ecological question of survival 'democratically' or not. In other words: in this scientifically supported a-political reality horizon, the democratic can only be a morally more or less legitimizing and ultimately merely procedural authority. For the realistic imagination, the democratic as the tension-laden modern and metamodern, primary-symbolic way of being of our historical we-form that exposes itself to the other cannot 'exist' at all. Or if so, then only as a ghost within the self-affirming 'disenchanted world' of Max Weber.
But how, dear friends of the conference, if it were so, that we can only deal with what comes to us questioningly and urgently at the end of this century - and thus also what has appeared to us to be ecological - only from a we - Could answer wisely - answer freely, not react compulsively - in which this ghost - the ghost of that freedom that Hannah Arendt has always meant - and its type of reality are not denied?
How if this Arendt Conference - and our Hannah Arendt Prize itself - could not have come about at all, would this question be, would this perceptive assumption not be at the point where it would give itself a political-historical public and resonance space? And how if this point, this threshold, which cannot be topologically or chronologically located, was less due to intellectual learning and development processes than to the manifest as well as subliminal political-historical events of these last twenty years, which, in a completely unexpected way, the historical horizons have transformed our world, as well as its occupation and permeability, also for those who do not yet want to admit it?
You can see, dear friends of this Hannah Arendt Conference, how a lot is illuminated from this point in the lecture. It illuminates itself, both to the front, to the meaning that the conclusion of this lecture could assume, as well as to the back, to the sense of the title of this lecture and the sense of the suggestion to start an Arendt's conversation on the democratic question.
Here it was not about taking up a purely literal, intersubjective communication about Arendtian topics, but about expanding those also political we-modes in which the responsive, time-confronting dimension of Arendt's way of thinking - and thus its historical meaning - becomes audible.
You have probably also noticed, dear friends and conference guests, that already in discussing the first moment of Lefort's incision, i.e. his experience of the totalitarian, which is equally relevant for the 'form' of the theory and for the identity of our political we, the 'democratic question' could or would no longer treat as a Lefort title and a Lefort theme. Indeed: in the last twenty years there has been, relatively suddenly, and undoubtedly connected with the seismic tremors of the 'earth', which belongs to the 'heaven' of our time and meaning horizons and its radical changes, a whole constellation of drastic, new approaches to the political.
For the theories, discourses, questions and ways of understanding that form them - all of which, in an Arendtian sense, are also action-oriented without being directly pragmatic - 'The Constellation of the Democratic Question' is an appropriate and good name.
In them, modes of experience of the political have paved the way for which the banishment of the specter of freedom mentioned above is no longer the obvious prerequisite for being able to think, understand and act politically 'well enough'. In them it succeeds for the first time - be it 'in' modernity or at its threshold of transference - the depoliticizing dimension of the bourgeois world and its history, their false promises, the political in a social one that is free of antagonism and nobility, purely of interest and value Bringing back the interior, confronting it in a way that no longer has the reactive and the subliminally subaltern, which has determined the forms of this confrontation for more than two centuries. That means: those forms of the almost always anti-liberal, the often anti-rational and, in a decisive way, also anti-democratic, from which even such outstanding approaches to the political as those of Sorel or Carl Schmitt could hardly really break free .
These ways of accessing, this way of understanding the political (and when 'understanding' we should, with Hannah Arendt, think of what is 'facing', the confrontation with what is and with what is to come - from the future and the past , makes possible) could not only come about through the open cracks that the psycho and social ontology of the modern age, almost 'realized' in many places, has historically got. (That means that dichotomous double ontology, which is called to reduce everything to a purely subjective, threshold-free inner, or to a purely objective - and so fully outer outer - and thus carries on the form of metaphysics also in the 'anti-metaphysical'. )
Basically, these cracks could never be completely closed. And even more: as we can probably only perceive it more adequately today, the democratic revolution, the historical institution of our symbolic-antagonistic 'political body' has established itself right through the cracks. Only through these cracks - through this 'gap', through this gap - and not on the basis and in the logic of our generally prevailing socio- and psychoontology, could the transitional space-embedded and precisely therefore 'permeable' form be dealt with The form of unity of all is what we call 'Occidental Modern Society'. The 'universality' of the same is not an established or demanded one, but rather an appealing one - speaking in political language.
It may be instructive at this point to point to a barely perceived theoretical key point in Arendt's Origins and Elements of Totalitarian Rule. It also speaks of a 'gap'. It is about the "gap", as we read on page 49 of the book, "between state and society". That means: between those two dichotomized and complementary forms of the social that are the sole modes of reality for the 'tabula-rasa' founding myth of bourgeois modernity. (Complementary figures, as Hannah Arendt noted, also in the sense of the 'good' (because power-free, self-organized) society and the 'bad' (because power-condensed) state: a myth that, as we know, has long been ideological and sociological Has continued.)
It is now, strangely enough, 'on' this chasm that Hannah Arendt sees that something, that metaphorized (and never fully 'intersubjective' literal) public space that she calls the 'political body of the nation'. She speaks of this 'political body', here in this context, as something that has practically 'perished' in Europe (in Europe, mind you, and not in America) precisely in the upheavals leading to totalitarian implosion. But she adds something that should be remarkable for today's highly economic sociological efforts to address the problem of 'integration' and 'migrants': "Without this gap", we read - and that also means: without that based on it- Founded - "there would have been no need, not even a possibility," history of the Jews, mind you, not society and not the state - "fully integrate".
Dear friends and conference guests, we cannot go further into the various accusations at this key point. What is still worth considering in it, however, I would like to give us at least two questions:
- If what Arendt said here would mean that 'history', not as a history of progress or decline, but as the way in which our space of freedom and transference, based on the 'gap', can only exist where this 'between', as that actually and specifically history-opening, is not completely buried? Was and is totalitarianism, behind all its concrete horrors, above all that which has threatened and continues to threaten the historical being of our we's, and thus our ability to democracy?
- Does this have something to do with what Ágnes Heller and Ferenc Fehér called 'biopolitics' and the 'disappearance of the occidental tension between freedom and life'? That means with that a-political-pseudo-political space in which we-identities can only form as closed presence-identities, ranging from racist and ethnic identities to the special identities of 'women', 'men' or 'cultures' can go? And with the fact that the same liberal-rational impotence is repeated against them that was shown once before in the middle of the 20th century?
Let me, dear friends, make an interim remark before we come back to the democratic question in Lefort's and in the broader sense.
To many, talk about the 'third party', about the 'gap between state and society', about the 'specter of freedom' may seem like a philosophical speculation that has nothing to do with 'concrete political questions'. However, it is enough to take our daily political experience really seriously to be taught otherwise. In doing so, it becomes clear what is preventing us 'in our head' from taking them seriously - in the Arendtian sense of the word.
Let us take a brief look at what an understanding of the political, in the Arendtian sense, can open up using the example of the Bosnian catastrophe. So in the catastrophe, which is also one of the upright us's of the Occidental 'political nations' and their cohesion. We experience, dear friends and conference guests, with a fair degree of precision how the realistic-moralistic identity constraints 'work' blocking political-historical action, so that our understanding, exposure and confrontation cannot come into play at all. When we talk about 'we' here, we are not talking about anything substantial or collective, nor about any kind of self-consciousness. The we, from which we can also speak, is also not a collective ego. It is, of its own accord, and always from a precise, but defying location, directed and turned to the other, to the other, which it concerns - in a double sense.
The excluding dichotomies, more of bourgeois than democratic modernity - which seem to be more and more compulsive, but also more visible - basically do not allow this political, action-oriented, time-suspended and confrontational-exposing we at all. As it became clear in the Bosnia discussions: For the dualistic we-realism, 'we' can either only be the we-s of nation states and their alliances, with the hard, unambiguous and impermeable boundaries of the same, over which only the instrumental-strategic action extends in the tangible national interest, or the 'we' of the moral-universal 'society', which should only be able to act universally, planetary-police, in the name of timeless principles. (And in which, by the way, the dimension of power and violence that plays a role in political action is concealed as an 'application of the law' - and thus as something basically 'non-violent'.)
Both of these us-s have that advantage of uniqueness and certainty with which their historical origins are connected. They provide fully secured, fully 'rational' bases for action; neither of the two has to really expose himself to the other.
But 'terium datur', dear friends and conference guests. If we dare to think and understand politically and historically, with a we from which the specter of freedom is not banished and who also exposes itself to the historical-political significance of victory of an aggression, we learn that something is about the Impossibility requirements for action, which proceed from the two rationally recognized we-realities, are not correct.
By the way, dear friends and conference guests, at this concrete political example, almost unnoticed, we saw something that we will not go into in more detail, but that we only want to note briefly. It is the fact that the 'democratic question', contrary to the everyday political and scientific understanding, cannot be a question of a purely 'inside', not a purely 'internal political question'. However, the 'outside' of the same is not the 'pure' outside of the classic nation-state 'foreign policy' either.
The latter, in turn, may appear as an abstract speculation about something that doesn't even exist. At the same time, this consideration sharpens our view of something obvious, which the purely 'realpolitically' trained way of seeing is guaranteed to skip, even if it is in front of her nose every day. Let us ask: is the relationship outside / inside for American democracy the same thing as for the democracies of Western Europe? Is there perhaps a Western European democracy where the parliament, even against the executive, over 'Outsidepolitical questions' decides. For more than a hundred years, such questions have been answered with the "American exception" within the Western European political and scientific paradigm. But could it not be that it is more about the 'Western European exception', about the only political-historical region in the world in which the dichotomous social ontology of bourgeois modernity could 'almost' be realized, giving it the appearance of the 'natural' ' got?
Our history would look completely different if the 'outside' had been the same kind of 'outside' for the American political nation - with all the imperial overlays of American state reality - in the two world wars as for the Western European nation states in which the multi-temporal political nation and the specter of freedom could be silenced particularly thoroughly. However, it should be sufficiently clear that the nature of the American republic, in spite of the overlapping discourses on 'national interests' and 'moral commandments', refer to moments in which the freedom that enables democracy historically comes into play has to do with a normative-moral relationship from nowhere; the United States is not a 'conscience organization'.
But let us return once more to the terms of the democratic question.
We have said above that it was not only the historically and politically revealed cracks in the historical, psycho- and socioontology of modernity that brought the democratic question to the fore. In fact, as we know, it is actually true that for the still hegemonic modes of thinking in the social and historical sciences, the totalitarian break-in is basically one confirmation of their categories rather than being read as something that questions them. For the social ontology of the mainstream of the social and political sciences, which of course dates from the time before this break-in, nothing 'ontology-relevant' or problem-illuminating happened with it.
Incidentally, this also applies to the illumination of our history and our political identities, which proceed from the events around 1989 and from the phenomenon of Polish Solidarnosc, which made this possible. That is why we read the beautiful example of a Freudian negation in the preliminary remark of a little book by Jürgen Habermas on these events! "No," it says, emphasizing negation and denial, "the events throw no shed new light on our old problems. "
Now, we have to ask ourselves, is there another type of event of these rifts, one on another level, which also makes it possible to perceive the historical-political events of this century in their full dimension? Could it be that it's the fade out this There are cracks in the ontology of full justifiability and the ability to universally unambiguously block the scientific and political perception of this dimension? It does not come from a purely moral insensitivity that the representatives of scientific knowledge develop their defensive reactions to these events.
This other kind of crack in the modern enchantment of the world, in the most powerful that ever existed, which claims to be the final disenchantment of the world - and so probably, implicitly, proclaims precisely that 'end of history' at its explicit Turning them out to be scandalized - does indeed exist. They were probably already laid out in the event of Marx's thought, as Jacques Derrida recently showed us. 'The ghost of communism' was, in many respects, a transformation of the 'ghost of freedom', which, despite its re-banishment into the closedness of historical and social ontology, has retained a trace of its lack of enclosure.
However, these cracks have fully come to light in those breakthroughs in thought that occurred at the decisive 'weak points' of the ontologies in question: in the most violent (because most world-destroying) efforts of these ontologies to reduce what is native and mortal, never entirely immanent and complete transcendent human beings and their historical we-modes 'time' and 'language'.
(There is much to suggest that the concealing / revealing moment of the overlap of these two 'weak points' makes a third, more concealed point perceptible, on which difference feminism knocks in its good moments: Heidegger and Derrida point this out with the 'there is' , Arendt with the 'nativeness, Winnicott with the' mother 'of human beings, who - probably more precisely than mathematics - meets that' good enough 'with which she releases both into' freedom 'and into' hold '.)
It is often ghostly to see how, even today, in our hegemonic, social-scientific, historical-scientific discourses, desperate attempts are made to undo these cracks and breakthroughs. The attempt is made, with increasing effort, to preserve the absurd belief that what has primarily occurred in the thinking of Saussure, Freud, Heidegger and Winnicott is a matter of linguistics, psychology, philosophy or even child psychology would be that our - ontologically secured - 'real reality' of our world, our selves and we-e would not touch at all. Precisely that 'real reality' which, as we have seen, the political and the 'specter of freedom' could never really allow.
But it is precisely through these cracks in socioontology and psychoontology, precisely through these breakthroughs in thought and experience that the political can meet us. Not what an almost automatic exercise suggests, as a 'new justification' for it, but as the possibility of dealing differently with the strengths and weaknesses of the rational.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, whose figure, together with Hannah Arendt, stands behind Claude Lefort, said in one of his last lectures about the epoch-making significance of Heidegger's thinking, that in him 'the effort' works' our ability towards itself err in the truth 'to incorporate. And also the effort, 'the question', the withdrawal of being in his Inexhaustibility, i.e. also does justice to its absence, incomprehensibility, in the 'evidence of being'.
Those who know the effort of Arendt's work to keep the 'classical kind of truth away from the political, be it in the scientific or moral sense - since it must necessarily destroy this and freedom - will perhaps be able to gauge what this means for' understanding 'of the political, which, as we have seen, also confrontscan the same implies, can mean.
Dear friends and conference guests, this is not a question of 'philosophy'.Just as it is just as little a question of 'psychology' when, as Samuel Weber once formulated it precisely, with Freud it is not about integrating knowledge about the unconscious into the 'existing' - explanatory and substantiating - scientific knowledge, but about to create a different relationship between knowing and not-knowing, which is not 'theoretical' but also implies the possibility of another 'working relation' to the relationship between the two, which we are involved in. And neither is D.W. Winnicott is concerned with 'child psychology', when it is precisely a matter of working out a 'working' experience of that 'between', that 'transitional space', which, since it is neither 'subjective' nor 'objective', can neither be used in psychological , still has a place in the socio-onotology of modernity. Has no place, since it is not only the enabling of our world and our ability to play, but also, more specifically, the enabling of the political, freedom and the ability to act in the Arendtian sense.
Nowhere do we find a better access to Arendt's nativeness and its connection with the ability to act made possible in the metaphorized public space - which, even in otherwise Arendt-inclined minds, such as Helmut Dubiels, only provokes defensive concepts - than in this 'ontological breakthrough' by Winnicott.
We can no longer go into the other two moments of Lefort's incision that go hand in hand with the moment of experiencing the 'socioontological' relevance of the totalitarian slump. But what should be clearer to us from what has been said is: In Lefort's political thought, the crack, the ontological breakthrough of thought, works perhaps for the first time fully applied to the political. This then 'gets' a completely different type of reality than that which was assigned to it, in mainstream political science of modernity, which was always in the clinch with the democratic of the democratic question and with freedom itself, be it as functional power action, be it as an act embedded in the functional-structural and in this sense secondary symbolic action. Lefort is also not concerned with the political in the sense of a - missing the in-between - mass psychology, which the historical we-wise can ultimately only regard as pathological phenomena (seen from the perspective of ego sovereignty). Ultimately, however, he is not interested in a purely 'secularized interior' of human choices and decision-making, into which some interpreters want to force both Lefort's thinking and Hannah Arendt's thinking in order to make it objectively compatible from a social science perspective.
Lefort writes: "We can only equate the political with the establishment of the social, with the formal principles that generate the form of the social, if we recognize at the same time that the political is not a pure choice (in the sense, we must add, of 'Choix', of 'choice' or also of 'decision'; Z.Sz.) can be reduced, not even to a 'unconscious' choice. " This then also means the recognition that the political "at the same time from one Work-up and from one exam (épreuve) testifies to the human condition "under historically" given circumstances. "
From here we can also assess the impossibility of including the democratic question in the pure objectivity space of the social sciences. Of course, this does not mean an 'anti-scientific' bias, but a different perception of their exclusive claims.
This inclusion, dear friends and conference guests, is almost always linked to negative political consequences in the political assessment of the conditions of the democratic and the multidimensional modes of reality of the same. It usually implies not only an exorcization of the 'specter of freedom', but also that of its symbolic siblings 'people' and 'political nation', which cannot be made clear any more than it is itself. They belong to the transmission space of the occidental democratic, like the republican and its political and biblical dimensions. Where there is no trace of them, the upright democratic we have hardly been seen. None of the vicious metamorphoses in the space between 'state' and 'society' can erase their historical significance.
Finally, dear friends and conference guests, who, as said above, we would like to understand as moments of a new constellation at the end of this century, both the horizon-changing events and the breakthroughs of thought of which we have spoken 'work' in the multiple ways in which the democratic question is posed . This is true of the works of Ernesto Laclaus and Chantal Mouffes, as well as of the last works of Ágnes Heller and Ferenc Fehér, of those Gianni Vattimos and Dick Howards, of those of Reiner Schürmann and Jean Luc Nancy, of those of Jacques Derridas and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthes, from Adam Michniks and Mihály Vajdas, from those Margaret Canovans and Simona Fortis and from those of many others who can no longer be enumerated. Today we also see how the ways of thinking and experiencing of a Reinhart Koselleck or Ernst Vollrath helped to prepare this 'constellation'.
Let us notice, dear friends and conference guests: almost nothing of a constellation, of this multiple opening of the democratic question, of the way in which it confronts us with the question of what kind of history we live in, was still visible twenty years ago. That is, at the time when Hannah Arendt, who perhaps most decisively raised this question, but alone and almost in isolation, died.
A question related to the democratic question and directly or indirectly linked to another, more related dimension of Arendt's thinking and ability to memorize was almost as invisible. I mean the 'American question', no more than the question of the American peculiarity, as it has been posed in political science for decades, based on the - ontologically assured - belief that the political that belongs to the nature of bourgeois society is 'normal' in Western Europe came to light. I mean the question that is also able to 'ask back' to Europe on the basis of the 'in between' the 'political nation', which has less disappeared in America, the other relationship between inside and outside. Many of us know how important it was for themselves to be involved in the works of J.G.A. Pocock's, Michael Walzers and many others to perceive this question.
From here we can also throw a different light on what we tried to articulate as a 'discrepancy' at the beginning of the lecture. At this beginning, in order not to get ahead of the curve, we had to choose, as it were, a 'direct' approach to what Hannah Arendt does not work out in the sociological or in the purely political-moral. If, however, dear friends and conference guests, the constellation of the democratic question, which has already become widely visible, could arise around this "what does not work", then the work of Hannah Arendt is no longer isolated and alone. It has found its, perhaps only its first, political and thought transfer area. The one she helped create.
Back Extended version of the lecture from November 26, 1994;
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