Critique of Critique
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John Beverley’s Latinamericanism after 9/11 seeks to reposition the field of Latin American Studies in response to what he views as a new historical conjuncture associated with the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Whereas in the US and Europe the impact of 9/11 is perceived mainly through the refocusing of foreign policy and national security in the “war on terror,” in Latin America post-9/11 is shaped by the political ascendancy of Left-populist regimes in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina and elsewhere. Through popular social and economic programs as well as a “Bolivarian” discourse of regional unity against imperialism, these governments have rejected the dominant neoliberal economic model while presenting themselves as a bulwark against U.S. influence in the region. Often referred to collectively as the marea rosada, these populist regimes are viewed by many as proof that the Washington Consensus has come to an end. If that is the case, it remains an open question whether 9/11 and its aftermath facilitates a reaffirmation of national sovereignty in Latin America, as Beverley believes, or whether it exposes even more drastically the crisis of sovereignty, as others would no doubt argue.
As Arturo Escobar (2010) points out, the contemporary context in which the marea rosada emerges must be situated within a longer history of Latin America’s relation to the West. The challenge to neoliberal hegemony is also the latest critical failure in a much longer history—dating back perhaps as far as the Conquest—of efforts to institute modernity in Latin America. What is at stake in recent experiments in Left populism in Latin America is not only the articulation of alternatives to the free-market economic model first introduced in the region some four decades ago, nor just a rejection of US influence, but also the question of whether these regimes—or the popular movements that support them—could potentially constitute a break with the entirety of modern political configurations of the social. The promise associated with the marea rosada is that of a Latin American modernity whose conceptualization and implementation would no longer be predetermined by developmentalist teleologies that take Western European modernity as the model, goal and culmination of all regional histories.
Intellectual biography provides an ever-present counterpoint to socio-political context in Latinamericanism after 9/11. As far as Beverley’s own trajectory is concerned, chavismo and its allies announce the imminent end of subalternity in Latin America. Beverley marks and responds to this hope by repositioning himself as a post-subalternist Latinamericanist. What is post-subalternism? If the governments of Chávez, Morales and Correa have opened up new avenues for social membership and political participation among historically marginalized groups such as campesinos, indigenous populations and urban slum dwellers, while also implementing economic redistribution projects that arguably go beyond mere reformism, then in Beverley’s view these regimes give evidence that Latin America is now on the verge of freeing itself from a long history of colonial, neocolonial and imperial domination under which the hegemonic production of nation and nationalisms had always engendered subalternity as their disavowed—but also equiprimordial or even constitutive—excess. As Beverley sees it, the new and still emerging possibilities for reconfiguration of social and political forces announces a new historical conjuncture that subalternism and other post-structuralist theories are incapable of seeing—or just unwilling to recognize:
The paradigm implicit in subaltern studies (and in postmodernist theory in general) was that of the separation of the state and the subaltern. The intention was to recognize and support both previously existing and newly emergent forms of resistance that did not pass through conventional historical narratives of state formation and statist forms of citizenship and political or social participation. We are now confronted paradoxically in some ways by the success of a series of political initiatives in Latin America that, speaking very broadly, corresponded to the concerns of subaltern studies. In a situation where, as is the case of several governments of the marea rosada, social movements from the popular-subaltern sectors of society have “become the state,” to borrow a phrase from Ernesto Laclau, or are bidding to do so, a new way of thinking the relationship between the state and society has become necessary. (Beverley 8-9)
Beverley’s post-subalternist position is a profession of faith. The condition of subalternity is nowhere near eradication in Latin America today, not even in the societies of the marea rosada. Who can say, after all, that, if the post-Chávez President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro or Evo Morales were to fall out of power tomorrow, that the political projects that have become associated with their names would continue in their absence, and previously marginalized groups could still appear and act as equals within a democratic distribution of the sensible? If the only factor capable of forestalling the return of subalternization is the Name of the Father, can one really state with such confidence that it is no longer productive to concern oneself with subalternity? The “post” in Beverley’s position marks a promissory horizon. But it is also clearly intended as a provocation against certain theoretical tendencies in the Latin American humanities that Beverley views as fatally behind the times, still speaking of subalternity and still thinking the limits of the state at a moment when the history of exclusion of the subaltern from hegemony has arguably been brought to a halt, at which point Beverley would assert that the negative work of theoretical critique runs the risk of inadvertently undermining the new democratic promise sweeping across Latin America. If all of what Beverley calls “postmodernist theory” is premised on the axiomatic exclusion of the subaltern from the social count, and if the marea rosada marks the beginning of the end of structural inequality and permanent domination, then subalternist critiques of the state would now find themselves aiming at a target that has already been rendered obsolete—on the ground; not thanks to theory but through real social struggles. Even worse, critique would be guilty of perpetuating skepticism at a time when what is needed from the Left is more solidarity with the state, with the good states—assuming, that is, that we know how to discern them.
While I take issue with many of Beverley’s assertions and conclusions, my intention is not to write a critique of Latinamericanism after 9/11. It is not critique per se that interests me here but instead, as I will try to explain, the question of where critique falls short or of what falls out of critique. Whatever disagreements I have with Beverley’s book (and there are many), I find it to be a much needed intervention in the field, one that lays out some of the most important issues facing the Latinamericanist humanities today, including relations between the university and the social realities it seeks to understand, between North America and Latin America, and, last but not least, between theory and praxis or critique and politics. The book’s greatest virtue, in my view, is to have presented these matters for debate at a moment when conversation about the state of the Latinamericanist humanities appears—at least to me and many of my friends and colleagues—to have been losing intellectual vitality. If some of us have been feeling that the field is no longer focused on a core set of problems and debates, Beverley’s book—whether you agree with it or disagree with it—could be a step in the direction of changing that.
Latinamericanism after 9/11 can be read as a kind of confessional tale. Behind the stories of the disbanding of the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group and Beverley’s decision to move away from subaltern studies we encounter echoes of an older history of his endeavors to merge academic interest in testimonio with a passionate political engagement with the Central American armed insurgencies of the 1970s and 80s. Behind all of this in turn lurks a deep-seated anxiety concerning Beverley’s own relation to Latin America. He is and always has been acutely aware of the distances separating him as a North American academic—and of course it is not just him but all of us—from Latin American “objects” of inquiry, not to mention the potential problems and pitfalls (epistemological, ethical, political) that accompany the academic project of Latin Americanism as a whole. One of the anticipated effects of this repositioning from subalternism to “post-subalternism” would be a resolution of what Alberto Moreiras calls the consubstantial “dissymmetrical gaze” of Latin Americanism (2001 129).
To his credit, Beverley acknowledges some possible objections to his post-subalternist position. One such objection is that we simply cannot know—at least not yet—how the marea rosada will pan out, what its future holds, whether it will culminate in substantive social transformation or prove to have been little more than a demagogic return to authoritarian state capitalism. It is true, Beverley allows, that the regimes of the marea rosada have shown disconcerting antidemocratic tendencies toward authoritarianism, personalism and corruption, and in many cases have proven intolerant of dissensus. But despite any misgivings, Beverley’s conclusion is that, no matter how authoritarian and repressive, no matter how corrupt they may be or become, these Left populist governments could not possibly be worse than the neoliberal alternative. By the same token, they stand a chance of being orders of magnitude better. A second possible objection to Beverley’s position concerns the question of ideology’s form versus its content. Beverley advocates academic solidarity with the marea rosada because of its sociopolitical content: these regimes enable certain socially and ethnically defined actors (campesinos, indigenous groups and urban poor) who were systematically excluded from social and political life to participate for the first time as equals. While such inclusions represent a welcome change, they do not resolve a separate problem associated with ideology: that of formal exclusion, or the logical problem that any postulation of social unity (a society, a group or even an individual identity) must be premised on a contingent determination—of inside/outside or proper/improper—that tends to pass itself off as natural or necessary. The ideological postulation of social unity presupposes exclusion insofar as there can be no “us” without a corresponding “not-us”. This is a formal law that cannot be affected by the inclusion of determinate groups and identities, however desirable and necessary such inclusions may be. Indeed, it is a form of exclusion that accompanies and conditions any and all determinations of “identity” and “unity” as such. Beverley acknowledges the problem—that, with this second account of exclusion, the form/content distinction no longer holds up, the form of ideology is itself the content (cf., p.135, note 18)—and yet he glosses over its implications, which are considerable.
Perhaps, as Alberto Moreiras suggests, this is because Beverley accepts that there is no outside of ideology and, as calculative thinking sees things, if “everything is ideology anyway, and there is no getting out of it, then some ideologies are better than others, and we should swallow them whole or, rather, we should allow the people to swallow them whole, and even ask them to swallow them whole” (“Fatality”, 9). Everything is ideology, as Moreiras puts it, because the exit from ideology—the gesture of overcoming false consciousness, of exposing a mask or façade—is itself the essence of ideology, understood as imaginary identification with a fantasized wholeness. What such calculations about ideology and its omnipresence overlook, however, is the difference between stating that there is no outside of ideology and advocating uncritical acceptance or fetishization of a particular ideology. Just because there is no such thing as a pure, non-ideological space outside of ideology does not necessarily mean that everything is pure ideology through and through. And if everything is not 100% unadulterated ideology, then one of the tasks of thinking ought to be precisely to think the “internal” limits of ideology: interpellation as misrecognition, subalternity as the constitutive outside of hegemony, the crisis of sovereignty, and so on.
In his calculative wager Beverley takes issue with what he calls the “New Latin Americanists,” a shorthand for Latinamericanists whose work is influenced by deconstruction and theoretical suspicions about hegemony. The limitation of theoretically-driven work in today’s humanities, as he sees it, lies in a “continuing over-valuation of intellectual and cultural critique that...the New Latin Americanists share with neo-Arielism. Since its tools are those of philosophical critique, deconstruction is unable to interrogate adequately its own conditions of possibility” (54). Latinamericanist work informed by deconstruction and subaltern studies has a blind-spot, Beverley claims, that impedes its ability to make connections with Latin American lived experiences and social realities. Not only does deconstructive subaltern studies remain silent about its own situatedness at the heart of Empire (most of the academics working in this direction are employed in Anglo-American universities), it also comes dangerously close to exoticizing its object of study—because it continues to focus on the problem of subalternity despite signs that the subalterns have begun to articulate their own counter-hegemonic projects. Whatever happens with the marea rosada, New Latinamericanism will continue to speak of subalternity, Beverley implies, simply because that is the side on which its bread is buttered. He is not saying anything new with this charge, but is recycling allegations made by other critics of subaltern studies and deconstruction. In my view such criticisms have been dealt with sufficiently by Alberto Moreiras in The Exhaustion of Difference (see in particular Chapter Eight: “The Order of Order: On the Reluctant Culturalism of anti-Subalternist Critiques”) and I will therefore focus instead on the question of critique which comes up repeatedly in Beverley’s book.
In Beverley’s argument, “critique” functions as a metonym for deconstruction and as a symptom of what is wrong with the theoretical humanities today. Deconstruction’s reliance on critique as negative modality of thought impedes translation of theory into praxis or action. To paraphrase Marx, the New Latinamericanism remains content to critique the world, but the point is to change it. Or at least its preoccupation with critique interferes with the predictable and reliable transfer of reflection into action: Beverley also raises the specter that the negative force of deconstruction might inadvertently derail projects for radical social and political transformation; that is, it might make a negative difference. What Beverley wants, then, is not to do away with theory tout court but to establish a clear distinction between theories that promote politically effective and desirable praxis (the right decisions and the good actions) and theories that postpone or paralyze it. Of course the question of who decides what is effective and desirable, and on what grounds, is left answered by Beverley.
It is not a small irony that, in his commentaries on the state of the field, Beverley proves unable to refrain from the very critical mode with which he finds fault in the work of others. His book is nothing if not a sustained critique of what he considers influential but dangerously outdated intellectual trends in the field today: deconstruction, subalternism, post-hegemony, neo-Arielism. Morever, Beverley’s identification of deconstruction with philosophical critique raises significant problems; and, to be perfectly clear, Beverley does assert that he means the philosophical tradition of critique and not a more recent, generalized use of the term that is roughly synonymous with literary and cultural analyses attentive to rhetoric or language, or even the everyday use of “critique” as a synonym for fault-finding or denunciation.
In that regard, it seems to me that the history of the term “critique” in fact has little to do with what makes Beverley uncomfortable about theory, and that it may in fact be at the limits of critique where his uneasiness begins. The distinction is important. The term “critique” comes from the Greek krinein, whose myriad of meanings [to separate, to distinguish, to sever, to decide] indicate unambiguously why trying to establish a hard and fast distinction between critique and action might be too simplifying and ultimately unhelpful. Immanuel Kant described the 18th century as the “age of criticism,” emphasizing the Enlightenment idea of the human as a rational, autonomous, self-governing consciousness that is born free from the constraints and coerciveness of religious and political authorities. When it comes to Kant’s own philosophy, critique loses most if not all of its negative associations. In addition to freeing philosophy from the illusions of traditional metaphysics, Kantian critique assumes the task of establishing the minimal but solid foundations for a new metaphysics, a system that would know how to operate within the limits of reason. Thus Kantian critique is essentially affirmative. While Beverley might rightly take issue with the Eurocentric limitations of the Enlightenment tradition, presumably he is not interested in discarding the principles of autonomy and critical self-awareness to which critique gives expression, since that is precisely what he locates in the political philosophies and economic programs of the marea rosada understood as a regionalist critique of imperial and post-colonial authority.
Philosophical critique in the Enlightenment and Kantian traditions is associated with the search for clear divisions, stable distinctions and the purification of rational thought of its non-rational others—that is, of illusions, superstition, coercion, heteronomy and so on. Critique seeks to erect unambiguous, uncontested, permanent distinctions between inside and outside. In that light, Beverley’s efforts to rid Latinamericanism of the uncertainties and anxieties that cloud its reflection and muddy the political waters—or at least to cordon those doubts off and keep them contained in the realm of deconstruction and subalternism—shares more with the tradition of critique than Beverley is willing to acknowledge.
What I want to propose in response to Beverley’s “critique” is that critique, while absolutely necessary, is not in itself enough. In the process I will call into question Beverley’s tendency to gloss over the matter of how different academic practices understand the interrelatedness of theory and praxis, or subalternist/deconstructive theoretical practice and politics. In so doing, I can of course only speak for myself. Beverley asserts that all of those involved in the Latin American Subaltern Studies group—and, by extension, the so-called New Latinamericanists—viewed and view theoretical work as a means to effecting concrete social change in the interest of alleviating problems of inequality and domination. My own view of the relation between academic work and sociopolitical realities is somewhat different. As I see it, there is no direct avenue between the work we do in the humanities and the world of politics (at least the form of politics that interests Beverley; there may well be other forms). This is not to say that there is no connection between what we do in the university and what happens in the “outside world,” nor is it to deny that we can and should get involved in political matters. But when I act politically I do so not as an academic, not in the name of my academic formation and title—in part because I do not believe that my training and expertise confer any special qualification or authority when it comes to shared decisions about allocating limited social resources, etc. Insofar as Beverley’s position requires him to speak and act in the name of his own academic qualifications, it seems to me that his book in fact reproduces the very dissymmetrical gaze it seeks to alleviate.
Let me return to the question of critique and its limits. From the standpoint of the university in general and the Latinamericanist humanities in particular, critique is necessary in order to protect academic freedom against the incursions of external forces (economic, political, religious, etc.) that seek to utilize the university and its resources for their own purposes. Critique contributes to constituting a politics of the university. The ethical responsibility of the modern university, as Kant described it in The Conflict of the Faculties, is its absolute commitment to the pursuit of truth over all other concerns (power, public opinion, ideology, etc.). In light of the university’s unconditional commitment to truth, critique acts to preserve the freedom of inquiry, the freedom to ask questions, no matter how unpopular or controversial they might be—and even when those questions concern the nature or determination of truth itself. However, critique by itself would not be enough, because truth—whenever and wherever it happens—takes the form of an event rather than a pre-existing fact waiting to be discovered or a performative act of production. It is there in the question of truth as event, it seems to me, that Beverley’s call for academic solidarity with the “good” Latin American states becomes deeply problematic.
Beverley’s book is based on the premise that 9/11 constitutes an event in the strong sense of the term. To speak of an event is to say that what takes place is fundamentally new or that its occurrence causes the familiar ground on which we stand to shift in some way. The event punctures what Heidegger calls the horizon of precomprehension within which we ask questions, understand, and act in our world (Heidegger, 24-8). What we call an event may well be something for which we do not have a proper name and which we do not know how to analyze or talk about. It catches us unawares, surprises us and leaves us as if we were without a map and compass in the world, as if our accustomed cognitive tools had suddenly been rendered inadequate. The event coincides with the undeniable sense that something has happened, something singular and unprecedented, something indelible and unforgettable, that is transforming (or has already transformed) the way we see the world, think about it, and act in it.
We tend to speak of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and their role in reshaping our world by metonymy: we name what happened—sometimes the attacks themselves, sometimes the seemingly endless ripple effects—with a date, which is then condensed to an arrangement of numbers separated by a slash. Needless to say, this telegraphy figures prominently in the title and argumentation of Beverley’s book. The telegraphic mode attests, according to Jacques Derrida, to an experience of disjuncture between the undeniable materiality of the occurrences on the one hand, and the ways in which cognition and analytical processes (or, in a word, theory) fall short in its attempt to grasp the significance of the event on the other hand. As Derrida puts it, “the brevity of the appellation (September 11, 9/11) stems not only from an economic or rhetorical necessity. The telegram of this metonymy—a name, a number—points out the unqualifiable by recognizing that we do not recognize or even cognize, that we do not yet know how to qualify, that we do not know what we are talking about” (Borradori, 85-86):
As long as I can produce and determine an event by a performative act guaranteed, like any performative, by conventions, legitimate fictions, and a certain “as if,” then...what takes place, arrives, happens or happens to me remains still controllable and programmable within a horizon of anticipation or precomprehension, within a horizon, period. It is of the order of the masterable possible, it is the unfolding of what is already possible. It is of the order of power, of the “I can,” “I may,” or “I am empowered to” (....) There is no future and no relation to the coming of the event without experience of the “perhaps.” What takes place does not have to announce itself as possible or necessary; if it did, its irruption as event would in advance be neutralized. The event belongs to a perhaps that is in keeping not with the possible but with the impossible. (Derrida 235)
In “The University Without Condition” Derrida approaches the problems presented by the event for experience and understanding through reference to J.L. Austin’s distinction between constative and performative speech acts. Constative language describes what already exists while performative acts bring a new situation into existence or modifies an existing situation. The structure of the event clearly shares something with the concept of the performative; it too is of the order of creation or arriving rather than mere description. But there is one important difference: whereas a performative act appeals to conventions and professes mastery over what it brings into existence (e.g., “I call this meeting to order” has performative authority if spoken in a context where it is conventionally appropriate and recognizable), an event names an occurrence whose impact cannot be calculated in advance, and which does not obey established conventions for, if it did, it would not truly constitute an event. If what Derrida calls iterability constitutes the fundamental law of language—repetition at the origin in all linguistics acts, by definition; a sign must be recognizable and repeatable in order to signify something—then the nature of the event would require us to leave repetition behind in favor of thinking the first time as irruption of the absolutely singular.
As it turns out, however, things are not quite so simple. For what I just called “the nature of the event” is, according to Derrida, divided from the beginning by a conditional “perhaps.” What is this “perhaps” telling us? On one hand, to speak of an event refers, as we have already seen, to the uncertainty of what arrives—like the marea rosada, which may or may not turn out to have been an event. If what arrives is indeed an event (if it will have been an event) then by definition its arrival cannot be named, predicted or ascertained in advance. The nature of an event is to catch us unawares; the event always arrives too early, or we too late. And yet, on the other hand, one could also say that the event itself always arrives too late, precisely because we—as Kantian subjects or as Latinamericanists whose perception depends on the synthetic powers of the imagination—are always there ahead of time, waiting for it, imposing on it our schemata, our paradigms, the precomprehension within which we live. The experience of the event is thus defined by an aporia: to be an event it must somehow puncture our horizon of preconception, and yet for us to be able to experience and speak about it, the event must somehow submit to the iterability of language and the schematic nature of cognition.
While any event worthy of the name entails an interruption of the prevailing distribution of the sensible, in the case of the marea rosada it is not clear—not yet anyway—what exactly the difference will be and exactly how much weight (epistemological, political, ethical) should be assigned to it. Radical transformation or reformism? Revolution or the eternal return of the authoritarian Father? One cannot know, although the event—if there is one—may already have taken place, perhaps. While Beverley acknowledges these uncertainties, he nonetheless advocates a turn from theoretical reflection to engaged solidarity with the more radical strains of Left populism. The problem is not that Beverley decides in favor a form of action which may in the end prove to be mistaken; after all, even deconstruction recognizes that reflection cannot provide reliable roadmaps for ethical and political decisions, and thus it too acknowledges the need to act in the face of irreducible uncertainty. The problem with Beverley’s position is not that he might be wrong (though he might) but that his position necessarily collapses the limit that is shared by thinking and acting, theory and politics, the university and “the outside world.” He wants to bring them together and make them into one unified space that has been purified of all doubts, all questions and all others; or at least his position leads logically to that conclusion. But I would propose that it is precisely at this limit—and only at this limit—between thought and action that anything like an event has a chance of arriving. Any space that has been freed of all such limits, meanwhile, can only have room for the programmatic reproduction of the same.
Earlier I suggested that Latinamericanism after 9/11 is in part the product of Beverley’s own doubts and misgivings concerning the university and its relation to the world around it, uncertainties that are exacerbated by the North/South, intellectual/subaltern dissymmetries that accompany his particular practice as a Latinamericanist. I propose that Beverley’s abandonment of subaltern studies and his self-transformation into an intellectual of the post-subaltern state are decisions that seek to resolve the self-conscious disquiet found in much of his writing, concerning the academic construction of objects of study, the social and political impact of research and teaching, and the perceived limitations of theory. This sense of unease is in no way specific to Beverley: it comes with the territory and is, I believe, an essential component of any field’s vitality. In Latinamericanism after 9/11, however, the response to these doubts and concerns takes the form of an attempt to purify academic work of the epistemological, ethical and political doubts that plague it: Does it deal with real problems in the world? Or does it merely grapple with phantasmatic pseudo-problems of its own making? Does it make a difference in the world? Does it make the right difference? How can we be sure? Beverley wants to rid academic work of all doubt and uncertainty as to its own status in the world: of the material reality of its being in the world versus its capacity to constitute an autonomous space of free reflection. It is in that sense that I have argued that his book in fact shares significant ground with philosophical critique. Beverley tries to purge such doubts by creating—in what he calls New Latin Americanism—a figure of hyperbolic skepticism, one that never ceases to ask questions and poke around at received ideas and prevailing common sense, and thereby renders itself incapable of translating reflection into action. By associating theory with a radical negativity that is incapable of deciding, Beverley seeks to present himself as someone who has surpassed those limitations, which then turn out to be nothing more than ripple effects of the negativity of critique. Latinamericanism after 9/11 teaches us that doubt and uncertainty about the world and our place in it, instead of serving as invitations to academic inquiry, are just the consequence of too much thinking, too much theory and not enough acting.
What I am describing as Beverley’s calculative elimination of the internal limits of the university and the humanities is clearly at odds with his views on national politics in the US, especially concerning illegal immigration and social conflict. Beverley’s book, moreover, is itself a sustained reflection on the question of the limit, a limit which is neither inside nor outside but, rather, the undelineated condition for all such delineations. The limit, as the example of the contemporary university shows, is divisible and shifting; it takes the form of questions rather than a certainty or a clear-cut line. The boundaries and the connections between the university and the “outside world” are in a state of flux today and are liable to shift in response to a wide range of technological, economic, and sociopolitical forces. In fact, the university is already “in the world,” just as the “world” is already in the university—sometimes too much so for comfort. By the same token, the question of geopolitical limits—say, of the boundaries separating the US from Latin America—are constantly being destabilized and displaced by appearances of “latinidad” within the geopolitical borders of the United States, which culturally, linguistically, economically and politically can no longer easily distinguish itself from its neighbors to the south (which is not to say in facile manner that borders no longer exist). All of this is to say that the boundary that delineates—however imprecisely and contingently—between the “outside world” and the university (and the humanities within it) is one that we as academics must struggle to uphold and defend, even and especially in the form of critical questioning. We must defend it not only for the obvious reason that, in the event of its disappearance, the university and its unconditional commitment to the truth would cease to exist. We must also uphold it because without this limit—which is the uncertain boundary between thinking and acting, reflection and praxis, theory and politics—no event worthy of the name could ever hope to arrive.
For discussions of the crisis of sovereignty in the context of 9/11 see: Jacques Derrida, Rogues as well as “Deconstructing Terrorism” and the dialogue entitled “Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides” (in Philosophy in the Time of Terror); Alberto Moreiras, Línea de sombra: El no sujeto de lo politico; and Carlo Galli, Political Spaces and Global War. For a reflection on how the events of 9/11 could help to reorient thinking about sovereignty in a Latin American context, see Gareth Williams, The Mexican Exception: Sovereignty, Police and Democracy.
In the first part of this question I am referring not to Beverley but to the recent work of Ernesto Laclau, who has taken up a position similar to that of Beverley’s in the context of the Kirchners in Argentina. As Laclau puts it in a recent interview in Página/12, “una democracia real en Latinoamérica se basa en la reelección indefinida. Una vez que se construyó toda posibilidad de proceso de cambio en torno de cierto nombre, si ese nombre desaparece, el sistema se vuelve vulnerable.” The premise of Laclau’s argument, however, is entirely consistent with that of Latinamericanism after 9/11.
For an illuminating discussion of the relation and the difference between deconstruction and philosophical critique, see Jacques Derrida, “The University Without Condition”. For an extensive look at the philosophical tradition of critique see Rodolphe Gasché, The Honor of Thinking.
Something similar could be said about post-Kantian uses of critique. For instance, Walter Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence” is not a condemnation of violence per se but rather, as Gasché demonstrates, an attempt to establish a recognizable and stable boundary between “good” and “bad” forms of violence.
- Beverley, John. Latinamericanism after 9/11. Durham: Duke UP, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/9780822394686
- Borradori, Giovanna. Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003.
- Derrida, Jacques. “The University without Condition”. Without Alibi. Trans. Peggy Kamuf. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2000: 202-37.
- Escobar, Arturo. “Latin America at a Crossroads: Alternative Modernizations, Post-Liberalism or Post-Development?” Cultural Studies 24:1 (January 2010): 1-67. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09502380903424208
- Gasché, Rodolphe. The Honor of Thinking: Critique, Theory, Philosophy. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2006.
- Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans. John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1962.
- Laclau, Ernesto. “La real izquierda es el kirchnerismo.” Interview with Ailín Bullentini. Página/12. (2 October 2011). http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1-178005-2011-10-02.html (accessed 11/1/2011)
- Moreiras, Alberto. “The Fatality of (my) Subalternism: A Response to John Beverley.” http://hisp.tamu.edu/fatality.pdf (accessed 6/6/2013)
- ———. The Exhaustion of Difference: The Politics of Latin American Cultural Studies. Durham: Duke UP, 2001.