The positions have been taken.You have only one choice.
Follow us. Or die.
Choosing to pussyfoot around with flowery does not correctly identify the enemy. The world that the affirmative seeks is not peaceful or better but rather is one filled with mass violence against all those who refuse to join their project
Raschprof Germanic studies @ Indiana U 2k3 (William, “Human Rights as Geopolitics
Carl Schmitt and the Legal Form of American Supremacy” Cultural Critique 54 (2003) 120-147)
In the past, we/they, neighbor/foreigner, friend/enemy polarities were inside/outside distinctions that produced a plurality of worlds, separated by physical and cultural borders.When these worlds collided, it was not always a pretty picture, but it was often possible to [End Page 138] maintain the integrity of the we/they distinction, even to regulate it by distinguishing between domestic and foreign affairs. If "they" differed, "we" did not always feel ourselves obliged to make "them" into miniature versions of "us," to Christianize them, to civilize them, to make of them good liberals. Things have changed. With a single-power global hegemony that is guided by a universalist ideology, all relations have become, or threaten to become, domestic. The inner/outer distinction has been transformed into a morally and legally determined acceptable/unacceptable one, and the power exists (or is thought to exist), both spiritually and physically, to eliminate the unacceptable once and for all and make believers of everyone. The new imperative states: the other shall be included. Delivered as a promise, it can only be received, by some, as an ominous threat.
In his The Conquest of America, Tzvetan Todorov approaches our relationship to the "other" by way of three interlocking distinctions, namely, self/other, same/different, and equal/unequal. A simple superposition of all three distinctions makes of the other someone who is different and therefore unequal. The problem we have been discussing, however, comes to light when we make of the other someone who is equal because he is essentially the same.This form of the universalist ideology is assimilationist.It denies the other by embracing him. Of the famous sixteenth-century defender of the Indians, Bartolomé de Las Casas, Todorov writes,
[his] declaration of the equality of men is made in the name of a specific religion, Christianity.... Hence, there is a potential danger of seeing not only the Indians' human nature asserted but also their Christian "nature." "The natural laws and rules and rights of men," Las Casas said; but who decides what is natural with regard to laws and rights? Is it not speciWcally the Christian religion? Since Christianity is universalist, it implies an essential non-difference on the part of all men. We see the danger of the identiWcation in this text of Saint John Chrysostrom, quoted and defended at Valladolid: "Just as there is no natural difference in the creation of man, so there is no difference in the call to salvation of all men, barbarous or wise, since God's grace can correct the minds of barbarians, so that they have a reasonable understanding."12
Once again we see that the term "human" is not descriptive, but evaluative. To be truly human, one needs to be corrected.Regarding the relationship of difference and equality, Todorov concludes, "If it is [End Page 139] incontestable that the prejudice of superiority is an obstacle in the road to knowledge, we must also admit that the prejudice of equality is a still greater one, for it consists in identifying the other purely and simply with one's own 'ego ideal' (or with oneself)" (1984, 165). Such identification is not only the essence of Christianity, but also of the doctrine of human rights preached by enthusiasts like Habermas and Rawls. And such identification means that the other is stripped of his otherness and made to conform to the universal ideal of what it means to be human.
And yet, despite—indeed, because of—the all-encompassing embrace, the detested other is never allowed to leave the stage altogether. Even as we seem on the verge of actualizing Kant's dream, as Habermas puts it, of "a cosmopolitan order" that unites all peoples and abolishes war under the auspices of "the states of the First World" who "can afford to harmonize their national interests to a certain extent with the norms that define the halfhearted cosmopolitan aspirations of the UN" (1998, 165, 184), it is still fascinating to see how the barbarians make their functionally necessary presence felt. John Rawls, in his The Law of Peoples (1999), conveniently divides the world into well-ordered peoples and those who are not well ordered. Among the former are the "reasonable liberal peoples" and the "decent hierarchical peoples" (4). Opposed to them are the
"outlaw states" and other "burdened" peoples who are not worthy of respect. Liberal peoples, who, by virtue of their history, possess superior institutions, culture, and moral character (23-25), have not only the right to deny non-well-ordered peoples respect, but the duty to
extend what Vitoria called "brotherly correction" and Habermas "gentle compulsion" (Habermas 1997, 133). 13 That is, Rawls believes that the "refusal to tolerate" those states deemed to be outlaw states "is a consequence of
liberalism and decency." Why? Because outlaw states violate human rights. What are human rights? "What I call human rights," Rawls states, "are ... a proper subset of the rights possessed by
citizens in a liberal constitutional democratic regime, or of the rights of the members of a decent hierarchical society" (Rawls 1999, 81). Because of their violation of these liberal rights, nonliberal, nondecent societies do not even have the right "to protest their condemnation by the world society" (38), and decent peoples have the right, if necessary, to wage just wars against them. Thus, [End Page 140] liberal societies are not merely contingently established and historically conditioned forms of organization; they become the universal standard against which other societies are judged. Those found wanting are banished, as outlaws, from the civilized world. Ironically, one of the signs of their outlaw status is their insistence on autonomy, on sovereignty. As Rawls states, "Human rights are a class of rights that play a special role in a reasonable Law of Peoples: they restrict the justifying reasons for war and its conduct, and they specify limits to a regime's internal autonomy. In this way they reflect the two basic and historically profound changes in how the powers of sovereignty have been conceived since World War II" (79). Yet, what Rawls sees as a postwar development in the notion of sovereignty—that is, its restriction—could not, in fact, have occurred had it not been for the unrestricted sovereign powers of the victors of that war, especially, of course, the supreme power of the United States. The limitation of (others') sovereignty is an imposed limitation, imposed by a sovereign state that has never relinquished its own sovereign power. What for Vitoria was the sovereignty of Christendom and for Scott the sovereignty of humanity becomes for Rawls the simple but uncontested sovereignty of liberalism itself. 14
So goes the contemporary refinement of the achievement that so impressed Schmitt in 1932. "Time and again," wrote Schmitt back then, sensing what was to come,
the great superiority, the amazing political achievement of the U.S. reveals itself in the fact that it uses general, flexible concepts.... With regard to these decisive political concepts, it depends on who interprets, defines, and uses them; who concretely decides what peace is, what disarmament, what intervention, what public order and security are. One of the most important manifestations of humanity's legal and spiritual life is the fact that whoever has true power is able to determine the content of concepts and words. Caesar dominus et supra grammaticam. Caesar is also lord over grammar. (1988, Positionen und Begriffe, 202)
For Schmitt, to assume that one can derive morally correct political institutions from abstract, universal norms is to put the cart before the horse.The truly important question remains: who decides?15 What political power representing which political order defines terms like human rights and public reason, defines, in fact, what it means to be properly human? What political power distinguishes [End Page 141] between the decent and the indecent, between those who police the world and those who are outlawed from it? Indeed, what political power decides what is and what is not political? Habermas's contention that normative legality neutralizes the moral and the political and that therefore Schmitt "suppresses" the "decisive point," namely, "the legal preconditions of an impartial judicial authority and a neutral system of criminal punishment" (1998, 200), is enough to make even an incurable skeptic a bit nostalgic for the old Frankfurt School distinction between affirmative and critical theory. One could observe, for instance, that the "universality" of human rights has a very particular base. As Habermas says:
Asiatic societies cannot participate in capitalistic modernization without taking advantage of the achievements of an individualistic legal order. One cannot desire the one and reject the other. From the perspective of Asian countries, the question is not whether human rights, as part of an individualistic legal order, are compatible with the transmission of one's own culture. Rather, the question is whether the traditional forms of political and societal integration can be reasserted against—or must instead be adapted to—the hard-to-resist imperatives of an economic modernization that has won approval on the whole. (2001, 124)
Thus, despite his emphasis on procedure and the universality of his so-called discourse principle, the choice that confronts Asiatic societies or any other people is a choice between cultural identity and economic survival, between, in other words, cultural and physical extermination. As Schmitt said, the old Christian and civilizing distinction between believers and nonbelievers (Gläubigern and Nicht-Gläubigern) has become the modern, economic distinction between "creditors and debtors" (Gläubigern and Schuldnern).
But while affirmative theorists like Habermas and Rawls are busy constructing the ideological scaffolding that supports the structure of the status quo, what role is there for the "critical" theorist to play? Despite the sanguine hopes of Hardt and Negri (2000) that "Empire" will all but spontaneously combust as a result of the irrepressible ur-desire of the multitude, can we seriously place our faith in some utopian grand alternative anymore, or in some revolutionary or therapeutic result based on the truth of critique that would allow us all, in the end, to sing in the sunshine and laugh everyday? Do, in fact, such utopian fantasies not lead to the moralizing hubris of a [End Page 142] Rawls or a Habermas? 16 In short, it is one thing to recognize the concealed, particular interests that govern the discourse and politics of human rights and quite another to think seriously about how things could be different, to imagine an international system that respected both the equality and the difference of states and/or peoples. Is it possible—and this is Todorov's question—to value Vitoria's principle of the "free circulation of men, ideas, and goods" and still also "cherish another principle, that of self-determination and noninterference" (Todorov 1984, 177)? The entire "Vitorian" tradition, from Scott to Habermas and Rawls, thinks not. Habermas, for instance, emphatically endorses the fact that "the erosion of the principle of nonintervention in recent decades has been due primarily to the politics of human rights" (1998, 147), a "normative" achievement that is not so incidentally correlated with a positive, economic fact: "In view of the subversive forces and imperatives of the world market and of the increasing density of worldwide networks of communication and commerce, the external sovereignty of states, however it may be grounded, is by now in any case an anachronism" (150). And opposition to this development is not merely anachronistic; it is illegitimate, not to be tolerated. So, for those who sincerely believe in American institutional, cultural, and moral superiority, the times could not be rosier. After all, when push comes to shove, "we" decide—not only about which societies
are decent and which ones are not, but also about which acts of violence are "terrorist" and which compose the "gentle compulsion" of a "just war."
What, however, are those "barbarians" who disagree with the new world order supposed to do?With Agamben, they could wait for a "completely new politics" to come, but the contours of such a politics are unknown and will remain unknown until the time of its arrival. And that time, much like the second coming of Christ, seems infinitely deferrable. While they wait for the Benjaminian "divine violence" to sweep away the residual effects of the demonic rule of law (Benjamin 1996, 248-52), the barbarians might be tempted to entertain Schmitt's rather forlorn fantasy of an egalitarian balance of power. Yet if the old, inner-European balance of power rested on an asymmetrical exclusion of the non-European world, it must be asked: what new exclusion will be necessary for a new balance, and is that new exclusion tolerable? At the moment, there is no answer to [End Page 143] this question, only a precondition to an answer. If one wishes to entertain Todorov's challenge of thinking both equality and difference, universal commerce of people and ideas as well as self-determination and nonintervention, then the concept of humanity must once again become the invisible and unsurpassable horizon of discourse, not its positive pole. The word "human," to evoke one final distinction, must once again become descriptive of a "fact" and not a "value." Otherwise, whatever else it may be, the search for "human" rights will always also be the negative image of the relentless search for the "inhuman" other.