Advertisement

Exploring a European tradition of allyship with sovereign struggles against colonial violence: A critique of Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Derrida through the heretical Jewish Anarchism of Gustav Landauer (1870–1919)

  • Clive GabayEmail author
Article

Abstract

Recently, indigenous struggles against ongoing colonial violence have become prominent in the context of growing environmental destruction and the ascendancy of the far right in the United States and parts of South America. This article suggests that European radical theory is not always equipped to provide normative frameworks of allyship with such struggles. Exploring the ‘messianic tone’ (Bradley and Fletcher, 2010, p. 3) in European radical theory, and in particular the works of Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben, the article argues that the analytical tendency to render the subject entirely dissolute acts against indigenous demands for justice built around the latter’s sovereignty. In an effort to excavate a ‘European’ tradition that might enable relations of allyship between those in relatively privileged positions and indigenous peoples, the article foregrounds the life and thought of Gustav Landauer (1870–1919), a German, Jewish, anarchist revolutionary who lost his life during the 1919 German revolution. Landauer’s anarchism was suffused with his reading of his Jewishness, and as such, although he prefigures Derrida and Agamben in many ways, he ultimately refused to completely reject the sovereignty of the subject, providing a means by which to engage European political theory with indigenous struggles in the world today.

Keywords

indigenous sovereignty messianism Jacques Derrida Giorgio Agamben Gustav Landauer 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank colleagues at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Politics and International Relations Theorylab collective, who have provided ongoing support, feedback and advice on the development of the arguments here as well as in related articles. I would also like to reserve special thanks for Clare Woodford, who held my hand through the early stages, and lastly, two anonymous reviewers, in particular for pointing me to some crucial sources.

References

  1. Adams, J. (2000) Non-Western Anarchisms: Rethinking the Global Context. Fordham, SA: Zabalaza Books.Google Scholar
  2. Ahluwalia, P. (2010) Post-structuralism’s colonial roots: Michel Foucault. Social Identities 16(5): 597–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arendt, H. (1958 [1998]) The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Agamben, G. (1993 [2001]) The Coming Community. Trans Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.Google Scholar
  5. Agamben, G. (1998) Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Agamben, G. (2005) The Time that Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans, Trans Patricia Daley. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Appiah, A. (1988) Out of Africa: Topologies of nativism. Yale Journal of Criticism 1(2): 153–178.Google Scholar
  8. Archambault II D. Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, Standing Rock: The Violation of Indigenous People(s) Rights, February 17th 2017. https://www.cornell.edu/video/indigenous-rights-standing-rock-sioux, accessed on 25 May 2017.
  9. Bauer, O. (1907 [2000]) Social Democracy and the Nationalities Question. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  10. Beardsworth, R. (2010) The messianic now: A secular response. In: A. Bradley, L.P. Hemming, and P. Fletcher (eds.) The Politics to Come: Power, Modernity and the Messianic. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 15–24.Google Scholar
  11. Benjamin, W. (1999) Theses on the philosophy of history. In: W. Benjamin (ed.) Illuminations. London: Pimlico Press, pp. 245–256.Google Scholar
  12. Bhambra, G. (2014) Connected Sociologies. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 10–46.Google Scholar
  13. Bignall, S. (2012) Potential Postcoloniality: Sacred Life, Profanation and the Coming Community. In M. Svirsky & S. Bignall (Eds.), Agamben and Colonialism (pp. 261–284). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Boldyrev, I. (2014) Ernst Bloch and His Contemporaries: Locating Utopian Messianism. London, Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
  15. Bradley, A. and Fletcher, P. (2010) Introduction: The Politics to Come: A History of Futurity. In: A. Bradley, L.P. Hemming, and P. Fletcher (eds.) The Politics to Come: Power, Modernity and the Messianic. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 1–11.Google Scholar
  16. Breines, P. (1967) The Jew as Revolutionary: The Case of Gustav Landauer. Leo Baeck Yearbook 12: 75–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bruyneel, K. (2007) The Third Space of Sovereignty: The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.-Indigenous Relations. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  18. de la Cadena, M. (2010) Indigenous cosmopolitics in the Andes: Conceptual reflections beyond politics as usual. Cultural Anthropology 25(2): 334–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. de Castro, E.V. (1998) Cosmological deixis and amerindian perspectivism. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4(3): 469–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chakrabarty, D. (2000) Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Coulthard, G. (2014) Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cusicanqui, S.R. (2012) Ch’ixinakax utxiwa: A Reflection on the Practices and Discourses of Decolonization. South Atlantic Quarterly, 111(1): 95–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Day, R. (2005) Gramsci is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  24. Derrida, J. (1992) The Other Heading: Reflections on Today’s Europe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Derrida, J. (1994) Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, Trans Peggy Kamuf (New York, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Derrida, J. (1995) The Gift of Death. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Derrida, J. (2002a) Hostipitality. In: G. Anidjar (ed.) Jacques Derrida: Acts of Religion. New York, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 358–420.Google Scholar
  28. Derrida, J. (2002b) Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of “Religion” at the Limits of Reason Alone. In: G. Anidjar (ed.) Jacques Derrida: Acts of Religion. New York, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 40–101.Google Scholar
  29. Derrida, J. (2002c) Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971–2001. In: E. Rottenberg (ed.) Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Derrida, J. (2005) Rogues: Two Essays on Reason. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Derrida, J. and Bennington, G. (2009) The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume I. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  32. Dunford, R. (2017) Toward a decolonial global ethics. Journal of Global Ethics 13(3): 380–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Elon, A. (2003) The Pity of it All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743–1933. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  34. Estes, N. Fighting for Our Lives: #NoDAPL in Historical Context. The Red Nation. https://therednation.org/2016/09/18/fighting-for-our-lives-nodapl-in-context/ accessed on 23 May 2017.
  35. Fiorovanti, D. (2010) Language, exception, messianism: The thematics of agamben on derrida. The Bible and Critical Theory 6(1): 05.1–05.12.Google Scholar
  36. Frank, D. and Goldish, M.D. (eds.) (2008) Rabbinic Culture and Its Critics: Jewish Authority, Dissent, and Heresy in Medieval and Early Modern Times. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Hagglund, M. (2008) Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Hall, S. (1994) Cultural identity and diaspora. In: P. Williams and L. Chrisman (eds.) Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory: A Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 392–403Google Scholar
  39. Horrox, J. (2009). Reinventing Resistance: Constructive Anarchism in Gustav Landauer’s Social Philosophy. In J. N. Jun and S. Wahl (eds.) New Perspectives on Anarchism. Boulder: Lexington Books, pp. 189–209.Google Scholar
  40. Hutchings, K. (2008) Time and World Politics: Thinking the Present. Manchester: Manchester University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Isin, E.F. (2012) Citizens without nations. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 30: 450–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kauanui, J.K. and Wolfe, P. (2012) Settler Colonialism Then and Now. Politica & Societa 2: 235–258.Google Scholar
  43. Kuhn, G. (2010) Introduction. In: G. Kuhn (ed. and trans) Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader. Oakland CA: PM Press, pp. 18-61Google Scholar
  44. Kuhn, G. (ed. and trans) (2012) All Power to the Councils! A Documentary History of the German Revolution of 1918–1919. Oakland, CA: PM Press.Google Scholar
  45. Landauer, G. (1901 [2010]) Through Separation to Community. In: G. Kuhn (ed. and trans) Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader. Oakland, CA: PM Press.Google Scholar
  46. Landauer, G. (1907 [2010]) Die Revolution. In: G. Kuhn (ed. and trans) Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader. Oakland CA: PM Press.Google Scholar
  47. Landauer, G. (1911) For Socialism. http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/gustav-landauer-call-to-socialism accessed 19 May 2017
  48. Landauer, G. (1913 [2010]) The Beilis Trial. In: G. Kuhn (ed. and trans) Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader. Oakland CA: PM Press.Google Scholar
  49. Landauer, G. 'Beginnen'. In: M. Buber (ed.) Aufsdtze tiber Sozialismus. (Koln 1924).Google Scholar
  50. Liska, V. (2012) Messianic Language and the Idea of Prose: Benjamin and Agamben. Bamidbar 2(2): 44–56.Google Scholar
  51. Lowy, M. (1992) Redemption and Utopia: Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe: A Study in Elective Affinity. London: The Athlone Press.Google Scholar
  52. Maurer, C. (1971) Call to Revolution, the Mystical Anarchism of Gustav Landauer. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Mendes-Flohr, P. (2015) Introduction. In: P. Mendes-Flohr and A. Mali (eds.) Gustav Landauer: Anarchist and Jew. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 1–13.Google Scholar
  54. Mignolo, W.D. (2007) Delinking. Cultural Studies 21(2): 449–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mkandawire, T. (2011) Rethinking pan-Africanism: National and the new regionalism. In: S. Moyo and P. Yeros (eds) Reclaiming the Nation: the Return of the National Question in Africa, Asia and Latin America. London: Pluto Press, pp. 31–53Google Scholar
  56. Moazzam-Doulat, M. (2008) Future impossible: Carl Schmitt, Jacques Derrida, and the problem of political messianism. Philosophy Today 52(1): 73–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Moreton-Robinson, A. (2015) The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Nadler, A. (1999) The Faith of the Mithnagdim: Rabbinic Responses to Hasidic Rapture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Nandy, A. (2003) The Romance of the State and the Fate of Dissent in the Tropics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Rojas, C. (2016) Contesting the Colonial Logics of the International: Toward a Relational Politics for the Pluriverse. International Political Sociology 10(4): 369–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sajed, A. (2012) The post always rings twice? The Algerian War, poststructuralism and the postcolonial in IR theory. Review of International Studies 38(1): 141–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sharpe, M. (2009) Only Agamben Can Save Us? Against the Messianic Turn recently adopted In Critical Theory. The Bible and Critical Theory 5(3): 40.1–40.20Google Scholar
  63. Shilliam, R. (2015) The Black Pacific: Anti-Colonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections. London: Bloomsbury Academic.Google Scholar
  64. Simoes da Silva, T. (2005) Strip It Bare – Agamben’s Message for a More Hopeful World. International Journal of Baudrillard Studies 2(2).Google Scholar
  65. Sivertsev, A.M. (2011) Judaism and Imperial Ideology in Late Antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Spivak, G.C. (1984 [1985]) Criticism, feminism and the institution’, interview with Elizabeth Gross. 77zesis Eleven 10/11: 175–187.Google Scholar
  67. Spivak, G.C. (2007) Other Asias. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  68. Walzer, M. (2015) The Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and International RelationsQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations