Realism without Realism

  • Christopher Wise


In The Politics of Friendship (1997), Derrida describes the democratic as a pact between a band of brothers that is made in the name of the father. Derrida’s approach to this question cannot be fully appreciated without reference to Sigmund Freud’s controversial book, Totem and Taboo (1918), which Derrida relies upon as a kind of ur-text offering a reasonably accurate description of humanity’s earliest forms of social relations. The problem of the democratic, Derrida will seek to demonstrate, is first and foremost the problem of the brother clan, which is also the problem of the dead father and absent sister—and all of these complex problems precede the emergence of idiosyncratically Greek forms of democracy in Athens. The question of the brother clan is also inseparable from the emergence of Greek philosophy, which Derrida describes as an essentialist theory of the friend. I will argue here that despite its apologetic approach toward latently Zionist concepts of the citizen, The Politics of Friendship offers a powerful means of deconstructing political realism in current U.S. foreign policy, especially hegemonic articulations of realist doctrines that continue to influence U.S. involvement in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere.


Foreign Policy Middle East Political Realism Private Neighbor Abrahamic Religion 
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© Christopher Wise 2009

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  • Christopher Wise

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