This week, in Mexico, a conversation on deconstruction and infrapolitics and the university took place that, I think, merits being noted and remembered. I do not want to embarrass anybody, so I will not attribute positions, but let me say I would be happy if Emmanuel Biset, Liza Mizrahi, or Laura Piñeirúa, José Luis Barrios or Angel Alvarez Solís wanted to add their thoughts to these comments of mine. Same for others, of course. I only want to signal the conversation (with perhaps cryptic notes, which is all I can do for the time being), since the issues that came up seemed particularly pregnant to me—and let us see if the discussion takes them somewhere.
The issues circled around the following topics: whether infrapolitics can be thought of as an awakening in some sense; whether friendship may have something to do with the need to pass beyond the university; whether deconstruction was something other than just another theoretical paradigm in the liberal marketplace of ideas, another merchandise for easy consumption, or whether it can be construed in some sense as an alternative to neoliberalism, even to neoliberal capitalism; and whether the invocation of an existential turn or a thought rooted in the production of a style of life can be distinguished from modern individualism.
My immediate thoughts: yes, infrapolitics can only be thought of not only as an awakening, but as a traumatic awakening. Levinas talks directly about a traumatic awakening in a different context, but perhaps thinking as traumatic awakening can be traced back to Nietzsche in particular. Thinking as traumatic awakening is post-Hegelian, necessarily so.
Friendship, if one can find it, is the necessary resource to attempt an exodus, not from the university as such, but rather from university discourse. But it is a special kind of friendship—not political friendship, but some other kind . . .
Deconstruction, not necessarily as we have known it, but in terms of its potential, certainly out of Derrida’s work, is not “just another theoretical paradigm” whose import would therefore be best judged through its exchange value. Much to the contrary, it is the very possibility—epochally–of bringing to an end thought as merchandise. Most certainly at the university, and in university discourse.
If deconstruction invokes democracy as something other than liberal democracy, it is because it thinks of pursuing non-domination outside the paradigm of the principle of general equivalence. Not the Nietzschean Will to Power, rather the principle of general equivalence is the last doctrine of metaphysics. Deconstruction has the potential for an antineoliberal, anticapitalist politics to the extent it takes exception to general equivalence as doctrine of being.
From the refusal of general equivalence comes the appeal to the singular existent. The singular existent cannot be confused with the modern individual—the rupture with general equivalence is also a rupture with any doctrine of the subject, from which “modern individualism” derives.