much that we have entered into a historical period where the friend enemy

Much that we have entered into a historical period

This preview shows page 155 - 157 out of 242 pages.

much that we have entered into a historical period where the friend-enemy polarity has broken down, but that it is an inherently unstable opposition . Derrida's account of how the enemy and friend come to displace and infect each other in his reading of Schmitt leads him to propose "a step (not) beyond the political": Let us not forget that the political would precisely be that which thus endlessly binds or opposes the friend-enemy/ enemy-friend couple in the drive or decision of death .... A hypothesis, then: and what if
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another lovence (in friendship or in love) were bound to an affirmation of life , to the endless repetition of this affirmation , only in seeking its way ... in the step beyond the political, or beyond that political as the horizon of finitude the philein beyond the political or another politics for loving.14 This other "politics for loving" that Derrida hypothesizes, this love both beyond and not-beyond the political, must still remain in the vicinity of the theological if it is to be significant, in Schmitt's terms, and not merely a fantasy of some purely secular politics. I would like to suggest that such a politics can be located in the figure of the neighbor the figure that materializes the uncertain division between the friend /family/ self and the enemy/stranger/other. There is an element of this political theology of the neighbor that we can already point to in Derrida's comments on Schmitt's reference to Jesus's call to "love your enemies" in Matthew. For Schmitt, this biblical reference points to a linguistic distinction in Greek and Latin (but not German or English) between the private inimicos, who may indeed be loved or hated, and the public hostis, the political enemy, who, according to Schmitt, is not an object of affect. But as Derrida points out in a reading of this passage in The Gift of Death, the full line from Matthew that Schmitt refers to involves a crucial reference to the neighbor: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you . . ." (5 : 43- 44). Jesus cites Leviticus 19:18, the commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself," but adds to it something not present in the Hebrew Bible, a directive to "hate thine enemy," in order to make it seem that he is undoing a piece of legal vengeance and, in proclaiming Love your enemies, is asserting its opposite. In fact, the biblical passage in Leviticus Jesus refers to has just specifically forbidden vengeance.15 Jesus acts here as a sovereign, in declaring an exception ("love your enemies") to a law ("hate thine enemy") that he himself has confected; Jesus's commandment to love the enemy must be perceived as not merely new, but antinomian, in violation of the preexisting legal code. Jesus's act of suspending a law that did not previously exist is not merely his exercise of the sovereign prerogative of exception, but an act of political-theological creation ex nihilo, truly a polemical "miracle." Although Jesus's rhetorical
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