Sovereignty and Grand Strategy: Some Observations on the Rise of China and Decline of the Americans

Aaron Zack’s “Sovereignty and Grand Strategy: Some Observations on the Rise of China and Decline of the Americans” appears in Telos 181 (Winter 2017). Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

The rise and decline of great powers are not solely material in nature but also moral, political, and cultural. Many modern theorists emphasize the material factors in rise and decline, but older political thinkers focused on moral-political explanations. Carl Schmitt defines the essence of the political as the distinction between friend and enemy. A rising sovereign will effectively distinguish between friends and enemies and act in the interest of a political community. A decaying sovereign will gradually lose its capacity to both make a rational distinction between friends and enemies and act in the interest of the (fading) political community. True grand strategy therefore depends upon a robust sovereign—a decayed sovereign faces difficulty in implementing an effective or optimal grand strategy.

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Between Localism and Cosmopolitanism: A Look at Zhou Zuoren’s Early Construction of the Individual

Lisa Chu Shen’s “Between Localism and Cosmopolitanism: A Look at Zhou Zuoren’s Early Construction of the Individual” appears in Telos 180 (Fall 2017), a special issue on Cosmopolitanism and China. Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

This essay examines the modern Chinese intellectual Zhou Zuoren’s imaginations of the modern individual along the lines of the nation, the locality, and the world in the tumultuous historical period of the early twentieth century. It is argued that his oscillations between these geographical categories constitute one of his most complex and intriguing intellectual struggles. They reflect an intellectual’s critical capacities to think and reflect as he responded to the vicissitudes of the times. The article looks at Zhou’s essays, both analytical and critical, which form the basis for the three stages into which his thoughts are divided, representing the gradual transitions from one set of tendencies to another—from nationalism to cosmopolitanism to (cosmopolitan) localism.

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“At Home in the World”: Hong Kong as a Cosmopolitan City in Xu Xi’s The Unwalled City

Melody Yunzi Li’s “‘At Home in the World”: Hong Kong as a Cosmopolitan City in Xu Xi’s The Unwalled City” appears in Telos 180 (Fall 2017), a special issue on Cosmopolitanism and China. Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store.

Hong Kong is unique for its hybrid nature in language and culture. Drawing upon Ulf Hannerz’s model of cosmopolitans and locals, this paper argues that Hong Kongese are cosmopolitans and locals in one, other than the dichotomy raised by Hannerz. The paper considers how Xu Xi’s novel The Unwalled City questions any overarching or simplified understanding of cosmopolitanism and its utopian parlance of seamless linguistic-cultural coexistence. For Xu Xi, writing in English provides a crucially literary tactic with which to construct her multiple ethnic identities and eclectic images.

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Three Forms of Democratic Political Acclamation

This paper takes its initial inspiration from Carl Schmitt’s claim in 1927 that the “original democratic phenomenon . . . is acclamation,” and draws upon the interchange between religious and political forms of acclamation observed by Ernst Hartwig Kantorowicz and Erik Peterson and elaborated recently by Giorgio Agamben. If Schmitt is correct, then acclamation is central to the construction of “the people” who by definition are the source of political legitimacy. What is required then is what I have called an “analytics of publicity” that would study the different ways in which the public is formed through different forms of acclamation.

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George Steiner on Original Sin, Hope, and Tragedy

At the beginning of his 1961 study The Death of Tragedy, George Steiner claimed that Christian “optimism” contributed to the demise of tragic drama in modernity. The ensuing chapters of The Death of Tragedy actually offer a more nuanced account, though, in which Steiner finds tragic potential in the doctrine of original sin. In subsequent essays, Steiner has doubled down on his claim that tragedy must be bleak. Indeed, he now holds up an ideal of hopeless “absolute tragedy.” In these later writings, Steiner has also continued to show interest in original sin, even claiming in a 2004 essay that original sin is the core of tragic art.

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Islamism and Gender Issues in the Muslim World

This article develops new empirical perspectives on the growing gender policy and gender role clash of civilizations now looming ahead in Western countries. The very same European governments that welcomed hundreds of thousands of migrants from countries with what the Muslim feminist Ziba Mir-Hosseini called “compulsory dress codes, gender segregation, and the revival of cruel punishments and outdated patriarchal and tribal models of social relations,” are untiringly promoting gender mainstreaming, which is now a top priority for European Union policymakers. Western feminism is at a turning point. Will it share with large sections of the green and left political currents in the West the cowardly silence about the threat of Islamist totalitarianism and terrorism, or will it develop solidarity with Muslim feminism?

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