Why We Kill Each Other: Warfare in a Post-National World

“Fraternity means that the father no longer sacrifices the sons; instead the brothers kill one another. Wars between nations have been replaced by civil war. The great settling of accounts, first under national ‘pretexts,’ led to a rapidly escalating world civil war.”

—Ernst Jünger, Eumeswil

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Europe after Brexit

Walk around Berlin these days and you will find that you will hear almost as much English being spoken on the streets as German. While some describe this situation as a sign that Berlin has now become a cosmopolitan city, this very interpretation reveals precisely the attitude that has led to the rise of English in Germany. To speak English is to be cosmopolitan, and to speak German is to be provincial, and so it becomes a mark of pride to converse in English rather than one’s native German, at least for a certain segment of the population. And therein lies the problem. For it is precisely that segment of global business people, academics, and bureaucrats against whom nationalist sentiment has been rising all over Europe amongst the monolinguals who see themselves as excluded from the European project.

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Looking Beyond the Westphalian Nation-State: Challenging the Modernist Vision of History with Alternative Political Orders and Worldviews

The emerging exhaustion of the Westphalian paradigm of state sovereignty intimates the profoundly contestable and contingent character of modern, Western claims for a universal model of history. Over several centuries, the state has embodied and enforced foundational postulates, such as the pre-eminence of the individual knowing subject, and the imagined divide between religious and secular realms of existence and authority (with the latter sphere effectively internalizing the sacred import of the former). At present, though, the state’s tenuousness, and yet in key instances fierce tenacity, amidst a world of potent transnational forces, portends the urgency for alternative conceptions of the meaning and arrangement of human life. Contemporary Middle Eastern quandaries are especially illustrative of this predicament: for example, the disintegration (as in Iraq, Syria, Libya) or, then again, coercive retrenchment (viz., Egypt) of state formations and nationalist identities; or, to take another sort of instance, the chimerical prospects for coexistence, or even bare existence, among conflicting national communities, as in Israel/Palestine. Are there political paradigms beyond the Westphalian state that could help to integrate plural traditions in pursuit of less exclusionary, and more just, historical possibilities?

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The Perpetual State of Emergency

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 created a chain of events that has led not only to the “othering” of Islam and its followers, but also to an increase in the securitization of society as a whole. In “Sovereignty, Empire, Capital, and Terror,” John Milbank examines the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, notably the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the increasing intervention of governments into the privacy of their respective populations. He questions the wars and the increasingly illiberal turn by the government in regards to dealing with terrorists and criminals and the elimination of due process and, in some cases, habeus corpus. He writes that, “the question that one should ask in response to the immediate aftermath the events of September 11 is why there was outrage on such a gigantic scale” (146). He goes on to identify two reasons: first, the threat against the sovereign, and second, the increasing legitimization by Western governments to intervene in so-called “rogue or failed states,” to ensure the spread of the neoliberal market and prevent the defection of these states from the Western dominated capitalist system. Although there are indeed questions concerning the delineation between national security and the democratic process, the answers to these questions are harder to come by.

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Alain de Benoist on the Value of Empire

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Beau Mullen looks at Alain de Benoist’s “The Idea of Empire,” from Telos 98–99 (Winter 1993/Spring 1994).

Few political concepts have appeared as destined to be cast into history’s dustbin as that of empire. The nation-state is the most widely accepted model for sovereign territories, and imperial ambitions of nations are often condemned by the international community. The existence of great empires, such as that of the Romans or of the Holy Roman Empire, it appears, are simply regimes that are relics of a distant, less enlightened historical era. The areas once encompassing the great empires have now fractured into sovereign nation-states, each with its own polity and allegiances. Furthermore, serious modern confederation between nations is most often based on monetary concerns, not the furtherance of any imperial goal or ambition. The sun, it could be said, has set on the idea of empire.

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Carl Schmitt and the De-Constitution of Europe, Part 5

Today concludes the series of five blog entries aimed at understanding the current political crisis in the European Union through a Schmittian lens. (For the previous posts, see part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.) In this post, Michael Marder asks what it would take for the EU to overcome the crisis. The answer, he argues, is nothing less than the EU constituting itself anew, by way of contesting the meaning of the European political subjectivity.

Toward a New Self-Constitution of Europe?

What remains, within the framework the European Union, is the constitution in a relative sense, dissolved “into a multitude of individual, formally equivalent constitutional laws.”[1] We face an expression without anything to express, devoid if not of meaning then of a connection to the sources of meaningfulness. The relegation of constitutional unity to the background and its substitution with constitutional details suits well that institutional arrangement where unity does not actually exist, that is, one where it is not bound to the texture of political existence. The multitude of EU laws is groundless in a different sense from the groundlessness of the absolute concept of the constitution, which is rooted in actual existence and, therefore, self-grounded: “Every existing political unity has its value and its ‘right to existence’ not in the rightness or usefulness of norms, but rather in its existence.”[2] Assuming that this necessary precondition for constitutionality has not been set in place, the main challenge Europe is facing, one that is more fundamental than solving the financial and political crises it is embroiled in, is to attain its political existence, to constitute itself.

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