Civil War?: Spivak on Derrida on Schmitt

I’ve been thumbing through the recent translation of “Introduction to Civil War” but haven’t given it a systematic read.  As I’ve discussed, I’m reticent to accept Schmitt’s notion of politics which seems to be a rejoinder to the ongoing depoliticization produced by the abstract machine ‘Empire’.  I haven’t done a close read yet, so I’m not sure if the text explicitly advocates a re-politicization (or by what means) or if it’s merely ‘obvious’ in the sense that Jason’s paper noted the ‘ontological obviousness of communism.’

Not to jump the gun, but I’ve been mulling over Schmitt and D&G’s shared use of “nomos” for a while.  It’s a greek conception that is roughly ‘common law’ ‘custom’ or ‘pertaining to distribution.’  There was a philological text written in French on it written by Emmanuel Laroche but I’m afraid most of it would be lost on me, both because it would take me painstaking long to read even if it was in English.  D&G and Schmitt’s use vary substantially; D&G use it to mean the customary rules created immanently by the forces in a given milieu (e.g. the distribution of cows pasturing in the Greek Homeric sense).  Schmitt uses it to talk about property, enclosures, and other forms of ordering whereby he smuggles in his politics of the amity-emnity.

I just found an excellent article by Gayatri Spivak that does a thorough reading of Derrida’s “Politics of Friendship” and compares it to (without referencing) neo-Schmittian projects like Chantal Mouffe’s liberal socialism or neo-Straussian state philosophy.  Of particular value is Spivak’s two-step move where she clarify’s that Derrida reverses Schmitt’s normative account of the friend-enemy distinction (that depoliticization is good) but that Spivak’s account of feminist resistance necessitates this form of depoliticization —

“Far from being a mvoement to develop the potentialities of modernism, poststructuralism allies itself with what Carl Schmitt derides as the depoliticizing effects of the modern….

“Derrida suggests that nineteenth century French nationalism placed woman above and below justice.  Even in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, woman “could never have either friends or enemies _as such.””

“If I have commented correctly on Carl Schmitt and poststructuarlism, you will be obliged to ask yourselves not only how to think and do politics beyond the friend-enemy confraternity, perhaps, but also how the question of woman can ehnace the political philosophy of democracy beyond the women’s vote.”

This reminds me of a conversation a little while ago I had about the value of human strike.  Rather than being a program to repoliticize our actions (a justification for voluntarism), it is a way of increasing the scope of what is called political (tragic acts of violence and frustration) in order to de-legitimate politics as a whole.  This would indicate to me that, in line with Spivak’s reading of derrida, civil war isn’t opposed to communism (or maybe ‘friendship’ – community is a completely different matter in Derrida’s volume) but each contaminate the other.

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