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Copyright (c) 2005 by American Political Science Association


Arash Abizadeh. "Does Collective Identity Presuppose an Other? On the Alleged Incoherence of Global Solidarity." American Political Science Review 99.1 (2005): 45-60. pdf


Article Keywords: collective identity; sovereignty; recognition; difference; particularism; alterity; solidarity; Hegel; Carl Schmitt; Chantal Mouffe; Jacques Derrida

Article Abstract:

Two arguments apparently support the thesis that collective identity presupposes an Other: the recognition argument, according to which seeing myself as a self requires recognition by an other whom I also recognize as a self (Hegel); and the dialogic argument, according to which my sense of self can only develop dialogically (Taylor). But applying these arguments to collective identity involves a compositional fallacy. Two modern ideologies mask the particularist thesis’s falsehood. The ideology of indivisible state sovereignty makes sovereignty as such appear particularistic by fusing “internal” with “external” sovereignty; nationalism imagines national identity as particularistic by linking it to sovereignty. But the concatenation of internal sovereignty, external sovereignty, and nation is contingent. Schmitt’s thesis that “the political” presupposes an other conflates internal and external sovereignty, while Mouffe’s neo-Schmittianism conflates difference (Derrida) with alterity. A shared global identity may face many obstacles, but metaphysical impossibility and conceptual confusion are not among them.


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