Between Tragedy and Utopia

Kate Schick

in Gillian Rose

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780748639847
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780748676675 | DOI:
Between Tragedy and Utopia

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Dissatisfaction with the perceived failure of liberal and postmodern responses to trauma and difference has prompted a turn to more radical alternatives: political realism and messianic utopianism, which are the focus of this chapter. Political realism (Schmitt, Morgenthau) doggedly accepts the tragic inescapability of self-interest and conflict, promulgating a politics of the possible; messianic utopianism (Benjamin, Derrida, Žižek) supplements the tragedy of the present with an otherworldly hope, promulgating a politics of the impossible. This chapter argues that Rose's speculative philosophy sits between tragedy and utopia. She maintains that there is a danger that the work of the political is bypassed in both categories: both in tragic resignation, which eschews transformation and fosters conservative self-preservation or solipsistic withdrawal; and in utopian hope, which bypasses the present in hubris-filled attempts to ‘mend’ the brokenness of modernity. Instead, a speculative perspective asserts that we stay with the anxiety of living in a broken, fragile world, working through the existential and historical traumas this inevitably entails.

Keywords: Tragedy; Utopia; Žižek; Derrida; Political realism; Messianism; The political; Schmitt; Morgenthau; Benjamin; Working through

Chapter.  8347 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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