This book brings together two of the most powerful and relevant philosophical critiques of human rights: the post-colonialist and the post-Althusserian, its balanced internal structure not just throwing these two critiques together, but actually forcing them to enter into confrontation and dialogue.
The book is organised in three parts: at each end, the post-colonialist and the post-Althusserian critiques are represented by some of their main thinkers (Ratna Kapur, G. C. Spivak, Upendra Baxi; Slavoj Žižek, Jacques Rancière), while in the middle, an American intermezzo (Richard Rorty, Wendy Brown) functions as a genuine Derridian supplement: always already contaminating the purity of the two theoretical schools, preventing their enclosure and, hence, fuelling and complicating further their mutual confrontation. As in any authentic dialogue, the introduction and the conclusion each claim victory for one of the sides by changing the very terms and rules of the dialogue, picturing it as a confrontation between emancipatory universalism and inefficient particularism (from the perspective of the post-Althusserians), or as a split between hypocrisy and truth (from the perspective of the post-colonialists).
Whereas the interrelation of ethics and political thought has been recognized since the dawn of political reflection, we have witnessed over the last 60 years – roughly since the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a particularly turbulent process of dilating, indeed globalizing, the coverage and application of that interrelation. At the very instant the decolonized globe consolidated the universality of the sovereign nation-state, that sovereignty – and the political thought that grounded it – was eroded and outstripped, not as in eras past, by imperial conquest and war, but rather by instruments of peace (charters, declarations, treaties, conventions), commerce and communication (multinational enterprises, international media, global aviation and transport, internet technologies).
Has political theory kept apace with global political realities? Can ethical reflection illuminate the murky challenges of real global politics?
The book series 'Ethics, Human Rights and Global Political Thought' addresses these crucial questions by bringing together outstanding texts interrogating the intersection of normative theorizing and political realities with a global focus. The volumes discuss key aspects of the contemporary chiasmus of the local and the global – social movements and global justice, folkways and human rights, poverty and sustainability, rural realities and the cosmopolitan hyperreal.