Enduring Right: Law, War and the Market
By Peter Fitzpatrick
Among the more outrageous claims Baudrillard makes in “The Melodrama of Difference” there is one which aptly invokes extremities. To the geographical extremity of the Alakaluf people of Tierra del Fuego, Baudrillard would add an existential one. “They call themselves ‘Men’ - and there were [for them] no others;” and so, “[ i]n their singularity, which could not ever conceive of the Other, the Alakaluf were inevitably vanquished,” in effect exterminated, by “the Whites.” Yet, he goes on, “who can say that the elimination of this singularity will not turn out, in the long run, to be fatal for the Whites too? Who can say that radical foreignness will not have its revenge - that, though effectively conjured away by colonial humanism, it will not return...dooming them to disappear themselves one day in much the same way as the Alakaluf.” Although Baudrillard offers little more than eloquent assertion evidencing this intimated fate, by the work’s end it has become inexorable and imminent. If we were to question the position of surpassing perception which enables Baudrillard so encompassingly to know the Alakaluf, then consistently we should likewise question the complete assurance with which he knows the Occident and its terminus. With the Occident, however, the evidence, if inevitably inadequate, is somewhat more dense. The evidential strand now pursued in this paper concerns a pure and primal humanity, a completeness of being, arrogated by the Occident through claims to the ‘human’ of human rights and to the freedom embedded in their assertion, the particular focus here being the United States and the sharpened salience assumed by these rights and this freedom in the aftermath of the ‘events’ of September 2001.
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