Volume 9, Issue 1, Fall 2004
Across the Tradition of Philosophy
Martin Beck Matuštík
Between Hope and Terror
Habermas and Derrida Plead for the Im/Possible. To Jacques Derrida in memoriam (1930–2004)
His Paulskirche speech on October 14, 2001, marked Habermas’s turn to public criticism of the unilateral politics of global hegemony as he promoted a global
domestic and human rights policy. Two years later he joined ranks with Jacques Derrida against the eight “new” Europeans who lent signatures to the second Gulf War. Lest we misjudge the joint letter by Habermas and Derrida as peculiarly Eurocentric and even oblivious to the worldwide nature of the antiwar protest on February 15, 2003, we must read their new alliance in the context of its emergence: Derrida and Habermas introduce a corrective that neither invokes the geographical heart of Europe nor the cosmopolitan westernization of the world. In this essay, first, I revisit the imaginary conversation between Habermas and Derrida from 1995. Second, I highlight the persisting differences in their post-2001 thinking, pairing up key political concepts that illustrate how each thinker hopes for that which is to come after the death of God. Third, I press ahead to a new critical theory that articulates postsecular hope after the death of God.