Volume 4, Issue 2, Autumn 2018
Political Horizons in America
In this paper, I go back to French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s influence on Claude Lefort’s theory of democracy in order to offer a revised understanding of political regimes as coexisting and competing horizons of politics. These horizons develop from differing positions regarding the political enigma of the institution of society—its staging, its shaping, and its making sense of itself. A theological understanding of such political institution of society will be described as fundamentally voluntaristic, while an epistemic understanding will be described as, in its radical iteration, potentially totalitarian. This theorization is triggered by an interpretive perplexity: what happened to the United States in the aftermath of 9/11, in its War on Terror, in its committing of the supreme international crime of aggressive warfare, in its embracement of a massive policy of executive, global targeted assassinations and of a white nationalist, xenophobic politics? Is the theologico-political horizon becoming once again dominant in America? Is the epistemic, plutocratic regime taking over instead? Are they coordinated in their effort to undermine an egalitarian understanding of the American republic? These are the interrogative driving forces behind this investigation.