By William V. Spanos
Connects the yank exceptionalist ethos to the violence in Vietnam and the center East.
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Extra info for American Exceptionalism in the Age of Globalization: The Specter of Vietnam
In overlooking its own origins in the exilic “theory” that emerged in response to the decisive self-destruction of the imperial (onto)logic of the discourse of the Occident in the middle of the twentieth century, this postcolonial discourse, in other words, has also lost sight of an earlier, deeper, and polyvalent structural origin of the colonial project. I mean the very epochal moment of the founding of the idea of the Occidental polis in late Greek and especially (imperial) Roman antiquity. 34 As a consequence of this forgetting of the provenance of imperialism in the Roman transformation of the “errant” thinking of the Greeks into a “correct” (and, in Fukuyama’s term, “directional”) thinking, the discourse of postcolonialism has delimited its genealogy of Western imperialism to the Enlightenment and after and thus the ideological parameters of imperialism to the practice of empire, that is, to the site of cultural geopolitics.
The fundamental ideological purpose of this discourse is to delegitimize every other form of thinking than that dialectical/instrumental reasoning that, according to the Kojèvian/Hegelian perspective informing it, History’s Aufhebung has precipitated as the planetary absolute—the Pax Metaphysica, as it were. This total “victory” of a historically “perfected” calculative metaphysics means, of course, the decisive preclusion as a viable option of the kind of ontological/political thinking precipitated as an imperative by the recognition of the Vietnam War as a radical contradiction in the discursive practices of liberal capitalist democracy, the kind of differential thinking, that is, that haunts the legitimacy of the latter’s “benign” global narrative.
We must also not forget that this polyvalent violence was read by a significant portion of the people of the United States, of Europe, and of the Third World, including responsible representative Western intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Bertram Russell, Noam Chomsky, and Martin Luther King, as genocidal in its intent and in its proportions. Nor must we forget that, however symptomatically enacted, the protestation of the war in the United 14 American Exceptionalism in the Age of Globalization States—its “refusal of spontaneous consent” to the truth discourse of liberal capitalist democracy, to invoke Antonio Gramsci18—brought the American government to a crisis that only the disruption of the Civil War has surpassed in critical intensity.
American Exceptionalism in the Age of Globalization: The Specter of Vietnam by William V. Spanos