Deconstruction may perhaps be said to have had no discernible, no palpable, or touchable or visible or clear, political effects. It may be said to be a thinking of ambiguity, a non-militant thinking, unavailable to politics except in the fallen and derivative sense of being a set of tools for critical destruction of the other, of the antagonist, ineffectual at that, merely abstruse, speculative, merely critical, perhaps. Not politically efficient the way that Marxism can be argued to have been, or still to be, politically efficient. Or, say, Ernesto Laclau´s hegemony theory, or Alain Badiou`s commitment to fidelity to a political event of truth through ongoing subjectivation. One could even say that, of all the theoretical paradigms of the last forty years, deconstruction is the least political of then, the least politically efficient, as it can be said to be considerably less politically efficient than identity thinking, or gender-based thinking, or cultural studies, or even good old-fashioned hermeneutics in the traditional sense, since at least hermeneutics in every case updated and explicitated the hidden content of the tradition. And what has deconstruction ever done, politically speaking? Nothing. Which, naturally enough, raises the suspicion in a lot of good, well-intentioned folks that any claim to use deconstruction for political analysis can only be secretly or not so secretly reactionary and even nihilistic. It does not get any better when some of us say, as tentatively as possible, that we intend to use deconstruction, if we ever learn how to do so, to do not directly political but infrapolitical analysis. Because what can conceivably be the use of infrapolitical analysis if it is not ultimately a political use? And, if so, then even infrapolitical analysis would be reactionary, nihilistic. In principle. Before it happens. And, they say, they probably won´t make it happen anyway: too absurd.
So it is at least interesting to see Jacques Derrida himself say, in an article entitled “Abraham, the Other,” published in 2003, that from his early infancy, in fact, from the time he was ten years old, he felt “a kind of political philosophy beginning to elaborate itself wildly in [him]” (144). And that such “political philosophy” had everything to do with his experience of antisemitism in French Algeria: “and sometimes I wonder whether the deciphering of the antisemitic symptom and of the full connotation system that accompanies it indissociably was not the first corpus I learned to interpret, as if I hadn’t known how to read, or other would say “deconstruct,” except in order to have to learn to read, even to deconstruct, antisemitism in the first place” (144).
Of course the question that opens up here is how can the detection of antisemitism constitute a politics: does it? And part of the answer has to do with that in antisemitism that concerns itself with the destruction of the other, of the neighbor. It does so through an interpellation that instills fear, through an act of subjection that always already inscribes itself in that obscure element in the human that feels itself hostage to a debt, immemorial and unassignable: a debt of desire, or a debt in desire. But, if, as Jean-Paul Sartre put it, “the Jew is a Jew because others hold him to be a Jew” (quoted, 148), then anybody can be a Jew. A wild political philosophy beginning here, in this experience of fear, is necessarily resistant to any attempt at distilling in others an experience of subjection, the negative subjectivation that is born when the subject “learns the truth” about himself or herself, that is, the truth of her unworthiness, the truth of his damnation.
In his review of Martin Heidegger’s Black Notebooks Richard Wolin refers to the use of the letter H in the context of Heidegger’s antisemitic lunacy: “He attributes numinous powers to names that begin with the letter H: Heraclitus, Hölderlin, and Hegel. But Hitler would also seem to belong to the list, as would, of course, Heidegger” (Woling, 5). The theme of election by Being or Destiny, by History, the theme that made a particular group of human beings think they were ordained to rule the world through the subjection or destruction of others, shows up in the uncanny H to which we could oppose the alternative H (or is it the same H?) of the election Derrida mentions at the end of his essay, commenting on Kafka´s story about Abraham: “There would be, perhaps, another Abraham, not just he who receives another name in his old age and, when he is 99, at the moment of his circumcision, experiments, d´un coup de lettre, the letter h, not just he who . . . on Mount Moriah, is called by the angel two times twice, first ´Abraham, Abraham,´ and then once again, from the heights of heaven . . . There would be no just Abram, and Abraham, Abraham . . . There would be another Abraham” (167).
This fourth Abraham, the Abraham of the more-than-one, the Kafkian Abraham, is the Abraham who can never be sure that he has been elected to anything, the one who might be ready for a call, but hears poorly, or can´t believe what he hears, and fears there must be a mistake, another guy may have been called, not him. Or it might even be worse. “It is as if, at the end of the year, when the best student was solemnly about to receive a prize, the worst student rose in the expectant stillness and came forward from his dirty desk in the last row because he had made a mistake of hearing, and the whole class burst out laughing. And perhaps he had made no mistake at all, his name really was called, it having been the teacher’s intention to make the rewarding of the best student at the same time a punishment for the worst one” (Kafka, 2).
The theme of election, of subjectivation through election, is perhaps constitutive of politics, of every militant subject of the political. So perhaps the wild political philosophy of the suspension of election is, in every case, an infrapolitics: a suspension of politics.