n Acta Germanica : German Studies in Africa - The feel of velvet : reflections, with and against Michael Walzer, on the 1989 European revolutions : Rahmenbedingungen

Volume 29, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1273



Without an explicit reference to Kant's metaphysics of morals, Walzer's project here is to invert the Kantian schema of moral philosophy. This is what I would like to contest in this article. I would like to re-instate the validity of a politics and ethics based on universalisable maxims, not be demoted to moral minimalism. Far from being simple and single-minded, such universalism is the foundation for a moral sensus communis, from which identifications flow. This departure from and inversion of Kantian maxims in the work of Walzer and Laclau is in part due to the peculiarities of the object of their descriptions - namely the uprisings in Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s. These articulate simultaneously a pre-political experience of violation, and the conditions of possibility for the political, for which an irreducible ethical universalism remains indispensable. The misrecognition of the political driving force in the so-called velvet revolutions has its own effect : namely that of re-interpreting the pre-political in the light of the post-political, and assimilating them to each other. In this paper, I would like to prize them apart, and examine the constituent power that lies in the space inbetween.

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