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Contrasting Legacies of '68: Deleuze and Human Rights

Marneros, Christos (2022) Contrasting Legacies of '68: Deleuze and Human Rights. In: Collett, Guillaume and Rutter Giappone, Krista Bonello and MacKenzie, Iain, eds. The Double Binds of Neoliberalism: Theory and Culture After 1968. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-5381-5452-6. E-ISBN 978-1-5381-5454-0. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:83332)

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In this chapter, I examine this phenomenon of the double bind by discussing the two contrasting legacies of May ’68 through the lens of Gilles Deleuze’s ferocious, albeit brief, critique of human rights. As I argue, human rights – as a mode of being, thinking and doing politics – are a fundamental manifestation of the pessimistic outcome of the events of ’68, because they form a new sort of transcendent morality, a ‘secular theology’ that thinks in terms of foundational principles that are distinctively dogmatic . This human-rights mode of being ‘blocks’ every form of creative resistance, presenting itself as a universal, all-inclusive discourse. To that extent, this mode of being manages to form a consensus regarding rights’ supposedly emancipatory promise. Human rights are not only unable to protect against the state’s brutality (with the state being broadly understood here) but they further strengthen the view that there is no alternative to the neoliberal politics of the market. Deleuze, in contrast to many human rights critics, even the harshest of them, does not aim to ‘salvage’ any emancipatory promise of rights’ discourse that was supposedly ‘hijacked’ by neoliberal narratives. Instead, he dismisses human rights as a philosophico-politically decadent (and as such dangerous) mode of being. To that extent, Deleuze’s powerful critique of rights exposes their pseudo-benevolent stature and questions their so-called foundational moral(ising) values. At the same time, and more importantly, his critique points towards an alternative mode of being and thinking, an ethos which is distinctively immanent and thus non-dogmatic. Such an ethos, as I argue, belongs to the very heart of the optimism of ’68 and its radical potential for a new politics.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: May '68, Deleuze, Human Rights, immanence
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Christos Marneros
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2020 12:33 UTC
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 14:53 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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