‘Putting our Belonging’ Under Erasure

Image Source: Bloomsbury Publishing

The new international does not belong to anyone but comes back to all. In some way the new international put all our belonging to family, community, nation, caste and class under erasure.  Martin Heidegger had begun the practice of putting Being under erasure by crossing the term Being and printing it in his text. He taught that he did it in order to remove its metaphysical interpretation as presence, as essence. Derrida continues this tradition to put concepts under erasure.  Gayatri Spivak in her introduction to the English translation of Derrida’s book, of Grammatology explains to us that putting a concept under erasure indicates that it is inaccurate and that it is necessary.  This means the concept is deficient but still unavoidable. 

Derrida tries to put fraternal belonging under erasure to free it from all belongings. He thinks that it will clear the ground for the new international to arrive. Therefore, one affirms both the need to write as well as the need to cross out every shade of belonging in order to understand the deep and profound sense of the new international. Thus writing under erasure brings about an effect of ‘community of those who do not belong to any community’, a community without community.  It is a we that cannot fully say we. It is we in the coming, always ever becoming. The technique of putting a concept under erasure disrupts and deconstructs the metaphysical functioning of the concept of belonging to a community, class, nation, caste and opens it to enter a new level where one belongs to all without belonging to anyone.  It is leading us to think in the direction of fraternity without being lost in identities, essences, and ethnicities rooted in our belongings. 

The concept of the new international is radically rethinking our being-with anew. Derrida’s thought is non-dual in character and hence he has to put binaries concepts under erasure.  With the help of the technique of erasure, he attempts to overcome the concept of belonging that is inscribed in the field of opposition. All belonging supposes also not-belonging.  By not belonging to other nations, we belong to a particular nation. Therefore, by not belonging we belong to. By putting our belonging under erasure Derrida is able to think together belonging and not belonging sides of all belonging. 

This opening of belonging without belonging to any nation, class, and caste is not a universalisation of humanity.  Such universalisation/ homogenisation is violence and will erase difference.  This means Derrida thinks that the singularity of the individual and the alterity of the other is put into danger by the myth of the universal.  Derrida, therefore, thinks of singularity as wholly other. It is an absolute secret that stands behind oneself. The other is secret becomes he/ she as other. Therefore, Derrida avoids totalizing the individual as well as the other with his notion of singularities.  We may see common lines of thinking between Derrida and Emanuel Levinas.  Our singularity is absolute nakedness. It is natural to each of us and no one can take it away.  We share an unsharable absolute otherness with each other. Thus, the new international is a plurality of absolute singularities. 

The technique of erasure displaces all belonging to a family, nation, class, caste etc., and opens the field of belonging.  This opening of the field is possible only because of the retreat of the political that forecloses space to belong to.  The foreclosed space to belong is political but it narrows our belonging by framing our boundaries within which our belonging can occur.  The retreat of the political is not the end of the political. The retreat of this foreclosing political opens the playfield again. We then can belong as singularities to plural singularities without belonging. With the retreat of the political only the political figures, meaning and destinies retreat so that our naked and formless belonging together can appear. We can think again about the space in which belonging together happens.  This means a new political that thus arrives will have to make room for all singularities. 

Internet is the best possible ground for the new international to appear. The self of the internet is already a self under erasure.  Its wasteful play in the web in Bataille’s sense takes several avatars or larvae and embraces other larvae or avatars on the web. There is the secret that belongs to singularity to the self of the web. But there is no absolute singular otherness to the self. In several ways the playful self of the web is secretive but its behaviour is predictable. Because of this its secret character functions as the mask and becomes a cover smacking of insincerity as well as hypocrisy. Hence, while the web offers possibilities, it still needs a self under erasure that is a naked singularity as well as one that is able to accept the alterity of others as plural singularities. Only with such selves under erasure, we can belong to the new international.  There is a great promise in the new international. It can enable us to bring emancipative transformation for all. It can transform the way we belong to God, our cosmos and each other.


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao