The New International

Derrida’s notion of the new international is connected with the notion of the people to come in the work of Deleuze and Guatarri. In his book, Specters of Marx; the State of Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, Derrida ties his notion of the new international to the fall of communism, the triumph of capitalism, the rise of new telecommunication and the decline of the nation-state. The new international is not a distant event that is dependent on the mercy and grace of God nor a result of an act of revolution that remains undecidable about whether it happened or not. Derrida teaches that the new international is already beginning to manifest itself to those who have eyes to read the signs.  

This means Derrida does not see the end of history in a happy global triumph of capitalism in the manner Francis Fukuyama thought. the new international is not the final destination. We have not yet reached the end of history.  The new international is in the mode of already and not yet. It is in the process of arrival.  He thinks that the new international is without status, title, name, contract, party, institution, country, class affiliation etc.  If this is so. How will the new international be political? How will it affect a change?  Derrida taking up the speech act theory of J L Austen and others teaches that the 13th thesis of Marx on his teacher Feuerbach that says that ‘it is not enough to explain the world but it is important to change the world,’  has to be performative and not constative.   Thus,  the new international is not a politics of status quo. It is a politics of change and emancipative transformation. Derrida thus indicates that the new international does not work with guns, bombs, sticks and paving stones but with performative power of words and other signs. By performative power of words, he means words that act like the words of the judge who declares his verdict of a case or a priest who declares a man and women husband and wife in a ritual of a nuptial. This means words become action. Thus the performatives of change and emancipative transformation are said to occur in the era of the new telecommunication revolution. 

The new telecommunication revolution is grounded on the internet.  It has transformed our life and society. It has also transformed the condition of capitalism, the nation-state and our political life.  It is not running through a performative fiat tied to an ego / I. it is operating through the transformation of the material base as Marx taught us.  The change in the material base has triggered a change in the superstructure. The material base that has changed is a discernible change from the print culture to digital culture.  Derrida says that the effect of this change will bring about a radical shift in our public space. The public space in his view is going to be spectral and virtual and will break down the wall between the public and the private space. 

 This is change has already occurred and we are seeing its impacts on our life, society and above all on our democracy. Today we have become inhabitants of spectral cyberspace.  Although spectral cyberspace is a mixed bag and has weakened our nation-state and derailed our grounded human relations and bonds, Derrida still thinks that it is space that offers a link of affinity, suffering and hope. This means Derrida thinks that it is space for the new international to emerge.  Derrida is deeply hopeful of cyberspace because it offers a kind of veil of ignorance,  (somewhat allied to what was proposed by John Rawls in his book on Justice) for humans to develop alliances beyond the barriers of nation, class, race and other boundaries that have the potency to bring about change/ emancipation in the world. 

Derrida thinks that democracy works on the logic of autoimmunity. We can think that the new international on the web will also work with the principle of autoimmunity. Derrida developed this notion of autoimmunity in an analogy with our body. The body is governed by autoimmunity which is a kind of bodily self-destruction whereby the body’s immune system produces antibodies that can work against the body itself in its fight against viral, fungal as well as bacterial and other attacks it may face.  Therefore, to think that the new international is autoimmune is to think that, it will self-destruct itself. The self-destruction of bodily life through the generation of antibodies to carry out an aggressive fight with the microbial or other attack is rare. We do find it in some patients in our fight against Covid-19 infection.  This means it is through deconstruction, opposition, debates, chats and discussions on the internet that it will build socio-political antibodies that will enable us to carve out the path for the new international to bring about an emancipative change. 

 We can therefore align Derrida’s notion of ‘democracy to come ‘  with the coming of the new international.   But we do have to allow the possibility of self-destruction as a result of the overplay of autoimmunity.  This is because even when the web seems to offer seamless or borderless possibilities for a Habermasian kind of communicative action, it can lock us into echo chambers where we are happy to hear the sound of our own voice. These possibilities are increased with artificial intelligence assisting us to choose our engagements on the web as it keeps a track of our past engagements and offers us fresh suggestions.  Thus we may end up staying in our echo chambers and deeming it as the new international. This does not mean that there is no potency for emancipation in the eruption of the new international on the web. Even amidst a fightback from the nation-state with new laws to keep it under its surveillance and check in the name of security of the nation, we can still think that the new international will flourish on the web in its mode  hide and seek every in a mode of subversive coming to be. The international being always in the mode of coming cannot be easily crushed.   The internet has opened the playfield for the new international and the new people that are coming together are certainly promising us a new society with democracy to come that might affect the nation-state and the international community and invite emancipative change.

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