Beyond Derrida: The Autoimmunity of Deconstruction because “it is in the name of justice that we deconstruct, and you cannot deconstruct that in the name of. Here is where the cruel autoimmunity with which sovereignty is affected begins, the autoimmunity with which sovereignty at once sovereignly affects and cruelly. Derrida argues that the idea of democracy suffers from a fatal “autoimmunity”: its freedom and equality requirements cancel each other out.

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It maintains that the immune system gives distinctive responses to self and non-self unless this process is inhibited by immune-depressant drugs. Especially when the right thus autoimmmunity entails the right to self-critique — another form of autoimmunity — as an essential, original, constitutive, derridx specific possibility of the democratic, indeed as its very historicity, an intrinsic historicity that it shares with no other regime?

For democracy, these two competing factors are mutually dependent — autoimmnuity must take place in the context of liberty for all — so this represents an internal corruption within the very structure derida democracy. However, the figure of autoimmunity is introduced in order to subvert the ideology of nationalism, and becomes associated with the work of deconstruction itself. As if the openness resulting from the autoimmunity the vulnerability of democracy always potentially entailed the unforeseeable arrival of the virus, of any virus.

Are not all democratic efforts bound to a kind of self-destruction? Here is what I wrote several years ago: So, to suggest that democracy is autoimmune is to claim that it is threatened internally by its very own logic.

Project MUSE – Derrida’s Politics of Autoimmunity

One small example of our folly: New Haven and London: Contact Contact Us Help. Peggy Kamuf et al. Still, as has been suggested all along, the metaphorical transfers between the processes of biological body and those of the political community are far from being easy ones.

So, equality becomes an integral part of freedom and because such equality is inscribed within freedom, equality is no longer merely a question of number and calculation but itself becomes incalculable.


Democracy is, then, never fully present in the sovereign claim that democracy has arrived or been achieved. What will never let itself be forgotten is thus the perverse effect of the autoimmunitary itself. Democratic freedom only makes sense, then, if everyone within the demos is equally free. I leave the opening paragraphs as they were originally written, as historical testimony. However, Cohen is a leading figure in the latest development in the field, cf. This might be one of the reasons why one has to have recourse to the metaphor of autoimmunity, which, for Derrida, implies a body, a community always open to its own undoing, to an undoing that may happen, from within, even without enemies outside.

We have at least the audacity of hope. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. Hillis Miller warns us that biologists actually borrowed the terminology from the social world: Hillis Miller bio The reader will recognize that the following essay was written several years ago.

On the one hand, there is always a potential suicide involved in democratic institutions themselves, since democratic elections may well lead to the rise to power of anti-democratic forces that thus gain the right to put an end to auhoimmunity very institutions that made their victory possible in the first place.

At the same time, Derrida also warns us: The first two chapters are particularly useful for autoimmunitt the relationship between justice, presence and democracy. The first issue involves the relation between democracy and sovereignty.

This process, that is, the mutation and remutation of HIV, the resulting infection of new helper T cells, and the concomitant development of new types of immune responses can last for years and decades, but, eventually, the immune system gives up the fight. Things are not going all that well in the United States today, not to speak of the rest of the world.

We were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was in cahoots with Al Quaeda, both lies. On the democracy to come in particular see chapter 2, especially pp.


The Department of Homeland Security has conspicuously failed to secure our ports, our borders, or our chemical derida Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. He is escalating the war in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, autoimmune diseases are associated with high level auto-reactive immune cells and the subsequent loss of immunological tolerance towards the self.

Derrida and the Immune System

Derrida from Now On. Now, just like the constative, it seems to me, the performative cannot avoid neutralizing, indeed annulling, the eventfulness of the event it is supposed to produce. Thus, biological tolerance does model indeed the way tolerance works in the existing, actual socio-political sphere.

None of this is attempted here. Whereas Derrida claims that during autoimmuntary processes the protective system of the body destroys itself i. We operate secret prisons around the world autoimmuity prisoners are held aitoimmunity tortured through what is called, in an extraordinary example of double speak, “Extraordinary Rendition.

Correspondence is decision-making by committee. Exactly the opposite has happened. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources autoimmuniyy collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

Consequently, dedrida introduction of the figure of autoimmunity in the ethico-political discourse suggests that the political body always contains within itself the possibility of its own undoing. Book titles OR Journal titles. As he puts it:. In striving to protect itself and guarantee its dominance through a co-option of sovereignty, democracy suffers from an autoimmune self-destruction.

However, since not all of the helper T cells are infected at the derrkda time, the healthy ones can still activate the immune cells specific to the virus.