A specter is haunting politics—the specter of the animal, or animals to be more precise. The history of all hitherto existing society is not simply one of class struggles, as Marx argues in The Communist Manifesto, but also the menagerie of the political animal.i In this sense, the relentless opposition of oppressor and oppressed is also the all too human struggle to define and mark the limits of the human species and, by default, the animals outside of it. Animals are the absent referents of politics, to borrow from Carol Adams—the nameless and invisible bodies that must be excluded for politics to exist.ii And political theory carries these animals on its back. Contemporary politics, with liberalism and neoliberalism at the masthead, would like to shed these beasts of burden by dissolving them into the stew of market economies, but their presence remains. Certainly, Marxism gets us to the economic base of this ragoût, but more is needed to flesh out the contemporary political economy of meat. The critical theory of Jacques Derrida, specifically his work in the essay “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject” and his collection of lectures, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, provide s a unique avenue through which to pause and bring to bear the specter of animals that haunts contemporary politics. Of course, Derrida himself comments on Marx in Specters of Marx.iii For Derrida, the specter of Marx calls us to conjure and expose the supernatural or the metaphoric ghosts haunting Marxism and to invite the transformative and radical spirit of his critique to politics, opening history to infinite and eternal returns, to many Marxisms. Like the Marxian ghosts that Derrida describes in Specters of Marx, the specters of animals, the animal menagerie, is likewise unfettered and unbound from the established order of time and also opens politics to many possibilities. iv
Derrida’s discussions of animals and politics offer an intriguing perspective with which to augment a Marxian analysis of the political economy of meat in a way that reveals this economy’s beastly genealogy and points to its embedded presence within the contemporary political imaginary. For the purposes of this essay, Derrida is both central and decentered. He is critically situated as a theoretical interlocutor, with his ideas in “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject” and The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1 setting the stage for an interruption of the animal menagerie, but he is also decentered in the sense that this essay does not attempt to intervene in Derrida studies or engage in Derridean analysis per se.v Rather, I strategically employ two of Derrida’s texts to elucidate the contemporary political economy of meat and, ultimately, point to the possibilities and limitations of using Derrida’s concepts to disrupt this economy within the contemporary neoliberal capitalist frame.
To do this, I first analyze Derrida’s discussion of carnophallogocentrism and dietary carnivorism in, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject.” Drawing from the Marxian tradition, I argue that the carnivorous economy of relations that Derrida unearths is particularly devastating within the context of late capitalism since meat is not simply animal flesh, but also represents the material and immaterial labor captured in the vast expanse of commodities produced and consumed on a daily basis.vi I then turn to a critical analysis of Derrida’s premise in The Beast & the Sovereign, Volume 1 that sovereignty and bestiality are related allegories, which appear throughout the history of political thought and which gesture to the exceptional limits of sovereign responsibility. Working from this premise, I elaborate on Derrida’s canonical analyses in The Beast & the Sovereign, Volume 1, focusing specifically on the works of Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Plato to point to an embedded animal politics within the beastly imaginary that he delineates. This beastly imaginary, I argue, rests upon the materiality of meat in everyday life so that the choice to consume, and to consume meat in particular, appears as a fetish of sovereignty and political power situated between the two poles of beastly politics that Derrida describes. Through this careful explication, I hope to show how Derrida’s ideas, when viewed in relation to the political economy of meat, reveal the irrational, ideological, and fetishized functions of the carnivorous center of politics that he discerns; and which point to the potential shortcomings of theoretical strategies that fail to directly confront the capitalist framework that sustains the “beastly” politics of contemporary liberalism and neoliberalism.
1. Derrida and the Meat of Subjectivity
Derrida briefly introduces his views on animals, animality, and the ingestion of animals in a 1989 interview with Jean-Luc Nancy entitled, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject.” Here, Derrida discusses what could easily be considered his most directly relevant concept for animal politics, carnophallogocentrism, which he describes as a schema of subjectivity that implies “carnivorous virility.”vii Within this schema, the linguistic identification of “the animal” sustains a sacrificial structure, an economy of relations between animal and human that permits the non-criminal killing of animals in order to affirm the metaphysical reality of “the human.”viii In turn, “the animal” becomes a totalizing sign and fantasy, which effectively crushes real animal differences in order to uphold the authority or voice of the speaking subject.ix The State, in particular, is carnophallogocentric because it is built upon the ingestion, incorporation, and introjection of corpses into the psyche of the political animal so that it must be carnivorous in order to be powerful. Here meat is a phallic sign to be circulated and consumed within a political economy of relations rooted in domination and signifies those human and animal bodies that remain subject to rather than subjects of power within this economy of relations, and who are thus to be consumed or sacrificed accordingly.x Thus, the subject of Western political thought is not simply a Eurocentric and masculine protagonist in a “virile and heroic schema” of the State over the state of nature, but also an eater of flesh according to Derrida.xi
What results is a metonymic schema in which this overbearing characterization comes to replace other and more hospitable significations of what it might mean to eat well.xii The literal consequence of this carnophallogocentric metonymy of “eating well” is that it demands the introduction of non-criminal execution in the schematics of State power.xiii For Derrida, sacrifice is often a symbolic act with regard to humans who consume each other as “a matter of words or of things, of sentences, of daily bread or wine, of the tongue, the lips, or the breast of the other.”xiv In other words, humans consume these signs as fetishes in order to satiate our desire to devour one another.xv The State, then, regulates this metonymic economy so that fetishized consumption feigns real power over life and death (even one’s own life and death), a power that is ultimately held by the State.xvi Consequently, as Matthew Calarco observes in Zoographies, carnophallogocentrism exceeds metaphysical constructions of subjectivity to constitute an exclusionary juridical logic that defines existing legal and political institutions. As Calarco points out in his analysis, in order to become a full subject in contemporary society, one must accept the violence committed against non-subjects, especially animals. In short, one must directly or indirectly participate in carnivorism in order to become a full participant in society.xvii
For Calarco, those who resist carnivorous practices by eating vegan or vegetarian diets and circulating in animal rights circles “are often viewed as being outside the dominant forms of subjectivy.”xviii Yet, while Calarco concedes to the fundamentally deconstructive nature of vegetarianism, he is simultaneously making an ethical argument that hinges on actions and intentions. To some extent, Calarco’s ethical turn exonerates politically progressive vegetarians in advanced industrialized societies who realize the limits of their actions and who ask not how to be ethically pure, but how to achieve “the best, most respectful, most grateful, and also most giving way of relating.”xix Challenging Calarco, one could argue that carnophallogcentrism is not simply about ethical choices, but about a larger political-economic framework that requires subjects to consent to and tolerate structural carnivorism in order to fully participate in the good life.
Returning to “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” Derrida asks, “who can be made to believe that our cultures are carnivorous because animal proteins are irreplaceable?”xx Derrida poses the question in passing, but it brings to bear the irrationality of the carnivorism and sacrifice of life that sustains contemporary politics. Meat eating is no longer necessary for human health and well-being , especially in advanced industrialized societies. For example, researchers have demonstrated that the meat-based Western diet is linked to chronic and deadly diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease and , moreover, that a plant-based diet is actually much healthier and can, in many cases, reverse these kinds of diseases.xxi So why do advanced industrialized societies continue to be carnivorous? For Derrida, the answer lies in carnophallogocentrism, which amounts to certain death for animals. As Derrida explains, the ingestion of animal corpses is both literal and figurative in Western culture: humans literally consume animals as meat and figuratively consume them as metaphors, while on the surface it appears that humans consume other humans only metaphorically. Simultaneously, according to Derrida, there coexists the impossibility of delimiting human metaphorical sacrifice, which expands to the incorporation of the bodies of other humans via medical procedures like surrogacy, organ removal and transplant, and genetic engineering.xxii For Derrida, this kind of anthropological slippage from the metaphorical to the corporeal, from human to animal, emerges from scientific knowledge and calls into question the “single linear, indivisible, oppositional limit” between humans and animals. xxiii All of this, Derrida concludes, destabilizes and decenters human subjectivity, revealing our incapacity to effectively to “cut up a subject.”xxiv As Élizabeth De Fontenay discerns in Without Offending Humans, for Derrida, the ingestion, incorporation, or introjection of human “corpses” can be real or symbolic and some form of “cannibalism” cannot be overcome.xxv
According to Derrida, it is not a matter of whether to eat, what to eat, or whether to eat animals.xxvi One has to eat something—if not, you will die—and more often than not in Western industrialized societies, it is going to be meat-based because it logically makes sense according to the larger symbolic structure: “The so-called non-anthropophagic cultures practice symbolic anthropology and even construct their most elevated socius, indeed the sublimity of their morality, their politics, and their right, on this anthropophagy. Vegetarians, too, partake of animals, even of men. They practice a different mode of denegation.”xxvii For Derrida, sacrifice is inexorable and built into the very codes of existence, even for the vegetarian. Calarco situates Derrida’s claim about the embedded carnivorism of vegetarians as “part of a complicated argument about the ethical questions concerning eating, incorporation, and violence toward the Other,” which recognizes that simply speaking or thinking about the Other inevitably requires at least its symbolic violation and its appropriation.xxviii Calarco implies that it is symbolic and not literal violence to which Derrida speaks in the passage noted above (even though Derrida does not exclusively delineate the two), in turn, deflecting deep reflection on the relation of carnophallogocentrism to the material violence of the political economy of meat.
Notably, De Fontenay objects to what she considers Derrida’s totalizing schema in “Eating Well, Or the Calculation of the Subject,” which she contends reduces diverse kinds of sacrificial functions to monolithic dietary sacrifice:
I do not intend to deliver an apology for animal sacrifices here, to justify the blessed or sacred character of their cruelty, but only to affirm a conceptual unavailability. Their diversity in place and time, the plurality of their functions, their singularity, far from allowing for an understanding of contemporary practices of zootechnology and far from structuring the field of their practices into some immemorial time, seems to reserve irreducible enigmas.xxix
Here De Fontenay touches upon Derrida’s uneasy entanglement with a ubiquitous exchange economy, a complicity she gently critiques and which she contends runs counter to his work in general.xxx De Fontenay is somewhat in concert with Calarco, sharing a similar dismay with Derrida’s seemingly contradictory position on carnivorism, although perhaps less willing to integrate it into his larger opus. Instead, it seems that De Fontenay wishes to position Derrida’s quasi-structuralist leanings in “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject” as a perplexing anomaly in his oeuvre.xxxi Yet it is this disruptive quality of Derrida’s analysis in this interview—its dialectical positioning, perhaps—that renders it so useful in studying the contemporary political economy of meat, since it makes visible the fetishization of meat that sustains the State and the politics of everyday life, while at the same time refusing to act against it.
In neutralizing the value question of what to eat—which, as Calarco observes, is consistent with Derrida’s overall theoretical position—Derrida in effect avoids it altogether, instead focusing on how to eat hospitably which, as he describes it, is eating well by “learning-to-give-the-other-to-eat” and identifying with whom one is ingesting.xxxii Although Derrida convincingly dislodges the irrationality of sacrifice, one could argue that he fails to take on the materiality of sacrifice in contemporary life, which takes form in commodity exchange generally and in the normalized production, distribution, and consumption of meat products. Instead, Derrida appears to romanticize a heterogeneous and primordial linguistic source-code that, once revealed, will bring about more hospitable relations or, arguably, a kind of gifting of the Other that is suspended outside of economic exchange. xxxiii Moreover, this kind of ontological continuity may work to mask the compulsory exploitation and sacrifice of life that characterizes liberal and neoliberal frameworks. xxxiv Even if one nutritionally abstains from eating meat, there is a trace of human flesh (the dissipation of human bodies in the life-long need to work, which can at its extreme, result in loss of life and limb under the grinding wheels of production) left as surplus value in commodities as well as the hidden animal ingredients in many commodities. Derrida gestures in this direction with his admission that even vegetarians practice carnophallogocentrism, but ultimately fails to address the political-economic conditions that render carnivorism a seemingly inevitable choice, or at least a condition that must be tolerated in the metonymic economy of relations that he describes.
John Bellamy Foster’s discussion of the metabolism of nature and society in Marx’s Ecology may provide a useful intervention here. As Foster notes in his analysis of Marx, an irreparable rift in the metabolism or organic exchange of matter between humans and nature occurs under the labor processes of capitalism: “Marx employed the concept of a ‘rift’ in the metabolic relation between human beings and the earth to capture the material estrangement of human beings within capitalist society from the natural conditions which formed the basis for their existence—what he called ‘the everlasting nature-imposed condition[s] of human existence.”xxxv Although Marx was certainly not advocating dietary vegetarianism, his awareness of the predatory consumptive patterns arising from industrialized agricultural production underscore the necessity to take seriously the material conditions of labor under capitalism, which alienate humans from nature and normalize the violent consumption of natural organisms. Like all needs, the act of eating is symbolically and culturally mediated, which means, as Ted Benton explains in his critique of Marx in Natural Relations: Ecology, Animal Rights, and Social Justice, that the pathological need to eat is driven by an immediacy directly related to alienated labor, which reinforces a sense of biological necessity and human-animal duality (even in Marx’s analysis), leading to the deformation of the qualitative dimensions of animal and human life.xxxvi Working from this Marxian angle, animals and humans appear irrevocably tied together within a late capitalist economy in which sacrifice is literal for animals and humans, except that in the case of humans, it is a temporal sacrifice of the body via the sweat and blood of labor consumed as commodities on capitalist markets that appear to have a natural carnivorous metabolic function that demands the destruction of animals and humans alike.
To borrow from Marx, the consumption of meat, which as noted above, is really the stuff of commodities in general, is like the sigh of the oppressed creature, dually signified. xxxvii It is an attempt to gain power over animals and over oneself through the satisfaction of false needs as well as a comfortable, reasonable, convenient, and tasty choice. Moreover, animal death is both hidden in industrialized animal agriculture and celebrated in the postmodern sensibilities of the new gastronomy that advocate small scale husbandry and humane treatment, as much as the working class has become completely integrated into a welfare-warfare state that delivers the goods. Meat also signifies the reconciliation of opposites—life and death, exploitation and choice, freedom and servitude—for what Herbert Marcuse calls beneficial destruction in One-Dimensional Man.xxxviii Human language gives humans the power to devour literally and figuratively, in both language and body, a point that Derrida duly notes. Ideology, which gives precedence to the mystical and figurative power of consumption, tells humans in advanced industrialized societies that meat is natural, good and that is emblematic of life and power—the fuel of protein, carbohydrates, and amino acids to enhance human life, or the power to vote with your fork or to eat authentically or ethically—while the actual consumption of meat is quite literally deadly for animals and humans. This, in turn, blinds humans from grasping their own subjugated positions within the economic system, within the larger meat market. The irrationality of carnivorism (the rhetorical question posed by Derrida) and the repressive function that it serves becomes visible in the contradictory existence of animals as both life and death in capitalist systems of production and the liberal and neoliberal political ideologies that support them. To do this requires the ruthless critique of capitalism, a point not lost on Marcuse: “[Materialism] admits the reality of Hell only at one definite place, here on earth, and asserts that this Hell was created by Man (and by Nature). Part of this Hell is the ill-treatment of animals—the work of a human society whose rationality is still the irrational.” xxxix
2. Lycanthropy, Carnivorism, and the State
In The Beast & the Sovereign, Volume 1, Derrida carefully considers the anthropomorphized images that signify the carnophallogocentric economy of relations that define the modern State: sheep, foxes, lions, and especially wolves as well as mythological and biblical creatures. Here, one can derive a better sense of the political importance of Derrida’s understanding of carnophallogocentrism. Beast, Derrida argues, is the common signifier for this animal menagerie and also a trope that makes sense only in the human world, and especially in the world of politics. Moreover, bestiality takes two sovereign forms in Western political thought: one divine and the other animalistic, and both related to nonresponse.xl Like the good shepherd, the sovereign takes care of his flock. Nonetheless, the shepherd always holds the power to sacrifice his flock, in turn, casting two related metonymic figures: like a wolf disguised among sheep, the sovereign may turn on his flock; similarly, the sovereign, like God, may always choose not to respond to the cries of the people, and consequently, the people, like animals, will not be heard.
What this implies, it seems, is that sovereignty has two faces that dissolve into each other: one virtuous and one vicious, both metonymic. Wolves specifically symbolize this latter sullied political imaginary. Derrida’s presentation of a “political lycanthropy” of the Western canon points to a violent sovereignty lodged at the center of Western political thought. Wolves roam the canon, always threatening to consume the polity.xli Wolves, in particular, are a constant threat to sovereign power at both the individual and State levels since, by means of the modern social contract, it is not only the ruler that risks lycanthropy, but also the people (as lone wolves, lawbreakers). Certainly this impending lycanthropy reinforces Derrida’s claim in “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject” that the chef d’Etat, the head of State, must be “an eater of flesh” and never publicly vegetarian.xlii Notably, this portrait of the chef d’Etat coincides with what Derrida later describes in the Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1 as the devouring or lycan impulse of sovereignty:
Devourment and voracity. Devoro, vorax, vorator. It’s about mouth, teeth, tongue, and the violent rush to bite, engulf, swallow the other, to take the other into oneself too, to kill or mourn it. Might sovereignty be devouring? Might its force, its power, its greatest force, its absolute potency be, in essence and always in the last instance, a power of devourment (mouth, teeth, tongue, violent rush to bite, engulf, swallow the other, to take the other into oneself too, to kill or mourn it)?xliii
Here one can turn to Hobbes for further illustration of the lycanthropic trope. Hobbes declares in De Cive: “That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe: the first is true if we compare Citizens amongst themselves; and the second, if we compare Cities.” xliv Not only is Hobbes describing the domestic ties of a State and the antagonism between states, but he is also pointing to the sovereign right to kill. In Leviathan, absolute sovereignty rests upon the introjection of subjects into the body politic and the right to self-preservation. It is the two bodies, that of the State and that of the individual, which collide to create the paradox of sovereignty. In her classic analysis of Hobbes, Jean Hampton maintains that the power of the absolute sovereign is on loan from the people, because it is always they who determine whether sovereign interests conflict with their own right to self-protection broadly construed. xlv Thus, the sovereign obligation to protect the state by maintaining military force is in conflict with the individual right to life. In other words, one cannot be forced to give up his life or take the life of another; or, to sacrifice human flesh. Simultaneously, the absolute sovereign maintains the right to pursue or kill those who are disobedient. xlvi Contra this interpretation, Giorgio Agamben argues in Homo Sacer that the foundation of sovereign power is not the individual right to freely give up his or her natural right to self-preservation, but the sovereign right to punish.xlvii Working from Agamben’s observation, if one returns to Hobbes’s claim in De Cive, man to man is God within the commonwealth because the interior of sovereignty models divinity or inclusion, which is regulated by the sovereign right to punish at will, and man to man is a wolf outside of sovereignty because its exterior is patterned after the state of nature or dissolution.
In Political Theology, Carl Schmitt discerns that all major concepts of the modern state are secularized theological concepts: “The exception in jurisprudence is analogous to the miracle in theology.”xlviii More specifically and in line with the power of sovereign punishment that Agamben delineates in Homo Sacer, the sovereign has the singular power of direct intervention into an official system of legal order: “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.” xlix According to Schmitt, Hobbes falls squarely into this tradition: “The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were dominated by the idea of a sole sovereign, which is one of the reasons why, in addition to the decisionist cast of his thinking, Hobbes remained personalistic and postulated an ultimate concrete deciding instance, and why he also heightened his state, the Leviathan, into an immense person and thus point-blank straight into mythology.”l Notably, Hobbes concedes that the actual state of human governance is one that is situated between the brute and the divine due to the very human attribute of pride: “Hitherto I have set forth the nature of Man, (whose Pride and other Passions have compelled him to submit himselfe to Government;) together with the great power of his Governour, whom I compared to Leviathan, taking that comparison out of the last two verses of the one and fortieth of Job; where God having set forth the great power of Leviathan, calleth him King of the Proud.”li Here, Derrida’s point (as well as Schmitt’s) that Hobbes’s Leviathan is invested in copying the work of God within a secular framework despite all of his effort to liberate it from an ecclesiastical frame is obvious.lii Moreover, this passage from Leviathan illustrates that the human condition, which is not simply driven by fear but also by pride for Hobbes, is beyond that of the beasts and far from the heavenly.liii In choosing the image of Leviathan, Hobbes chooses a creation of God, but one that is also to be destroyed and literally fed to the people of the wilderness in the bible, and served along with the great land beast, Behemoth, at the feast of the righteous in the Talmud.liv
Setting aside theological debates, which go beyond the purposes of this essay, two additional scriptural details regarding these biblical beasts deserve attention: Behemoth is described in the Book of Job as a vegetarian animal, while Leviathan is described as consuming everything in its wake; while in the Talmud, both Leviathan and Behemoth are described as castrated males having had their female partners destroyed by God in order to prevent them from mating and destroying the earth.lv Hobbes names two of his works after these biblical creatures: Leviathan, his treatise of absolute sovereignty and Behemoth,lvi his account of the English Civil War. Leviathan is the artificial animal of government, separate from God, yet likened after His terrifying biblical sea creature and signifying the beast of human hubris in the Book of Job.lvii To other nations, England is a wolf among wolves, a carnivore, which will devour the world with its imperial force. All the while, the English people under the guard of their absolute sovereign are protected from their own passions and are, in effect, politically castrated. Behemoth, on the other hand, is the division of the English people, corrupted by religion and greed.lviii Arguably, the vegetarian Behemoth, despite its power, lacks a clear chef d’Etat, who at least according to Derrida, must eat meat; in other words, the chef d’Etat must be willing to sacrifice others for security. What is important for the current discussion is that it is the vegetarian beast, Behemoth, who is rife with tension and unable to distinguish the ecclesiastical and entrepreneurial wolves among men. Behemoth, unlike Leviathan, represents the state of nature in which the multitude has descended into bestiality and is devouring itself. Arguably, Behemoth and Leviathan are divine beasts that must chastised or else risk devolving into animalistic passions—the desire for everything, in the Hobbesian sense. From this angle, it seems that the lycanthropy that Hobbes describes in De Cive is the desire of the multitude, ultimately leading to democratic uprising. lix
One could argue that Hobbes’s state of nature is one of desire, and if one accepts C.B. Macpherson’s analysis in The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, it is also a competitive marketplace driven by materialist assumptions about the nature of humankind. Within this context, one could argue that sovereignty is organized around a materialist conception of desire—one in which political subjects confront subordination (or political castration reinforced by the sovereign right to punish, in this case) within the polis while simultaneously seeking out alternative pleasurable practices.lx In this sense, the individual must be willing to give up the right to everything, to sublimate his or her own desires and sovereignty as well as the subversive disarray of the multitude, and instead pursue that desire in a regulated market economy.
Arguably, meat signifies the original division of labor that marks bodies as commodities and is apparent in status, simple market, and possessive market societies (from slavery to feudal bondage to the proletariat workforce). lxi Within the contemporary context, commodities or Goods define our relationships and are the modern sacrificial trick—surrogates for human flesh that retain traces of human and animal bodies.lxii A trace of human flesh is hidden in the exchange value of commodities and abstract labor power, and while animals are no longer specific sacrificial representations within the modern context, one could argue that they are everywhere: literally as visible and invisible ingredients in commodities, and figuratively as specters of sacrifice, nourishing the hyperbolic metabolism of the neoliberal capitalist economy.
3. Eating Well in the Polis
[T]he taste of human flesh is always described as like that of pork. At any rate, later on all civilizations preferred to call swine all those who instinct was for another pleasure, pigs being animals sanctioned by society for its own ends.lxiii
In Homer’s Odyssey, the goddess Circe transforms Odysseus’s men into pigs. Horkheimer and Adorno observe in Dialectic of Enlightenment that, unlike Circe’s other victims, these men did not become “sacred creatures of the wilderness, but unclean domestic animals—swine.”lxiv Circe’s choice to turn the men into swine is telling. If pigs are to be used at will by society and represent those whose desires fall outside of societal prerogative as Horkheimer and Adorno claim, one could interpret Circe’s choice as a sign of the men’s fate. Having escaped Circe’s wrath, they are ultimately killed for sacrificing and feasting upon the sacred and immortal cattle of Helios; in other words, they are slaughtered for indulging in desires for which they were not fit.lxv Similarly in The Republic, Plato chooses to define the luxurious state with the introduction of swineherds, effectively incorporating animals into the economic life of Athens as a source of food. Perhaps even more interesting is that Plato describes the primitive city preceding the luxurious state as vegetarian, prompting Glaucon to respond: “That is just the sort of provender you would supply, Socrates, if you were founding a community of pigs.”lxvi It is not until Chapter VII, in which Socrates describes the swelling of the polis, that animals are displaced as meat and intimately linked to the multitudinous desires of the polis:
Then we must once more enlarge our community. The healthy one will not be big enough now; it must be swollen up with a whole multitude of callings not ministering to any bare necessity: hunters and fishermen, for instance; artists in sculpture, painting, and music; poets with their attendant train of professional reciters, actors, dancers, producers; and makers of all sorts of household gear, including everything for women’s adornment. […] And then swineherds — there was no need for them in our original state, but we shall want them now; and a great quantity of sheep and cattle too, if people are going to live on meat.lxvii
The Republic begins with a feast. However, the festival to Bendis appears as little more than a backdrop for the creation of Plato’s ideal polis in The Republic. At first glance, Cephalus, Socrates’ interlocutor in Chapter I, is gregarious and averse to confrontation—he accepts Socrates’ argument with little resistance and leaves the political debate to return to the feast. Still, certain details of the scene appear provocative: the choice to begin The Republic with the festival of Bendis, the goddess of animals, fertility, and the hunt; Cephalus’ admission of sexual impotency; and Cephalus’ exit from the dialogue to return to the festival and attend the sacrifice. Arguably, sacrifice, femininity, and the consumption of flesh are inaugural themes in The Republic, yet outwardly they appear trivial, if only for the reason that Socrates and his students do not attend. Instead it is Cephalus, the retired manufacturer, who leaves his own house—his oikos, and the setting for the invention of Plato’s political community—to indulge in the festival. After a brief and genteel conversation on the nature of justice, Cephalus gracefully exits to attend the festival sacrifice, leaving the business of politics to the young men: “Well, well, said Cephalus, I will bequeath the argument to you. It is time for me to attend the sacrifice. Your part, then, said Polymarchus, will fall to me as your heir. By all means, said Cephalus with a smile; and with that he left us, to see the sacrifice.” lxviii With his departure, Cephalus effectively abstains from politics to go eat some meat. Paradoxically, it was Cephalus who had just conceded that as bodily passions weaken with age, intellectual appetites continue to grow.
If this is Cephalus’ belief, why does he leave? One could interpret Cephalus’ role as signifying the oikos of Plato’s Republic—the private and the feminine. As a producer (which for Plato included not just workers but anyone involved in economic production, including the merchant class) he represents the private sphere of Athenian life shaped by material objects and sequestered from politics. As Jacques Rancière explains in The Philosopher and His Poor: “By relegating artisans to the order of pure reproduction, philosophy pretended to confirm them only where they had been placed by their love for the solid realities of technical success and financial gain.” lxix So it is of little surprise that Cephalus’ definition of justice—honesty and paying back one’s debts—is squarely centered on a naïve interpretation of the value of money and that his interests lie in his personal life. lxx Politically flaccid, one could argue that Cephalus, as a member of the producing class, must indulge in the fetishization of his desire for political knowledge by leaving the dialogue and departing for the feast of the divine feminine. Certainly at a feast he will eat well. What will he eat? If one considers Plato’s characterization of the multitude of the luxurious state in Chapter VII of The Republic, one conclusion comes to mind—meat.
All of this points to a narrative of voracity, virility, meat, and perhaps even madness (after all, what is madness, but the becoming-bestial of man) at the center of politics. lxxi Certainly Western political thought is no stranger to the fabulous, from Plato’s allegory of the cave to the metaphorical state of nature in modern social contract theory. Honestly fantastic, these stories are about making known the origins of political life; in other words, they convey truth via necessary fiction. Or, as Derrida discerns, politics and political knowledge generally are about making known the truth.lxxii This kind of truth-making, of course, is Plato’s objective in The Republic and is notably accomplished by means of fabulous allegories throughout. One such allegory is Plato’s description in Chapter XXXII of the polis descending into violence after the institution of democracy, similar to the Arcadian king who was transformed into a wolf by Zeus for serving the god a mixture of animal and human flesh and challenging his divinity:
You have heard the legend they tell of the shrine of Lycaean Zeus in Arcadia: how one who tastes a single piece of human flesh mixed in with the flesh of the sacrificial victims is fated to be changed into a wolf. In the same way the people’s champion, finding himself in full control of the mob, may not scruple to shed a brother’s blood; dragging him before a tribunal with the usual unjust charges, he may foully murder him, blotting out a man’s life and tasting kindred blood with unhallowed tongue and lips; he may send men to death or exile with hinted promises of debts to be cancelled and estates to be redistributed. Is it not thenceforth his inevitable fate to either be destroyed by his enemies or to seize absolute power and be transformed from a human being into a wolf?lxxiii
Agamben too points to this passage in The Republic to illustrate the proximity of the werewolf and the tyrant, although with little elaboration.lxxiv Derrida argues that not only does a fable “make known” but it does so in a double sense: first, by sharing or making known to the other; and second, by “making like” knowledge in the sense that one pretends to know. What this means is that it is not simply the rhetoric or logic of politics that is a simulacrum of knowledge, but everything in the public sphere.lxxv Thus, working from Derrida’s analysis, it seems that Plato’s lycanthropic allegory makes known two prominent themes in the history of Western political thought related to the fetishization of desire: the bestiality and impotency of both the force of law and the use of violence; and the consumption of flesh in the name of private property.
Commodity fetishism operates in the fantastic way that Derrida describes by allowing commodities to stand in place for actual human relations. Modern social contract theory and capitalism take for granted the self-signifying subject—who knows himself and his preferences and is ultimately the original point of reference for civil society—and then take this narrative all the way to the origins of the human species so that owning and contracting oneself becomes fundamental to human identity. lxxvi Given the above explication of Plato’s The Republic, it seems that the choice to subject oneself to another is an illusion of freedom fueled by the fetishization of flesh (in contemporary terms, the everyday homologies of citizens, consumers, workers, and animals as meat) to be circulated in an exchange economy. This is not simply a modern practice, however, but a logic that traces back to antiquity as Horkheimer and Adorno suggest in Dialectic of Enlightenment.lxxvii For Plato in a pre-capitalist, customary economy, it is sacrifice that takes precedence at the beginning of The Republic. Cephalus, as citizen and economic producer, must sublimate his self-governing desire and instead go to the sacrifice to consume the animal-qua-meat, which is a substitute for his own flesh. Plato’s economic division of labor and the subjugated and precarious position of the artisan worker in particular are founded on a double lie about nature and function, according to Rancière:
There is no virtue or education that belongs to the laboring people. Their ‘own’ virtue—moderation, common ‘wisdom’ (sōphrosunē)—must come to them from the outside. There is no ‘self-mastery’ that the inferior can claim as its own virtue since, by definition, mastery presupposes a superior. […] This wisdom of the artisan, which exists outside him, is simply the order of the state that puts him in his place.lxxviii
Plato’s brand of justice, as Rancière eludes in the above passage, is really an ideological rhetoric that justifies the silencing and exclusion of the laboring people. Moreover, the vegetarian city of pigs that Plato describes is an “egalitarian republic of labor” that is deliberately disordered so that it can once again be made healthy. lxxix In Plato’s ideal state, those false imitators (artists and poets) who rhetorically feed the demos are cooks on campaigns and hunters of gifts, votes, and bodies who can only see the world through the eyes of consumers and, therefore, are blind to the form of beauty and only see beautiful objects.lxxx As Rancière explains, for Plato, the poets confuse the distinction between divine imitations and artisanal fabrications.lxxxi “Theatrocracy [la théâtrocratie] is the mother of democracy.” lxxxii Artists create the popular aesthetics consumed by the likes of Cephalus and, if not regulated by philosophy and its resultant division of labor, they may possibly incite the descent of the demos into a cacophony of phonic animals that are driven by material pleasure: “Just as the lovers of the spectacle were only the Many shouting here and dozing there, the artisan folk must be governed solely by the alteration of work and sleep so that the philosopher-cicada may preserve his sanctuary.”lxxxiii The just ordering of the state organized along the division of labor, the noble lie introduced in The Republic, excludes the laboring people from politics and serves the policing function of the state in the division of the sensible.lxxxiv
With the progression of Western political thought from antiquity to modernity, as noted in the earlier discussion of Hobbes, comes the transformation of the noble lie of sacrifice to universal exchange value under capitalism. More specifically, within the context of late capitalism, sacrifice secretly remains in the false resolution of the collective and the individual, which emerges as subjectivity, or the right to relinquish oneself to another.lxxxv As Marx explains in Capital, Volume 1, commodity fetishism is a “fantastic form of a relation between things” that is built upon the strange quality of exchange value, which also hides the exploitation of labor and the fact that while on the surface the worker freely sells his or her labor (chooses to labor or to resign himself to another), in reality the choice is not free.lxxxvi This kind of surrender of oneself to another exposes sovereignty as a fabulation because, as Derrida notes: “A divisible sovereignty is no longer a sovereignty worth of the name, i.e. pure and unconditional.” lxxxvii
Notably, Machiavelli presents a curious interruption to this fabulation of sovereignty in The Prince. In History of Madness, Foucault distinguishes the Renaissance period as being one in which madness and related forms of bestiality were present everywhere and integrated into everyday life as a creative force.lxxxviii It is not surprising that it is Machiavelli, writing during the Renaissance, who capitalizes on knowing and harnessing this imaginative power. Close reading of The Prince suggests that Machiavelli is aware of the fabulous nature of sovereignty as well as the corpses that its divine and animalized forms demand. Machiavelli is instructive on this point when recognizing that there are two ways of fighting, one legal and one forceful: “The first belongs properly to man, the second to animals.”lxxxix Derrida invests a great deal of time on this theme in The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, analyzing Machiavelli’s implication of Chiron not only as an allegory for instructing princes on the two ways of fighting, but as a gesture towards the fabulous core of sovereignty as signified in the double nature of the half-man, half-beast. Chiron, of course, is a man supported by the body of a horse. This image suggests that the virtuous prince is one who understands that sovereignty and its ensuing human condition are, in fact, supported by an understanding of beastly politics. More specifically, while force signifies bestiality and lack of understanding, law reflects religion and morality, if only superficially, “[a prince] must never appear to be anything but the very soul of clemency, faithfulness, frankness, humanity, and religion to all who see and hear him. But of all the qualities he must seem to have, none is more important than the last.”xc A virtuous prince knows that law and the morality that it represents is but a veneer, and if held too steadfastly will destroy him, and that violence too often applied will do the same.xci Yet it is only the foxy prince that is able to see this since, as Derrida discerns, this foxy prince is only pretending to be a lion.xcii Necessitas, in line with Derrida’s argument, becomes a political morality that circulates this bestial fetishization within an economy of violence. xciii
Certainly the fox is important, as Derrida describes, but one should not forget the lion. Expanding upon Derrida’s observation, one is reminded of the importance of the lion in Thus Spoke Zarathustra—a beast that is not only brute force or will, but also one that signifies the inversion of Christian values and the crisis of modernity. xciv In this sense, one could argue that the lion is simply unthinking, only saying “yes” to itself as the hyper-individual of modernity. A Nietzschean reading of The Prince suggests that Machiavelli’s lion signifies the will, but in a way that demoralizes and emasculates the people: “Still a prince should make himself feared in such a way that, though he does not gain love, he escapes hatred; for being feared but not hated go readily together. Such a condition he may always attain if he will not touch the property of his citizens and subjects, nor their women.”xcv Machiavelli also observes in Chapter XXI that the esteemed prince will occupy the people with festivals and spectacles—where one could logically infer that meat is served.xcvi Thus, Machiavelli implies that the unsuccessful princely lion will consume the fetishes of the people, believing that he can create anew, outside of the old morality or economy of relations.xcvii Machiavelli, of course, advises against this because, as Nietzsche would later observe, even this the lion cannot do.xcviii
Derrida compares sovereignty to prosthesis, a marionette or phallus in hyperbolic overdrive “that never gives anything up, that is an absolute stranger to all thought.” xcix If one extends this logic to Machiavelli’s lion, it is sovereignty experienced as priapism, permanently erect yet lacking generative power—impotent. c Likewise, the too-foxy prince becomes a castrated and feminine ruler, as the story of Alexander Severus illustrates.ci Allegorically this kind of characterization and attention to the artificiality or simulacrum of politics is strikingly similar to the Hobbes’s Leviathan and Behemoth. It also underscores the fantastic power of carnivorous violence. Returning to Machiavelli, it is the deceptive fox, and only the fox if one takes Derrida at his word, that signifies political morality and who is able to feign goodness; that is, to pretend or make known the virtues of princely rule, only to discard them when necessary. It is when the foxy-prince believes his own ruse and forgets his brute skill—forgets his own fetishization, or simulacrum—that the people consume him. Alone, the fox and the lion are all too human for accepting the fetish as the real thing. Together as the virtuous prince, the fox and the lion, like the centaur, become something altogether different and fabulous—perhaps prototypes of Nietzsche’s sovereign individual, whom transvalue the violent and hyperbolic core of modern life and, by extension, the political-economic system that supports and sustains it.cii
4. Towards a Beastly Politics?
Animals are not and cannot be beasts, according to Derrida, for the reason that beast is a strictly anthropological signifier. God and animals are polar extremes of enlightenment and stupidity, peace and violence, respectively. These are also the poles that represent the extremes of community and individuality—the divine flock and the blond beast, both of which suffer the disease of humanity.ciii As Gilles Deleuze points out in Nietzsche and Philosophy, Zarathustra tells the story of nihilism from religion to secular humanism: “From God to God’s murderer, from God’s murderer to the last man.”civ It is as if Nietzsche instinctively knew what Derrida describes: that sovereignty is empty, a simulacrum of power, and a fabulation rooted in knowing or pretending to know the mysteries of divinity and animality. It is this “making like” knowledge that finds its form in the fetish of flesh, the commodity form of meat, which must be circulated and consumed on the market.
Moreover, it is this gastronomic materiality that Nietzsche is acutely aware of, and which perhaps Derrida loses track of in The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1. To be fair, Derrida does address the issue of death, characterizing death as an autopsic model in which humans see themselves in the dead body of another—the mortal body, the political body, and the sacramental body. For Derrida, it is this impulse which then drives our curious need to be spectators of animals (in zoos, for example) and to limit their freedom.cv Nonetheless, food and meat in particular, do not significantly find their way into this conversation.cvi This is not to downplay the political importance of Derrida’s concept of beastly politics, but to point to its limits, its material threshold. Returning to Nietzsche, the question of nutrition is, both literally and philosophically, what he considers to be the focal point for the salvation of humanity: “I am much more interested in a question on which the ‘salvation of humanity’ depends far more than on any theologians’ curio: the question of nutrition. For ordinary use, one may formulate it thus: ‘how do you, among all people, have to eat to attain your maximum of strength, of virtu in the Renaissance style, of moraline-free virtue?’”cvii As the above passage illustrates, consumption for Nietzsche is a double entendre that is moral and material—one must know what they are eating or consuming as well as what it pretends to be.
Of course, making known the ruse necessitates understanding the economy that sustains it: whether it is the economy of violence of the absolute sovereign, or the political economy of meat that is embedded within capitalism. This is why, one could argue, vegetarianism does not escape the sacrificial problematic. One thing that Derrida does not do, for all of his talk of animals, is unthinkingly shift from carnophallogocentrism to vegetarianism or animal advocacy. To do so would be to simply invert sacrificial values, rather than call them into suspicion. Vegetarianism, and especially ethical vegetarianism, risks lapsing into a politics of purity, the new Good or correct belief. In this sense, the law, which is commonly the basis for animal rights, takes on a divine form reminiscent of the natural law that Plato espouses and Machiavelli denounces. While animal rights advocates bring to bear the material violence against animals that underpins capitalist relations (and this is certainly an important disruption, and one that should not be downplayed) to assume that one escapes that violence via the choice to abstain from eating meat or that one’s consumer choices amount to a politics ignores the materiality of meat implicit in all commodities. Although animal rights do bring animals back into the polis and restore material animal presence, they fall short by reiterating the fabulous truth-telling ruse of politics that Derrida perceives. Carnivorism similarly embraces the other extreme of sovereignty with equal vigor, naturalizing the necessity of human violence.cviii It is the latter that Derrida fails to fully interrogate. Both unthinkingly accept sovereignty in its fabulous forms. To get beyond these forms, one must recognize them for what they are: flesh for flesh fetishes of political desire that demand deep critique of neoliberal capitalist values. As Nietzsche was well aware: “[B]lood and cruelty lie at the bottom of all ‘good things’!” cix
i Karl Marx, “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, 2 nd Edition, ed. by Robert C. Tucker (New York: WW Norton, 1978), pp. 469-500.
ii Carol Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (Continuum Publishing Company, New York: 2000).
iii Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, & the New International, trans. Peggy Kamuf, New York: Routledge, 1994).
iv It is well known that famous Marxists like Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson criticized Derrida’s interpretation of Marx and that Derrida responded to their critiques, but that exchange is beyond the scope of discussion in this essay, since there will be no attempt to turn Derrida into a Marxist or vice versa. See, for example Michael Sprinker, Michael (ed.), Ghostly Demarcations: A Symposium on Jacques Derrida’s Specters of Marx (Verso, London: 2008).
v Jacques Derrida, The Beast & the Sovereign, Volume 1, trans. Geoffrey Bennington (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009) and Jacques Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” trans. Peter Connor and Avital Ronell in Points… Interviews, 1974-1994, Jacques Derrida. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995), p. 255-287.
vi Immaterial labor here is defined as information, communication, and cultural production in postindustrial capitalist societies. See Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA: 2000).
vii Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 280.
viii Derrida expands his discussion of the carnophallogocentrism of the Western canon in the 1997 lecture, “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow).” Cary Wolfe, Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory, University of Chicago Press, Chicago: 2003), p. 66. Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am, ed. Marie-Louise Mallet, trans. David Wills (Fordham, New York: 2008), p. 32.
ix Wolfe, Animal Rites, p. 66.
x Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” pp. 278-281; Élizabeth De Fontenay, Without Offending Humans: A Critique of Animal Rights, trans. Will Bishop (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), pp. 13-14.
xi Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 281.
xii Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 282.
xiii Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 278, p. 283.
xiv Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 280.
xv De Fontenay, Without Offending Humans, p. 13.
xvi Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 283.
xvii Matthew Calarco, Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), p. 132.
xviii Calarco, Zoographies, p. 132.
xix Calarco, Zoographies, pp. 133-135, p. 136.
xx Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 278.
xxi For more information on the medical evidence supporting a plant-based diet over carnivorism, see Forks over Knives, directed by Lee Fulkerson (2011; New York: Virgil Films and Entertainment, 2011), DVD.
xxii Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 278-83.
xxiii Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 285.
xxiv Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 285.
xxv De Fontenay, Without Offending Humans, p. 13.
xxvi Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 282.
xxvii Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 282.
xxviii Calarco, Zoographies, p. 135, p. 136.
xxix De Fontenay, Without Offending Humans, pp. 15-16.
xxx De Fontenay, Without Offending Humans, pp. 14-15.
xxxi De Fontenay, Without Offending Humans, p. 17.
xxxii Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 282, pp. 282-283.
xxxiii For a more detailed discussion of giving, hospitality, and debt, see Jacque Derrida, The Gift of Death, trans. David Wills (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995) and Jacques Derrida, Given Time: 1. Counterfeit Money, trans. Peggy Kamuf (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).
xxxiv Derrida is explicit that his attempt is to get beyond the “who” of subjectivity to an unstable and heterogeneous pre-subjective zone of relations; an important part of recognizing this zone is perceiving unstable boundaries between animals and humans. Derrida declares that there is no choice but to eat; one cannot escape this core relationship of consuming the Other, implying certain violence. Derrida’s solution is to eat well, to learn and give to the Other with and which one eats (“Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject” pp. 282-285). One could argue that Derrida’s ethical imperative to be hospitable to the Other manifests as a jargon of authenticity, accepting the core violence of these heterogeneous relations; practically this amounts to better choices of what to eat within the late capitalist life-world (for example Slow Food, farm to table, green consumerism). For an extended discussion of Adorno’s The Jargon of Authenticity as it relates to local food movements, see Katherine Young, “Adorno, Gastronomic Authenticity, and the Politics of Eating Well,” in New Political Science, vol. 36, no. 3, 2014, pp. 387-405. See also Theodor Adorno, The Jargon of Authenticity, trans. Knut Tarnowski and Frederic Will (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1973).
xxxv John Bellamy Foster, Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000), p. 163.
xxxvi Ted Benton, Ecology, Animal Rights & Social Justice, London: Verso, 1993), pp. 49-59.
xxxvii See Karl Marx, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction” in The Marx-Engels Reader, 2 nd Edition, ed. by Robert C. Tucker (New York: WW Norton, 1978), p. 54.
xxxviii Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), p. 89.
xxxix Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man, p. 237.
xl Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, pp. 48-57. See also Plato, “Timaeus” in The Dialogues of Plato: A Selection, ed. William Chase Greene, trans. Benjamin Jowett (New York: Liveright Publishing Corp., 1927), pp. 505-522 and Plato, The Republic of Plato, trans. Francis MacDonald Cornford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1945), p. 27, p. 209.
xli Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, pp. 9-12.
xlii Derrida, “Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject,” p. 281.
xliii Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, p. 23.
xliv Thomas Hobbes, De Cive, ed. Howard Warrender (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1983), p. 24.
xlv Jean Hampton, “The Failure of Hobbes’s Social Contract Argument” in Leviathan: An Authoritative Text: Backgrounds Interpretations, ed. Richard E. Flatham and David Johnston (New York: WW Norton & Company, 1997), p. 354.
xlvi Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: An Authoritative Text: Backgrounds Interpretations, ed. Richard E. Flatham and David Johnston (New York: WW Norton & Company, 1997), pp. 119-120.
xlvii Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), p. 106.
xlviii Carl Schmitt. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. by George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), p. 36.
xlix Schmitt, Political Theology, pp. 36-37, p. 5.
l Schmitt, Political Theology, p. 47.
li Hobbes, Leviathan, p. 161; Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, p. 27. The passage from Job reads: “Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high [things]: he [is] a king over all the children of pride” (Job 41:33-41:34, King James Bible, <kingjamesbibleonline.org/>).
lii Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, p. 53.
liii Hobbes, Leviathan, p.76-77; Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, p. 55. Derrida discusses the primacy of fear as the root of sovereignty and also as being coextensive with all of the political passions (The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, pp. 40-41). My related focus is on Hobbes’s specific attention to human pride in relation to sovereignty.
liv Psalms 74:14, King James Bible, <kingjamesbibleonline.org/>; Tractate Baba Bathra, Folio 74b, Soncino Babylonian Talmud, trans. Rabbi Dr. I Epstein,< http://www.come-and-hear.com/bababathra/bababathra_74.html >; Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal, trans. Kevin Attell, (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004), p. 2-3.
lv Job 40:15, Job 41, King James Bible, <kingjamesbibleonline.org/> Tractate Baba Bathra, Folio 74b, < http://www.come-and-hear.com/bababathra/bababathra_74.html >.
lvi Thomas Hobbes, Behemoth, ed. William Molesworth (New York: Burt Franklin, 1969).
lvii Job 41, King James Bible, <kingjamesbibleonline.org/>.
lviii CB Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 64-65.
lix Hobbes, De Cive, pp. 151-152.
lx Bradley Macdonald, Performing Marx: Contemporary Negotiations of a Living Tradition (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2006), p. 43.
lxi See Macpherson’s discussion of these three models of society (in The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, pp. 46-70).
lxii Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (New York: Continuum, 1999), p. 10, pp. 50-53.
lxiii Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, p. 71.
lxiv Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, pp. 70-71.
lxv Homer, Odyssey, trans. Stanley Lombardo (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2000), p.182.
lxvi Plato, The Republic of Plato, p. 60.
lxvii Plato, The Republic of Plato, p.61.
lxviii Plato, The Republic of Plato, p. 7.
lxix Jacques Rancière, The Philosopher and His Poor, trans. John Drury, Corinne Oster, and Andrew Parker (Durham, NC: Duke University Press), p. 203.
lxx Rancière, The Philosopher and His Poor, p. 25.
lxxi Note Socrates’ refutation of Cephalus’ argument—the madman defense. Also, Derrida specifically speaks of the link of madness and animality, zoos, and mental asylums (The Beast and the Sovereign, p. 297).
lxxii Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, p. 34.
lxxiii Plato, The Republic of Plato, p. 292.
lxxiv Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1998), p. 108.
lxxv Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, p. 35, pp. 34-35.
lxxvi For a detailed discussion of contracting, liberalism, exploitation, and identity, see Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988).
lxxvii Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, pp. 50-57.
lxxviii Rancière, The Philosopher and His Poor, pp. 24-5.
lxxix Rancière, The Philosopher and His Poor, p. 8, p. 9.
lxxx Rancière, The Philosopher and His Poor, pp. 44-45.
lxxxi Rancière, The Philosopher and His Poor, pp. 45-47.
lxxxii Rancière, The Philosopher and His Poor, p. 45.
lxxxiii Rancière, The Philosopher and His Poor, p. 49.
lxxxiv Young, “The Politics of Eating Well,” p. 392.
lxxxv# Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, pp. 55-56.
lxxxvi Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1, trans. Ben Fowkes (New York: Vintage Books, 1977), p. 165.
lxxxvii Derrida, The Beast & the Sovereign, Volume 1, pp. 76-77.
lxxxviii Michel Foucault, History of Madness, ed. by Jean Khalfa and trans. by Jonathan Murphy and Jean Khalfa (London: Routledge, 2009), p. 19.
lxxxix Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, ed. Daniel Donno, (New York: Bantam, 1966), p. 62.
xc Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 62, p. 63. Derrida discusses the allegorical importance of Chiron; however, he does not directly tie Machiavelli’s discussion of the force of law to religion (although one could argue that he implies it via his use of the immortal figure of Chiron) (The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, pp. 85-88). Rather, this is my expansion of Derrida’s earlier argument regarding the two extremes of sovereignty.
xci Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 38, pp. 56-57.
xcii Derrida, The Beast & the Sovereign, Volume 1, pp. 90-91.
xciii For a detailed discussion of the economy of violence in Machiavelli’s Prince, see Sheldon S. Wolin, Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).
xciv Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for None and All, trans. Walter Kaufman (New York: Penguin, 1978), pp. 25-28.
xcv Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 60.
xcvi Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 79.
xcvii Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 79.
xcviii Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, p. 27.
xcix Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, pp. 222-225, p. 224.
c Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, p. 84. Here Derrida notes that Machiavelli describes combat through the law as impotent. I am expanding this notion of impotency to forceful combat, as represented by the lion.
ci Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 68-69.
cii Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Genealogy of Morals” in Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Modern Library, 2000), pp. 494-496. See also Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, 4 th Edition, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974), pp. 312-13. Here Kaufmann analyzes Nietzsche’s interpretation of the human species, wherein the overman is “the truly human” in defying his instrumentality and animality with regard to society. Within each human, Kaufmann notes, there is the human and the all-too-human, the creator and the creature, and the will represents the constant strain of the two on human life.
ciii Note that I am applying Kaufmann’s interpretation of Nietzsche’s “blond beast” as the lion. See Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Genealogy of Morals” in Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Modern Library, 2000), pp. 476-479; Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, p. 225; Walter Kaufmann, “Translator’s Footnotes” for “Genealogy of Morals” in Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Modern Library, 2000), p. 477.
civ Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), p. 151.
cv Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, pp. 294-300.
cvi Dietary choices/food minimally appear in The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1 (for example, see The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, p. 19, pp. 110-111, p. 195, pp. 196-198).
cvii Friedrich Nietzsche, “Ecce Homo” in Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Modern Library, 2000), p. 693.
cviii Deleuze questions the reduction of human life to species activity, to rote performance of the will to domination in its material forms. The will to difference, affirmation, in turn, is irreconcilably in tension with the will to nothingness. As Deleuze explains, this tension ends with active destruction and joyful annihilation, which celebrates all that has not returned, which wishes to perish (Nietzsche and Philosophy, p. 170-175). “The Overman as species is in fact ‘the superior species of everything that is’” ( Nietzsche and Philosophy, p. 177). The temporality is obvious in this passage, as it points to the celebration of the moment of eternal return in daily life, which rests not upon idols or supermen, but instead laughs at and defies the embedded violence of the human condition and seeks the will to difference. One must take care not to read this as an implicit acceptance of violence in Nietzsche. As Deleuze explains, nihilism is the demon that bids the weak to do its dirty work, to carry it on their backs by reifying that the only means to power is to individually seize it, to dominate, to destroy in the name of the nothingness (Nietzsche and Philosophy, p. 191). Affirmation and negation remain in constant struggle. What Derrida offers in this way is a potentially celebratory deconstruction, a dislocation of everything that is, and a revelation of the animal specter that lies at the heart of all good things.
cix Nietzsche, “The Genealogy of Morals,” p. 498.