State knowledge and recurring patterns of state phobia: From fascism to post-politics
(2016) Progress in Human Geography, 40 (4), pp. 476-494.
This paper identifies some key underlying assumptions of critical political analysis by examining two moments that have brought these assumptions to the fore: the Klaus Croissant affair in West Germany and France in the late 1970s, and Edward Snowden’s revelations in the 21st century regarding the activities of the US National Security Agency. Interesting parallels can be identified between ‘distinction-collapsing discourses’ prominent in the two contexts. The core argument of the paper is that understanding Michel Foucault’s critical stance toward the description of West Germany as ‘fascist’ in 1977 and 1978, and more broadly, toward what he called ‘state phobia’, can help us resist undifferentiated condemnation of state representations under the sign of ‘post-politics’ today. An account of the 1977 Croissant affair, the critical discourses prominent at the time, and Foucault’s critical stance toward the notion of fascism provides an historical parallel for a critical reading of Badiou’s discussion of the state in Being and Event and other works. The final section briefly surveys a number of recent forms of epistemic activism that illustrate the shortcomings of a one-sided reading of state knowledge such as that offered by Badiou and seemingly confirmed by the NSA scandal. © 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.
Badiou; fascism; Foucault; post-politics; state phobia