Derrida's deconstruction of authority

Philosophy and Social Criticism 27 (3):1-20 (2001)
Abstract
This article explores the political aspect of Derrida's work, in particular his critique of authority. Derrida employs a series of strategies to expose the antagonisms within Western philosophy, whose structures of presence provide a rational and essentialist foundation for political institutions. Therefore, Derrida's interrogation of the universalist claims of philosophy may be applied to the pretensions of political authority. Moreover, I argue that Derrida's deconstruction of the two paths of 'reading' - inversion and subversion - may be applied to the question of revolutionary politics, to show that revolution often culminates in the reaffirmation of authority. Derrida navigates a path between these two strategies, allowing one to formulate philosophical and political strategies that work at the limits of discourse, thereby pointing to an outside. This outside, I argue, is crucial to radical politics because it unmasks the violence and illegitimacy of institutions and laws. Key Words: anarchism • authority • deconstruction • Derrida • displacement • justice • law • politics • poststructuralism.
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