Monday, January 31, 2011

Sovereignty and the UFO

A must-read article:

Sovereignty and the UFO

An excerpt:

Modern rule and its metaphysics are extraordinarily resilient, so the difficulties of such resistance cannot be overstated. Those who attempt it will have difficulty funding and publishing their work, and their reputations will suffer. UFO resistance might not be futile but it is certainly dangerous, because it is resistance to modern sovereignty itself. In this respect militant UFO agnosticism is akin to other forms of resistance to governmentality; however, whereas sovereignty has found ways of dealing with them, the UFO may reveal an Achilles heel. Like Achilles, the modern sovereign is a warrior whose function is to protect—in this case, from threats to the norm. Unlike conventional threats, however, the UFO threatens humans’ capacity to decide those threats, and so cannot be acknowledged without calling modern sovereignty itself into question. To what extent that would be desirable is a large normative question which we have bracketed here. But taking UFOs seriously would certainly embody the spirit of self criticism that infuses liberal governmentality and academia in particular, and it would, thereby, foster critical theory. And indeed, if academics’ first responsibility is to tell the truth, then the truth is that after sixty years of modern UFOs, human beings still have no idea what they are, and are not even trying to find out. That should surprise and disturb us all, and cast doubt on the structure of rule that requires and sustains it.
Alexander Wendt (Ohio State University) and Raymond Duvall (University of Minnesota), in Political Theory, Vol. 38, No. 4, August 2008.

Paul Kimball

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