When Terry Eagleton, in a review of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s A Critique of Postcolonial Reason, declares that Spivak’s ‘flamboyant theoretical avant-gardism conceals a rather modest political agenda’1 he rehearses the allegation, made repeatedly since the late 1970s, that poststructuralism indulges in a ludicism that prevents it from offering a compelling critique of the social, the political, and the cultural. Poststructuralist theory, Eagleton tells us, is caught up in a ‘selftheatricalizing’2 introspection; its notion of resistance permits little more than a vigilant complicity with dominant institutions, and its theory of cultural power fails to provide a convincing analysis of social systems and the injustices embedded within them. These claims tellingly reiterate other work — by other critics, as well as Eagleton — that excoriates poststructuralist theory for being unsystematic, ahistorical, rarified, abstruse, or banal; for being, in other words, a diversion from properly effective forms of radical critique.


National Identity European Nation Democratic State Postcolonial Theory Greek Thought 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Terry Eagleton, ‘In the Gaudy Supermarket’ London Review of Books, 21: 10 (1999), 6.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Benita Parry, ‘Problems in Current Theories of Colonial Discourse’, Oxford Literary Review, 9: 1–2 (1987), 27–58; Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (London: Verso, 1992); Arif Dirlik, The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism (Boulder: Westview Press, 1992); Bart Moore-Gilbert, ‘Spivak and Bhabha’, in Henry Schwarz & Sangeeta Ray, (eds), A Companion to Postcolonial Studies (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 451–66.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    James Clifford, ‘Taking Identity Politics Seriously: “The Contradictory Stony Ground…”’, in Paul Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg & Angela McRobbie (eds), Without Guarantees: In Honour of Stuart Hall (London: Verso, 2000), p. 99.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, trans. Marion Faber (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 143–5.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ, trans. R.J. Hollingdale (London: Penguin, 1990), p. 112.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks’, trans. M.A. Mugge, in Geoffrey Clive (ed.), The Philosophy of Nietzsche (New York: Mentor, 1965), p. 154Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Alan D. Schrift, ‘Nietzsche’s Contest: Nietzsche and the Culture Wars’, in Alan D. Schrift (ed.), Why Nietzsche Still? Reflections on Drama, Culture, and Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), p. 193.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Edmund Husserl, ‘Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man’, in Phenomenology and the Crisis ofPhilosophy, trans. Quentin Lauer (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965), p. 155.Google Scholar
  9. 20.
    Martin Heidegger, ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’, in Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (London: Harper & Row, 1971), p. 39.Google Scholar
  10. 28.
    Leslie Paul Thiele, Timely Meditations: Martin Heidegger and Postmodern Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), pp. 148–9.Google Scholar
  11. 29.
    Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), p. 102.Google Scholar
  12. 31.
    Robert J.C. Young, ‘Race and Language in the Two Saussures’, in Peter Osborne and Stella Sandford (eds), Philosophies of Race and Ethnicity (London: Continuum, 2002), p. 78.Google Scholar
  13. 32.
    Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969), p. 281.Google Scholar
  14. 33.
    Homi K. Bhabha, ‘Editor’s Introduction: Minority Maneuvers and Unsettled Negotiations’, Critical Inquiry 23: 3 (1997), pp. 438–9.Google Scholar
  15. 34.
    Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism, trans. Sean Hand (London: Athlone, 1990), p. 164.Google Scholar
  16. 35.
    For a further discussion of Levinas’s treatment of nationality, of the status of Israel in his work, and the relationship between his ‘philosophical’ and ‘confessional’ writings, see Philip Leonard, ‘A Supreme Heteronomy?: Arche and Topology in Difficult Freedom’ in Sean Hand (ed.), Facing the Other: Ethics in the Work of Emmanuel Levinas (Richmond: Curzon, 1996), pp. 121–39.Google Scholar
  17. 36.
    Roger Scruton, England: An Elegy (London: Pimlico, 2001), pp. 16–17.Google Scholar
  18. 40.
    Jurgen Habermas, The Postnational Constellation: Political Essays, trans. Max Pensky (London: Polity, 2001), p. 64.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Philip Leonard 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Leonard

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations