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Neo-Despotism as Anti-Despotism

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Forthcoming
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/11/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Theory, Culture and Society
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

I treat despotism as a virtual concept. Thus it is necessary to expose its actualizations even when it appears as its opposite, refusing to recognize itself as despotism. I define despotism initially as arbitrary rule, in terms of a monstrous transgression of the law. But since the monster is grounded in its very formlessness, it cannot be demonstrated. However, one can always try to de-monstrate it through disagreements. In doing this, I deal with despotism not as a solipsistic undertaking but as part of a constellation that always already contains two other elements: economy and voluntary servitude. I give three different – ancient, early modern and late modern – accounts of this nexus, demonstrating how despotism continuously takes on new appearances. I conclude, in a counter-classical prism, how the classical nexus has evolved in modernity while the focus gradually shifted towards another triangulation: neo-despotism, use and dissent.