The Antinomies of Refugee Reason

Michael Marder Artículo en revista 2022 GAIT

Nombre de la revista: TELOS
Referencia: Marder, Michael (2022). “The Antinomies of Refugee Reason”. Telos, 198 (Spring 2022), 113-123.

My choice of “antinomy” with regard to the predicament of the refugees is a reference to Kant’s philosophy. For Kant, “reason’s natural illusions are not merely revealed by subtle philosophical analysis but unavoidably manifest themselves in the form of actual contradictions each side of which seems … plausible.”1 In a similar vein, the antinomies of refugee reason are not merely the results of a theoretical exercise but forms of “actual contradictions.” To overcome the impasse of the antinomies, Kant recommended adapting the key distinction of transcendental idealism between appearances and things in themselves. This solution might be tempting, for instance, when brought to bear on refugee subalternity,2 which could be resolved by conceding that the sociopolitical construction of their existence “for us” does not get at their being in and for themselves. (As a matter of fact, the backdrop for Spivak’s notion of subalternity is thoroughly Kantian, in that no representation is able to express the being of the represented, which endures as a kind of oppressed and mute thing in itself.) Here, however, we exhaust the usefulness of Kant and must turn to Hegel and Marx. That is to say, we must dialectically affirm the nonillusory nature and necessity of self-contradiction (Hegel), as well as insist on tackling actual contradictions in actuality, in and through political practice (Marx). Needless to say, the ambit of this practice ought to be significantly wider than the refugee question: it would need to occupy itself with the planetary tasks that also touch upon ecological issues, the role of the state with respect to transnational problems, and the impact of global capitalism. For unless refugee reason is embedded in the context of other contemporary crises (and opportunities for radical change), its antinomies will remain just that: irresolvable and tragic dead-ends.