Machiavelli versus Derrida, Unequal Distribution of Income, and a Dire Warning for the Black African American Community

The origin of nature = the breach of language
The origin of language = the breach of nature

In Machiavelli’s ‘The Art of War,’ the beginning of the discourse on war deals with what type of man is most suitable to a political entity for war. The conversation between Fabrizio and Cosimo revolves around ideal physical, political, and cultural traits that a soldier should have in order to be put to war. In reading this initial part of Machiavelli’s work, we can find a connection to Derrida’s criticism of Rousseau in ‘Of Grammatology,’ particularly when Derrida critiques Rousseau’s theory of the northern European versus the southern European. We recall Rousseau’s theory that the northern European is more articulate for survival purposes because of the climate, and the southern European is more passionate, linguistically, because the urgency of survival is not as great, also because of the climate. Derrida debates this theory because Rousseau’s connotation is that the northern European’s passion is ‘cancelled,’ but Derrida contends that the northern European’s passion is masked by articulation rather than being ‘effaced.’

There is an inverse relationship between these respective parts of Machiavelli and Derrida. Machiavelli’s discussion is of the physical traits of man changing the environmental landscape, and Derrida’s discussion is of the environmental landscape changing the physical traits of man, particularly man’s language. Derrida would perhaps question Machiavelli’s text by arguing whether or not a man’s strengths or weaknesses can truly be understood as appropriate criteria for drafting him into war. In both texts, the same general principle is being debated, and the debate is whether or not a person’s behavior, particularly a person’s predispositions to certain behaviors, can be predicted, whether the prediction is based off of location, image, or other general characteristics. In other words, both Machiavelli and Derrida discuss the validity of stereotyping. They both argue that stereotyping can be done. Derrida differs from Machiavelli by proposing that the unseen characteristics of man are latent and substituted or supplemented by man’s dominant characteristics. Machiavelli’s work illustrates how man’s dominant characteristics carry stereotypes based on those dominant characteristics, and that latent characteristics are irrelevant. Either way, I think they both miss the point that even in a unified community, there will be a diverse mixture of traits and characteristics, and no matter how hard we try to supplement diversity with homogeny, homogeneous communities will always be subject to a diversity of people.

I don’t understand the unequal distribution of income in our society. I understand that it certainly exists, I just don’t get how all these millions of people are okay with it and are okay with doing nothing about it. People want everybody to be healthy – eat right and exercise – but people don’t want everybody to enjoy the same wealth. That looks like putting the cart before the horse. If we can’t all enjoy the same wealth, which inevitably means access to the same resources, then why are we expected by society to live the same types of lifestyles? When I started college, ‘diversity’ was a big buzz-word. We are all more different than similar. Even down to our individual physiologies. Just because we all have bones, doesn’t make our bones the same. Or our hearts. Or our brains. Not only that, but the similarities we might have are all affected by different aspects of life, such as social environment, occupational concerns, spiritual concerns, and even the way our similarities interconnect with each other in our own lives. All to say that we are all different, inside and out, but we are still all human. We all need food, clothes, and shelter to survive. And as technology progresses, we even need more than that. Everybody wants smokers to stop smoking, but nobody wants to share wealth.

I’ve found that life is like a math equation: what you do to one side, you must do to the other. It is absurd to expect all these millions of people to eat and drink alike, but not share evenly in economic wealth. It seems a lot more common-sensical to expect an even distribution of wealth in society, and to not expect people to all live the same lifestyles. The economy and the distribution of wealth can be controlled, but none of us has control over our physiological make-up or our bodies’ responses to our environment. The health care industry would like us to believe we have more control over our bodies than we actually do, because they make billions off of believers, and the natural-organic people keep the believers believing by even acknowledging the idea that there are medical alternatives to pills, surgeries, and other treatments. The truth that is hard for people to see is that our lives are all different, but one life has no more or less worth than another. I just wish people would see this. A man’s worth should not be dictated by his wealth or anybody else’s. We should all be economically equal, because life is hard enough being physiologically different!

Eschatological parousia (the presence of the end of times) –

‘The unity of this metaphysical tradition should be respected in its general permanence … without this, what one would inscribe within a narrower structure would not be a text …’ (246)

In this particular section we see the description of deconstruction’s birth. By systematically analyzing Rousseau’s texts, Derrida uncovers a manner of linguistic movement not previously thought of until this point in our philosophic history. Derrida explains:

‘Rousseau … says what he does not wish to say, describes what he does not wish to conclude: that the positive (is) the negative, life (is) death, presence (is) absence and that this repetitive supplementarity is not comprised in any dialectic, at least if that concept is governed, as it always has been, by a horizon of presence.’ (246)

We can take lessons from Derrida’s analysis of Rousseau. It occurs to me that pressing racial issues could use some Derridean guidance. We cannot expect to combat racism without being conscious of our own idiosyncratic racial struggles. Whites cannot breed with blacks until all whites stop feeling superior to blacks. Blacks cannot continue to allow other races and ethnicities into our communities until we ‘take back’ our communities from the savagery plaguing us and our familial circles. Specifically, we must create, because ever since we were brought to America as slaves, we have not ever had a true family nucleus, as have other races and ethnicities. Black African Americans have been divided from day one. And with the continued systematic slavery of black African Americans through the prison-industrial complex and capitalism, among other systems of slavery, it has never been more imperative that we right the wrongs that have been forced upon us and violated our humanity. We black African Americans must collectively become conscious of the dreary road ahead if we continue to ignore warnings like the one I’m writing now, and instead of getting our hair and nails done, or selling dope all day, concentrate on how to combat this blatant racist slavery that whites and even other minorities continue to subject us to. As Derrida says, ‘without this … [there] would not be a text.’ Without claiming our dignity as human beings, black African Americans will continue to be treated as slaves, drawing hatred for our ethnicity from other races and ethnicities, and perhaps even worse, from ourselves.


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