This paper explores the implications of a post-metaphysical culture for our understanding of truth, objectivity and politics. In particular, it focuses on the influential work of Richard Rorty and Laclau and Mouffe and examines some of the chief criticisms that have been made of it. Our argument is that a post- metaphysical culture enables us to carry out two important tasks: (i) to move (in Barthesian terms) from a readerly to a writerly perspective on democracy and modernity; and (ii) to secure the themes of authorial and discursive violence as indispensable to the development of a writerly (and post-modern) democracy. In this context crucial theoretical and political differences emerge between the two parties. Rorty's 'liberal utopia', we argue, re-introduces an essentialist dichotomic language that is both inconsistent and inhibitive of the politics of the democratic challenge. On these grounds, the paper affirms the post-Marxist (anti-utopianist) argument concerning the constitutive and ineradicable nature of power and antagonisms as the very condition for meeting this challenge and for advancing a new vision of democratic community, citizenship and individuality.
- Post-metaphysics, Rorty, Barthes, Democracy, Violence