45 Theses, Or Disputation on the Common Genealogy of Lyric and Liberalism P. 1: 1-15

Wendy Lotterman

45 Theses, Or Disputation on the Common Genealogy of Lyric and Liberalism
P. 1: 1-15
1. [T]he lyric remains the genre that directs its mimesis toward the performance of the mind in solitary speech. 1.
2. It must be the individual person and therefore with all the details of his situation and concerns as well as the way in which his mind with its subjective judgment, its joy, admiration, grief and, in short, its feeling comes to consciousness of itself in and through such experiences. Owing to this principle of detailing, particularization, and individuality which is inherent in lyric, its contents may be of extreme variety.2.
3. The modern invention of the lyric has usually been attributed to Romanticism. 3.
4. Romanticism practices a kind of programmatic transfusion of the collective into the individual through which the individual lyric poem indulged in a technical illusion of universal cogency without that cogency characterizing it inherently. Often, in contrast, poets who abjure any borrowing from the collective language participate in that collective undercurrent by virtue of their historical experience. 4.
5. Romanticism is nothing but liberalism in literature. 5.
6. [Locke’s Second Treatise on Government] is a case not only for the liberal state but also for liberal property institutions. Locke's case for the limited constitutional state is largely designed to support his argument for an individual natural right to unlimited private property.6.
7. The law of every dominion affects all persons and property situate within it and the Indians never had any idea of individual property in lands. It cannot be said that the lands conveyed were disjoined from their dominion; because the grantees could not take the sovereignty and eminent domain to themselves. 7.
8. God gave the world to men in common; but since he gave it them for their benefit, and the greatest conveniencies of life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common.8.
9. The long-standing and intimate affiliation of liberty and bondage made it impossible to envision freedom independent of constraint and personhood and autonomy separate from the sanctity of property and proprietorial notions of the self [...] Whiteness was a valuable and exclusive property essential to the integrity of the citizen-subject and the exemplary self-possession of the liberal individual.9.
10. Racialization and lyricization worked hand in hand to become Black and White, but neither the history of poetics nor the history of race began as a coherent genre of either poems or persons.10.
11. [The Civil Rights Act of 1964] tells us three times—including immediately after the words “discriminate against”—that our focus should be on individuals, not groups [...] And the meaning of “individual” was as uncontroversial in 1964 as it is today: “A particular being as distinguished from a class, species, or collection.”11.
12. It would thus appear that it is freedom’s relationship to identity – its promise to address a social injury or marking that is itself constitutive of identity – that yields the paradox in which the first imaginings of freedom are always constrained by and potentially even require the very structure of oppression that freedom emerges to oppose.12.
13. The philosophical subordination of difference to identity that ensues inaugurates representational and identity politics. Backed by the policing authority of the nation-state, the liberal citizen-subject acts as the formal category of such a politics, which effaces and abstracts the very material conditions of its emergence, namely, those of empire and capitalism.13.
14. Whereas “liberals” treat identities as mechanisms for voicing injustice that the state must be made to recognize and repair, from this left perspective, identities are double-edged.14.
15. From my desire to understand the conditions of emergence of this double-edged weapon, and seeking to avoid rehearsing the dominant ideology thesis, I have generated an account of racial subjection, which can no longer be distinguished from global subjection, that refuses to either resurrect the (universal) subject or write its others as dormant, innocent, particular (historical) beings.15.

1. Helen Vendler

2. G.W.F. Hegel

3. Virginia Jackson

4. Theodor Adorno

5. Victor Hugo

6. C.B. MacPherson

7. US Supreme Court, Johnson v. M’Intosh, 1823

8. John Locke, Second Treatise on Government

9. Saidiya Hartman

10. Virginia Jackson

11. Bostock v. Clayton County

12. Wendy Brown

13. Kandace Chuh

14. Wendy Brown and Janet Halley

15. Denise Ferreira Da Silva

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