Chapter Two: Politics and Its Other

Table of Contents

The philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau maintains a duality rooted in both individualism and totalitarianism. The philosopher Ernst Cassirer has called this division “the Rousseau problem.” In reality, however, there is no division. I believe Rousseau conceived of a mathematical institution by which humans who did not wish to engage with society nor speak with others might still create a society. Since the 19th century, however, the public person and the private person were separated from one another in the sphere of political thought. Therefore, comprehending Rousseau’s philosophy became a difficult task if not an impossible one. The concept of a philosophy of the tourist became difficult in much the same way.

In this chapter, I discover theoretical clues for philosophizing the tourist by discussing two contemporaries of Rousseau: Voltaire and Immanuel Kant. Proceeding chronologically, I demonstrate the difficulty encountered when tasked with philosophizing the tourist in a post-Hegelian paradigm and within the contexts of Carl Schmitt, Alexandre Kojève, and Hannah Arendt.

In Candide (1759), Voltaire criticized Leibniz’s notion of philosophical optimism. The essence of optimism lies in our attitude toward the reality in which we all live. The supporters of optimism believe that there can be no errors in reality because God can only ever be perfect. Candide, a critique of such a philosophy, is written as a travel novel. There are mistakes in reality, and tourism enables us to recognize these mistakes.

Kant published Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795), about 40 years after the release of Candide and in the throes of the French Revolution. Kant argued that all nations must become republican states in order to achieve perpetual peace. Mature citizens create a mature nation-state, and a mature nation-state creates a mature international order; he believed that world peace would be achieved through such an order. However, such a provision would also call for the exclusion of all non-republic nation-states. This notion of exclusion has survived at the center of liberalism to our age through the work of both John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas with their acceptance of the necessity to exclude so-called rogue states. In Perpetual Peace, Kant also defined the right to visit, the “right of temporary sojourn […] which all men have.” We might also read this as a right to tourism. I focus on this aspect of Kant’s text. The tourist travels the world regardless of the political system of their home country, irrespective of whether their home state is republican or not; tourism becomes a new path for creating perpetual peace outside a Hegelian linear History led by the matureness of our humanity.

However, 20th century thought was not capable of imagining such a touristic path. In The Concept of the Political (1932), Carl Schmitt maintained that politics should clearly distinguish between friends and foes. As neither friend nor foe, the tourist is not subject to Schmitt’s philosophy. Behind this exclusion are Hegel’s views of the human and society. Hegel believed that humans mature spiritually by creating nation-states and engaging in politics. It is here that the path imagined by Rousseau, wherein a human who does not wish to create a state but still creates a nation, fails to be considered.

This is the origin of the refutation of globalism. Schmitt’s text was written as a critique of liberalism which then signified the affirmation of the free economy. In Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (1947), Alexandre Kojève referred to humans living in the mass consumption society of the 20th century as “animals.” Humans who do not create nation-states or engage in politics—regardless of the technology they have or the sophistication of their culture—are not worthy of the title.

We can see similar thinking in the work of Hannah Arendt. She, too, was careful to indicate the boundaries between politics and the economy. In The Human Condition (1958), through references to Ancient Greece, Arendt argued that engagement at the polis, or the political sphere, is the condition in which humans fully become humans not in the biological sense but the spiritual sense. Shared among Schmitt, Kojève, and Arednt, is the desire to critique a flattened mass consumption society driven by economic rationality and devoid of politics and the friend/foe divide. They all try to revive a romanticized definition of the human. In other words, they all used an established philosophical tradition to reject an animalistic utopia that uprising global capitalism might make possible.

I hope to overcome this unconscious desire by philosophizing the tourist. 20th century thought positioned the realization of mass society and the appearance of animal-like consumers as the arrival of something not human. In this paradigm, the tourist must be treated as nothing more than an animal. The possibility of rereading Kant’s remarks on the right of visitation as that of tourism cannot be thought of in terms of a Hegelian linear history of a mature human, a mature society and a mature nation. Here we need a new philosophy.