(Half way through writing this, I got my hands on Critchley’s Infinitely Demanding. I was able to incorporate insights from pp.114-123 into this post, but beyond what I have been able to garner from those pages, I have very little sense of Critchley’s argument as such. Any misrepresentations of his position are simply the result of my ignorance. On the whole these are a series of reflections spawned by Žižek’s reflections on Critchley’s book. Nonetheless, I want to be sure to acknowledge my debts.)
As I was saying, before being so oddly interrupted by such a pertinent event: since the form of Milbank’s position requires the content of Žižek’s, and vice versa, the encounter of one with the other signals the terminus of a dialectic. Each is proven true only in tandem with the other, and that demonstration is likewise their negation. This is nothing more than a point about the impotence of any revolutionary politics developed out of an Idealist metaphysics (including dialectical materialism), which seeks to achieve a concrete, material realization of an abstract universal (cf. Critchley, 119.) The prior discussion of Milbank and Žižek is simply illustrative of this more fundamental point. It is fair, I believe, to claim that the very appearance of these two thinkers signals the apotheosis of Idealist metaphysics inasmuch as each respectively is the concrete, material realization of its dual transcendental and materialist trajectories.
I suggested at the end of the previous post that this fact signaled a return to Kant – though under erasure – inasmuch as the fundamental rejection of limit functions to constitute socialism as a regulative ideal. Critchley is keen to note that the concept of “communism” is fundamentally tainted by the Idealist notion of species-being; and, I am here developing his impulse to suggest that, when viewed in light of the mutually assured destruction of the Milbankian and Žižekian positions, their invocations of “socialism” function as a regulative ideal inasmuch as the purpose of “socialism” or “proletarian dictatoriship,” as they invoke the terms, appears to be to ensure that thought itself always remains properly proportionate to itself in its self-representation (Critchley, 118.) In doing so, the gesture rather ingeniously conceals, beneath that very thought of that proportion, the fact that the concrete actualization of the concept is impossible.
This is clearly revealed, in essays such as this, where Žižek conflates the idea that the reward of a moral deed is the deed itself with the preservation of the privilege of looking at oneself in the mirror. The latter is clearly not the former, but by equating them, Žižek reveals that what is significant for him is not the deed, but the thought of the deed. The point is that, on this model of conceiving subjectivity and ethics, the deed is superfluous, as long as the subject’s self-representation is constructed so as to be proportionate to the thought of the deed that will determine that representation. This is either the height of delusion, or the ontologization of turpitude. And, the same point can be made regarding Milbank, who, despite all his foot-stomping about the “paradoxical” reciprocity of gift-giving, refuses to acknowledge that he is eradicating the very conditions of the possibility for both the bestowal and reception of gifts [1.] In his case, simply replace “subject” with “ontology” and everything remains the same as with Žižek.
Now, as I said, all of this pertains to the “democracy to come.” First, if the above observations are correct, then both of the above positions are then to be interpreted, especially when taken together, as the perfection of the ideology of liberal, parliamentary proceduralism. What matters to both positions is not the political act, but the idea of the political act. This marks the perfection of liberal ideology insofar as it effectively incorporates parliamentary proceduralism into the very mechanism by which the thought of a militant, revolutionary, and/or socialist subject/ontology is constituted.
Second, I have already suggested, along with Critchley, that this is principally due to Idealist metaphysics. But, it is more properly due to a simple metaphysical mistake – one which may not strictly map onto the Idealist vision, even though falling into its trap. Even if both thinkers retain some sense of the excess – or in Žižek’s case void – of being in relation to thought, they nonetheless mistake the idea of political action for actually thinking political action as such. That is, although we must understand thought as a mode of political action and engagement, non-action itself is still action, and thus there exists a mode of thinking political action that is tantamount to this non-action. It occurs as the thought of the idea of political action, and not as political action itself. To be clear: this is not a facile claim about theory not being political engagement; on the contrary, it is a claim that theory is only politically valuable insofar as it is irreducible to non-action.[2.]
It should be quite clear, at this point, why the idea of “democracy to come” is, if not the most proper way for a radical politics to proceed , then far superior to the alternatives discussed so far [4.] The reason is quite simple. Despite the failures of any number of the theories – and there are many – of its adherents, the framework that Derrida established with the notion of “democracy to come” does not refuse abstraction as such, but only its formulation and development outside of the relation of engagement. That is, the thought of radical politics can itself only come-to thought on the basis of and through acts of ethico-political engagement, and not as the prescriptive incarnation of universal principles into concrete, material particularities. What is here being refused is any theory that would be deployed in such a way as to be reducible to non-action. And, it is a peculiarity of the “Democracy to Come” that it cannot be invoked without simultaneously insisting on the priority and non-neutrality of the ethical demand to act; and, this action itself always already occurs in the domain of the political – not only is it compromised, but it is partisan [5.] In this sense, although I have not read anything of Critchley’s book other than the pages 114-123 quoted here, I am heartened by his idea of “ethics as an anarchic meta-politics,” if for no other reason than that he equates the State with the Idealist “fantasy” of the idea of political action, which simply is the very basis for liberal, parliamentary proceduralism. As far as I can see, his project is an absolute refusal of all such illusions – without reserve – and signals the most fruitful way forward for a radical politics.
 Despite the obvious brilliance of essays like “Can a Gift Be Given? Prolegomena to a Future Trinitarian Metaphysic” [Modern Theology, 11 (January 1995), 119-61], Milbank’s reading of Derrida on this matter is simply obtuse – and that because of other egregious theological errors that condition that reading. Remember, anything philosophy can do, theology can do better! Cf. also his essay here. And, keeping the work of Graham Priest close at hand, the mere fact that the law of contradiction is violated may – repeat, may – qualify as a paradox, but this does not, nor can it, be elided with theological mystery. (As an aside, in light of Priest’s work, when considered alongside the notion of theological mystery, it might be important, against Lubac’s claim in The Drama of Atheist Humanism (but in continuity with his impulse), to preserve Kierkegaard’s use of “contradiction” rather than follow his suggestion that “paradox” is more appropriate.)
 On this point about the priority of action, thought as a mode of action, and thinking action as distinguished from thinking the idea of action, cf. Maurice Blondel, L’Action: essai d’une critique de la vie et d’une science de la practique (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1950.)
 I am undecided on this point since there is something I need to think about regarding these claims and Deleuze.
 One would have to include Badiou in this group as well, not only because of the function of the Void in this work, and his Platonism, but also because of what are, in my terms, the blatant proceduralism in his construal of fidelity to the event. He demonstrates this more clearly than any other thinker with his category of the “mystic,” which clearly shows his utter inability to actually think the priority of political engagement over the idea of that engagement itself.
 As such, when Caputo says that if he did politics, he would develop a liberal democracy, it seems to me he is actually violating the ethical demands implicit in his invocation of that messianic vision.