An Analysis of Political Theory’s Placelessness

“The Placelessness of Political Theory”

David Fleming in his City of Rhetoric makes an overarching point about the relationship between politics and the built environment that surrounds society. Specifically, in “The Placelessness of Political Theory,” the author goes into depth with all of the factors that influence that original relationship in an ‘abstract’ or placeless manner. The citizen, in the first place, is the center of political theory and political thinking. Fleming points out that one could think the rules of the game are believing in one ideal citizen, compiling all of us as one and the same, and equal. Even though this concept has evolved, for we find ourselves in the postmodern state of political theory and societal norms, the game can result in a favoring of the majority and the disregarding of the minority. Naturally, citizens come from diverse backgrounds, influenced by differing cultures and traditions that influence the values the Constitution claims as being the defining characteristic for an “American.” Therefore, some are put at a disadvantage while others, namely the Caucasian male, hold the reigns.

Secondly, Fleming expands upon the “places of political theory” which he identifies as republicanism and liberalism. Republicanism, a spatial relation, shifts to liberalism, where it is a temporal relation to the human being. Thus, the shift indicates an importance of consent, and volition, over territory, and the physical space of politics. The individual is now more concerned with the state of being, instead of just a “matter of space,” which brings the author’s point to the postmodern state of our society’s relationship with politics. The state can be interpreted as somewhat unstable, depending now on interconnection between citizens instead of the necessity of physical geographics. There is no actual necessity for a physical space when this shift of globalization, technology, and diaspora is dominant in our society. As Fleming cleverly stated, “we are now everywhere and nowhere at once.”

Nevertheless, space is something ever so present that can never be neglected because it is simply there. It cannot be ignored, as Fleming insists, because space is persistent. Whether it be in terms of the newly interconnected nature of physicality or the antiquated form of space in which isolation dominates, space is relentless. A relation can be traced to Sarah Schindler’s article “Architectural Exclusion” with this section of Fleming’s argument. The location of primordially white neighborhoods differs with that of a primordially Hispanic one, and so on. Moreover, the postmodern state of our society has not worked to separate, but, ironically, brought the society closer together. Reiterating what Fleming mentioned before, we are now all over the place, yet invisible.

The main point David Fleming wants to get across is that in this time of growing “multipositionality,” evolving forms of technology that bind us, and the presence of the built environment which has its effect on us, the community must commit to a “commonplace,” a space where all are heard, accepted, and the platform is stable. The author holds a firm belief, which is we must allow the shared geography of politics to affect us in a positive way.


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