In Chapter two of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric “the Placelessness of Political Theory,” he focuses on the dangers of overgeneralizing the individual citizen, and how political theory can sometimes destroy the beauty of unique human time, and place. His main objective is to emphasize the importance of “commonplaces” in defining the identity of an individual.Fleming makes the case that though we have favored the individual most of the time, however, we have not been able to build a proper bridge between our inherent differences. He defines many different ways in which political theory defines us as people, relative to the contexts in which we reside.
In “the citizen” Fleming first presents the simple fact that the individual freedoms have generally been accepted as “inviolable. A hallmark of modern liberal thought, in fact, is the belief that the citizen is the prior and primary political phenomenon… The state, by this reasoning, is a creation of the people, not the other way around” (19;Ch.2). He, however, asserts that the efforts that have been made to allow for these “inalienable rights” have ignored the reality that humans are inherently different, and any effort to whitewash this, has to lead to exclusive behaviors. At this point, he adamantly states that this “bracketing” creates an image of only one type of citizen. In turn excluding the inevitable reality, of human differences. Fleming does continue that our common human attributes do bring us together, but in order to allow for us to come together, we cannot ignore personal identity.
“The places of political theory” suggests that because we as human beings have become more attracted to “despatialization”. He puts a specific emphasis on how this has manifested in modern technological advantages, “an awesome technological destruction of distance,” ( 23; ch.2) he argues that even though we feel more connected to the world now than ever before, we have also lost our unique presence. Fleming continues his assertion that because we are so driven to connect with the outside world, our political presence is not grounded in a particular space and time. Fleming disagrees with this because he believes that the human identity is relative to a particular time and space more than anything else, and he believes that this travel and interconnectedness takes us as human beings away from “home”.Fleming addresses that individual rights are inherent, but moe-so defined by the way we as people deal with differences. In addition, he argues that our true identity has more to do with our ability to be grounded in what he describes as “fortuitous association” or the deep association with a connection to places within a short “common” area, instead of being a “pilgrim” in many places with today’s technology.
In “republicanism” Fleming introduces the political theory of self-governing of societies by the ordinary citizens. In this system, there would be no individual interests, no personal time and space, but simply selfless efforts for the greater good, Republicanism is based on the idea of general participation, but not personal identity. For this reason, Fleming appears to favor liberalism. Not only is Flemming demanding that republicanism does not allow the private identity as he prefers, he addresses the simple fact that the ethical needs of the entire community, is far too much to place on the shoulders of any one person. In contrast, he addresses “liberalism” in which individual rights are placed above all else. He then mentions that “liberalism” promotes an “ethical apathy. In addition, he feels that “republicanism” is spatial, or grounded in the built environment, while “liberalism” is more “temporal”, or less grounded in a built environment.
Finally, to tie these ideas together, he addresses that in the most modern situation, it has become very difficult to
Fleming, David. “Part One: Chapter Two, The Placelessness of Political Theory” City of Rhetoric, CITY SUNY Press 2008. (PAGE NUMBERS USED) .