Responding to commentaries on Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History by Sibylle Fischer and David Scott, this essay describes universal history as “theoretical pragmatics,” a practice of theorizing that undermines established narratives. Focusing on the singularity of historical events, it provides a decentered genealogy of contemporary globalization. It questions cultural identity as an adequate political orientation, given the non-identity of individuals with any particular culture, and given the de facto power of the sovereign to determine ultimately and at times violently, who “belongs” to the cultural collective and who does not. Universal history opposes efforts at historical enclosure made by any particular nation, culture, or civilization, and calls instead for a communist mode of inheriting the past.

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