Sovereign debt crisis: Paul de Man and the privatization of thought

Martin McQuillan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter analyzes the manuscript of Textual Allegories, arguing that it shows up certain difficulties de Man experiences in extending his thesis ever further into the text of Rousseau. In order to produce the appearance of a continuous argument in Allegories of Reading, de Man systematically edits out the difficulties he attempts to work through in Textual Allegories, resulting in an argument that is simultaneously both more cohesive and, in its concentration, leaves itself open to precisely the sort of rhetorical effects that de Man describes in his reading of Rousseau. The chapter also considers the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis of 2011. Drawing on the de Man of 1973, it suggests that the crisis may be viewed as the unreadability of the contractual relationship in which the state owes its citizens for the price of bailing it out. The movement from theotropic allegory to political allegory indicates that not only is this situation untenable without a continued ideological scaffold of theological belief, but that it is not necessarily something that can be easily overcome by the demonstration of its ideological constitution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Political Archive of Paul de Man:
Subtitle of host publicationProperty, Sovereignty and the Theotropic
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780748676637
ISBN (Print)9780748665617
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2012


  • Paul de Man (1919-83)
  • Textual Allegories
  • Rousseau
  • Eurozone
  • debt crisis


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