Bonnie Honig, "Declarations of independence: Arendt and Derrida on the problem of founding a republic,” The American Political Science Review 85:1 (1991): pp. 97–113.
Beginning with Hannah Arendt’s depiction of the American Revolution and founding, I critically examine Arendt’s reading of the Declaration of Independence, comparing it with Jacques Derrida’s reading of (a draft of) the same document, in order to show that Arendt is careless in her easy dismissal of the Declaration’s essentialist moments. Derrida, it seems to me, has a better, more subtle appreciation of the both necessary and impossible role of essentialism in modern political theory and practice. I conclude, however, that Arendt nonetheless succeeds in theorizing a powerful and suggestive practice of political authority for modernity, a practice that is uniquely activist and appropriate for a democratic politics.