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Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007



SHELL.....................................................................................................................................................................................................2 LINK- STATE OF EXCEPTION ..............................................................................................................................................................8 LINK- EXCEPTION = BARE LIFE.........................................................................................................................................................11 LINK- HUMAN RIGHTS = BIO-SOVEREIGNTY...................................................................................................................................13 LINK- HUMAN RIGHTS = STATE OF EXCEPTION.............................................................................................................................14 LINK- HUMAN RIGHTS = SOVEREIGN...............................................................................................................................................15 LINK- LAW ............................................................................................................................................................................................17 I/L- SOVEREIGN POWER = NO FREEDOM .......................................................................................................................................21 I/L- SOVEREIGNTY = EXCEPTION .....................................................................................................................................................22 I/L- SOVEREIGNTY = ENEMY/FRIEND...............................................................................................................................................23 I/L- SOVEREIGNTY = BIOPOLITICS ...................................................................................................................................................24 I/L- SOVEREIGNTY = DETERMINE LIMITS ........................................................................................................................................27 I/L- STATE OF EXCEPTION = BIO-SOVEREIGNTY ...........................................................................................................................28 I/L- BIOPOLITICS = SOVEREIGN POWER .........................................................................................................................................29 I/L- EXCEPTION = GLOBAL.................................................................................................................................................................30 I/L- EXCLUSION = BIOPOWER ...........................................................................................................................................................31 I/L- HUMAN RIGHTS = VIOLENCE......................................................................................................................................................32 I/L- NO FREEDOM = NO POLITICAL EXISTENCE .............................................................................................................................33 IMPACT- GENOCIDE ...........................................................................................................................................................................34 IMPACT- ENEMY/FRIEND = TOTAL WAR 1/2 ....................................................................................................................................45 IMPACT- WAR ......................................................................................................................................................................................47 IMPACT- TOTAL WAR .........................................................................................................................................................................48 IMPACT- DEVALUE LIFE/DISCRIMINATION ......................................................................................................................................49 IMPACT- GLOBAL CIVIL WAR ............................................................................................................................................................50 IMPACT- TOTALITARIANISM ..............................................................................................................................................................51 IMPACT- EXCEPTION = POLI/ECON EMERGENCY..........................................................................................................................52 ALT- WHATEVER BEING.....................................................................................................................................................................53 ALT-IMPOTENTIALITY 1/2...................................................................................................................................................................61 ALT- DASEIN ........................................................................................................................................................................................63 ALT- NO LINES ....................................................................................................................................................................................64 ALT- ASSUME BARE LIFE/NO LINES.................................................................................................................................................67 ALT- RESPONSE OF PPL ...................................................................................................................................................................69 ALT- HERO = GOAL OF DESIRE ........................................................................................................................................................70 ALT- LANGUAGE .................................................................................................................................................................................71 ALT- OPEN ...........................................................................................................................................................................................72 AT: DEMOCRACY SOLVES BIOPOWER............................................................................................................................................73 AT: ZIZEK ALT......................................................................................................................................................................................74 AT: AUTOIMMUNITY GOOD................................................................................................................................................................75 AT: SOVEREIGN INVICIBLE................................................................................................................................................................76 AT: ORIGIN OF LAW 1/2......................................................................................................................................................................77 AT: SOVEREIGN NOT PART OF LEGAL SYSTEM ............................................................................................................................79 AT: HUMAN RIGHTS GOOD................................................................................................................................................................80 AT: AFF HAS GOOD INTENTIONS .....................................................................................................................................................81 AT: ALT = NO IMPACT OUTSIDE ROUND..........................................................................................................................................82 AT: HOLOCAUST TRIVIALIZATION ....................................................................................................................................................83 AT: PERM .............................................................................................................................................................................................84 AFF AT: GENOCIDE – TRIVIALIZES IMPACT ....................................................................................................................................86 AFF AT: RIGHTS = STATE POWER 1/2..............................................................................................................................................87 AFF AT: RIGHTS = STATE POWER 2/2..............................................................................................................................................88 AFF AT: HUMAN RIGHTS BAD ...........................................................................................................................................................89 AFF AT: ALT - DN SOLVE....................................................................................................................................................................90 AFF AT: ALT - OVERSIMPLIFIES........................................................................................................................................................93 AFF AT: ALT – THEORY FLAWED ......................................................................................................................................................95 AFF AT: LAW PART OF SOVEREIGN.................................................................................................................................................96 AFF AT: TECH HAS NO IMPACT ........................................................................................................................................................97 AFF AT: AGAMBEN CREDIBLE...........................................................................................................................................................98 AFF AT: WHATEVER BEING ...............................................................................................................................................................99 AFF AT: AGAMBEN EXCLUDES MINORITIES .................................................................................................................................103 AFF AT: HUMAN RIGHTS REJECTION ............................................................................................................................................104 AFF AT: AGAMBEN IMPACTS...........................................................................................................................................................106 AFF AT: STATE OF EXCEPTION 1/2 ................................................................................................................................................107 AFF AT: REFUGEE EMPOWERMENT ..............................................................................................................................................109 AFF AT: EXCEPTION, IDENTITY, MORALITY 1/2 ............................................................................................................................110 AFF AT: REFUGEE = BARE LIFE......................................................................................................................................................112 AFF AT: NAKED LIFE IMPOSSIBLE 1/2............................................................................................................................................113

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007


the Sacred”, Law and Society Association, University of Massachusetts, Lexis Nexis.) This focus on the contemporary forms of bare life, on its "modern avatars" (p. 120), prompts Agamben to return once again to Arendt and Foucault, in particular to Arendt's objection to the rights of man qua man (the claim of a natural or human right outside of any political context) and to Foucault's insistence that in the regime of biopolitics, the biological life of humans becomes the paramount object of political power. Agamben reads these authors in dialogue with each other, claiming that in the concept of bare life, their respective theoretical omissions will be mutually completed (p. 120). These are readings worth dwelling on briefly. When Agamben declares that Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism (1958) is "altogether lacking in any biopolitical perspective," it is not entirely clear what he means. Interestingly, returning to the relevant sections of Arendt's text, one finds a number of references to what Agamben would consider bare life. For Arendt, the entire problem with human rights is that they are invoked at the precise moment at which the rights of a citizen, the political artifice that bestows human dignity, are stripped away, leaving one with "the abstract nakedness of being human and nothing but human" - a condition that, despite the best-intentioned humanitarianism and the loquacious declarations of human rights, is for her essentially "worthless" (1958:297). The calamity of human rights in this regard thus is registered for Arendt by the appearance of what is assuredly bare life in Agamben's sense. Arendt's images of this life alternate between the animalic and the savage. Early declarations of an international rights of man, she astutely notes, bore an "uncanny similarity in language and composition to that of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals." She ends the chapter by once again denouncing the loss of political community - "our human artifice" - a loss that reduces human beings to mere "savages." When he asserts the absence of a biopolitical perspective in Arendt's work, therefore, Agamben cannot be thinking in terms of a perspective that foregrounds the naked and natural life of human beings. Instead, what he seems to object to is that in Arendt this foregrounding of the natural state of humanity is resolutely rejected as a political condition. And here we again encounter one of Agamben's key points: bare life is not the same as natural life, but is to be understood as the result of an unavoidable [*508] political power that blurs the distinction between political and natural. And if Arendt's vocabulary is sufficiently apocalyptic - she speaks of calamities and global danger - matching Agamben's messianic tone, she nonetheless insists on a solution that is not a working through of the indistinction between bios and zoe but a return to an understanding of political community for which these terms will maintain their conceptual distance. When he asserts the absence of a biopolitical perspective in Arendt's work, therefore, Agamben cannot be thinking in terms of a perspective that foregrounds the naked and natural life of human beings. Instead, what he seems to object to is that in Arendt this foregrounding of the natural state of humanity is resolutely rejected as a political condition. And here we again encounter one of Agamben's key points: bare life is not the same as natural life, but is to be understood as the result of an unavoidable [*508] political power that blurs the distinction between political and natural. And if Arendt's vocabulary is sufficiently apocalyptic - she speaks of calamities and global danger - matching Agamben's messianic tone, she nonetheless insists on a solution that is not a working through of the indistinction between bios and zoe but a return to an understanding of political community for which these terms will maintain their conceptual distance. Foucault's understanding of biopolitics was shaped by an insight into the multiple modes of power whose focus was the life of the species. In his seminar description for the College de France, Foucault described biopolitics as the study of rationalizing procedures focused on "a group of living human beings constituted as a population: health, sanitation, birthrate, longevity, race" (1997:73). Such a history of "normalization" was broad enough to inspire diverse research not only by Foucault but also by others, such as Ian Hacking (1991, on statistics) and Francois Ewald (1991, on risk). In Agamben's text, however, with the central focus on the

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007


conditions of living and dying and on the threshold figure of bare life, biopolitics takes on a more narrow (even literal) and sinister guise. Here we do not deal with the comparatively benign questions of urbanism and probability, but the more basic issues of what life is "worth living." It is not the more quotidian and municipal sites of the prison and school, but rather the concentration camp that appears as the space of biopolitics. Indeed, at certain points when Agamben discusses euthanasia or reads the condition of neomorts, biopolitics seems more like a politics of biology. We are now in a better position to understand how Agamben, in an effort to explicate the concentration camp as the paradigm of modernity, hopes to push the insights of Arendt and Foucault further. For the camps emerged out of the same "perplexities" that Arendt observed in the modern structure of the rights of man and the nation-state - perplexities that, in her example, produce refugees and the exceptional spaces they inhabit (Arendt 1958:290). As Agamben notes, the concentration camps emerged not out of a random lawlessness or disregard, but instead out of a legal accommodation for the sovereign exception: the Prussian concept of Schutzhaft (literally, protective custody). What Arendt neglects, according to Agamben, is the extent to which such a situation is tied to the raison of bare life, to the biopolitical priority that enabled the totalitarian state and accorded to it the biological care of the national body. The exceptional space of the concentration camp and the genocidal catastrophe that took place there, says Agamben, marked its victims in the final instance with neither enmity nor criminality but with mere existence. Thus, he comments on the Nazi genocide of the Jews: The wish to lend a sacrificial aura to the extermination of the Jews by means of the term "Holocaust" was, from this perspective, an irresponsible historiographical blindness. The Jew living under Nazism is the privileged negative referent of the new biopolitical sovereignty and is, as such, a flagrant case of a homo sacer in the sense of a life that may be killed but not sacrificed. His killing therefore constitutes, as we will see, neither capital punishment nor a sacrifice, but simply the actualization of a mere "capacity to be killed" inherent in the condition of the Jew as such. The truth - which is difficult for the victims to face, but which we must have the courage not to cover with sacrificial veils - is that the Jews were exterminated not in a mad and giant holocaust but exactly as Hitler had announced, "as lice," which is to say, as bare life. The dimension in which the extermination took place is neither religion nor law, but biopolitics. (p. 114)

B) Sovereign law incorporates life by deciding what is permissible and what is forbidden. When life is in the sphere of law it becomes indeterminate. Bare life, or homo sacer, is a mode of political subjectification created by the political decision of life and death. It is a precarious status because it depends on the sovereign to define it. Caldwell in 2004 (Anne, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of
Louisville, Theory and Event 7:2, Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity, project muse)
As he explains, the "logico-formal" thesis of the exception or ban is not only "a thesis concerning the formal structure of sovereignty but also has a substantial character since what the ban holds together is precisely bare life and sovereign power" (1998: 109). Agamben borrows the term "ban" from Jean-Luc Nancy to refer to a relation of

exception that simultaneously includes and excludes life. Because a law made of the exception defies any separation of inside and outside, it cannot function like liberal law, applying itself to a life external to law. Instead, sovereign law emerges through the incorporation of life. Following Schmitt, Agamben insists the condition for any order is the power to establish a "normal, everyday frame of life" (Schmitt 1985: 13; Agamben 1998: 26). Before the law draws any distinction between the forbidden and the permissible, it must first include life in the sphere of law (p. 26).7 Unlike Schmitt, Agamben emphasizes that in being so included, life is placed within the same structure of exception characterizing law. Life is not the point external to law and "indifferent to it but rather abandoned by it, that is, exposed and threatened on the threshold in which life and law, outside and inside, become indistinguishable" (p. 28). To a sovereign law generated by tracing a space of indeterminacy between inside and outside, belongs a form of life that lives only in that indeterminate space.
If Schmitt teaches Agamben that law emerges in including life, it is the Benjamin of "The Critique of Violence" who insists on the precariousness of a life so bound to law. In that essay's famous commentary on capital punishment, Benjamin

homo sacer is "the hinge on which each sphere [zoe and bios] is articulated at the threshold at which the two spheres are joined in becoming indeterminate. Benjamin describes the life so ruled as "mere life. Sovereign power and homo sacer share the same structure. The terminology we are familiar with from modernity. Agamben translates Benjamin's mere life as homo sacer. As Agamben explains. regardless of whether it lives a life of happiness or misery. . That power is the basis for Benjamin's recognition of something "rotten" in law (Benjamin 1978: 286). it belongs to the zone of indeterminacy generated by sovereignty. are. That usage is strange.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 4/114 AGAMBEN K SHELL Law reveals itself to be less about punishing transgression than exerting its power over life. 7). What at first appears an opposition between natural life and political life is rather an implication "of bare life in politically qualified life" (p. Far from being separate or opposed. Neither political bios nor natural zoe. Mere life is the life isolated out of the "the total condition that is man" (p. having committed a particular type of crime. which is to say. can be killed without punishment. That exclusion. on this analysis. and complicit with guilt. or bare life. but cannot be sacrificed. sovereign decision is homo sacer and its status. 90). homo sacer is a creature of the limit. secondary phenomena. defines the nature of political belonging in the West. 297-299). 11 Homo sacer. is defined by its dependence upon sovereign power for its status. bare life insofar as it operates in an inclusive exclusion as the referent of the sovereign decision . moreover. since anyone may kill homo sacer without falling under the law's prohibition on homicide. The two are more intimately related: the object of the suggests the "true origin of law juts" into appearance. something of homo sacer appears in Aristotle's distinction between zoe as the natural life shared by all animals. 6).8). The juridical power of sovereignty to define transgression results from the capture of life in the structure of the sovereign exception. not life. and bios as a specific political way of life. our attributions of sacredness to life refer back to a mere life ruled over by a law that endlessly reproduces the very violence it claims to separate itself from. Agamben's account of sovereignty is equally indebted to Greek thought. As Agamben reports. Benjamin notes. has the form of an exception. Agamben asserts "the production of a bio-political body is the original activity of sovereign power" (p. Although homo sacer is the figure who will "unveil" the mysteries of sovereignty (p. For Benjamin. and appears to treat bare life as identical to natural life. political life is defined by the exception of natural life.81)." That mere life. "The syntagm homo sacer names something like the originary 'political' relation. but by exposure to the sovereign decision on life or death.8 The Roman category of homo sacer refers to someone who. Homo sacer is set outside the law by the law. He finds a Roman category in a Greek world that would not have known it. . sacred life is the zone of indistinction in which zoe and bios constitute each other in including and excluding each other (p. and their integration into the exception.10 Despite periodic uses of bare life and zoe interchangeably. Agamben here treats zoe (natural life) as bare life or homo sacer. in which sovereignty emerges by capturing life in the exception.9 Homo sacer reveals the condition of political belonging in the West. and doing so for the sake of law. their distinction is essential to his argument. The meaning and status of that biopolitical body is far from straightforward. human life is included in the political order in being exposed to an unconditional capacity to be killed" (p. Homo sacer is formed of an exclusion from both human and divine law (p. especially of contract and rights. . Bare life is distinct from natural life because its precarious status is due to its capture by sovereign power. The good life of the polis emerges from a distinction between natural and political life. Like sovereignty. Homo sacer is a mode of political subjectification defined not by contract or rights.85). is the life treated as sacred in the classical world. This nexus.

when we see immigrants being contained in soccer stadiums.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 5/114 AGAMBEN K SHELL C) IMPACT. Homo Sacer is a call to thinking the political realities of our day as they appear at both the conceptual and material level. death and the zone of indistinction wherein this experience lies. he is quick to argue that we should not treat the Nazi concentration camp as a unique historical instance.We must recognize how bare life manifests itself in modern life. It is perhaps one of Agamben's great achievements in Homo Sacer to pose to his readers the question of the task of political thinking in the manner in which he does." (p. we have an instance of the camp materializing a state of exception where the individual is constituted as bare life and the logic of a juridical proceduralism reaches its limits. The final section on the political status of the camp in modern life presents us with an actualization of the instance of bare life. it is an event that repeats itself on a daily basis." Agamben explains. the production of bare life is the originary activity of sovereignty. as Heller-Roazen's admirable translation goes at lengths to point out. Thus. according to Agamben. The camp as a paradigm of the modern political condition does not refer merely to a place that is preserved as a memory or archive. In this regard. the Foucauldian thesis on biopolitics. . both in its form and content. "In this light.that is. Here it is important to point out that Agamben is not speaking exclusively of the Jewish Holocaust when referring to the image of the camp. Agamben would reject the assumptions of American liberal proceduralism that require the bracketing of metaphysical questions (including questions of sacredness. p. but rather. Panagia in 1999 (David. Although he discusses the Final Solution extensively. whenever we see boats filled with refugees. the term refers to life in its pure nakedness where what we are asked to imagine is the materiality of a naked body left standing. that may be killed but not sacrificed . the term bare life is a translation of the Italian 'nuda vita' and. Agamben reveals to us what the figure of homo sacer looks like today: 'the concentration camp as biopolitical paradigm of the modern' points to the materialization of the state of exception in the space of the camp and the actualization of homo sacer as the figure of the one who exists therein.and in this sense .D candidate in Political Theory at John Hopkins U. "the life caught in the sovereign ban is the life that is originally sacred . "the birth of the camp in our time appears as an event that decisively signals the political space of modernity itself" (Agamben. presents a discussion of the figure of homo sacer as an event that emerges from the logic of sovereignty previously articulated. If. On the contrary. Agamben stands in contrast to many contemporary Anglo-American political thinkers who present the task of political thinking in purely operational terms as an instance of a procedural rationality that (ought to) take place within the parameters of a thoroughly cognitive public sphere. allocates bare life (exemplified in the figure of homo sacer) to the zone of indistinction where no appeal can be made. The structure of the book itself (it is divided into three separate and distinct sections) parallels this call to thinking. Agamben thus attempts to 'correct' or 'complete. 83) Importantly. In this respect. Ph. It is precisely for this reason that. The first section entitled "The Logic of Sovereignty" is heavily theoretical and presents the questions with which Agamben will be dealing throughout in complex albeit lucid articulations of what he understands the paradox of sovereignty to be. In light of this. I1." As he asserts in a key passage of the book. Theory and Event V3. in the final section of the book. 174) and the task for political thinking is to examine precisely how such an event is permitted to persist. but in a state of extreme desperation. then thinking cannot take place without a consideration of the very real experience of life. What this involves is a turn towards an understanding of thinking that coincides with the material register of the body as the bearer of life and death. The second section ("Homo Sacer") is not only an explication of the term but further. the nuda vita is not merely a life left bare of any semantic content. The task of political thinking requires us to think how bare life is both made manifest and persists in contemporary life. The concentration camp metaphor not only applies to the Holocaust. There is a possibility that we all may become Homo Sacer if we do not embark upon the process of politicizing those currently living a bare life. “The Sacredness of Life and Death: Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer and the Tasks of Political Thinking”) It is with this tension in mind that one begins to get a purchase on what Agamben means by the term "bare life. but it refers to any contemporary instance in which zones of exceptions are created by Sovereign power. there is the very real possibility that we may all be homo sacers.' as he puts it. sovereign power not only constitutes bare life as a real political phenomenon but further.

race. Theory and Event 7:2. a life in which it is never possible to isolate something such as naked life.the humanity of living man is decided. Attributes such as national status. Yet Agamben never suggests this order is necessary. which it then places in a relation of indeterminacy. Such a life would exist outside sovereignty. in fact. It is made up of varied concepts. and it requires certain conditions. it is also shaped by several particular dense thinkers. by political thinking) that are at the heart of the issue. It is. mere life is the life which unites law and life. sex. This expansion of the range of life meriting protection does not limit sovereignty. RATHER THAN DETERMINE IDENTIFICATION AS PREEXISTANT IN OUR ONTOLOGY. D) OUR ALTERNATIVE IS WHATEVER BEING. in turn. Sovereign power. finds its grounds in specific coordinates of life.has always required a metaphysical impulse.the political question par excellence . then. In recent decades. p. Bio-sovereignty results from a particular and contingent history. factors that once might have been indifferent to sovereignty become a field for its exercise. as Agamben describes it." For Benjamin and Agamben. and empowered to decide on the value. 139). every further politicization of life. Sovereignty's capture of life has been conditional upon the separation of natural and political life. "Politics." These concepts come from the figure Benjamin proposed as a counter to homo sacer: the "total condition that is 'man'. Why is life sacred? How is sacredness sustained? What is the relationship between the sacredness of life and the proliferation of death? These are the questions that Agamben pursues without the fear of being either too metaphysical or too political." as described by Agamben. geo-political position have become the subjects of rights . That tie permits law.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 6/114 AGAMBEN K SHELL religion. It is for this reason that he prefaces his entire discussion by claiming that the relationship between life and sovereignty . therefore appears as the truly fundamental structure of Western metaphysics insofar as it occupies the threshold on which the relation between the living being and the logos is realized. if you will. project muse) Can we imagine another form of humanity. Since then. religion. In the "politicization" of bare life . it is precisely these questions (abandoned. " (2. is not to bracket those 'hard questions' because they are.8) The task for political thinking. hard and perhaps irresolvable. in its endless cycle of violence. and another form of power? The bio-sovereignty described by Agamben is so fluid as to appear irresistible. Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity. Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Louisville. ideology and the pursuits of the good life) by placing them outside the gambit of the political. lacks the features permitting the sovereign capture and regulation of life in our tradition. What follows is only a brief consideration of whatever being. rather. "Whatever being. Agamben describes this alternative life as "whatever being. For Agamben. Agamben's own concept of whatever being is extraordinarily dense. to reduce life an instrument of its own power. but provides sites for its expansion." More recently he has used the term "forms-of-life. modernity does nothing other than declare its own faithfulness to the essential structure of the metaphysical tradition. including language and potentiality. The total condition that is man refers to an alternative life incapable of serving as the ground of law." he asserts. economic status. in its relation to sovereign power. becomes only 'sacred life.3). to see how it is precisely those questions that allow for the possibility of the events that compose the contemporary political order. WE MUST REFUSE TO LINGUISTICALLY EMBRACE THE ARTICULATION OF BOUNDARIES FOR THE PURPOSES OF REGULATION THROUGH LAW Caldwell in 2004 (Anne. calls for "a new decision concerning the threshold beyond which life ceases to be politically relevant. color. including Benjamin and Heidegger. That separation has permitted the emergence of a sovereign power grounded in this distinction. In assuming this task. and non-value of life (1998: 142).the metaphysical task par excellence . What defies sovereign power is a life that cannot be reduced to those determinations: a life "that can never be separated from its form.' and can as such be eliminated without punishment" (p. In his earlier Coming Community.(Agamben.

in other words. . For what Agamben suggests is that whatever being is not any abstract. . appears. He does not call us to deconstruct a tradition whose power lies in its indeterminate status. as Heidegger describes it.2). and its reduction of all forms of life to homo sacer. and no particular attributes. The language of rights. Whatever being therefore has no common ground.21 Instead. perhaps promised to us in the future. inaccessible life. Indifferent to any distinction between a ground and added determinations of its essence. Whatever being retains all its properties. Agamben's analysis suggests the contrary. Dasein. calls up and depends upon the life caught within sovereignty: homo sacer. "In the final instance the State can recognize any claim for identity -. Agamben's alternative is therefore radical. which was the correlate of sovereign power. the Muslims) -. in the manner of Dasein. From a liberal or cosmopolitan perspective. takes the form of an "indissoluble cohesion in which it is impossible to isolate something like a bare life. is that the singularities form a community without affirming an identity. In the state of exception become the rule. which identifies it as belonging to this or that set. As Agamben suggests. Whatever being. made up of whatever life. This form of life is less post-metaphysical or anti-sovereign. it has no essence to be separated from its attributes. whatever being is "reclaimed from its having this or that property. As a result. such enumerations expand the range of life protected from and serving as a limit upon sovereignty. is that life which always has its own being as its concern -. He does not suggest we expand the range of rights available to life. the life of homo sacer. whatever being is akin to Heidegger's Dasein. whatever being cannot be grasped by a power built upon the separation of a common natural life. then juridical rights come into being only where life is incorporated within the field of biosovereignty. but for its being-such. turns into existence over which power no longer seems to have any hold" (Agamben 1998: 153). that humans co-belong without a representable condition of belonging" (Agamben 1993:85. wherever we reject the criteria sovereign power would use to classify and value life. but because it has no particular attribute which gives it more value than another whatever being. and its political specification. should we care to see it. than a-metaphysical and a-sovereign. What the State cannot tolerate in any way. . the possibility of a non-state world. Whatever being dissolves the material ground of the sovereign exception and cancels its terms. he suggests we take leave of the tradition and all its terms. If indeed sovereignty is bio-political before it is juridical. He does not contest particular aspects of the tradition. to this or that class (the reds. without any of them constituting a different valuation of life (1993: 18. Whatever being cannot then be broken down into some common element of life to which additive series of rights would then be attached. At every point where we refuse the distinctions sovereignty and the state would demand of us.and it is reclaimed not for another class nor for the simple generic absence of any belonging. Whatever is indifferent not because its status does not matter. Whatever being. Whatever being is a life that defies the classifications of the tradition. is all around us.regardless of the way any other power might determine its status. for belonging itself.9). the French. and it has no common substrate of existence defining its relation to others.1-1. We should pay attention to this comparison.even that of a State identity within the State ." (0. no presuppositions.6).Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 7/114 AGAMBEN K SHELL declarations. however. It cannot be broken into discrete parts.

In this form. Dr. a self-grounding law is posited in modernity. The unclean doesn’t threaten the community. another (anti)humanism. . but as entirely contingent.) The negativity of being in its double scission both as to its origin and its end enacts the supreme problem of philosophy and jurisprudence. jurisprudence and the political. Fictions of Origin: Law. WHILE AT THE SAME TIME CLOSING OFF SPACE FOR QUESTIONING THE NECESSITY OF LAW. Kristeva’s analysis suggests that there is no abjection beyond the law and no law beyond abjection. is not. relative categories separated by the most fragile of borders. AS THE LAW ATTEMPTS TO CREATE ORDER FROM CHAOS. it is the law itself does. emerges as the point of demarcation between these two states which exist. I have argued. IT BANISHES THOSE WHO DON’T CONFORM TO ITS OUTSIDE REALM. Nothingness. naming one clean and the other unclean. the permeable margin between the sacred and the abject – is itself that which jeopardises the integrity of the community and its members. more particularly. Professor at School of Law Birkbeck College. 2002. Thus it is that ‘filth’ exists. p. represents the object jettisoned out of that boundary. In the critique of humanism. and what Kristeva’s analysis points to is precisely the instability of this borderline. Zartaloudis.31 This is the logical negation of (non)being. closely related to the first (in that it too remains oblivious of its original scission). its other side. The law. The negative of myth survives at the moment of its deconstruction by nihilist critique. and the threat that ‘filth’ poses emanates. but only to place (in the now non-place of this groundlessness) yet another ground. one understanding of the nihilist critique reveals the absence of essence. not from the ‘unclean’ object. one form of modern nihilism (to think ‘as’ nothingness) finds its place. . ironically. which in terms of language is no other than the logic of signification or in terms of jurisprudence the logic of positivism and naturalism). while denying a questioning of its presupposition of a negative ‘outside’ (that hence survives inside). This is. a margin [. 165) The argument to be pursued here is that the law exists only as this ‘dividing line’ that serves to exclude filth and thereby to define the integrity of individual and communal identity.18 This ‘prohibition’ produces the ‘clean’ and the ‘unclean’ as apparently distinct categories by demarcating between two previously undifferentiated states. according to this form of nihilism (in a misinterpretation of Nietzsche). 209-210. It places what it conceives as non-existent outside its constituted realm (the inside). such an absolute totality aims to reveal and maintain the obliviousness of its origination in a double negativity. what happens when after the critique of the metaphysical foundations of law. that this passage is always a negative jointure as ‘a removal that is also at the same time a preservation’ (of negativity). Kluwer Law International. Abjection and Difference. One form. pg. This particular movement of the passage presents itself as an absolute totality and it has taken a variety of forms in the thinking of ontology. with Heidegger and Agamben. the groundlessness of humanism(s). PhD. “Without Negative Origins And Absolute Ends: A Jurisprudence of the Singular”. as noth\ . Chaplin in 2005 (Susan. then. In seeking to account for an apparent anomaly – the inability of the law of prohibition wholly to guarantee the security of the society it institutes – Kristeva asserts that ‘filth is not a quality in itself. not as a priori domains acknowledged by a transcendental Law that prohibits and legitimates them within the community. it is proportional to the potency of the prohibition that founds it’. the absolute ground of nothingness. of what is not (as) present which through the postulation of what is (as) present and the contradiction or opposition of what.] The potency of pollution is therefore not an inherent one. 14 December.32 places paradoxically in the nonplace of its (de)mythologization yet another absolute transcendental normative foundation. the jointure or passage between nature and culture.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 8/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. the one Nancy called ‘myth’.STATE OF EXCEPTION The law distinguishes between two previously undifferentiated states. places an essence in its ‘totality’ of presence (the logic of the same. Law and Critique.19 The law – the ‘inner and outer boundary’ of this symbolic economy. In modernity. but from ‘the inner and outer boundaries in which and through which the speaking subject is constituted’. but it applies only to what relates to a boundary and. not ‘in itself’ but only with reference to ‘a boundary’ [. . given this postulation.] a margin’. (Thanos. can now be rephrased as the illusion of an absolute totality of essence or of presence (that negatively justify the necessity of a constitutive law of being). Another form of the absolute presents itself as the negative totality of nothingness. . and this becomes most characteristic in a form of logical reasoning that defines the horizon of presence contra absence (order contra chaos). MA. LLB (Hons).

Kristeva asserts. Shimakawa. 149-151. “The Things We Share: Ethnic Performativity and “Whatever Being”. While Cheng. BY CREATING BORDERS AROUND THAT WHICH IS UNDESIRABLE PROMOTES RADICAL OTHER/FOREIGNER. Americanness. I deploy the discourse of abjection in describing Asian American performance because (as in Kristeva. Asian Pacific Americanness thus occupies a role both necessary to and mutually constitutive of national subject formation.the condition/position of that which is deemed loathsome and the process by which that appraisal is made. Project Muse.that is.S. Americanness.s formulation) . PhD. simply a reflection of the larger paradox posed by multiculturalism as a national origin myth. As Anne Anlin Cheng has observed.) And yet… the feminist debate over Hedda’s liberatory end persists here as well: how “victorious” can selfannihilation be? What does it mean to say that the way one “wins” the gendering/racialization game is to opt out by killing oneself? And do so in the most spectacularly oriental way possible? Eiko’s death.abject and abjection [as] . position of a constituent element/sign of American multiculturalism and radical other/foreigner. the national abject continually must be both made present and jettisoned. of course. University of California Davis. p.s excellent study maps the psychic effects of racialization both on and by Asian Pacific Americans. In order for U. In positing the paradigm of abjection as a national/cultural identity-formative process. The abject.STATE OF EXCEPTION THE PRODUCTION OF A NATIONAL IDENTITY THROUGH THE DESIGNATION OF THAT WHICH IS DEEMED ‘ABJECT’ OR NOT-AMERICAN. integral to the whole. the means by which the subject/”I” is produced: by establishing perceptual and conceptual borders around the self and “jettison[ing]” that which is deemed objectionable. Americanness to maintain its symbolic coherence.” the production of national identity (as a racialized/gendered phantasm/ideal) through the designation of that which is deemed “abject”/not-American (Shimakawa 2002). Read as abject. 70). and/or too “Asian” to be legible as American. the subject comes into (and maintains) selfconsciousness. is constituted of that which is.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 9/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. Caught between the (potentially selfcanceling) pressures of exoticism/orientalism on the one hand.the term often used to describe the position of (racially or sexually) disenfranchised groups in analyses of the politics of representation. it is that movement between enacted by and upon Asian Pacific Americans that marks the boundaries of Asian American cultural (and sometimes legal) citizenship. Associate Professor. What characterizes Asian Pacific Americanness as it comes into visibility. dramatizes the vexed condition of “ethnic” performance for Asian Pacific Americans.but does not result in the formation of an Asian Pacific American subject.reading. 2004. (Kristeva 1982. does not achieve a (stable) status of object. (9). what fuels the ongoing project of abjection is the drive to expel (and thereby differentiate from) that which. It is simply a frontier. Rather. I want to consider the paradox of American multiculturalism from a slightly different perspective: how might we make sense of it as an effect/production of national identity itself? Elsewhere I’ve suggested that Asian Pacific Americanness (in mainstream representation) is an effect of “national abjection. foreignness and domestication/assimilation. on some level. this essay offers a way of . at a foundational level. it is important to note. I would argue. cannot be fully or decisively expelled. the primers of my culture. is its constantly-shifting relation to U. Asian Americanness in relation to and as a product of U. .S. (Karen. as occupying the seemingly contradictory. The abject. yet functionally essential. “while racial and social integration offer the preeminent American social myths. a movement between visibility and invisibility. assimilation remains one of the deepest sources of anxiety in the American psyche” (Cheng 2001. This dilemma is. and erasure/ invisibility on the other. or even an Asian Pacific American object. I would suggest. for her.there is nothing objective or objectal to the abject. Asian Pacific American theatre artists have the difficult task of carving out a space in which to perform an Asian Pacific Americanness that is often too “American” to register as racially or ethnically distinct. It is. 2).S. Julia Kristeva defines abjection as both a state and a process. and deems .

instead. Moreiras. Political Jouissance. CR: The New Centennial Review 4. This is Agamben’s formulation: “To exhibit law in its non-relation to life and life in its non-relation to law means to open between them a space for human action that once upon a time claimed for itself the name of politics. and conceives of itself in the best of cases as constituent power (that is.logy: a non-onto-theological practice of the political. is solely the action that rescinds the link between violence and the law” (Agamben 2003.8 That is. logos relies on alogics. 113). “A God without Sovereignty.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 10/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. Project MUSE) If the law relies on an anomic zone to secure itself as ultimate foundation. 2k4 (Alberto. it also ruins itself in its very exceptionality: subject to autoimmunity troubles. . as well as of an alternative relation to ontotheo. The Passive Decision”. and it can no longer preserve an order. Director of European Studies at Duke. Here Agamben’s presentation of political work matches Derrida’s presentation of a democracy. The liberation of both pure violence and pure being establishes the possibility of an alternative thinking of the political.3. 94-95. but as politics becomes tainted by law the state of exception reaches its maximum potential. politics. is the interruption of the biopolitical machine that has resulted from anomic terror and that incessantly produces the counterpartisan apparatus of the power of exception. when it does not reduce itself simply to a negotiation with the law.STATE OF EXCEPTION To separate law and life allows true politics to function outside of the biopolitical machine. which it must also capture. Truly political. proper politics. violence that posits law). But the state of exception has reached maximum tension today—as it becomes the norm. Politics has suffered a lasting eclipse because it is contaminated by law. p.to-come through the notion of a messianicity without messianism. the god of sovereignty has fallen into mortal agony.

That which is outside of the sphere of influence of sovereignty thus does not comprise the constitutive outside of sovereignty but rather.that is. p. exception and rule flow through one another to the point of literal indistinction." (quoted in Agamben. who enter a zone of indistinction. yet he who kills him will not be condemned for homicide. we learn that what is crucial about homo sacer is that although "it is not permitted to sacrifice this man. On Agamben's account. In his discussion of the paradox of sovereignty. is to point out how the zone of indistinction collapses the possibility of making distinctions . in withdrawing from it. Ph.. the term homo sacer is probably unfamiliar as it refers to a juridical category of ancient Roman law where an individual accused of a crime cannot be sacrificed for having committed said crime. the outside is already included in the domain of the sovereign by means of the suspension of the juridical order's validity.and in this sense. because we are all made in god's image). the production of bare life is the originary activity of sovereignty.83) A conceptual link is thus established between sacredness-sovereignty-life where the function of sovereignty is to delimit a zone of indistinction that constitutes life as sacred. What is crucial for Agamben is that the sacredness of life does not necessarily need to refer to a sense of the sacred linked to an originary divine status (i. from the Roman writer Pompeius Festus. In the sphere of indistinction.which is to say further. he explains. In this regard. The ability of the law to create and enforce limits is the basis for sovereign power. to point out how political philosophy finds the limit of thinking in the paradox of sovereignty. outside and inside. However. we cannot think as if distinctions operated as they might in everyday life. the sacredness of homo sacer refers specifically to the characteristic feature of sovereignty that allows for the possibility of killing without requiring the divine overtones usually associated with sacrifice. 18) What emerges through the logic of the paradox of sovereignty is an event Agamben calls the zone of indistinction. Rather. 29) What is crucial for Agamben's entire project. The paradox of sovereignty for Agamben . is exemplified by the Schmittian notion of exception whereby the sovereign structure of law has its force in the possibility of the suspension of the rule such that a state of exception emerges. then.is that the sovereign sphere is structured by the logic of homo sacer such that "the life caught in the sovereign ban is the life that is originarily sacred . Theory and Event V3." (Agamben. "the rule applies to the exception in no longer applying. p. The state of exception is thus not the chaos that precedes order but rather the situation that results from its suspension. excluded from the law and living the bare life of the Homo Sacer. Agamben borrows from Jean-Luc Nancy's account of the logic of the sovereign ban. p. 71) Homo sacer thus presents a limit-concept that Agamben traces throughout the history of Western political thought and situates as the fundamental element of sovereign power.D candidate in Political Theory at John Hopkins U. that may be killed but not sacrificed . the operation of sovereignty abandons individuals whenever they are placed outside the law and in so doing.EXCEPTION = BARE LIFE The Sovereign chooses who lives in the state of exception. The structure of sovereignty. I1. (Agamben. “The Sacredness of Life and Death: Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer and the Tasks of Political Thinking”) To most Anglo-American readers.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 11/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. exposes and threatens them to a sphere where there is no possibility of appeal. p.and the political dilemma par excellence . In the suspension of the rule through the state of exception. . sovereign power and bare life are linked precisely because it is sovereignty that constitutes a life as bare through the foundation of a zone of indistinction. what we are presented with is a complex plateau where such philosophically distinct categories as state of nature and law. In this respect.e. Panagia in 1999 (David." (Agamben.

This distinction marks yet another distortion by Agamben: whereas Foucault sees in ‘biopower’ the major orientation of modern politics. Agamben splits the notion of life in two. V5. “The Political Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Evaluation” pp. où exclusion et inclusion. finit progressivement par coïncider avec l’espace politique. the Italian philosopher postulates that this concept is the bare essence of politics as such. Thus. the natural life of man. thus making a clear distinction between zoé . moving beyond the distinction between public and private spheres.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 12/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. extérieur et intérieur. according to Agamben. political power aims to control the deepest dimension of its subjects. the zoe. and bios . In other words. the natural life itself of the citizen. the very dimension which escapes it in principle: ‘l’espace de la vie nue. Totalitarian Movement and Political Religions.EXCEPTION = BARE LIFE In differentiating the forms of life. Issue 1. entrent dans une zone d’indifférence irréductible’. and the bios. the concept of ‘biopower’ means that. bios et zoé . and not just his existence. droit et fait. at the political level. situé à l’origine en marge de l’organisation politique. 15 . the political existence of the citizen. Mesnard in 2004 (Phillipe. 139-157) Building on Foucault’s work on ‘biopower’. the Sovereign has the ability to choose who does and does not have a political existence and therefore who can and cannot have a right to their natural life. which refers to man’s existence in a collective body. what is at stake is the life itself of the citizen.

it increasingly becomes a bio-sovereignty. as well as its capacity to act. The United Nations. project muse) Since World War II. The proliferation of references to human rights in and of itself implies the presence of the bearer of such rights -.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 13/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. Indeed. Such groups do indeed wield political influence on the actions of states. and moving within a global terrain now almost exclusively biopolitical. or 'man. and as the sovereign expands beyond the nation state. as the closest thing to an international political organization. Those scholars have been readily inclined to treat international human rights as a globalization of the rights and dignities accorded by liberal democracies and as a limitation of sovereign power. human rights have undergone an extraordinary expansion. NGOs and other groups who monitor rights. the sheer breadth and presumed anonymity of humanity has resulted in skepticism about its political effectiveness. we have few tools for understanding the meaning of each term. has become more than a discursive object. contemporary claims to enforce human rights grounded in individual dignity instead produce and depend upon a "raw spectacle of humanity" (Malkki 1996: 390). To understand this alliance we must separate sovereignty from the liberal vision of power as formed of consent and limited by law and rights.HUMAN RIGHTS = BIO-SOVEREIGNTY The authority that the aff relies on to enforce human rights is not the liberal vision of power but rather the sovereign. But the decisions of the U. Caldwell in 2004 (Anne. Yet how the globalization of rights which emerged out of the modern sovereign state should limit the very power they owe their existence to is far from obvious.N. . humanity has emerged as a material political group in the same manner that the "people" became a concrete group with the rise of the representative nation-state. That referent. Global or world civil society is also often treated as the political voice of the human. Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Louisville. As those powers become increasingly involved with humanity.' (Douzinas 1996: 122).the human being. At least since the end of the Cold War. appears such a power.2 What political power represents humanity is less apparent. or the relations between them.. Theory and Event 7:2. But they lack the power to enforce human rights. who had a profound investment in the possibility of universal rights. found herself compelled to acknowledge that whether or not humanity could guarantee the rights of individuals belonging to it "is by no means certain" (p. 298). we might say that much as early modern states addressed themselves to an equal. free. rational individual while producing a docile trained body. the main explorers of the emerging international rights regimes have been Kantian inspired cosmpolitanists. Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity. however. and new norms of state behavior giving human rights greater weight. Such hesitations have been less evident since the end of the Cold War. they can no longer be fully captured by the concept of a nation-state sovereignty committed to particular peoples. Since the French Revolution. that such a relationship could exist between humanity and political power has long been doubted. As sovereignty expands beyond the nation state form.N. remain wholly circumscribed by the nation-states composing the U. We can now recognize an international rights regime formed by international rights declarations. <continues> Expanding the analyses of Foucault. applied to material life rather than juridical life. Nearly by default. regional and international courts. Arendt. Given the novelty of this emerging form of sovereignty and of humanity. it increasingly operates as bio-sovereignty: a form of sovereignty operating according to the logic of the exception rather than law. That task falls ultimately to the existent sovereign powers.

they serve as a ground for bio-sovereignty. The apparently emancipatory. maintain a secret solidarity with the very powers they ought to fight" (1998: 133). The humanitarian crisis exists in a state of constant emergency. It is the open expression of the sovereign ban or exception. As she observes. Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Louisville. speaking for the very life sovereignty grounds itself in.the kind that are put in concentration camps by foes and in internment camps by their friends" (1978: 56). Every potential case for intervention -. If such interventions limit nation-state sovereignty. Those arrangements have the desired effect of placing camp inhabitants outside the framework of international law and domestic law so as to avoid obligations of asylum and legal rights to refugees (Hyndman 2000: xxv). man's politics placed his existence in question.HUMAN RIGHTS = STATE OF EXCEPTION Human rights prefigure the state of exception from below. Caldwell in 2004 (Anne. If. . as Agamben argues.whether or not it is acted upon -. 36). "contemporary history has created a new kind of human beings -. The post-sovereign world of bio-politics described by Foucault now takes on a new meaning. Such permanent "ad hoc" arrangements indicate the extent to which states of exception are increasingly interwoven with law. This complex situation.raises as a question the status of life. thereby implicating itself in the old paradigms of domination. should not be taken as a condemnation of humanitarianism. Today's "moral interventions. The relation is similar to the way that early modern discourses of rights proved complicit with novel forms of surveillance and regulation. in which humanitarianism and sovereignty work together. Theory and Event 7:2. Nothing has become more "normal" than the creation of internment camps for refugees and displaced persons. Human rights. is not post-sovereign. is the discourse of life in a state of permanent crisis. The language of human rights does not stand outside the crises such rights are invoked to counter. prefigure "the state of exception from below" (Negri and Hardt 2000. it does not stand outside the sovereign powers that produce life as endangered. human rights and sovereignty share the same referent: an indeterminate and precarious bare life. Neither natural nor exceptional. law bound discourse of human rights thereby finds itself implicated in very old paradigms of domination. It is rather a sign of the failures of a tradition which requires humanitarianism while reducing its effectiveness. sovereignty maintains its power by deciding on the status of life. provides the justification for the "exceptional" measures of sovereign powers. humanitarian crises belong to a "structure of permanent emergency" which has become "objectified in institutional arrangements" (Edkins 2000a: 146). Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity. and calls for a sovereign decision on life. and ever potential case for intervention allows the sovereign to decide life. project muse) The complexity of the relationship between bio-sovereignty and humanity is most evident in the issue of humanitarian interventions. Arendt's account of the fate of those caught in such institutional arrangement remains decisive.12 Humanitarianism. then a world in which politics places life in question by retaining the power to decide its fate. "despite themselves. Foucault argued that in modernity. from this perspective." exemplified in the work of NGO's who categorize and call attention to human rights violations. Agamben therefore asserts humanitarian organizations. Moreover.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 14/114 AGAMBEN K LINK.

ironically. p. in a return to ‘Kant’ (the unquestioned starting point).33 to an ideal meaning. to replace exclusion with fusion and to militarize its humanistic rhetoric. only to aim at further ‘progress’ (of the same circle of metaphysical ‘legislation’ that led to this failure). the main attempt ‘to overcome nothingness’ and the anxiety it causes is. human rights. The crisis of the ideal is ‘ended’ by yet another ideological idea.38 Yet. Zartaloudis. Professor at School of Law Birkbeck College. ‘as if nothing happened’). Modern liberal planetary ordering aims to create a fusion. RIGHTS BECOME THE SOVEREIGN ‘NEW WORLD ORDER’ AND APPEAR TO FURTHER PROGRESS WITHOUT QUESTIONING THEIR OWN ASSUMPTIONS.36 We are faced with a return to values (as Nancy writes. “Without Negative Origins And Absolute Ends: A Jurisprudence of the Singular”. without questioning its presuppositions. Dr.34 This is of course an illusionary simulacrum of incorporation. for instance. This neo-humanism.HUMAN RIGHTS = SOVEREIGN THE ‘RETURN TO VALUES’ IS MERELY AN ILLUSION. communion and pacification. urgently. returns to the Kantian logic of signification. despite everything.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 15/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. THE NEGATIVITY BECOMES ABSOLUTE AND A NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT IS FORCED UNIVERSALLY. as Nancy suggests. ‘become the ideology at the end of ideology’. To place yet another negative sublime.) Today. aims to overcome the crisis of meaning that nihilism revealed by yet another closure upon itself. that of a ‘return-to-meaning’. Neo-Kantianism. (Thanos. 210-211. yet another entrance into the negative circle. IT IS THE END OF ALL OTHER IDEOLOGIES. The embarrassment of the West is thus admitted. the one through the other’). with a return to progress. is ‘what is the meaning of the political when all political significations touch on their own insignificance?’39 Both those who claim for mythical presence (in its past forms and today with the ‘return-to-idealism’) and those who claim for the absence of (a desire to) meaning (while they posit nothingness as meaning) are caught within the logic of negative transcendental legislation. to present the reality of man ‘right in’ the ideality of what is called ‘man’. a new ideological social contract that now is to be forced universally once again (‘despite everything’).35 Once more. humanism as the sovereign ‘new world order’ creates the illusion of ‘understanding’ what the West failed to understand in the past. by throwing into oblivion its previously revealed negative mediation. between what it includes and what it excludes. 14 December. by a violent ‘civic-religious’ aim at a recovery of the very fantasy of ‘immediacy’ in the democratic constitution. the categorical imperative is imposed in the self-same subject (which is once more seen as ‘capable of presenting the concept and the intuition together. a zone of indistinction as Agamben has argued. 2002.37 In this sense. . Negativity becomes absolute. a neo-humanism or a ‘new constitutionalism’ as the answer to the ‘crisis’ of meaning. Kluwer Law International. after the interruption by nihilism. what we need to ask. yet another appropriation of meaning. through a return ‘to’ the illusion of consensus. to an extent.

To take these emerging global dimensions of sovereignty and life as straightforward indications of an all-inclusive humanity would be a mistake. and without being clearly integrated into a new form of supranational sovereignty. And what sovereignty decides is the status of that humanity. The complex mixture of these categories were not particularly visible so long as life was wholly defined by nation-state belonging. Theory and Event 7:2. Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Louisville. As the boundaries of the nation state become more porous. the ground of the sovereign decision is humanity as such. By definition. the refugee cannot appeal to its own state. The refugee is the most explicit indication of this impossibility. New forms of global sovereignty and global human life remain defined by the categories of natural life. Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity. This indeterminate sovereignty increasingly ranges over all territories and all peoples: over humanity as such. sovereignty as the power to determine boundaries becomes more pervasive. in a parallel manner. In the classical world and the modern world. Today. life across the globe exists in a state of crisis. More and more. The equivocal status of a humanity dependent on the sovereign decision increases as national sovereignty breaks down without wholly disappearing. project muse) As Agamben teaches us. caught within and subject to a sovereign power itself indeterminate. indicates contemporary political belonging. The refugee exists in a transnational space made of an awkward separation and mixture of domestic life and international life. but as a figure of an international life or human belonging meriting protection solely on that basis. The refugee must therefore appeal to some other power to recognize it not as a national citizen. natural and political life once included and excluded one another to constitute local or national forms of being. A power that offers such protection can no longer be adequately classified under the heading of nation-state sovereignty. In an international world. or to national citizenship. which constitute and exclude one another as the ground of the sovereign exception. The refugee. The sovereign decides the status of humanity. Nor can the distinctions between natural and political life be limited to the field of the nation-state. however. A sovereign power that acts in the name of and for a life defined solely by its belonging to humanity is a power that has become global. can no longer be coded by domestic categories alone.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 16/114 AGAMBEN K LINK.HUMAN RIGHTS = SOVEREIGN A sovereign power that acts in the name of life defined solely by its belong to humanity is a power that has become global. Caldwell in 2004 (Anne. those same patterns reappear in global relationships between national life and international life. The status of life. for protection. political life and homo sacer defining the Western tradition. so too will appear the figure linking them: homo sacer. and the power regulating it. wherever natural life and political appear. becomes increasingly precarious. .

a son of God. The trace must articulate both the presence and absence of the privileged term in a difference of opposition. a sign of parousia and not a seed. Chaplin in 2005 (Susan. Derrida asserts that self-presence is constituted by ‘pure difference [.LAW The law acts as the “trace. likewise. Law and Critique. for it is a general condition of culture [. I would argue. ‘it has neither existence nor essence. . which is the law.’ .37 In the context of the formation of individual and communal identity. furthermore. the law as ‘trace’ is constituted by the possibility of its own erasure and threatens the effacement of that which it makes possible – the fiction of the Logos as the ‘truth of a cultural symbolic order. I will argue. of the disappearance of its disappearance. PhD. even out of absence. exists only ‘on the threshold of culture’:31 it is.35 Differance is no self-present origin in itself. Moving from an engagement with Husserl’s notion of self-presence in Speech and Phenomena. between culture/ presence/Logos and nature/absence.32 The incest prohibition. . an immobile and incorruptible substance. has something of the quality of a parergon. functions as a ‘trace’ articulating ‘the recognition that the privileged term in a difference of opposition would not appear as such without the difference or opposition that gives it form’.36 Differance is consequently ‘maddening’. the fiction of law-as-logos is an impossible attempt to create an unerasable trace. and is constituted by the threat or anguish of its own irremediable disappearance. a mortal germ. LLB (Hons). which it itself is bound to exceed. An unerasable trace is not a trace. the transition from nature to culture is accomplished. existing in between two domains whilst belonging decisively to neither. this first law is both law and non-law: it founds the demarcation between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ whilst remaining itself insusceptible to analysis according to this opposition: The prohibition of incest is in origin neither purely cultural nor purely natural. untheorisable from within the symbolic order that it initiates. From the moment of its inception. . exercising and imposing its rule on phenomena which initially are not subject to it.” defining one term by its opposite. yet fictive.] the living present springs forth from non-identity with itself’. on the level of the coming-into-being of individual and communal consciousness. For Levi–Strauss. a ‘terrifying menace’. .] However. then. by the very nature of the conceptualising system it initiates: ‘[. in another sense. yet untheorisable. but above all in which. that this law ‘on the threshold’ between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ brings into being the categories of ‘nature’ and ‘culture’. 169) Man’s first ‘law’. . In deconstructive terms. the law must articulate both the presence and absence of the Logos and.33 As the essential. this law that is no law is abject. moreover. be re-figured productively according to Derrida’s conceptualisation of differance.39 Fictions of Law-as-Logos are impossible attempts to create the ‘unerasable trace [. the law. is designed to leave in the domain of the unthinkable the very thing that makes this conceptualisation possible: the origin of the prohibition against incest’. It belongs to no category of being. In Zˇ izˇ ek’s analysis. to move closer to a Derridean analysis. The trace is the erasure of self. ‘origin’ of law). of one’s own presence. the prohibition against incest. but at the same time ‘the first and surest protection against that very menace’. it belongs to nature. This erasure is death itself. It is the fundamental step because of which. that is. Abjection and Difference. .] a full self-presence’. In one sense. it ‘exposes and protects us according to the play of forces and the difference of forces’. MA. nor is it a composite mixture of elements from both nature and culture. it is mythologised according to a ‘primordial lie’ of parricide which serves to cover over a traumatic absence of any conceivable origin for the founding ‘law’ of civilisation. functions likewise as the condition of a differential interplay between the sacred and the abject. ‘inner and outer boundary’34 of the symbolic domain (within which Law-as-Logos then functions as the theorisable. by which.] the whole of philosophical conceptualisation. however. pg. or the play of differences’. the institution of law.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 17/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. in so doing. but rather that which oscillates between ‘presence’ and ‘absence’ as the groundless condition-of-being of all differences: as such. which is systematic with the nature/culture opposition. present or absent’. it is already culture.38 Neither category would exist without the differentiating gesture. Fictions of Origin: Law. point to the status of the Ideal as a fiction constructed out of a demarcation that the law makes appear and threatens to efface: The trace is the erasure of selfhood. . and that which sets it in motion is ‘differance [as] the origin and production of differences. . It may also. it is a full presence. Derrida reveals.

moreover. The art of representation requires the poet to take into account a range of contingencies. No longer present to itself as the spoken Word. in a chapter entitled ‘Preambles Essential’.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 18/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. but at the same time deprives it of its origin in the spoken word.44 which is inadequate to deal with the complexities and contingencies of social life. opens itself (since its meaning is no longer present to itself. In Book 4 of The Laws. as Maurice Blanchot contends. But this ought not necessarily to be so. The more enlightened approach. poetry is an anathema to the legislator. it is a persuasive preamble designed to justify the formulation of what Plato then terms ‘law pure and simple’: . the ‘erasure [that is] death itself’. ‘alien to every relationship of Presence and to all legality’:43 the Law ‘put into writing’ thus evokes. rationality and distance from myth. re-interpretation and possibly to misinterpretation. Fictions of Origin: Law. the law is cut off from the paternal principle – the Logos – that is meant to guarantee its transcendence. 172) The law’s embodiment within the legal text gives it a certain permanence. within this tradition. The legal prescription ‘put into writing’ thus becomes both cure and poison and moves the law dangerously away from the paternal principle of origin that is the antithesis of Mythos. for this approach to legislation generates a ‘one topic. mythic. according to the traditional view of law. therefore. PhD. invokes poetic. the law in textual form circulates promiscuously without a proper origin and. to formulate preambles to the law. LLB (Hons). one doctrine’ methodology. Law and Critique. Chaplin in 2005 (Susan. Writing is. Abjection and Difference. says the Athenian. as the above passage obliquely suggests.LAW When the law is put into writing it gains permanence but loses the principle of Logos. The Athenian’s discourse here takes itself the form of a preface to Plato’s exposition of specific principles of law-making. Plato’s most famous theorisation of law. the Athenian interlocutor – himself a poet – draws an analogy between the art of the poet and the science of the legislator. is in fact to justify the law with reference to these contingencies. MA. which may appear to make him contradict himself. he contends. once-and-for-all) to perpetual rereading. spoken. which consolidate the law’s authority by combining compulsion with a discourse of persuasion designed to illustrate the necessity of law. pg. marginal discourses as necessary to the creation and justification of law.

The specification that the sovereign is “at the same time outside and inside the juridical order” (emphasis added) is not insignificant: the sovereign.” what is its structure. but it simultaneously reveals a specifically juridical formal element: the decision in absolute purity. Here the decision must be distinguished from the juridical regulation. The exception does not only confirm the rule. since it is up to him to decide if the constitution is to be suspended in toto” (Schmitt. After a while. Every general rule demands a regular. outside and inside the juridical order. But what is this “situation. legally places himself outside the law. having the legal power to suspend the validity of the law. since the general is thought about not with passion but only with comfortable superficiality. one need only look around for a real exception. The latter proves nothing. of suspending the order’s own validity. . and (to formulate it paradoxically) authority proves itself not to need law to create law.S not so dissimilar: ‘An esteemed jurist is. the rule as such lives off the exception alone. on the other hand. then “the sovereign stands outside the juridical order and. He has the monopoly over the final decision. it defies general codification. There is no rule that is applicable to chaos. everyday frame of life to which it can be factually applied and which is submitted to its regulations. chap. to the rule’s immanent validity. such that it consists in nothing other than the suspension of the rule? . with sharp judgment. declare that there is nothing outside the law [ non c’è unfliori legge]. then neither can the general be explained. This means that the paradox can also be formu lated this way: “the law is outside itself. one becomes disgusted with the endless talk about the general—there are exceptions. Through the state of exception.” (Politische Theologie. is). Yet nowhere in the realm of the juridical sciences can one find a theory that grants such a high position to the exception. belongs to it. but rather someone who. For what is at issue in the sovereign exception is. the exception proves everything. This factual regularity is not merely an “external presupposition” that the jurist can ignore. Usually the difficulty is not noticed. along with it. If they cannot be explained. . Order must be established for juridical order to make sense. A Protestant theologian who demonstrated the vital intensity of which theological reflection was still capable in the nineteenth century said: “The exception explains the general and itself. knows how to look into cases and see the ultimate circumstances of facts that merit equitable consideration and exceptions from general rules” (Deantiquissima. nevertheless. therefore.” The topology implicit in the paradox is worth reflecting upon. And when one really wants to study the general. Schmitt presents this structure as the structure of the exception (Ausnahme): The exception is that which cannot be subsumed. thinks the general with intense passion. the sovereign “creates and guarantees the situation” that the law needs for its own validity. the very condition of possibility of juridical rule and. which he called “the ultimate configuration of facts. pp.” The sovereign creates and guarantees the situation as a whole in its totality. masters positive law [ the general complex of lawsi. The rule requires a homogeneous medium. The decision reveals the essence of State authority most clearly. the very meaning of State authority. affirmed the superiority of the exception. 19—22) It is not by chance that in defining the exception Schmitt refers to the work of a theologian (who is none other than Søren Kierkegaard). Therein consists the essence of State sovereignty which must therefore be properly juridically defined not as the monopoly to sanction or to rule but as the monopoly to decide. rather.” or: “I. The exception. the sovereign. who am outside the law. z). Agamben in 1998 Homo Sacer 15-17 The paradox of sovereignty consists in the fact the sovereign is. and sovereign is he who definitely decides if this situation is actually effective. A regular situation must be created. If the sovereign is truly the one to whom the juridical order grants the power of proclaiming a state of exception and. since the degree to which sovereignty marks the limit (in the double sense of end and principle) of the juridical order will become clear only once the structure of the paradox is grasped. where the word “monopoly” is used in a general sense that is still to be developed.” over positive Jaw in a way which W3. The exception is more interesting than the regular case. according to Schmitt. The exception appears in its absolute form when it is a question of creating a situation in which juridical rules can be valid. it belongs. therefore.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 19/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. at the same time. not Someone who. to be sure.LAW The exception appears in its absolute form when it is a question of creating a situation in which juridical rules can be valid. . with the help of a good memory. It brings everything to light more clearly than the general itself. Gjambattjsta Vico had. Politische Theologie. All law is “situational law. p.

“for the law allows equita ble vengeance” [ Festus. can in the last instance be implicated in the sphere of law only through the presupposition of its inclusive exclusion.g. Law is made of what manages to capture inside itself through the inclusive exclusion of the exception.” which the law needs. The sovereign decides not the licit and illicit but the originary inclusion of the living in the sphere of law or. Law is made of nothing but what it manages to capture inside itself through the inclusive exclusion of the exception: it nourishes itself on this exception and is a dead letter without it. e. De verbo rum significatione. precisely the condition of being included through an exclusion. what comes clearly to light is the indistinction between outside and inside and between life and law that characterizes the sovereign decision on the exception. Here the decision is not the expression of the will of a subject hierarchically superior to all others. its peculiar and original “force. as an exceptional case. to the law’s simple reference to something. that is.” in which a fact is included in the juridical order through its exclusion. in which life is originarily excepted in law. but to the pure force of the law.” The sovereign decision traces and from time to time renews this threshold of indistinction between outside and inside. violence as a primordial juridical fact (permittit enim lexparem vindictam. There is a limit-figure of life. Agamben in 1998 (Homo sacer. . that is. p.: talio esto). perhaps from ta/is. This is the ultimate ground of the juridical maxim. Life. The law has a regulative character and is a “rule” not because it commands and proscribes. to the determination of the licit and the illicit. Here it is a question not only. according to which ignorance of the rule does not eliminate guilt. In this impossibility of deciding if it is guilt that grounds the rule or the rule that posits guilt.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 20/114 AGAMBEN K LINK. exclusion and inclusion. nomos and physis. but rather the very relation between law and fact. which is thus obliged. 25-27) This is why sovereignty presents itself in Schmitt in the form of a decision on the exception. Since the rule both stabilizes and pre supposes the conditions of this reference. it has no existence in itself. as Schmitt seems to suggest. be decided on). in the exception. but rather represents its inclusion in the juridical order. amounts to “the thing itself”) means that the juridical order does not originally present itself simply as sanctioning a transgressive fact but instead constitutes itself through the repetition of the same act without any sanction. a threshold in which life is both inside and outside the juridical order. In this sense. In this sense. The cipher of this capture of life in law is not sanction (which is not at all an exclusive characteristic of the juridical rule) but guilt (not in the technical sense that this concept has in penal law but in the originary sense that indicates a being-in-debt: in cu/pa esse). the law truly “has no existence in itself.g. but rather has its being in the very life of men. i5]). then (juridical consequence. nevertheless. and transgression seems to precede and determine the lawful case. e. “breaks the crust of a mechanism grown rigid through repetition” but of something that concerns the most inner nature of the law. This is not a punishment of this first act. but rather has its being in the very life of men. which is foreign to all morality. in the words of Schmitt. but rather represents the inscription within the body of the nomos of the exteriority that animates it and gives it meaning.” has the form of a state of exception in which fact and law are indistinguishable (yet must. That the law initially has the form of a lex talionis (ta/ic. Its decision is the position of an undecidable. Guilt refers not to transgression. The decision concerns neither a quaestio iuris nor a quaestiofacti. but because it must first of all create the sphere of its own reference in real life and make that reference regular. and this threshold is the place of sovereignty. 496. The “sovereign” structure of the law. which is to say. “the normal structuring of life relations. the originary structure of the rule is always of this kind: “If (a real case in point.: si membrum rupsit).LAW The exception is the original form of law. only in an exception. the exception is the originary form of law. The statement “The rule lives off the exception alone” must therefore be taken to the letter. of being in relation to something from which one is excluded or which one cannot fully assume. of the irruption of the “effective life” that.

“Potenza Nuda? Sovereignty. 5. Biopolitics. without anything preceding or determining it (superiorem non recognoscens) other than its own ability not to be. Associate Prof at U of Western Sydney. there will be nothing im-potential (that is. when the act of which it is said to be potential is realized.” Here lies the crux of his disagreement with Negri. And. But this requires thinking ontology and politics beyond every figure of relation. for Agamben. Because of this a constitution of potentiality cannot be free of sovereign power and constituent power cannot be free from the constituted power.”7 By this ambiguity.au/contretemps/5december2004/neilson. Agamben argues that just like the sovereign ban. If Negri is to maintain his argument for the alterity of constituent power with respect to the constituted order. so potentiality maintains itself in relation to actuality through its ability not to be. Contretempt. there will be nothing able not to be). At the limit. letting itself be. which applies to the exception in no longer applying. Aristotle offers a definition of potentiality that. giving itself to itself. And an act is sovereign when it realizes itself by simply taking away its own potentiality not to be. including the limit relation of the sovereign ban. Capitalism”. not because his philosophy displays indecisiveness or contradictoriness but because actuality and potentiality are the two faces of the sovereign self-grounding of Being.edu. and the sovereign is precisely this zone of indistinction. Potentiality (in its double appearance as potentiality to and potentiality not to) is that through which Being founds itself sovereignly.SOVEREIGN POWER = NO FREEDOM Sovereign power takes away the potentiality of the individual.pdf) In accounting for this movement between dynamis and energeia. it is unclear whether Aristotle accords primacy to actuality or potentiality. http://www. bequeaths the paradigm of sovereignty to Western philosophy: “A thing is said to be potential if.usyd.6 In this way.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 21/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. he must be able to think the existence of potentiality without any relation to Being in the form of actuality. pure actuality and pure potentiality are indistinguishable. Agamben relates the paradox of sovereignty to “the constitutive ambiguity of the Aristotelian theory of dynamis/energia. Neilson in 2004 (Brett. this is a task that Negri refuses at all costs. . This is why Agamben finds it is difficult to think of a constitution of potentiality that is freed from the principle of sovereignty or of a constituent power that exists in separation from constituted power. which is to say. for Agamben.

both will follow Heidegger (though hardly without criticism) in his attempt to develop a poetic mode of speech beyond metaphysics.30 In so doing. To break out of this vicious cycle. What the State cannot tolerate in any way.SOVEREIGNTY = EXCEPTION Sovereignty causes a cycle of violence that creates states of exception through the assignment of identities to certain people. and moral space. we should hardly be surprised to find ourselves torn. Berkeley. an agent or a thing. the attempt to resist this through the assertion of human rights ignores the connection between the humanism that undergirds the concept of rights and the events that seem to conflict with it. Politics is always a matter of the body. however.27 In contrast. is that the singularities form a community without affirming an identity. Diacritics 30. which as such acquire a political meaning precisely only through a decision” [Homo Sacer 164]. the physician and the scientist move into the no-man’s-land [terra di nessuno] into which at one point the sovereign alone could penetrate” [159]. Homo Sacer 114]. It is this that leads him to conclude that the camp is the as-yet-unrecognized paradigm of the modern.28 In the end. they “tried to compensate for this lack of identity with the concession of a State identity. wanting both to affirm and to deny that these categories apply here. “life and death [cease to be] properly scientific concepts [and become] political concepts. . . which itself became the source of new massacres” [Coming Community 87–88. they too are set aside in favor of a respectful silence. Agamben’s argument is not that Aristotle’s or Locke’s reflections on politics carry with them an implicit commitment to the substantive racist policies of National Socialism. the distinction between bare life and political life is hopelessly confused. Agamben’s conception of the threshold at least promises to more precisely delineate these confusions: the camp both is and is not a legal. the liberal strategy reveals its limitations when we recognize that the notion of the threshold is in fact expanding into areas where we will not have the luxury of refusing to consider the inner logic of phenomena we should like to reject as evil and incomprehensible. * * * If Agamben’s analysis and description of this dilemma of the formation of the political and of political identity is strikingly original. As for the difficult questions this emerging limit of the moral might raise. in that as a marginal supplement of political identity. cf. the concept of the margin is itself being swept away. or from which to construct an alternative. This opens up the possibility of a mode of being that escapes the metaphysics of politics. Hence. The person condemned to a camp is neither capable of morality nor incapable of it. What. but that Aristotle will not provide a stable point from which to critique those who follow after him. are we to do when we are dealing with agents or things that have not already been recognized as the bearers of rights? Here the reassertion of rights is simply not an option. Giorgio Agamben and the Politics of the Living Dead. nor does he claim that they “caused” the Holocaust (a term to which he objects [114]). . The point is rather that the liberal response can make no sense of its own confusion. pg 38-58) The point is not that the liberal refusal to consider the camp as threshold rules out a solution to this dilemma from the start. .Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 22/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. and hence of thanatology. “In the final instance the State can recognize any claim for identity. and the impossibility of categorically distinguishing between exception and rule is made manifest. and not by politicians: “In the biopolitical horizon [orizzonte biopolitico] that characterizes modernity. As the logic of the sovereign exception comes unraveled (or is realized— this paradox being a necessary function of that logic). and linked together by means of the no-man’s land of the state of exception that is inhabited [abita] by bare life [la nuda vita]—begin to become one. and urinating”—is in fact a human being at all. In such cases. Rather than acknowledge the sacred character of the Jewish people (as a people whose extermination “was not conceived as a homicide by [either] the executioners [or] the judges”). Agamben follows Jean-Luc Nancy in attempting to “think” community without unity. it itself lacks identity.” The Allied response to the Nazi extermination of the Jews is instructive in this regard. PhD from the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California. all life becomes sacred and all politics becomes the exception” [148]. We must decide whether a neomort—a body whose only signs of life are that it is “warm. The very idea of a solution here seems offensive. These are still marginal figures in our current political life.29 There is no Archimedean point outside biopolitics.4. Finally. What he does argue is that there is a deep affinity between such contemporary horrors and the tradition of political philosophy to which we might turn in an effort to understand and combat such phenomena. In an earlier discussion of the politics of the sacred. such decisions are increasingly made by scientists. that humans co-belong without an representable condition of belonging. for instance. He is now Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. The camp is simply evil and incomprehensible. the nonmetaphysical alternative toward which he gestures in response is more familiar. political. Norris in 2000 (Andrew. pulsating. Ironically. But if Agamben is right. he argues that the sacred bears within itself subversive potential. The practical implication would not be that there is no difference between Aristotle or Hitler. and “The ‘body’ is always already a biopolitical body” [187]. “When life and politics—originally divided.

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When given up sovereignty, the political body must submit to every friend/enemy division which ultimately destroys the understanding of politics.
Moreiras, Director of European Studies at Duke, 2k4 (Alberto, “A God without Sovereignty. Political Jouissance. The Passive Decision”, CR: The New Centennial Review 4.3, p.78-80, Project MUSE) If a given order of the political rules over concrete politics, that is, if it rules over every particular configuration of the friend-enemy grouping, the order of the political is the ultimate norm of action, and political entities within it are not sovereign. If the order of the political is subordinate to politics, it must submit to every concrete friend/enemy division, and the order is not sovereign—that is, it cannot act as the ultimate principle of orientation, as the organizer and distributor of political power and political defeat, of peace and justice. If there is an order of the political, it develops or produces its own political determinations, its own political space. It is then a condition of the political, marking every concrete politics and every attempt at superseding or negating the order itself. There are two logical ways of negating any given order of the political: by opposing the currently existing order, or by opposing any order whatsoever, that is, all possible orders. At the highest level—that is, at the level where the political confrontation is not sustained within a given order, but rather calls the very power of the order into question, whether as an actually existing order or as the ontological determination for any practical politics—friends are those who support the order, and enemies are those who explicitly threaten it. This is far from exhausting humanity. Many will be neither friends nor enemies of the given order; they simply dwell within an order not of their making: they are within the order, but not of it. It is this place, this alternative dwelling, the site of the neither-friend-nor-enemy, that might be emerging today as the proper site of a new figuration of the political—the site for Derrida’s “another order.” The friend/enemy division is peculiar at the highest level, at the level of the order of the political. This peculiarity ultimately destroys the understanding of the political as based on and circumscribed by the friend/enemy division. The idea of an order of the political presupposes that the enemies of the order as such—that is, the enemy configuration that can overthrow a given order, or even the very idea of an order of the political—are generated from the inside: enemies of the order are not properly external enemies. This is so because the order of the political, as a principle of division, as division itself, always already regulates, and thus subsumes, its externality: externality is produced by the order as such, and it is a function of the order. Or rather: a principle of division can have no externality. Beyond the order, there can be enemies, if attacked, but they are not necessarily enemies of the order: they are simply ignorant of it. At the highest level of the political, at the highest level of the friend/enemy division, there where the very existence of a given order of the political is at stake, the order itself secretes its own enmity. Enmity does not precede the order: it is in every case produced by the order. The friend/enemy division is therefore a division that is subordinate to the primary ordering division, produced from itself. The friend/enemy division is therefore not supreme: a nomic antithesis generates it, and thus stands above it. The order of the political rules over politics. The political ontology implied in the notion of an order of the political deconstructs the political ontology ciphered in the friend/enemy division, and vice versa. They are mutually incompatible. Either the friend/enemy division is supreme, for a determination of the political, or the order of the political is supreme. Both of them cannot simultaneously be supreme. The gap between them is strictly untheorizable. If the friend/enemy division obtains independently of all the other antitheses as politically primary, then there is no order of the political. If there is an order of the political, the order produces its own political divisions.

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Sovereignty decides the exceptions, and operates within biopolitics. The sovereign expands by inclusion through exclusion, creating a zone of indistinction between inside and outside. Caldwell in 2004 (Anne, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of
Louisville, Theory and Event 7:2, Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity, project muse)
Agamben's ultimate concern is with the type of broader questions Foucault distanced himself from. In contrast to his analyses of the human sciences, which uncovered specific "epistemes" shaping different orders of knowledge, Foucault made no similar effort to identify the basic parameters under which bio-power could emerge. Agamben does. His inquiry leads him to more desultory conclusions than Foucault. For the two fields of sovereign power and bio-

power that Foucault treated as separate, and hence as potential limits upon one another, are treated as parts of the same power by Agamben. Refusing to identify sovereignty with liberalism, Agamben shows that sovereignty operates within the bio-political field of life before it takes the form of a juridical power. Agamben's argument for repositioning sovereignty outside the paradigms of liberalism draws heavily from Schmitt's account of sovereignty as the decision on the exception, as well as from Benjamin's account of the origins of law in the rule over life. Agamben indicates the weight he attributes to the relation between law and life almost immediately. What is at stake in the concept of the exception is "the limit concept of the doctrine of law and the state, in which sovereignty borders (since every limit concept is always the limit between two concepts) on the sphere of life and becomes indistinguishable from it" (1998: 11). The field of the exception is thus the space where the liberal separation of law and life collapses.
To trace the emergence of a sovereignty bio-political rather than liberal, Agamben begins by expanding Schmitt's definition of sovereignty as the decision on the exception into a definition of sovereignty as having the structure of the exception. Schmitt himself does not explicitly make this claim, but it is implicit in his account. Political Theology opens with the famous definition: "Sovereign is he who decides on the exception" (1985a: 5). Here the decision, and hence the power of sovereignty, still plausibly appears as a limited and discrete moment. Within a few pages, Schmitt clarifies this definition. The power to decide on the exception entails the power to decide on

normal order as well. The sovereign therefore decides on the total situation, or on order as such (p.13). It is nevertheless Agamben who underscores the conditions necessary for that expansion of sovereign power. While sovereignty, to establish order, must in some way separate inside from outside, that process is counter-intuitive. For "what is excluded in the exception maintains itself in relation to the rule in the form of the rule's suspension. The rule applies to the exception in no longer applying, in withdrawing from it. The state of exception is thus not the chaos that precedes order but rather the situation that results from its suspension." (1998: 17-18). Consequently, an order born of the exception emerges not by tracing a simple line of inclusion and exclusion, but by "including something through its exclusion" (p. 18). In that inclusive exclusion, sovereign power forms itself by creating "a zone of indistinction between outside and inside" (p.19). Under normal "non-exceptional" circumstances, that zone of indistinction remains hidden. Only the effect of the sovereign decision appears. If the generative moment of sovereignty is considered, the site of sovereignty changes. Viewed as the structure of the exception, and not only as the decision on the exception, sovereignty does not simply decide on the limit. It is rather "the unlimited power that makes limits" (Norris 2000: para. 16). 4
More strongly, "it is the limit, and hence carries the limit with it in its movement as it carries itself" (Norris 2000: para 17).5 Sovereignty, as the condition for any establishment of spatial differentiation, cannot itself be localized (Agamben 1998: 19). This generative sovereignty cannot be confined to the form of a limited law that lays down the line between power and its absence, only indirectly touching life. What then is the relationship between a sovereign power whose very structure is the exception, and life?

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When sovereign power acts to protect those who belong to other states, sovereignty reinforces an international definition of life, rights and belonging. A sovereignty ruling over such groups is no longer liberal and national, but biopolitical and global. Caldwell in 2004 (Anne, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of
Louisville, Theory and Event 7:2, Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity, project muse) The shift from standing law to exception evident in the treatment of refugees also appears in humanitarian military interventions. Those interventions increasingly take place as exceptions to both domestic and international law, exposing "the allied face of human war" (Dillon and Reid 2000: 5). The American led NATO intervention into Kosovo, for example, was carried out as an exception to the U.S. Constitution, the NATO Charter and the UN.13 The new American doctrine of pre-emptive strikes has made the decision on the exception official policy. Indeed, new forms of post-Cold War warfare are having the general effect of internationalizing the exception. Modern wars typically occurred between two or more legally equal sovereigns. Contemporary conflicts are more akin to police actions. They take the form of a "diffuse and continuous" violence seeking to guarantee order rather than control territory (Guehenno 1995:119). One of the clearest signs of this change in conflict is the growing difficulty in distinguishing between civil and international wars, and between intranational and international wars (Meron 2000: 261; Kaldor 1998: 102). Modern distinctions "between 'war' and peace', 'internal' and 'external' . . . associated with the autonomy of the nation-state, seem to be breaking down" (Kaldor 1998:91). As a result, interventions into what might once have appeared independent nation-states no longer involve "independent juridical territories." They appear rather as "actions within a unified world," aimed "at maintaining an internal order" (Hardt and Negri 2000: 35, 38). The effect is to place the rights of humanity in "the hands of the international community police" (Ranciere 1999: 127). These dynamics of interventions are one sign that global bio-sovereignty is supplanting nation-state sovereignty. That shift is not always easy to recognize. Humanitarian interventions, for example, often make use of the language of the nation-state. They can easily appear as repetitions of modern nation state sovereignty. This is why Soguk, a scholar critical of the nation state order, argues interventions perpetuate that order. As he argues, interventions, particularly around refugee crises, produce "the specific territorially bound and territorially activated hierarchy of citizen/nation/state on which the very ontology of the state system continues to rest" (1999: 188). Humanitarianism, treating refugees as "aberrant citizens" (p. 194) to be returned to their appropriate nation, seems to reinforce modern territorial sovereignty. Nevertheless, such actions exceed the order of the nation-states. Refugees, as we have seen, embody not only nation-state citizenship, but a human or international status. The moment one sovereign power acts to protect those who belong to other states, or those who have been so severely abandoned by their own states as to have no other category of belonging than humanity, sovereignty reinforces an international definition of life, rights and belonging. In that moment, sovereignty undermines the very identifications and connections of the citizen/nation/state order. A sovereignty ruling over such groups is no longer liberal and national, but bio-political and global.

These variations in interventions are not simply hypocrisy.as indifferent life whose status is determined by the sovereign decision. consigned to a state of exception become the rule.15 Sovereignty is coming to operate internationally in the same manner it was always capable of operating domestically: outside the boundaries of law. as in the early war in Bosnia." he pointed out that the space of the exception in modern democracies was being filled out by the police. As the great powers intervene in Bosnia or Kosovo or stand aside. in Rwanda. As bio-sovereignty increasingly operates in an international mode. Benjamin's own account treated the expansion of the police within the domestic politics of sovereignty -. further undermining the limited forms of rule that regulate international relations. ruled by it without being saved by it.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 26/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. and create it ad hoc when necessary (Benjamin 1978: 287). once insisted the distinctive feature of modern democracy was its rule through law. The role of the exception and the presence of bare life appear in the capriciousness of international humanitarian interventions. The police have the power to suspend law when necessary. and ruling directly over life.and condemned it as such. Max Weber. influencing generations of scholars. . as they debate whether to classify massacres as "ethnic cleansing" or "genocide" depending on the level of obligation they wish to take on." the life addressed appears -from the standpoint of sovereign power -.SOVEREIGNTY = BIOPOLITICS 2/2 We should not be surprised then that contemporary sovereignty is ceasing to make use of modern methods of legitimation. bare life is abandoned by the law without being removed from it. as they bomb populations formed of both the "innocent" and the "guilty. or in the long running war between Turkey and its Kurds. This incorporation of extra-legal and contingent decisions into an order of law is the phenomena Benjamin noted decades ago. Caught in the ban of a sovereign law tracing out new relations beyond old borders. They are the modus operandi of a form of sovereign power that has always grounded itself in the capture and valuation of life. the police actions of domestic sovereignty are becoming internationalized. In "The Critique of Violence. That focus on law is being replaced by Schmitt's definition of a power legitimated on the basis of its capacity to decide.

He simply considered it undesirable. Bio-sovereignty rules not over one particular group. but over humanity as such. This possibility is the one doubted by Arendt. Agamben called attention to sovereignty as a "borderline" concept. In humanity he feared a world lost in equality and consigned to a life perhaps "interesting." given to a movement of "dislocating" itself (Agamben 1998: 19-20). if sovereignty were to enter into its limit form of indeterminacy. has sovereignty come to rule such a grouping? Agamben's own analysis of homo sacer foregrounds this question. Agamben shows us that sovereignty classifies the life it controls not by its content .16 Schmitt's critics are exactly right.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 27/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. immediately after World War II. and not one whose reality it respects and attempts to preserve" (2000: para 32). Andrew Norris makes this point with an example of ethnic identity. Theory and Event 7:2. This expansive power of sovereignty appears in Schmitt's treatment of sovereignty as the generative structure of order. humanity can no longer be treated as a limit upon sovereignty. An indeterminate sovereignty. represented by a new political power. But if sovereignty is the power to determine limits and rule over them. but by its regulation of boundaries. project muse) The counter point to the optimistic reading of the emerging international rights order and rights as an expansion of liberal cosmopolitanism is bio-sovereignty ruling over bare life in a state of exception. is not a failure to address concrete political groupings. Curiously enough. as Schmitt characterized sovereignty. As Agamben grasped. A border line concept. just as precarious. From this alternative perspective. and operates as the power to determine and redetermine limits. then. Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity. it is defined not by its rule over particular peoples. The sovereign decision "by definition undermines the validity of ethnic difference and purity even as it asserts that wars must be fought in their name. the more life it captures. The emergence of humanity has nevertheless opened up the "indifferent" world Schmitt anticipated. Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Louisville.SOVEREIGNTY = DETERMINE LIMITS Sovereignty gains its strength not from the content it controls but its ability to determine and redetermine limits. with its separation of territories and people. Neither depiction forecloses a political humanity. Where sovereignty exists as a limit concept. and foreclosed by Schmitt. Arendt. appears as a limited form of sovereignty. sovereignty is "essentially unlocalizable.this border -. Yet when Schmitt's account of humanity is examined in detail. and that " no political entity or society and no status corresponds to it"(1996: 55). it is Schmitt's own understanding of sovereignty that proves not only compatible with a political humanity. and hence. had questioned whether humanity would be able to guarantee the rights of individuals belonging to it (1973: 298). but by its subjection to sovereign power. more clearly than Schmitt. As sovereignty exceeds its nation-state form. is a form of power or law indistinguishable from the life it rules over (Agamben 1998: 11). it has become a political group. How. He feared just as much the opposite. A politically meaningful humanity would raise the possibility of "ferocious" wars fought for the human against the inhuman (1996: 36-37). That sovereign power should be a principle of order. In the first pages of his work. indeterminate borders indicate the strength of sovereignty rather than its dissolution. early modern sovereignty. but generative of it. Schmitt insisted humanity could be no political concept. from this standpoint. Caldwell in 2004 (Anne. From this perspective. Humanity instead appears as the ground and object of sovereignty." but without genuine meaning (1996:35). then the life it ruled would become just as indeterminate. is the very thing Schmitt's critics identify as emptying out the meaning of sovereignty. and decide its fate. indifferent to the substance of the particular groups it rules. As the very principle of political order. It is a power to draw all life into the limit space of indeterminacy. . it is evident he recognized a political humanity was in fact possible.is one that it creates. For it asserts that this difference -.

The basis of that indifferent life is our tradition's isolation of a "natural" element of life contrasted it with political life. the rabble. They incorporate it as the excluded ground of political life. What Agamben makes clear is that these distinctions never simply suppress or exclude natural life. and even in Arendt's consistent dismissal of a life concerned with necessity. Ranciere notes. . if not tantamount to the Aristotelian distinction of natural and political. it turns out ultimately to divide the secure and the endangered. which it is compelled to respect and protect. In contemporary politics. The concept of people always already contains within itself the fundamental bio-political fracture . That excluded life does not disappear.a toiling. the ignorant masses. This possibility is what Agamben's account of homo sacer reveals. . thereby offering up that indifference as the very ground of a political decision. As Schmitt recognized in the context of eighteenth century debates over the status of humanity. Theory and Event 7:2. is of a different order than liberal power. "is kept safe and protected only to the degree to which it submits itself to the sovereign's (or the law's) right of life and death. the hybrid category that results from the separation and mixture of natural and political life. that distinction recurs in Hegel's derivation of consciousness from the master-slave encounter. zoe and bios. project muse) What Schmitt did not foresee was that political processes could themselves produce humanity as an indifferent value. " (Agamben 2000: 4. Given the origins of our tradition. The indifferent life of homo sacer. That ancient separation has since grounded the Western tradition's valuation of life. If humanity appears at first to include all. but remains present as the excepted ground of politics. Beginning with Aristotle's separation of the natural and the political. the twentieth century's discovery of a category of "life unworthy of life. The basis of bio-sovereignty in the incorporation of life means its relation to humanity is neither one of simple support. The Western tradition now appears grounded in bare life. 19 The most visible political expression of this schism appears in the main object of modern politics: the sovereign people who once grounded nation-state sovereignty. Human life. It is grounded not in a life or set of rights outside of itself. like the life of the nation-state citizen. in Heidegger's discovery of authentic existence in the encounter with the possibility of death. Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Louisville. exclusion and inclusion. the division of the human and the inhuman could be traced back to Aristotle (2003: 104).1-21.2). (Meier 1998:26-64). The rights of humanity are as contingent as the rights the people of the nation-state were once ascribed. Agamben remarks on the same phenomena. whose existence undermines or contradicts the attainment of sovereignty.STATE OF EXCEPTION = BIO-SOVEREIGNTY Bio-sovereignty is built on the state of exception – it protects life only insofar as it submits itself to the sovereign’s right of life and death. Schmitt's own commitment to the political results from his certainty that only in this sphere can the value of life be confronted and determined. zoe/bios.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 28/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity. the empowered and the rabble. chained or unchained. "[I]n the concept of people we can easily recognize the conceptual pair identified earlier as the defining category of the original political structure: naked life (people) and political existence (People). exclusion/inclusion" (1998: 8)." (2000: 20. the same fracture appears within humanity. Caldwell in 2004 (Anne. Each thinker defines life as meaningful only insofar as it proves capable of transcending a life defined as non meaningful. As soon as the sovereign people appeared. "so does its name sake (which it in no way resembles): denial or derision of sovereignty." is. that pre-political or beyond-political people known as the population or populace -. Bio-sovereignty. The concepts of bio-sovereignty and homo sacer provide us with the tools to understand a power and a life of ambiguous character. but in the incorporation of life within its field of power. Agamben's account of the emergence and development of our tradition's definition of politics is useful precisely because it can help us account for the paradoxical effects of apparently inclusive and beneficial categories. serves as the very ground of the sovereign decision on the status of life. . suffering population. not outside it either. Only on this basis can Agamben insist the "fundamental categorial pair of Western politics is not that of friend/enemy but that of bare life/political existence. nor simple opposition. itself defined by its capture in the sovereign exception. structured by the exception rather than law." (80-81).5).

Anniversary Professor of Law. this very heterogeneity between a public right of sovereignty and a polymorphous disciplinary mechanism' (Foucault 1980b: 106). life's subjection to a power over death' (p. and that is found in his extensive reliance on Schmitt's concept of the exception. Specifically.'a way of living in complete mobility and not of immobilizing -.1. there is yet another and more pointed environment for Agamben's sovereign rule over bare life. one being a post-feudal 'state centralization' and the other being the 'dispersion' of an ecclesiastical and pastoral power (Foucault 1979b: 7). Quite apart from Foucault's 'failure' to provide it. I found to be unto death' (pp.'the production of a biopolitical body is the original activity of sovereign power' (p. 'the commandment' is to death and to life. Theory and Event Volume 5 Issue 2. again in contrast to Foucault's subordination of sovereignty. most pertinently his perceiving the displacement of an exceptional sovereign power focused on death by a normalizing power focused on life. he accepts it substantially even if he finds it to be pointedly incomplete.that is.BIOPOLITICS = SOVEREIGN POWER The production of a biopolitical body is the original activity of sovereign power Fitzpatrick in 2001(Peter.is the life that has been captured in this sphere' (p.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 29/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. and this no more so than in the matter of the containment of 'life'. [10] The bare life. Bare Sovereignty: Homo Sacer and the Insistence of Law. Foucault provides one way of seeing that. 1988: 147. the biopower involved in governmentality. Foucault puts the impelling emphasis on a 'governmentality' which has its origins in an 'intersection of two processes'. Such explicit putting in question. the side associated with life --the 'technology of biopower' or the power of 'keeping alive'. Agamben announces a sovereignty which produces and dominates bare life -. · To acknowledge Foucault more fully. see also Gordon 1991: 14-39). Elsewhere he says 'the powers of modern society are exercised through. in a piece commonly associated with his formulation of biopower. 83). if in Foucault's scheme life necessarily takes on a certain vitalist -. Doubtless there is much in Foucault to support the charge. 11). For Foucault also the two powers co-exist forming a 'scientifico-legal complex' or 'a single process of "epistemologico-juridical" formation' (Foucault 1979a: 23). The Foucault unreservedly relied on is the one who saw that in modernity life becomes isolated as an object of perception and regulation. takes on a 'preeminence over' sovereignty and law (1979b: 13. cf. 6). Indeed. however. it could be added. Although Agamben would consider this domain to be continuous with antiquity rather than novel. Agamben's imaginative resort to homo sacer is impelled by its supposedly making good a deficiency in Foucault's scheme. Birkbeck. and borrowing Foucault's phraseology. on the basis of. Agamben 1999b: 220-1).denied especially by Foucault's setting this sovereign and legal power in opposition to a supervening and tentacular biopower. 6). ix. to a negating exclusion and to an encompassing inclusion. but to leave it at that is to sell his position significantly short (Foucault 1981: 144). University of London.[9]then Agamben is more wedded to the 'immobility' of his dedicatory quotation from Paul: 'And the commandment. life that may be killed but not sacrificed -. which was ordained to life. And. in the combination of sovereignty and biopower. Crucially for my argument. then. Most compendiously: 'The sovereign sphere is the sphere in which it is permitted to kill without committing homicide and without celebrating a sacrifice. Even more to the point. he sees Foucault as having denied the (continuing) significance of sovereign and legal power -. even if the living may not be of an exalted kind (see Foucault 1980a: 60. Nonetheless Foucault claimed to locate 'an important turning point' in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when the 'managing of a population'. in its sacredness 'originally expresses precisely . the extending to or 'the care of individual life' -. but his discovery of 'biopower' does provide some plausible basis for 'bare life'. a pervasive sovereignty has not 'ceased to play a role' (Foucault 1979b: 18-19). and by virtue of. a new domain for the operation of power. a domain in which life is put 'in question' and where it can be both protected and eliminated (Foucault 1981: 143). if the dual formation is to endure. For Agamben the two modalities co-exist and 'it can even be said that the production of a biopolitical body is the original activity of sovereign power' (p. is for Foucault 'a way of living and not a way of killing'. Project Muse) Admittedly it is not one of Foucault's meticulously grounded notions. and sacred life -. Although this imports the collective and detailed 'managing of a population'. typified by the figure of homo sacer . ... 19). is not only to mark unremarked similarities with Agamben's account but also to provide a contrast to it. 83).has to exceed sovereignty and its 'putting to death' (Foucault 1991: 220 .

EXCEPTION = GLOBAL The state of exception has transgressed its boundaries and is starting to coincide with the normal order. What happened and is still happening before our eyes is that the “juridically empty” space of the state of exception (in which law is in force in the figure—that is. nature and exception. Agamben in 1998 Homo Sacer.” But what then appears (at the point in which society is considered as tan quam dissoluta) is in fact not the state of nature (as an earlier stage into which men would fall back) but the state of exception. Political organization is not regressing toward outdated forms. has its hidden ground in the sovereign exception. like bloody masses. announcing the new nomos of the earth. what is happening in ex-Yugoslavia and. and in which everything that the sovereign deemed de facto necessary could happen) has transgressed its spatiotemporal boundaries and now. 37-38 Insofar as it is sovereign. i) but later. a). which (if its grounding principle is not called into question) will soon extend itself over the entire planet. outside and inside. and the sovereign power is this very impossibility of distinguishing between outside and inside. . through which the constitutive link between the localization and ordering of the old nomos was broken and the entire system of the reciprocal limitations and rules of the ius publicum Europaeum brought to ruin.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 30/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. physis and nomos. in the state of exception. The state of exception (with its necessary indistinction of Bia and Dike) is not external to the nomos but rather. as in a Möbius strip or a Leyden jar. one could have recourse to two circles that at first appear to be distinct (Fig. in the inside (as state of exception). included in the nomos as a moment that is in every sense fundamental. in which everything again becomes possible. premonitory events are. When the exception starts to become the rule. At its very center. rather. etymologically. is starting to coincide with the normal order. show themselves to be in fact inside each other (Fig. even in its clear delimitation. pass through one another. The process (which Schmitt carefully described and Which we are still living) that began to become apparent in the First World War. in the fiction—of its own dissolution. that we must try to fix under our gaze. If one wanted to represent schematically the relation between the state of nature and the state of law that takes shape in the state of exception. overflowing out side them. Unless the grounding principle is not called into question. From this perspective. the nomos is necessarily connected with both the state of nature and the state of exception. what is happening in the processes of dissolution of traditional State organisms in Eastern Europe should be viewed not as a reemergence of the natural state of struggle of all against all—which functions as a prelude to new social contracts and new national and State localizations— but rather as the coming to light of the state of exception as the permanent structure of juridico-political de-localization and dislocation. the two circles coincide in absolute indistinction (Fig. The state of nature and the state of exception are nothing but two sides of a single topological process in which what was presupposed as external (the state of nature) now reappears. the result will be a global state of exception. 3). It is Precisely this topological zone of indistinction. p. which had to re main hidden from the eyes of justice. The state of exception is thus not so much a spatiotemporal suspension as a complex topological figure in which not only the exception and the rule but also the state of nature and law. the localization-ordering link thus always already contains its own virtual rupture in the form of a “suspension of every law. in which everything again becomes possible. more generally.

THIS MOBILIZES THE PURPOSE OF WHOLESALE SLAUGHTER IN THE NAME OF LIFE NECESSITY. for it has given rise to and legitimated numerous efforts to exclude the immigrant from the body politic. has propagated a highly charged political rhetoric in which Third World migrants are deemed to present a threat to the welfare of the nation. Thus the counterpart of the power to secure an individual's continued existence is the power to expose an entire population to death. . particularly in California. in order to fortify the health of the population. The political effects of this sort of rhetoric have not been insignificant. In the end. Using the Foucauldian notion of biopower. This term describes the operating logic of modern forms of governmentality. longevity. this paper will explore how the state. whose main concern is the welfare of the population. health. aims to eliminate those influences that are deemed harmful to the biological growth of the nation.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 31/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. In this respect. It will thus show how the exclusion of the immigrant is codified as an essential and noble pursuit necessary to ensure the survival of the social body.EXCLUSION = BIOPOWER PRACTICES OF EXCLUSION ARE BIOPOWER. the increase of its wealth. particularly as it pertains to the regulation of her capacity to reproduce. the paper will suggest that these attempts to exclude the immigrant from the body politic convey the implicit message that illegal lives are expendable-that the lives of undocumented immigrants and their children are not quite worth living. THUS THE INDIVIDUAL’S CONTINUED EXISTENCE IS THE POWER TO EXPOSE AN ENTIRE POPULATION TO DEATH. the political right in the United States. Over the past decade. There is an underside to biopower however. the improvement of its condition. since it is often the case that entire populations are mobilized for the purpose of wholesale slaughter in the name of life necessity. One way to interpret these practices of exclusion is in terms of what Michel Foucault called biopower. the body of the illegal immigrant becomes an important terrain of struggle. etc.

the nomothetic origination of thereness reveals the constitutive and constituted centrality of the violence of the grounding force of law. in a second negativization. its negative ground. This is fundamentally why human rights as we know them have failed to emancipate (even ‘their’) humanity. then. In this mythological-ideal conception of justice. its postulated Law (of law). colonial) violence. 2002. but both as (in)complete in their constant referring to the other through a double negativization. Dr.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 32/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. CAUGHT BETWEEN THE TWO NEGATIVE GROUNDS. as the juncture of the separated physis and logos. (Thanos. founds its ideal humanity (as a presupposed totality). Kluwer Law International. the (human) right is negativized from its ideal humanity. p. of law (or to put it most crucially the presuppositional complicity of ‘just-law’). of justice. Human rights’ destiny is to attempt to show humanity (the ideal) and at the same time to have humanity (the actual). . its presupposed ideal physis. dike names the time-space of the scission between its postulated physis (as natural-justice or the Law of law) and its logos (as law’s right-thereness. legislative apportionment as ‘nemein’ and legislated thereness as ‘nomos’.HUMAN RIGHTS = VIOLENCE THE LAW CANNOT HELP BUT REFER BACK TO ITS LOST ORIGIN. nature and culture. through their metaphysical complicity.30 Given that transcendental negativization is presupposed in all metaphysical discourses. 14 December. the ‘nature’ of natural law or justice (and similarly the ‘reason’ of positive law) is first negativized (removed) as a loss (in an overcoming of natural chaos by the always violent origination of law’s thereness. “Without Negative Origins And Absolute Ends: A Jurisprudence of the Singular”. is that of negative origination. the ‘having’ of right. Professor at School of Law Birkbeck College. its presupposed ideal community of subjected subjects and its emancipatory teleological (im)possibility. To use another example of this. and on the other hand.29 If we turn to law. RIGHTS CAN NEVER ESCAPE THEIR ARBITRARY ORIGIN. which becomes the essentialization of a legal right). human rights are grounded on a scission between two negativizations: on the one hand. When dike is projected archaeologically as justice. in its legislating of a ‘having human rights t/here’ which posited as being-towards-emancipation. of the questioning of ‘Dike’. 208-209. the following suffices to indicate its negativity: transcendental negativity is the presupposition of the legislative appropriation in law of its essential (appropriatory.) The first place. The ‘having’ of a legal ‘discourse’ cannot but refer back to its lost origin. it is negativized once more as a human (right). EXPOSING BODIES TO VIOLENCE Zartaloudis. as the question of the juncture between nonphilosophy (the transcendent beyond) and philosophy (the postulated actuality of the real and its presuppositional structures). its legislated actuality) and at the same time it survives this loss by becoming. Being and Dasein.

et il n’y a plus d’État voyou” (Derrida 2003.’ or to ‘partisan wars’ where the state has always been the bet. then the political entities are nonexistent. the concept of terrorism is no longer to be deemed pertinent. and of what. and in this (and not in any kind of absolutist sense). if the political entities that form a given order of sovereignty are not themselves sovereign. which Derrida would then. The political entity is sovereign. 2k4 (Alberto. we are no longer dealing “with a classical international war. The Passive Decision”. But this is already an aporetic formulation: if political entities form an order. we speak” (Derrida 2003. and it recognizes no ruling principle.3 Derrida worries about that: “I have often wondered . nothing is less sure than its arrival. Bush’s use of it would already be residual or obsolete. Its symptom.77-78. For these same reasons. it establishes its primacy over any intrapolitical determination. in a more neutral and moderate manner. and it is the decisive entity for the friend-enemy grouping. surely. If there is an order of the political. For Derrida this formulation.’ finally. that is. it is sovereign. then it is a mere projection of the political entities that form it. nor even with a partisan war (to use Schmitt’s interesting concept). the order of which Carl Schmitt famously said. since there is no nation-state present as such. since no state has declared it or is engaged as such against the United States. it has always been associated to ‘revolutionary wars. or else it is nonexistent. quoting without quoting Juan Donoso Cortés. the horizon. within it.’ to ‘wars of independence. . is that order a sovereign order? If the order is sovereign. is precisely the abandonment of the roguestate terminology by the Clinton administration: “The same people who. they are no longer existent. There is no sharing of sovereignty. is necessarily preliminary to “another order” (150). on 19 June 2000. since. 160). the political entity is essential. Madeleine Albright made it known that the state Department no longer saw it as an appropriate designation. as Schmitt says—that is. of an alternative order of the political.NO FREEDOM = NO POLITICAL EXISTENCE Due to the abandonment of the discourse of rogue states. What does the notion of an order of the political mean? Schmitt says in The Concept of the Political: “in the orientation toward the possible extreme case of an actual battle against a real enemy. ‘states of concern’” (Derrida 2003.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 33/114 AGAMBEN K I/L. CR: The New Centennial Review 4. Moreiras. under Clinton. then there is no rogue state. the political entities that form it are not. political entities are non-existent because they are no longer sovereign. since it is no longer a matter of resistance to a territorial occupation. But let us defer the talk about this god and consider whether we are. If every state is a rogue state. . Political Jouissance. surely. every significant concept of the political is the secularization of a theological concept. and that from then on they would say. nor.These are rather extraordinary affirmations. whether everything that links to my eyes the democracy-to-come to the specter or to the phantom return of a messianicity without messianism could be reconducted or could be reduced to some disavowed theologeme” (Derrida 2003. At the same time. no principle that can subordinate it. And this is so because. Otherwise the political entity is nonexistent” (Schmitt 1996. 150). had increased and intensified this rhetorical strategy and abused the demonizing expression ‘rogue State. This is why. which closes a conceptual order of the political. Director of European Studies at Duke. or of a war of independence to liberate a colonized state and to found another state. that. Project MUSE) “Il n’y a donc plus que des États voyous. They are now states of concern which cannot make their own decisions. rather insecurely. than a god without sovereignty. If the political entity is sovereign. they are not political entities in the proper sense that Schmitt defines: they are simply part of an order. 150–51). Again. precisely. There are nothing but rogue states and there is no more rogue state. no matter how long it lasts. he says. Their truth must be made to depend on whether we are actually at the dawn. at the end of a conceptual order of the political. at the end of it. and subordinate to it.3. 39). publicly declared that they had decided to abandon at least the term. 155). 150). George W. p. they have no real enemy to face because ‘terrorists’ are confused with independence wars. or a matter of a revolutionary war. and the terrain” (Derrida 2003. indeed. are we dealing with a civil war. Thus. “A God without Sovereignty. place under the sign of “a god without sovereignty”: “nothing is less secure. let us wait on it. .

Giorgio Agamben." that is the onto-political grammar of production of the human against a background of life defined as worthless and eliminable. Considering such ontological hierarchy separating human and animal and that no clear biological differences can be found between our species and other higher mammals. Differently from Foucault. crossing aesthetics. that is inhuman. This is perhaps what lies behind Agamben's identification of Auschwitz as the central political institution of the West. contingent decision. whereas the late Foucault resorted to the Greeks as inspiration for the possibility of freedom. Meridian. first of all within ourselves.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 34/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT.GENOCIDE Artificial boundaries extend from the original artificial separation of man and animal and are responsible for atrocities such as Nazi concentration camps. If power was always local and the political significance of discourses were relative for Foucault. if life is human only when a political status is attached to it. Western thought has articulated "man" as an arbitrary and unstable border between human and animal. then the adscription to humanity relies on a political. Seri in 2004 (Guillermina. and makes clear that there is no humanity outside this decision. Aristotle assimilates human life to the life of the citizen in the polis. . life can only be either godly or animal. In that text. Man and Animal. the ambiguity of the border becomes intolerable. Ph. These main coordinates define what Agamben refers to in The Open as the "anthropological machine. The Open.D. Starting from this insight. not only human and animal coexist in a conflictive manner. In any case. Agamben reintroduces absolute claims against an ontology that appears also absolute and omnipresent. for the properties of the camp extend these days into an indefinite series of spaces of exception that are continuously reenacted everywhere and badly masked by references to the rule of law. who understood biopolitics as a modern phenomenon. Similarly. Outside the polis. in political science. The human reveals to be a form of life that in order to dignify itself requires subjecting other forms to the utmost imaginable indignity. Agamben argues that the administration of life has accompanied Western politics since its inception in Ancient Greece. As a result. the terrifying prospect of radical exclusion make us continuously deny the ambiguous nature of our own beings. What remains implicit in the Aristotelian work and that Agamben infers is that. his work uncovers life as the raw matter over which sovereign power reproduces itself by distinguishing between human and inhuman. Agamben exposes Aristotle's Politics as the foundation of Western biopolitics. but the less clear the border is the more violently it is imposed. categories that the Aristotelian "scale of being" situates in a relation of more and lesser being. That Nazi concentration camps no longer exist should not make us feel confident. Stanford University Press) One of Agamben's most original contributions arises from his extension and radicalization of the Foucauldian concept of biopolitics and its assimilation to sovereign power. however.

Who is the Subject of the Rights of Man?.While Foucault opposed modern biopower to old sovereignty.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 35/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. The overturn is most clearly illustrated by Giorgio Agamben’s theorization of biopolitics. It is as if these people were guilty of not even being able to be oppressed. viewed as the mass individualistic concern with individual life. In a first step. I think that we must be aware of what is at stake in this statement of a situation and status that would be ‘‘beyond oppression. with Carl Schmitt’s theory of the state of exception. This overturning of an archipolitical statement into a depoliticizing approach is. with technologies of power holding sway over biological life as such. with Foucault’s theory of biopower.’’ 3 There is something extraordinary in the statement ‘‘nobody wants to oppress them’’ and in its plainly contemptuous tone. was the flaw of modern democracy becomes in Agamben the positivity of a form of power. which means ‘‘form of life. P297-310) This analysis. But paradoxically this position did provide a frame of description and a line of argumentation that later would prove quite effective for depoliticizing matters of power and repression and setting them in a sphere of exceptionality that is no longer political. In a striking passage from the chapter on the perplexities of the Rights of Man. which means ‘‘bare physiological life. The distinction between the legal right of the citizen and the natural right of the human no longer exists. even ethnic cleansing and the Holocaust are part of a ‘‘positive’’ biopolitical program more than revivals of the sovereign right to kill.’’ In her view. The South Atlantic Quarterly. From this point on. This is best seen in Nazi Germany where an eclipse of politics occurred. Ranciere in 2k4 (Jacques. in my view. According to Foucault. seems tailor-made. As a matter of fact. or law and violence. she writes the following about the rightless: ‘‘Their plight is not that they are not equal before the law. and. to fit the new ‘‘perplexities’’ of the Rights of Man on the ‘‘humanitarian’’ stage. articulated more than fifty years ago. in Arendt. but that no law exists for them. there were people who wanted to oppress them and laws to do this.GENOCIDE 1/2 Homo Sacer is the being who does not receive protection under Sovereign Law and instead resides in the state of exception. Agamben matches them by equating Foucault’s ‘‘control over life’’ with Carl Schmitt’s state of exception. This ultimately means that law hinges on a power of . Now we must pay close attention to what allows it to fit. It is the conceptualization by Hannah Arendt of a certain state of exception.5 Agamben transforms Arendt’s equation—or paradox— through a series of substitutions that equate it. closing off space between law and life so that human resistance was not possible. Agamben takes things a step further. Those who the Sovereign decide do not have the legal right of citizen also do not have the natural right of the human. It becomes the complicity of democracy. the Inhuman. and the crimes against humanity. not that they are oppressed. notably in Homo Sacer. not even worthy of being oppressed. one of the most significant features of thought that was brought to the fore in the contemporary discussion about the Rights of Man.’’ beyond any account in terms of conflict and repression. Foucault argues that the so-called sexual liberation and free speech about sex are in fact effects of a power machine that urges people to speak about sex. The conceptualization of a ‘‘state beyond oppression’’ is much more a consequence of Arendt’s rigid opposition between the realm of the political and the realm of private life—what she calls in the same chapter ‘‘the dark background of mere givenness. but a positive power of control over biological life.’’ and bios. the Rights of Man and modern democracy rested on the confusion of those two lifes—which ultimately meant the reduction of bios to sheer zoe.6 Through the biopolitical conceptualization. philosophy at the University of Paris VIII. The sovereign power is the power that decides on the state of exception in which normal legality is suspended.’’ and notably the bios politikos: ‘‘the life of great actions and noble words. an opposition predicated on the distinction between two Greek words: zoe.’’ In TheWill to Know and Society Must Be Defended. fifty years later. Agamben equated her critiquewith Foucault’s polemics on ‘‘sexual liberation.’’ 4 It is in keepingwith her archipolitical position. in an anthropological sphere of sacrality situated beyond the reach of political dissensus. what. second. his argument relies on the Arendtian opposition of two lives. They are effects of a new form of power that is no longer the old sovereign power of Life and Death over the subjects. first. 7 Schmitt had posited the state of exception as the principle of political authority. but that nobody wants to oppress them.

Nor is there any opposition between absolute state power and the Rights of Man. posited as a population experimentally reduced to the condition of bare life. It is life as bare or naked life. The camp can be put as the ‘‘nomos’’ of modernity and subsume under one and the same notion the camps of refugees. Now state power has concretely to do with bare life. Correspondingly. of indistinction between zoe and bios. which. Bare life is no longer the life of the subject that it would repress.’’ 8 It is a life between life and death that can be identified with the life of the condemned man or the life of a person in a state of coma. Agamben emphasizes the continuity between two things: scientific experimentation on life ‘‘unworthy to being lived. between natural and human life. rule and application. the zones where illegal migrants are parked by national authorities. a life ‘‘beyond oppression. In his analysis of the Holocaust. the correlation of sovereign power and bare life takes place where political conflicts can be located. Nor is it the life of the enemy that it would have to kill. The camp is the space of the ‘‘absolute impossibility of deciding between fact and law. means life captured in a zone of indiscernibility.’’ that is. Any kind of claim to rights or any struggle enacting rights is thus trapped from the very outset in the mere polarity of bare life and state of exception. Agamben identifies the state of exception with the power of decision over life. with the figure of the citizen. and the planned extermination of the Jews.’’ 10 In this space. according to Agamben. undifferentiated life. the German body and the Jewish body. appear as the secret of the Rights of Man. The flow of refugees in the twentieth century would have split up that identity and made the nakedness of bare life. It is.9 Therefore the Nazi laws suspending the constitutional articles guaranteeing freedom of association and expression can be thought as the plain manifestation of the state of exception. or condemned persons. or the Nazi death camps. The programs of ethnic cleansing and extermination would then appear as a radical attempt to draw the full consequences of this splitting. The Rights of Man make natural life appear as the source and the bearer of rights. This means that the secret of democracy—the secret of modern power—can now show up at the foreground. Agamben says. on abnormal. The equation would still have been hidden at that time by the identification of birth—or nativity— with nationality. the Holocaust appears as the hidden truth of the Rights of Man— that is. They make birth appear as the principle of sovereignty. appear as two parts of the same ‘‘biopolitical’’ body. mentally handicapped.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 36/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. exception and rule. the executioner and the victim. stripped of the veil of nationality.GENOCIDE 2/2 decision that is itself out of law. the status of bare. In such a way. Sovereign power is the same as biopower. that is. there is no more opposition between sovereign power and biopower. In such a way.That polarity appears as a sort of ontological destiny: each of us would be in the situation of the refugee in a camp. What is correlated with the exceptionality of sovereign power is the exception of life. which is the hidden secret of modern power. Any difference grows faint between democracy and totalitarianism and any political practice proves to be already ensnared in the biopolitical trap. which is the correlate of biopower. . a ‘‘sacred’’ life—a life taken within a state of exception.

“The sovereign sphere [sfera] is the sphere in which it is permitted to kill without committing homicide and without celebrating a sacrifice [sacrificio].21 Agamben’s gloss on this is that The exception [l’eccezione] does not subtract itself from the rule [regola]. Agamben does not define the sacred in terms of “what is set apart for worship of the deity. life that may be killed but not sacrificed—is the life that has been captured in this sphere” [83]. between exception and rule” [25]. one pertaining to the outermost sphere” [5]. in principle. like the sovereign. every case can. It is inside the legal order insofar as its death can be allowed by that order. but instead an expression of the inner dynamics of the logic of politics. a normal situation must exist. gives rise to the exception and. first constitutes itself as a rule. rather. But such a threshold is hopelessly unstable. and not simply excluded” [18]. PhD from the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California. . holy. is not simply a moment of the rise of the nation-state. . but it is outside it insofar as its death can constitute neither a homicide nor a sacrifice. In identifying the threshold between the legal and the nonlegal. the rule. Berkeley. as its etymology suggests.4. in other words. sacer). pg 38-58) It is the movement from bare life to political life that defines both bare life and political life. be understood in these terms. Because the Homo Sacer is not politically qualified. also from sacr-. Sovereignty. .17 Politics thus entails the constant negotiation of the threshold between itself and the bare life that is both included within and excluded from its body. but the normal order is only the absence of a state of emergency. Once the rule acknowledges that it gives rise to exceptions for which it cannot legislate.” “Homo Sacer. What Agamben terms sacred life is. The only way to avoid this conclusion is to argue that. both within and without the legal order (or. [18– 19].GENOCIDE 1/2 The Sovereign and the Homo Sacer exist in relation to each other. sacer. sovereignty defines them both. cursed) as revealed in the life that is sacred (from Latin sacrare. Here this takes the form not. “no norm applicable to chaos. and he is sovereign who definitively decides whether this normal situation exists” [13]. Diacritics 30. as in a state of martial law or the Schmittian state of emergency. With the rise of sovereignty we witness the rise of a form of life that corresponds to it. “Sacredness is . between what is outside and what is inside. which is to say. a life that is excluded and included in the political order. Sovereignty is the law’s threshold with the nonlegal.” Schmitt writes.18 The titles of the three parts of Agamben’s book mark the different moments of its unraveling: “The Logic of Sovereignty. He concludes from this that “What emerges in the limit figure [figura-limite] is the radical crisis of every possibility of clearly distinguishing between membership and inclusion. bare life insofar as it operates in an inclusive exclusion as the referent of the sovereign decision” [85]. but rather of a mute helplessness in the face of death. his or her death is inconsequential. . and the syntagm homo sacer names something like the originary ‘political’ relation. This line of thought leads to the utilization of the Homo Sacer to affirm the lives of the politically qualified through genocide and medical experimentation that no one under the protection of the law would be subjected to. from sacr-. suspending itself. it still does legislate in some impoverished sense. the word “exception” (l’eccezione or die Aus-nahme). as Schmitt writes. maintaining itself in relation to the exception. One would have to argue. For a legal order to make sense. on this account. This is perhaps clearer in Schmitt’s text than in Agamben’s. as in Aristotle. the originary form of the inclusion of bare life [nuda vita] in the judicial order. “There is. But this is in effect to deny the reality of the exception and the need of the legal order for a sovereign decision upon it. of a metaphysical puzzle.20 It is the point at which the law enters into relation with that which has no legal standing. it is “a borderline concept . as is signaled by the fact that politics is both the passage from bare life to itself and what lies beyond this passage. Agamben here follows Carl Schmitt’s analysis of the sovereign as “he who decides on the exception” [5]. Norris in 2000 (Andrew.” and “The Camp as Biopolitical Paradigm of the Modern. . “according to its etymological root” refers to what is “taken outside (ex-capere). He is now Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. and sacred life [sacra]—that is. Giorgio Agamben and the Politics of the Living Dead. .19 As Agamben notes. . The sovereign. has the legal authority to decide who shall be removed from the purview of law. . sacred life is nothing more than a life that occupies this threshold.” With the rise of sovereignty we witness the constitution of a political authority that corresponds to the ambiguities of this threshold more closely then did the polis. A state of emergency is the product of the collapse of the normal order. both holy and cursed). even in those cases where the rule cannot legislate. that exceptional cases are clearly defined as such by the rule. The sovereign decision [La decisione sovrana] of the exception is the orginary juridicopolitical structure [struttura] on the basis of which what is included in the juridical order and what is excluded from it acquire their meaning. The Sovereign is a form of power that decides who the Homo Sacer will be. that is.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 37/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. But where sovereignty is a form of power that occupies this threshold.” He is interested in the more fundamental question of the logic of sacrifice (from Latin sacrificium.

in the United States. sacrifice is the performance of the metaphysical assertion of the human: the Jew. Indeed. Indeed. . from refugees and people in concentration camps to “neomorts” and figures in “overcomas” whom we are tempted to turn into organ farms. and in response to the decision of the Führer. The result is the paradox of a sacrifice that is dedicated to no legal or religious end [114] but that participates in and affirms the economy or logic of the legal/religious system as a metaphysical. they came to be situated at a limit zone [una zona-limite] between life and death. that of the threshold between life and death. the nation takes on the endless task of its self-delineation. in which they were no longer anything but bare life [nuda vita]. rule and application. here the stakes are considerably higher. and insofar as it does so that nonpolitical (bare) life it treats is political. men condemned to death have been offered the possibility of parole in exchange for “volunteering” to undergo tests that could not be imposed upon those with full rights of citizenship [156–57]. the reasoning was quite understandable. political system. and even attractive in its economy and “fairness”: given that the person has been condemned to die. Hence there will be no crime against him if his life is “lost” again. and yet were still biologically alive [biologicamente ancora vita].23 When the threshold of death row holds more than one or two victims. Precisely because they were lacking almost all the rights and expectations that we characteristically attribute to human existence. Perhaps the clearest example is that of people in camps forcibly subjected to extreme medical tests and prisoners who have been condemned to death who are asked to “volunteer” for the same: The particular status of the VPs [Versuchspersonen] was decisive: they were persons sentenced to death or detained in a camp. and in that sense he is a “living dead man” [131]. he has essentially already lost his life. the total politicization of life that is the camp signals the collapse of this project. a threshold that has awaited it since Aristotle’s Politics. whose own body has itself become one with the law [184]. Here the exception becomes the norm—or. In the name of the health of the body of the nation. it is precisely insofar as he awaits execution that he remains alive: his life remains only to be taken from him in the moment of punishment. the entry into which meant the definitive exclusion from the political community. to be more precise. Death in the experiment thus reveals the paradoxes of death row as a sphere that delayed penalty makes possible. it moves into the threshold that defines it. the Gypsy.22 Contemporary instances of this threshold life abound. . animal life. But neither will that death be the imposition of the death penalty. If the Aristotelian distinction between polis life and bare life with which we began was meant to secure and define the human. the result is the camp. 101–02]. and the gay man die that the German may affirm his transcendence of his bodily. the interval between death sentence and extion When. it is itself an included exclusion from the penal system [20. the distinction between the two is wholly effaced. Those who are sentenced to death and those who dwelt in camps are thus in some way unconsciously assimilated to homines sacres.GENOCIDE 2/2 This is the explicit revelation of the metaphysical requirement that politics establish a relation with the nonrelational [cf. Like the fence of the camp. Historically developing out of martial law. As far as the law is concerned his life is no longer his own. to a life that may be killed without the commission of homicide. Instead of an act of self-protection on the part of the community [Girard 4. in the attempt to produce a single and undivided people [179]. 166–67]. exception and rule. that is. the sovereign decision is the realization of the ambiguity of the distinction between bare and political life. Agamben’s characterization can be understood as an attempt to more systematically work out Arendt’s paradoxical claim that “life in the concentration camps . which nevertheless incessantly decides [decide] between them” [173]. Where in René Girard’s superficially similar account of sacrifice the victim is a scapegoat for the murderous desires of the community that unites around her. It is law (political life) that is not law (insofar as it steps outside of the strictures and limitations of formal law) dealing with bare life (that is. stands outside of life and death” [Origins of Totalitarianism 444]. note 8]. “The camp is the space [lo spazio] of this absolute impossibility of deciding [decidere] between fact and law.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 38/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. . inside and outside. nonpolitical life).

Lecturer in IR in the Centre for Int Pol @ the U of Manchester.GENOCIDE 1/2 Sovereign power draws lines between the zoe. qualified life. Millennium.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 39/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. bare life. “Through the Wire: Relations of Power and Relations of Violence”. best exemplified by the concentration camp. Under sovereign power. which leads to the creation of the Homo Sacer. 7-9) -------continues on the next page------- . pg. the being outside of the law. Prof of Int Pol @ U of Wales Aberstwyth. political life or a life of potential is impossible. and the bios. who inhabits the zone of indistinction. Edkins and Pin-Fat. 2005 (Jenny and Veronique.

GENOCIDE 2/2 .Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 40/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT.

undercutting the possibility of a politically qualified life.GENOCIDE 1/2 Sovereign power creates relations of violence rather than relations of power. in which the Homo Sacer has absolutely no hope of resistance. 2005 (Jenny and Veronique. “Through the Wire: Relations of Power and Relations of Violence”. Lecturer in IR in the Centre for Int Pol @ the U of Manchester. Under this context. pg. making us all Homo Sacer. Millennium. 10-12) . only bare life is possible. Life in the camp has spilled over into other regions of life.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 41/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. This is best demonstrated with the concentration camp. Edkins and Pin-Fat. Prof of Int Pol @ U of Wales Aberstwyth.

GENOCIDE 2/2 .Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 42/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT.

(Nasser. 11 In basic terms.'" though he concedes that the modern world has succeeded somehow in maintaining society without succumbing to the reciprocal violence of individuals against one another (1977:188). articulated consistently through several works such as Violence and the Sacred and The Scapegoat. as he did in the spirit of the Weimar constitution. without reducing the latter to the former. yet he may nevertheless be killed by anyone" (Agamben 1998:113). lay in the omission of any reference to a factual state of emergency. The camp is a hybrid of law and fact in which the two terms have become indistinguishable. “Thresholds: Sovereignty and the Sacred”. indeed. Berkeley. Agamben writes: The sovereign no longer limits himself. to other incidents of scapegoating. we should add. in some sense" (1991:21). (p. is that scapegoating is necessary to the formation of human communities (with the exception for Girard. therefore. whom Agamben does not mention. "seems almost like a synonym for 'sacrificial crisis. the Nazis inherited and utilized emergency provisions from the preceding Weimar regime. stressing as it does the uniqueness of the West and.) On the other hand. It is in this regard that the juridical "novelty" of the camps should be understood. The concentration camps for Agamben. The point is to underscore how Agamben's discussion departs from any anthropological approach to violence. It is not our purpose here to debate the merits of the Girardian interpretation of events of persecution relative to Agamben's interpretation of the specific event of the Holocaust. 10 One cannot help but think of the work of Rene Girard. 2000. of the genuinely Christian community that does not [yet] exist). or of a stranger to. Agamben's emphasis) . and.. different Weimar governments utilized this provision on numerous occasions. a system of differences that is dissolved in the course of a "sacrificial crisis. as Nancy says. we pointed out how Agamben's reading of the sovereign exception draws on Schmitt but also moves the sovereign decision away from particular exigent circumstances. as a particular form taken by the scapegoating mechanism. it was a "willed exception" . but of the invocation and exceeding of the originary political act of sovereignty that produced bare life at the margins of the political realm. more precisely (or more inclusively) that it determines. As such. linking the practice of sacrifice. with which Agamben agrees. Earlier. he now de facto produces the situation as a consequence of his decision on the exception. University of California. Department of history. Certainly. to deciding on the exception on the basis of recognizing a given factual situation (danger to public safety): laying bare the inner structure of the ban that characterizes his power. To this extent.. the community is necessary in Girard's view to regenerate the system of differences upon which the continued existence of the community is believed to depend. the truth of existence is that it cannot be sacrificed" (1991:38). But Agamben does more than contest the existence of a sacrificial impulse at work in the violence to which we are today exposed.determines the particular nature of the West's violence.. He also disputes the adequacy of Jean-Luc Nancy's argument (on an issue that perhaps will be more familiar to European readers) that the Western fascination with sacrifice . as Agamben stresses. A Girardian analysis would assert the universal structure of the scapegoating mechanism. AS A SCAPEGOAT MAY GO THROUGH. its decisiveness for the rest of the world. as typically accompanies such assertions of the West's uniqueness. University of Massachusetts. "sacrificial" interpretations of the Holocaust (we leave aside the issue of the use of the word itself) do not necessarily maintain that the Nazi genocide was in fact a sacrifice. 170. Lexis Nexis. however. Hussain. The exclusion (killing) of a liminal member of. Homo sacer is unsacrificeable. It is thus as a response to Nancy's claim that "veritable existence is unsacrificeable .'" Girard comments. nor of a violence determined by a fascination with sacrifice. Girard's argument. Its difference.GENOCIDE THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS ARE NOT A RESULT OF THE SACRIFICIAL ACT. emphasizing instead an originary potentiality. that we should understand Agamben's statement that "the concept of the 'unsacrificeable' too must be seen as insufficient to grasp the violence at issue in modern biopolitics. Law and Society Association.revealed in the notion that existence is given (it is a gift) and therefore can be sacrificed .. Article 48 of the Weimar constitution permitted the President to suspend fundamental rights "in the case of a grave disturbance or threat to public security" (cited in Agamben 1998:167). BUT RATHER THE UNLIMITED EXTENSIVE POWER OF THE SOVEREIGN." "The phrase 'modern [*510] world.a [*511] permanent state of emergency that dissolved any coherent distinction between norm and exception. "all of the West. are not the site of a sacrifice.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 43/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. the Nazi "protective" decree of Febuary 1933 was not without precedent.

Berkeley." . For now we wish to stress that "bare life" should not be confused with natural life. And it is this same bare life.) The precise meaning of these statements will become clearer in the course of our exposition. Department of history. University of California. as bare life is what. the relation of ban. 2 The production of this bare life thus establishes a relation that defines the political realm and which Agamben calls. fully entered the polis to the point of rendering [*497] outside and inside.GENOCIDE/BIOPOLITCS THE BARE LIFE IS ABANDONED BY THE LAW HAS ENTERS THE CONCENTRATION CAMP. It is in this way that the concentration camp. is produced as the originary (both original and originating) act of sovereignty. life and law. Law and Society Association. “Thresholds: Sovereignty and the Sacred”. truly indistinguishable from one another. for Agamben. University of Massachusetts. (Nasser. Bare life is produced in and through this fundamental act of sovereignty in the sense of being included in the political realm precisely by virtue of being excluded. 2000.’ Hussain. once abandoned by the law at the outskirts of the polis. following JeanLuc Nancy (1993). AND THIS HAS BECOME THE ‘FUNDAMENTAL BIOPOLITICAL PARADIGM OF THE WEST.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 44/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. that has today. Lexis Nexis. according to Agamben. or abandonment. has become the "fundamental biopolitical paradigm of the West. in Agamben's view.

But the scandal gets worse. It loses. if such. the return to an impossible state of nature. Project MUSE) Is the unjust enemy. of a new order of the political. throws into disarray the very presupposition of an order of the political in a very specific sense. a murderous chaos. It is a scandal. with the perpetuator of the state of nature” (169). must produce its own antithesis. whose definition is entirely contained at the level of the nomic order. if it were made a universal rule. total war – an absolute threat – results and threatens the end of man. With this. with what we could call Schmitt’s refusal to deal with the implications of the Kantian definition. But Kant’s definition of the just enemy is itself scandalous. must be unjust. 169). that is. and it loses its universality. as a function of its own totalizing division. But the nomos is a totalizing principle outside which. the Kantian unjust enemy is the intuition of the end of all possible orders. Kant’s discovery. strictly according to Kant’s definition—the unjust enemy is the enemy of the order of the political: not of a given order. For Kant. The nomos. instead. It stands to reason that. 2k4 (Alberto. disorder and disorientation for all? If so. When the nomos is destroyed. but then he would also not be my enemy” (2003. by definition. and this is something that Schmitt does not point out. Moreiras. of all principles of political order and orientation? Schmitt says that Kant’s concept of the unjust enemy might in fact be already “a presentiment of a new nomos of the earth” (2003. has happened: the Kantian unjust enemy stands outside the jurisdiction of the nomos. A limit figure. that is. Political Jouissance. Director of European Studies at Duke. But is it? Or is this disingenuous or inconsistent on Schmitt’s part? Is Kant prefiguring nothing less than the arrival of nihilistic terrorists. Kant’s definition of the just enemy. The notion of the unjust enemy. Schmitt says: “A preventive war against such an enemy would be considered to be even more than a just war. and certainly not the presentiment of any new or emerging order. then all enemies. precisely. 169). If all enemies are unjust.3. as opposed to the just enemy. “a just enemy would be one that I would be doing wrong by resisting. more than its universality: it loses its position as a political concept. p. 169). The nomic order has then effective jurisdiction only over friends.81-83. since it cannot account . formed by the friend/enemy division. a state of nature would be perpetuated” (Schmitt 2003. Schmitt shows a double face. For Kant. nothing stands: even the principle of nomic dissolution is produced by the nomos itself. On the face of it—that is. the unjust enemy is one “whose publicly expressed will (whether by word or deed) reveals a maxim by which. any condition of peace among nations would be impossible and. and potentially throws Schmitt’s differentiation into disarray. adversarial foes of the nomic order whose intent cannot be to produce an alternative nomic configuration but rather. the political order (nomos) loses its universality and political concept. but of every possibility of an order of the political.ENEMY/FRIEND = TOTAL WAR 1/2 In the face of this unjust enemy. with high praise (“it is impossible to understand the concept of a just enemy better than did Kant” [169]). indeed. in every case. in virtue of his very justice. in the sense that it refuses to recognize nomic authority itself. but with an unjust enemy. CR: The New Centennial Review 4. although he himself provides it. the unjust enemy stands outside the nomos. because we would be dealing not simply with a criminal. then every single enemy stands outside the jurisdiction of the nomos. if the enemy. He does quote. Something. “A God without Sovereignty. then. if the notion of the just enemy is an impossibility. It would be a crusade. The Passive Decision”. is always already a friend.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 45/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. precisely the enemy that fights against a given order and wants an alternative order? Or is the unjust enemy the enemy of all nomic orders. in order to be enemies.

But total war cannot be a fundamental orientation and a principle of order. Total war is an absolute threat. since it has generalized the friend/enemy division into their complete disruption. rather. Hence. . There is no end and no limitation to war: war is total. At the logical end of the concept. all enemies must be exterminated. The notion of total war announces the end of any possible reign of nomic order. It also announces a radicalization of the political. Friendship presupposes legality. But a total war without a nomos is a totally unregulated. Total war is the end of the political. and for their unjust enemies. and that is so both for the friends of the nomos. the friend/enemy division. it can only submit to. If there is a nomos. we are faced with the fact that Schmitt’s own indications of the Kantian position deconstruct the notion of an order of the political beyond every concrete friend-enemy grouping and send us back to the absolute primacy of the friend/enemy division in terms of a determination of the political. perhaps against Schmitt’s own will.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 46/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. totally nondiscriminatory war. now total. And a war under those conditions cannot abide by a concept of friendship. If there is politics. the state) of any concrete politics are radically incompatible. of an order of the political. the political division finds its own end. accomplishes. or do we prefer to abide by a savage. precisely as it opens itself to its most extreme determination as war. without legality. Schmitt’s position in The Nomos of the Earth seems to contradict his earlier position on the political successfully: the notion of a nomos of the earth. anomic notion of the political? Is there a choice?4 If all enemies are unjust enemies. The whole notion of an order of the political has now been placed beyond the line. humanity finds itself deprived of amity. just as it finds itself deprived of enmity. the unjust enemy—and that means any enemy—falls outside the political order. the order of the nomos and the order (or. a deconstruction of his notion of the political. on the contrary. Do we prefer to uphold the notion of a nomic order. then there is no binding nomos.ENEMY/FRIEND = TOTAL WAR 2/2 for. Faced with total war. Or perhaps.

making it less likely. Director of European Studies at Duke. and therefore ‘the kingdom of darkness’” (168). Sovereign power.” as the legislator “carries out his legislation . are closely connected” (158). But Strauss’s contribution was precisely to point out the indecisiveness of Hobbes’s monism: “The idea of civilization presupposes that man. This is the ostensible reason offered by the Bush Administration to justify its military policy. has always already set in. Hence the fact that in modern politics there is a primacy of “foreign policy. in modernity. can rebel against nature. the subordination of law to right and the recognition of the full significance of the idea of sovereignty. which he found himself forced to adopt simply because he saw no other possibility of escaping the ‘substantialist’ conception of mind. CR: The New Centennial Review 4.WAR Since the sovereign right takes precedence over its lawfulness. “A God without Sovereignty. every moral conception of the will to power). Political Jouissance. and not he who represents a practical limit to your power accumulation. 2k4 (Alberto. The fight against external conditions can be justified through fear of violent death: the state fears its demise at the hands of its enemies.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 47/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. The Passive Decision”. including selective unilateralism. . p. But striving for power is in excess of the determination of the political on the basis of the fear of death. Moreiras. with an eye to war. and this excess undoes not just the moral containment of the will to power (that is. Project MUSE) Leo Strauss (1963) notes that “the two fundamental innovations which are to be attributed to Hobbes. Striving for power. must be conceived not as reason but as will. unjustified enemies and war.3. Insofar as you defend yourself against an enemy that threatens to destroy you. but also the determination of the political as exhausted by the friend/enemy division. and hence on the basis of the friend-enemy grouping. not least in the antithesis of status naturalis and status civilis. An excess sets in. Or it can be justified through a pursuit of power. or infinitely deferrable. which a monistic metaphysics would have to consider preemptive in nature: the pursuit of power in the enlargement of the state and its sovereign claims to domination would then be an apotropaic intensification of the means to ward off violent death. by virtue of his intelligence. insofar as it embodies a surreptitious return of the kingdom of darkness. This dualism is transparent all the way through Hobbes’ philosophy. the fear of death and the state’s survival can be used to justify the fight against external conditions: namely. The antithesis of nature and human will is hidden by the monist (materialist-deterministic) metaphysic. to the assertion of the State against external conditions” (162). . no longer constitutes a moral basis for the political: the fear of death does not totally regulate it. which Hobbes teaches. 85-86. since the enemy is he who threatens to give you death. that is. after September 11. can place himself outside nature. you are warding off violent death. . as the claim of sovereign right takes precedence over its lawfulness.

proceeding by recognized rules.5 But the striking transformation that Schmitt has in mind affects the constitution of enmity as absolute enmity: “In comparison with a war of absolute enmity.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 48/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. and then. Moreiras. it is the embodiment of the enigmatic remainder of the full (liberal) subject of humanity. 2k4 (Alberto.TOTAL WAR The total war (absolute enmity) knows no containment. a “striking turn” in “the concept of the political” occurs. by implication. .” that is. It is not by chance that the partisan becomes a Hegelian figure of world history precisely in the resistance against the postrevolutionary Napoleonic armies. 51). CR: The New Centennial Review 4. The Passive Decision”. The modern partisan (and there is no nonmodern partisan. . Absolute enmity is a radical disavowal of commonality. 88. “A God without Sovereignty. and the partisan becomes “a new and hitherto unacknowledged figure of the world-spirit” (53. as it promotes “a new kind of warfare whose sense and purpose [is] the destruction of the existing social order” (75).3. the counterpartisan’s commitment can only be to destroy the destroyer. p. Against the partisan’s commitment to destruction. . Project MUSE) In the total resistance of the partisan. or the nihilistic order of a sovereign striving for power. But the counterpartisan is not yet the partisan insofar as the counterpartisan wills the preservation of an order. Director of European Studies at Duke. is little more than a duel between cavaliers seeking satisfaction. . Political Jouissance. as it calls “the whole edifice of political and social order into question” (57). it calls into question the entire political and social order. in the total resistance against the partisan. even if the order to be preserved is precarious and has been gained at the price of a previous destruction—even if it is just the order of an occupation. the contained war of classical European international law. 56). Schmitt tells us) is the embodiment of what Jacques Rancière calls “the part of no-part. The war of absolute enmity knows no containment” (Schmitt 2004.

The Passive Decision”. Project MUSE) The ultimate danger lies then not so much in the living presence of the means of destruction and a premeditated meanness in man. unfolds its annihilating consequence. “A God without Sovereignty. CR: The New Centennial Review 4. and devaluations. compelling ever new.DEVALUE LIFE/DISCRIMINATION Moral compulsions and justifications ultimately result in annihilating consequences. as totally worthless. ciminalizations. Men who turn these means against others see themselves obliged to annihilate their victims and objects.3. 95). The logic of value and its obverse. Moreiras. and devaluing life itself. 2k4 (Alberto. . Otherwise they are themselves criminal and inhuman. criminalizations. p. 91. to the point of annihilating all of unworthy life. Political Jouissance. worthlessness. It consists in the inevitability of a moral compulsion. They have to consider the other side as entirely criminal and inhuman. Director of European Studies at Duke.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 49/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. (Schmitt 2004. even deeper discriminations. ever deeper discriminations. even morally obliged.

of a “sovereign god” who. is he who takes it upon himself to confront the absolute threat through an intensification of the principle of sovereignty that dissolves democracy in a paroxysm of autoimmunity. Just as Derrida. “The state of exception .Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 50/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. has reached today its maximum planetary deployment. 11). If for Derrida. Moreiras. CR: The New Centennial Review 4. posits as one possibility for a new order the arrival. Agamben tells us. towards that which came from the Terror and the Public Health Committees of the French Revolution” and towards “quite another Security Council” (Derrida 2003. . a permanent “state of exception” is produced that results in a global civil war.3. between life and law. 92. The result is “global civil war. the partisan. referring back to Madeleine Albright’s “states of concern. 2k4 (Alberto. The normative aspect of law can thus be impunely erased and contradicted by a governmental violence that. or the new arrival. .GLOBAL CIVIL WAR As life and law merge into one. had already been prophesied by Schmitt in The Theory of the Partisan (Agamben 2003. “A God without Sovereignty. Project MUSE) Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception (2003) also talks about the exhaustion of the present order and the possibility of a “new condition” (112). a similar notion of autoimmunity emerges in Agamben through recourse to the “anomic terror” (85) that results in the development of a permanent state of exception embodied in the indifferentiation “between anomy and nomos. god unwilling. 160–61). still pretends to be applying the law” (111). 110). p. .” and bringing out the seemingly medical tropology in the phrase.” a de facto situation that. between auctoritas and potestas” (110). The Passive Decision”. Agamben mentions the “lethal machine” that will be or already is the result of the normative “state of exception” that regulates our “politico-juridical system” (Agamben 2003. Director of European Studies at Duke.” will “lead us . . “after a Revolution of which we do not yet have the idea. . while ignoring international law abroad and producing domestically a permanent state of exception. or rather the radical counterpartisan. Political Jouissance.

modern man is an animal whose politics calls his existence as a living being into question. The inquiry that began with a reconstruction of the grand enfermement in hospitals and prisons did not end with an analysis of the concentration camp. The concentration camps are the laboratories in the experiment of total domination. as we have seen. unfortunately.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 51/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. p. binding himself to a power of external control. In the notion of bare life the interlacing of politics and life has become so tight that it cannot easily be analyzed. . for human nature being what it is. while he was working on the history of sexuality and unmasking the deployments of power at work within it. in the passage from the ancient to the modern world.). at the beginning of the modern age. at the same time. in a plan for research on the concentration camps.” Until the very end. this goal can be achieved only under the extreme circumstances of human made hell” (Essays. on the other hand. but also the never admitted and immediately realized attempt at total domination.” she writes. sexuality etc. constituting himself as a subject and. 240). At the end of the first volume of The History of Sexuality. however. that is. Michel Foucault began to direct his inquiries with increasing insistence toward the study of what he defined as biopolitics. bring the individual to objectif his own self. Despite what one might have legitimately expected. Foucault never brought his in sights to bear on what could well have appeared to be the exemplary place of modern biopolitics: the politics of the great totalitarian states of the twentieth century. Yet what escapes Arendt is that the process is in a certain sense the inverse of what she takes it to be. comes to be what is at stake in politics: “For millennia.TOTALITARIANISM The transformation of politics to biopolitics legitimates and necessitates the total domination of totalitarianism. p. Conversely. Foucault. once modern politics enters into an intimate symbiosis with bare life. the pertinent studies that Hannah Arendt dedicated to the structure of totalitarian states in the postwar period have a limit. long-ranging ambition to global rule. it is precisely the absence of any biopolitical perspective. “is not only the freely admitted. If. Agamben in 1998. into a camp) legitimated and necessitated total domination. which. we will not succeed in clarifying the opacity at their center. Until we become aware of the political nature of bare life and its modern avatars (biological life. Homo Sacer. The concept of “bare life” or “sacred life” is the focal lens through which we shall try to make their points of view converge. man remained what he was for Aristotle: a living animal with the additional capacity for political existence. it loses the intelligibility that still seems to us to characterize the juridico political foundation of classical politics. The fact that the two thinkers who may well have reflected most deeply on the political problem of our age were unable to link together their own insights is certainly an index of the difficulty of this problem. was not carried through. Arendt very clearly discerns the link between totalitarian rule and the particular condition of life that is the camp: “The supreme goal of all totalitarian states. summarizes the process by which life. Only because politics in our age had been entirely transformed into bio politics was it possible for politics to be constituted as totalitarian politics to a degree hitherto unknown. the growing inclusion of man’s natural life in the mechanisms and calculations of power. 119-120 In the last years of his life. Foucault continued to investigate the “processes of subjectivization” that. and that precisely the radical transformation of politics into the realm of bare life (that is.

Hussain. this situation of danger can never be exhaustively anticipated or codified in advance. and thus the suspension of the law would have to be the result of a conscious decision. This decision and the space of exception that it brings forth takes us to a "borderline concept" that contains the "whole question of sovereignty" (Schmitt 1985:6).Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 52/114 AGAMBEN K IMPACT. University of California.EXCEPTION = POLI/ECON EMERGENCY FOR SCHMITT. which must be juridically defined correctly. University of Massachusetts. . Schmitt's understanding of the exception is related to a state of emergency. Berkeley. But as Schmitt repeatedly emphasizes. THE STATE OF EXCEPTION THAT THE AFFIRMATIVE PROMOTES IS A STATE OF POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC EMERGENCY WHICH THREATENS THE US AND WOULD REQUIRE SUSPENSION OF RULES AND REGULAR LAW TO SOLVE. Schmitt insists. Department of history. but as the monopoly to decide" (1985:13). Law and Society Association. 2000. not as the monopoly to coerce or to rule. “Thresholds: Sovereignty and the Sacred”. a situation of economic and political crisis that imperils the state and that would require the suspension of regular law and rules to resolve.) This definition already contains Schmitt's interest in the personal element of the decision and in the agonistic and borderline relation of exception and norm. (Nasser. there "resides the essence of the state's sovereignty. Lexis Nexis. In this antinormative decision.

(10). perhaps Agamben’s conception of “being as such” describes a strategic response to abjection that does not simultaneously reaffirm its logic.2. he argues.[whatever being] is neither apathy nor promiscuity nor resignation. in order to locate a recognized “outside” one must claim (even if only implicitly) a particular “inside. p.wrong.. Agamben asks. the rough articulation of a subject position) without producing a concretized. in the impulse to belong.being as such. .” Agamben writes. but also exclusion.’ but rather” being such that it always matters. 151-152. Associate Professor.It is the Most Common that cuts off any real community. the Muslims). but for its being-such. to this or that class (the reds. it does not matter which.. (Karen.3 The impulse to include/be included is retained. Unlike the common English parsing of whatever. and for those who might otherwise find themselves on the . emphasis in original). that is. the experience of the limit itself” (68). that is. the French. PhD. Agamben. Belonging itself. resisting the concretization of static categories (defined racially. What would it mean. it offers an alternative to abjection that does not result in simply “claiming a place” at the dejects’ table. he writes. Rather. jettisoned abject. Agamben articulates “whatever being” in terms that are provocatively complementary to Kristeva’s: whereas Kristeva’s abject is “simply a frontier. Shimakawa. so Agamben’s “outside” is simply that which is implied by whatever being/belonging itself: the impulse to not-belong otherwise/elsewhere (always resisting the temptation to locate that otherwise/elsewhere in concrete terms). . By locating subject’s formation in whatever being. without requiring one to dispense with categories altogether. sexually. 1). which identifies it as belonging to this or that set. to acknowledge the desire to belong to identity categories as that which binds us across the boundaries of such categories? To define subjectivity as . Instead.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 53/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. in this sense.” the zone/community in/to which one belongs (and from which an “outside” is distinguishable). at the level of the impulse to belong (belonging itself).” a point of contact with an external space that must remain empty since. just as Kristeva’s abject is less a particular object/concept than a function (i. That is. “Whatever. explusion/differentiation). “is the event of an outside” (67. though not assigned to a particular or stable grounds of inclusion: “such-and-such being is reclaimed from its having this or that property. at the same time.and it is reclaimed not for another class nor for the simple generic absence of any belonging. whatever being constitutes a mode of (prospective) subject formation that achieves some of Kristeva’s deject’s ends (that is. for belonging itself” (1.e. Indeed.” (Agamben 1993. religiously. he creates a concomitantly concretization-resistant zone of not-belonging. side of that (nationalizing/racializing) abjection equation. “The Things We Share: Ethnic Performativity and “Whatever Being”. that is.s use of the term is differently nuanced: “[whatever being] is not ‘being.” Agamben situates whatever being precisely at the border or threshold “between inside and outside. IT AVOIDS PRODUCING AN ABJECTION. 2004. rather than at the point of inclusion in an established social category/community?4 It is important to emphasize that Agamben does not advocate a dissipation of belonging per se – his is not a dismantled universalist/humanist leveling program.. University of California Davis. according to Agamben. is a state of being that acknowledges the (social and affective efficacy of the) desire for inclusion while. so to speak. emphasis in original). nationally.) Giorgio Agamben’s “whatever being” offers a possible alternative way to conceive of (communal) subjectivity that does not depend on stable political identity categories for its integrity. . Project Muse.WHATEVER BEING AGAMBEN’S ALT OF ‘WHATEVER BEING’ IS A WAY TO CONCEIVE COMMUNAL SUBJECTIVITY THAT DOESN’T DEPEND ON A STABLE POLITICAL IDENTITY FOR ITS INTEGRITY. “the outside is not another space that resides beyond a determinate space” it is. or otherwise) that would afford not only inclusion.

Shimakawa. 1). Agamben asks. so to speak. side of that (nationalizing/racializing) abjection equation.” a point of contact with an external space that must remain empty since. . (Karen. that is. in this sense. that is. rather than at the point of inclusion in an established social category/community?4 It is important to emphasize that Agamben does not advocate a dissipation of belonging per se – his is not a dismantled universalist/humanist leveling program. jettisoned abject. 2004. the experience of the limit itself” (68).[whatever being] is neither apathy nor promiscuity nor resignation. religiously. perhaps Agamben’s conception of “being as such” describes a strategic response to abjection that does not simultaneously reaffirm its logic.3 The impulse to include/be included is retained.WHATEVER BEING AGAMBEN’S ALT OF ‘WHATEVER BEING’ IS A WAY TO CONCEIVE COMMUNAL SUBJECTIVITY THAT DOESN’T DEPEND ON A STABLE POLITICAL IDENTITY FOR ITS INTEGRITY. PhD. “is the event of an outside” (67. he creates a concomitantly concretization-resistant zone of not-belonging. and for those who might otherwise find themselves on the . Belonging itself. which identifies it as belonging to this or that set. that is.being as such. resisting the concretization of static categories (defined racially. the rough articulation of a subject position) without producing a concretized.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 54/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. . “the outside is not another space that resides beyond a determinate space” it is. University of California Davis. the French. By locating subject’s formation in whatever being.. 151-152.2. Indeed. just as Kristeva’s abject is less a particular object/concept than a function (i. What would it mean. but also exclusion. Instead.” the zone/community in/to which one belongs (and from which an “outside” is distinguishable). in the impulse to belong. . Agamben.. sexually. or otherwise) that would afford not only inclusion. to this or that class (the reds. it does not matter which. it offers an alternative to abjection that does not result in simply “claiming a place” at the dejects’ table. whatever being constitutes a mode of (prospective) subject formation that achieves some of Kristeva’s deject’s ends (that is. he writes. Unlike the common English parsing of whatever. at the level of the impulse to belong (belonging itself). at the same time. Project Muse. without requiring one to dispense with categories altogether. though not assigned to a particular or stable grounds of inclusion: “such-and-such being is reclaimed from its having this or that property. so Agamben’s “outside” is simply that which is implied by whatever being/belonging itself: the impulse to not-belong otherwise/elsewhere (always resisting the temptation to locate that otherwise/elsewhere in concrete terms).It is the Most Common that cuts off any real community. p.wrong.e.” (Agamben 1993. he argues. emphasis in original). for belonging itself” (1. but for its being-such. That is. in order to locate a recognized “outside” one must claim (even if only implicitly) a particular “inside. Associate Professor. is a state of being that acknowledges the (social and affective efficacy of the) desire for inclusion while. (10). emphasis in original). IT AVOIDS PRODUCING AN ABJECTION. to acknowledge the desire to belong to identity categories as that which binds us across the boundaries of such categories? To define subjectivity as .) Giorgio Agamben’s “whatever being” offers a possible alternative way to conceive of (communal) subjectivity that does not depend on stable political identity categories for its integrity.” Agamben situates whatever being precisely at the border or threshold “between inside and outside.s use of the term is differently nuanced: “[whatever being] is not ‘being.and it is reclaimed not for another class nor for the simple generic absence of any belonging. according to Agamben. nationally. “The Things We Share: Ethnic Performativity and “Whatever Being”.’ but rather” being such that it always matters. explusion/differentiation). Agamben articulates “whatever being” in terms that are provocatively complementary to Kristeva’s: whereas Kristeva’s abject is “simply a frontier. Rather. the Muslims).” Agamben writes. “Whatever..

They are expropriated of all identity.” which. over its ontological demarcation of what counts and doesn’t count as viable human life itself. for Agamben. and thus rejects all identity and every condition of belonging. constituting difference (Agamben 19) – reclaims a politics of being-in-common without actually “being” anything through the strategic linguistic ontology of the example – the banner. Agamben views singularity as “neither apathy nor promiscuity nor resignation. however. for him. through the example. which wants to appropriate belonging itself. Wherever these singularities peacefully demonstrate their being in common there will be a Tiananmen. moments that.WHATEVER BEING THE WHATEVER BEING CAN CONGREGATE AGAINST THE STATE’S SOVEREIGN EXCEPTION OVER POLITICAL ASSOCIATION. its own being-in-language. Ghent University. “Ethics in Empire: The Human Subject of Ethics after 9-11”. Whatever being – simply. and sooner or later. or “multitude” under which these singularities-in-common can congregate against the state’s sovereign exception over political association. Giorgio Agamben rethinks singularity in what Antonio Negri sees as more “positivist. (Don. singularity becomes “whatever singularity.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 55/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. come closest to articulating the inarticulability of singularity. [and] is [therefore] the principal enemy of the State. Moore. holds the political potential for resistant utopic politics. none of which. McMaster University. without being tied by any common property. so as to appropriate belonging itself” (10-11). quasi-ontological terms. These pure singularities communicate only in the empty space of the example. . the tanks will appear” (87). by any identity. 2005. What is slightly different here from Nancy’s project is the strategic force of the linguistic “example. PhD Candidate. Similar to Nancy’s concept.) Whereas Nancy sees the realization of being-in-common only in the “ecstatic” moments of loss (of community) or birth. the thing with all its properties. Thus.” strategically utopic.

that shows its singularity. insofar as it appropriates the process of exclusion and inclusion that constitute the exception. Replacing scientific abstraction as something remote from reality. that it is precisely the politicization of life–particularly as Schmitt advances it here. This ethics–an ethics of form-of-life–means the end of the separation and opposition of forms of life and bare life. nations. a Jew. Schmitt claimed that The legal concept of ‘man’ in the sense of Article 1 of the Civil Code conceals and falsifies the differences between a citizen of the Reich.htm.WHATEVER BEING THE WHATEVER BEING IS KEY TO SOLVING RACISM AND GENOCIDE.edu/~nr03/mcquillan. Kritikos.” To overcome these “bloody mystifications” requires an investigation of the possibilities of the human life–that is. and occupational estates in the sense of God-given realities–that is the goal of National Socialist academic jurists. an ethics–a political life freed from sovereign power. not just those who are organizationally led by Carl Schmitt. 2005. and sovereign power. a foreigner. unacknowledged ground–Schmitt’s attempt to strike the word “man” from the German Civil Code–in 1935. seeing equal as equal and above all unequal as unequal. and class–which has led to the “bloody mystifications of a new planetary order. and emphasizing the differences among men of different races. on the contrary. in terms of a concrete science of the “God-given realities” of race. McQuillan. of sacrifice.) Inasmuch as. for Agamben. political life.” in that it is “a single object that presents itself as such. thinking in concrete terms.” For Agamben.fsu.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 56/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. Agamben argues. by any identity. bare life is what is excluded from–and so in exception to–the various forms of life–as their sacred. . (Colin. as he was attempting to reformulate the principles of jurisprudence in light of the Nazi revolution–suggests the danger of the “division and opposition” of life and forms of life that so concerns Agamben. a life that is the “impotent omnivalence of whatever being. nation. and so on. It designates an exemplary life. “The Political Life in Giorgio Agamben”. Volume 2. http://garnet.” and allows for the possibility of community “without being tied to any common property. this is the very idea of the happy.acns.

absolute political freedom. University of Pennsylvania Law School. members of one big community. Agamben suggests. as such. if not the.) Furthermore. picking up on something I was saying elsewhere. insofar as its only characteristic is to participate in the condition of possibility of linguistic predication in general. Agamben also interprets the being's pure being-in-language as the model of the "commonality" that seals the solidarity of the ideal political community. .insofar as it is precisely this bare. Clark's suggestion that Being amounts to "the discourses about . the Being of beings is their "sayability" in language. the "life for which living itself would be at stake in its own living" as he variously puts it -. In this sense." "communist.the scare-quotes necessary because it's the Being of Being that's at stake here) is simultaneously the model and condition for the coming community of identity-free "whatever singularities.in fact." The notion here is something along lines that the State can control anything through the medium of judgment -. an overarching theme of which is the free political existence of these linguistically liberated beings).the life whose form is simply life itself.yet singular-izing as well -.. that the object can be categorized. . This then is the main point of contact between Agamben's first-philosophical work and his later. Thurschwell. empty act of linguistic exposure which is the precondition of singularity as such. by transposing it into the realm of human experience.without being "Italian. Associate Professor of Law B. This freedom from identity is simultaneously political freedom for Agamben as well -. ..which is to say." which is to say.. just insofar as we all share the "pure experience of language" (or as he also calls it. Yale University J. experimentum linguae). beings. but that the real is only real-ized in the medium of language. insofar as they enter language and thus become subject to the predication of their infinity of uniquely identifying qualities. IT IS NOT HANDLED AND CONTROLLED BY THE STATE.insofar as it consists of nothing but the originary experience of our existence as individuals in and through the medium of our exposition in language -. law -. or can be. political philosophical work. On the other hand (and this is what begins to draw the Agambenian paradigm closer to the question of "solidarity" that Jodi Dean raises). (These are Agamben's examples in The Coming Community (if I'm remembering correctly).Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 57/114 AGAMBEN K ALT.) That said. insofar as he says (something like.e. insofar as it precedes and thereby remains immune from categorization and judgment. “Agamben and Derrida on language and the political”. beings as intelligible in their fullness" is reminiscent of (although not identical to) Agamben's understanding of Being. 2006. such "whatever singularities" exemplify the "form-of-life" -. (Adam.that Agamben in Homo Sacer opposes to the pure sovereign function of separating "bare life" from its form. by the way -not the assertion that linguistic concepts or predicates are the real. the fact that beings only are what they are. For Agamben. which is another interpretation (I think) of the later Heidegger's turn to language as a." etc. which is something else again. a "whatever singularity"] that exists without relation to any category. placed on one side of a line or another). but that the act of judgment is necessarily stymied by a singularity that exists beyond (or rather. "The State can handle anything except someone [i. We are. people who exist solely and as such. habit. .as long as the act of judgment is capable of addressing its object (that is.A. Before the Law. privileged mode of access to Being. the pure gesture." "red. before) the possibility of linguistic predication. This is an experience which is simultaneously empty-and-universal -.D. without categorization -. I think Agamben provides us with linguistically-turned (and considerably more radical) version of the "subjective destitution" that Jodi Dean suggests is at the basis of political solidarity in her recent post (and at Long Sunday). . this necessarily shared "sayability" of all beings ("shared" insofar as each "is" what it "is" by virtue of that sayability -. (This is not linguistic idealism. this isn't a real quote but I think captures the sense of the original). On one hand.WHATEVER BEING THE ‘WHATEVER BEING’ IS IMMUNE FROM BEING CATEGORIZED. .

This ’escaping’ turns out to be a relation of nearness of whatever being to itself as pure exteriority. but rather singularity insofar as it is whatever singularity" (Agamben 1993:1). In the coming community. Swiffen. the coming community escapes the logic of sovereignty. p. What emerges is a notion of whatever being in its omnimoda determinatia. a notion of subjectivity that is "neither universal nor an individual included in a series. where no question of being (the "incommunicable") is posed. suggest that while it may not be possible to conceive a political landscape without sovereignty. In a world where the political terrain is an "evil" ground. . as-not penetrated by bio-political means. while whatever being escapes the structure of the split subject.WHATEVER BEING THE WHATEVER BEING IS NOT PENETRATED BY BIO-POLITICAL MEANS. there may indeed be one conceivable after sovereignty. and a community as-not founded on the inclusive exclusion of bare life. The coming community constitutes what can be described in a Lacanism as another field symbolically differentiated from the state of exception. In this sense. 2005). (Amy.) In this paper. The political implications of the emerging homology between the sovereign subject (qualified life/bare life) and the split subject in general. instead of the potential to not-be as lack being appropriated as a foundation beyond existence. the concept of the coming community is not only a rhetorical counterpoint to the logic of sovereignty. Using Lacanian categories related to subjectivity and signification. “Being In and After Sovereignty: Giorgio Agamben’s Coming Community”. I develop this enigmatic invocation. lack itself exists as potentiality. 1. 2007.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 58/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. University of Alberta. The logic of the coming community depends on the conception of whatever being. it is its formal counterpoint. I read Giorgio Agamben’s Coming Community (1993) in light of his writing on political sovereignty and bare life (1998.

attempts to articulate and perform such an orientation. physical injusticiability. then. where he focuses upon the curious singularity of language—that is. offers us an example of radical passivity in that it is a practice whose effectivity involves a “not-doing” of subjectivity (at least as it is commonly understood and lived)." That is. The idea of “whatever” holds the key to subverting the violence of these ideals. Victor Vitanza’s essay. describes it. as Deleuze describes it in his discussion of Bartleby. such that a dualistic encounter becomes an event of participation with-in a singular composition of potentials for movement. Merriman. 2005.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 59/114 AGAMBEN K ALT." as Vitanza. those things or beings which are singular. THE WHATEVER BEING TAKES AWAY THE BLURS ADVERSARIAL LINES. refugee camps. the need for language to posit transcendental or ideal forms in order to signify at all (Arcagok 2003). the inability to readily determine both the meaning of “mental illness” and readily determine the status “mentally ill” threatens the function of the system of mental health law. [2: Agamben explains that Bartleby’s "formula.edu/5_2/smith. Assistant Professor in Department of English Language and Literature at university of South Carolina. In Agambenian parlance. and beings. become profoundly subversive.” Words. The example of highway bandits in Homo Sacer may serve as a useful example: they are no longer the banned wolf-men once they are physically beyond the sanction of the sovereign. but rather “such as they are. a becoming-whatever. unreadable entities “whatever beings. Smith. http://enculturation. aikido qua radical passivity entails exercising a capacity not to exist and act as a sovereign subject in dualistic relation to the world (as so many of us are "taught" to be and do). Inasmuch as the state of exception is literally and physically embodied in the camps of modern life—detention centers. James Madison University. immigration control buildings—he pictures a rupture of the state of exception that focuses primarily upon the physical: physical flight. aikido requires of the practitioner that the distinction between two actual beings-in-opposition become-indeterminate.gmu. for instance. The first involves what Vitanza refers to as radical passivity is neither acceptance nor rejection of a given event or state of affairs but rather the performance of a mode of non-aggressive response akin to aikido. (Ben. “Naked Before the Law: Mental Illness and the State of Exception”. The notion of becoming-whatever vis-à-vis aikido is simply a way of saying that the practitioner exercises a learned capacity to intensify her always-already connectedness—a belonging-together-in-common—with the world in a manner that attenuates her (also learned) habits and capacities as a discrete subject who understands defense or resistance as willful opposition to something separate from itself.] Thus. When was the last time you thought of the work of resisting and redirecting the status quo as requiring you to unlearn ways that you exist and act in the world? . not in service to conventions. beyond reading.” drawing heavily from his work in linguistics.) However. Enculturation. In this sense. 2004. are a matter of fascination and potential. for the very function of language. following Giorgio Agamben. an ethos of transformation that has three primary dimensions." "calls into question precisely the supremacy of the will over potentiality" (254). which works by redirecting opponents’ forces. between a practitioner of this radically passive art and her "opponent. Like aikido. the fact that our approach to transforming rhet/comp cannot be programmatic does not necessarily imply that a common orientation to the task of transformation is impossible. aikido also shows us that the learning and emergence of new and different capacities sometimes also involves unlearning others. radical passivity involves the emergence of "a zone of indetermination" (73). such as they are. Aikido. and sovereignty rests upon the easy legibility and categorization of all that is subjected to inquiry. (Daniel. “Of Headaches and Other Illnesses”." "I prefer not to. For instance. law. Agamben calls these mysterious.WHATEVER BEING THE WHATEVER BEING IS THE KEY TO REPRESENTING THINGS AS THEY ARE AND AVERTING VIOLENCE FOR THESE IDEALS. PROPOGATES ZONES OF INDISTINCTION AND UNLEARNS THE HABIT OF AUTOMATIC NEGATIONS. The actual being of the practitioner is not dissolved but rather becomes "whatever.) Agamben’s vision of transcendence is tied closely to his vision of the state of exception itself. for in “whatever” Agamben finds that things are not representational or represented. it expresses a shift away from subjective will to "a zone of indistinction' as fundamental to understanding passive agency (255).html.

is neither a universal nor an individual included in a series. being Muslim). for belonging itself. true. comes to light itself: The singularity exposed as such is whatever you want. to this or that class (the reds.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 60/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. for example: being red. being lame). its being such as it is. bonum sen perfectum—whatever entity is one. but rather "singularity insofar as it is whatever singularity. being French. 1-2. being small. The common translation of this term as "whatever" in the sense of "it does not matter which. according to a beautiful expression of Levi ben Gershon (Gersonides).) THE COMING being is whatever' being. such-and-such being is reclaimed from its having this or that property. 1993. Agamben. remaining unthought in each. being tender. but for its being-such. lovable. Thus being-such. Singularity is thus freed from the false dilemma that obliges knowledge to choose between the ineffability of the individual and the intelligibility of the universal. but only the intelligence of an intelligibility. or perfect). it does not matter which. indifferently" is certainly correct. which remains constantly hidden in the condition of belonging ("there is an x such that it belongs toy") and which is in no way a real predicate.WHATEVER BEING ‘WHATEVER BEING’ IS A SINGULARITY FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL TO BE AS HE OR SHE IS. the French. but in its form the Latin says exactly the opposite: Quodlibet ens is not "being. but neither does it neglect the properties in favor of an insipid generality (universal love): The lover wants the loved one with all of its predicates. good. (Giorgio. The lover desires the as only insofar as it is such—this is the lover's particular fetishism. In the Scholastic enumeration of transcendentals (quodlibet ens est unum. p. The intelligible. The movement Plato describes as erotic anamnesis is the movement that transports the object not toward another thing or another place. but toward its own takingplace—toward the Idea. conditions the meaning of all the others is the adjective quodlibet. Whatever being has an original relation to desire." but rather "being such that it always matters. Thus. which identifies it as belonging to this or that set. The Whatever in question here relates to singularity not in its indifference with respect to a common property (to a concept. . The Coming Community." The Latin always already contains. Love is never directed toward this or that property of the loved one (being blond. verum. the term that. Professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy at the University of Verona. whatever singularity (the Lovable) is never the intelligence of some thing. that is. of this or that quality or essence. but only in its being such as it is. that is. a reference to the will {libet). the Muslims)—and it is reclaimed not for another class nor for the simple generic absence of any belonging." In this conception.

17 This impotence does not. It is engendered by and as this “essential context” or “indissoluble cohesion.”16 In rendering the very opposition of these terms ineffective. this “essential context” or “indissoluble cohesion” is the “inseparable unity of Being and ways of Being. Thus. which lets there be a world. in every form one’s own amorphousness and in every act one’s own inactuality. of being (one’s own) possibility–exposing. identities and communities” which have borne it.. Agamben thinks impotentiality opens a space–a margin. or its way of life. But human beings are the animals who are capable of their own impotentiality.2. Rather. to be a potentiality or to have potential means “to be in relation to one’s own incapacity” and “to be capable of [one’s] own impotentiality. and class–Dasein’s existence.”15 It is only on the edge of the abyss of this impotence. “they can only do this or that. As Agamben writes in The Coming Community: .Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 61/114 AGAMBEN K ALT-IMPOTENTIALITY 1/2 OUR ALTERNATIVE IS TO VOTE NEGATIVE TO EMBRACE THE IMPOTENTIALITY OF EXISTENCE. BA at Loyola U of Chicago. as such. For Agamben. its own non-Being. free from the sovereign decision. then. Agamben understands thought. its place.”14 But it has the curiosity of understanding potentiality only with respect to impotence. is always in question.acns. Author. cannot be a task of a subjective decision) is the experience of being (one’s own potentiality). however. Its life can never be separated from its world.htm) In Homo Sacer. as the appropriation that lets beings be.” clearly echoing Heidegger’s claim that thought is a way of dwelling whose essence is “being-in-the-world. the world is the da.. “The Political Life in Giorgio Agamben”. Agamben calls this the “infinite omnivalence of whatever being. its essential context–there is no Dasein without a world. this was known as “perfect potentiality. its own potentiality.. The greatness of human potentiality is measured by the abyss of human impotentiality.” and calls ethics the “free use” of this potentiality.”11 Further.10 In The Coming Community. ideologies and religions.” so that only where there is thought can there be a form-of-life “in which it is never possible to isolate something like [bare] life.” Whereas sovereign power decides on life. BY EMBRACING IMPOTENTIALITY WE ALWAYS HOLD THE POTENTIAL EMANCIPATION OF HUMANITY AS INSEPERABLE FROM LIFE AND LAW McQuillan in 2005 (Colin. in poverty.18 It is the power of thought. as factical.” as its own possibility.edu/~nr03/mcquillan. Agamben says Heidegger’s “philosophical genius” lay in having elaborated “the conceptual categories that kept facticity from presenting itself as fact. Kritikos. dividing it between bare life and the various forms of life–the “concrete sciences” of race.” even though it is always in question and at issue. as Heidegger did.”13 In the Arabic tradition..”12 World is the “abode” or “dwelling” of Dasein. negate the potentiality of life. a threshold–on which life can survive. nation. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO REFIGURE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LAW AND LIFE.” “Other living beings are capable only of their specific potentiality. This bears some explaining.” by what Heidegger and Agamben will call “poverty. V.fsu. impotence is an integral part of potentiality–it is that part of potentiality that makes “a life directed toward the idea of happiness and cohesive with a form-of-life”–in which “the single ways. Agamben reads Aristotle’s claim that “all potentiality is impotentiality of the same and with respect to the same”–as meaning that potentiality “maintains itself in relation to its own privation. Agamben even calls thought “the nexus that constitutes the forms of life in an inseparable context as form-of-life. acts. always above all power”–possible. Dasein simply “is its mode of being. always at issue for itself. that “the two terms distinguished and kept united by the relation of ban (bare life and form of life) abolish each other and enter into another dimension.” And this “inseparable unity” is the potentiality of bare life. comprising both its power to be and its power not to be. inasmuch as he says “the only ethical experience (which.of Dasein. of subject and qualities. and process of living are never simply facts but always and above all possibilities of life. http://garnet.” Agamben writes. unhinging and emptying the “traditions and beliefs.

of being (one’s own) possibility..21 I have already argued that this ethics is basically Heideggerian in inspiration. It flies in the face of the history of metaphysics. potentiality is the proper existence of a thing– its actuality–deprived of itself. rather. in its essence.19 It is for this reason that. or. it is also the potentiality to not think. which is what Agamben’s talk of form-of-life constitutes. To take hold of potentiality.. is not an object. but as “perfectly analogous” to the interior–that is. “the nexus that constitutes the forms of life in an inseparable context as form-of-life. Heidegger’s conception of the factical life of Dasein. this ethics is precisely the experience of being human. to appropriate it for an ethics. a being-in-act. thought can turn back to itself (to its pure potentiality) and be. but that layer of wax. and exceptional–not as unreal. excluded. Agamben calls thought “the movement that. in Language and Death. as possible.” and claims that it is in thought that “the figure of humanity’s having emerges for the first time in its simple clarity: to have always dear as one’s habitual dwelling place. thought is. again. in other words. or evil.”23 This is. . action and passion coincide and the writing tablet writes by itself. to measure its dimensions. Thanks to this potentiality to not-think. is pure potentiality. according to Agamben. at its apex. writes its own passivity.” and the key to an ethics of human potentiality. seeks to think.. which has understood potentiality as the way those things which are not and cannot be are.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 62/114 AGAMBEN K ALT-IMPOTENTIALITY 2/2 …thought. that rasum tabulae that is nothing but its own passivity. or even evil. the “poverty” of human happiness is the perfect “appropriation of all possibilities. however.. in some sense–as poverty. the enjoyment of “the experience of being (one’s own) potentiality. to hold this unattainability in suspense. for Agamben. In this sense. In the potentiality that thinks itself. poor. fully experiencing the unattainable place of language. privation.” achieved by an ethics of “the simple fact of one’s own existence as possibility or potentially. then. its own pure potentiality.. as the ethos of humanity.”20 In other words. What it thinks here. In this history.. the thought of thought.”22 Indeed. is to “appropriate the improper”–the exterior.

Agamben will not retreat into a kind of mysticism of fundamental thinking.edu/~nr03/mcquillan. Following Walter Benjamin. one more in keeping with the ethics of human potentiality as Agamben understands them. his is a political life.”32 As such.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 63/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. the “inseparable unity of Being and ways of being. not resting on a secularized theological concept.acns. Agamben will claim that there is a form-of-life “over which power has no hold. horrible. opening the doors to potentiality and a happy qualified life.2. the da-. to establish an identity between being-in-the-world and being-political. a form-of-life.. but also living. he insists that this other politics be purely profane–that is. as Carl Schmitt claims all truly political ideas do–and must be constructed on the idea of happiness. and therein all the excesses.. “over which power no longer seems to have any hold. the factical life of Dasein is. Where Heidegger says the polis is the site of the most extreme conflicts.”33 And this opens the door to a different politics. BA at Loyola U of Chicago. Heidegger says that the polis “signifies the place. Agamben takes Heidegger further on this point than he himself was willing to go. http://garnet. This is why the philosophy is always already political for Agamben. to the unconcealed and to beings. atrocious place.htm) Unlike Heidegger. according to Agamben. perhaps. withdrawn from decision and sovereignty. i. where and how Dasein is. why Agamben disagrees with Heidegger in one crucial regard. And this is. this seems to be derived from Heidegger as well.. counter-beings in the multiplicity of their counter-essence. Insofar as Dasein is its da-. the spot where all these routes cross. McQuillan in 2005 (Colin. can survive.31 Though obscured by the “absolute political space of the camps” in Modern thanato-politics. Author. Interestingly. where “there has to hold sway all the most extreme counter-essences.DASEIN Dasein is the point at which form-of-life is produced from bare life and in which the forms of life are indistinguishable. V. subject and qualities.e.” so that the polis is “the ground and place of human Dasein itself. it is an existence.” . Kritikos. in which it is never possible to isolate something like bare life.”30 It is possible. life and world. Absolution concerns not only thinking.” a politics in which a life.fsu. then. “The Political Life in Giorgio Agamben”. a “life well-lived” or “sufficient. insofar as man dwells.34 This is another condition of the political life–Agamben says it must be a happy life.” making the polis a frightful.

Lecturer in IR in the Centre for Int Pol @ the U of Manchester. one must refuse to draw lines between the zoe and the bios and turn bare life into a form-of-life. 2005 (Jenny and Veronique. 11-13) . pg. Millennium. Edkins and Pin-Fat.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 64/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. Prof of Int Pol @ U of Wales Aberstwyth. “Through the Wire: Relations of Power and Relations of Violence”.NO LINES In order to challenge sovereign power.

2005 (Jenny and Veronique.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 65/114 AGAMBEN K ALT.NO LINES 1/2 Sovereign power can be challenged. Prof of Int Pol @ U of Wales Aberstwyth. pg. Lecturer in IR in the Centre for Int Pol @ the U of Manchester. “Through the Wire: Relations of Power and Relations of Violence”. Millennium. This is achieved by refusing to distinguish between the forms of life and by assuming bare life. Edkins and Pin-Fat. 11-13) -------continues on the next page------- . but by reinstating power relations. not by eliminating power relations which leads to concentration camps.

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 66/114 AGAMBEN K ALT.NO LINES 2/2 -----continues from previous page------ .

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 67/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. Prof of Int Pol @ U of Wales Aberstwyth. “Through the Wire: Relations of Power and Relations of Violence”.ASSUME BARE LIFE/NO LINES The refusal to draw lines between forms of life along with the assumption of bare life into form-of-life challenges relations of violence caused by sovereign power and reinstates relations of power. 2005 (Jenny and Veronique. 20-21) . Lecturer in IR in the Centre for Int Pol @ the U of Manchester. Millennium. Edkins and Pin-Fat. pg.

and that it is constantly trying to transform its own bare life into a way of life and to find. 188) . remains inseparable from it. There is in this regard something disappointing about the final paragraph of Homo Sacer. withdraws from every external decision and appears as an indissoluble cohesion in which it is impossible to isolate something like a bare life. Lexis Nexis. it is as relation that the politics of the West (or the West as politics) are (or is) destined to exhaustion in the ever-present potentiality of (bio)politics for totalitarianism. politics. AN ALTERNATIVE IS TRANSFORMING THE BIOPOLITICAL BODY INTO THE SITE FOR THE CONSTITUTION AND INSTALLATION OF A FORM OF LIFE THAT IS WHOLLY EXHAUSTED IN BARE LIFE AND IS ONLY ITS OWN ZOE. Department of history. Berkeley. as we recall. Today bios lies in zoe exactly as essence. it will be necessary to examine how it was possible for something like bare life to be conceived within these disciplines. What are we to make of such a possibility? Agamben has in mind a politics that would begin from the indistinguishability today of life and law. 153). Agamben concludes that just as the biopolitical body of the West cannot be simply given back to its natural life in the oikos.. University of California. it is that modern democracy presents itself from the beginning as a vindication and liberation of zoe."bare life" . medico-biological sciences and jurisprudence.that marked their subjection. so to speak. which itself has the form of an irrevocable decision. this "new politics" and the promises it enfolds remains obscure.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 68/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. modern democracy's specific aporia: it wants to put the freedom and happiness of men into play in the very place . whether in the form of metaphysics or of various disciplines such as medicine. 12 he does offer us an alternative to crossing this threshold. "If life. that is. and herein lies the promise of renewal. of zoe and bios. after the frequently brilliant exegesis that led up to it. Yet how can a bios be only its own zoe. the life [*513] of homo sacer. in which." that is..) If anything characterizes modern democracy as opposed to classical democracy. Hussain. (Nasser. In the state of exception become the rule. For all that. This new politics would be a politics without relation. in the Heideggerian definition of Dasein. turns into an existence over which power no longer seems to have any hold" (p. too. so it cannot be overcome in a passage to a new body . being its own form.ASSUME BARE LIFE MODERN POLITICS IS AN INDISSOLUBLE COHESION WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ISOLATE. “Thresholds: Sovereignty and the Sacred”. and from the impossibility of returning to a time when any such distinction could be maintained. and jurisprudence. we will witness the emergence of a field of research beyond the terrain defined by the intersection of politics and philosophy. lies (liegt) in existence. have reached their limit in confronting the biopolitical situation of today. A "new politics. "is immediately politics. This biopolitical body that is bare life must itself instead be transformed into the site for the constitution and installation of a form of life that is wholly exhausted in bare life and a bios that is only its own zoe. 134). Law and Society Association. however. starting from a break with the metaphysical tradition of the West and its politicization of bare life. The categories of Western thought. to a time. (1998:9-10) If for Agamben we stand today at the final threshold beyond which we cannot pass without unleashing disaster. and if this situation has been produced by the conclusion and exhaustion of thought as much as if not more than of politics." Agamben writes. though. 2000. here this unity. (p. for. First. how can a form of life seize hold of the very haplos that constitutes both the task and the enigma of Western metaphysics? If we give the name form-of-life to this being that is only its own bare existence and to this life that. either in the state order or in the figure of human rights" (p. which was the correlate of sovereign power. and how the historical development of these very disciplines has brought them to a limit beyond which they cannot venture without risking an unprecedented biopolitical catastrophe.a technical body or a wholly political or glorious body . University of Massachusetts.in which a different economy of pleasures and vital functions would once and for all resolve the interlacement of zoe and bios that seems to define the political destiny of the West. when bare life could be "separated and excepted. Hence. is possible. in modern biopolitics. then. the bios of zoe.

RESPONSE OF PPL The alternative is a demand for a response to the actions of people rather than a response to the people themselves. Millennium. 2005 (Jenny and Veronique. The response to action reinstates power relations. Lecturer in IR in the Centre for Int Pol @ the U of Manchester. Edkins and Pin-Fat. pg. “Through the Wire: Relations of Power and Relations of Violence”.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 69/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. 23) . Prof of Int Pol @ U of Wales Aberstwyth.

in order to free himself and Antigone from the endless violence in the house of Creon . The hero. this is so to the extent that “human action” must “rescind the link between violence and the law” in order to expose the violence of the law. she is subject to his law. and that’s where Antigone wants to go. His project. “A God without Sovereignty. a liberation of pure violence. . Yet she pushes to the limit the realization of something that might be called the pure and simple desire of death as such. understood as absolute oppression. Agamben defines the contemporary state as one in which “the norm rules. but it is not applied (it does not have force) and . To liberate pure violence in order to destroy the law: of this one could say what Lacan says of the tragic hero. “he knows what he is doing. CR: The New Centennial Review 4.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 70/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. . A politics of heroic desire. 83). like Antigone. Of até Lacan says: “It is an irreplaceable little word. this politics’ human action. otherwise why would he appear here? There is nothing Dionysiac about the act and the countenance of Antigone. 2k4 (Alberto. namely. situates himself “with relation to the goal of desire” (265). p. . 99-100. the contemporary embodiment of the law. and puts it at the service of an intensely mystical jouissance. Certainly human action is an unavoidable referent for politics. . . One learns from Antigone’s own mouth testimony on the point she has reached: she literally cannot stand it any more. Project MUSE) If violence becomes the “thing” of politics for Agamben. but it is still a subjective politics of catastrophe. She lives in the house of Creon. rather than the lawfulness of violence (which is the Schmittian project). Director of European Studies at Duke. where act and power are radically separated” (52). and that’s what the Chorus does in the fifth act when it evokes the god that saves. Agamben. . . “the passage that allows access to the justice that one of Benjamin’s posthumous fragments defines as a state of the world in which it appears as an absolutely inappropriatable and unjuridifiable good” (Agamben 2003. This allows the hero to invert the sovereign and return to a state of well being. and if only a liberation of violence from its lawful capture can release an appropriate politics. . The state of exception is an anomic space. is a tragic project to the extent that it leads the hero towards what Sophocles calls até. is absolute exception.HERO = GOAL OF DESIRE To separate violence and law Agamben relies on the presence of the hero. Political Jouissance. one can only spend a brief period of time.3. . . namely. might be conceived to be an antisovereign politics. He always manages to cause things to come crashing down on his head” (275). where what is set in place is a force of law without law . The text of the Chorus is significant and insistent—ektos atas. It designates the limit that human life can only briefly cross. Dionysos is this god. . in the ineluctable fulfillment of the ethical imperative. The Passive Decision”. . But the reference to human action is already revealing of a limit in Agamben’s project. If the contemporary state. like the tragic hero. She lives with the memory of the intolerable drama of the one whose descendence has just been destroyed in the figure of her two brothers. acts that have no legal value acquire the force. . if on the side of the hero. But Agamben is still under the Lacanian determination. . stands in “as a pure and simple relationship of the human being to that of which he miraculously happens to be the bearer. She incarnates that desire” (282). Beyond this até. . and that is something she cannot bear” (Lacan 1992. the signifying cut that confers on him the indomitable power of being what he is in the face of everything that may oppose him. in the relentless pursuit of a liberation from the sovereign law that has created a permanent state of exception: the ineluctable violence of the state as the house of Creon. the hero does not abandon the horizon of sovereignty: the hero simply inverts it. namely. Anything at all may be invoked in connection with this. Moreiras. At the limit. must situation himself within the goal of desire. 262–63).

through a radical existential negation. CR: The New Centennial Review 4. “Das Schwierige liegt in der Sprache”—the difficulty lies in language (Heidegger 1988.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 71/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. . Is a step back possible in this connection? A step back toward the arrival of something beyond the purview of either the hero or the ordinary man? As Heidegger put it. Jan-Werner Müller notes that “the partisan was essentially a reincarnation of the romantic figure of the hero—a selfless individual who left his individuality behind in the service of the national collective” (Müller 2003. p. Moreiras. no matter how mediated by the party. Only through language can the partisan move beyond the friend/enemy distinction that spirals into a conflict of subjective catastrophes. the partisan was a totalitarian figure—existentially and totally absorbed in his struggle” (150). which is the other side of total self-affirmation. Director of European Studies at Duke.LANGUAGE The partisan is a figure of negation of the other and of total self-affirmation. clearly marked another decisive stage in the destruction of the supposedly humane form of European interstate conflict. the coming state. 154). The Passive Decision”. .3. Another order of the political can only mean an order not decided by subjective jouissance. however. The maximum intensification of partisan sovereignty is partisan ipseity—the partisan deals with the enemy. “A God without Sovereignty. At the same time. Project MUSE) In his analysis of The Theory of the Partisan. . 2k4 (Alberto.” “by definition. or the national community. 102-103. 149). Political Jouissance. if “the revolutionary partisan . the absolute enemy. The definition of the political in terms of the friend-enemy antithesis reverts into a conflict of subjective catastrophes.

At this point. Agamben makes us confront that "the completion of history necessarily entails the end of man. "Poetry. Hence. A confusing dynamics of humanization of animals and animalization of humans follows. The Open introduces an "oikonomia of salvation" that promises to reconcile the animal with the human beyond history and any biopolitical hierarchy. the thesis of the end of history was popularized in the last decade by the Fukuyamas of the world. However. crossing aesthetics. are degraded into a spectacle. Once that there are no metaphysical tasks for Western philosophy to realize.OPEN The Open cannot be accessed by through politics. In the current version. the argument follows. Ph. Against this background. Man and Animal. In a world where biological survival is all that counts. Whether Agamben uses these images just as metaphors or literally is hard to tell. in which beings exist without inquiring about being. In that endeavor. Stanford University Press) But the need of overcoming the "anthropological machine" also obeys to its internal exhaustion. and The Open contributes to our imagining the fraternal coexistence of beings. framing such a decadent process with paroxysmal contours. the political as a path of transformation of society appears banned. it became an ontological vindication of liberal democracy and capitalism as the final and definitive forms produced by the species. Agamben draws consequences that none among those who celebrate the present may want to face. in political science." those distinctively human activities. Meridian. But what happens when the teleological development of being gets realized? First advanced in a grave manner by Hegel. the same ones that lied behind the emergence of the political and humanity. the readers are left without any clue on how to bridge both conceptually and practically our animalized world with the new one. Imagining worlds is certainly a step in their construction." The teleology articulating history resulted from metaphysical tensions. The Open leaves us in the dark. Still. . moved by exclusive economic concerns. Seri in 2004 (Guillermina. in this work beautifully written though for moments obscure. the project points out the need for the recovery of a new innocence. and thoroughly policed. at least for those who entertain political concerns and engage with action. The Open.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 72/114 AGAMBEN K ALT. Giorgio Agamben.D. which Agamben dismisses as imposture. Since both politics and a better humanity are founded on a decision over the status of life. people everywhere act as if there were history or the possibility of reactivating it. In opposition to that reign of mere life. humanity is produced less and less until at some point the ontological machine will only generate all forms of life as worthless. it will allow for the reconciliation of animal and human beyond biopolitics. religion. philosophy.

and he equates this paradoxical situation with the structure of sovereignty itself. the precise determination that opens a horizon. It is. obviously. that potentiality constitutively be the potentiality not to (do or be). to remember the Greek terms.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 73/114 AGAMBEN K AT: DEMOCRACY SOLVES BIOPOWER Constituent power uses violence that creates law while constituted power uses violence to preserve law. Biopolitics. but it is not even the institution of constituted power. in particular. at the same time. One need not then be surprised that they do not arrive a decisions worthy of this violence. Benjamin contends that these have become indistinguishable. and whose conditions of existence imply that the creative act does not lose its characteristics in the act of creating. But this raises the problem of how to think the passage of potentiality into actuality. If. Capitalism”. in Agamben s view.usyd. “Potenza Nuda? Sovereignty. the sovereign maintains the possibility of deciding between the exception and the norm. http://www. for Schmitt. an act of choice. Book Theta of the Metaphysics. But this does not imply an endorsement of the opposite position by which constituent power remains completely other with respect to the constituted order. It cannot be so.” Agamben views the relation between constituent power and constituted power as the relation between the violence that posits law and the violence that preserves it. in any way whatsoever. Walter Benjamin s “Critique of Violence. 5. Agamben refers Negri s argument that the problem of constituent power is the problem of the constitution of potentiality to the Aristotelian rigour that finds potentiality to precede and condition actuality but at the same time to remain essentially subordinate to it.”3 This relation is none other than the indistinction that he associates with the state of exception described by Carl Schmitt. neither of these qualities establishes constituent power s alterity with respect to sovereign power. But. According to Schmitt in his famous 1922 work Political Theology. Agamben follows Benjamin in the eighth of the “Theses on the Philosophy of History” by affirming that the state of exception has become the rule. With the concept of bare life. For Agamben.edu. sovereignty presents itself as a fixing of constituent power. Associate Prof at U of Western Sydney. every determination is free and remains free. the radical apparatus of something that does not yet exist. Agamben recognizes that the violence that posits law is nobler than the violence that preserves it. has understood constituent power as normative production within the empirical-factual sphere of the constitution. They present such a well-known. by the concept of sovereignty.2 With Benjamin. . potentiality maintains itself in relation to actuality in the form of suspension—it is capable of the act only insofar as it does not realize it.”5 In other words. He initiates his polemic with Negri by citing the following passage from Il potere constituente: The truth of constituent power is not what can be attributed to it. since it remains the sovereign s prerogative to decide to suspend the constitution in the state of exception. This becomes the point of departure for Agamben s analysis of sovereignty in Homo Sacer. which examines the relation between potentiality (potenza) and act (atto) or.pdf) Signal of the subtlety of Agamben s thought is his refusal to reduce his argument for the inseparability of constituent power from the constituted order to the dominant position that. sad spectacle because they have not remained aware of the revolutionary forces to which they owe their existence… They lack a sense of the creative violence of law that is represented in them. rather. constituent power “possesses no title that might legitimate something other than law-preserving violence and even maintains an ambiguous and ineradicable relation with constituted power. Agamben identifies a threshold at which life is placed both inside and outside the juridical order. and therefore as its termination. sovereign power stands outside of the constituted order but. This is where he turns to Aristotle and. dynamis and energeia. Contretempt. On the contrary. establishing a link between the exercise of sovereign power and the production of bare life. When constituent power sets in motion the constituent process. Following one of his favourite source essays. Thus while he commends Negri for drawing the question of constituent power back to ontological first principles. belongs to it. But while Schmitt insists that the state of exception must be distinguished from the norm.au/contretemps/5december2004/neilson. because constituent power is not only. establishing a link between the Sovereign and the creation of bare life. It is in this context that Agamben objects to Negri s argument that constituent power is irreducible to the principle of sovereignty. it is on these same grounds that he wants to contest the claim for its absolute opposition to sovereign power. it is necessary that that potentiality be able not to pass over into actuality. as the exhaustion of the freedom that constituent power carries. He concedes that constituent power neither derives from the constituted order nor limits itself to instituting it. at least since the time of Georg Jellinek and the great school of German public law in the second half of the 19th century. the juridical institution decays. an emanation of constituted power. Neilson in 2004 (Brett. they are both related in that they create states of exception.4 Agamben does not object to Negri s understanding of constituent power as free praxis. Central to Aristotle s thought is the contention that “if potentiality is to have its own consistency and not immediately disappear into actuality. but instead oversee a course of political affairs that avoids violence through compromise. He quotes directly from Benjamin s essay: If the awareness of the latent presence of violence in a legal institution disappears. An example of this is provided today by the parliaments. Despite this difference.

we are all subject to totalitarian domination and the mechanisms of biopolitical social control. that Agamben develops. reads something different in Agamben. and to champion a heroic politics of decision– a politics that Agamben clearly does not share. life itself. Zizek has failed to grasp the potentiality of bare life. BA at Loyola U of Chicago. Kritikos. for instance.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 74/114 AGAMBEN K AT: ZIZEK ALT ZIZEK IS INCORRECT WHEN HE BELIEVES THE ONLY WAY TO GET OUT OF THE STATE OF EMERGENCY IS BY THE INFINITE PONDERING CRYSTALLIZES ITSELF INTO A SIMPLE YES OR NO.edu/~nr03/mcquillan. that is. V.” that is.5 .acns. McQuillan in 2005 (Colin. Zizek argues that the only way out of the contemporary “state of emergency” is in “the magical moment when the infinite pondering crystallizes itself into a simple yes or no. we are all homo sacer.htm) Slavoj Zizek. He uses Agamben to make the further claim that there is no democratic solution to this problem.” …a gesture of radical and violent simplification”–a decision–which Agamben thinks leads back to the logic of sovereignty and subjection–the sacrifice by which bare life is both included and excluded by the “bloody mystifications” of the planetary order.4 However. Author. in Zizek’s understanding. In Welcome to the Desert of the Real. http://garnet.fsu.2. “The Political Life in Giorgio Agamben”. This leads Zizek to abandon the intricacies of Agamben’s analyses. inasmuch as he equates bare life merely with the subject of domination and control. when he says that Agamben shows that liberal democracy is a mask hiding the fact that “ultimately. in Homo Sacer and elsewhere.

. Autoimmunity is therefore a kind of “death drive” (215) that can be related to the structure of betrayal as self-betrayal. 173). in it.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 75/114 AGAMBEN K AT: AUTOIMMUNITY GOOD Autoimmunity prevents the aggression of the other and by doing so becomes self-betraying. as we saw. the path back of the “ordinary man” into his own business is blocked once he has paid the price of accommodation to the service of goods and has betrayed the structure of his desire: “once one has crossed that boundary . It might be possible to do some repair work. and uselessly. is destined to protect it against the other. in an autonomous fashion. For Lacan.3. Moreiras. that which. to the extent that they are understood to be a politics of the subject. Lacanian politics. are framed by a postrevolutionary service of goods. Director of European Studies at Duke. 321). for the formation of the universal State. in which a sublimated jouissance waits infinitely. “A God without Sovereignty. p. This betrayal formalizes politics—just as it formalizes religion—for Lacan. 97. CR: The New Centennial Review 4. there is no way back. . Political Jouissance. The Passive Decision”. which. but not to undo it” (Lacan 1992. the abandonment of the ethical imperative not to give ground on one’s desire is ultimately an accommodation to the real from which there is no return. This self-betrayal creates a path of no return that formalizes politics and brings about a useless jouissance that awaits the creation of the universal State. Project MUSE) Autoimmunity is said to refer to “this strange illogical logic through which a living being can spontaneously destroy. Is an alternative frame for contemporary politics available? . to immunize it against the intrusive aggression of the other” (Derrida 2003. 2k4 (Alberto. Lacan considers a radical structure of the human relationship to being.

They want to explore the contemporary troubles of sovereignty.” and in his investigation of the notion of a nomos of the earth. which reaches an unexpected arrest in the notion of the Kantian unjust enemy. or as the ultimate claims of the political.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 76/114 AGAMBEN K AT: SOVEREIGN INVICIBLE The sovereign isn’t invincible. CR: The New Centennial Review 4. Moreiras.3. The political order of modernity has exhausted itself through autoimmunitary developments— something that Schmitt anticipated both in his partisan theory. 211–12). 97-98. “A God without Sovereignty. in spite of their fundamental antagonism to the German thinker. If both Derrida and Agamben can be said to be Schmittian to a certain extent. not. These troubles are autoimmunity troubles: sovereignty ultimately suffers from itself. he who guards or gives himself the right to suspend the law. through the projection of the figure of the total counterpartisan that follows “the inevitability of a moral compulsion. troubles in sovereignty—what Derrida can and does call in French mal de souveraineté (196). as it is its action that ultimately dooms it to face. in a certain far-from-reassuring impotence. . Derrida makes it very clear through a sort of disavowing avowal: “One did not have to wait for Schmitt to know that the sovereign is he who decides exceptionally and performatively on the exception. like Rasch. The troubles of sovereignty are autoimmune and eventually force it to face the anomic terror of the real. the absolute threat or the anomic terror of the real. The Passive Decision”. p. 2k4 (Alberto. Project MUSE) Both Derrida and Agamben radicalize Schmitt’s intuition regarding the necessity of a transformation in the concept of the political given the exhaustion of the political order of modernity. or to know that this juridico-political concept.13 Both of them are interested. it is precisely insofar as both of them take as point of departure for their investigations of political sovereignty some of Schmitt’s crucial theories. And Agamben of course makes Schmitt a crucial reference in both Homo Sacer and State of Exception. secularizes a theological heritage” (2003. like all the others. Political Jouissance. but rather in a dismantling of the claims of sovereignty as ultimate political claims. in a reassertion of sovereignty as the only possible pragmatic framing for a conceptualization of the political today. Director of European Studies at Duke.

This general axiom operates within institutional systems as a general normative affirmation having the status of a mythical justification for the system as a whole. in itself. Law-as-Logos functions to fictionalise the origin of a law that is. transcendental origin of law. however. pg. however. This founding supposition is a parricidal fantasy designed to avoid the Real. The law must be grounded in some Absolute principle: there must be a decisive point of origin capable of generating a legitimate chain of succession. Fictions of Origin: Law. further the movement of this essay from psychoanalysis to deconstruction. or. primarily a speaking subject but a juridically constituted artifice produced through kinship succession institutionalised as law. operates. but which derives its power from its function as a general presupposition. given the nature of juridical reasoning. PhD. a ‘founding supposition’. . It will. but not just any impasse. Instead the law grounds itself in a founding supposition that has the status of a mythical justification for the system as a whole. The question of origin thus enters the space of myth: the law must ground itself in a ‘founding supposition’. ‘which is paradoxically presence and absence’. in other words. There is no decisive. and his emphasis upon the foundational juridical component of subject formation opens up a further productive theoretical trajectory for reading the law in terms of abjection and difference.26 For Zizek. this impasse is inhabited by God. . The human being must not only be reproduced. transcendental origin. is not. the ‘founding supposition’ of the law is a parricidal fantasy. a ‘primordial lie’ designed to conceal something yet more horrific than the murder of the father: this ‘narrative of primordial loss’ is an avoidance of the Real. not as a number at all. but as a point of demarcation between positive and negative. In other words. As the zero point of the symbolic order. then. Abjection and Difference. the philosopher encounters an impasse: The proof of lineage eventually runs up against an impossibility.23 Law-as-Logos is this necessary fiction. Legendre firmly prioritises law over language in terms of the development of individual and communal subjectivity. Law and Critique. point zero in mathematics is an absent origin. at its point of inception. Chaplin in 2005 (Susan. just as did those proofs of title to property for which European lawyers coined a striking term: probitio diabolica . 166) As has been suggested. or some functional equivalent.20 The ‘I’. through those representations which. existing. For Zizek. it encounters this void. Because of the primacy of law in the formation of juridical subjectivity. and his work offers a further means of interrogating the emergence and ontological status of the fantasy of Law-as-Logos within the Western symbolic economy. he contends. Western conceptualisations of truth. nothing but the difference between presence and absence and. for Legendre. with its emphasis upon legitimate paternal lineage. given that God is now dead as the founding signifier of western juridical systems.25 Zizek can be seen to be concerned similarly with the invisibility of any proper origin of law. Pierre Legendre is perhaps closer to Kristeva than to Lacan in terms of his emphasis upon the social determinants of individual identity formation. which in turn become questions of law. this fantasmic narrative operates to separate ‘present actual consciousness’ from the chaos of the unconscious and the primordial pre-history of the community. which.24 Oscillating between presence and absence. moreover. according to Legendre. become questions of paternity. LLB (Hons). or vertiginous chasm. as Alain Pottage observes.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 77/114 AGAMBEN K AT: ORIGIN OF LAW 1/2 The question of the origin of law encounters an impasse because law has no decisive. as the axiom from which all other axioms are derived. the question reaches an impasse. for the question of origin arises out of a contingent chain of succession that impossibly seeks its beginning in something outside of itself. For westerners. MA. ‘it must also be instituted’. the expressed content of which may vary according to social and political factors. the question of origin assumes a certain urgency. Juridical reason consequently becomes ‘the paradigm of all reason’21 and. inhabit the impasse. . In seeking to account for this point of origin. Unlike Kristeva and Lacan (who remains more important in terms of Legendre’s own theoretical perspective). which functions as a necessary fiction of origin: Every juridical system is guaranteed by a founding supposition. analogously ‘to the ‘‘number’’ zero in mathematics’. so to speak.

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The following passage, in which Zizek considers Schelling’s meditation upon the founding gesture of consciousness, may usefully be compared to Legendre’s analysis of the law as the zero point of the symbolic order mythologised so as to justify its juridical system. The primordial act which separates individual and communal consciousness from the unconscious is, in Schelling’s terms, ‘a deed [which], once accomplished, sinks into unfathomable depth [. . .] This is the only way that the beginning, the beginning that does not cease to be one, the truly eternal beginning, is possible. For here also it holds that the beginning should not know itself.’28 In this, argues Zizek, we encounter: [. . .] the logic of the vanishing mediator: of the founding gesture of differentiation which must sink into invisibility once the difference between the ‘irrational’ vortex of the drives and the universe of the logos is in place. Schelling’s fundamental move is thus not simply to ground the ontologically structured universe of logos in the horrible vortex of the Real; if we read him carefully, there is a premonition in his work that this terrifying vortex of the pre-ontological Real itself is (accessible to us only in the guise of) a fantasmic narrative, a lure designed to distract us from the true traumatic cut, that of the abyssal act of Ent-Scheidung.29 The ‘founding gesture of differentiation’, the gesture that founds the Sacred in opposition to the ‘irrational vortex’ of the Real, is unknowable, and conceptualisations of the Logos initiated through this foundational, invisible gesture, exist only as fantasmic narratives of this ‘invisible deed’. Reading Legendre with Zizek, it may be argued that the origin of law – Legendre’s ‘zero point’ of the Symbolic order – exists before its fictionalisation as Logos only as the ‘vanishing mediator’ of which Zizek speaks: it is the ‘founding gesture of differentiation’ between the symbolic order and ‘the terrifying vortex of the pre-ontological Real’ which, Zizek argues, is itself accessible only as a ‘fantasmic narrative’. The space beyond the symbolic, as it is conceived of within the symbolic, has no pre-ontological status, but comes into being through an act of demarcation that creates it as a necessary fictional anathema to the myth of Law-as-Logos. The threat to the Logos, therefore, comes not from its seeming opposite, but from the unstable border between the fictions of the sacred and the abject, the Symbolic and the Real as it is conceived of within the Symbolic. This border ‘on the threshold of culture’30 threatens the disintegration of ‘present actual consciousness’ by raising the spectre of an abyssal absence of origin – the ‘true traumatic cut’ – which lies beyond the subject’s worse nightmare: beyond, that is, the distracting, oppositional fantasies of the ontological Symbolic order and the preontological Real.

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The sovereign stands outside the legal system, and yet belongs to it. Fitzpatrick in 2001(Peter, Anniversary Professor of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, Theory and Event
Volume 5 Issue 2, Bare Sovereignty: Homo Sacer and the Insistence of Law, Project Muse) Yet for Schmitt the exception is also imbued with law. Law constitutes the decision-maker and the matters decided upon, broad as they may be -- 'the public interest or interest of the state, public safety and order, le salut public, and so on' (Schmitt 1985: 6). Indeed, it is 'the legal system itself [which] can anticipate the exception and can "suspend itself"' (Schmitt 1985: 14). Admittedly, 'how the systematic unity and order can suspend itself in a concrete case is difficult to construe, and yet it remains a juristic problem as long as the exception is distinguishable from a juristic chaos' (Schmitt 1985: 14). In all, although the sovereign 'stands outside the normally valid legal system, he nevertheless belongs to it', and sovereignty remains 'a juristic concept' (Schmitt 1985: 7, 16). The exception thence becomes unexceptional. It comes to resemble the involving lineaments of the law itself as these were extracted from my earlier dissection of homo sacer and the sacred. The exception manifests a similar combining of law's being determinant with its responsiveness to an exteriority beyond determination, even if the exception is a specific variation of that combining nexus, or a different 'jurisdictional competence' as Schmitt would have it (Schmitt 1985: 7). Looked at from the perspective of the norm, the norm as both the normal order and as a particular rule, it is obvious that this norm cannot be invariant. Instantiations of the norm always entail a transgression of what the norm had been, entail its becoming 'other' to what it was. The norm, in short, always subsists along with its own exception. The exceptional, again, is unexceptional. This self-exception is not, or is not just, a matter of the undermining and the explicit change of the norm. For its sustained integrity, for the norm to remain the norm, it can neither dissolve in what was 'other' to it nor endure in a stasis where it would become increasingly unrelated to a world ever changing around it. In adapting Schmitt's 'exception', Agamben aptly catches this 'force' of law in its integral relation to an exteriority: 'The exception does not subtract itself from the rule; rather, the rule suspending itself, gives rise to the exception and, maintaining itself in relation to the exception, first constitutes itself as a rule. The particular "force" of law consists in this capacity of law to maintain itself in relation to an exteriority' (p. 18). Yet he finds that the power of the exception is also quite apart from law. 'The sovereign nomos' cannot be positioned only 'inside', but must somehow extend intrinsically to an 'outside' from which there can be 'the creation and definition of the very space in which the juridico-political order can have validity' (p.19). Only in being positioned outside, says Agamben, can there be 'the space in which it is possible to trace borders between inside and outside and in which determinate rules can be assigned to determinate territories' (p.21). Specifically in relation to the exception, then, in tracing 'a threshold (the state of exception)' between the 'outside' and 'the inside', 'the sovereign exception' serves to 'make the validity of the juridical order possible' (p.19). This assertive 'outside' now proceeds to consume, or to enter, the 'inside' for Agamben pits the exception against the norm in the evocation of a 'new' situation supervening 'in our age', a situation in which there is a dramatic change and the exception, as it were, takes over, or comes more and more to take over, 'and ultimately begins to become the rule' in a displacement of the normal order (p.20). 'The state of exception thus ceases to be referred to as an external and provisional state of factual danger and comes to be confused with juridical rule itself' (p.168). In the result, 'the exception everywhere becomes the rule... and exclusion and inclusion, outside and inside,... right and fact, enter into a zone of irreducible indistinction' (p.9). Or, as Agamben says of his paradigm case (which we will come to shortly), there is 'a hybrid of law and fact in which the two terms have become indistinguishable' (p.170). The indistinction and its impelling exception are conceived of as expansionary or by now near-pervasive, since Agamben presents a brief but impassioned apocalyptic in which they have brought us to the brink of 'biopolitical catastrophe' (pp.12, 188). With this indistinction, both the condition or zone and its component parts are nonetheless delineated with some distinctness and clarity. For example, Agamben instances a strangely solitary factuality in the state of exception when he remarks that 'a person who goes for a walk during the curfew is not transgressing the law any more than the soldier who kills him is executing it' (p.57). And, on the other side of the divide, Agamben's paradigm case of the state of exception is said to be the result of 'juridical procedures' (p.171). The state of exception itself is described in terms of structure, permanence, 'a new and stable spatial arrangement', and accorded the ability to occupy 'absolute space' (pp.20, 169-70,175). How then in 'our age' can there be a combination of such determinate identity or attributes with an expansionary indistinction, a combination found in classic conceptions of sovereign power? The answer, for modernity, would seem to lie in the object of that power, in bare life.

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Law is posited as transcendentally grounded in thought, even though it has no natural authority. Rights can never become ideal because they will always lack a permanent ontological basis Zartaloudis, 14 December, 2002. (Thanos, Dr, Professor at School of Law Birkbeck College, “Without
Negative Origins And Absolute Ends: A Jurisprudence of the Singular”, Kluwer Law International, p. 199.) On the other hand, lies the ‘modern’ or horizontal transcendentalism (the subject-object dialectic, the socialcontract between the sovereign and the constituted subject, the ego-cogito of Descartes, the free-subjected subject of the Enlightenment, Freud’s Totem and Taboo, the hermeneutic circle of language-meaning, the linguistic circle between langue and parole, the modern liberal-civil religion, the humanism of human rights, the experience of socio-legal empiricism and so forth). In this form of the transcendental, the origin is reposited on the illusion of a nonpresuppositional (i.e. non-vertical) horizon with what is grounded (at the same time as it creates the grounded). This creates an illusion of being freed from the theologicopolitical since the creator (who becomes the ground) is abstracted (de-cided, self-divided, deduced as the foundation) from his ‘real’ (created) form (consider the subject of legal subjectivity, the citizen of citizenship, the human of human rights, the demos of the democratic polis). While this form aims to disguise its presupposition ‘as’ non-metaphysical, it presupposes its-self as the ideal form of yet again another law-giver-from-above (that is, yet another transcendental). Indeed, in modernity ‘Man’ becomes his own presupposition, only to reveal, that he was the force behind the transcendental scission from the start (that is, from the time of vertical transcendence). When you question the present (the ‘self’), under both vertical and horizontal forms of transcendence, you cannot but refer to the ‘loss’ of the original ground, and when you question the ground (the ‘a priori’) you cannot but refer to the present actualization of its presenceas-loss (or what Nancy has called, ‘presentat- a-distance’). For instance, ‘for theMan of humanism, his present and his presentation (his meaning) cannot coincide’.3 The humanity of humanism maintains itself both as at-a-distance (an ideal presupposition) and as an actual presence (as a right-here, a present-grounded position of the ideal right). The postulated ideal presupposition of humanism, thus, cannot coincide with the real position of the given human (right-t/here), with the effect that the given human right can never become the ideal, it can never be fulfilled, and hence it is destined to always fail its ideal destination. Instead of revealing-exposing this failure of the transcendental humanall-too-human (the scission between the ideal and the real), the circle of presupposition-position (ground-grounded) returns to itself, to its myth, to another transcendental sacrifice of the real in what it presupposes as the ideal form. This scission (or sacrifice) has the effect of dividing practice from theory, matter from thought, subjectivity from freedom, law from justice, the ‘is’ from the ‘ought’. Thus, to question the postulated ‘self’ or the a priori transcendental forms falls within the ‘mython tina dieigesthai’ (within the current of myth), that is, within the current of the dialectic self-referential circle between the foundation and the originated. It is this myth and its twin other, nihilism, that require urgent critique.4 The two forms of myth (which are one) in vertical and horizontal transcendentalism and the myth’s other, the nihilist discourse that alleges to overcome the trascendental scission, are all subject to the negativity of presuppositional grounding, the logic of transcendental negativity.

140-141. The name of Grafeneck. hut analogous institutions existed in Hadamer (Hesse). Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. and Morphium. There is no reason to doubt that the “humanitarian” considerations that led Hitler and Himmler to elaborate a euthanasia program immediately after their rise to power were in good faith. The Euthanasia Program for the Incurably Ill (EuthanasieProgramrn für unheilbaren Kranke) was therefore put into practice in conditions—including the war economy and the increasing growth of concentration camps for Jews and other undesirables— that favored misuse and mistakes. First they were given a 2-centimeter dose of Motphium_Scopolamine. the program barely went into effect. including foreseen opposition from Christian organizations. just as Binding and Hoche. It is calculated that 6.4. the patients were killed within 24 hours of their arrival at Grafeneck. acted in good faith in proposing the concept of “life unworthy of being lived. the town in Wurttemberg that was the home of one of the main centers. and other towns in the Reich. Schumann and Baumhardr. over the course of the fifteen months it lasted (Hitler ended it in August 1941 because of growing protest on the part of bishops and relatives). since for various reasons Hitler preferred not to give an explicit legal form to his euthanasia program. Drs. Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Nevertheless. P. the medical center received about 70 people (from the ages of 6 no 93 years old) who had been chosen from the incurably mentally ill throughout German mental hospitals. Every day. Bahnen.” For a variety of reasons.) 3. and only at the start of 1940 did Hitler decide that it could no longer he delayed. Testimony given by defendants and witnesses at the Nuremberg trials give us sufficiently precise information concerning the organization of the Grafeneck program. Dr. the patients were killed with a strong dose of Luminal. In other institutions (for example in Hadamer). Fritz Mennecke. Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics at the University of Verona. from a theoretically humanitarian program into a work of mass extermination did not in any way depend simply on circumstance. During the physicians’ trial at Nuremberg. Yet it is certain that the reappearance of the formula coined by Binding to give juridical credence to the so-called “mercy killing” or “death by grace” (Gnadentod according to a euphemism common among the regime’s health officials) coincides with a decisive development in National Socialism’s biopolitics. . BH. gave the patients a summary examination and then decided if they met the requirements specified by the program. The information was not quite exact.000 people were killed this way. related that he had heard Drs.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 81/114 AGAMBEN K AT: AFF HAS GOOD INTENTIONS Even “good intention” policies can affirm the State of Exception and allow for mass extermination through politics Agamben 1998 (Giorgio. Veronai. In most cases. has remained sadly linked to this manner. then they were sent no a gas chamber. the transformation of the program. a witness. from their own point of view. who were responsible for the Grafeneck center. Hartheim (near Linz). Hevelemann. and Brack communicate in a confidential meeting in Berlin in February 1940 that the Reich had just issued measures authorizing “the elimination of life unworthy of being lived” with special reference to the incurable mentally ill.

he argues. The halo is not a quid. unlike Scotus. And yet it is precisely this tiny displacement. "Between Nirvana and the world there is not the slightest difference." There is nothing new about the thesis that the Absolute is identical to this world. a fusional act. something that can be added in surplus (superaddi). but to their sense and their limits. but at their periphery. who in turn transcribed it n Spuren: "A rabbi. Professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy at the University of Verona." that is not necessary for beatitude and does not alter it substantially. But it is precisely for this reason that Saint Thomas so unexpectedly anticipates the theory that several years later Duns Scotus would pose as a challenge on the problem of individuation. is the tiny displacement that the story introduces in the messianic world. humans are incapable of it and it is necessary that the Messiah come. One can think of the halo. And the clothes we wear in this world. It was stated in its extreme form by Indian logicians with the axiom. It is sufficient to displace this cup or this bush or this stone just a little. In response to the question of whether one of the blessed can merit a halo brighter than the halos of others. as a species. this "everything will be as it is now. But this small displacement is so difficult to achieve and its measure is so difficult to find that. Everything will be as it is now. but an unraveling or an indetermination of its limits: a paradoxical individuation by indetermination. The being that has reached its end. therefore. a property or an essence that is added to beatitude: It is an absolutely inessential supplement." Benjamin's version of the story goes like this: "The Hassidim tell a story about the world to come that says everything there will be just as it is here. to make itself whatever. . this individuation does not imply the addition of a new essence or a change in its nature. There is. prevents one halo from being brighter than another just as one fire can be more subtle than another. nothing. The tiny displacement does not refer to the state of things. in the sense that the nose of the blessed one will become a little shorter. a small displacement of what is thought to be true can create a new reality. This imperceptible trembling of the finite that makes its limits indeterminate and allows it to blend. in the space of ease between every thing and itself. is the most subtle of bodies. includes all the goods that are necessary for the perfect workings of human nature. of matter that does not remain beneath the form. or that the cup on the table will be displaced exactly one-half centimeter. there too it will sleep in the other world. for Saint Thomas the singularity here is not a final determination of being. but surrounds it with a halo. potentiality and actuality. BH. As in Duns Scotus. an "accidental reward that is added to the essential. as a zone in which possibility and reality.) THERE is a well-known parable about the Kingdom of the Messiah that Walter Benjamin (who heard it from Gershom Scholem) recounted one evening to Ernst Bloch. he said (against the theory whereby what is finished can neither grow nor diminish) that beatitude does not arrive at perfection singularly but as a species. and precisely this is its irreducible aporia. This cannot refer simply to real circumstances. insofar as specific form or nature is not preserved in it. once said that in order to establish the reign of peace it is not necessary to destroy everything nor to begin a completely new world. the glow at its edges. and this by itself would be enough to explain why the questio on halos remains practically without commentary in the Latin Patristics." The halo is thus the individuation of a beatitude. and thus everything. This is that potentia permixta actui (or that actus permixtus potentiae) that a brilliant fourteenth century philosopher called actus confusionis. those too we will wear there. that has consumed all of its possibilities. with regard to the world. in this sense. the becoming singular of that which is perfect. Its beatitude is that of a potentiality that comes only after the act. It does not take place in things.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 82/114 AGAMBEN K AT: ALT = NO IMPACT OUTSIDE ROUND Although perhaps imperceptible." On the contrary. so it will be in the world to come. is the tiny displacement that every thing must accomplish in the messianic world. where our baby sleeps now. thus receives as a gift a supplemental possibility. The beatitude of the chosen." What is new. the parable introduces a possibility there where everything is perfect. an "otherwise" where everything is finished forever. a real cabalist. but rather its singular completion. This tiny displacement is what is needed for singularity to take hold Agamben 1993 (Giorgio. and therefore nothing essential can be added. Pg 53-56. This means that even though perfection does not imply a real mutation it does not simply involve an external state of things. Just as our room is now. an incurable "so be it." that is difficult to explain. Saint Thomas does not seem to be aware of the audacity of introducing an accidental element into the status perfectionis. But how is it possible that things be "otherwise" once everything is definitively finished? The theory developed by Saint Thomas in his short treatise on halos is instructive in this regard. The Coming Community. become indistinguishable. but mixed and dissolved in a new birth with no residue. just a little different. but that simply makes it more brilliant (clarior). or that the dog outside will stop barking. however. The halo is this supplement added to perfection—some-thing like the vibration of that which is perfect. just a little different. however. "just as fire. instead.

.9 In Greek the word for witness is martis.. then regretted it and wanted to take it back" (ibid. Tertullian's Scorpiacus — reveals some unexpected teachings.. The first Church Fathers coined the word martin urn from maitis to indicate the death of persecuted Christians.) 1. 26-28. what we had to tell would start to seem unimaginable" (Anteime 1992: 3). But whosoever shall deny me before men. him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.. when it first arose. The unfortunate term "holocaust" (usually with a capital "H") arises from this unconscious demand to justify a death that is sine causa — to give meaning back to what seemed incomprehensible. Survivors are also in agreement on this. If he asks for the same in return. Professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy at the University of Verona. "All the attempts at clarification . For what appears in the camps is an extermination for which it may be possible to find precedents. Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive. What meaning could be found in professing one's faith before men — persecutors and exe-cutioners — who would understand nothing of this undertaking? God could not desire something without meaning. he cannot not remember. "The memories of my imprisonment are much more vivid and detailed than those of anything else that happened to me before or after" (Levi 1997: 225). I use this term 'Holocaust' reluctantly because I do not like it. BH. the reference to Luke 12: 8-9 and to Matthew 10: 32-33 ("Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men." (Levi 1997: 219). more instructive. The Church Fathers were confronted by heretical groups that rejected martyrdom because. vii). The survivors are unanimous about this. is it perhaps because he too expects salvation in my death? Or should one perhaps think that God demands the blood of men even while he disdains that of bulls and goats? How could God ever desire the death of someone who is not a sinner?" The doctrine of martyrdom therefore justifies the scandal of a meaningless death. "By calling the victims of the Nazis 'martyrs. "I am irritated by the attempts of some religious extremists to interpret the extermination according to the manner of the prophets: as a punishment for our sins. to find a reason for the irrational. "Please excuse me. martyr. precisely so that we would not be killed. "Even to us. "It is a term that." The survivor's vocation is to remember. of an execution that could only appear as absurd. Confronted with the spectacle of a death that was apparently sine causa. "Must innocents suffer these things?. No! I do not accept this. in their eyes.. Nevertheless. once and for all he was killed.. failed ridiculously" (Amery 1980. Once and for all Christ immolated himself for us. derived as it is from the verb meaning "to remember.' we falsify their fate" (Bettelheim 1979: 92). I have repeated them to Poles and Hungarians and have been told that the sentences are meaningful. sentences in languages I do not know have remained etched in my memory. . But this has very much to do with the camps. P. The study of the first Christian texts on martyrdom — for example. something anomalous happened to me..: 243). "I still have a visual and acoustic memory of the experiences there that I cannot explain. then I learned that it was Wiesel himself who had coined it... like on a magnetic tape.. it is amistake.. the concepts of "witnessing" and "martyrdom" can be linked in two ways. it constituted a wholly senseless death (perire sine causa)." (ibid. The first concerns the Greek term itself. But I use it to be understood. The second point of connection is even more profound. I would say almost an unconscious preparation for bearing witness" (ibid. What is terrifying is that it was senseless.. but whose forms make it absolutely senseless. Philologically. him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven") made it possible to interpret martyrdom as a divine command and. we must use it to be truly understood Agamben 1999 (Giorgio.: 219). thus. For some reason that I cannot explain.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 83/114 AGAMBEN K AT: HOLOCAUST TRIVIALIZATION Even if the term holocaust is a mistake.: 220). who thus bore witness to their faith. What happened in the camps has little to do with martyrdom.. gave me a lot of trouble.

it belongs. For what is at issue in the sovereign exception is. rather. P. The exception is more interesting than the regular case. Yet nowhere in the realm of the juridical sciences can one find a theory that grants such a high position to the exception. but it simultaneously reveals a specifically juridical formal element: the decision in absolute purity. 19—22)” It is not by chance that in defining the exception Schmitt refers to the work of a theologian (who is none other than Soren Kierkegaard).” (Polithche Theologie. thinks the general with intense passion. the rule as such lives off the exception alone. Therein consists the essence of Stare sovereignty. the very condition of possibility of juridical rule and. such that it consists in nothing other than the suspension of the rule? . Schmitt presents this structure as the structure of the exception (Ausnahme): “The exception is that which cannot be subsumed. not someone who. Every general rule demands a regular everyday frame of life to which it can be factually applied and which is submitted to its regulations. affirmed the superiority of the exception. The exception appears in its absolute form when it is a question of creating a situation in which juridical rules can be valid. which he called “the ultimate configuration of facts. with sharp judgment. the sovereign “creates and guarantees the situation” that the law needs for its own validity. 2). He has the monopoly over the final decision. on the other hand. If they cannot be explained. hut rather someone who. There is no rule that is applicable to chaos. . The exception. where the word “monopoly” is used in a general sense that is still to be developed. according to Schmitt. But what is this ‘‘situation. This factual regularity is not merely an “external presupposition” that the jurist can ignore.’’ what is its structure. chap. The decision reveals the essence of State authority most clearly. A regular situation must be created. The rule requires a homogeneous medium. Order must be established for juridical order to make sense.” over positive law in a way which was not so dissimilar: “An esteemed jurist is. since the degree to which sovereignty marks the limit (in the double sense of end and principle) of the juridical order will become clear only once the structure of the paradox is grasped. then neither can the general be explained. It brings everything to light more clearly than the general itself After a while. All law is “situational law. therefore.” The sovereign creates and guarantees the situation as a whole in its totality. one need only look around For a real exception. along with it.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 84/114 AGAMBEN K AT: PERM The kritik cannot be permed – the exception cannot be subsumed and any use of the juridicio system only reinforces the exception Agamben 1998 (Giorgio. BH. since the general is thought about not with passion but only with comfortable superficiality. masters positive law [or the general complex of laws]. 15-17. Giambattista Vico had. to be sure. it defies general codification. and (to formulate it paradoxically) authority proves itself not to need law to create law. Through the state of exception. Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics at the University of Verona). . to the rule’s imminent validity. A Protestant theologian who demonstrated the vital intensity of which theological reflection was still capable in the nineteenth century said: “The exception explains the general and itself And when one really wants to study the general. The exception does not only confirm the rule. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. and sovereign is he who definitely decides if this situation is actually effective.) The topology implicit in the paradox is worth reflecting upon. with the help of a good memory. Usually the difficulty is not noticed. the exception proves everything. the very meaning of State authority. knows how to look into cases and see the ultimate circumstances of facts that merit equitable consideration and exceptions from general rules” (De antiquissima. which must therefore be properly juridically defined nor as the monopoly to sanction or to rule hut as the monopoly to decide. . Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen. The latter proves nothing. one becomes disgusted with the endless talk about the general—there are exceptions. Here the decision must be distinguished from the juridical regulation. pp.

in the finite. 19-20.5 If this is true — and the survivor knows that it is true — then it is possible that the trials (the twelve trials at Nuremberg. has made it impossible to think through Auschwitz. having emptied himself entirely in the world. The confusion between law and morality and between theology and law has had illustrious victims.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 85/114 AGAMBEN K AT: PERM Law does not solve problems. it has taken almost half a century to understand that law did not exhaust the problem. Translated By Michael Rocke. Thus. Not only does this theodicy tell us nothing about Auschwitz. Professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy at the University of Verona. In 1984. . of his omnipotence.) That there is no autonomous space within the political order of the nation-state for something like the pure man in himself is evident at least in the fact that. it does not even manage to avoid a happy ending. prof of Aethetics. but rather that the very problem was so enormous as to call into question law itself. for decades. the status of the refugee is always considered a temporary condition that should lead either to naturalization or to repatriation. it is now man's turn to give. P.egs. A theodicy is a trial that seeks to establish the responsibility not of men. asking. In its confusion with morality and theology the problems it tries to solve are instead dragged into ruin Agamben 1999 (Giorgio. Man can do this by taking care that it never happens. Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive. God gave it His own fate and became powerless. by now. including those in Jerusalem in 1961 that ended with the hanging of Eichmann) are responsible for the conceptual confusion that. but of God. Despite the necessity of the trials and despite their evident insufficiency (they involved only a few hundred people).html. either about its victims or executioners. Like all theodicies. when he received the Lucas Award in Tubingen. http://www. The judgments had been passed. even in the best of cases. the proofs of guilt definitively established. or rarely happens. he reflected on the question of Auschwitz by preparing for a new theodicy. everywhere. he no longer has anything to offer us." The conciliatory vice of every theodicy is particularly clear here.edu/faculty/agamben/agamben-we-refugees.) 1. MJ. is one of them. Behind the powerlessness of God peeps the powerlessness of men. they helped to spread the idea that the problem of Auschwitz had been overcome. The justification for the sentence is something like this: "The infinite (God) stripped himself completely. 1994 (Giorgio. that God regrets his decision to have let the world be. “We Refugees” European Grad. Creating the world. how it was possible for God to tolerate Auschwitz. School. Hans Jonas. Jonas's ends in an acquittal. and the others that took place in and outside German borders. the philosopher and student of Heidegger who specialized in ethical problems. who continue to cry "May that never happen again!" when it is clear that "that" is. A permanent status of man in himself is inconceivable for the law of the nation-state. With the exception of occasional moments of lucidity. Perm Doesn’t Solve: There Can Never Be A Legislative Alternative Agamben. dragging it to its own ruin. BH. that is.

Agamben turns the ‘muselmann’ into the ‘integral witness’. Mesnard in 2004 (Phillipe. which evidently transcends the concentration camp universe. . could become. first of all. While Agamben can on no account whatsoever be linked to or accused of negationist views. in essence. To decipher the meaning of Agamben’s ‘muselmann’. he must be criticised for his abusive use of the victims’ representations. the reality of the death camps is inaccessible. who is linked to political Islam and Palestine. the ‘muselmann’ is reminiscent of the numerous texts and pictorial representation of the suffering body of Christ. From a current affairs. the word ‘muselmann’ is utterly foreign to the Polish language and to the numerous other languages that were spoken in Auschwitz. what man. Using this figure. chronic illnesses and came to embody. Thus. who is conversely linked to modern Israel and Zionism.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 86/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: GENOCIDE – TRIVIALIZES IMPACT Agamben’s representation of the muselmann belittles the experiences of the actual experiences of the victims in concentration and extermination camps. Issue 1. 26 Moreover. its only resemblance to man being its cadaveric appearance. the figure of the ‘muselmann’ is a faithful epitome of the ‘screen victim’ syndrome frequently found in mediadriven humanitarian operations: the figure tends to hide the real victims and blur our understanding of what actually happened. therefore. only the impossible figure of the ‘muselmann’ can point to the ethical reality of Auschwitz. it is necessary to look into the polysemic dimension of this word. “The Political Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Evaluation” pp. From a purely lexical point of view. can be seen as the antagonist of the Jew. V5. a trend which has become fairly general. the Muslim. Agamben develops the following paradox: since any testimony is. Totalitarian Movement and Political Religions. and the crucial differences between the functioning of camps on the one hand. The term ‘muselmann’ was used in Auschwitz to refer to deportees who suffered from clinical exhaustion and multiple. Agamben’s theory neglects the complexity of the concentration camp reality. radicalising Levi’s words. Such a contention is naturally reminiscent of the thought discussed earlier: the ‘muselmann’ becomes the ‘epiphanic’ incarnation of what testifies to the existence of the human dimension in man as revealed in Auschwitz. 25 From an imaginary point of view. Agamben postulates that the notion of testimony can be understood only from the viewpoint of the ‘dead witnesses’ perfectly epitomised by the ‘muselmann’. The ‘muselmann’ was the incarnation of their own fate. Thus. 139-157) In his exploration of Auschwitz and his interpretation of Levi’s writings. and the extermination centres on the other. in the eyes of fellow deportees. impossible. contextual point of view ( Remnants of Auschwitz was published in 1998). and since. subjected to extreme brutality and deprivation and on the verge of death.

or indeed indicating what. and are not about a fixed. Legal positivism assumes or sets out the basis for rights within a normative framework of the State that merely takes for granted judicial postulates of the inalienability of rights. although as far as attitudes to the law are concerned I believe that a Slöterdijkean 'cynical reason' probably more accurately describes the matter. (Frances. Agamben's argument is ultimately more concerned with the problem of contradictions within the theory and practice of rights and with attendant illusions that arise from these contradictions than with a critique of content or with an examination of a new potentiality that might emerge out of what he takes to be our present vacuousness. but we are also left without a basis for the critique of the intention of right. generic essence of the person. does not mean that we are unable to say anything about what it is to be a creative. Firstly. if there is a problem with making right the depository of eternal values. static. commonalities and shared properties that can emerge at various times. And yet right is not necessarily or merely a part of the State. The assumption that any understanding of human values is a reductionist. For example. 2004. although not without determinations. and by what process these values have been arrived at. desiring being. Agamben elides all difference by assuming that right has only judgment. it is because what becomes 'eternalized' (or. It is unable to imagine a realm of freedom against the State. The problem would appear to be that not only are we no clearer as to the actual problems involved in such values. we are also without any basis for considering the productive content of these values. secondly.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 87/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: RIGHTS = STATE POWER 1/2 RIGHTS ARE NOT NECESSARILY OR MERELY A PART OF THE STATE. RATHER. but even in more considered forms it often fails to come to terms with what it is attempting to criticize. more correctly. and that the basis of right is its place within the structure of the State. this is hardly because we have arrived at some content that would forevermore allow us to express a sense of justice in common. Borderlands E-Journal). I would argue. homogeneous substrate would mean for the idea of a social contract or rights. the basis of rights in property and assumptions that people are in fundamental accord on matters of right. not surprisingly. Such contradictions and illusions certainly do exist in relation to right. we can detect unsatisfied demands that have nothing to do with essentialist assumptions about 'man' or 'citizen'. there is the problem of what particular values we find inscribed. calculation and control as its outcome. it is such values themselves that are at fault. shifting and alive. there are certainly difficulties at issue with an understanding of what is eternal within such values. Research fellow in the Philosophy Department at the Australian National University. AS PRACTICES ON THE PART O HUMAN BEINGS INTERACTING WITHIN THE SOCIAL FORMS. or some ahistorical or superhistorical immutable totality. suffering. The argument as to whether there is a problem with the idea of eternal metajuridical values able to be inscribed within rights is interesting for a number of reasons. “The non-citizen and the concept of human rights”. a construction of an eternalized. for example. Simply because we would want to challenge a distorted. These demands are concerned with an understanding of human freedom in relation to values of solidarity. they are historical and contingent. But such arguments often proceed on the basis of misplaced assumptions. it is presumed that. what merely congeals under certain circumstances and is able to be . Rather. Daly. eternalizing essentialism has become one of the banalities of much contemporary theorizing. And. justice and the overcoming of alienation. What it is to be human is open and changeable. A significant part of Agamben's rejection of rights is based on the belief that rights necessarily involve processes by which values are made eternal. Somewhat strangely. limited or perhaps unappealing view of what it is to be human. Instead of indicating the actual nature of the problem with particular metajuridical values. rather it is better understood as practices on the part of human beings interacting within social forms (of which the State may or may not be a part). But within rights. despite whatever it is that constitutes their content.

whose standard had been derived from various sources . is a positivity of existing conditions (such as the right to possess. anything but the idea of communal principles that would provide some natural standard. This. however derived. is at the basis of the juridical objectification separating ethics or justice from law. the idea of natural rights of the individual.was undoubtedly distorted by a sense of individualism defined in terms of possession and property rights. what becomes solidified. a realm which assumes that no element of law or right pre-exists an act of the State.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 88/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: RIGHTS = STATE POWER 2/2 reformulated for these changing circumstances) is a view of what it means to be human in terms of an ability to possess. But this sense was not completely extinguished. why must we then necessarily conclude from a critique of legal positivism that there can be no ethical basis to rights? . For it is the State that institutes types of validity for its laws on the basis of procedure rather than any sense of morality or principles of justice. and. what is frequently taken to be the eternal nature of right is. But there are other pathways to rights. reified.in nature. other forms in which principles of justice have been derived and enacted. for justice. unfortunately. and equality of the individual – of 'inalienable' rights and normative ideals – was quite clearly conceived in terms of the citoyen. I want to argue. With the rise of individualism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. fraternity. What persisted of a sense of natural justice for all. Instead. that some of the basic contradictions that Agamben highlights are likely to emerge. of liberty. And if this is the case. exclude and alienate) through which doctrines of the rights of the individual are determined. a view of reason or human nature . It is certainly on the basis of a realm of legal positivism and its doctrines of positive law. God. It is this reification of law rather than the eternalization of values that is of significance to a critique of rights. more importantly. Thus.

“The non-citizen and the concept of human rights”.but it needs what I refer to as "an ethos of the imagination" that is able to imagine an emancipatory ethics. It is this absence of a sense of real justice that most needs to be subjected to critique today. More importantly. given that what we are dealing with in relation to current. I want to argue. Agamben sees the necessity of this separation but he attributes it to a lack of ambiguity inherent within law. a rich heritage of critique is sidelined. What we have instead is the separation of society from the ideals of the ethicality of a subject. then we need to understand why a separation between human and citizen rights emerged. as rights of the citizen serving the interests of the nation-State. the latter an entirely necessary basis for an autonomous. Daly. but not exclusively. prevail. as Agamben wishes to do.is itself understood. 2004. IT IS MORE URGENT THAT WE KRITIK THE ABSENSE OF A SENSE OF JUSTICE. ultimately eternalizing such concepts. or 'form-of-life' . existing law is a form of decision-making as the ideological playing out of a conflict of wills upon the assumption that the State is all of us and that the will of the State must ultimately. involves understanding an inheritance that brings with it illusions and aporias. a separation of law and ethics in rights is just as much the separation of ethics from law. a "whatever singularity". If we are to understand the real function of rights in the modern State. as if right and ethics have nothing to do with human possibility. what tends to emerge is a return to the problem of rights reduced to a division of form and content. I would argue. An ahistorical disdain for legal action is merely the obverse of the process of fetishizing legality. Only in this case. invariant view of authority and the State is. ethical life beyond the juridical relations of the world of goods. and what relation the distinction between these rights has to the propositions of an ethical or just life. because the content is seen to fall short of the abstraction of. For ethics to be completely subsumed by the law would hardly be a desirable thing. some sort of move beyond categories underscoring divisions within the ways people are entitled to live their lives is necessary. the form is wholly discarded. The concept of potentiality has much that is worthwhile – there is a radical uncompletedness within our being human . 2001: passim) to be of use in critical theorizing. for example. rather than the overturning of this very problematic. and more specifically of the possibility of traces of the intention towards human dignity. He also nervously empties any sense of being human of anything that is not simply potentiality. Nor would it be in any way likely. (Frances. not the possible illusions which might arise from the existence of rights.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 89/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: HUMAN RIGHTS BAD RATHER THAN KRITIKING THE POSSIBLE ILLUSIONS THAT MAY ARISE FROM THE EXISTENCE OF RIGHTS. In the absence of any such context. the outcome of an Enlightenment abstract rationalism that insists upon a narrow calculation for its judgments. a theoretical heritage that has engaged with certain ideals and intentions that reveal an anticipation of what is right and just. Research fellow in the Philosophy Department at the Australian National University. justly. Moreover. Undoubtedly. and. partly. But much of the power of any such critique must depend upon the manner in which the context of this life – the possible experience of acting in the world. Borderlands E-Journal). at the same time. Much theory that merely substitutes the idea of the static essence of the person to explain the consequence of good and evil in the world with an equally static. and that is grounded in a basic responsibility for the other (Daly. This. ideological relations that are not a part of a viable ethics. This is not the basis of a radical equality or solidarity. by revisiting this problem via a dismissal of the context of rights. the law carries with it exploitative. .

. on the other hand. Agamben is a thinker of great value but also.htm>. when what serves us are. <http://www. that contains this potential. When there is a commodity that is called labor-power it is already implicitly government over life.DN SOLVE AGAMBEN IS PROBLEMATIC BECAUSE HE OFFERS LITTLE POLITICAL VOCATION. A fetish word. Agamben says.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 90/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: ALT . it is necessary to govern the living body that maintains this potential. biopolitics!". but Foucault spoke in few pages of the biopolitical in relation to the birth of liberalism . instruments of work and not propaganda words. on the other hand. Toni (Negri) and Michael (Hardt). And. that the biopolitical is only an effect derived from the concept of labor-power.that Foucault is not a sufficient base for founding a discourse over the biopolitical and my apprehension. . my fear. an "open doors" word. in this. use biopolitics in a historically determined sense.) Agamben is a problem. HIS SHALLOW ANALYSIS OF BIOPOLITICS PREVENTS THE ALTERNATIVE FROM SOLVING Virno. I don't negate that there can be a serious content in the term. but rather is simply the potential to produce.org/p/fpvirno2.generationonline. As soon as this potential is transformed into a commodity. like the cry of a child. then. in my opinion. mama!". when Agamben speaks of the biopolitical he has the tendency to transform it into an ontological category with value already since the archaic Roman right. a thinker with no political vocation. “INTERVIEW WITH PAOLO VIRNO”. in my opinion. that labor-power is only one of the aspects of the biopolitical. a word that carries the risk of blocking critical thought instead of helping it. "biopolitics. basing it on Foucault. a word with an exclamation point.. I say the contrary: over all because labor power is a paradoxical commodity. I believe. the child that says "mama. is that the biopolitical can be transformed into a word that hides. The problem is. 2002. covers problems instead of being an instrument for confronting them. (Paolo. in all cases. linguistics professor. however I see that the use of the term biopolitics sometimes is a consolatory use.. Then. my fear is of fetish words in politics because it seems like the cries of a child that is afraid of the dark. because it is not a real commodity like a book or a bottle of water. he is very wrong-headed. Then.

to think potentiality at once without any relation and without any act whatsoever. or. having said all this. Nietzsche. on the other hand. Project Muse. thus. we can see that Deleuze does not dispense with the actual just because it has only too often been used to suppress and indeed repress the virtual. by realizing itself in the act. that is.178-180. In Agamben. Deleuze took important steps in this direction. and that. I would like to take all this in different directions from the ones I think he pursues. of that beautiful chapter on the question of halos in Agamben’s The Coming Community. that it is one thing to dispense with this relation and quite another to imply that the whole question of actualization will also vanish into thin air or become irrelevant once such a relation has been Wnally dispensed with.) This claim regarding Agamben’s failure to think the constitution of the political has made me think of the sentence with which he ends his discussion of your arguments about constituent power.15 The virtual and the actual. as distinct yet indiscernible from each other.) Whereas I agree that it is necessary to banish this mediating relation from any thought of potentiality— a relation that in the end has always had the effect of enslaving potentiality to act—I also feel that by getting rid of the relation one does not somehow get rid of the act too. and vice versa. and.”13 On the one hand. indeed. THIS ALREADY EXISTS. better yet. about which I have commented elsewhere. for example. And this is why. the foundational text of this tradition—namely. founded Potere Operaio (Worker Power) Group. I do share his concerns regarding that dominant ontological tradition that is willing and able to conceive of potentiality only as mere means to that all-important end that is the act—thereby not only subordinating potentials to acts but also failing to understand and indeed to think potentiality tout court (even though. I think that it already exists in some form.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 91/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: ALT – DN SOLVE ALTHOUGH AGAMBEN SAYS THAT WE NEED A NEW AND COHERENT FORM ONTOLOGY OF POTENTIALITY. Aristotle’s Metaphysics—is far more complex and astute with respect to the question of potentiality than such a tradition has often dared to admit). I also think that there are elements in Agamben’s work that point in different directions. On the contrary! Doing without this relation should lead to a radical and global reconceptualization of both potentiality and act as immanent to each other. are two different ways of apprehending the very same thing. Let me read it to you. Importantly. (Cesare. And yet. this is also tantamount to producing a concept of means without end. leading member of the Autonomia Operaia. Political Philosophy Professor at Padua University. clearly.14 (And. and. which might be more reconcilable with Deleuze’s positions on this matter (I am thinking. in particular. It is only by rethinking both at once in such a way that a “new and coherent ontology of potentiality” can at all come into being. a political theory exempt from the aporias of sovereignty remains unthinkable. not unlike a mummy within the sarcophagus. “It’s a Powerful Life: A Conversation on Contemporary Philosophy”. 2001. p. He writes: “Until a new and coherent ontology of potentiality (beyond the steps that have been made in this direction by Spinoza. because such an actualization always produces in its turn still other virtual realities. as Agamben rightly points out. whereas Agamben suggests in the above sentence that such an ontology is yet to come. this also means that the actualization of the virtual never constitutes an impoverishment or mortiWcation of the virtual. for example. would be relegated to playing the role of a haunting yet fossilized presence within the act. on the other hand. in the sense that each of the two is the obverse side of the other—and hence the actual always has virtual facets. and Heidegger) has replaced the ontology founded on the primacy of the act and its relation to potentiality. Such concerns lead him in the end to attempt to produce a concept of potentiality without making recourse to the mediating passage or transformation from potentiality to act—that is. within a pyramid. Taught at the Université de Vincennes (Paris-VIII) and the Collège International de Philosophie. If we understand Deleuze’s deployment of the dyad of “virtual” and “actual” as one of his ways of posing the question of the relation between potentiality and act. Casarino and Negri. I completely agree with what he is saying here. and does not theorize the virtual in isolation from the actual.)16 . Associate rofessor in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. In Deleuze. and Antonio. HIS CALLS FOR THIS NEW ALTERNATIVE ARE MERELY FALSE. the virtual and the actual form an immanent circuit. always leads parallel virtual lives. to conceive of potentiality no longer in relation to the act. one often gets the feeling that potentiality always pulls back at the last moment from realizing itself in the act precisely because he understands such a realization to constitute nothing other than the depletion and death of potentiality: it’s as if potentiality. Schelling.

separates and opposes himself to his own bare life and. there is an isomorphism between the exception and the example or paradigm. <http://www.4 Agamben's is that of bringing to expression the metaphysics that our history has thus far only shown. In the 'politicization' of bare life .to see.5 What is perhaps both most intriguing and most problematic about Agamben's work is that .7 Agamben's project hinges upon the paradigmatic status of the camp. All of these are sites where. As this casts his readers as either subject or enemy. he believes that claims to justice can only be made if one understands the ground of the political upon which both justice and injustice stand.the humanity of living man is decided [si decide]. that of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy . one can perceive the metaphysical negation that allows for the affirmation of distinctively human life: bare life. 2003. at the same time. Instead such an approach allows us to be open to a radically different way of thinking about politics and political philosophy while at the same time maintaining some critical distance from it. in language. And far from bringing concepts such as rights.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 92/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: ALT – DN = ACTION AGAMBEN’S ACCEPTANCE OF SCHMITT’S CENTRAL THEME REGARDING POLITICAL JUDGEMENT MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO MAKE A REAL ALTERNATIVE WHICH HE CAN CONTEST. what that history shows us is that politics is the truly fundamental structure of Western metaphysics insofar as it occupies the threshold on which the relation between the living being and the logos is realized. I will argue that Agamben's acceptance of Schmitt's central claims regarding political judgment make it impossible for him to weave together his suggestive reading of examples from philosophy and political history into a mode of political thought that fulfils his own ambition of 'returning thought to its practical calling'. (Andrew. say. public interest. whether they open themselves up to an immanent critique. “The Exemplary Exception”. Norris.6 Another is to ask whether Agamben's claims are intelligible on their own account .asp?channel_id=2188&editorial_id=13097>. as they undermine so many of its guiding assumptions. the liminal. In what follows I want to pursue this option by way of considering Agamben's appropriation of the early decisionist political theory of Carl Schmitt. Radical Philosophy. Agamben operates at a level of abstraction at which such concepts blur into their opposites. properly understood. that is. hospital wards. Agamben asks us to evaluate the metaphysical structure and implications of the activity of politics as such. This approach has a number of advantages. chief among which is that it does not demand that we simply choose whether to accept or reject Agamben's approach in a global way. maintains himself in relation to that bare life in an inclusive exclusion.unlike. He argues that. He takes this approach because. One way to evaluate Agamben's claims is to consider how well they help us to describe and understand such examples. liberty or equality more clearly into view. Agamben asks us to consider a threshold state of the non-identical. . on Agamben's account. death rows and military camps.É There is politics because man is the living being who. nuda vita. But on his own account. Given his acceptance of Schmitt's analysis of the former as the product of the sovereign decision. Instead of asking us to construct and evaluate different plans of action.com/default. like Arendt. Political Science Professor at Penn. authority.) Such claims are difficult for political philosophy to address.it brings these claims about metaphysics into dialogue with a specific set of quite concrete examples.radicalphilosophy.the metaphysical task par excellence . Instead of asking us to consider the true or proper nature of political identity. this makes Agamben's evaluation of the camp as 'the fundamental biopolitical paradigm of the West' into a sovereign decision beyond the regulation of rule or reason. including refugee camps. If Foucault's goal was 'to make the cultural unconscious apparent'. it is hard to imagine how the politics it might produce will serve as a real alternative to that which it contests.

whose book L’Organisation de la terreur was a source of inspiration to Agamben. Wolfgang Sofski. for speaking of ‘the’ camp and ‘the’ SS. the complexity of the multiple temporalities which co-existed within the camp. his thought starts to oversimplify reality itself. he urged his audience not to confuse eschatology with messianism. Issue 1. The most blatant example of oversimplification is the figure of the ‘muselmann’. One could also add to this temporality the idea of temporary salvation as well as the fatal events which took place in special places. . was nonetheless disrupted by sudden. essence and paradigm. Even if Sofski could be criticised for nearly turning the notion of ‘absolute power’ into a myth. 139-157) At a seminar on Saint Paul held in Paris in 1999. Agamben advocated what appeared to be a relevant distinction between time. as soon as time is no longer conceived of in its transcendental dimension and is envisaged as a materialised. immanent notion. who compresses and distorts the complexity of the camp and. On the other hand. However. This temporality slowly led to the degradation of the self under the yolk of the camp’s organisation and hierarchy. unexpected avalanches of violence. whose quest leads him to ‘find what he is looking for’ in terms of truth. from the kapos to the SS.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 93/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: ALT . and as soon as Agamben seeks to apply his theory not only to texts but also to historical reality and concentration camps. the time of the end and the end in itself. V5. Totalitarian Movement and Political Religions. On the one hand. The same cannot be said of Agamben. The conception of the muselmann. such as the Revier (infirmary). he identifies a planned temporality detached from the past and from the future and deprived of any intimate continuity. Sofski identifies rival. repeated time and again through the same cycle. In other words. “The Political Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Evaluation” pp. Mesnard in 2004 (Phillipe.OVERSIMPLIFIES Agamben’s attempt to apply his theory to actual reality oversimplifies the situation. in which human beings were brutally dispossessed of both their own personalities and of all spirituality. and the numerous instances of corruption and irregularity. 28 offers a seminal categorisation of the different temporalities generated by the camp. in the first instance. the dead witness. his rigorous research is seminal in that it acknowledges the heterogeneity of the camp system. in concentration camps belittles the resistance that did occur. individual or collective). precarious temporalities generated by the various forms of resistance (passive or active. such temporalities simply cannot be reduced to the mere image of emaciated bodies recycled into a rhetorical figure. The crushing monotony of this relationship between time and existence.

he is fascinated by a type of essentialist monocausalism. Agamben decided to move toward political philosophy. to revolve around it as he had done until Bartleby ou la creation. reflects his attraction for irrationality. For as long as philosophy remains a prisoner of the onto-theology which permeates it. Agamben could have decided to restrict his research to the margins of the dual problematic of the National Socialist camp system and Judeocide. into the political landscape of his own country. Issue 1. He started to cenceptualise twentieth-century violence. Mesnard in 2004 (Phillipe. on the one hand. in filigrane.OVERSIMPLIFIES Agamben’s simplistic theories eliminate the actual complexities of the historical facts of the situations he chooses to analyze. he radicalises Heidegger’s ontology. however. precludes any understanding of the ‘grey areas’. perhaps deeply traumatised by the genocides which took place in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia. on the other. however.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 94/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: ALT . Totalitarian Movement and Political Religions. this question will remain formulated as follows: can philosophy investigate the concepts of violence and time without losing its way through an essential quest which distracts. namely the question of the inadequate linkage between. pure witness. and erects a rhetorical edifice which is aimed at the sublime and. raises a question which transcends Agamben himself. In 1995. of the Movimento Sociale Italiano under its new guise as the ‘National Alliance’. These are some of the features of a philosophy permeated by strong theological motives. the long philosophical tradition to which Agamben is indebted. reveals the biaises of this philosopher. modern and contemporary history. by the numerous commemorations of the Judeocide and possibly also by the electoral breakthrough. His blindness to the many ambiguities of human life. even if its expression is to a certain extent secularised. V5. and. and sometimes totally isolates it from the sociopolitical issues of our time? . His irrepressible tendency to reduce the complexity of reality down to its essentialist nature. He refuses to investigate rationality. 139-157) Agamben’s denigration of the Sonderkommando on the rather simplistic basis that they were an integral part of the bipolar victim/ henchman scheme. as found in his desire to seek in the ‘muselmann’ an impossible. “The Political Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Evaluation” pp.

isolated from their surrounding society. “The Political Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Evaluation” pp. his interpretation of politics in terms of all or nothing stems from a specific period characterised by the unrivalled rule of a state of terror. This logic is incarnated in the ‘muselmann’: it reveals a purist thought in which politics is envisaged under the exclusive sign of a paradigmatic absolute which discredits any territory which is not political in its essence. 139-157) This deliberate lack of an historical outlook33 is the source of other errata and misinterpretations by Agamben. This radical vision of politics. The ‘all or nothing’ logic favoured by Agamben fails to grasp and envisage the entire range of potentialities. Let us make another observation here. In constructing the camp as space outside of the law. he reproduces and makes his own the very logic upon which terror is built. can be challenged through a citation by Jacques Rancière. Totalitarian Movement and Political Religions. even ‘Auschwitz’ cannot account for the vast apparatus.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 95/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: ALT – THEORY FLAWED Agamben fails to look at the concentration camps in terms of the Third Reich. interwoven sets of rules. but only in the sense that the ‘all’ could reduce them to nothing with the minimal of delay. and turns them into an exclusive ‘outside’. It could be argued that the camps were structures governed by extremely tight. but no one even tried to pretend that these were the norm. also shared by French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy. strengthened by its administrative and legal institutions and cemented by an overwhelming propaganda machine. which presents a fundamental flaw in his theory. unrivalled power and absolute relativity. which has become the sole articulation between the law and the norm. Issue 1. Agamben erects an insurmountable frontier around concentration camps which become. Agamben’s vision of the camp as an absolute space is also flawed: camps were in fact the sordid. and the norm has assumed the caricatured appearance of the law. Consequently. were camps not places where potentialities were so restricted than the very act of creating a potentiality (by drawing. built upon the SS apparatus. he ignores the fact that the historical occurrences were not considered the norm. because any paradigm must be conceived and constructed from the viewpoint of a whole society. random conjunction of selective. For instance. It is a period in which the law is no more than its own ideological falsification (the rule of racial laws and criminalisation). Exceptional procedures were widespread throughout the Reich. Agamben fails to envisage the global system which surrounded the camps. Agamben’s attempt to locate a paradigm in ‘the’ camp is seriously flawed. therefore. structures in which. and included numerous social and economic interfaces present on the entire territory of the Third Reich. Mesnard in 2004 (Phillipe. His “all or nothing” perspective when it comes to the forms of life reproduce the terror upon which the Third Reich was built.34 By striving to locate in ‘the camp’ what he calls the ‘very paradigm of political space’. a logic which from his early writings carries the idea of the dominated man crushed by the omnipotent ‘all’. The repressive Nazi regime. steered German society through a radical period which was exacerbated by the war and the ‘total war’. in fact. the ‘all is possible’ assertion was difficult to enact. In fact. jamais fondée sur une essence propre de la communauté et de la loi’. After all. which gave birth to the concentration and extermination systems. who argues that politics ‘n’est jamais pure. V5. interdictions and laws (albeit arbitrary and useless ones). In an echo to a remark made by Martin Broszat to Saul Friedländer. creating or just surviving) was in itself an act of resistance? The ‘all is possible’ was the fate of the most prisoners.35 . writing. established on a European level.

. in the case of procedures that members of a society must follow in order to function as an electorate in the first place . Hart attempts to show how the notion of sovereign orders virtually disappears in the rule-bound format of a modern electoral democracy. IT CAN BE AN IDEA OF A ‘RULE’. Framing the explanation in the vocabulary of a historical Bildung. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE AN ORDER FROM THE SOVEREIGN. This picture is generally well known and we need not dwell on its intricacies here. Law and Society Association. for nothing can count as orders issued by the sovereign unless the rules already exist and have been followed" (pp. 2000. the latter which are found in more mature legal systems and confer powers and stipulate procedures. “Thresholds: Sovereignty and the Sacred”.A. 74-75). Hart's The Concept of Law (1961). Hart insists.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 96/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: LAW PART OF SOVEREIGN AGAMBEN’S ASSUMPTION OF THE NOTION OF LAW ITSELF IS INCORRECT. Hart contends.) It is fairly safe to say that not only has the concept of sovereignty been undertheorized but that. a developmental schema that unself-consciously subtends much of the text.L. Although the question of sovereign power is not entirely absent from contemporary scholarship. "we cannot hope to elucidate even the most elementary forms of law" (Hart 1961: 78). (Nasser. increasingly this question belongs either to strictly historical issues of the "king's two bodies" and the like or to the legal theoretical problems of the distribution of sovereign power within a normative rule-bound framework. Hart argues that in the case in which the sovereign is identifiable with a single person. Such a circularity of logic and process effectively occludes the possibility of action outside the circle. obedience." without which. Department of history. A clear and well-known example of the latter is H. But in the more disseminated form of the electorate indeed. the requirement that orders must be declared and signed by the monarch) exist in a descriptive mode. since the end of ancient regime monarchies and the rise and consolidation of liberalconstitutional states. the need for such theorization has been considered doubtful. RATHER. The figure of the sovereign has been relegated to a repertoire of archaic images: the prerogative of kings and the ritualistic majesty of despots and absolutist [*499] monarchs. These rules." Hart's "fresh response" in The Concept of Law aims to move definitions of law away from notions of "orders. habits and threats" and toward "the idea of a rule. Hussain. just as importantly. In a significant passage in The Concept of Law. are not just descriptive of the sovereign and those who obey him but are fundamental and constitutive. Berkeley. Written in response to a positivist theory inherited from John Austin. Lexis Nexis. University of Massachusetts.rules "cannot themselves have the status of orders issued by the sovereign. University of California. which defines law as a "command of the sovereign. What is important for our purposes is the way in which sovereignty in Hart's schema is reduced entirely to a framework of rules. Hart's "concept" of law is a complex combination of primary rules of obligation with secondary rules. it may be possible to concede that the rules of governance (for instance.

2000. As Homo Sacer moves into its third and final part . namely. University of Massachusetts.Agamben's central insight into the production of bare life comes to focus on the intensification and proliferation of bare life within a series of new and varied situations. phenomena seemingly as disparate as the Holocaust. deal with a rethinking of sovereignty and sacredness. Berkeley.aim the very production of this bare life. in which contemporary politics only unfolds a relation and a structure that were there from the very beginning. the situation of Karen Quinlan. the political realm constituted by sovereignty has as its originary .) The architecture of Homo Sacer consists of three parts ending with transitive chapters that are each entitled "Threshold" (we will return to the question of the "final threshold"). The power . and even the high rate of holiday highway deaths. the increasing sacredness of life and the increasing power of the sovereign. even messianic. the role of technological development in linking what may be contingently but not necessarily (still less teleologically) connected. . if anything. Lexis Nexis. perhaps more provocatively. mode of thinking.and perhaps the flaw . such as technology. Law and Society Association."The Camp as Biopolitical Paradigm of the Modern" . as part of a single movement.of Agamben's analysis lies in how it grasps. “Thresholds: Sovereignty and the Sacred”. A distinct and. (Nasser. Department of history. What is the importance of new conditions. is distinctively modern about our contemporary structure of sovereign power and bare life. respectively. in his general thesis that biological life in the form of bare life has become the object of politics in the modern world and that. In relation to this. as we have already shown. University of California. The first and second parts.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 97/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: TECH HAS NO IMPACT AGAMBEN FAILS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE MODERN WORLD – HE NEVER ANSWERS THE BASIC QUESTINO OF EXACTLY HOW TECHNOLOGY WOULD FACILITATE SUCH AN UNFOLDING-THIS INDICTS HIS THEORY THAT SOVEREIGNTY IS PART AND PARCEL OF GENOCIDE Hussain. we think. however. Even if we agree with Agamben's teleological. valid criticism of Agamben's diverse speculations in Part Three relates to his curious reticence to elaborate on what. though he does at one point note in passing. that facilitate such an unfolding? Be this at it may. we are still forced [*507] to ask. the scope and suggestiveness of Agamben's analysis are nothing short of stunning.and thus continuous . Agamben fails to explore.

Later work. “The Contradictory State of Giorgio Agamben”. (Paul. A. This part of Agamben's work attributes a determined character to the state and a determining power to the economic forces of capitalism that conditions particular forms of the state. are preoccupied with the logic of juridical sovereignty and the increased frequency of states of emergency. such as The Coming Community and Means without End. Passavant. 2007. Sage Journals Online. This part of Agamben's work attributes a determining strength to the state under current conditions. Earlier works.) I argue that Giorgio Agamben employs two.. suggest that the state today functions as an aspect of the society of the spectacle where spectacle is the logical extension of the commodity form under late capitalism.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 98/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: AGAMBEN CREDIBLE AGAMBEN CONTRADICTS HIMSELF IN HIS WORKS. it does not provide the theory of political action necessary to overcome the power of the state he describes when he theorizes the state in Homo Sacer and State of Exception. . Although his earlier work provides a more coherent narrative of how it is possible to move from contemporary society to ideal community. contradictory theories of the state in his works. such as Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life and State of Exception. None of the three possibilities of political action present in his later works provides passage beyond state sovereignty without violating his philosophical commitments.

somewhat inconclusively. 2006. (Matthew. risking the loss of exclusion that queer politics are somewhat founded upon? While to be political (and therefore biopoliticized) is to also already be bare life and precarious life.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 99/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: WHATEVER BEING IN ORDER TO BE POLITICAL. is equally as necessary. is returning to a universal notion of ‘being’ – what Agamben (1993 [1990]) calls “whatever” being. that these two projects have similar biopolitical mechanisms. Butler’s argument in Precarious Life. in each. and alive. caught up in a what Lee Edelman calls a “death drive”: a term for “what the queer. however. calls our attention to identification and disidentification – precisely the paradox Agamben is confronted with at the end of Homo Sacer. The queer body is exactly this unraveling body. resistance somehow outside of the political is largely inconceivable. Further exploration of these thresholds of (post)modern life is necessary – how are they constituted. we must engage in political projects that claim political status as such. I return to the question I posed earlier: Is presuming a life beyond (or not at) risk simply too risky? In other words. University of Washington.. 14-15. the unraveling body is the central figure of the narrative. W. And so. The FDA and its epidemiological evidence must be (and will continue to be) pressured to recognize and resist the impulse to abjectify the gay male donor. ONE MUST BE AT RISK. The contradiction that I pose (following Agamben) of critiquing and pressuring is to precisely engage in projects which (again) produce homo sacer – the new threshold of difference. in the order of the social. I argue. and through what spaces – such that the mechanisms of displacement and dissection could be undone (or at least that the adverse effects of which could be lessened). The STD guide represents a different perspective. CLOSING OFF MEANINGFUL POLITICS. to be relevant. . which bodies matter is re-scripted through discourse and in each. visible. This statement. “Life at risk: interrogating the political status of queering bodies”. p. our bodies must also be vulnerable. Wilson. Department of Geography. THE ‘WHATEVER BEING’ IS SIMPLY TOO HOMOGENEOUS A CONCEPT. the STD guide is a project that seems less discriminatory at the surface. Being mindful of the contradictions of such projects. is called forth to figure: the negativity opposed to every form of social viability” (2004: 9). While also complicit in abjectifing queer bodies as at-risk bodies needing greater responsibility. as this paper has attempted to present.) To be political. And yet. ‘Life at risk’ and unraveling bodies is queer by opposition to the social. subject. in The Coming Community – simply too homogeneous a concept.

Agamben is unable to allow for any of this because. rights are without any basis in human respect. That there has been a highly variable degree of protection of these rights. The term needs to be used advisedly because of the problematic connotations it has – but there is a tradition of natural right containing anticipatory elements of human dignity in which forms of justice as ethically-based community survive. and the basic difficulty that arises with a sense of innate rights. namely. it would be a clear distortion of the struggles involved in the emergence of codified natural rights to not also mention that an essential part of a sense of the absolute inalienability of the person was a view of individual freedom within community (the sort of idea we find Rousseau. (Frances. and within the realm of natural rights or rights of the human being. for instance) and the attempt to exercise limits upon the power of tyrants to curtail that freedom. Research fellow in the Philosophy Department at the Australian National University. Natural right. concern freedom. perhaps most importantly from the perspective of this paper. the presumption of innocence. Citizen rights have at their basis quite different values. and inalienable rights of man". occupies a space of interruption in the divide between law and ethicality that can. the absence of community in egoism and disunity. HOWEVER. the 'extermination camps'. or are. and that this sense of right was a creation of the nation-State. the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights restates these rights and extends an understanding of right to economic. equality. such as we would see under despotic. And along with this is the problematic nature of the inclusion of the right of property as an inalienable right. constitutional States become. the right to opinion and religious expression and free communication. In the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen there is a perceived need to set out what are described as "the natural. Borderlands E-Journal).but natural or human right is also able to offer something quite different. We can see this in all struggles for human dignity in which unsatisfied demands exist for overcoming the lack of freedom of exploitation and constraint.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 100/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: WHATEVER BEING 1/2 AGAMBEN’S STRATEGY OF DOING AWAY WITH ANY DISTINCTION ONLY KEEPS THE SQUO – AN ENTERNAL PRESENT THAT IS UNABLE TO CONNECT WITH THE VERY REAL REALITY AND VICTIMIZES THE REFUGEE. the inequality of degradation and humiliation. and those whose lack of this assumption is outlined in their right to seek its guarantee. Daly. ultimately. 2004. More specifically. “The non-citizen and the concept of human rights”. the right to liberty. This is not to say that law associated with human rights is not. social and cultural rights and. However. as is well known. and understanding this is vital to being able to comprehend where and in what ways democratic. sacred. as all rights have been acquired. itself an external form of oppression . property. their institutional representation guaranteeing the logic of only the police. which first arose as the consequence of the division of labour and has little to do with anything inherently human. act as to reintroduce a radical pathos within right. is naturally problematic but cannot of itself be attributed to the fact of rights themselves. the market and. a range of political and property rights to be realized within and not against the State. I would argue. fascistic. or in certain cases no protection of them at all. which needs to be renewed. security. These rights. We have already mentioned the institutionalization of these rights in citizen rights. it has been principally concerned with rights against oppression and inequality in order to realize a potential for freedom. the 1951 Refugee Convention sets out the rights which should provide for rights and . We detect as well the formalism of general juridical equality with the much more normative content of the constitutional state of fundamental social division – those whose access to education. the right to a freedom of movement and residence and the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. WITH RIGHTS THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR JUSTICE. And so too can we view this via the necessary reference point that a critique of right provides: by acknowledging the hypocrisy of law or the distance between intention and realization we have an important basis for distinguishing between the problem of right and its complete negation. Likewise. security and resistance to oppression. on occasion. right is the right to something. and it is this tradition. Let us look then at the more specific example of the right of the refugee or right of asylum. At its most fundamental. for him. or the right of the human being. The use and abuse of right is not the same thing as a complete absence of right. fascistic rule. at times. work and freedom from detention can be assumed.

1997: 3). social security. The problem with this strategy for doing away with any distinction and placing the refugee in a position of pure potentiality is that. And. The context of rights is one that is frequently unstable. such as the freedom to practice religion. 2000: 43).resulting in the still familiar mix of the abnegation of State responsibilities (indeed the transference of obligations from the State to a highly individuated realm) with an increasingly pervasive and authoritarian use of State power . The Sans Papiers are well-known for their questioning of the assumptions of immigration policies. he views this as the force of law without law. It is this Convention which perhaps most explicitly assumes a separation of rights between 'citizens' as 'natural' holders of rights and those who are 'non-citizens' or residents. . an 'empty legal space'. that is essential to the legal order (Carl Schmitt. instead of liberating or revolutionizing the place of the refugee. What is then eliminated here is any sense of how the appeal to rights brings into question institutionalized unfreedom and why this underlying insufficiency between the idea of right and real need is opposed by those attempting to expand the realm of human rights. we can also detect a potential for justice.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 101/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: WHATEVER BEING 2/2 freedoms of the refugee that are at least equivalent to those of 'nationals' of contracting states.is the basis of the redefinition of citizenship with the State as guarantor of all goods. 1985: 6). and they argue cogently for an end to frontiers themselves. Law only "wants to prevent and regulate" (Agamben. 2001: 1) – and it is certainly the case that much law does – but within rights. we can see a clear example of the possibility that can be realized through right. and it assumes that such 'non-citizens' are consequently not the natural possessors of such rights. as a mystical or fictional element. detention camps and deportations. and. it is not possible to understand this emancipatory struggle outside a conception of rights.a justification that paradoxically appeared in relation to radical social demands . Indeed. housing and education. Often as a result of their denial. access to education. of course. and rights at least equivalent to those of so-called 'aliens'. Agamben views all such setting out of rights as essentially reintegrating those marginalized from citizenship into the fiction of a guaranteed community. the right of association. If we consider the contemporary struggles of the 'Sans Papiers' in France. human rights currently act so as to allow a questioning of the assumed authority of the State. employment and labour rights. whose justification on welfare terms . without a sense of rights it would be difficult for us to understand the current absence of real freedom. Agamben contends that legal right and the law always operate in a double apparatus of pure violence and forms of life guaranteed by a Schmittian 'state of emergency' (Agamben. it is important to clearly assess the place of rights within our present conditions of unfreedom. In contrast. And although he recognizes the dire consequences of a state of emergency with the eradication of the legal status of individuals. the several hundred thousand people whose refusal of the label 'illegal' and fight for documentation is premised on the basis that the undermining of rights is merely a way of attacking the value of dignity for all. a space devoid of law. or 'state of exception' as Carl Schmitt refers to it.that is undoubtedly the impetus for the sort of radical critique of the State that we find in Agamben's work. access to courts. This is done on the basis of an appeal to rights of justice and egalitarianism. This flagrant reduction of the individual to rights of differential and limited entitlement says much about the totalitarian tendencies of the post-war State. such as the existence of quotas. as such. such as property rights. I argue. it is the particular outcome of the crisis of this State and the demise of welfarism in the late 1970s and early 1980s . Madjiguène Cissé argues that the initiatives of those claiming their rights are basic to the survival of communities (Cissé. it creates an eternal present that is unable to connect the very real reality of difference with a critique of the society that victimizes the refugee in the manner with which we are currently so familiar. Indeed.

they are sweeping the globe. I doubt Agamben's new community is actually coming. and I say this with no relish. the idea of something being "unAmerican" makes no sense. In Agamben's community. 196. Agamben does not ask what this perpetual warfare will do to government. then the dream of a national community is simply impossible. It remains far from clear that communities without identities are emerging anywhere except in the febrile imaginations of a few philosophers. "a struggle between the State and the non-State (humanity). p. Even the new social movements seem far more down-to-earth and prone to defining themselves than Agamben's theorizing. Its distance from earlier welfare state thinking could not be more dramatic. is it not plausible to surmise that hostility to the state will become permanent? With the fiction that the state embodies the nation's will dying. who will defend the state? Who will keep it from becoming the recipient of increasing rancor and from being permanently wobbly? Isn't that a good way of understanding recent politics in the US? And as for Agamben's own Italy the past decade has revealed a public far more disgusted with the state than even in America. It is. It is not that I dislike the dream. he recognizes that after the fall of Communism. he assumes that the state will trudge on as before." Yet Agamben is also aware that capitalism and the state will continue. Perotistas. Yet if this warfare between humanity and the state is constant. Politics is too clunky for such subtlety. all committed to struggling with the state. we have a picture of numerous communities at war with the state. Just think of insurance companies. Spring. It is that I am skeptical that such "whatever singularities" are possible on more than the level of personal behavior. an insurmountable disjunction between whatever singularity and the State organization" (84). 1996. and gay and lesbian activists-all communities distrustful of the state. Politics. Instead of the state embodying the will of the nation. alas. Politics. Professor of Cultural History at Iowa. demands more leaden language. Like Walzer. Cmiel. “The Fate of the Nation and the Withering of the State”. for there is no defining essence in a "whatever singularity. It is for me the most attractive dream there is.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 102/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: WHATEVER BEING AGAMBEN’S ‘WHATEVER BEING’ IS NOT POSSIBLE AT MORE THAN A PERSONAL LEVEL. Still. in the future. the image of the state fighting communities is one worth pondering. AGAMBEN’S IMPACT WILL NEVER HAPPEN: THE PERPETUAL WARFARE WILL COLLAPSE THE GOVERNMENT ENDING THE STATE AS AN INSTITUTION. . (Kenneth. Indeed. American Literary History. JSTOR) If community cannot be a closed thing. Agamben argues. will not be community building but the perpetual project of communities against the state. if it is forever open to the potentially new. a far more plausible picture of our emerging politics than Walzer's happy pluralism.

Western metaphysics never recognized us as full members of the club. Certainly. But there is a point at which Agamben's critique (incomprehensibly) seems to be just addressed to Europeans. Giorgio Agamben. crossing aesthetics.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 103/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: AGAMBEN EXCLUDES MINORITIES The traditions Agamben describes excludes non-Europeans. strictly read. Kojeve's argument on the animality of the "American way of life" follows the same logic. this work by Agamben may appear problematic. In fact. it may be hard for our subjectivities to understand why in his previous work Agamben privileges Auschwitz as the ontological location of horror over too many others. in political science.D. Is the political for Agamben biopolitics only? Are there not any other possibilities of being political outside the Aristotelian "scale of being"? Furthermore. the reign of metaphysics is European only. Similarly. Seri in 2004 (Guillermina. The Open. Stanford University Press) All in all. since it is not consumerism nor capitalism. Still. Agamben's radicalism appears post-political and for moments apolitical. Retrieved in The Open. Man and Animal. Meridian. if throughout the Americas we have been giving ourselves historical tasks and engaging in political action without ever waiting for anyone's metaphysical recognition. despite our differences we may share a feeling of strangeness before the absoluteness of the metaphysics questioned by Agamben. but something about "americanness" that gets disqualified. or being dismissed as peoples without history by Hegel. it is not a question of engaging in a competition to see whose history entails more terror. Ph. how can we tell whether ours is an attempt to overcome the human or just imposture? . for all of those whose subjectivities are rooted somewhere across the Americas. The hierarchical arrangement of forms of life already present in Aristotle and thoroughly disclosed by Agamben expose the complicity of Western philosophy with annihilations and holocausts. And The Open advances in a necessary opposite direction towards conceptually dismantling such a perverse mechanism of production of humanity at the expense of the many. Whether occupying the place of the future. For those of us who appropriate the political as the possibility of collectively imagining and advancing new worlds.

BUT NOT RENOUNCED. and democracy after Auschwitz between liberal democracies and dictatorships (Agamben 1998:10). From a practical point of view. teaches French and German Philosophy at Macquarie University. between fact and law. Agamben does not restrict indistinction to the conceptual or structural level. inclusion and exclusion. We want to criticise the ideology of human rights. Otherwise. Deranty. Habermas and Honneth probably have a point when they highlight the advances made by modernity in the entrenchment of rights. To reject the language of human rights altogether could be a costly gesture in understanding past political struggles in their relevance for future ones. The archaic State is not substantially different from the modern one. nature and norm. then our testimony should go also to all the individual lives that were freed from alienation by the establishment of legal barriers against arbitrariness and exclusion. no distinction between the bodies in Auschwitz and the bodies of victims of car accidents in modern Europe (1998: 114). From a Hegelian perspective. It can be summarized in this way: the thinker isolates ontological essences in which the common ground of apparently different. This in itself is obviously not a ground for rejection. LOSS OF IDENTITY. 2004.) 8. Borderlands EJournal. political loss for accompanying present struggles. There must be a way of problematising the ideological mantra of Western freedom. We should heed Honneth’s reminder that struggles for social and political emancipation have often privileged the language of rights over any other discourse (Fraser. Agamben’s conception of the task of thinking is deeply Heideggerian. that does not simply equate it with Nazi propaganda (Ogilvie 2001). for which the essence is to be found nowhere but in its modes of appearance. the totalitarian States themselves. Political power is the instigation of an indistinction between the state of exception and the normal legal order. historical phenomena.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 104/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: HUMAN RIGHTS REJECTION REJETION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ENTIRELY LEADS TO OPPRESSION. paradoxically. No distinction between the sacred priest. The conceptual imperative that ensues is the task of thinking precisely what appears as different. the erasure of difference between phenomena seems particularly counter-intuitive in the case of dissimilar modes of internment. The constantly reoccurring conceptual gesture in Agamben’s writings is that of indistinction. as all theory starts from a theoretical decision which is itself ungrounded and the matter of pure freedom. it seems counter-productive to claim that there is no substantial difference between archaic communities and modern communities provided with the language of rights. then perhaps it should bear more weight in the theory. between the lawlessness of war times and democratic discourse. the criminal banned from the archaic community and the modern citizen. no distinction between the Nazi extermination camps and the camps established in the former Yugoslavia. Honneth 2003). Consistent with this foundationalist essentialism. 9. and not look for a transcendent "thing-in-itself" in which all differences are swallowed. animality and humanity. There is no essential difference between democracy before Auschwitz. AND FUTURE NEGATIVE IMPLICATIONS. there is no difference between victim and executioner (Agamben 1999a: 21). 10. Agamben’s conceptuality looks very much like a Schellingian night where all cows are black. but extends it to empirical. On a general. . “Agamben’s challenge to normative theories of modern rights”. HUMAN RIGHTS SHOULD BE KRITIKED. Ecole Normale Supérieure. this recurrent movement of indistinction that effaces conceptual and empirical differences runs counter to the Foucauldian distinctions and discontinuities. the essentialist method that leads to general indistinguishability would be questioned by other traditions of thought. In Auschwitz. If indeed there are historiographical differences between democracy and fascism (1998: 10). In the case of empirical examples. or between the Muselmann and the overcomatose person (1999a: 156). as Fichte demonstrated. Paris IV-Sorbonne. and not be blurred into indistinction. (Jean-Phillipe. like politics. no distinction between the Muselmann in the extermination camp and the immigrant locked up by police in a hotel at Charles de Gaulle Airport (1998: 174). identity in differences. The strongest critique would probably come from the Hegelian tradition. philosophical level. critical theory would be in the odd position of casting aspersions upon the very people it purports to speak for. or even opposite. and of depriving itself of a major weapon in the struggle against oppression. inside and outside. If the ethical task is that of testimony. It must be noted that. Thought. and a serious strategic. but not at the cost of renouncing the resources that rights provide. empirical and historical phenomena is revealed. 11. of modernity’s moral superiority. is all about the decision and its implications.

The Habeas Corpus is not necessarily a precursor of modern declarations as it uses a nonegalitarian definition of freedom. (Jean-Phillipe. but this is precisely a mistake that the American and French revolutions. THE VERY IMPACTS HE FEARS WERE AVOIDED BY THE FRENCH AND AMERICAN REVOLUTIONS. even above the notion of right. It lacks the fundamental notion that is the mark of modernity. This amounts only to an empty universalism if no political project realises freedom and equality. 2004.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 105/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: HUMAN RIGHTS REJECTION THE BASIS FOR WHICH AGAMBEN DENIES ALL HUMAN RIGHTS IS IN THE NOTION THAT THE DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOCUSES ON THE NATION. . it is this category that gives modernity its actual normative content. Paris IV-Sorbonne. Agamben does not emphasise equality. IN FACT. but it could be argued that. In this he is faithful to Schmitt who rejects the republican conception of popular sovereignty. teaches French and German Philosophy at Macquarie University. WHEREAS HE IGNORES THE BASIC LEGAL EQUALITY THAT EVERYONE IS GIVEN. did not commit. reserved for the elite. Agamben refuses to consider basic legal equality as the true content of declarations of human rights and instead focuses on the national aspect. for all their ambiguities. Deranty. “Agamben’s challenge to normative theories of modern rights”. the universal equality of all.) 20. Borderlands EJournal. Modern man is therefore not first and foremost the national. Ecole Normale Supérieure. 21. This emphasis on the rupture that the declarations consummate leads to the question of historical continuity. but a universal being liberated from the particularisms of traditional society. above all others.

Deranty. Savigny’s polemic against rationalism in legal theory. if indeed the juridical order is totally dependent on the sovereign decision. does not amount to a recognition of the capture of life by the law. that is. rather that law is dependent upon a form of violence for its foundation. In Hobbes. Equally. The problem with this strategic use of the decisionistic tradition is that it does not do justice to the complex relationship that these authors establish between violence and normativity. the origin and the essence of the law are synonymous. Since the law essentially appears as a production and capture of bare life. Schmitt). IT MERELY CAME TO BEING BECAUSE OF VIOLENCE. In other words. 2004.) 28. Agamben sees these authors as establishing a circularity of law and violence. against Thibaut and his philosophical ally Hegel. With it. “Agamben’s challenge to normative theories of modern rights”. it seems.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 106/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: AGAMBEN IMPACTS THE IMPACTS THAT AGAMBEN SPEAKS OF – NAMELY VIOLENCE. This explains why the primacy given by Schmitt to the decision is accompanied by the recognition of popular sovereignty. the decision over the exception is indeed "more interesting than the regular case". . always threatening the bare life it has produced with total annihilation. whereas the authors he relies on thought rather that the two were fundamentally different. In Schmitt. ETC – DON’T HAVE TO HAPPEN BECAUSE. For Agamben. 31. as a theory about the origin of the law. for the law’s sake. since the decision is only the expression of an organic community. Violence can found the law. teaches French and German Philosophy at Macquarie University. THOUGH THE LAW IS FOUNDED ON VIOLENCE. their secrete indistinguishability. 30. IT IN ITSELF DOES NOT HAVE TO BE VIOLENT. also enables individual rights to flourish on the basis of the inalienable right to life (see Barret-Kriegel 2003: 86). Decisionism. but the origin of the law. This is because. What Schmitt has in mind is not the indistinction between fact and law. in the end the very normative nature of their theories. they are not saying that all law is violent. The "normal situation" matters more than the power to create it since it is its end (Schmitt 1985: 13). GENOCIDE. leads to its own contradiction unless it is reintegrated in a theory of institutions (Kervégan 1992). but only because it makes the regular case possible. or their intimate cohesion. in essence or in its core. the evolution of Schmitt’s thought is marked by the retreat of the decisionistic element. despite the absolute nature of the sovereign it creates. Paris IV-Sorbonne. he wants to isolate the pure essences of all juridical orders and thus highlight the essential violence structuring traditional politics. to wit. In brief. but aims at grounding the legal order in the very life of a people (Agamben 1998: 27). Borderlands EJournal. All this explains why Agamben chooses to focus on the decisionistic tradition (Hobbes. Decisionism for Schmitt is only a way of asserting the political value of the community as homogeneous whole. in favour of a strong form of institutionalism. Auschwitz is the real outcome of all normative orders. the political order that enunciates and maintains the law is essentially violent. the social contract. when they want to emphasise the extra-juridical origin of the law. Also. in the name of the law. (Jean-Phillipe. then the latter can revoke it at any moment. Heidegger. against liberal parliamentarianism. Ecole Normale Supérieure. without the law itself being violent. 29.

Indeed. AND THE VIOLENCE IN THE STATE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ‘WITHOUT LOGOS’. . 2004. A recent philosophical solution to the gap between justification and application has been famously given by Habermas (1990 and 1996). then they cannot be used as proponents of an anti-normative essence of normativity. (Jean-Phillipe.) If the authors of the decisionistic (Hobbes-Schmitt) and ethnonationalistic (Savigny-Schmitt) traditions do not want to emphasize the extra-juridical core of the law. This lack of a substantial engagement with other legal alternatives becomes obvious a few pages later. positivism and rationalism) is required. then it seems as though Agamben makes them prove too much. but rather polemically establish the non-rationalistic and non-positivistic grounding of an otherwise fully acknowledged normative order. from Kelsen to Critical Legal Studies. Deranty. a statement whose operative reference to reality is guaranteed by institutional powers" (Agamben 2003: 69). for Schmitt. “Agamben’s challenge to normative theories of modern rights”. teaches French and German Philosophy at Macquarie University. as much as their theoretical opponents. GROSSLY MISUNDERSTOOD. natural law. 34. But this grounding in the political is just the result of a theoretical decision. namely that. and the alternatives should be confronted more explicitly. the distinction between justification and application simply shows the political grounding of the legal moment. since it is not the case that the nationalisticdecisionistic one would be situated at a deeper level of analysis than its opponents. If Hobbes. the reference to the concrete case supposes a "process" that always implies a plurality of subjects. Savigny and Schmitt are intent. Conversely.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 107/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: STATE OF EXCEPTION 1/2 AGAMBEN MISINTERPRETS THE AUTHORS HE USES AS SOURCES. SAVIGNY. HIS QUOTATIONS OF BENJAMIN ARE ALSO USED WITHOUT THE BACKGROUND CONTEXT. This is illustrated in the passage in Homo Sacer II. "the state of exception separates the norm from its application in order to make the latter possible". Paris IV-Sorbonne. a more serious engagement with the opposing traditions (mainly. and that culminates in the last instance in the enunciation of a sentence. Ecole Normale Supérieure. HOBBES. as a consequence. Chapters 5 and 6 of Between facts and norms in particular provide an excellent overview of plausible alternatives to Schmitt’s decisionistic theory of adjudication. that is to say. when Agamben analyses once more the specific problem of the application of the law. The passages on Schmitt’s theory of the state of exception show explicitly the hermeneutic slide in the reading of this key author. 1 where Agamben analyses the justificationapplication dichotomy. in which "the two elements of the law" (the norm and its application) "show their intimate cohesion" (Agamben 2003: 64). Borderlands E-Journal. Instead. When he writes that "in the case of the juridical norm. "it (the state of exception) introduces into the law a zone of anomy". HIS THEORY OF EXCEPTION IS BASED OFF OF A FALSE LINK. on shoring up the normative order. 35. AND SCHMITT CANNOT BE USED AS PROPONENTS OF AN ANTI-NORMATIVE ESSENCE OF NORMATIVITY. But Schmitt’s point is not what Agamben makes of it in the next paragraph. he simply formulates a classical distinction that can receive an entirely different treatment with no less plausibility.

one. and therefore . But the other continuity in Benjamin’s writings is underplayed by Agamben. or "play with". that has to do with his fundamental vision of history as a series of catastrophes. normative law. Agamben acknowledges this only in passing in Homo Sacer II. in other words. the normative source of its justification. The "violence" that realizes the statement is not necessarily "without logos". There is undeniably a continuity in Benjamin. that the new law beyond the law that no longer has the form of law is a lot more substantive than simply the "study" of. it would do so from the logos of intersubjectively constituted and essentially contested institutions. For Benjamin and his readers of 1921.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 108/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: STATE OF EXCEPTION 2/2 36. In other words. the "wholly transformed work" (1991b: 294 [292]). however vague or heretic the reception of Marx. . to ask about its "logos". This source is the "total condition that is ‘man’" (Benjamin 1991b: 201 [299]). rephrased in the language of the law. the theses on history use historical materialism as their obvious background. that is. the old law (Agamben 2003: 108-9). For Schmitt. but only to point to a new. in a Marx-inspired vision of global revolution. the logos of the polis as ethnos. Agamben draws on Benjamin for whom there is "something rotten in law" (Benjamin 1991b: 188 [286]). This means. in 1921. Homo sacer I strikingly appropriated Benjamin without reference to the background securing his revolutionary messianism. and there is no need. that focuses on intersubjectivity and the institutionalisation of dissensus.as negation of the violent negation of law . a fateful violence. the notion of a politics of "pure means" becomes far more intuitively evident. in 1940. it draws its authority from the political. 37. since from the very same premise another form of political grounding of the legal could be advanced. from the "Critique of Violence" to the theses on the philosophy of history. the new law of a community that has defeated fate. Here. "the destruction of which becomes obligatory" (199 [297]). and appropriates Benjamin without reference to the background securing his revolutionary messianism in Homo Sacer 1. as in many other aspects of his thought. is obviously the violence of the proletarian revolution. It is the immanent law of the liberated community. the divine violence that is "law-destroying".no longer violent. Benjamin indeed demonstrates the violent anomic core of law. 1 (2003: 108). But then Agamben cannot simply use the fact that "the application of a norm is not contained in it" as leading directly to the theory of the state of exception. whose book had already been written in extenso by another great German Jew. for another tradition. Again. though Agamben acknowledges this only in passing in Homo Sacer II (108). however. for instance. With this reference to Marx as the immanent normativity of Benjamin’s messianism. a series of orders recurrently establishing themselves as forms of fate that unleash their violence. over the oppressed.

The categories of humanism and rights. Agamben argues that within our current conditions of alienation it is the figure of the refugee who signifies "the only imaginable figure of the people in our day" (Agamben. and in their place new categories of political thought should be expressed. the human. animality and the coming people (Agamben. and the only way it might ultimately achieve this. 'the citizen'. RATHER THAN ACHIEVING THE ‘HAPPY LIFE’ – IT TURNS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE KRITIK AND WORSENS THE SITUATION. But rather than pursuing these issues and their relationship to rights. all languages are jargons and argot" (Agamben. derived from Hannah Arendt's belief that a banished European Jewish people represented "the avant-garde of their people" because they did not particularly want to be assimilated to a new identity (Arendt in Feldman. 1995. Likewise. Daly. Borderlands E-Journal). Drawing out the radical consequences of phenomena such as 'exodus' and the existence of the refugee is crucial. there are many good reasons for placing the refugee at the centre of a contemporary analysis of community – for instance. law and history. as is well known. 1995: 114). is by sovereignty and right no longer having any hold over human life (Agamben. whatever singularity. 'the subject of rights'. 119). And given the shifting circumstances of present-day refugees. Becker-Ho contends that the Romany are the "dangerous classes of an earlier epoch" who adopted the patronymics of the countries through which they travelled. but the context of this cannot be ignored. And. as a critique of a particular understanding of nationalism or because of the difficulty in drawing distinctions between State and non-State. and this insight enables Agamben to argue that "all peoples are gangs and coquilles. 2004. as the rejection of an ethics based on autonomy or individualism rather than a heteronomy.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 109/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: REFUGEE EMPOWERMENT AGAMBEN’S STATEMENT OF REFUGEES GETTING EMPOWERED IS FALSE – RATHER. mass intellectuality. . Research fellow in the Philosophy Department at the Australian National University. BEING A REFUGEE. We will consider later whether Agamben's interpretation of a Debordian critique of social life results in something of a conceptual impasse. And yet there is something problematic with this particular characterization of refugees. IT ENABLES A TYPE OF PERMANENT UNFULFILLMENT. a theoretical understanding of the mass phenomenon of refugees is important because. (Frances. it is also difficult to argue that the condition of exile can be taken as a wider signification of a type of enabling permanent unfulfilment that is then assumed to be the basis of an effective witnessing. Certainly. it is argued. The central presence of the refugee means that all concepts that have hitherto been used to represent subjects of the political – 'man'. of displacement. it is contended. 1995: 114). Agamben's use of the paradigm of the refugee is. loss and suffering. he uses Alice Becker-Ho's argument concerning the origins of the Romany peoples to usefully call into question what we take to be a 'people' or a 'language'. prevent human life – its acts and processes – from being possibilities of life. even as the basis for a critique of the idea of cosmopolitanism and notions of world citizenship. 1978: 67). including the ideas of humanity. This is only all the more the case if the shift that Agamben would have us think possible is to take place – to a generalized acknowledgement that we are all refugees (Agamben. compearance. Agamben's questioning of categories frequently creates worthwhile spaces in which challenges to political forms can be made. continue to mark the lived experience of the refugee. for there is no necessary equation between the experience of exile – for either the ‘wandering Jew’ or refugees today – and empowerment. what tends to emerge is a more limited account of the problem of law by way of a rejection of the concepts constituting human rights. 2000: 114-115). “The non-citizen and the concept of human rights”. rather than people of Eygptian or other origins. such as inoperative community. in a surprisingly unimaginative continuation of much preceding criticism of the law. despite the shifting and yet constant presence of the mass refugee for the last hundred years. and so forth – need to be abandoned. Agamben draws the necessity of such a rejection from a disjuncture between the presuppositions of rights and the reality of their failed or insufficient enactment. The 'happy life' must be one that has "reached the perfection of its own power". 2000: 67). For example. issues of persecution and exploitation. 'the sovereign people'. but let us presently examine how Agamben theorizes the place of the refugee and rights within this critique. as a politicizing gambit.

2003: 1). It is always possible to suppose that a self-fashioned potentiality is simply available to us. . but not because a type of theory merely posits the social and the historical as completely open to our manipulation or 'perforation'. that forcefully restates some of the central problems of social life that we perceive in commodification. Borderlands E-Journal). 2) ASSUMES NOTHING ELSE AFFECTS OUR IDENTITY. we cannot merely assume that changing 'forms of life' necessarily amount to types of refusal. Such a claim would only make sense if it were put forward on the basis of an appreciation of an impulse to freedom from particular types of constraint and oppression. But he also reduces the concepts of right and the values they involve to forms of State control. This state of death that Agamben would argue now colonizes all structures of power and that eradicates any experience of democracy might well still possess some kind of antagonistic clash. 2002). MORALITY 1/2 AGAMBEN’S CRITIQUE: 1) IGNORES THAT THE STATE OF BEING IS STILL A POSSIBILITY W/OUT THE HOMOGENIZATION HE CALLS FOR. “The non-citizen and the concept of human rights”. 2000: 23). and in some senses it is. or the "absolute systematic falsification of truth. particularly via his use of a Debordian critique of the spectacle.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 110/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: EXCEPTION. IDENTITY. POLITICS WILL END. A position of refuge. would be able to "act back onto" territories as states and 'perforate' and alter' them such that "the citizen would be able to recognize the refugee that he or she is" (Agamben. he argues. eliding all difference within right and thereby terminating an understanding of the reasons for a disjuncture between legality and morality and of an existing separation of rights from the ideal of ethicality. but it is difficult for us to see just where resistance to this state might emerge (Negri. or "denizen" as he says using Tomas Hammar's term. and in this we can perhaps see some basis for resistance. SO WHEN WE IDENTIFY AS REFUGEES. Agamben calls for making all residents of extraterritorial space (which would include both citizen and non-citizen) as existing within a position of exodus or refuge. He refers to the "absolutely banal man" who is tempted to evil by the powers of right and law (Agamben. 2004. Likewise. a fetishized distancing and an alienation of the very nature of what it means to be human. There would seem to be an enormous gap between Agamben's critique of this society and the state of simply being that continues to be a possibility. we have the 'falsification of all production' and the 'complete control of social memory and social communication'. as the central figure of a potential politics (Agamben. (Frances. In this Agamben directs our attention usefully to the importance of the refugee today – both in terms of the plight of refugees and their presence in questioning any assumption about citizen rights. There is much in Agamben’s analysis of contemporary society. Certainly. 32). as Toni Negri argues. and also in placing the refugee. Daly. But perhaps the rather overstated or one-dimensional nature of Agamben's understanding of alienation reveals one of the problems with his use of this critique. Research fellow in the Philosophy Department at the Australian National University. 3) ENDS THE UNDERSTANDING FOR THE REASONS FOR SEPARATION OF LEGALITY AND MORALITY – THEREBY ENDING ANY VALUE HUMAN RIGHTS WOULD HAVE. Because it is precisely in such a critique that one would expect Agamben to not merely acknowledge the "complete triumph of the spectacle" but to explain the relation between the spectacle and what 'positive possibility' there remains within conditions of alienation that might be used to counter these conditions. 2000: 26). of language and opinion […] without escape" (Agamben. in which liberation and dignity exist to be realized beyond any form of contract. 1993.

what the absence of freedom. Agamben merely presumes that a strategy by which we all identify as refugees will renew a politics and thereby end the current plight of the refugee. In the absence of an engaged sense of what this impulse means. This is also assumed on the basis that the State – in Agamben's theorizing. secondly. which the cause of human rights inevitably suggests. Much can be said in criticism of the doctrine of right. We find this in values that resist exploitation and assaults upon human dignity. To acknowledge this is not to be seduced by concepts of right or law. and most significantly. but is rather to refuse the denial of a radical questioning of the possibilities with which a discourse presents us. of the assumption of the place of citizen rights as the locus of the fundamental rights of the human. emphatic and significant renewal. IDENTITY. of the limited nature of the understanding of freedom and rights in documents on rights. And it is this realm that currently requires urgent. I feel. readily and easily liable to perforation. and to thus reduce rights to what might be termed an absolute politics. 1974: 1231). and of the context in which elements of freedom and unfreedom do battle. Rights cannot be reduced to citizenship rights as if the ideas of rights and citizenship are coterminus. the abstraction of an all-encompassing. it is impossible to speculate on the nature of the subjectivity or potentiality which might be emerging or which might be in stages of decomposition. is that it would be a serious impoverishment of the ethical problem that we currently face to deny any potential value of rights in carrying forth traces of an impetus towards human dignity. and. MORALITY 2/2 It would also require a sense of how this impulse takes place within a variety of conditions. Without such an understanding we are left with a gestural politics that contains a posture of radicalism but one which fails to connect the aspirations of those who are struggling to achieve elementary rights with a vision of a world that could accord them a degree of dignity. . but rather its often failed and finally accomplished interruption" (Benjamin. What most critically needs to be understood is. leviathan State – is equally. as if no other reality impinges on this identification. This contradiction is indicative of a wider problem where what we encounter is a form of critique that is oddly inappropriate to the type of issue it addresses. the absence of any sense of the undetermined nature of what being might mean. means for the installation of any such rights. some of which might be easily altered and some of which might not. Benjamin's understanding of a genuinely messianic idea is something that is "not the final end of historical progress. firstly.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 111/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: EXCEPTION. But what must be stated. of the ideals of freedom and equality. why values of freedom and equality have such a limited and fragile place within conditions of such inordinate legalism.

For whilst it would seem that the refugee would embody the very necessity of the existence of human rights. 1995: passim). in that some who seek asylum are in fact granted various rights. if an obvious candidate for the protection of human rights is excluded from their meaning and enactment. Whereas. (Agamben. 2004. But the question remains as to how we are to understand the nature of this crisis. tendency is towards making those seeking asylum fall within various categories of partial or non-citizenship. of course. CONTRARY TO WHAT AGAMBEN SAYS. This tendency is an attempt. This most certainly marks a radical crisis in the concept of human rights. it is just such rights that are often.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 112/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: REFUGEE = BARE LIFE THE REFUGEES ARE IN FACT GRANTED MINIMAL RIGHTS. and very much historically variable. This is perhaps the most valuable point that Agamben makes in his theorization of the refugee. Research fellow in the Philosophy Department at the Australian National University. . THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO RID NATION-STATES OF THE CATEGORY ‘REFUGEE’. to rid certain nation-States of the category of the refugee. 115). Indeed the present. Daly. Borderlands E-Journal). and the State as "absolutely incapable" of dealing with this situation. in that. both linguistically and in practice. (Frances. and increasingly. 'rights of the human being' (Fraisse. Beyond these reservations is. Agamben’s frequently overly truncated writing tends to insinuate that this is an inevitable outcome – he refers to rights proving to be "completely unprotected" in the case of the refugee. we are then forced to question the significance of the category itself. denied to those seeking asylum. “The non-citizen and the concept of human rights”. using the term Fraisse argues is preferable. the fact that the presence of refugees surely brings into serious question the assumption of rights – not merely citizen rights but also 'human rights' or. 1995: 116. the reality is that there is variation within rights.

what do you think about the fact that the concept of naked life has become so enormously and increasingly important for Agamben lately? an: I believe Giorgio is writing a sequel to Homo Sacer. he attempts there to identify and criticize a fundamental ambiguity. and Antonio.172-175. He already attempted something of the sort in his recent book on Saint Paul. in which desires expand. But it strikes me that your most recent critique of naked life is also much more radical and scathing than the one you and Michael undertook in Empire: unlike what you wrote in that book—in which you suggest a way of interpreting naked life different from Agamben’s—your essay now asserts that this concept is simply irredeemable. are in complete disagreement when it comes to the concept of naked life. founded Potere Operaio (Worker Power) Group. UNFEASIBLE ONE IS WRONG. to conceive of that extreme point at which power tries to eliminate that ultimate resistance that is the sheer attempt to keep oneself alive.) cc: The two of you. leading member of the Autonomia Operaia. and in which life becomes increasingly fuller. p. indeed. it remains. What has occurred in the meantime? Why did you feel the need for such a critique of this concept right now? an: Yes. But this is absolutely not true! On the contrary: the historical process takes place and is produced thanks to a continuous constitution and construction. you undertake a radical critique of Agamben’s use of this concept. or oscillation at the very heart of the concept. in fact.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 113/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: NAKED LIFE IMPOSSIBLE 1/2 AGAMBEN’S ASSUMPTION THAT THE NAKED LIFE IS AN IMPOSSIBLE. can lead one precisely in this direction. in fact. . dualism. Nuda vita e potenza” [“The Political Monster. but I think this attempt largely failed: as usual. rather than constituting a fullXedged attempt to reconstruct naked life as a potentiality for exodus. it is possible to think all this: the naked bodies of the people in the camps. is saying that such is the nature of power: in the Wnal instance. In any case. In your recent essay “Il mostro politico. Ferrari Bravo insists on asking: Is it life that is naked or is it the naked that is life? cc: Well. to rethink naked life fundamentally in terms of exodus. the oscillation between nakedness and life. (Cesare. somewhat trapped within Pauline exegesis. this book is extremely learned and elegant. Associate rofessor in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. 2001. namely. Taught at the Université de Vincennes (Paris-VIII) and the Collège International de Philosophie. and. Casarino and Negri. “It’s a Powerful Life: A Conversation on Contemporary Philosophy”. you denounce it as a purely ideological construct. power reduces each and every human being to such a state of powerlessness. which undoubtedly confronts the limit over and over again—but this is an extraordinarily rich limit. I believe it is possible to push the image of power to the point at which a defenseless human being [un povero Cristo] is crushed. in effect. Project Muse. however. I believe that the concept of naked life is not an impossible. But this is also the point at which this concept turns into ideology: to conceive of the relation between power and life in such a way actually ends up bolstering and reinforcing ideology. but what do you think? And. for example. however. Such a critique is different from and. unfeasible one. yes. Political Philosophy Professor at Padua University. it seems to me that you have changed your mind about these matters since you wrote Empire. Agamben. more uncompromising than the critique of naked life we see in Luciano Ferrari Bravo’s essay on Agamben: rather than rejecting such a concept tout court. in particular. From a logical standpoint. Power and Naked Life”]. and I feel that this new work will be resolutive for his thought—in the sense that he will be forced in it to resolve and Wnd a way out of the ambiguity that has qualiWed his understanding of naked life so far.

Ultimately. In any case. he gets quite irritated. which is why I felt the need to attack this concept in my recent essay. absolutely infuriating. I found his essay on Bartleby. inasmuch as it is death. But have you discussed all this with Agamben? What does he think about your critiques? an: Whenever I tell him what I have just Wnished telling you. it turns out that what Deleuze says in his essay is exactly the contrary of what Giorgio says in his! I suppose one could say that they decided to publish their essays together precisely so as to attempt to Wgure this limit— that is. from the standpoint of those still struggling to overcome such a limit. the limit is not creative. cc: And I suppose you are suggesting that the concept of naked life is part and parcel of such undercurrents. The point is that. through genetic engineering—and the ultimate result of such a process of saturation and capture is a capsized production of subjectivity within which ideological undercurrents continuously try to subtract or neutralize our resistance. even angry. one and the same standpoint? Isn’t this the story about power that power itself would like us to believe in and reiterate? Isn’t it far more politically useful to conceive of this limit from the standpoint of those who are not yet or not completely crushed by power. that is. but I don’t think that this attempt was really successful in the end. nonetheless. all this incessant talk about the limit bores me and tires me out after a little while. I still maintain. to Wnd a Wgure for it.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2007 CLEARY/GORDON LAB 114/114 AGAMBEN K AFF AT: NAKED LIFE IMPOSSIBLE 2/2 Of course it is possible to conceive of the limit as absolute powerlessness. I feel that nowadays the logic of traditional eugenics is attempting to saturate and capture the whole of human reality—even at the level of its materiality. And the type of problems he runs into in this book recur throughout many of his other works. from the standpoint of the process of constitution. This essay was published originally as a little book that also contained Deleuze’s essay on Bartleby: well. especially when it has been actually enacted and enforced in such a way so many times. And yet. from the standpoint of power [potenza]? I am worried about the fact that the concept of naked life as it is conceived by Agamben might be taken up by political movements and in political debates: I Wnd this prospect quite troubling. isn’t such a conception of the limit precisely what the limit looks like from the standpoint of constituted power as well as from the standpoint of those who have already been totally annihilated by such a power—which is. to give it a form—by some sort of paradoxical juxtaposition. . of course. that the conclusions he draws in Homo Sacer lead to dangerous political outcomes and that the burden of Wnding a way out of this mess rests entirely on him. for example. The limit is creative to the extent to which you have been able to overcome it qua death: the limit is creative because you have overcome death.

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