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The Revolution Is Dissent: Reconciling Agamben and Badiou on Paul
Gideon Baker Political Theory published online 24 January 2013 DOI: 10.1177/0090591712470628 The online version of this article can be found at: http://ptx.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/01/02/0090591712470628 A more recent version of this article was published on - Mar 25, 2013
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The Revolution Is Dissent: Reconciling Agamben and Badiou on Paul
Political Theory XX(X) 1–24 © 2013 SAGE Publications Reprints and permission: http://www. sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0090591712470628 http://ptx.sagepub.com
Abstract Underlying Giorgio Agamben’s and Alain Badiou’s disagreement over the apostle Paul we find common cause: following Paul’s deactivation of law, both Agamben and Badiou see the fixed identities necessary to the naturalised nomos of State politics as transfigured by a politics of grace. This transfiguration is differently rendered as either the emergence of a universal subject (Badiou) or the opening up of existing subjectivities (Agamben), but both the messianic vocation in Agamben and the universal subject in Badiou allow subjective possibility to that which is not in the present objectified order. Developing this theme of a basic emancipatory affinity, two moments of the political which exist in a difficult but necessary tension are identified: revolution and dissent.While revolution signals subjective possibility itself by determining that the truth of the event is for all, dissidence keeps that possibility alive by pointing to the human subject’s fundamental indeterminacy. Keywords political theology, universalism, revolution, Agamben, Badiou
Griffith University, Gold Coast Queensland, Australia
Corresponding Author: Gideon Baker, Griffith University, School of Government and International Relations, Gold Coast Campus, Queensland, 4215, Australia Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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In announcing the Messiah. Paul remained wholly within the Jewish messianic tradition. and to his contemporaries’ ears simply staggering. In contrast. as elsewhere. is explicit that Schmitt’s thesis is not radical enough. This double rehabilitation. This shift would seem to support Carl Schmitt’s now familiar dictum that “all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts.3 Particularly influential. Accounts of Paul in continental philosophy have proliferated over recent years. the recent “messianic turn” in political theory has largely overlooked Paul. 2013 . announcing instead the messianic gathering up of the remnant that will always be “cast off a strong nation”?2 Put simply. even the most universal among them. both of a universalism now often identified with imperial oppression and of a figure frequently charged with making Christianity fit for empire.”8 It is impossible to read Badiou’s assertion that Paul is the founder of universalism without recalling this claim about the dependence of political theory on theology (except with the important difference that Badiou’s universalism aspires to be a significant concept wielded against the state). has been Alain Badiou’s recourse to Paul in order to rehabilitate universalism in politics.sagepub. not to mention controversial. for you are all one in Christ Jesus. is intriguing. Agamben. if at all.”1 What does the apostle Paul’s still striking. the thinker6). as he sees it.4 Badiou sees Paul not only as the founder of the universalism necessary. amongst other things. a fresh way into the now tired debate concerning the nature of universalism. claim mean today? Does it make Paul the revolutionary founder of a universalism upon which we still depend for the construction of an emancipatory politics that transcends narrow communalism? Or should Paul rather be read as revealing the impossibility that any people whatsoever.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. one for whom the title Christ was simply Greek for Messiah. but as an exemplary political figure in his own right. meanwhile. “Paul” is here.2 Political Theory XX(X) Why Paul? “There is neither Jew nor Greek. male nor female. it can be considered emancipatory. slave nor free. the bigger story is that an important strand of contemporary philosophising about the political appears to be indistinguishing itself from political theology through Paul.5 Yet Paul too was a Jewish thinker of the messianic (for Jacob Taubes and Giorgio Agamben.7 Beyond the neglect of the Jewish Paul in political theory’s current Judaic turn. Agamben signs off his latest work in political theology with the claim that modernity not only has Downloaded from ptx. might be identical with itself. specifically in what forms. who also considers Paul significant enough to devote a book length study to his letter to the Romans. to emancipatory politics.
prior to Paul there is Jewish law and there is Greek natural law. Paul is the founder of universalism in the sense that he is the first to articulate the idea of the universal. illegal. a cosmos governed by timeless laws. the coming of a new time and of a novel relation to law. In seeing the political as that which opens up the closed order of things. and vice versa.10 The law in question here is that natural law which finds a place for everything and seeks to put everything in its place. is countered with Jewish messianism. and Badiou often plays on the double meaning here. which has the structure of finding no distinctions in those it addresses. Law and the State are two sides of the same coin so that thinking outside the law means at once to think outside the State. preaching the failure of every identity. and justice (this worldly justice. So the universal. which has a longer lineage in describing Paul as a dialectician with an imperial sensibility). at least) differentiates. This disagreement over Paul occludes an underlying affinity. Law is always particular.9 So far from being an obscure and tangential way of reading the political. the other side of law as that which is due is “know your place. As far as the existing order of being is concerned. breathtaking both in its originality and in its implications for our own attempts.” Law is concerned with justice. to imagine a law that might serve life in the face of life wholly submitted to law. 2013 . This reading also suggests that attempts to think beyond the law start with Paul too. to this day. but in some ways has done no more than bring the providential economy established by Trinitarianism to completion.11 Agamben’s Paul is a rather a deconstructionist. is precisely alegal. For Badiou. to coincide with itself and the coming of a messianic time (which is not the end time of eschatology but the time of the Downloaded from ptx. in Badiou’s eyes.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. Badiou and Agamben echo the fundamental Pauline move whereby Greco-Roman eternal return. the cosmos as an ordered totality within which everything is defined by its telos. of course. My own engagement with Pauline thought goes via Agamben’s and Badiou’s commentaries because I believe that something significant is at stake between these two divergent readings. Paul’s attempt to conceive of his lawgoverned world in terms other than law is. For Badiou.sagepub. Since Badiou’s reading. which is itself a challenge to an earlier Paul (Lyotard’s. Agamben has provided us with a Paul who stands as an explicit rejection of Paul the constructor of universalism. therefore having its place in the whole.Baker 3 failed to leave theology behind. it is. being rather “for all” in finding no distinction. This order is the state of things. and Paul the most significant thinker of this site. referring at the same time both to the State as a political institution and to the status quo. which is a redemptive vision of the political premised upon the Pauline category of grace: that which deactivates the law. universal or otherwise. theology here becomes the singular site of its legibility.
” opening it to “a new. possible use.4 Political Theory XX(X) now) in which these remnants of each and every identity will be raised up.” demonstrates “what the human body can do. Agamben here emphasises the Pauline division within the Jew and the Greek according to whether the Jew/Greek is a Jew/Greek according to the spirit or according to the flesh (such that the difference between the Jew and the Greek ceases to be exclusive). arguing that the messianic vocation for Paul does not introduce a new. as we shall see. Their family resemblance comes through in the mutual attempt to put the political subject in the place of the Pauline subject of grace. I will argue that if Badiou and Agamben are right that the motif of the political is subjectivation-grace as opposed to objectivation-law.sagepub. More than this. This shared starting point then extends to both parties making grace the privileged term in the dialectic. the political subject emerges as that which.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. At precisely the point at which the action usually seen as definitive of the political is deactivated. Nevertheless.”12 As we shall see. it eschews notions of a “beyond” to law. incomplete—precisely “not all. How Pauline grace is interpreted varies widely. of a new subject in some sense freed from law (which. but rather renders each subject.” Yet even though Agamben sees in the Pauline messianic vocation (the “in Christ”) the very destruction of subjectivity (such that no universal or individual or indeed any self-identical subject can survive it). it is instructive that he nonetheless finds a political subject in Paul. Thus although Agamben’s counter-reading of Paul shares Badiou’s endeavour to think life in a new or non-relation to law. is what Badiou gives us in his secularisation of Paul’s militant Christian subject). which leads in turn to an equation of the political with subjective possibility in the face of objectifying natural law. arguing instead that the Pauline deactivation of law works by producing a remainder in every subject of law. with Badiou emphasising works (or action) and Agamben the sabbatical cessation of works (or “inoperativity. then there is a time for Badiou’s “for all” and Downloaded from ptx. 2013 . and the shared reading of this dialectic as a certain sublation of law. by “rendering economic and biological operations inoperative. As I shall elaborate. the common point of departure in the Pauline dialectic. and the difference between subjects. these two very different political subjects are both yet constructed upon the Pauline dialectic of law and grace whereby the law.” which is not quite inaction but the rendering inoperative of all works). is deactivated. means that our two political subjects are not distantly related. though it somehow remains in place. this location of the political subject in the place of grace involves a new form of subjectivity that is open to all (Badiou) and the refusal of this determinate subjectivity in the name of the indeterminacy of subjective possibility itself (Agamben). universal subject (the Christian).
deciding that none was exempt from what a truth demands . precisely because of its universality. though a real break with other. is nothing other than the generic condition of universality itself. Paul’s pronouncement that “there is neither Jew nor Greek. is the break with natural law and its fixing of subjective possibility which is allowed initially by the revolutionary construction of a universal subject.”13 Badiou’s Paul For Badiou. is not a figure of liberal politics: it does not aim at the proliferation of subjectivities characteristic of identity politics (Agamben’s Paul is just as indifferent as Badiou’s to “worldly difference” in and of itself). 2013 . male nor female” makes him no less than the inventor of a revolutionary form of subjectivity which breaks for the first time with the communitarian subjectivities characteristic of the ancient world. I seek to flesh out these two mutually necessary. is its exclusion of the possibility of not being included. “the Nothing from which all creation derives. can never exhaust. though it first announces its coming. if opposed. Just as salvation for Paul has already come along with the Messiah and yet awaits its consummation on his return.15 When deploying the conceptual apparatus of universalism we should therefore give due “credit to him who. which. forever pointing beyond itself to the ontological openness. which is given by the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. for Downloaded from ptx. Redemption here. slave nor free. Dissidence. that is.Baker 5 Agamben’s remnant. Rather.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. dissidence is in a necessary tension with revolution in as much as it appeals to a gratuitousness that the revolution. Badiou argues. Badiou argues that progressive politics today depends as much on Paul’s revolution in subjectivity as in his time. a new subject and its deconstruction. The Pauline subject is thus the original universal subject because in it we find the downfall of all attempts to fix truth to any particular community. in its first moment. but the form of this subject. the universal will not tolerate being assigned to any particularity. no less than revolution. redemption is dissent’s deconstruction of this “new creature” in turn. is unfinished business. provoked—entirely alone—a cultural revolution upon which we still depend. closed subjectivities. Of course. . poles of redemptive politics by identifying them with the figures of revolution and dissent respectively. In its second moment.sagepub. .”16 Being precisely for all.14 Because our own time of identity politics is diagnosed as equally defined by identitarian subjects. so the universal subject. dissidence highlights the new form of subjective closure that the universal subject brings in its train. as a secular thinker Badiou seeks to abstract from the specific content of the Pauline subject.
which for the Pauline subject is faith in the resurrection.sagepub. a singularity which transcends difference by being addressed to all.). transcend the mundane existence of the human animal and become “an immortal. the resurrection effectively incorporates the Jewish faith by exceeding it: pure dialectics. which would then block its universal deployment. In other words. Greeks .22 That the marks of tradition such as circumcision are now necessary for Jews and non-Jews alike means that they are sublated (“taken up and elevated”) by the Christ-event. Paul’s faction.” unlike all “identitarian singularities” (Jews. meanwhile. truth is wrestled from the “communitarian grasp. The universal. transfigured in this way they arguably become more potent still. lives by a “universalizable singularity. Put another way: while the truth of the resurrection requires the Jewish context. 2013 . it is in no way reducible to it since it does not follow from it. can never be arrived at by the negation of particularity. thereafter serving what is valid for all. And only subjective recognition of the singularity of truth. which is dialectical. the faction which requires of the new believers that they observe Jewish Law. but is rather of the order of pure grace. The “subjective upsurge” in response to the event (in Paul the resurrection. . . the Pauline subject is as far from being a Greek as a Jew. announces a new universality which. it remains absolutely independent of it in terms of its (universal) truth effects. The Christ-event is not due. in proclaiming that salvation is for all regardless of custom or rite. The law does not become an object of negation but of indifference (“Circumcision is nothing. analogously to Pauline grace and its universal offer of glorious eternal life. and uncircumcision is nothing”23).com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. can avoid the fixing of that truth within a particular community.” This. with the order of things and allotted places.6 Political Theory XX(X) the first time in history. in Badiou—in Downloaded from ptx. Badiou sees in this Pauline refusal to do dialectics with the resurrection the outline of a “materialism of grace” in which. is the resurrection. Paul’s singular achievement.”24 The subjectivity anticipated by the Pauline subject is not only its indifference to law as custom and rite but also as cosmos and right. Paul is a dialectician who violently subsumes the Jew in the Christian.19 Although Badiou subtracts the religious content from the Pauline subjective declaration of fidelity to the risen Messiah. can have this universal scope of truth.18 Only that singularity which breaks with cosmos. arguing that it is nothing of the sort. Though the resurrection depends for its being on the Jewish site. we might be seized by an event and. for Paul.20 Badiou returns repeatedly to the notion that Paul’s message is dialectical. For Jean-François Lyotard.”17 The subject who is “in Christ.21 It is rather the “Judeo-Christian” faction which opposes Paul at the Jerusalem conference. For this party. avoids a dialectical relation to Jewish law altogether. subjective declaration of the truth of the event as true for all remains the generic form of universality.
and not history. of Sons who have filial equality as co-workers (“All equality is that of belonging together to a work”28).” an interruption of the old order. as “pure beginning” prove nothing and are simply what happens to us. another subjective path. nor is the event a proof. refusing integration into any totality and signalling nothing. and the revolution as “a selfsufficient sequence of political truth. can never be the starting point of salvation because. the totality. No doubt plenty a revolutionary has expounded a discourse of wisdom about the revolution concerning what must proceed and follow from it. the revolution is simply “what arrives” and. “There is no proof of the event. 2013 . Paul’s “genuinely revolutionary conviction is that the sign of the One is the ‘for all’. for they can speak only of the old order. the “One” of Downloaded from ptx. But the event opens up a field of possibility that previously did not exist and was not possible: “It is grace. he does not seek the fixed order of the world in order to deploy himself appropriately in the totality. one dependent on an “evental grace” that will be the resurrection for the apostle and the revolution for the revolutionary. one which endures throughout the epoch of revolutionary politics. which would allow for revolutionary wisdom. submission to the totality “binds communities in a form of obedience (to the Cosmos. from natural law.”27 Only thus can discourses of mastery. or the Law). be supplanted by a discourse of fraternity. one must instead start from the event.32 Paul’s “for all” is very important indeed for Badiou. Christ is similarly “a coming.”29 Thus the discourse of the apostle differs from that of the philosopher analogously to how the discourse of the revolutionary differs from that of the political scientist: it is not natural law that is being propounded but rather an unheard of possibility.25 The subject of the event is not wise in the manner of the Greek. Both the resurrection and the revolution. does not find the key to salvation as already given in the cosmos. in his reading of Paul. just as plenty a theologian has inscribed the resurrection in a larger story of mediation between God and man.”31 Whether there can be a new subject. The revolutionary subject must break with the experts.30 For Badiou. is not a matter which (either theological or political) knowledge can settle. or the ‘without exception. between the revolution as something that must arrive in order that there might be something else. contra the Greek subject. But for Badiou there is a clear distinction. no less than the exceptionalism of Jewish discourse.sagepub. He recognises that the whole.” which would disallow it.”26 Rather than proceed from the order of things. The subject of the event.Baker 7 terms of the political at least—the revolution) is not at all a matter of adjusting to the laws of nature in the manner of Greek discourse. of history and necessity. which is precisely “a-cosmic and illegal.’”33 Contra the differentiated totality of natural law. the Empire.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. then. God. of the Father.
36 And because the subjects which uphold this universality are constituted by that which is in excess of them (the gift that was not due to them). No subject can be universal if he receives what is due precisely only to him. Badiou introduces Paul’s conception of love as the fulfilment of the law. Law is intrinsically “statist” in that it must predicate in order to determine what is due. In other words. that is the grace of the event by which he is constituted. outside all economy. rather. It either finds no distinctions in those it addresses or it ceases to be universal at all. Pauline love. Only grace can fulfil this function. they cannot be represented in any totality: “superabundance cannot be assigned to any Whole. as the communist subject. nothing is due. is unwaged. receiving instead the pure gift.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. which Badiou expresses in the following theorem: “A subject turns the universal address of the truth whose procedure he maintains into a nonliteral law. a gratuitous gift. Salvation. the totality.38 The revolutionary subject is not fixed in a totality. “Truth is either militant or it is not.8 Political Theory XX(X) Pauline monotheism. There is no private or solitary truth. Its future is open because the revolutionary event sundered the very cosmos.sagepub. only the subject constituted “through the gratuitous practice of the universal address” can maintain that there are no differences. just as the “One” of communism.”44 Downloaded from ptx.35 For Badiou. being always particular and partial. Badiou has to confront the question of whether. does not come in the form of a wage or a reward. modes of subjectivity that are based on what is due objectify the subject and obscure a necessary understanding of man’s humanity as his subjective capacity. Contra the logic of right. the Pauline subject is entirely lawless. love is the name for a nonliteral law by which that subject attains its consistency in the universal proclamation of the truth of the event which founded it. a law of the spirit. given the deactivation of law and the coming of grace. for Badiou.39 Like other commentators on Paul. it is not captured by any law. 2013 . for the postevental subject.”37 The revolutionary multiplicity (the revolutionary subject is not an individual subject) persists in the grace in which it is founded in its capacity to exceed its own limit. whereas the order of genuine universality makes no distinctions.42 arguing that. The Pauline subject.”41 At this point. which then requires the extraordinarily difficult task of articulating “a transliteral law. like other commentators. has a wider relevance for revolutionary subjectivity. for Badiou’s Paul.40 Again. the event must be publically declared.34 No law is capable of such universality. Badiou recognises that this is not Paul’s thesis. Human rights would be included amongst these objectifying discourses. for the revolutionary as much as for the Christian. is either indifferently for all or it is nothing.”43 The striking upshot of this theorem is that. grace is all that could be other to the law because only grace comes without being due.
Difference is what universality must address but universality is constructed only by difference being traversed. will necessarily situate itself as a remnant. as a division of divisions.46 The crucial Pauline move. because the apostle sees that while differences abound. Both Greek and Jew can be appropriated with the “immutability of principles” that allows their difference even while transcending it. 2013 .45 This thesis is characteristic of militantism ever after. ontology. the subsumption of that which is other by sameness. Downloaded from ptx. contra Badiou. “But is this really accurate? And is it really possible to think a universal as ‘the production of the same’ in Paul?”52 For Agamben. every people. after the revolutionary event. but his putdown of Badiou is blunt: “it makes no sense to speak of universalism with regard to Paul. or politics.”53 At the “decisive instant” characteristic of the messianic moment. this formulation is critical. rather. The generic category of neither Jew nor non-Jew is here replaced with the aporetic one of non nonJew. The militant must maintain a lofty unconcern with all of this just as Paul did when imploring the Roman congregation not to waste precious time arguing about opinions. represents “the impossibility of the Jews and goyim [non-Jews] to coincide with themselves.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. between every identity and itself.47 Notwithstanding a number of lyrical concessions to difference.Baker 9 For Badiou. Paul does not abolish the division in the law between Jews and gentiles but rather divides this division itself with a new cut.48 Badiou is clear that the “material sign” of the universal is the production of equality. as its material effect. every truth procedure collapses these differences.50 Agamben’s cut. the non non-Jew is not a universal category but. He who lives in Christ does not inhabit the (empty) universal category of neither Jew nor gentile but rather dwells in the remainder or remnant of this new division as the non-gentile who is neither a Jew. for Badiou. Paul is the founder of universalism.49 Agamben’s Cut For Agamben. they are something like a remnant between every people and itself. Maoist injunctions to “follow the mass line” or to “serve the people” were similarly based upon the supposition that. people were capable of rising above mere custom. “the elected people.”51 Badiou tries to demonstrate how Paul’s universal thought produces a sameness and equality.sagepub. forcing us to fundamentally rethink universality and particularity whether in logic. is an indifference to difference that tolerates particularity without being drawn into the conflicts and confrontations between customs that difference engenders. requires a sharp blade. For Agamben. of the very thought of the universal. The shedding of difference in thought produces.
60 While Badiou’s Paul.sagepub. Indeed. Agamben’s Paul. nor is it a transcendent principle. The messianic moment announced by Agamben’s Paul destabilises every subject position. Agamben is sure that Paul rather announces a messianic call. all that remains is a remnant and. with its universal category of the human and its indifference to. more universal. radically problematises any identity whatsoever. is not constituted by a politics. not sameness or equality. or tolerance of.61 Agamben thus cites Micah 4:7 as indicative of messianism: Downloaded from ptx. exposing western subjects to the violence of sovereign power accordingly. it constructs nothing. never reaches any final ground. The universal here. we thereby see revealed a deep and troubling connection between western politics and metaphysics: both tend towards the empty and indeterminate. And the isolation of bare life in western politics is.55 In this deactivation of law.10 Political Theory XX(X) as not-all. therefore sunders every identity. In Agamben’s eyes. if it can be thought at all (Agamben would prefer to call it the messianic).57 The messianic vocation for Agamben. but rather gathers up the remainder of every political identity. as the Messiah for Agamben’s Paul. And it is the remnant that this division of divisions introduces in all identity which prevents cleavages such as Jew-Greek from being exhaustive. deactivates them. the impossibility that the Jew or the Greek might be self-identical. certainly no universal. in dividing the very divisions of law themselves. following Agamben’s deconstructive instincts. siding only with that in itself which it is not. unlike the universal. to isolate bare life. the very attempt to identify a universal political subject such as the human is. cuts and divisions. It is rather a singular operation that. no generic “human” can be uncovered at the heart of the Greek or the Jew. then. For Paul’s “neither Jew nor Greek” is not a sameness. making identity non-identical with itself. Jews and non-Jews are now not “all. 2013 . differences which are seen as traversed in the human (Badiou is mentioned by name at this point and his tolerance is condemned for reproducing “the State’s attitude towards religious conflict”). for Agamben. produces difference. after Badiou himself.58 Rather than abolishing divisions between individuals. in his view. It does not provide a new. dividing us not only from others but from ourselves.56 Rather. analogous to the isolation of pure Being in western metaphysics: both seek to abstract from the many forms of being or concrete life.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. It operates beneath.”54 Far from modern universalism. Messianism. identity. it cuts even to the heart of individual identity. not a call for toleration. not above. gestures towards a generic subject. the messianic.”59 Transcendence here is defiantly deconstructive. with it.
Thus while the “original political relation is the ban”. the archetype of modern politics is no less than the camp. is a decentring of our antiquated notions of a people and a democracy. in Homo Sacer. neither the majority nor the minority. Instead.”68 Is this not akin to Badiou’s indifference to difference? Remaining in the nothing (“circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing”69) does not imply indifference Downloaded from ptx.63 Political belonging. never allows us to be reduced to a majority or a minority. of political belonging as pure violence. “Not man [universal] or men [particular] but the struggling. with all due respect to those who govern us.” Contrary to Badiou’s reading of Paul as the one who pronounces a new subject. or the substantiality assumed by a people in a decisive moment. so to speak. from the very beginning. of those cast off a strong nation.66 The thought of Walter Benjamin animates this vision of the political.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. says the Lord. Agamben’s messianic vision of the political is equally opposed to the particularity of the “Greek” and the universalism of the “Christian. as all or part. 2013 . it is that which can never coincide with itself. oppressed class itself [the remnant] is the depository of historical knowledge. as an operation of inclusive exclusion or a “zone of indistinction” between inside and outside. Agamben argues.62 This identification with the remnant of every people is of a piece with Agamben’s earlier unveiling. For Benjamin in his Theses on the Philosophy of History.”67 In its excessive relation to both the all of universalism and also to the part of particularity (the messianic remnant is. beneath the all and above the part). and those whom I have afflicted. is to be exposed to sovereign violence over life: from the life which is defined as inside/outside in the classical polis to the life which is to be fostered or denied in biopolitical modernity. and gather those who have been driven away.65 What the concept of the remnant allows. a fissuring of sedimented political thought which reveals that the people is neither the all nor the part.Baker 11 In that day. and. a treatise on Messianic time as against the historical time of the victors of history. and as such is the only real political subject.sagepub. I will assemble the lame.64 It is then no surprise that Agamben finds the “political legacy” in Paul’s letter to the Romans as revolving around the concept of the remnant. that which indefinitely remains or resists in each division. for Agamben the messianic vocation enunciated by Paul has no specific content but is rather the “revocation of every vocation. This remnant is the figure.” It critiques the exclusions inherent in both the “part” and the “all. Of the lame I will make a remnant.
better still. the messianic gives potential back to them. The new wine is contained in old wine skins—Paul’s “new creature” is none other than the messianic use of the old. for Agamben.82 If law attempts to capture in precepts. counterservice. orientation opens up space for “gratuitousness and use.83 This latter. immanent to the law.” there is no production of a new subject. 2013 . “plays the level of constitutive power against the level of established law.74 For Agamben. the messianic does not have done with the law. in rendering the works of the law inoperative. indeed nullifying.12 Political Theory XX(X) because revoking a condition is to put it radically in question even as one adheres to it. It is not to abandon it in the name of a more authentic vocation.75 The messianic vocation. indeed from any obligatory conduct. which declares that faith both deactivates and preserves the law. For Agamben.”84 Agamben Downloaded from ptx. it. messianism is the struggle.81 This echoes the strong link between faith and grace in Paul. those who mourn.80 Faith in the constitutive pact or promise tends towards self-emancipation from positive law.76 Although it does away with the subject. outside of any particular determination. dislocating. where grace names that gratuitousness which breaks with all economies of obligation. but the realization and fulfilment . which is effectively a coming to awareness of this arbitrariness. or command. Paul’s formulation of the “dialectical aporia” of the law. or. .sagepub. allows for the usage of identities that were previously naturalised and therefore closed down.”79 Seen from this perspective. of the law. “Justice without law is not the negation of the law.”77 Politically speaking.71 The messianic vocation rather has done with the subject. simply expresses this paradox coherently. as if they did not”73). messianic. the messianic revelation of the inoperativity of the law brings to light the fundamental illegitimacy of the powers that be. Rather. which would require some transcendent norm by which to choose between vocations. . “the messianic tension does not tend towards an elsewhere.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. this “as not” is the opening up of a different relation to worldly identity through laying bare the contingency of each and every figure of the world. faith’s contrary orientation is towards keeping open.78 Translated into the terms of modern law. whereby the constituent power seeks emancipation from the norm.70 What differentiates Agamben’s messianic revoking of worldly vocation (that nonetheless leaves that vocation intact) from Badiouian traversal of difference (that also leaves differences as it finds them) is that.” which is an expression of nothing less than the subject’s freedom in contrast to “his subjection to a codified system of norms and articles of faith.72 We therefore remain as we are called. a use that takes the form of the Pauline “as not” (“From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not. the Pauline antithesis between faith and law sets the constitution against positive law.
sagepub.86 That this remnant of potentiality is weak. not law. It is a necessary tension that all too often gives way.88 Given that gratuitousness (that which is not due or the absolutely free gift received outside of all economy) is definitive of grace for Agamben and Badiou.”87 Revolution and Dissidence Badiou and Agamben differ over Paul. Their disagreement is fuelled by a shared sense of the profound importance of the Pauline dialectic of law and grace. is an emancipatory deactivation of law (at once a denaturalisation of identity) that gives agency to the “that which is not” of every order. or an always-ready-to-hand deactivation of “know thy place. The messianic vocation in Agamben. This endless division of identity renders the law inoperative by sundering the ground on which it is built—the settled. its very weakness is its strength since. too. in essence. Both our Pauls are therefore resolutely anti-State. that it cannot be captured by any dogma or applied in any law. Both see the Party as dogma which would return grace back to the law and both see the necessary tension between law and grace as possible only when law is understood as an expression of subjectivation (making something from nothing be) rather than being naturalised and thereby operating to desubjectify. but like most disputes there is a common heritage at stake. grace.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. Here we encounter that potentiality that remains unconsumed in any act whatsoever. Paul is either the constructor of a gratuitous universalism that traverses the customary Downloaded from ptx. does not make it passive. Whether grace is the event that sunders the cosmos within which everybody finds their place. customary identities that Badiou. by deactivating the law through deconstructing worldly identity. leaving only the (dead) letter of the law in place. finds a way of robbing of their objectivity and so also of their power. Agamben reads Paul’s “neither Jew nor Greek” as a cut of the divisions of law which.85 Indeed.” whether the messiah has come or is always already here. 2013 . Rather. subjectivities. the messianic is this tension between law and grace where the word is neither “infinitely suspended in its openness” (this. is Agamben’s critique of Derridean deconstruction) nor closed up in dogma. whether in the form of a new subjectivity that is open to all or through the “gratuitousness and use” of existing. both posit constitutive power.Baker 13 sees this dialectic of law and faith not only reflected throughout the history of the Church but indeed in all human society. in introducing a gap between each identity and itself. it makes these identities “freely available for use. is the moment of the political. now denaturalised. against established law. whether latent or actualised. produces a remnant. as much as the universal subject in Badiou.
Both the universal subject and the remnant. first and foremost.sagepub. This is a difference that turns out to be productive. lawlessness. an anti-imperial thinker is in each case retained.” is precisely what makes its characteristic purposefulness possible. the Paul who announces the new. and thus how they could be used. law never gets beyond the necessary tension with the subject’s freedom. But endurance also presents a problem—universal subjects. the very purposelessness of the human species. revolutionary “love” is the fulfilment of the law.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. in the messianic time announced by Paul worldly identities (Greeks. this messianic function. Given that one cannot but be included in the all (this is the aporia of inclusion: the more inclusive the more exclusive it gets). as elsewhere in his oeuvre. Fidelity is the means by which the subject who is constituted by the event is able to attain consistency and endure. For Agamben. subject: the messianic is here viewed as a one-off event rather than an enduring possibility. then. allowing their gratuitous use where previously what they were. its being capable of not being included.90) This difference of emphasis is of course highly significant: grace. contra Aristotle. lacks any essence or aim. for Agamben it is subjective capacity from any particular determination. that “sabbatical animal. This emphasis allows us to identify a limitation of Badiou’s Paul. of all subjectivities. etc. which is nothing positive but rather its fundamental dislocation. Jews. or he is the deconstructer of State power in the name of the remainders cast off by its identity. Law remains. can only come from that in the established order which is not.89 Yet this reading of the political on the side of grace does not mean. Badiou’s emphasis on the endurance of this universal subject is potentially a double-whammy in terms of the closure of subjective possibility: we all get Downloaded from ptx. universal. For Badiou. 2013 . anymore than grace did for Paul. which announces that the all is precisely not all. is especially important in the case of the universal subject. expressed in subjectifying fidelity to the proclamation of the truth of the event as for all. is to be subject to a determination of the event. (Agamben is elsewhere categorical on this point: inoperativity is the very essence of “man” in as much as human life. was determined and thereby closed. must remain open for free use if they are not to reintroduce the law in place of grace.14 Political Theory XX(X) differences that State power both produces and depends upon. for Badiou. For Agamben.) remain but are now rendered indeterminate or open. but what has changed is that it is now opened up for subjective use: the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. however. Taubes’s reading of Paul as. This evental rather than everyday reading of the messianic is reflected in the centrality of fidelity in Badiou’s thought concerning Paul. Agamben’s messianic is the ceaseless production of that remnant in each and every subject that allows for this.
Agamben first recalls Max Stirner’s way of Downloaded from ptx. on the contrary. Agamben asks? Nothing but the rest of God from all his works. For Agamben. . If the revolution is revolt. . for whom the definitively human praxis is. it has done with unfree works of the law. that as soon as one enters into works one is no longer in a state of grace. Dissidence or revolt (though revolt is a word perhaps too associated with action) are possible names for this figuration of the political.” . identifies with the political is here referred back to a more primordial inactivity that forms its very ground.” is nothing other than the “metaphysical operator” of the political itself: [I]noperativity .92 Agamben’s sabbatism stands in striking contrast to Badiou’s working week of those who labour by and for the truth.93 The action that in his own way Badiou. the cessation of works. But what came before the creation of the world and in what will the elect share after its passing away. . which he now additionally calls “sabbatism. . also. material and immaterial praxes. ceaselessly opens and assigns them to the living.94 The difficulty of thinking a use that keeps open that which it uses is at the heart of the aporetic relationship between revolution and dissent (or revolt). This closure of subjective possibility threatened by the emphasis on endurance is connected to Badiou’s retention of works. the subject of the event must labour to elaborate its truth. Because the meaning of the event is not given.Baker 15 included. Agamben makes clear in his most recent work in political theology that messianic deactivation.91 Indeed. paradoxically. 2013 . by liberating the living man from his biological or social destiny. assign[s] him to that indefinable dimension that we are accustomed to call “politics. and we all get to remain in this inclusion.sagepub. (co)work by and for the event is the revolutionary subject’s free labour of love. The political is neither a bios [form of life] nor a zōē [natural or biological life] but the dimension that the inoperativity of contemplation. by deactivating linguistic and corporeal. But how then can the revolution be used? It is in search of ways to express this paradox that Agamben takes his reading of Paul into the surprising territory of revolutionary theory. it is no accident that the verb Paul uses to signify what being in the messiah does to works reflects a verb used to express the suspension of work on the Sabbath. which is even worse. which is of course also all to be excluded from other possibilities. For Badiou. inertia or rest. but a messianic “praxis” that actively deactivates. Agamben is clear. latest in a long line stretching back to the Greeks.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. since inoperativity is not strictly speaking inactivity. then it cannot be institutionalised in any way.
and from this being seized. what exists will collapse of itself. straining forward toward klēsis. such indiscernability echoes Paul when he “says that he does not recall seizing hold of himself. political acts from individual and egoistic needs. but only of being seized. this boils down to the party being the bearer of “right theory. with the former political or social act aimed at the creation of new institutions and the latter understood as a revolt of individuals without the thought of what institutions will emerge from it.96 Marx’s interpretation does not make this mistake. states Agamben. in deconstructive fashion. why is the Party (or indeed any form of institutionalisation of the revolution) necessary? If. refusing as it does to differentiate revolt from revolution. plays on the “absolute indiscernability between revolt and revolution” without ever. Agamben overlooks that the gratuitousness and use of existing subjectivities (messianic presence or everydayness) is dependent on the production of a new subject (messianic coming or eventalness).com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. however. revolution and revolt do not perfectly coincide after all). For Agamben. as Georg Lukács argued. who provides a grateful genealogy of our relation to the Pauline message. it is only the setting free of me from what exists.”100 In this case. reminds us that it is only thanks to Paul’s proclamation of a Downloaded from ptx. This approach. 2013 . Badiou. one that can only be closed by party dogma (in which case.101 This choice for revolt as the preferred term in the binary of revolution and revolt has its drawbacks.98 Just as in revolutionary politics the Party is the dogma that revolt is insufficiently revolutionary. one which he terms the “anarchic-nihilistic interpretation” as developed by Taubes in Benjamin’s footsteps. the only interpretation of the aporia of revolution and revolt which is unsustainable is the one which denies the validity of questioning one’s given place in society.99 Agamben’s implicit preference is for a third possible perspective on the aporia of revolution and revolt. Ultimately. in Marx’s paraphrase. so also the problem of correct doctrine arises in messianic community when it tries to give itself an organization at once distinct from the community while pretending also to coincide with it. revolt coincides with the movement of the revolutionary calling towards itself.16 Political Theory XX(X) distinguishing between revolution and revolt.”95 Agamben calls Stirner’s approach the “ethicalanarchic interpretation of the Pauline as not” and its libertarianism clearly fits ill with his emphasis on the Pauline “as not” as an abiding in worldly vocation rather than its simple rejection.” then a gap is reintroduced between revolution and revolt.sagepub. reducing the difference between them to nothing. as Marx does. Here. it is not a case of “a struggle against what exists. and this must of course remain true in the society of the revolution. We might also say: Badiou’s Paul helps us to identify a limitation of Agamben’s Paul.97 But the problem here is that if revolution maps perfectly onto revolt. for if it prospers.
” gratuitous though it is.”104 This form of affirmation. putting everyone back in their place. is where the danger lies also. Of course. nevertheless.sagepub. Lenin’s critique of those who sought guarantees of revolutionary action in “objective” conditions reminds us that such an approach will never make a revolution at all (in arriving only when it must. as being “for all. since potentiality takes the form “yes” as well as “no.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27.” “For everyone a moment comes in which he or she must utter this ‘I can’. The subjective determination of the event as “for all. however. and given also his own argument that the revolution is not part of a wider sequence of truth but is a truth always to be determined. which does not refer to any certainty or specific capacity but is. revolutionary agency becomes a non sequitur).102 The revolutionary actualisation of subjective possibility reveals the contingency that lies behind it and opens the way for further revolt. 2013 . but it is also a common description of revolutionary action. in the register of the political it is only by subjectively determining the meaning of the revolutionary event as universal. whether the moment is revolutionary or not. Analogously.103 Given this. and should know.” that we are first pointed beyond communitarianism. their place. In postrevolutionary time. the “no” is not counter-revolution but dissidence (recalling that the revolution is dissent). In addition to Agamben’s reading of messianic time as always at hand. in revolutionary time “yes” retains its relation to potentiality while “no” may place itself on the side of the counterrevolutionary forces of reaction which seek to renaturalise the law. is Badiou’s “for all” a deterministic desertion of the politics of grace? In point of fact. is how many of the faithful recount their religious conversion. then the proclamation of the “for all” is a response to an absolutely demanding call made with a yet completely free affirmation of political possibility. Now we inhabit the temporality of the Downloaded from ptx. however. The true revolutionary must accept the abyss that lies beneath the act. If it is. For the ontological truth of the event is that it is pure indeterminacy. which is a moment of indiscernability between freedom and necessity.Baker 17 new subject that is “neither Jew nor Greek” that we get beyond identitarianism to the gratuitousness and use characteristic of Agamben’s messianic subjectivity at all. In short. absolutely demanding. though no doubt these temporalities will not be simply sequential. but this abyss only appears as such when the revolution breaks not only with the ancien regime but even with the conditions deemed necessary for its overthrow. the revolution is not only a rupture with communal determination but with the determinism of natural law itself. beyond a world in which everybody has. everything would then depend on knowing whether this is the Messiah. the revolution is dissent. Agamben’s preference for the indeterminate does not place him entirely at odds with Badiou here.
Dissidence cannot come without the revolution that sunders natural law. resisting any determination of that which is indeterminate. Yet this being subject. Dissidence. This free use. I would also like to thank Suvi Alt for her suggestion to go by another route Downloaded from ptx. though it comes freely. moments of subjectivation-grace in which naturalised law is deactivated. one in which the “for all” threatens a most radical closure of potentiality in universalised actuality. To put this point the other way round: both revolution and dissent are forms of political agency that depend upon a certain gift (whether understood as the openness of the political event or the openness of human being per se) which. like Paul’s subject in Christ. Whether the political redeems by way of the construction of a new and universal subject or through the deconstruction of all subjectivity. which is to keep the law open for use. Although the political subject is itself subject. Conclusion Revolution and dissent both have their moment in any account of the political not in the sense of linear time. Dietz and to two anonymous reviewers for providing extensive feedback on two earlier versions of this article. does not imply freedom as licence.sagepub.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. Both changing the world and dissenting from that world in turn are mutually necessary. but in the deconstructive sense that each pole of this redemptive politics remains at once irreducible to and inseparable from the other. it is subject now to that which is open rather than closed. as in the difficult Pauline dialectic of law and grace. Now it is dissidence that is timely: keeping the possibility of political possibility alive. The political ceases to be a site of autonomy but it remains a state of grace: the political subject. moreover. is that which comes out from under the law. but the revolution requires dissidence to carry forward its fundamental work. while it is no longer a self-determination. The revolutionary subject depends on the grace that is the event that comes in order to determine its truth.18 Political Theory XX(X) State. it is a different and better piece for it. 2013 . the political subject is made subject and does not make itself. is not to be determined or fixed in place in the manner of the law. which here marks no subject at all. but rather that in the revolutionary subject that does not coincide with itself (which is precisely not “all”). if opposed. Acknowledgments I am grateful to Mary G. depends on the grace that is the indeterminacy of human being in the face of any determination whatsoever. arrives in circumstances not of our choosing.
A. A. ed. See in particular. those from Jacob Taubes. Notes 1. Gruber. Micah 4:7 (The Bible: New International Version). Funding The author received no financial support for the research. An important recent exception to this rule is a study of the notion of the katechon in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. NY: Humanity Books. In “Before the Anti-Christ Is Revealed: On the Katechontic Structure of Messianic Time. 2003). in order of appearance. Jacques Derrida’s later work has been particularly influential in this turn. Lyotard and E. 2004). The Time That Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans (Stanford: Stanford University Press. Agamben. 6. authorship. and/or publication of this article. Jean-François Lyotard. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research. 2. see Bruno Blumenfeld. Paul remains a strangely marginal figure in this discourse on the messianic. Connolly. however. 1999). Modernity and the Messianic. 2005). 2010). The Political Paul: Justice. Fletcher (London: Continuum. 2001). and G.-F. Žižek. and Bonnie Honig has helped to drive it specifically in political theory.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. Galatians 3:28 (The Bible: New International Version). Bradley and P. Badiou. 5. MA: MIT Press. Slavoj Žižek. 4. Michael Hoelzl discusses the idea of the katechon (as that which holds back the lawlessness of the Anti-Christ) in relation to Carl Schmitt’s political theology. 2003). St Paul: The Foundation of Universalism (Stanford: Stanford University Press. St Paul. Agamben makes Walter Benjamin Paul’s equal in this. The Hyphen: Between Judaism and Christianity (Amherst. Though in The Time That Remains. Badiou. and/or publication of this article. The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity (Cambridge. William E. 3. but the thought of Judith Butler. The Political Theology of Paul (Stanford: Stanford University Press. J.Baker 19 into Agamben’s thought and Julian Reid for his encouragement at an earlier stage in this project. Democracy and Kingship in a Hellenistic Framework (London: Sheffield Academic Press. For an alternative reading of Paul that places his “political thought” squarely within Hellenism. authorship. Alain Badiou. 2013 . and Giorgio Agamben: J. Downloaded from ptx.” in The Politics to Come: Power. S. 7. Taubes.sagepub.
2011). 2005). Ibid. The Hyphen. writes Christianity into Greek discourse and thereby dialectizes it as anti-Judaism (ibid.. Ibid. it is thus not Paul but John who.. 45. Contra Lyotard. Paul. 5 and 6. no..com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. Ibid. 29. 2013 .. 252. 21. Ibid.. Given that the Pauline subject constitutes such a radical rupture with the old order. meanwhile. 22. who never met Downloaded from ptx. The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government (Stanford: Stanford University Press. Gruber.. Agamben.sagepub. 25. St Paul. 32.” South Atlantic Quarterly 107. but this turns on what Kauffman sees as Badiou’s “latent messianism. St Paul. 11. 26. Carl Schmitt.” Charles Barbour’s account (“‘Separated Unto the Gospel of God’: Political Theology in Badiou and Agamben. 9. 14. 66. Badiou.. 42.. 18. 19). in turning the logos into a principle. Ibid. The Time That Remains. 60. Galatians 3:28 (New International Version).” Seattle University Law Review 32 ). 36. University of Chicago Press.. 48. Ibid.-F. Ibid. 12. 15. 1 [Winter 2008]) has also unearthed a similarity between Badiou and Agamben on Paul. The Kingdom and the Glory. 20. The Time That Remains. the centre of the early church. 17. Thus the fact that Paul’s apostolic voyages steer clear of Jerusalem.20 Political Theory XX(X) 8. 10. Badiou. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (Chicago. The Kingdom and the Glory. 110. Ibid. prefers Hannah Arendt’s Paul. 242 and 245–46. 16. Agamben. 15. 24. Ibid. St Paul. “which posits that all true universality is devoid of a centre” (ibid. See also Agamben. Ibid. 23. 5.. 22. 42. 6. Lyotard and E. Eleanor Kauffman (“The Saturday of Messianic Time: Agamben and Badiou on the Apostle Paul. 27.. Ibid. 13.. 43). Agamben. 13.. 28. Agamben. J. 28. it cannot be anything other than self-legitimating. St Paul. 19. 253. is true to the basic structure of Paul’s thought. 48–49. G. 30. Ibid. Badiou.. 23. 31. I Corinthians 7:19 (New International Version). 287 (see also 2–4). Badiou.
. could not adopt the mantle of disciple. Badiou. 51. 2013 . St Paul. 43. St Paul. but rather a love of self that. Ibid. 77. Ibid.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. 52. is really a love of that truth itself (Badiou.. that love is in no way a forgetting of self in a movement towards the Other. the Nazis sought the opposite of sameness—rather. Ibid. 98–99. 48. 50. 41. 109. 86. 55.. the notion of the production of the same sets alarm bells ringing. 110). Romans 13:10. 106 and 110. and instead gave himself the title of apostle. as in Levinas. for Badiou. St Paul. Ibid.. Downloaded from ptx. Ibid. Ibid. 42. St Paul. Ibid. 78. Ibid.sagepub. Ibid. 53. 53. Badiou is well aware that. Badiou... Ibid. Badiou.. Ibid. The Levinasian thesis that Totality is a violent function of all universals which are never universal enough to grasp each unique subject in her infinite singularity is here overturned: what Totality cannot capture is that which is in excess of the universal subject (the absolutely singular event. 40. 88. 44. 47. 34. 82). 55.Baker 21 Jesus. Agamben.. 78.. 46. St Paul.. The Time That Remains. 38. Romans 14:1. 33. 54. 78.. for whom the very secret of sovereign power is the production of a savage sameness culminating in the radical equality of bodies on the verge of death in Nazi extermination camps.. in another head-on confrontation with Levinas. which constitutes it in the first place). 99. by particularizing its address. 35. Ibid. 39... 52. Ibid. 45. 49. 36. 76. Ibid. 90 and 97). the absolute difference of the master race (ibid. these days. 87. 52. also prohibits the infinite” (Badiou. 51.. But this means also.. not least for Agamben. given the subject’s dependence on the truth of the event. 37. Ibid. Ibid. What would disallow infinity would then not be universalism. 87. but its lack: “That which prohibits monotheism. Only the “for all” can break with Totality. 76.. the grace. But. 52.
118–19. 57. Ibid. 81. 59. 64. Ibid. Micah 4:7 (New International Version). 118. 260. The Time That Remains.. Agamben. Ibid. 181. Ibid. 88. 137. Agamben. 73. Illuminations (New York: Schocken Books. Agamben. the revoking of every bios.. Ibid. 60.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. Ibid. Homo Sacer. Ibid. 29. where it is identified with the “inoperativity” or “sabbatism” that is central to Agamben’s project in this text also.. 66. 11). 75. 69. Agamben. Ibid.” 62. 52.22 Political Theory XX(X) 56. Ibid. 61. Ibid. while Agamben’s “messianic vocation” is “a Downloaded from ptx. 74. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford: Stanford University Press.. 23–24. 85. 78. 2013 . Ibid. The Time That Remains. 135. 135.. 137. 107.. 182. 23. This is made explicit in The Kingdom and the Glory. 58. The Time That Remains.sagepub. Badiou’s truth is an “immanent infinity” (Badiou. 68. 1998)... 82. Ibid. 71.. The Time That Remains. Ibid...... though. 87. Ibid. 24. There is an important difference here. Homo Sacer. Benjamin. Ibid. 1968). I Corinthians 7: 29–30 (New International Version). 57. 26. 111. 84.. 53. 86. St Paul. 76. I Corinthians 7: 19 (New International Version). Agamben. W.. 248–49. Ibid. 67. 30. Agamben. 119. Ibid.. 80. Ibid. Agamben returns to the significance of Paul’s “as not” in The Kingdom and the Glory. 53. 57 (my emphasis). 72. G. 63. 79. 248: “The Messianic life is the impossibility that life might coincide with a predetermined form. 119. 83. 41. 56. 65.. Ibid. Agamben. 134–35. 70. Ibid... 77.
but one thing is clear: “There is a Messiah. Badiou ties this more closely to the coming of the event than Agamben. Downloaded from ptx. 25). Engels. “the political”.. Livingstone (London: Merlin Press. The Time That Remains. for whom the messianic is always already here. completes. 1971).. Ibid. 33. This paradoxical formulation is also expressed by Agamben in his identification of pure potentiality with Bartleby the scrivener (G.. between this world and the future world” (ibid. a zone of absolute indiscernability between immanence and transcendence. Agamben. Herman Melville’s Bartleby is a copyist who replies “I would prefer not to” to requests to do anything other than copy and who finally “prefers not” to copy either. 239–40. Collected Works (London: Lawrence and Wishart. in the sense that he alone redeems. The Time that Remains. 95. 90. Blumenfeld’s The Political Paul argues that Paul is an apologist for the Roman Empire. if one prefers. 96.sagepub.. 91. 245–46. Taubes reminds us that Benjamin insists that “Only the Messiah himself consummates all history. The Political Theology of Paul). This expression is taken from a speech delivered by John Reed (played by Warren Beatty) in the film Reds (1981). no neutralization. History and Class Consciousness: studies in Marxist dialectics. No shmontses [nonsense] like “the messianic”. 377. 97. which does not dodge the Pauline message that we must. 33. 99. 96. The Kingdom and the Glory. 419 and 449. Ibid. cited in Agamben.” Taubes (ibid. See especially 282–91. Žižek. Agamben. 102. 33. Again in striking contrast to this recent continental consensus. 70) admits that this is a very difficult sentence to interpret. 94. he has no power over him. 103. Agamben. The Time That Remains. or. trans. 101. 32. R. Ibid. 92. 1975). Badiou thereby retains something of Taubes’s seminal reading of Paul (Taubes. creates its relation to the Messianic. 32. Ibid. The Time That Remains. 32.Baker 23 movement of immanence. 251. somehow. 2011). 98. Marx and F.com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. 2013 .. The lawyer (not by coincidence a man of law on this reading) who is Bartelby’s employer finds that.” 89. 1999]). Agamben. 93. Agamben. but the Messiah. Living in the End Times (London: Verso. Agamben. Georg Lukács.. Potentialities: collected essays in philosophy [Stanford: Stanford University Press. be saved. In his Theologico-Political Fragment. K. Although both thus claim immanence as their ground. S. The Kingdom and the Glory.. despite repeated attempts to provoke a decisive confrontation. 33. Ibid. 100. 249 and 251.
Australia. where he finds attempts to articulate a break with cosmos particularly interesting. Potentialities.24 104. Political Theory XX(X) About the Author Gideon Baker is Associate Professor in the School of Government and International Relations. 178. His recent work in international political theory explored the ethics of hospitality as a way to break with the binary of realism and idealism in ethics in international relations. Queensland. Agamben. His current research is in political theology. Griffith University. 2013 .com at UNIV OF CHICAGO LIBRARY on March 27. The long-term goal of this project is a book provisionally entitled Liberation Political Theology. Downloaded from ptx.sagepub.
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