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The law cannot restrain the sovereign debates about

suspending rights of due process to address a severe
security threat, seeking to reframe the balance
between liberty and security, and asserting the necessity
of executive decision to tackle a severe crisis illusory
the law is always the exception.
Huysmans, Professor of Security Studies, 8 (Jef Huysmans, The
Jargon of ExceptionOn Schmitt, Agamben and the Absence of Political
Society, p. 172-174 //NK)
In reference to Schmitt, Agamben conceptualizes sovereignty at the threshold
between law and anomie. The sovereign is both part of and external to
the legal constitutional system (Agamben 1998). This means that
sovereign power is an aporia. While sovereign authority is defined and
sanctioned by law, it is not fully subsumed within the law. Sovereign
power always retains an arbitrary, unmediated capacity to impose rule. The
dialectic relation between legally mediated political power and unmediated
political power characterizes sovereignty. The relation between constitutive
and constituting power and the tension between sovereign capacity to
suspend law and legal capacity to pull the suspension back into law are two
conceptions that articulate this constitutional threshold between law and
anomie in politics. One of the central political questions here is about the conditions under which the
exercise of power that has crossed the threshold and thus lost its legality can nevertheless be legitimate.
The discussions about the legitimacy of humanitarian and other military interventions that are not
sanctioned by the UN are one example. The military intervention in Iraq in 2003 saw first an attempt to
define its legality. When this failed, some crossed the threshold in the name of extra-legal prerogatives
such as ethics and national security. This move then reinforced the debate about the importance of legality
as a condition for legitimate interventions in another country. This reading of sovereignty makes the
exception the defining constitutional issue of the political and places Agamben very closely to Schmitts
work. However, the most interesting part of Agambens work is not this mirroring of the Schmittean

For Agamben, the current

predicament is not characterized by an intensified politicization of
constitutional matters. At issue is not how to do politics at the interstice
between law and anomie but rather the nature of politics when the threshold
has become irrelevant and the political predicament has changed from the
exception to the-exception-as-the-rule. Agamben draws the distinction
between the politics of exception and the exception-as-the-rule most clearly when
constitutional problematique but rather how he declares it bankrupt.

he compares Schmitt and Benjamin (Agamben 2003:89109). In Agambens reading, for both Schmitt and
Benjamin 172 The Jargon of Exception the stake of the political game is anomiethe failure of the state to
reign in undetermined life. The historical reference was the radical polarization of German society by
revolutionary movements, economic crisis, and the political weakness of the Weimar republic. Schmitt
seeks to bring anomie back into the folds of law by positing a sovereign who simultaneously enacts anomic
and legal life and therefore has the capacity to impose rules of right and wrong upon anomic life. Anomie is
primarily defined as a normative vacuum that needs to be brought within a normative framework. To do

sovereign power needs to be able to act outside of the legal framework so

as to constitute a constitutional order where none is. Therefore , the
sovereign embodies and articulates in his decisions the very

threshold between anomy and law. Working across this threshold is the
central constitutive element of juridico-political ordering . Benjamin on the other hand
seeks to free anomie completely from law. He is looking for a concept of violence that is neither
constitutive of law nor constituted by law. He calls this divine violence which is a form of violence that
has no reference to law; it simply is violence that articulates its own existence (Benjamin 1996). Against
Schmitt, Benjamin seeks to retain anomie as pure life, empty of any determination. Benjamins anomie is
the emancipation of life from law. In this reading, the state of exception is a zone of absolute
indeterminacy between law and anomie. The sphere of creation (life) and the juridical order (law) are both
dragged in an eschatology without end where there is no redemption, no transcendence of the factuality of
being. It is a catastrophe in which the dialectic relation between law and anomy ceases to structure
societal and political practice. The political is not about bringing camps and revolutionary action back into
the folds of a constitutional order. On the contrary, the political stake is the enactment of anomie that has
completely broken its relation to lawin other words, a revolution and violence that are simply means
without redeeming ends (Agamben 2003:9699). In line with Benjamins notion of divine violence,

Agamben draws a radical, systemic split between law and politics . Life is no
longer politically enacted through a dialectic play between a
normative force that seeks to constrain politics by crystallizing a rigid
normative system and an anomic political force that seeks to transgress law
by applying the force-of-law without norms. Politics and law become both
simply living practices that may refer to each other but that are actually not
related (Agamben 2003). For Agamben, this condition of the exception-asthe-rule makes debates about suspending rights of due process to
address a severe security threat, seeking to reframe the balance
between liberty and security, and asserting the necessity of
executive decision to tackle a severe crisis illusory. They attempt to
reproduce a situation in which power remains defined in its relation to law
either constrained by it or transcending itwhen in fact the dialectic between
anomie and law that makes such references politically significant no longer
operates effectively. These illusory debates are not without political significance, however. It has
an important ideological function, according to Agamben. They nurture the idea that law has still a grip on
politics and life, while the practices that are deployed are radically detached from any legal framework. In
hiding this radical change in the nature of political power, debates like the one on reconciling liberty and
security become an ideological move that reads a radical transformation in the exercise of power back into
a familiar framework as if nothing has really changed. In Agambens understanding of the current
predicament, such a move sustains the direct exercise of political power on life which manifests itself
among others in camps but also in the violent interventionist international politics following 9 11
(Agamben 2003:144148). Agambens exception-as-the-rule differs from the idea that law is a political fig
leaf. The point is not that law is used to legitimate self-interest but the more radical idea that the relation

Under the
exception-as-the-rule, politics does not require law to legitimate itself ;
political history is beyond the legal political dialectic. The idea of legitimacy
retains the idea that the relation between law, as a legitimating practice, and
political power is an important stake that structures political debate and
practice. Defining the new politics of exception-as-the-rule, however, are the
practices that radically separate powerand violencefrom law (Agamben
2003:148). In the latter condition, politically significant life runs its course
without regard for law or legal practice and law becomes a self-referential
practice that operates at a great distance from factual life. It is a condition of anomie
between law and politics has become an historical Jef Huysmans 173 ontological irrelevance.

that is empty of any determination of life (Agamben 2003:89109). This leads us to the second difference
between Schmittean exceptionalism and Agambens definition of the exception-as-the-rule.

The logic of the sovereign is what allowed the

manifestation of concentration camps in the Holocaust
and the continued threat of a reccurence
Robinson, political theorist, 2011 (Andrew, In Theory Giorgio
Agamben: the state and the concentration camp
Violence by soldiers and police also expressed the logic of
sovereignty. In Sherene Razacks study of the peacekeeping intervention in Somalia for instance,

soldiers explained and tried to excuse abuse on grounds such as that the context was hostile, that it was a
chaotic Hobbesian state of nature, and that the normal expectations of everyday life had broken down .

The sociology of police, conducted by authors such as Robert Reiner, shows that
police also think of certain social groups including black
communities, marginal poor communities, and dissident activists
as police property who are outside normal protections, to be
treated according to order rather than law. To an extent, ideas such as
states of exception and homo sacer are also applied to issues such as the AIDS crisis in Africa, where
people are treated by rich western countries as not worth saving because of their poverty and
marginality, though this kind of use is more contentious. The application of Agamben in such cases often
shades over into discussions of Foucaults work on governmentality, or everyday techniques of
government power, which produce a kind of micro-sovereignty diffusing the power of decision among

The concentration camp, and Nazi death camps such as

Auschwitz in particular, are for Agamben particularly definitive or

telling examples of sovereignty. The by a long time) was camp (which preceded
the Holocaust a turning-point for Agamben because it made the temporary state of
exception permanent, locating it in space instead of time (unlike the
declaration of a state of emergency), and local to the core area of power, within
its territory but outside its law (unlike the colony or warzone). This fixing of the state of
exception as a permanent feature at a site in time and space intensifies the danger to
people declared homo sacer. Formerly, an outlawed person would be literally banished,
becoming a wandering figure driven into exile. Now, an outlawed person is not allowed to
go into exile (think for instance of the immense efforts put into catching high-profile fugitives), but
rather, is put in a situation suspended between inside and outside, constantly
at risk of arbitrary power. For Agamben, camps differ from other disciplinary
spaces (prisons, asylums and so on) because in them, anything is possible,
and the guard is absolutely sovereign.

The alternative is whatever being a lack of separation

between the political and natural life is crucial to move
away from sovereign powers excesses
Caldwell, Assistant Professor in the Department of
Political Science at the University of Louisville, 04 (Anne,

Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity
io) //MEB
Can we imagine another form of humanity, and another form of
power? The bio-sovereignty described by Agamben is so fluid as to appear irresistible. Yet Agamben
never suggests this order is necessary. Bio-sovereignty results from a particular and contingent history,
and it requires certain conditions. Sovereign power, as Agamben describes it, finds its grounds in specific
coordinates of life, which it then places in a relation of indeterminacy .

What defies sovereign

power is a life that cannot be reduced to those determinations: a life
"that can never be separated from its form, a life in which it is never
possible to isolate something such as naked life. " (2.3). In his earlier
Coming Community, Agamben describes this alternative life as

"whatever being."

More recently he has used the term "forms-of-life." These concepts come from

the figure Benjamin proposed as

that is 'man'."

a counter to homo sacer: the "total condition

For Benjamin and Agamben, mere life is the life which unites law and life. That tie

permits law, in its endless cycle of violence, to reduce life an instrument of its own power .

The total
condition that is man refers to an alternative life incapable of
serving as the ground of law. Such a life would exist outside
sovereignty. Agamben's own concept of whatever being is extraordinarily dense. It is made up of
varied concepts, including language and potentiality; it is also shaped by several particular dense thinkers,
including Benjamin and Heidegger. What follows is only a brief consideration of whatever being, in its

"Whatever being," as described by Agamben,

lacks the features permitting the sovereign capture and regulation
of life in our tradition. Sovereignty's capture of life has been
conditional upon the separation of natural and political life. That
separation has permitted the emergence of a sovereign power grounded
relation to sovereign power.

in this distinction, and empowered to decide on the value, and non-value of life (1998: 142). Since then,
every further politicization of life, in turn, calls for "a new decision concerning the threshold beyond which
life ceases to be politically relevant, becomes only 'sacred life,' and can as such be eliminated without
punishment" (p. 139).


Surveillance is key to the sovereign normalizing the
Douglas, 9 (Jeremy, independent scholar, Disappearing Citizenship:
surveillance and the state of exception

There has been an attempt the last few years to convince us to accept as the humane and normal
dimensions of our existence, practices of control that had always been properly considered inhumane and
exceptional. Thus,

no one is unaware that the control exercised by the

state through the usage of electronic devices, such as credit cards
or cell phones, has reached previously unimaginable levels.
(Agamben 2004) Electronic and biometric surveillance are the tactics
through which the government is creating a space in which the
exception is routine practice . The biopolitical implication of
surveillance is the universalization of bare life: History teaches us how

practices first reserved for foreigners find themselves applied later to the rest of the citizenry (ibid). These
new control measures have created a situation in which not only is there no clear distinction between
private and political life, but there is no fundamental claim, or right, to a political life as such not even for
citizens from birth; thus, the originary biopolitical act that inscribes life as political from birth is more and
more a potential depoliticization and ban from the political realm .

We are all exposed to the

stateless potentiality of a bare life excluded from the political realm,
but not outside the violence of the law (and therefore still included):
states, which should constitute the precise space of political life,
have made the person the ideal suspect, to the point that it's
humanity itself that has become the dangerous class (ibid). Making
people suspects is equivalent to making people bare life it is the
governmental (a Foucauldian governmentality rather than an Agambenian sovereignty I would
argue) production of a life exposed to the pure potentiality of the state
of exception: the sovereign ban, which applies to the exception in no
longer applying, corresponds to the structure of potentiality, which maintains
itself in relation to actuality precisely through its ability not to be (Agamben
1994, 46). Surveillance is the technique that opens up this
potentiality , which allows for the normalization of the exception. In
this particular instance i.e. biometric data collection and surveillance
in the US the state of exception as a permanent form of
governmentality and the universalization of homines sacri has been
brought into existence though the USA Patriot Act2 and the Patriot Act II3 .

Surveillance and permanent exception make city-camps

the new norms of exception allow total control over U.S.
Douglas, 9 (Jeremy, independent scholar, Disappearing Citizenship:
surveillance and the state of exception
This politics of potentiality is created through the de facto laws of state of exception legislation like the

Patriot Act. Looking at actual parts of the Act, we can see that it
exemplifies the state of emergency referred to by Agamben et al.;
the normal law of the state is not abolished but its application is
suspended so that it still technically remains in force (Agamben
2003, 31). As such, the suspension of the normal application of the
law is done on the basis of its right of self-preservation (Schmitt
1985, 12), so that the exception is that which must produce and
guarantee the norm. Obviously then the state of exception is not intended to be anything more
than a temporary safeguarding of normal law. In fact, there can be no normal law without the state of
exception: the state of exception allows for the foundation and definition of the normal legal order
(Agamben 1999, 48). The use of the state of emergency to protect the normality of the legal order dates
back at least as far as the Roman Empire. Whenever the Senate believed the state to be in danger, they
could implement the iustitium, which allowed for the consuls to take whatever measures they considered
necessary for the salvation of the state (Agamben 2005, 41) Looking back at the Judean Roman camp
example, the detention of the Jews could be seen as enacted during an iustitium when Jewish
rebelliousness was endangering the newly acquired Roman providence of Judea. The iustitium, as with

is a void in which the suspension of the

law creates a zone that evades all legal definition. Thus, the state of
exception is neither within nor outside of jurisprudence it is situated in an absolute
non-place with respect to the law (ibid, 50-51). This non-place,
however, also has literal geographic implications the place of the
camp is no longer necessary for creating bare life. Rather, the
mutually operative surveillance and state of exception allow for a
other examples of the state of exception,

city-camp , which maintains control and suspicion over a population

without necessitating borders. But, we must distinguish and this is relevant for the
Roman camp example between the functionality and mechanization of camps (see abstract). For
example, the Roman camp, prison, border camp, work camp, etc. all have a different functionality from
the suppression of a rebellion to idle detention but the mechanizations they employ to carry out this
functionality are the same - to monitor and maintain control over a given population by creating bare life
(the reason the population is in a camp in the first place is surprisingly irrelevant). Although the

I want to emphasize that the mechanizations

of power will always employ a structure of surveillance; this is the link
functionality of camps may differ,

between ancient and modern camps. Moving away from ancient examples of the state of exception and

looking at the current American judicial-political situation, Agambens

central argument in Homo Sacer and State of Exception is that modern
politics are defined by the permanence of a state of exception in
which the exception becomes the rule, or the norm. An example of this
exception-as-the-rule can be seen in an American 2006 CRS Report for Congress on national emergency
powers: those authorities available to the executive in time of national crisis or exigency have, since the
time of the Lincoln Administration, come to be increasingly rooted in statutory law (Relyea 2006, 2,

Under the powers delegated by such statutes

[constitutional law, statutory law, and congressional delegations],
the President may seize property, organize and control the means of
production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial
law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the
operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways,
control the lives of United States citizens . (ibid, 4, authors italics). This
report alludes to biopolitical powers for one, but also the ways in
which the state of emergency is implemented through a variety of
statutes, and not instituted as one bill or act that can be in or out of force en
bloc. Rather, it is becoming more difficult to identify juridical documents that provide state of exception
authors italics). It continues:

powers that are clearly distinguishable from normal law. The Patriot Act, to be sure, is clearly identifiable
from normal US law, but The Domestic Security Enhancement Act 2003 was not passed under that name
(nor under the alias Patriot Act II), but was tacked on to other Senate Bills piecemeal. For example, some
enhanced surveillance measures were not passed under the Patriot Act, but were passed into US Code -

Notwithstanding any other

law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic
surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign
intelligence information for periods of up to one year. So, snooping
surveillance tactics will still be part of normal law even if the Patriot
Act is not renewed; this is what Agamben means when he writes of the
permanent state of emergency (Agamben 2005, 2).
under title 50, chapter 36, subchapter I, 1802 of the US Code:

Surveillance is necessary for the sovereigns ability to

maintain control and a constant threat ultimately
allows for management of life
Douglas, 9 (Jeremy, independent scholar, Disappearing Citizenship:

surveillance and the state of exception
When we move towards the juridical-political situation of the state of
exception, we see another area in which surveillance plays a crucial
biopolitical role. The use of exceptional legal measures in order to protect the normal force of
law is what defines the state of exception. The normal law that is suspended is often that which
guarantees the rights and the citizenship of foreign and national citizens; thus, under an exceptional
juridical situation, individuals with no political significance are produced: bare life. The USA Patriot Act

embodies this loss of rights, production of bare

life, and increased surveillance based on a perceived national threat.
The state of exception , Agamben argues, is becoming more and
(among other documents)

more the normal course of politics this is nowhere more exemplary

than in the camp. The camp is the place where bare life is produced
and the exception becomes the rule. Yet, the Roman camp in Judea
shows us that the emersion of surveillance in a camp-state of exceptionterritory structure is nothing new. What is primarily modern is not biopolitics
(Foucault) or the camp (Agamben), but the governmental control of the
disappearance of citizenship. With digital technology, the erasure of a
definite here or there means that the localised camp is no longer
a paradigmatic place where the limit of the state of exception is
realised; rather, the non-place of a population in constant movement
is what defines the new non-place of the city camp. Thus,
surveillance is deeply imbedded in and necessary for the
governmental system that seeks to be instantly aware of any
potential threats to the state so that it can quash those threats by
depoliticizing dangerous portions of the population and exposing
them to the pure potentiality of the management of life.

Minor reforms wont fix the NSA or the broken system
behind it exception is the rule and the aff wont solve
Lennard, 14 (Natasha, writer covering civil liberties, dissent, and
nonelectoral politics, Obama weighs NSA reform, but our surveillance
state is going nowhere
Anyone investing much hope in President Obama reining in National Security Agency surveillance practices
is not paying enough attention. The line from the White House feeding excitable headlines about likely
big reforms is worthy of scrutiny (as, of course, is any line from the White House). The president is
expected to heavily restrict spying on foreign leaders an NSA practice revealed by Edward Snowdens
leaks that understandably prompted a diplomatic firestorm from U.S. allies, like German Chancellor Angela
Merkel, whose phones were being NSA surveilled. Obama is also reportedly (and somewhat more
significantly for the rest of us) considering restricting the NSAs bulk hoarding of Americans telephonic
data. The latter reform was among the bolder suggestions made to the president in a report compiled late
last year by an advisory counsel. Six months after Snowdens first revelations about NSA dragnet

it is crucial to
consider what is at stake in these reform efforts and where their
limitations lie. I propose (and havemade this point here before) that there
are profound limits to how far greater transparency and oversight of
the spy agency will go in reining in our current state of totalized
surveillance. A vast corporate-government surveillance nexus is intractably
part of (and gives shape to) contemporary life under late capitalism; it wont
crumble with a handful of government reforms. Secondly, reforms to NSA practices
would be a Pyrrhic victory if Espionage Act charges facing Edward Snowden are not dropped. So long
as Snowden continues to face persecution for bringing the extent of
NSA surveillance to light, it is clear that we live in a dangerous
national security state: Control over truths about government
activities that affect us all remain in the hands of the few and the
powerful. The pantheon of persecuted U.S. whistle-blowers Snowden and Chelsea Manning chief
surveillance came to light, and with the sniff of coming reform in the air,

among them should stand as a chilling testament to the governments war on information, which
proceeds unabated.

The status quo persists: Dissent on the pain of severe


The strongest reform reportedly under consideration by the president (and so the one I
will focus on here) would see the end of the NSAs dragnet collection of U.S. citizens call data. This is

A government that collects communications data without

grounds for suspicion de facto treats every citizen as a potential

threat .

Under proposed reforms, telecom companies, not government spy agencies, hold on to users

communications data, but and this is crucial in a format that makes the data readily accessible to the
NSA. The NSA would be able to access the records only by obtaining separate court approval for each
search, though exceptions could be made in the case of a national security emergency. The first point to
note here is that if separate court approval entails something akin to the furtive decision-making of the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, this is hardly reassuring. Secondly ,

the exemption for

national security emergencies is predictable, but leaves the door
open for continued abuses. Indeed, its been made abundantly clear
in the wake of 9/11 that the supposed state of exception enabled by
a national security emergency has been so normalized that the
exception is the rule. We have been told: Its always already a
national security emergency.

Data Collection Link

All agencies will defer to the sovereign in matters of data
collection in the name of national security since the
sovereign will just circumvent through declaring a
permanent state of exception tanking aff solvency
Hull 14 (Gordon, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at
UNC Charlotte and core faculty in the Public Policy PhD Program, The
Surveillance State at the Intersection of Bio, Juridical and Sovereign Power
2014, accessed 7/6/15, FZ)
Whether or not these efforts will succeed strikes me as an open
question, and their scope is certainly limited, since legislatures and
administrative agencies also like to collect data and use it to govern.
They are also inclined to defer to the Executive when words like
national security are at stake. Separation-of-powers remedies, in other
words, can probably only go so far. Here Im more interested in the relations
between kinds of power that underlie Balkins proposals, and how he
characterizes the risk of not doing something. He concludes that unless
legislatures and courts can devise effective procedures for inspecting and
evaluating secret programs, the Presidency will become a law unto itself (234). In other words, the surveillance capacity of the executive, without
juridical oversight, will end up recreating sovereign power in the
precise sense articulated by Schmitt: the ability to decide who is and
is not subject to the law; by exempting itself from legislative and
juridical oversight, such an executive would also be in the de facto
position of creating a permanent state of exception in Agambens
sense of the term (Judith Butler suggested that the indefinite detention
policies of the Bush administration created such an irruption of sovereign
power within biopower). So despite the fact that the biopolitical
surveillance state emerged out of relatively anodyne developments
in the welfare state, it is fully capable of blurring the boundaries
between itself and old-fashioned sovereignty.

Privacy Rights
Privacy right schemes fail security justifies exceptions,
surveillance will continue to be extended
Buscher et al. 13

(Monika Buscher, PhD in Sociology, Professor at Lancaster University, Lisa

Wood, lecturer in Social Sciences at Lancaster Medical School, and Sung-Yueh
Perng, Postdoctoral Researcher on the Programmable City project, worked in
the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University, Privacy, Security,
Liberty: Informing the Design of EMIS, pgs. 4-6, VW)
Recent debates about Safeguarding Privacy in a connected world (European
Commission, 2012) indicate that current privacy protection is flawed,
undermining well-meant efforts to utilise intelligence to enhance
efficiency and security within European societies. Landmark new data

protection regulations are being drawn up to take account of technological

advances and to address key issues in the processing of personal data,
particularly conditions of consent, transparency, data access for data
subjects, rights to rectification and erasure, the right to object and the right
not to be subject to profiling, obligations of data controllers, and exceptions
to the fundamental right to personal data protection (EU
Commission, 2012). Buscher et al. Privacy, Security, Liberty Proceedings of
the 10th International ISCRAM Conference Baden-Baden, Germany, May
2013 T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and L. Yang, eds. 5 It is
critical for designers of EMIS to address privacy management. If regulators,
citizens or professionals are worried about privacy, they will not
(allow) use of new technologies even if they could enhance
emergency services. Perhaps even more worryingly, technologies
may be used in ways that extend surveillance unnecessarily. With an
ever more extensive use of ever more powerful databases, some analysts
argue: a new Faustian bargain was struck around 1990. [In a] dance
with the digital [which is] making public through databasing what had
been private many elements of economic and social life are locked
in to a path dependent pattern, more of a spiders web than web 2.0.
(Urry, 2007:275) For Urry, who considers these matters in the context of
increasing frictions over resource shortages (water, soil, oil, finance) and
climate change, societies face a choice between all-encompassing
surveillance and disastrous chaos as global futures are poised
between an Orwellian or Hobbesian future (ibid: 290). Choices about
these futures are often implicit, and they are made in everyday life
and in the declaration of a state of exceptions. The ways in which
people and organizations appropriate new technologies, for example,
increasingly cast doubt over the very concept of spatially distinct public and
private spheres: the overwhelming concern with the problem of
erosion of the public sphere or blurring of boundaries between
the public and the private, fail[s] to capture the multiple mobile
relationships between them that involve the complex and fluid
hybridizing of public-and-private life. (Sheller & Urry, 2003) People
may, for example, engage in private communications in public spaces,
have networked medical devices (such as pacemakers) implanted into their
bodies, inhabit homes or workspace that are open to scrutiny by others, for
example, through assisted living technologies, or media-space technologies.
Sherry Turkle states: we live a life that generates its own electronic
shadow. Over time, most people find a way to ignore or deny it.
particularly for those who have grown up in our new regime of
surveillance, leaving an electronic trace can come to feel so natural
that the shadow seems to disappear. (Turkle, 2011) In crises, legitimate
agencies powers of personal data collection and processing may be
extended, and the transformation of public/private boundaries provides a
powerful basis for more agile emergency management. But there is a dark
side, and because designers of EMIS have the power to foster positive as well
as dangerous privacy practices, they should at least be aware of this, and
ideally proactively support management of dangers. Michel Foucault, a
historian and philosopher who explored technologically augmented
disciplinary rationalities, shows how individuals whose private lives

may be scrutinized by authorities are likely to internalize control

into their very body and soul (Foucault, 1977). Foucault makes a
distinction between inclusionary and exclusionary discipline.
Inclusionary discipline happened, for example, during the plague
pandemic, when exceptional innovation in personal data processing
took place. Forms of census were invented, people were registered
in their homes, their name, and their health status were recorded.
This allowed the authorities to know about deaths, to collect and
remove the dead and to train people to deal with the disease. In the
process they created docile bodies, citizens that would subject
themselves if not willingly then at least quietly to surveillance,
coercion, and control exerted by the authorities. This was
inclusionary, because those subject to surveillance stayed inside
society and became part of the management of the crisis. The
treatment of leprosy was very different. It implied identification,
then separation and exile, often permanent exile and it is a form of
exclusionary discipline that set a precedent highly relevant to
todays ICT supported emergency management, where social sorting,
categorical exclusion and false positives are becoming issues. Clive
Norris (2002) maps Foucaults analysis onto a discussion over whether
digital surveillance fosters an exclusionary digital disciplinary
society. He shows how powerful next generation ICT are able to
combine, for example, CCTV, facial recognition analytics, automatic
number plate recognition (ANPR) and policing databases. If details
are stored across such landscapes of interoperable data repositories
for commerce, transport, education, administration and crisis
response, information about deviance can be searched and stored.
It becomes possible to exclude certain groups of people from
certain spaces and services. Populations may be subtly diverted
and denied access to some services in sentient cities (Crang &
Graham, 2007)(see also Adey, 2009 for an account of preemptive
securitization and the body). Individuals may be subject to surreptitious
capture of personal data, for example through face recognition and
behavioural biometrics. On the basis of personal data processing,
individuals may become false positives, that is, falsely identified
as a target for action (or inaction). This is a particularly strong risk
during and after emergency situations. For example, in their
investigations into a thwarted bombing attack shortly after the
2005 7/7 London bombings, the police incorrectly identified Jean
Charles de Menezes as Hussain Osman, one of the organisers of the
attack. This eventually led to Mr de Menezes being shot dead. More
broadly, particular groups within society may be discriminated
against due to technologically augmented capabilities to carry out
social sorting, that is, categorization based on criteria such as
ethnicity, age, gender, health status but also more Buscher et al.
Privacy, Security, Liberty Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM
Conference Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013 T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S.
Fortier, J. Geldermann and L. Yang, eds. 6 flexible markers across different
data sets. For example, in 2009 in the UK, protester markers were
accumulated and connected to vehicles and their owners which were then

entered into national automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) transport

monitoring systems, which led to peaceful protesters being searched and
obstructed. This also constitutes an instance of function creep, that
is, the reuse of data collected for one purpose for another,
unrelated purpose. Actuarial analytics are a driver for function
creep. They utilise statistics to measure and anticipate risks. Such
analytics underpin strategies to locate, sort and manage diverse
risks, and originates from the insurance sector. ICT supported data
processing and data mining possibilities have introduced actuarial techniques
to policing (Feeley and Simon, 1994), where they have become at least as
important as reactive penal measures (Zedner, 2007: 265). Actuarial
analysis is problematic, because it allows social sorting and
categorical exclusion, eschews corrective aspirations, takes crime
and deviance for granted, and seeks technical means and measures
to manage the threat they represent (Yar, 2003: 256). In emergency
response, similar ethical dilemmas may arise as austerity and
increased occurrence of crises stretch response capacity. Solove
(2004) argues that in the light of such powerful data processing techniques,
traditional metaphors of surveillance (such as Big Brother) could usefully be
extended through consideration of Kafkas novel The Trial (Kafka, 2000). The
book chronicles the exclusion, helplessness and frustration individuals can
face in relation to disembodied, dissociated, actuarial use of personal data,
when they realize widespread on-going profiling of their lives, done with
unclear accountability and little control on their part over the gathering,
processing and storing of data. The new temporality of privacy can trigger
further tensions. What one says and how one acts could have farreaching
consequences when the ephemerality of speech and actions is destroyed.
While the default thinking when designing ICT for emergency management is
to keep records as detailed and as lasting as possible, this thinking
complicates embodied control of personal information and privacy
management (Bannon, 2006; Dodge & Kitchin, 2007). Furthermore, the
unforgetting accumulation of data can allow retrospective scrutiny
of decisions and actions by emergency response professionals and
experts. The verdict in the lAquila trial in 2012, where six
scientists and an official of Italys Civil Protection Agency were
convicted of manslaughter for providing false reassurances to the
public regarding the earthquake, is an extreme example of how the
ability of tracking who said what when may affect the
accountability of emergency responders.

Securitization for the war on terror leads to the
suspension of basic rights, and a permanent state of
exception, which blurs the line between military and
civilian and suspends basic human rights such as privacy
Buscher et al. 13
(Monika Buscher, PhD in Sociology, Professor at Lancaster University, Lisa
Wood, lecturer in Social Sciences at Lancaster Medical School, and Sung-Yueh
Perng, Postdoctoral Researcher on the Programmable City project, worked in
the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University, Privacy, Security,
Liberty: Informing the Design of EMIS, pgs. 6-7, VW)
Widening our perspective yet further, for societies the collection and
processing of personal data may become problematic, because
basic rights, such as freedoms of speech and movement can be
eroded. Contemporary constructions of risk and danger, especially
since the start of the war on terror after 9/11, may be leading
societies into a permanent state of emergency/exception. A potent
driver is the transformation of fear, which, according to sociologist
Frank Furedi: is no longer simply an emotion, or a response to the
perception of threat. It has become a cultural idiom . Popular
culture continually encourages an expansive alarmist imagination.
(Furedi, 2006). Frightened societies have begun to accept, or even call
for, a far-reaching securitization, even militarization of everyday
life (Graham, 2010), that is, an embedding of security/military
perspectives and technologies into of everyday spaces and
everyday lives, e.g. through all-surround CCTV or the use of blast proof
concrete in buildings. EMIS, too, are incorporating military inspired
technologies, such as incident command system (ICS) structures and GPS.
Military metaphors and technologies can deeply affect the way in
which emergency management is done: The centralization of
emergency response under the Department of Homeland Security
in the US after 9/11, for example, played a significant part in the
failure of humanitarian response to Katrina (Birkland, 2009; see also
Tierney, 2006). The embedding of military technologies into everyday
life and ICT has a long history, from the Internet to GPS. However,
recent years have seen an acceleration, as technology companies
bound up with the military sell to civilian and public authority users,
and create new products that are no longer purely military or
purely civilian (Wood, Ball, Lyon, Norris, & Raab, 2006). Pressures of
shrinking military budgets no doubt fuel some of this doubling, or reorientation. A militarization of emergency response and everyday
culture contributes to what Giorgio Agamben describes as a spread
of exceptions, often declared to protect national security (Agamben,
2005), where fundamental human rights to privacy can be
suspended. Agambens argument is complex and it is beyond the scope of
this paper to explore it in detail, but readers may find elaboration in
(Scheuerman, 2006). Most importantly, the extension of exceptions indexes

corrosive trends, and these can be exacerbated by increasing interoperability

between information systems, EMIS and supportive architectures that
connect them, e.g. into smart city databases, in exceptional circumstances.
European history is marked by the devastating experience of two world
wars, and the holocaust, which was facilitated by an
unprecedentedly effective process of collecting, sharing and
processing personal data through an efficient bureaucratic
apparatus and a popular culture of surveillance (Arendt, 2004;
Bauman, 1989). Totalitarian rule was established in no small part through
the evocation of a series of extra-legal states of exception, which
suspended critical laws, including rights to data protection, because
it was assumed that the rule of law may prevent a polity from
defending itself in the event of a serious political crisis (Scheppele,
2003: 1010). This European experience demonstrated that an extensive
suspension of fundamental Buscher et al. Privacy, Security, Liberty
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference Baden-Baden,
Germany, May 2013 T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and L.
Yang, eds. 7 human rights and a softening of separations between
different data controllers may have severe consequences for
societies. These experiences still colour much of the political response to the
war on terror: much of the international community has turned
away from these extra-legal justifications for states of exception.
Only the United States, with its eighteenth century constitution and
Cold War legacy of exceptionalism, seems to be soldiering on in this
new legal space of conflict (Scheppele 2003: 1082) But US philosophies of
extra-legal exceptionalism, where the power to define exceptions is
concentrated in the hands of individual rulers, are influencing changes
worldwide that inform the design of information systems with permeable
boundaries, persistent storage, powerful analytic and visualizing capacities,
including the design of EMIS, smart city systems and supporting
architectures. A key issue is the removal of boundaries that separate criminal
investigations from national security investigations. For example, in the UK
calls for smart city convergence between Transport for London and police
systems, and the extension of the ANPR systems use from congestion
charging to policing related to national security as well as investigations for
general criminal policing2 echo controversies around the US Patriot Act,
aimed at Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools
Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. The Act was passed in 2001,
and it enables extensive processing of personal data, including records of
commercial transactions and Passenger Name Records collected in third
countries, such as European member states (Whittaker, 2011). This is, in
part, allowed to happen, because citizens do not feel the intrusion
into their privacy, because preemptive measures are often
localised, unplanned, enabled by invisible infrastructure and
powered by interoperability between systems. Genuine and
imagined threats and austerity economic pressures on the
provision of emergency services seem to require the maximization of
data sharing. The intrusion is creeping, disembodied, invisible and
passive, and rationalized by militarised discourses of everyday
safety issues. Our summary of some key dangers of this

perspective on personal data usage suggests that it has the

potential to erode democratic citizenship and civil liberties.

The aff justifies the state of exception with terrorism

Agamben 01 (Giorgio, "On Security and Terror." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 20, 2001,
Translated by Soenke Zehle,, 2015-7-3, DLS)

Security as leading principle of state politics dates back to the the birth of the modern state. Hobbes
already mentions it as the opposite of fear, which compels human beings to come together within a society.
But not until the 18th century does a thought of security come into its own. In a 1978 lecture at the Collge
de France (which has yet to be published) Michel Foucault has shown how the political and economic
practice of the Physiocrats opposes security to discipline and the law as instruments of governance.
Turgot and Quesnay as well as Physiocratic officials were not primarily concerned with the prevention of
hunger or the regulation of production, but wanted to allow for their development to then regulate and
"secure" their consequences. While disciplinary power isolates and closes off territories, measures of
security lead to an opening and to globalization; while the law wants to prevent and regulate, security
intervenes in ongoing processes to direct them.In short, discipline wants to produce order, security
wants to regulate disorder. Since measures of security can only function within a context of freedom of
traffic, trade, and individual initiative, Foucault can show that the development of security accompanies the
ideas of liberalism.
Today we face extreme and most dangerous developments in the thought of security. In the course of
a gradual neutralization of politics and the progressive surrender of traditional tasks of the state, security
becomes the basic principle of state activity. What used to be one among several definitive
measures of public administration until the first half of the twentieth century, now becomes the sole
criterium of political legitimation. The thought of security bears within it an essential risk. A state
which has security as its sole task and source of legitimacy is a fragile organism; it can always be
provoked by terrorism to become itself terroristic.
We should not forget that the first major organization of terror after the war, the Organisation de lArme
Secrte (OAS), was established by a French general, who thought of himself as a patriot, convinced that
terrorism was the only answer to the guerrilla phenomenon in Algeria and Indochina. When politics, the way
it was understood by theorists of the "science of police" in the eighteenth century, reduces itself to police,
the difference between state and terrorism threatens to disappears. In the end security and terrorism
may form a single deadly system, in which they justify and legitimate each othetrs actions.
The risk is not merely the development of a clandestine complicity of opponents, but that the search for
security leads to a world civil war which makes all civil coexistence impossible. In the new situation
created by the end of the classical form of war between sovereign states it becomes clear that security finds
its end in globalization: it implies the idea of a new planetary order which is in truth the worst of all disorders.
But there is another danger. Because they require constant reference to a state of exception, measure
of security work towards a growing depoliticization of society. In the long run they are irreconcilable
with democracy.
Nothing is more important than a revision of the concept of security as basic principle of state politics.
European and American politicians finally have to consider the catastrophic consequences of uncritical
general use of this figure of though. It is not that democracies should cease to defend themselves: but
maybe the time has come to work towards the prevention of disorder and catastrophe, not merely towards
their control. On the contrary, we can say that politics secretly works towards the production of emergencies.
It is the task of democratic politics to prevent the development of conditions which lead to hatred,
terror, and destruction and not to limits itself to attempts to control them once they have already

The War on Terror is a global civil war the biopolitics of

the state of exception allow for the suspension of any and
every law in the name of security
Iftode ,Philosopher of the University of Bucharest, 2012

(Public Reason, Philosophy, Terror, and Biopolitics, 7/3/15, CY)

Having in mind these critical remarks about the modern individual and the
contemporary society, how we are to approach the worrisome growth of
religious fundamentalist movements and terrorist groups over the last
decades? On the one hand, it is obvious that these movements are trying to
present their violent deeds as being desperate reactions not only to
globalization, but also to the Western lack of spirituality and leveling
consumerist culture. But if we were to look any closer, we could see, as
suggested by Habermas, that what we are dealing with are actually
violent reactions against the modern way of understanding and
practicing religion in a pluralist society (Borradori 2003, 18).2 On the
other hand and maybe on an even deeper level, what we are confronted with
is again not only a violent resistance to the effect of totalization or
globalization, but also to the effect of individualization in modern societies.
What could finally force a young Muslim living in a Western country into
embracing the horrifying ends of an Al Qaeda group, if not the sense of
belonging to a community of faith and destiny, to a spiritual tradition that
provides a higher purpose in life (and death) than the mere individual
biological existence? In an insightful article, S. Zizek (2005) reminds us W.B.
Yeatss verses: the best lack all conviction, while the worst / are full of
passionate intensity (The Second Coming, 1920). And then he asks us: Is
this opposition not a good description of todays split between tolerant but
anemic liberals, and the fundamentalists full of passionate intensity?. Of
course there is nothing romantic or noble about terrorist activities, no matter
of their nationalist or religious justifications. As Habermas puts it, from a
moral point of view, there is no excuse for terrorist acts, regardless of the
motive or the situation under which they are carried out (...) Each murder is
one too many (Borradori 2003, 34). More than that, we could argue that a
terrorists relationship to the self is not the result of a process of ethical
subjectivation shaped in a traditional communal framework, but rather the
effect of a successful brainwashing by his leaders, who will unscrupulously
use him and eventually sacrifice him for their cynical and pragmatic
purposes. And even if our young Muslim terrorist were to sustain that his
affiliation to Al Qaeda is the result of an autonomous decision, we could
argue, following a Habermasian argument, that a system of power relations
that doesnt recognize the equality of partners and in which you are not
allowed to freely express your views and doubts on various subjects,
including the ones having to do with religious faith, cannot constitute a
genuine dialogical community. But 2] As Peterson remarks, what seems to
justify, in the Islamists minds, a call to arms that suspends the demands of
morality when it sanctions the killing of non-combatants is not only the fact
that they consider the Western policies to be immoral, but also that they
consider them to be an attack on the idea of a theologically conceived
community, which is essential to all religious fundamentalism (2007, 96).
Cristian Iftode the fact remains that the modern Western individual and the
modern terrorist are in a way linked together as products of the same
biopolitical network. II. The idea of reshaping Foucaults concept of biopolitics
by forging a theory of power that reveals the hidden point of intersection
between the juridico-institutional and the biopolitical models of power is
arguably the most challenging part of G. Agambens intellectual project (see

Agamben 1998, 6). In this famous book, entitled Homo sacer, the Italian
thinker holds that the inclusion of bare life in the political realm
constitutes the original if concealed nucleus of sovereign power.
It can even be said that the production of a biopolitical body is the
original activity of sovereign power. In this sense, biopolitics is at
least as old as the sovereign exception. Placing biological life at the
center of its calculations, the modern State therefore does nothing
other than bring to light the secret tie uniting power and bare life.
In a follow-up of this book, Agamben (2005) develops further implications of
his concept of homo sacer (bare life) in the context of contemporary
biopolitics by analyzing the state of exception established in the
aftermath of 9/11. His critique aims at the very heart of Western
democracies, arguing that, faced with the unstoppable progression
of what has been called a global civil war, the state of exception
tends increasingly to appear as the dominant paradigm of
government in contemporary politics (2005, 2). Living in a state of
exception means living on a threshold of indeterminacy between
democracy and absolutism, situation that would have been made
obvious by the political decisions of Bush administration following
the 9/11 terrorist attacks: The immediately biopolitical significance
of the state of exception as the original structure in which law
encompasses living beings by means of its own suspension emerges
clearly in the military order issued by the president of the United
States on November 13, 2001, which authorized the indefinite
detention and trial by military commissions (not to be confused
with the military tribunals provided for by the law of war) of
noncitizens suspected of involvement in terrorist activities [...] What
is new about President Bushs order is that it radically erases any
legal status of the individual, thus producing a legally unnamable
and unclassifiable being [...] The only thing to which it could possibly be
compared is the legal situation of the Jews in the Nazi Lager [camps], who,
along with their citizenship, had lost every legal identity, but at least retained
their identity as Jews. As Judith Butler has effectively shown, in the detainee
at Guantanamo, bare life reaches its maximum indeterminacy. (2005,
34)3 If the policies of U.S. and its allies against terrorism seem to
inspire further developing of Agambens radical critique of
contemporary institutions and biopolitics, following the footsteps of
Foucault, Arendt and Schmitt, it has to be said that the failure of
Western political regimes to prevent the escalation of Islamist
terrorism, as well as the growth in religious fundamentalism
noticeable in many parts of the world, represent phenomena that
are seriously putting to the test the whole theory of communicative
action developed by the renowned philosopher J. Habermas during
his entire career. The dilemma would be the following: based on
Habermass universalist theory of communicative action, how are we to
proceed when dealing with exponents of a culture that doesnt
believe in the value of rational dialogue and tends to consider any
discussion with an unfaithful, at least on religious themes, rather as
an evil temptation to be repressed than as a mean to reach some
kind of agreement or mutual understanding? It could be argued that

situations of this kind show the inherent limitations of Habermass approach.

Without going any further with this general criticism, I shall only mention one
important critical point Habermas is making with respect to U.S. policy on
terrorism after 9/11, when he considers Bushs decision to call for a war
against terrorism a serious mistake, both normatively and pragmatically.
Normatively, he is elevating these criminals to the status of war enemies; and
pragmatically, one cannot lead a war against a network if the term war is
to retain any definite meaning (Borradori 2003, 34-35). Thus, we can
evaluate, from a very different perspective than the one supported
by Agamben, the negative implications and pitfalls of the global war
on terrorism.

Terrorism has allowed the sovereign to declare a constant

state of exception The terrorist and state becoming one
Agamben, Italian continental philosopher, 01 (Giorgio Agamben, 920-2001, "Giorgio Agamben," The European Graduate School, //NK)
Security as leading principle of state politics dates back to the the birth of the
modern state. Hobbes already mentions it as the opposite of fear, which compels human
beings to come together within a society. But not until the 18th century does a thought of
security come into its own. In a 1978 lecture at the Collge de France (which has yet to be published)

Michel Foucault has shown how the political and economic practice of the
Physiocrats opposes security to discipline and the law as instruments of
governance. Turgot and Quesnay as well as Physiocratic officials were not
primarily concerned with the prevention of hunger or the regulation
of production, but wanted to allow for their development to then
regulate and "secure" their consequences. While disciplinary power
isolates and closes off territories, measures of security lead to an opening
and to globalization; while the law wants to prevent and regulate, security
intervenes in ongoing processes to direct them.In short, discipline wants to
produce order, security wants to regulate disorder. Since measures of security
can only function within a context of freedom of traffic, trade, and individual
initiative, Foucault can show that the development of security accompanies
the ideas of liberalism. Today we face extreme and most dangerous
developments in the thought of security. In the course of a gradual
neutralization of politics and the progressive surrender of traditional tasks of
the state, security becomes the basic principle of state activity. What used to
be one among several definitive measures of public administration until the
first half of the twentieth century, now becomes the sole criterium of political
legitimation. The thought of security bears within it an essential risk . A state
which has security as its sole task and source of legitimacy is a
fragile organism; it can always be provoked by terrorism to become
itself terroristic. We should not forget that the first major organization
of terror after the war, the Organisation de lArme Secrte (OAS),
was established by a French general, who thought of himself as a patriot,
convinced that terrorism was the only answer to the guerrilla phenomenon in
Algeria and Indochina. When politics, the way it was understood by
theorists of the "science of police" in the eighteenthe century,

reduces itself to police, the difference between state and terrorism

threatens to disappears. In the end security and terrorism may form a
single deadly system, in which they justify and legitimate each othetrs
actions. The risk is not merely the development of a clandestine complicity of opponents, but that the
search for security leads to a world civil war which makes all civil coexistence
impossible. In the new situation created by the end of the classical form of
war between sovereign states it becomes clear that security finds its end in
globalization: it implies the idea of a new planetary order which is in truth the
worst of all disorders. But there is another danger. Because they require constant
reference to a state of exception, measure of security work towards a
growing depoliticization of society. In the long run they are
irreconcilable with democracy. Nothing is more important than a revision
of the concept of security as basic principle of state politics. European and American
politicians finally have to consider the catastrophic consequences of uncritical general use of this figure of

maybe the time has

come to work towards the prevention of disorder and catastrophe, not merely
towards their control. On the contrary, we can say that politics secretly
works towards the production of emergencies. It is the task of
democratic politics to prevent the development of conditions which lead to
hatred, terror, and destruction and not to limits itself to attempts to control
them once they have already occurred.
though. It is not that democracies should cease to defend themselves: but

The global war on terror is a farce terror is always

internal, and the affs discourse conceals the war the
West is having with itself terrorism always has an
indeterminate prior aggression, the aff just participates in
the continued cycle
Iftode ,Philosopher of the University of Bucharest, 2012
[Public Reason, Philosophy, Terror, and Biopolitics, 7/5/15, CY]
IV. In J. Derridas view, the most urgent and necessary action in the
aftermaths of 9/11 would be the deconstruction of the notion of terrorism,
because the public use of it, as if it were a self-evident notion, perversely
helps the terrorist cause. Such deconstruction consists [...] in showing that
the sets of distinctions within which we understand the meaning of the term
terrorism are problem-ridden. (Borradori 2003, XIII) For this purpose, in the
interview given to G. Borradori only a few weeks after the tragic event of
9/11, J. Derrida formulates a number of questions destined to shake our
common understanding of the concept of terrorism. In what follows, I shall
only enumerate some of these questions, without going into further details, in
order to focus, in the final part of this paper, on what I consider to be the
most challenging thesis Derrida is supporting, a thesis that will also allow us
to see what ultimately differentiates Derridas and Habermass approaches of
public sphere, global justice and modern democracy. First of all, Derrida is
asking if we can really define terror in a way that distinguishes it
from fear, anxiety, and panic. This question proves to be extremely
important when trying to distinguish a terror that is organized,
provoked, and instrumentalized, from a fear that the entire
tradition in political thinking embracing the juridico-institutional
model of power, from Hobbes to Schmitt and even to Benjamin, holds to

be the very condition of the authority of law and of the sovereign exercise of
power, the very condition of the political and of the state (Borradori 2003,
102). And if it is of course true that not every experience of terror is
necessarily the effect of some terrorism (103), isnt it equally true that there
has never been a war that didnt entail the intimidation of civilians, and thus
elements of terrorism (XIII)? More than that, having in mind the fact that
the political history of the word terrorism is derived in large part from a
reference to the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, a terror that
was carried out in the name of the state and that in fact presupposed a legal
monopoly on violence, how are we to deal with the notion of state
terrorism? And this is of vital importance, since every terrorist in
the world claims to be responding in self-defense to a prior terrorism
on the part of the state (103), in this case, the alleged terrorism on
the part of U.S. and its allies. Or how can we decide whether we
should speak of a national or an international terrorism in the
cases of Algeria, Northern Ireland, Corsica, Israel, or Palestine
(104) ? Are we allowed to forget the fact that terrorists might be
praised as freedom fighters in one context (for example, in the
struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan) and
denounced as terrorists in another (and, these days, its often the
very same fighters, using the very same weapons)? It is true that we
usually understand terrorist actions as being direct attacks on civilians or
direct threats posed to the lives of the innocents. But how confident are we
that indifference and nonactions such as letting die, or not wanting to
know that one is letting others die (the hundreds of millions of human
beings dying from hunger, AIDS, lack of medical treatment, and so on in
disadvantaged regions of the world) should not be considered, from a moral
and political point of view, as part of a more or less conscious and
deliberate terrorist strategy? (108), asks Derrida. I shall quote only one more
question the French thinker challenges us to answer: What would September
11 have been without television? [...] [T]he real terror consisted of and,
in fact, began by exposing and exploiting, having exposed and
exploited, the image of this terror by the target itself . [...] This is again
the same autoimmunitary perversion. (1089) By this last statement we are
touching what is arguably the most provocative thesis in Derridas
argumentation. The French philosopher is claiming that 9/11 was in
fact only the latest manifestation, at that time, of a crisis of
autoimmunization characterizing the very functioning or the very life
of our modern neo-liberal democracies. This statement should be
understood both on a symbolic level and on a very realistic one, if
we take into account, on the one hand, the questions raised after
9/11 about the incapacity of the most advanced Intelligence services
in the world to foresee and prevent the attacks and, on the other
hand, the fact that the suicide terrorists that hijacked the planes
had been trained in the States during the Cold War. As we know, an
autoimmunitary process is that strange behavior where a living being, in
quasi-suicidal fashion, itself works to destroy its own protection, to
immunize itself against its own immunity (Borradori 2003, 94). Derrida had
already used the couple immunity/autoimmunization borrowed from biology
when referring to the question of religion and its complicate relation to

science (1998). Invoking it in order to explain what made possible

September 11th, even without an explicit reference to Foucaults
concept of biopolitics, seems to support the hypothesis that modern
terrorism is, in many respects, an effect of the biopolitical matrix, a
reaction somehow coming from inside the network of power
relations that structure the Western world. A hypothesis: since we
are speaking here of terrorism and, thus, of terror, the most
irreducible source of absolute terror, the one that, by definition,
finds itself most defenseless before the worst threat would be the
one that comes from within, from this zone where the worst
outside lives with or within me. [...] Terror is always, or always
becomes, at least in part, interior. And terrorism always has
something domestic, if not national, about it. The worst, most
effective terrorism, even if it seems external and international, is the one
that installs or recalls an interior threat, at home and recalls that the
enemy is also always lodged on the inside of the system it violates
and terrorizes. (Borradori 2003, 188 n. 7) From this perspective, Derrida
can argue that by declaring a War on Terror, the Western coalition is in
a way at war with itself.

Hegemonic discourses surrounding the war on terror

moralize a permanent state of exception that will soon
become global, exacerbating colonialism and inequality
and causing global civil war
Bhat 14
(Mudasir Altaf, Research Scholar at Punjabi University, Patiala, Asian Journal
of Multidisciplinary Studies, Counter-Hegemonic Discourse in The Wasted
Vigil,, Accessed:
7.5.15, VW)
The Wasted Vigil is a tale of war torn Afghanistan, tracing its political history
from the Soviet invasion to September 11 attacks. It exposes the actions of
the political powers that have been selfishly pursuing their own interests in
Afghanistan for the past thirty years. It is challenge to the post-9/11
hegemonic discourses. The soviets, the Americans, the Taliban and other
local war lords are lashed equally for devastating and ruining Afghanistan.
So the Pakistani-born author spares neither side while empathizing
with the innocent victims who continually bear the brunt of the
ceaseless fighting. The novel shows Afghanistan in the state of civil war.
In the hegemonic discourses that serve as the packages of
consciousness, this ongoing civil war has been read as the result of
the countrys inability to govern itself. This paper intends exploring how
The Wasted Vigil (2009) forms a counter-discourse by challenging such
stereotyping through its insistence on representing civil war in Afghanistan
alongside of colonial invasion and occupation. Aslam is of the view that
Afghanistan today is not haunted by Taliban and Al-Qaeda sponsored
terrorism only, but there are multiple forces at work that have resulted in the
destruction and devastation of this country. The novel actually illustrates
that instead of civil wars we are now in the realm of what Hardt and Negri

have termed as global civil wars (4), where no one appears to be

accountable for the culture of violence that these civil wars breed. It has
become the effect of power and authority that is denationalized,
that is not fixed to one place or area, but a normalized permanent
state of exception. The impossibility of civil wars in a colonial or
postcolonial nation is greatly stressed. Drawing on Agambens
theories of both biopolitics and states of exception, it shall be
argued that the text offers to understand the War on Terror as a
version of global civil war that serves to normalize and legitimize
the transformation of constitutional democracy into a permanent
but unacknowledged state of exception. The Wasted Vigil explores
the global processes of war, historical and political trauma with lyricism and
profound compassion. It narrates the interlinked stories of a cast of
geographically different characters that are all drawn, for different reasons,
to the isolated house in the countryside near Jalalabad. The house is owned
by Englishborn Marcus Caldwell, who after marrying a liberal Afghani doctor
Qatrina, started living as a permanent resident of Afghanistan. His house is
the meeting site of four other characters: Lara, a Russian woman in search of
her brother, Benedikt, who went missing during his military service in Soviet
Afghanistan; David, a former CIA American spy and lover of Marcus
deceased daughter, Zameen. There is Casa, a Muslim fanatic, who is
radicalized in Taliban sadistic training camps to fight all things American.
There he falls in love with the beautiful Afghan girl Dunia, who is liberal
minded and a devoted school teacher. All these characters maintain devoted,
sometimes futile, vigils for long missing family members and loved ones. But
the vigil or the hope of finding every missing character results in despair
because ultimately every relationship is destroyed by death. Each has a
quest, and each is essentially thwarted by circumstances and history. The
story moves fluidly between the present, where these characters all live
nearby and yet are worlds apart, and the past when they look back and
reflect on their journeys that brought each of them there. Aslams cast of
eclectic characters represents most of the factions involved in Afghanistans
long running civil war, in which local warlords, the Soviet invasion, Taliban
insurgents and a Western alliance waging its socalled War on Terror all play
their part. They all are representatives of global conflicts and relations,
demonstrating the offences and misunderstandings; both historical and
contemporaneous that resulted Counter-Hegemonic Discourse in the Wasted
Vigil Asian Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, 2(7) July, 2014 104 in the
devastation of Afghanistan. Through Marcus we are able to explore the
British colonial presence in the region in the late nineteenth century;
through Lara it is the decade of Russian occupation and through David we
are able to receive information about the subversive American presence in
Afghanistan through the decade of Soviet occupation. Likewise Casa stands
for the Taliban rule that annihilated Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Aslam
portrays Afghanistan as a landscape that is part physical and part spectral.
The first image of the unusual ceiling to which hundreds of books have been
fastened with iron nails becomes a metaphor for Afghanistan and its
disruption. The image is described as A spike driven through the pages of
history, a spike through the pages of love, a spike through the sacred (5).
These books are nailed to the ceiling by Marcuss traumatized wife Qatrina in

a crazed effort to preserve these from Taliban raids. The second image is of
the painted walls depicting scenes of lovers either in an embrace or
travelling towards each other through forest and meadow (12-13). These
images of the romantic love are terribly damaged by bullets, demonstrating
the violence inflicted by Taliban and other external forces within the borders
of Afghanistan. Lara further reinforces the atrocities inflicted over centuries
on this land: This country was one of the greatest tragedies of the age. Torn
to pieces by many hands of war, by the various hatreds and failings of the
world. Two million deaths over the past quarter-century. Several of the lovers
on the walls were on their own because of the obliterating impact of the
bullets nothing but a gash or a terrible ripping away where the
corresponding man or woman used to be. A shredded limb, a lost eye. (14)
Almost all the characters of this novel are tormented by different wars in
different ways. The interconnectedness of the wars that have so deeply
affected these characters is apparent when Lara, having heard David speak
of his brother, thinks about Vietnam: A different war but may be at some
level it was the same war. Just as tomorrows wars might be begotten by
todays wars, a continuation of them. Rivers of lava emerging onto the
surface after flowing many out-of-sight miles underground. (362) Laras
musings suggest that we are too hasty in considering wars in different
regions and at different times in isolation; subtly highlighting the
reality of a global civil war in the twenty-first century. Each local
war should not be viewed in isolation, but as a part of a grand
constellation, linked to other war zones and areas that might not
be presently at war. As Nadeem Aslam says about wars in Afghanistan:
Once the Soviets withdrew, and US interest waned, the Taliban
rose 10 years later 9/11(and the ensuing War on Terror)
happened and half the planet woke up. They had no idea it came
out of the cold war." (Jaggi par 15). Civil war in Afghanistan is not
the armed conflict between sovereign and non-sovereign
combatants within a single sovereign territory (Hardt 08). It
involves a wide range of global actors. It is being funded by foreign
sources that had stakes in the region by virtue of former colonial
occupation and because of economic interests which ranged from
the mining of gems to the production of opium and heroin poppies.
As Aslam says: The years of war and civil war have emptied this
countrys museums (70). Civil war in Afghanistan here is
introduced not on its own, but in relation to a more general, more
broadly undefined war. The implication being that civil war has
occurred and continues to occur in partial relation to this other
type of war, and has been set in motion by the economic interests
in the landscape that had such gems buried in its soil. The text
attempts to outline this economic interest as ancient, through the image of
the diamond taken at some point from Afghanistan, placed in the eye of a
statue in India, and then looted to end up in first an Armenians hand and
then a Russian rulers. At one point Marcus ruminates that The lapis lazuli
of their land was always desired by the world, brushed by Cleopatra onto her
eyelids, employed by Michelangelo to paint the blues on the ceiling of the
Sistine chapel (18). Such references underline the fact that Afghanistan
has been raided for commodities for millennia, and that the currentday

occupation of the country by NATO mimics and echoes earlier invasions and
raids. There is a close relationship between civil war and what
Giorgio Agamben says state of exception. He says in his ground
breaking book State of Exception that civil war is the opposite of
normal conditions, it lies in a zone of undecidability with respect to
the state of exception, which is state powers immediate response
to the most extreme internal conflicts (2). Further he says: modern
totalitarianism can be defined as the establishment , by means of
the state of exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the
physical elimination not only of political adversaries but of entire
categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be CounterHegemonic Discourse in the Wasted Vigil Asian Journal of Multidisciplinary
Studies, 2(7) July, 2014 105 integrated into the political system. (2) After
9/11, American government has declared nothing less than a
global state of exception through the occasion presented by the
War on Terrorism. The phrase War on Terror provided US
government enough freedom over time and space. The word
terror is not a country, so the war could be taken to different
places. And it is very difficult to find out who the enemy really is in
War on Terror. As Spivak says that War on Terrorism has been zoomed up
to face an abstraction (82). Afghanistan has been virtually turned
into a Camp, that according to Agamben is a space where the
rules of the world cease to apply, where we have the communities
of people without the rights to have rights. It is the bare life of
these homo sacers in Afghanistan that Nadeem Aslam is trying to bring
to the limelight to the global audience in The Wasted Vigil. The way the
War on Terror has been represented contribute to the construction
of hegemonic narratives through which the America came to
imagine itself as a beacon light of democracy and a civilizing
bulwark against the violent forces of terrorist rogue states. Using
the rhetoric of just and unjust wars, the War on terror moralizes
rather than legitimizes the use of global violence by putting it
outside the realm of reason and critique. The violence inherent in
the War on Terror is normalized and dehistoricized. It has changed
the entire social and political makeup of Afghanistan and world at
large, where a distinction between war and civil society has
become obsolete. It is through the disembodiment of this global
violence that the dehumanization of Afghanistan in particular and
majority of the globes population in general, takes on normative
and naturalized state of existence. Aslams novel thus dramatizes the
transformation of the countrys civil war into a permanent state of exception.
In post-9/11 Afghanistan the state of exception has become a rule.
When state of exceptionbecomes the rule, Agamben says,
then the juridico-political system becomes a machine which may
at any moment turn lethal (86). It is this lethal machine whose
biopolitical motor is the state of exception that is, in Agambens
analysis, leading the West toward a global civil war (87). The
Wasted Vigil presents an extraordinary search for social justice through the
narrative and seeks to understand the operative modes of violence beyond
their historical and social configurations. Conceptualizing global civil

war as being engineered by the Global North, that is,

predominantly by the United States and its allied nations, it reveals
the ways in which global war deeply invests in and ensures the
continuous accumulation of global capital and centralized
practices of uneven capital distribution. Global civil war aims at
maintaining a historically received global order of unequal power
relationships and has also become geopolitics of resource control.
It is intrinsic to the formation of new global sovereignty that
supersedes colonialism and imperialism. Thus the global civil war
enacted in the pages of this postcolonial narrative of war offers a
critique that clearly unsettles contemporary configurations of
imperial and colonial habits of mind and dismantles the conditions
that produce social violence and anguish.

The declaration of the War on Terror created a

permanent state of exception.
Spanos, Professor of English at Binghampton University, 2011
(William V., 2011, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, The Exceptionalist
State and State of Exception: Herman Melvilles Billy Bud, Sailor,
accessed 7/5/2015, JAK)

Based on the dubious assumption of the reality of a state of national

emergency, it was a legal initiative, that gave the president the
absolute authority (plenary executive powers) to deploy the military
within the United States for the purpose of policing its citizenry (in violation of
the Fourth Amendment and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878); to censor the
media (i.e., anul the First Amendment); to represent any American citizen as
an enemy combatant and to hold him or her in custody indefinitely and
without recourse to the law; and to flout any international treaty, which is to
say, to arrest, torture (use enhanced meth-ods of interrogating detainees),
and to render citizens of other countries to third-party jurisdictions. In
declaring a war on terror in the wake of a 9/11, that is to say, the Bush
presidency tacitly abrogated democratic law-(the Constitution) in favor of
establishing martial the sovereign law-less law of the state of exception
or, to appropriate Giorgio Agambens more precise terms, the secularized
sacred the United States, a motive variously called self-defense,
national security, domestic security, and homeland security. And
insofar as the force that threatened the United States was an
amorphous and nameless enemy an enemy without an identifiable
uniform and not associated with a state it could be said that the Bush
administrations unilateral declaration of war on terror in the
aftermath of 9/11 was also a tacit announcement that rendered the
state of exception permanent.

The sovereign reduces individuals to homo sacer through

the war on terror necessary surveillance strips
meaning from lives of citizens
Van Munster, 4 (Rens, senior researcher on peace, risk and violence at

Danish Institute for International Studies, The War on Terrorism: When the
Exception Becomes the Rule
This article argues that the semiotics of the war on terrorism points at a
significant shift in United States' discourses on security. This shift can best
be described as a move from defense to prevention or from danger to risk.
Whereas the notion of defense is closely connected to the state of
war, this article claims that the war on terrorism instead
institutionalises a permanent state of exception. Building upon Agamben's
notion that the state of exception is the non-localisable foundation of a political order, this article makes
two claims. First, it argues that semiotic shifts in United States' security politics point at a general trend
that, to some extent, structures international American interventions. In a sense ,

the semiotic
shifts in American security discourse declare the United States as
the sovereign of the global order: they allow the United States to
exempt itself from the (international) framework of law, while
demanding compliance by others. Second, it claims that this production of
American sovereignty is paralleled by reducing the life of (some)
individuals to the bare life of homo sacer(life that can be killed without
punishment). In the war on terrorism, the production of bare life is
mainly brought about by bureaucratic techniques of risk
management and surveillance , which reduce human life to
biographic risk profiles.

Threats of terrorist attacks help maintain the state of

Arslan, 7 (Zuhtu, Rethinking the Liberty-Security Balance in Difficult
Times: Some Notes on the Turkish Experience
This paper aims to explore the possibility and indeed necessity of
fighting against terrorism without sacrificing such basic values of
liberal democracy as the rule of law and human rights. This problem is
generally formulated as striking a delicate balance between security
and freedom. This paper, therefore, first of all questions the so-called balance or trade off argument
by unraveling some of the traps embedded in this generally accepted argument. Secondly, Turkeys long
experience in combating terrorism will be analyzed with a special reference to the recent amendments to
the Anti-Terror Law. An examination of Turkeys record before the European Court of Human Rights will help

reveal the heavy price of combating terrorism in terms of human

rights violations. It will be argued that most of these violations have

been the direct and indirect result of the state of exception which
has prevailed because of terrorist threats .

9/11 marked the beginning of Americas shift into the

state of exception a shift which has no intention of
Danner, 11 (Mark, After September 11: Our State of Exception
We are living in the State of Exception . We dont know when it will
end, as we dont know when the War on Terror will end. But we all
know when it began. We can no longer quite remember that moment, for the images have
long since been refitted into a present-day fable of innocence and apocalypse: the perfect blue of that late
summer sky stained by acrid black smoke. The jetliner appearing, tilting, then disappearing into the skin of
the second tower, to emerge on the other side as a great eruption of red and yellow flame. The showers of
debris, the falling bodies, and then that great blossoming flower of white dust, roiling and churning

Americans, those terrible moments stand as a brightly lit portal
through which we were all compelled to step, together, into a
different world. Since that day ten years ago we have lived in a
subtly different country, and though we have grown accustomed to these changes and think
upward, enveloping and consuming the mighty skyscraper as it collapses into the whirlwind.

little of them now, certain words still appear often enough in the newsGuantanamo, indefinite detention,
tortureto remind us that ours remains a strange America.

The contours of this strangeness

are not unknown in our historythe country has lived through broadly similar periods, at least

half a dozen or so, depending on how you count; but we have no proper name for them. State of siege?
Martial law? State of emergency? None of these expressions, familiar as they may be to other peoples, falls

What are we to call this subtly altered America?

Clinton Rossiter, the great American scholar of crisis government, writing in
the shadow of World War II, called such times constitutional dictatorship.1
Others, more recently, have spoken of a 9/11 Constitution or an
Emergency Constitution. Vivid terms all; and yet perhaps too narrowly
drawn, placing as they do the definitional weight entirely on law
when this state of ours seems to have as much, or more, to do with
politicswith how we live now and who we are as a polity. This is in
part why I prefer the state of exception, an umbrella term that gathers beneath
naturally from American lips.

it those emergency categories while emphasizing that this state has as its defining characteristic that it
transcends the borders of the strictly legalthat it occupies, in the words of the philosopher Giorgio

a position at the limit between politics and lawan

ambiguous, uncertain, borderline fringe, at the intersection of the
legal and the political.2 Call it, then, the state of exception: these years
during which, in the name of security, some of our accustomed
rights and freedoms are circumscribed or set aside, the years during
which we live in a different time. This different time of ours has now
extended ten yearsthe longest by far in American historywith
little sense of an ending. Indeed, the very endlessness of this state
of exceptiona quality emphasized even as it was imposedand the
broad acceptance of that endlessness, the state of exceptions
increasing normalization, are among its distinguishing marks. For the

overwhelming majority of Americans the changes have come to seem subtle, certainly when set beside
how daily life was altered during World War II or World War I, not to mention during the Civil War. Officially

sanctioned torture, or enhanced interrogation, however dramatic a departure it may be from our history,
happens not to Americans but to others, as do extraordinary rendition and indefinite detention; the
particular burdens of our exception seem mostly to be borne by someone elseby someone other. It is
possible for most to live their lives without taking note of these practices at all except as phrases in the
newsuntil, every once in a while, like a blind man who lives, all unknowingly, in a very large cage, one or
another of us stumbles into the bars. Whoever takes the time to peer closely at the space enclosed within
those bars can see that our country has been altered in fundamental ways. When President Barack Obama
in his elegant address accepting the Nobel Peace Prize declares to the world that he has prohibited
torture, we should pause in our pride to notice that torture violates international and domestic law and
that the notion that our new president has the power to prohibit it follows insidiously from the pretense
that his predecessor had the power to order itthat during the state of exception, not only because of
what President George W. Bush decided to do but also because of what President Obama is every day
deciding not to do (not to look back but look forward), torture in America has metamorphosed.

Before the War on Terror, official torture was illegal and anathema;
today it is a policy choice.

The ways in which the USFG handles terrorism indicates

its existence in a state of exception
Rogers, 8 (Nicole of Southern Cross School of Law and Justice, Terrorist v

sovereign: legal performances in a state of exception
It is not simply the conditions in which the trials are conducted, and
the visible degradation of the accused terrorists to beings less than
human, which suggest a state of exception. The evidence provided
by the prosecution in the terror trials also supports a conclusion that
the courts are operating within a state of exception in which an
apparently innocent sequence of events can inexplicably trigger
prosecution and the imposition of harsh punitive penalties. Agamben
repeatedly describes the state of exception as a place in which fact is indistinguishable from law (2005:
29). Peter Fitzpatrick has questioned whether the legal question can ever be strictly distinguished from the
factual question (2001: 262). However, this merging of fact and law is certainly apparent in the Lodhi trial,
in which the evidence regarding Lodhis activities was not necessarily incriminating: the collection of two
maps of the Australian electricity system, a request for information about materials which could be used to
make explosives, the downloading of aerial photographs of Australian defense establishments, and the
possession of a document describing how to make various poisons and explosives. Evidence about his
purchase of a large amount of toilet paper, which could produce nitrocellulose for a bomb, formed the
basis of a further count (later dropped) in the original indictment. Such conduct could not be described as

it is in accordance with
the arbitrary decision-making processes of the state that the author
of such conduct is labelled a terrorist. This confusion between
transgression and compliance with the law, such that what violates
a rule and what conforms to it coincide without any remainder
(Agamben 1998: 57), is a central paradox of the state of exception.
transgressive and was clearly capable of innocent explanation. Yet

The war on terror fuels the permanent surveillance state

of the U.S.
Tran-Creque, 13 (Steven from the Center for the Study of the
Drone at Bard College, The Forever War is Always Hungry

Whenever someone mentions sovereignty, its pretty easy to come away

with the impression that all thats at stake is the law: questions of territory,
jurisdiction, violations of airspace, and so on. Consider, for example: Two months ago, Pakistan accused the
United States of violating its sovereignty with drone strikes, demanding that their own government be
granted control over strikes within their borders. Addressing recent drone strikes in Yemen, Glenn
Greenwald noted that killing a person without trial is not only extrajudicial, it also violates the sovereignty
and dignity of the entire tribe to which the slain person belonged. Most recently, writing for Foreign Affairs
in the emerging genre of drone sinomania, Andrew Erickson and Austin Strange voiced concern about how
China is following the United States example in disregarding the sovereignty of other nations as the
Chinese drone fleet has rapidly caught up to American military and surveillance capabilities. And so on . In
both popular discourse and the policy press, pundits and commentators have overwhelmingly adopted the
same familiar blueprint: a legalistic invocation of sovereignty that emphasizes borders and governmental

There is a dangerous intellectual poverty in

this. We are not, as Trevor Paglen recently observed, moving
toward a surveillance state: we live in the heart of one. This is the
era of total surveillance and extrajudicial killing , of public austerity and mass
authority to the exclusion much else

incarceration, of permanent unemployment and global warming: what Jakob Augstein recognized last week
in Der Spiegel as nothing short of totalitarianism. The extraordinary measures of rendition, black sites,
secret laws, black budgets and retroactive legalizations that have accompanied the vicious internal
targeting of Muslims, protesters and whistleblowersall of this has become the new normal, and coming
decades will reap the whirlwind. This is what Paglen has dubbed the terror state: not merely the

As the War on Terror

now transforms into the forever war, I think we must begin by asking
how exactly we ever got here. Of course, at first glance, the connection between all of this
possibility of turnkey tyranny one step away, but its virtual inevitability.

and the question of whose legal jurisdiction prevails in Waziristan seems faint at best. Certainly, no matter
how broadly one reads the term war, one struggles to find in this anything like the strangely resilient
imagery of nation states battling each other with state of the art weaponry, no matter how much this
continues to dominate the way we think of war. In none of the usual accounts can one find something like
Jean Bodins definition of sovereignty as the absolute and perpetual power of the republic, one of the
principal influences from which Carl Schmitt famously drew his definition of the sovereign as he who
decides on the exception to the law. But I would insist: these are not esoteric historical or theoretical
concerns. I want to offer a very different approach here to the question of what sovereignty means.

Sovereignty has never been an anodyne policy question of whose

jurisdiction applies, of who controls drones, or of how visible such
clandestine military programs will be. Rather, following Eyal
Weizman, one should begin by asking how sovereignty came to be
exercised as the economistic management of death. In the strangest of
places, David Graebers historical critique of an old anthropological debate over the divine kingship of the
Shilluk of Southern Sudan offers what I find to be the most compelling explanation for the forever war. That

the War on Terror is better understood as an unusually visible

example of the constitutive principle of sovereignty: a permanent
war between the sovereign and everyone elsethe only kind of war
there is. This is why, as Teju Cole once remarked, the forever war is
always hungry. The Raw Material of Sovereignty Weizmans question is simple. How, after the
is, that

evacuation of the ground surface of Gaza, did bodies, rather than territories, or death, rather than space,
turn into the raw material of Israeli sovereignty? In Weizmans Thanato-tactics, sovereignty is simply the
management of death. The Israeli General Security Services assassination program, which began in 2000
before 9/11produced the sprawling surveillance and counterinsurgency apparatus of the occupation.
But it also provided the template and testing grounds for the United States own assassination program.
What Weizman is really interested in is the logic of the lesser evil, by which economizing language
produces this environment of managed death. From this perspective, collateral damage calculations are
not a humanitarian triumph limiting the scope of violence. Rather, they are a crucial part of the ideological
apparatus by which acts of state violence are rendered legal and legitimate, encompassed within the
permissible logic of forestalling greater violence. Weizman quotes Israeli Air Force commander Eliezer
Shkedi saying, before the 2006 invasion of Gaza, that the only alternative to aerial attacks is a ground
operation and the reoccupation. Assassination, he added, is the most precise tool we have. So too with
proportionality, balancing, efficiency, pragmatism, the injunction to be realistic, and the entire pantheon
of reasonable constraints. All of the oppositional forces of military interests and intelligence agencies,
human rights groups and journalists, can be incorporated within the same project: the maintenance of
humanitarian violence, albeit one that bills itself as a lesser form of violence compared to the alternatives.
As Will Saletan put it in Slate earlier this year with memorable enthusiasm: Drones kill fewer civilians, as a

percentage of total fatalities, than any other military weapon. Theyre the worst form of warfare in the
history of the world, except for all the others. civilian casualties? Thats not an argument against drones.
Its the best thing about them. The choice presented is always between assassination and invasion,
between Hellfire missiles and imprecise bombsbetween fewer dead and more dead. It is not a choice
between war and peace. Well-trained commentators cannot even imagine a world in which such things
simply do not happen. And one never questions the legitimacy of the system in which, as Hannah Arendt
emphasized, one must choose evil. Periodic eruptions of unchecked violenceas in the Israeli invasion of
Gaza in 2008 and the bombardment in 2012are neither accidents nor failures. The normal practice of
violence through checkpoints, annexation, resource extraction, and assassination is maintained against the
the ever present threat of greater violence, regularly demonstrated. The greater evil kept at bay by the
lesser evil, in an endless state of war. This permanent threat of arbitrary violence is precisely what we call
sovereignty. The Only War there Is Beginning with his observation that states are at the same time forms
of institutionalized raiding or extortion, and utopian projects, David Graebers definition of sovereignty is
simple enough: the right to exercise violence with impunity. Graeber offers the example of the Ganda
kingship to the south of the Shilluk. In the late 19th century, European visitors to the court of King Mutesa
offered a gift of firearms. Mutesa responded by firing the rifle in the street and killing his subjects at
random. When David Livingstone asked why the Ganda king killed so many people, he was told that if
[the king] didnt, everyone would assume that he was dead. However, the notoriety of the Ganda kings
for arbitrary, random violence towards their own people did not prevent Mutesa from also being accepted
as supreme judge and guardian of the states system of justice. Indeed, it was the very foundation for it.
Specifically, Graeber is interested in the transcendent quality of violence: the violence and transgression of

the sovereign may be

arbitrarily violentthe etymology here is tellingand nevertheless
seen as the supreme source of justice and law. Graeber calls this transcendent
the king makes him a creature beyond morality. Paradoxically,

aspect of violence divine. It isnt just that kings act like gods; its that they do so and get away with it.
This remains the case in the modern state. Walter Benjamins famous distinction between law-making

We often say that no one

is above the law, but if this were true, there would be no one to
bring the legal order into being in the first place : the signers of the Declaration
and law-maintaining violence refers to the same phenomenon.

of Independence or the American Constitution were all traitors by the legal order under which they were
born. There really is no resolution to this paradox. The solution of the left is that the people may rise up
periodically and overthrow the existing legal regime in a revolution. The solution of the right is Carl
Schmitts exception: that sovereignty is exercised by the head of state in putting aside the legal order. But

all sovereignty is built on

a foundation of illegal acts of violence, and it always carries the
immanent potential for arbitrary violence. In 19th-century accounts of rainmakers
whichever solution one prefers, this really just defers the dilemma:

in Southern Sudan, the function of violence is even clearer. With rainmakers, as with Shilluk kings, the
health of the land is tied to the health of the king. If the rains fail to fall, first people will bring petitions,
then gifts. But after a certain point, if the rains still dont come, the rainmaker must either flee or face a
community united to kill him. It isnt hard to see why rainmakers would want something like the states
monopoly on violence or a retinue of loyal, armed followers. But the crucial point is that insofar as the
people could be said to exist, they were essentially seen as the collective enemy of the king. European
explorers in the region often found kings raiding enemy villages only to find that the villages contained the
kings own subjects. They were delivering arbitrary violence to the people they were supposed to protect.

predatory violence was and would always remain

the essence of sovereignty. Such is the hidden logic of sovereignty.
Above all, it depends on the transcendent quality of violence that
allows the sovereign to become, as Hobbes put it, a mortal god. But this is also means
So Graeber reminds us,

that arbitrary violence is the constitutive principle of sovereignty, defining the relationship between the
sovereign and everything else: What we call the social peace is really just a truce in a constitutive war
between sovereign power and the people, or nationboth of whom come into existence, as political
entities, in their struggle against each other. There is no inside or outside here. Contra Schmitt and his
friend-enemy distinction, this constitutive war precedes wars between nations and peoples. From the
perspective of sovereign power, there is no fundamental difference in the relation between a sovereign

This constitutive war is

a war the sovereign can never wina forever war that can never
end. No War but the Forever War What exactly is one supposed to make of John Brennans admission
and his people, and a sovereign and his enemies, explains Graeber.

that the war against Al Qaeda will continue for another decade? How did the AUMF and the Patriot Act
together come to constitute something like Americas Article 48, creating a permanent state of exception

did drones become an inevitable part of the near future in New York
City? After all, the War on Terror really isnt anything like a war at all
in which something like the NSAs giant automated Stasi is simply accepted as the new normal?

at least, not in the conventional imaginary of nation states commanding disciplined military forces on
established fields of battle. The United States commands a degree of military power and comparative
dominance simply unprecedented in human historywhat is elegantly referred to, in the anodyne
language of military planners, as asymmetry. There are no strictly defined battlefields, and the formal
enemies in the War on Terror have rarely amounted to more than the insurgent army of a deposed dictator
(funded and armed by the U.S., albeit long ago) and a few hundred religious students in the mountains of
Central Asia. It is in fact genuinely strange how resiliently this conventional image seems to persist in both
popular and intellectual imagination. Even scholarly responses to the War on Terror begin from the
assumption that something new and strange is happening when battlefields and opponents alike are no
longer delimited but rather always and everywhere. If one limits oneself to legal documents, this is pretty
much the only possible conclusion. The conventional imagery really seems to be most useful in obscuring
the more fundamental realities of what war really is. In part, war consists of the far more common practice
of civil wars, guerrilla wars, genocide and internal repressionbut also, in a larger sense, the fundamental
state of war between the sovereign and his people that is the originary, constitutive state for sovereign

The forever war, then, has effectively allowed the United

States to claim sovereignty to farthest reaches of the earth.
Certainly, this is not a question purely of drones: the apparatus also
consists of a deep surveillance state, total international digital
surveillance, a military larger than the combined militaries of the rest of the world, and extralegal
power itself.

rendition and detention programs. But at the edges of this arrangement, one finds Agambens homo sacer,
Fiskesjs barbarians: those excluded from the legal order, stripped of rights, subject to death at any time

is the logic of sovereign violence taken to its most extremeand not
insignificantly, this has been accomplished in part by euphemizing
that violence, whether in the sanitized parlance of the military
the point at which an empire converts those beyond its reach into obedient subjects or corpses.

focused obstruction, targeted killing, kinetic actionor the more artful, ideological euphemization
by which assassination programs become complex and debatable moral issues in the liberal press. It
should come as no surprise that this has been accompanied by the infinite expansion of an apparatus of

One should never forget

that the instruments of sovereigntydrones, militarized police, mass
surveillance apparatuswere always directed inwards as much as
outwards, because the security state secures one thing: the safety
of the sovereign above all. From the perspective of sovereign power,
there is no inside and there is no outside. There is only the violence
to which we are all subject.
domestic surveillance and control unprecedented in human history.

War on terror has justified total surveillance allows the

sovereign a permanent exception to exert power over life,
death, freedom and privacy
Lennard, 14 (Natasha, writer covering civil liberties, dissent, and
nonelectoral politics, The real state of the Union: Civil Liberties War
on terrorism
In this age of unbounded, unending war,

the state of the union is a state of


States of exception, as described by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, are times of

increased executive power grounded in moments of crisis (historically war) that enable sovereign powers
to withhold or suspend rights normally afforded its citizens. What Agamben noted of the George W. Bush

that the state of exception has transcended

specific terrorist threats and become the norm. Our prevailing state
of exception is best illustrated by the shape of the ill-defined war on
terrorism. Creeping shadow drone wars and massive surveillance,
built on vast dragnets, transmit a clear message about the state of
our union today: In a war without end, border or front line, we are all
always already potential threats, potential targets. Our national
era and what remains true is

security state is now structured around this fact. A totalized state

of surveillance , justified by hackneyed and demonstrably false claims to
national security measures, undergirds the state of the union. Obama stands
in a line of presidents who have grounded the extension of executive
powers over life, death, freedom and privacy in the necessities
of wartime. Lincoln, after all, authorized the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus along the
military lines between Washington and Philadelphia, without congressional approval. Agamben, in fact,
called the Great Emancipator an absolute dictator. Franklin D. Roosevelt appealed to the rhetoric of war
in 1933 to push through the New Deal. The interminable war on terrorism continues to enable the

Without an end to
this constant state of exception, untold abuses of power remain
inscribed in the state of the union.
president to appeal to emergency powers at the expense of civil liberties.

The war on terror justifies a permanent state of

emergency, resulting in bare life and law filtered through
the lens of violence
Damai 05
(Puspa, Winter 2005, Marshall Digital Scholar, The Killing Machine of
Exception: Sovereignty, Law, and Play in Agambens State of Exception,
article=1030&context=english_faculty, Accessed: 7.7.15, VW)
Giorgio Agambens slender but profound monograph on the state of
exception is an intervention into a world that is becoming more and more
exceptionalist. The events of 9/11, the War on Terror, and the
successive decrees and acts authorizing fingerprinting,
interrogation, and indefinite detention of suspects in terrorist
activities, all testify to Agambens prophetic portrayal of
contemporary politics in which the state of exceptionnormally a
provisional attempt to deal with political exigencieshas become a
permanent practice or paradigm of government. When the
exception becomes the rule, it results, argues Agamben, not only in
the appropriation of the legislative or judiciary power by the
executive, the suspension of the constitution, and the extension
and encroachment of the militarys wartime authority into the civic
sphere, but also in a state of global civil war, which allows for the
physical elimination not only of political adversaries but of entire
categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated
into the political system (2005b, 2). In a way, therefore, the State of
Exception is an exploration or analysis of the ways in which this killing
machine of exceptionalism works. Besides the scary and probably
scandalous historical parallels drawn in this text, for instance,
between Hitlers Decree for the Protection of the People and the
State and the USA PATRIOT Act, Agamben is also interested in
theoretically and generally exposing the growing transformation of
the contemporary government into a killing machine through a
fictitious production of the exception by the executive. The reference
to the specific historical instances of the state of exception, therefore,
occasions a sustained philosophical meditation on the fate of law and life

after the suspension of the juridical order in the exception or after the
application of law is withdrawn in order to expose life to the force of law
without application. In other words, the state of exception unfolds as an
emptiness of law that at once bans in order to abandon the living
being to law. Through the idea of the abandonment of life to law, Agamben
succeeds in illustrating the biopolitical significance of the state of
exception that culminates in producing a legally unnamable and
unclassifiable being bare life (or la nuda vita, as the original Italian
text calls it). Along with undertaking the task to clarify the conceptual
uncertainty around the syntagm, the state of exceptionwhich, in its
semantic as well as practical indeterminacy, has been conflated with the
state of necessity, emergency, full powers, and martial lawAgamben, in the
State of Exception, attempts to provide an answer to the question that
never ceases to reverberate in the history of Western politics: what does it
mean to act politically (2). That is to say, the retrieval of politics in the
wake of the end of all politics by the exception is inextricably
intertwined with the biopolitical nexus that binds life to law by
means of exclusion. The biopolitical threshold of the exception is
the extreme zone of intensity wherein law remains but its
application is deactivated. Agamben characterizes this exceptional
locus where law blurs with violence as a zone of anomie where law
remains but 256 The Killing Machine of Exception only as a pure force
of violence. Agamben puts this anomic place of law as the force of law .
In this assessment of the proper locus of the exception, Agamben juxtaposes
Carl Schmitts notion of dictatorship and Benjamins idea of pure violence. He
also revisits ancient Roman institutions and practices of the iustitium and
auctoritas only to find that the exception is a no mans land, an absolute
nonplace, an empty space in which is manifested a legal void (vuoto as the
original text has it [15]) that runs, regardless of time and place, through the
entire political life in the West. Thus, for Agamben, the exception is
neither a purely constitutional nor strictly a historical problem. It is
not constitutionally determined because it does not strictly belong
to totalitarian governments only; rather it constitutes a threshold
of indeterminacy between democracy and absolutism, thereby
giving way to what have come to be known as protected
democracies. Furthermore, it is not a historical issue, not only because it
is as much present in ancient Roman republic as it is in contemporary
republics, but also because there is no time prior to the state of exception.
Agamben categorically rules out the possibility of any simple outside to the
state of exception: There are not first life as a natural biological given and
anomie as the state of nature, and then their implication in law through the
state of exception (2005b, 87). Intrinsically too exceptionalism causes,
for Agamben, the same destabilization of the opposition between
the inside and the outside. As he argued in Means without End (2000),
etymologically, exception (excapere) suggests that what is being excluded in
various structures of exception is captured outside, that is, it is included by
virtue of its very exclusion (39). Since the exception is a kenomatic (empty
or void) instead of a pleromatic state in which the sovereign assumes plenary
powers, it is not a dictatorship either.

Inclusive-exclusion in WOT
Individuals accused or suspected of being involved in
terrorist activities are subjected to the law but not
protected by the law
Rogers, 8 (Nicole of Southern Cross School of Law and Justice, Terrorist v

sovereign: legal performances in a state of exception
Agamben asserts that we are all virtually homines sacri (1998: 115), but it
is easier to discern the characteristics of homo sacer in a more
discrete group: the individuals accused of terrorist offences or
suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activities. These
individuals, stripped of basic rights, surveilled by the state,
subjected to house arrest or even more extreme forms of violent
detention by the state, can be readily identified as the contemporary
incarnation of homo sacer. However, since such individuals are able to
mount legal challenges against these forms of surveillance and control by the
state, they do not share the central defining characteristic of homo
sacer: that of being outside the law. 163 Terrorist v Sovereign Agamben distinguishes
his approach from that of Foucault in that he focuses on the connection between biopolitics and
sovereignty, or the hidden point of intersection between the juridico-institutional and the biopolitical
models of power (Agamben 1998: 6). He acknowledges an unlikely symmetry and relationship between
homo sacer, controlled and disciplined by the biopolitical mechanisms which characterise the
contemporary political era, and the sovereign, who creates and administers such biopolitical strategies.

Both homo sacer and the sovereign are, for different reasons,
outside the law, and thus they represent the two poles of the
sovereign exception (Agamben 1998: 110). This point is made with some poignancy by
Terry Hicks, the father of David Hicks who, for so long, in his extended incarceration in Guantanamo Bay,
exemplified homo sacer; Terry has marvelled over the fact that his sons name is so frequently mentioned
by President Bush (Souter 2006). Others have observed that the sovereign and the terrorist are linked in

the sovereign in
contemporary legal discourse is located vis--vis the terrorist and that
terrorism, which is an injury to the body sovereign, provides meaning for the
sovereign figure (2006: 11).
the war against terrorism discourse. Anna Szorenyi and Juliet Rogers argue that

State of exception allows for those accused of terrorism

to be reduced to an animal-like state, making continuous
surveillance key
Rogers, 8 (Nicole of Southern Cross School of Law and Justice, Terrorist v

sovereign: legal performances in a state of exception
Most terrorist suspects are denied bail. The accused terrorists experience
the most extreme security conditions, virtual solitary confinement,
continuous surveillance and extraordinary security when attending
court. Lodhi appeared at his trial shackled at the ankles, arms and waist (Wallace 2006). At his
committal hearing, Thomas was accompanied by four guards in body armour and extra court staff wearing
sidearms (Epstein 2004). The thirteen men arrested in the November 2005 raids in Melbourne and the nine

men arrested in the same raids in Sydney attended their committal hearing in a dock encased in armoured
glass (Kennedy & Allard 2007, Hoare 2006). This is not without precedent; the 1961 Israeli trial of the Nazi
war criminal Eichmann also featured the court appearances of the defendant within a bullet-proof glass
box (Schechner 2002: 177). Terrorist suspects have been dressed in orange overalls, thereby evoking
comparisons with Guantanamo Bay detainees.

dehumanising .

This treatment is clearly

It corresponds to the process of bestialization of the human which Judith Butler

has described in relation to the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. She writes that in such

there is a reduction of these human beings to

animal status, where the animal is figured as out of control, in need of total
constraint (Butler 2004: 78). The representation of accused terrorists
as less than human corresponds with one of the mythical archetypes
of homo sacer: the werewolf, a monstrous hybrid of human and
animal (Agamben 1998: 176 Rogers 105). Agamben argues that in the
state of exception the city is dissolved and men enter into a zone in
oppressive conditions of imprisonment

which they are no longer distinct from beasts (1998: 107).

State of exception has granted the USFG permission for

dehumanization of terrorists in the name of security
Rogers, 8 (Nicole of Southern Cross School of Law and Justice, Terrorist v
sovereign: legal performances in a state of exception

In a state of exception, legal performances work within the power apparatus of the state. In the majority of

the state of
exception prevails in contemporary Western societies and the rule of
law carries little meaning. Biopolitical strategies utilised by the state to
control and monitor the activities of the contemporary form of homo
sacer, the accused terrorist, are accepted by the courts. The executive, with
appropriate legislative endorsement, can exercise an extraordinary degree of
power over the body of the accused terrorist. Legal performances confer
legitimacy upon this regime. The terror trials are designed with a
predetermined outcome in which the guilt and need for containment
of the accused terrorists are conclusively established. Antonia Quadaras
legal performances considered above, we find support for Agambens contention that

description of a hypothetical Australian trial of David Hicks as an official performative sacrifice at the
hands of the law (Quadara 2006: 147) has a broader application. Yet it is within the context of the
Australian terror trials that we find, surprisingly, the application of the rule of law. Despite an attack on the
rule of law by prominent members of the community, it seems that the contemporary state of exception is
not absolute. The lesson from the Thomas and Ul-Haque cases is that the courts, in reaching a final
decision on the guilt or innocence of accused terrorists, are prepared to apply the rule of law.

Drone use is an indicator of the state of exception
curtailment doesnt begin to solve
Sassen, professor of sociology at Columbia University, 13
(Saskia, Drones over there, total surveillance over here
ml //MEB)
The big story buried in all the commentary about the US government's drone
policy is that the old algorithm of the liberal state no longer works. Focusing
on drones is almost a distraction ,
children they have killed in only a few years.

if it weren't for the number of men, women and

What we should focus on is the deeper

condition that enables the drone policy , and so much more, and
that is the sharp increase in unaccountable executive power, no matter
what party is in power. The 1960s and the 1970s saw the making of laws that called for the executive
branch of government to be more responsive to basic principles of a division of power and accountability
to citizens. Many of its owners were curtailed by the legislative. With Reagan, Clinton and especially BushCheney,

many of these laws were violated under the claim of a state of

exception due to the "War on Terror". What we are facing is a profound
degradation of the liberal state. Drone killings and unlawful
imprisonment are at one end of that spectrum of degradation, and
the rise of the power, economic destructions and unaccountability of
the financial sector are at the other end. The massive surveillance
apparatus built up over the last 10 years is the domestic companion of
the overseas drone killings. It is one outcome of this deep decay of
the liberal state. While much is not known about either, we know enough to
recognise its potential for enormous abuse. What is known is that there are at least
10,000 buildings across the US, with a massive concentration in Washington, DC, engaged in ongoing
surveillance of all of us residing in the territory of the US. Surveillance and counter-terrorism activities
employ about one million professionals with top level secret clearance. One estimate has it that every day
over two billion emails are tracked. And on and on along these lines.

The war on terror is destined to be eternal the presence

or absence of drones has no effect
Greenwald, 13 (Glenn, Washington gets explicit: its war on
terror is permanent
The statutory basis for this "war" - the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) - should be revised
(meaning: expanded). This is how Wired's Spencer Ackerman (soon to be the Guardian US's national
security editor) described the most significant exchange: " Asked

at a Senate hearing today

how long the war on terrorism will last, Michael Sheehan, the assistant
secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict,
answered, 'At least 10 to 20 years.' . . . A spokeswoman, Army Col. Anne Edgecomb, clarified
that Sheehan meant the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from
today - atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted. Welcome to
America's Thirty Years War ." That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring

that the "war on terror" will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of
this week's big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ)combined. The military historian Andrew

that US policy planners have adopted an

explicit doctrine of "endless war". Obama officials, despite repeatedly
boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida,
are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to
be so. It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose
other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to
any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself,
Bacevich has spent years warning

but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war - justified
in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism - that is the single
greatest cause of that threat .

Sovereign wants to continue using drones as an effective

way to maintain high surveillance and the eternal war on
terror aff endorses sovereign power
Tran-Creque, 13 (Steven from the Center for the Study of the
Drone at Bard College, The Forever War is Always Hungry
What exactly is one supposed to make of John Brennans admission that the
war against Al Qaeda will continue for another decade? How did the AUMF and the Patriot Act
together come to constitute something like Americas Article 48, creating a permanent
state of exception in which something like the NSAs giant
automated Stasi is simply accepted as the new normal? How did
drones become an inevitable part of the near future in New York City? After
all, the War on Terror really isnt anything like a war at all at least, not in the conventional imaginary of
nation states commanding disciplined military forces on established fields of battle. The United States
commands a degree of military power and comparative dominance simply unprecedented in human
historywhat is elegantly referred to, in the anodyne language of military planners, as asymmetry. There
are no strictly defined battlefields, and the formal enemies in the War on Terror have rarely amounted to
more than the insurgent army of a deposed dictator (funded and armed by the U.S., albeit long ago) and a
few hundred religious students in the mountains of Central Asia. It is in fact genuinely strange how

scholarly responses to the War on Terror begin from the assumption
that something new and strange is happening when battlefields and opponents
resiliently this conventional image seems to persist in both popular and intellectual imagination.

alike are no longer delimited but rather always and everywhere. If one limits oneself to legal documents,
this is pretty much the only possible conclusion. The conventional imagery really seems to be most useful
in obscuring the more fundamental realities of what war really is. In part, war consists of the far more
common practice of civil wars, guerrilla wars, genocide and internal repressionbut also, in a larger sense ,

the fundamental state of war between the sovereign and his people
that is the originary, constitutive state for sovereign power itself.
The forever war, then, has effectively allowed the United States to
claim sovereignty to farthest reaches of the earth. Certainly, this is
not a question purely of drones: the apparatus also consists of a
deep surveillance state , total international digital surveillance, a military larger than the
combined militaries of the rest of the world, and extralegal rendition and detention programs. But at the
edges of this arrangement, one findsAgambens homo sacer, Fiskesjs barbarians: those excluded from
the legal order, stripped of rights, subject to death at any timethe point at which an empire converts
those beyond its reach into obedient subjects or corpses. This is the logic of sovereign violence taken to its
most extremeand not insignificantly, this has been accomplished in part by euphemizing that violence,
whether in the sanitized parlance of the militaryfocused obstruction, targeted killing, kinetic

actionor the more artful, ideological euphemization by which assassination programs become complex

It should come as no surprise that

this has been accompanied by the infinite expansion of an apparatus
of domestic surveillance and control unprecedented in human
history. One should never forget that the instruments of sovereignty
and debatable moral issues in the liberal press.

drones, militarized police, mass surveillance apparatuswere

always directed inwards as much as outwards, because the security
state secures one thing: the safety of the sovereign above all . From
the perspective of sovereign power, there is no inside and there is no
outside. There is only the violence to which we are all subject.

Crisis motivated politics removes any decision for the
state of exception it is a now permanent feature of
modern sovereignty
Agamben, Philosopher, 2014
[Rational International, From the State of Control to a Praxis of
Destituent Power,, 7/5/15, CY]
One possible way to sketch such a genealogy would be to inscribe its origin
and history in the paradigm of the state of exception. In this perspective, we
could trace it back to the Roman principle Salus publica suprema lex public
safety is the highest law and connect it with Roman dictatorship, with the
canonistic principle that necessity does not acknowledge any law, with the
comits de salut publique during French revolution and finally with article 48
of the Weimar republic, which was the juridical ground for the Nazi regime.
Such a genealogy is certainly correct, but I do not think that it could really
explain the functioning of the security apparatuses and measures which are
familiar to us. While the state of exception was originally conceived as
a provisional measure, which was meant to cope with an immediate
danger in order to restore the normal situation, the security reasons
constitute today a permanent technology of government . When in
2003 I published a book in which I tried to show precisely how the state of
exception was becoming in Western democracies a normal system of
government, I could not imagine that my diagnosis would prove so
accurate. The only clear precedent was the Nazi regime. When Hitler took
power in February 1933, he immediately proclaimed a decree
suspending the articles of the Weimar constitution concerning
personal liberties. The decree was never revoked, so that the entire
Third Reich can be considered as a state of exception which lasted
twelve years. What is happening today is still different. A formal state of
exception is not declared and we see instead that vague non-juridical
notions like the security reasons are used to install a stable
state of creeping and fictitious emergency without any clearly
identifiable danger. An example of such non-juridical notions which
are used as emergency producing factors is the concept of crisis .
Besides the juridical meaning of judgment in a trial, two semantic traditions
converge in the history of this term which, as is evident for you, comes from
the Greek verb crino; a medical and a theological one. In the medical
tradition, crisis means the moment in which the doctor has to judge,
to decide if the patient will die or survive. The day or the days in which
this decision is taken are called crisimoi, the decisive days. In theology, crisis
is the Last Judgment pronounced by Christ in the end of times. As you can
see, what is essential in both traditions is the connection with a certain
moment in time. In the present usage of the term, it is precisely this
connection which is abolished. The crisis, the judgement, is split from
its temporal index and coincides now with the chronological course

of time, so that not only in economics and politics but in every

aspect of social life, the crisis coincides with normality and becomes,
in this way, just a tool of government. Consequently, the capability to
decide once for all disappears and the continuous decision-making
process decides nothing. To state it in paradoxical terms, we could say
that, having to face a continuous state of exception, the government
tends to take the form of a perpetual coup dtat. By the way, this
paradox would be an accurate description of what happens here in Greece as
well as in Italy, where to govern means to make a continuous series of small
coups dtat. This is why I think that, in order to understand the peculiar
governmentality under which we live, the paradigm of the state of
exception is not entirely adequate. I will therefore follow Michel
Foucaults suggestion and investigate the origin of the concept of security in
the beginning of modern economy, by Franois Quesnais and the
Physiocrates, whose influence on modern governmentality could not be
overestimated. Starting with Westphalia treaty, the great absolutist European
states begin to introduce in their political discourse the idea that the
sovereign has to take care of its subjects security. But Quesnay is the first to
establish security (suret) as the central notion in the theory of government
and this in a very peculiar way. One of the main problems governments
had to cope with at the time was the problem of famines. Before Quesnay,
the usual methodology was trying to prevent famines through the creation of
public granaries and forbidding the exportation of cereals. Both these
measures had negative effects on production. Quesnays idea was to reverse
the process: instead of trying to prevent famines, he decided to let them
happen and to be able to govern them once they occurred, liberalizing both
internal and foreign exchanges. To govern retains here its etymological
cybernetic meaning: a good kybernes, a good pilot cant avoid tempests, but
if a tempest occures he must be able to govern his boat, using the force of
waves and winds for navigation. This is the meaning of the famous motto
laisser faire, laissez passer: it is not only the catchword of economic
liberalism; it is a paradigm of government, which conceives of security
(suret, in Quesnays words) not as the prevention of troubles, but rather as
the ability to govern and guide them in the right direction once they take
place. We should not neglect the philosophical implications of this
reversal. It means an epochal transformation in the very idea of
government, which overturns the traditional hierarchical relation
between causes and effects. Since governing the causes is difficult
and expensive, it is safer and more useful to try to govern the
effects. I would suggest that this theorem by Quesnay is the axiom of
modern governmentality. The ancien regime aimed to rule the causes;
modernity pretends to control the effects. And this axiom applies to every
domain, from economy to ecology, from foreign and military politics to the
internal measures of police. We must realize that European governments
today gave up any attempt to rule the causes, they only want to govern the
effects. And Quesnays theorem makes also understandable a fact
which seems otherwise inexplicable: I mean the paradoxical
convergence today of an absolutely liberal paradigm in the economy
with an unprecedented and equally absolute paradigm of state and
police control. If government aims for the effects and not the causes,

it will be obliged to extend and multiply control. Causes demand to

be known, while effects can only be checked and controlled. One
important sphere in which the axiom is operative is that of biometrical
security apparatuses, which increasingly pervade every aspect of social life.

Constant security threat is necessary for the justification

of otherwise illegal action
Douglas, 9 (Jeremy, independent scholar, Disappearing Citizenship:
surveillance and the state of exception

There are a few sections of the Patriot Act that are worth discussing in order to demonstrate the modern
state of exception, as well as its link to surveillance and the camp. Under Section 412 of the Act, entitled

to certify that
an alien meets the criteria of the terrorism grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or is
engaged in any other activity that endangers the national security of the
United States, upon a reasonable grounds to believe standard, and take
such aliens into custody. The Attorney General must review the detention
every six months and determine if the alien is to remain in detention because
of a continued risk to security . But what remains ambiguous, and allows
for the indistinction between law and violence and between police and
sovereignty, is this reasonable grounds to believe standard. Suffice it to say,
Mandatory detention of suspected terrorists, the Attorney General has the power

without going into greater depth, this standard is grounds for racial profiling and the detention of political

Also, the detention of aliens on a belief is the production of

bare life, since it is the stripping of rights without reference to a
violation under normal law; in other words, these suspected terrorists
are detained without having done anything wrong, but must be situated in the state of

exception camp for those who may threaten the normal force of the law this is the aforementioned void,

Since these aliens cannot be detained under the

normal law, a camp of suspects must emerge in a national security
or nonplace, of the law.

The logic used to imprison foreign security threats is now

being applied to American citizens, stripping them of
citizenship without reason
Douglas, 9 (Jeremy, independent scholar, Disappearing Citizenship:
surveillance and the state of exception

What we have been discussing thus far applies to the indefinite and mandatory detention of aliens, but

on increased surveillance
measures that target aliens and native citizens alike. These
surveillance activities include the collection of DNA from anyone
detained for any offence or suspected of terrorism, phone taps,
wiretaps for electronic communications, the collection of individual
library records (Section 215; this Section in particular has received
heavy criticism and debate), the collection of banking and financial
records, and other indirect surveillance methods, such as the
the Patriot Act and the Terrorism Act contain various sections

collection of biometric data at US borders (as Agamben

experienced). However, these universal surveillance methods become much more significant when
we consider the proposed increased governmental powers outlined in the Domestic Security Enhancement

mandatory dentition
of aliens suspected of terrorism extends to include Americans, who
Act 2003 (alias, Patriot Act II). Under Section 501 of Patriot Act II the

can also be stripped of their citizenship and made stateless

detainees .

As Gore Vidal remarks, under Patriot Act I only foreigners were denied due process of

law as well as subject to arbitrary deportationPatriot Act II now includes American citizens in the same
category, thus eliminating in one great erasure the Bill of Rights (Vidal 2003). Section 501, Expatriation
of Terrorists, of the Act states: This provision (i.e. Section 501) would amend 8 U.S.C. 1481 to make clear
that, just as an American can relinquish his citizenship by serving in a hostile foreign army, so can he
relinquish his citizenship by serving in a hostile terrorist organization. Specifically, an American could be
expatriated if, with the intent to relinquish nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material
support to, a group that the United States has designated as a "terrorist organization," if that group is

With the power proposed in this section of

the Patriot Act II, the government would be able to produce bare life
with both aliens and American citizens a process leading to the
disappearance of citizenship by transforming the residents into
foreigners within, a new sort of untouchable [homo sacer], in the
transpolitical and anational state where the living are nothing more
than the living dead (Virilio 2005, 165). We have seen how a
permanent state of emergency creates a situation in which foreign residents
or visitors can be detained without a court order for an indefinite period of time; even greater
governmental powers are now aiming at expanding this exposure to the
pure power of the juridical-political system to citizens as well. Citizenship
and political significance are becoming less fundamental and
inalienable rights and more categorizations that are only maintained though
blind adherence to so-called democratic polices, which look more and
engaged in hostilities against the United States.

more like a dictatorial structure (see: Arendt 1973).

The underpinning of the economy emphasizes the notion
of biopolitics
Agamben, Philosopher, 1998
(Stanford University Press California, The Open: Man and
%20Open.pdf, 7/3/15, CY)

Today, at a distance of nearly seventy years, it is clear for anyone who is not
in absolutely bad faith that there are no longer histor- ical tasks that can be
taken on by, or even simply assigned to, men. It was in some ways already
evident starting with the end of the First World War that the European nationstates were no longer capable of taking on historical tasks and that peoples
themselves were bound to disappear. We completely misunderstand the
nature of the great totalitarian experiments of the twentieth century if we see
them only as a carrying out of the nineteenth-century nation-states last
great tasks: nationalism and imperialism. The stakes are now different and
much higher, for it is a question of taking on as a task the very factical
existence of peoples, that is, in the last analysis, their bare life. Seen in this
light, the totalitarianisms of the twentieth century truly constitute the other
face of the Hegelo-Kojevian idea of the end of history: man has now reached
his historical telos and, for a humanity that has become animal again,
there is nothing left but the depoliticization of human societies by means of
the unconditioned unfolding of the oikonomia, or the taking on of biological
life itself as the supreme political (or rather impolitical) task. It is likely that
the times in which we live have not emerged from this aporia. Do we not
see around and among us men and peoples who no longer have any
essence or identitywho are delivered over, so to speak, to their
inessentiality and their inactivity {inoperosita }and who grope
everywhere, and at the cost of gross falsifications, for an inheritance
and a task, an inheritance as task? Even the pure and simple
relinquishment of all historical tasks (reduced to simple functions of internal
or international policing) in the name of the triumph of the economy,
often today takes on an emphasis in which natural life itself and its well-being
seem to appear as humanitys last historical taskif indeed it makes sense
here to speak of a task. The traditional historical potentialitiespoetry,
religion, philosophywhich from both the Hegelo-Kojevian and Heideggerian
perspectives kept the historico-political destiny of peoples awake, have long
since been transformed into cultural spectacles Animalization and
private experiences, and have lost all historical efficacy. Faced with this
eclipse, the only task that still seems to retain some seriousness is the
assumption of the burdenand the total managementof biological life,
that is, of the very animality of man. Genome, global economy, and
humanitarian ideology are the three united faces of this process in which
posthistorical humanity seems to take on its own physiology as its last,
impolitical mandate. It is not easy to say whether the humanity that has
taken upon itself the mandate of the total management of its own animality is

still human, in the sense of that humanitas which the anthropological

machine produced by de-ciding every time between man and animal; nor is it
clear whether the well-being of a life that can no longer be recognized
as either human or animal can be felt as fulfilling. To be sure, such a
humanity, from Heideggers perspec- tive, no longer has the form of keeping
itself open to the undisconcealed of the animal, but seeks rather to open and
secure the not-open in every domain, and thus closes itself to its own openness, forgets its humanitas, and makes being its specific disinhibitor. The
total humanization of the animal coincides with a total animalization of man.

Although having written the laws of capitalism, the US

feels free to except itself from the those rules whenever
creating the paradox of inclusive-exclusion.
Perron, has a BA Specialization in anthropology and also a minor
in sociology, 2014

(Karine, 2014, Alert Press, Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Imperial
USA_Perron_2014.pdf, accessed 7/7/2015, JAK)
Championing itself as the leader of capitalism, more obviously so since the
Cold War, the US has led the world into an era of neoliberalism in which the
free market is deemed to be the ultimate way to prosperity (Ellwood, 2010).
In fact, after memories were cleared of the factors that led the US into the
Great Depression of the 1930s, the end of World War II was followed by the
rebirth of the belief in the free market, a belief which was best expressed
through the creation of the Bretton Woods trio: the International Monetary
Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(GATT), the latter succeeded by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since
then, the US has controlled a good deal of the financial world and it
can be argued that the country has both written the rules and
enforced them. However, a simple look at the course of US economic
history allows one to realize that the US feels free to break the rules
of capitalism it advocates whenever the occasion demands it for the
benefit of the country and especially its corporations. Michael Ignatieff
has addressed the exceptionality of US capacity to both be an advocate of
human rights, while disrespecting them on multiple occasions: What
needs explaining is the paradox of being simultaneously a leader
and an outlier (Ignatieff, 2005, p. 2). It is with this paradox in mind that
this chapter examines what we might call a state of exceptionalism: the
various ways in which the US influences the international economy
in its favour and imposes on the rest of the world rules it does not
apply to itself. The role of multilateral international economic and politic
institutions in which the US holds sway, with a focus on the IMF, will first be
examined. Then, the claims of the US to economic liberalism will be
contrasted with the managed trade policy that has actually been applied and
the way the WTO has been both advocated and disregarded according to the
situation. The overthrow of the government of Guatemala in 1954, as just
one notorious case, will provide an example of the extent to which the US
has gone to control the economic and political direction of dissident countries

and to protect American corporate interests (Kinzer, 2006). Finally, the US

strategy of enlargement will be used to open up a discussion about the
significance of this international economic control, as well as the implications
of the US deciding on the exception.

The Law
Law and sovereign violence are synonymous The law is
used to control life
Agamben, Italian continental philosopher, 98 (Giorgio
Agamben, Homo Sacer, p. 65 //NK)
The violence that Benjamin defines as divine is instead situated in a zone
in which it is no longer possible to distinguish between exception
and rule. It stands in the same relation to sovereign violence as the state
of actual exception, in the eighth thesis, does to the state of virtual
exception. This is why (that is, insofar as divine violence is not one kind of violence among others but
only the dissolution of the link between violence and law ) Benjamin can say that
divine violence neither posits nor conserves violence, but deposes it. Divine
violence shows the connection between the two violences and, even more,
between violence and law-to be the single real content of law. "The function of
violence in juridical creation," Benjamin writes, at the only point in which the
essay approaches something like a definition of sovereign violence, "is
twofold, in the sense that lawmaking pursues as its end, with violence as the
means, what is to be established as law, but at the moment of its instatement
does not depose violence; rather, at this very moment of lawmaking and in
the name of power, it specifically establishes as law not an end immune and
independent from violence, but one necessarily and intimately bound up with
it" ("Zur Kritik der Gewalt," pp. 197-98). This is why it is not by chance that Benjamin, with a seemingly
abrupt development, concentrates on the bearer of the link between
violence and law, which he calls "bare life" (Hoffa: Leben), instead of
defining divine violence. The analysis of this l'igure-whose decisive function in the economy of
the essay has until now remained unthought- establishes an essential link between bare
life and juridical violence. Not only does the rule of law over the living
exist and cease to exist alongside bare life, but even the dissolution of
juridical violence, which is in a certain sense the object of the essay,
"stems . . . from the guilt of bare natural life, which consigns the living,
innocent and unhappy, to the punishment that 'expiates' the guilt of bare lifeand doubtless also purifies [entsti/mt] the guilty, not of guilt, however, but of law" (ibid., p. 200).

The sovereign is able to suspend the law and create a

state of exception so that it can avoid it
Agamben 98 (Giorgio, professor of philosophy at university of Verona,
Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 15, accessed 7/5/15, FZ)
1.1 The paradox of sovereignty consists in the fact the sovereign is, at the
same time, outside and inside the juridical order. If the sovereign is
truly the one to whom the juridical order grants the power of proclaiming
a state of exception and, therefore, of suspending the orders own
validity, then the sovereign stands outside the juridical order and,
nevertheless, belongs to it, since it is up to him to decide if the
constitution is to be suspended in toto (Schmitt, Politische Theologie, p.
13). The specification that the sovereign is at the same time outside and
inside the juridical order (emphasis added) is not insignificant: the

sovereign, having the legal power to suspend the validity of the law,
legally places himself outside the law. This means that the paradox can
also be formulated this way: the law is outside itself, or: I, the sovereign,
who am outside the law, declare that there is nothing outside the law [che
non ce unfiiori legge].

Human Rights
The refugee embodies how human rights break down in
the face of homo sacer
Agamben 98
(Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 75, VW)
2.1. Hannah Arendt entitled the fifth chapter of her book on imperialism,
which is dedicated to the problem of refugees, The Decline of the NationState and the End of the Rights of Man. Linking together the fates of the
rights of man and of the nation-state, her striking formulation seems to imply
the idea of an intimate and necessary connection between the two, though
the author herself leaves the question open. The paradox from which Arendt
departs is that the very figure who should have embodied the rights
of man par excellence the refugee signals instead the concepts
radical crisis. The conception of human rights, she states, based
upon the assumed existence of a human being as such, broke down
at the very moment when those who professed to believe in it were
for the first time confronted with people who had indeed lost all
other qualities and specific relationships except that they were still
human (Origins, p. 299). In the system of the nation-state, the socalled sacred and inalienable rights of man show themselves to lack
every protection and reality at the moment in which they can no
longer take the form of rights belonging to citizens of a state. If one
considers the matter, this is in fact implicit in the ambiguity of the very title
of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, of 1789. In the
phrase La dclaration des droits de lhomme et du citoyen, it is not clear
whether the two terms homme and citoyen name two autonomous beings or
instead form a unitary system in which the first is always already included in
the second. And if the latter is the case, the kind of relation that exists
between homme and citoyen still remains unclear. From this perspective,
Burkes boutade according to which he preferred his Rights of an
Englishman to the inalienable rights of man acquires an unsuspected
Arendt does no more than offer a few, essential hints concerning the link
between the rights of man and the nation-state, and her suggestion has
therefore not been followed up. In the period, after the Second World War,
both the instrumental emphasis on the rights of man and the rapid growth of
declarations and agreements on the part of international organizations have
ultimately made any authentic understanding of the historical significance of
the phenomenon almost impossible. Yet it is time to stop regarding
declarations of rights as proclamations of eternal, metajuridical
values binding the legislator (in fact, without much success) to
respect eternal ethical principles, and to begin to consider them
according to their real historical function in the modern nation-state.
Declarations of rights represent the originary figure of the
inscription of natural life in the juridico-political order of the nationstate. The same bare life that in the ancien rgime was politically
neutral and belonged to God as creaturely life and in the classical world was

(at least apparently) clearly distinguished as zoe from political life

(bios) now fully enters into the structure of the state and even
becomes the earthly foundation of the states legitimacy and

The fight for human rights is not benign the object of

aid and protection is viewed exclusively as bare life, thus
reproducing the camp the refugee must be separated
from the question of rights, thus challenging the
Agamben 98

(Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 78, VW)
2.4. The separation between humanitarianism and politics that we
are experiencing today is the extreme phase of the separation of the
rights of man from the rights of the citizen, in the final analysis,
however, humanitarian organizations which today are more and
more supported by international commissions can only grasp
human life in the figure of bare or sacred life, and therefore, despite
themselves, maintain a secret solidarity with the very powers they
ought to fight. It takes only a glance at the recent publicity
campaigns to gather funds for refugees from Rwanda to realize that
here human life is exclusively considered (and there are certainly
good reasons for this) as sacred life which is to say, as life that can
be killed but not sacrificed and that only as such is it made into the
object of aid and protection. The imploring eyes of the Rwandan
child, whose photograph is shown to obtain money but who is now
becoming more and more difficult to find, alive, may well be the
most telling contemporary cipher of the bare life that humanitarian
organizations, in perfect symmetry with state power, need. A
humanitarianism separated from politics cannot fail to reproduce the
isolation of sacred life at the basis of sovereignty, and the camp
which is to say, the pure space of exception is the biopolitical
paradigm that it cannot master. The concept of the refugee, (and
the figure of life that this concept represents) must be resolutely
separated from the concept of the rights of man, and we must seriously
consider Arends claim that the fates of human rights and the nation-state are
bound together such that the decline and crisis of the one necessarily implies
the end of the other. The refugee must be considered for what he is:
nothing less than a limit concept that radically calls into question
the fundamental categories of the nation-state, from the birthnation to the man-citizen link, and that thereby makes it possible to
clear the way for a long-overdue renewal of categories in the service
of a politics in which bare life is no longer separated and excepted,
either in the state order or in the figure of human rights.

The attempt to create human rights creates only the

reproduction of sovereign violence- creating a
counterproductive cycle into homo sacer
Ayten, Professor of political theory and human rights, 2012
[Barnad-College Columbia University, Potentialities of human
rights: Agamben and the narrative of fated necessity,,
7/6/15 CY]
Human rights have become a predominant discourse in global politics
particularly in the post-Cold War era as they have been invoked to address
multifarious forms of injustice ranging from violence against women to global
poverty. If this transformation has been welcome by some for its promise of a
cosmopolitan future, it has also become the target of several critics who
underline the insidious effects of human rights as a new form of power. The
cosmopolitan aura of human rights has been increasingly demystified as
various scholars have pointed out their deployment in the justification of
neoimperial interventions (Anderson, 2002; Mutua, 2002; Douzinas, 2007),
their masking of a political power constituting subjects in need of political
protection (Brown, 2004), and their hegemonic hold on our political
imagination (Kennedy, 2002). Giorgio Agamben makes a distinctive
contribution to this contemporary debate with his analysis aiming to
demonstrate how human rights, perceived as normative guarantees against
the state, actually participate in rendering human lives vulnerable to
sovereign violence. Although Agamben joins some other critics, especially
those influenced by Michel Foucault's work (for example, Wendy Brown), in
making this claim, he radicalizes the critique of human rights in many ways.
The critique is radical literally as it tries to grasp the problem by its roots. To
do this, Agamben goes back to the early formulations of human rights in the
eighteenth-century declarations, especially the 1789 Declaration of the
Rights of Man and Citizen, and shows how these declarations reiterate the
biopolitical fracture between political and natural life at the heart of Western
metaphysics and politics. Once these declarations make life the foundation of
the nation-state, every aspect of life becomes politicized and is subjected to
sovereign power to an unprecedented degree. This analysis showing how
human rights participate in the reproduction of a centuries-old problem takes
Agamben also to a conclusion that is much more radical than those drawn by
other critics: Given the underlying assumptions of human rights, there is no
possibility of thinking them anew; we instead need to imagine a politics
beyond human rights so as to sever the tight link that holds human life
in the grip of sovereign power. This article aims not only to understand
Agamben's distinctive intervention in the contemporary debates on human
rights but also to assess his concluding call for a politics beyond human
rights. I argue that this call is necessitated by a counternarrative of Western
politics that ties human rights inextricably to the logic Agamben ascribes to
biopolitical sovereignty. Within this stringent logic, any human rights
struggle cannot help but participate in the reproduction of the
sovereign violence that it aims to contest.

Human rights are inextricably linked to sovereign violence

they blur the line between biopolitics and thanatpolitics
Ay Ayten, Professor of political theory and human rights, 2012
[Barnad-College Columbia University, Potentialities of human
rights: Agamben and the narrative of fated necessity,,
7/6/15 CY]
In many ways, Agamben's analysis of human rights and humanitarianism
resonates with the criticisms offered by several other contemporary scholars,
especially those drawing on Foucault's work on governmentality. Agamben
shares the Foucauldian insight that rights are not protective shields
protecting subjects against sovereign power; indeed, the more we invoke
rights, the more entangled we become with sovereign power. A recent
example of this critical perspective can be seen, for example, in Wendy
Brown's analysis of the discourse of human rights. Contesting prevailing
conceptions of human rights as an antipolitical and expressly moral antidote
to abusive political power, Brown underscores how this discourse works
indeed as a form of political power when it constitutes us as subjects in need
of protection and undermines political projects of collective empowerment
(Brown, 2004, p. 454). This point is also emphasized in Brown's earlier work
demonstrating that, far from helping us fight powerlessness, rights discourse
can produce us as powerless victims as it can codify within the law the very
powerlessness it aims to redress (Brown, 1995, p. 21). Both Agamben and
Brown would agree that human rights produce the very subjects that they
presuppose and render their subjects vulnerable to sovereign power.
Although Agamben shares some of the premises of the Foucauldian critique,
he differs from it at least in two ways. First, Agamben reintroduces a form of
sovereign violence that seems almost anachronistic in an age of
governmentality (Butler, 2004, p. 54). From a Foucauldian perspective,
human rights are problematic, first and foremost, as tactics of
governmentality used in the regulation and management of populations;
attending to subtle forms of subject production, Foucauldian critique alerts us
to a new form of biopower that is at work at a time when the archaic
sovereign power over life and death is in decline. For Agamben, who precisely
aims to look into the intersection of sovereignty and biopower, human rights
participate in the production of a type of sovereign violence that Foucault
assumed to be in decline (though not completely extinct). By making life
itself the place of sovereign decision, human rights have paved the way for
practices that increasingly blur the line between biopolitics and
thanatopolitics, or between politics of life and politics of death (1998, p. 122).
In contemporary politics valorizing life, Agamben's analysis suggests, the
putatively archaic sovereign right to take life merges perniciously into the
new right to intervene to make life (Foucault, 2003, p. 248). Agamben's
account, which turns our attention to the lives irredeemably exposed to
sovereign violence, achieves an eerie pragmatic soundness with cases such
as the French humanitarian provision that paradoxically ended up abandoning
life at the no-man's land between life and death, right and violence
(Agamben, 1998, p. 90). The current global political context in which we can
no longer be dismissive of such cases as mere exceptions to be remedied on

the way to a more universal conception of human rights points to the crucial
contribution of Agamben to the debates on human rights. Agamben's work
differs from the Foucauldian critique also in its call for abandoning human
rights altogether in order to sever the link between life and sovereign power.
From a Foucauldian perspective, it is still possible to rethink rights and invoke
them in ways contesting sovereign power. For example, despite her criticisms
of identity-based rights claims, Wendy Brown urges a rethinking of the
democratic power of rights a rethinking that moves away from the
prevailing conception of rights as remedies for injuries suffered by particular
groups to a more radical democratic conception focusing on the (fictional)
egalitarian imaginary created by rights discourse (Brown, 1995, p. 133; see
also Brown, 2000).5 For Agamben, however, there is no such possibility,
precisely because human rights are inextricably tied to sovereign
violence, given their reproduction of the biopolitical fracture between bios
and zo since their original formulations in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights
of Man and Citizen. This second point forms the linchpin of my critical
engagement with Agamben: although Agamben persuasively argues for a
critical inquiry that looks into the paradoxically violent effects of the human
rights discourse, his concluding call for a politics beyond human rights
remains questionable, and as I will show, is at odds with his own attempts to
understand history in terms of contingencies and potentialities (2000, pp. 15
26). From Agamben's standpoint, precisely because human rights are
doomed to reproduce sovereign violence, any struggle for rights seems
to be futile: It is almost as if, starting from a certain point, every decisive
political event were double-sided: the spaces, the liberties, and the rights
won by individuals in their conflicts with central powers always
simultaneously prepared a tacit but increasing inscription of individuals lives
within the state order, thus offering a new and more dreadful foundation for
the very sovereign power from which they wanted to liberate themselves.
(1998, p. 121)

Modern democracys attempt to free the oppressed, those
without political life, is impossible, it has caused it to
converge with the totalitarian state and guarantees
fascism and the repeat of Nazism
Agamben 98 (Giorgio, professor of philosophy at university of Verona,
Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 13, accessed 7/5/15, FZ)
If anything characterizes modern democracy as opposed to classical
democracy, then, it is that modern democracy presents itself from the
beginning as a vindication and liberation of zoe, and that it is constantly
trying to transform its own bare life into a way of life and to find, so to speak,
the bios of zo. Hence, too, modern democracys specific aporia: it wants to
put the freedom and happiness of men into play in the very place bare life
that marked their subjection. Behind the long, strife-ridden process that
leads to the recognition of rights and formal liberties stands once again the
body of the sacred man with his double sovereign, his life that cannot be
sacrificed yet may, nevertheless, be killed. To become conscious of this
aporia is not to belittle the conquests and accomplishments of democracy. It
is, rather, to try to understand once and for all why democracy, at
the very moment in which it seemed to have finally triumphed over
its adversaries and reached its greatest height, proved itself
incapable of saving zoe, to whose happiness it had dedicated all its efforts,
from unprecedented ruin. Modern democracys decadence and gradual
convergence with totalitarian states in post-democratic spectacular
societies (which begins to become evident with Alexis de Tocqueville and
finds its final sanction in the analyses of Guy Debord) may well be rooted
in this aporia, which marks the beginning of modern democracy and forces
it into complicity with its most implacable enemy. Today politics knows no
value (and, consequently, no nonvalue) other than life, and until the
contradictions that this fact implies are dissolved, Nazism and
fascism which transformed the decision on bare life into the
supreme political principle will remain stubbornly with us. According
to the testimony of Robert Antelme, in fact, what the camps taught those who
lived there was precisely that calling into question the quality of man
provokes an almost biological assertion of belonging to the human race
(Lespce humaine, p. II).

Democracy protects its citizens for self-perseveration and

will take away their rights
Agamben 98 (Giorgio, prof of philosophy at university of Verona, Homo
Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 78 DLS)
(Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 77-78, VW)
2.3. If refugees (whose number has continued to grow in our century, to the
point of including a significant part of humanity today) represent such a
disquieting element in the order of the modern nation-state, this is

above all because by breaking the continuity between man and

citizen, nativity and nationality, they put the originary fiction of
modern sovereignty in crisis. Bringing to light the difference
between birth and nation, the refugee causes the secret
presupposition of the political domain bare life to appear for an
instant within that domain. In this sense, the refugee is truly the
man of rights, as Arendt suggests, the first and only real
appearance of rights outside the fiction of the citizen that always
covers them over. Yet this is precisely what makes the figure of the
refugee so hard to define politically. Since the First World War, the
birth-nation link has no longer been capable of performing its
legitimating function inside the nation-state, and the two terms
have begun to show themselves to be irreparably loosened from
each other. From this perspective, the immense increase of refugees
and stateless persons in Europe (in a short span of time 1,500,000
White Russians, 700,000 Armenians, 500,000 Bulgarians, 1,000,000
Greeks, and hundreds of thousands of Germans, Hungarians, and
Rumanians were displaced from their countries) is one of the two
most significant phenomena. The other is the contemporaneous
institution by many European states of juridical measures allowing
for the mass denaturalization and denationalization of large portions
of their own populations. The first introduction of such rules into the
juridical order took place in France in 1915 with respect to
naturalized citizens of enemy origin; in 1922, Belgium followed the
French example and revoked the naturalization of citizens who had
committed antinational acts during the war; in 1926, the fascist
regime issued, an analogous law with respect to citizens who had
shown themselves to be unworthy of Italian citizenship; in 1933, it
was Austrias turn; and so it continued until the Nuremberg laws on
citizenship in the Reich and the protection of German blood and
honor brought this process to the most extreme point of its
development, introducing the principle according to which
citizenship was something of which one had to prove oneself worthy
and which could therefore always be called into question. And one of
the few rules to which the Nazis constantly adhered during the
course of the Final Solution was that Jews could be sent to the
extermination, camps only after they had been fully denationalized
(stripped even of the residual citizenship left to them after the
Nuremberg laws). These two phenomena which are, after all, absolutely
correlative show that the birth-nation link, on which the declaration
of 1789 had founded national sovereignty, had already lost its
mechanical force and power of self-regulation by the time of the
First World War. On the one hand, the nation-states become greatly
concerned with natural life, discriminating within it between a so-tospeak authentic life and a life lacking every political value. (Nazi
racism and eugenics are only comprehensible if they are brought
back to this context.) On the other hand, the very rights of man that
once made sense as the presupposition of the rights of the citizen
are now progressively separated from and used outside the context
of citizenship, for the sake of the supposed representation and

protection of a bare life that is more and more driven to the margins
of the nation-states, ultimately to be recodified into a new national
identity. The contradictory character of these processes is certainly
one of the reasons for the failure of the attempts of the various
committees and organizations by which states, the League of
Nations, and, later, the United Nations confronted the problem of
refugees and the protection of human rights, from the Bureau
Nansen (1922) to the contemporary High Commission for Refugees
(1951), whose actions, according to statute, are to have not a
political but rather a solely humanitarian and social mission. What
is essential is that, every time refugees represent not individual
cases but as happens more and more often today a mass
phenomenon, both these organizations and individual states prove
themselves, despite their solemn invocations of the sacred and
inalienable rights of man, absolutely incapable of resolving the
problem and even of confronting it adequately.

Democracy masks the bare life of individuals subjecting

them to the violence of sovereign decision in the name of
repairing biopolitical fracture
Ayten, Professor of political theory and human rights, 2012

[Barnad-College Columbia University, Potentialities of human rights:

Agamben and the narrative of fated necessity,, 7/6/15 CY]
Agamben's analysis of modern juridico-political developments, including
rights declarations, aims to reveal the inimical effects of the often-celebrated
transformation of subject into citizen with the birth of modern democracy.
He argues that with this transformation modern democracy does not
abolish bare life but instead shatters it and disseminates it into
every individual body (1998, p. 125). With the introduction of habeas
corpus, for example, modern democracy turns corpus or body into the new
political subject (1998, p. 124), and repeats the biopolitical fracture at the
heart of Western politics: it isolates a corpus, compels its physical
presence before a court of law and renders it subject to the violence
of sovereign decision. In Agamben's reading, habeas corpus is a harbinger
of modern biopolitics, demonstrating that what lies in the modern passage
from subject to citizen is not man as a free and conscious political subject
but, above all, man's bare life (1998, p. 128). If habeas corpus introduces
corpus as the bare life founding the body politic, modern rights declarations
identify this body politic with the nation-state (1998, p. 127; 2000, p. 20).
With these declarations, natural life, which was distinguished as zo and
relegated to the realm of oikos in the classical world, becomes the earthly
foundation of sovereignty in the modern nation-state (1998, p. 127; 2000, p.
20). Through a brief and provocative examination of the 1789 Declaration of
the Rights of Man and Citizen, Agamben suggests that it is precisely bare
natural life which is to say, the pure fact of birth that appears here as the
source and bearer of rights (1998, p. 127). He concludes that these
rights declarations inaugurate modern biopolitics, in which bare life
moves from the margins of the political order to its center. Agamben's

critique of modern rights declarations draws primarily on Hannah Arendt.

Both authors take the problems of human rights, especially the precarious
condition of refugees, as their starting point; instead of seeing these
problems either as accidental incidents or implementation failures, they take
them as symptoms revealing the deeply embedded paradoxes of human
rights in a nation-state system. Of particular importance is the following
conceptual dilemma at the heart of modern rights declarations: on the one
hand, these declarations assume man in his natural condition to be the
source and bearer of rights that he is born with; on the other hand, they
presuppose this man to be a citizen with membership in a sovereign nationstate (Agamben, 1998, p. 128; Arendt [1951], 1973, p. 291). Although both
Arendt and Agamben have similar starting points, they proceed differently in
their critiques and reach divergent conclusions. Arendt presents a more
historically oriented inquiry, attending to the effects of important events such
as the rise of imperialism on the conceptual paradoxes of human rights. She
does not take the rightlessness of the stateless as an inevitable condition
given the premises of modern rights declarations or given the conceptual
dichotomies of Western metaphysics; instead, she treats it as a historically
contingent problem that urges us to inquire into the paradoxes of human
rights. Indeed, her critique ends with a call for rethinking, and not
abandonment, of human rights (Arendt [1951], 1973, pp. 296297).
Agamben, however, interprets the conceptual dilemma in rights declarations
that is, equivocal invocation of man and citizen as another instance
revealing the biopolitical fracture (bios/zo) defining Western politics and
metaphysics for centuries. Hence, he calls for nothing less than a politics that
renounces all concepts, including human rights, which hold life in the grip of
sovereign power. Indeed, in his account, far from disrupting the logic of
biopolitical sovereignty, rights declarations aggravate its violence by
politicizing natural life or zo. As modern democracy attempts to heal the
biopolitical fracture between political and natural life by stipulating a fictional
unity between man and citizen, birth (nascere) and nation, Agamben argues,
it ends up turning virtually everyone into bare life (1998, p. 128). With
these declarations, questions of inclusion and exclusion that is, which man
is a citizen? become essentially political (1998, p. 131). These questions
need to be constantly settled by sovereign decisions on the inclusive
exclusions of the national political community. As a result of these sovereign
exceptions, there are various categories of people who inhabit the nationstate without being entitled to political rights (1998, p. 130). As Agamben
analyzes the effects of modern biopolitics inaugurated by rights declarations,
he puts a particular emphasis on the crisis of the nation-state. Historical
developments of early twentieth century, such as mass denationalizations, he
argues, dissolved the fictional unity between birth and nation, man and
citizen (1998, pp. 128). The crisis of the birth-nation link, however, does not
end the politicization of natural life; indeed, it intensifies this process. One of
the problematical effects of this crisis is the increasing deployment of human
rights outside the context of citizenship as can be seen in modern
humanitarianism; as human rights are dissociated from citizenship, they
come to stand for the rights of those who are isolated as bare life for
example, refugees (1998, pp. 13134; see also Fassin, 2005). Another effect
of the dissolution of the fictional unity between birth and nation is the

regulation and administration of life in the name of its valorization to an

unprecedented degree. Once the fictional unity loses its mechanical force
and power of self-regulation, nation-states need more than ever to be
engaged in sovereign decisions discriminating between a so-tospeak authentic life and a life lacking every political virtue (1998, p.
132). One of Agamben's most controversial claims is that these decisions, the
lethal consequences of which became most explicit with modern eugenics
and concentration camps, need to be understood within the context of
modern biopolitics inaugurated by rights declarations that invest life with the
principle of sovereignty: Life itself can become the place of a sovereign
decision only because it is politicized, valorized, and sacralized to
an unprecedented degree in the first place (1998, p. 142). At the end of
his critical analysis of rights declarations, Agamben concludes that
modern democracy has not only failed in healing the biopolitical
fracture but also repeated it in an unprecedented fashion precisely
by valorizing life. Modern rights declarations have turned the care of
nation's biological body into an essentially political task as they have
attributed the principle of sovereignty to life (1998, p. 142). Insofar as
these declarations have made it possible for the sovereign state to
extend its regulative powers into every sphere of life, they have
become complicit in the production of bare life.

State of exception
The state has a monopoly over decision-making within the
law and aboe the law the exception is the rule, the aff
can only feed into sovereign power.
Agamben, Philosopher, 1998
(Stanford University Press California, Homo Sacer: Sovereign
Power and Bare Life,, 7/3/15, CY)
*The following evidence has been gender modified
The exception is that which cannot be subsumed; it defies general
codification, but it simultaneously reveals a specifically juridical formal
element: the decision in absolute purity. The exception appears in its absolute
form when it is a question of creating a situation in which juridical rules can
be valid. Every general rule demands a regular, everyday frame of life to
which it can be factually applied and which is submitted to its regulations.
The rule requires a homogeneous medium. This factual regularity is not
merely an external presupposition that the jurist can ignore; it belongs,
rather, to the rules immanent validity. There is no rule that is applicable to
chaos. Order must be established for juridical order to make sense. A regular
situation must be created, and sovereign are they who definitely decides if
this situation is actually effective. All law is situational law. The sovereign
creates and guarantees the situation as a whole in its totality. They have the
monopoly over the final decision. 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, where the
word monopoly is used in a general sense that is still to be developed. The
decision reveals the essence of State authority most clearly. Here the
decision must be distinguished from the juridical regulation, and (to formulate
it paradoxically) authority proves itself not to need law to create
law. . . . The exception is more interesting than the regular case. The latter
proves nothing; the exception proves everything. The exception does
not only confirm the rule; the rule as such lives off the exception alone. 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, one need only look around for a real exception. It brings
everything to light more clearly than the general itself. After a while, one
becomes disgusted with the endless talk about the general there are
exceptions. If they cannot be explained, then neither can the general be
explained. Usually the difficulty is not noticed, since the general is thought
about not with passion but only with comfortable superficiality. The exception,
on the other hand, thinks the general with intense passion. (Politische
Theologie, pp. 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 Sren
Kierkegaard). Giambattista Vico had, to be sure, affirmed the superiority of
the exception, which he called the ultimate configuration of facts, over

positive law in a way which was not so dissimilar: An esteemed jurist is,
therefore, not someone who, with the help of a good memory, masters
positive law [or the general complex of laws], but rather someone who, with
sharp judgment, knows how to look into cases and see the ultimate
circumstances of facts that merit equitable consideration and exceptions
from general rules (De antiquissima, chap. 2). Yet nowhere in the realm of
the juridical sciences can one find a theory that grants such a high position to
the exception. For what is at issue in the sovereign exception is, according to
Schmitt, the very condition of possibility of juridical rule and, along with it,
the very meaning of State authority. Through the state of exception, the
sovereign creates and guarantees the situation that the law needs for its
own validity. But what is this situation, what is its structure, such that it
consists in nothing other than the suspension of the rule? The Vichian
opposition between positive Jaw (ins theticum) and exception well expresses
the particular status of the exception. The exception is an element in law that
transcends positive law in the form of its suspension. The exception is to
positive law what negative theology is to positive theology. While the latter
affirms and predicates determinate qualities of God, negative (or mystical)
theology, with its neither ... nor ... , negates and suspends the attribution to
God of any predicate whatsoever. Yet negative theology is not outside
theology and can actually be shown to function as the principle grounding the
possibility in general of anything like a theology. Only because it has been
negatively presupposed as what subsists outside any possible predicate can
divinity become the subject of a predication. Analogously, only because its
validity is suspended in the state of exception can positive law define the
normal case as the realm of its own validity. 1.2. The exception is a kind of
exclusion. What is excluded from the general rule is an individual case. But
the most proper characteristic of the exception is that what is excluded in it is
not, on account of being excluded, absolutely without relation to the rule. On
the contrary, what is excluded in the exception maintains itself in relation to
the rule in the form of the rules 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. In this sense, the exception is truly, according to its etymological
root, taken outside (ex-capere), and not simply excluded. It has often been
observed that the juridico-political order has the structure of an inclusion of
what is simultaneously pushed outside. Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari were
thus able to write, Sovereignty only rules over what it is capable of
interiorizing (Deleuze and Guattari, Mille plateaux, p. 445); and, concerning
the great confinement described by Foucault in his Madness and
Civilization, Maurice Blanchot spoke of societys attempt to confine the
outside (enfermer le dehors), that is, to constitute it in an interiority of
expectation or of exception. Confronted with an excess, the system
interiorizes what exceeds it through an interdiction and in this way
designates itself as exterior to itself (Lentretien infini, p. 292). The
exception that defines the structure of sovereignty is, however, even more
complex. Here what is outside is included not simply by means of an
interdiction or an internment, but rather by means of the suspension of the j
uridical orders validity by letting the juridical order, that is, withdraw from
the exception and abandon it. 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. We shall give the
name relation of exception to the extreme form of relation by which
something is included solely through its exclusion. The situation created in
the exception has the peculiar characteristic that it cannot be defined either
as a situation of fact or as a situation of right, but instead institutes a
paradoxical threshold of indistinction between the two. It is not a fact, since it
is only created through the suspension of the rule. But for the same reason, it
is not even a juridical case in point, even if it opens the possibility of the force
of law. This is the ultimate meaning of the paradox that Schmitt formulates
when he writes that the sovereign decision proves itself not to need law to
create law. What is at issue in the soveteign exception is not so much the
control or neutralization of an excess as the creation and definition of the
very space in which the juridico- political order can have validity. In this
sense, the sovereign exception is the fundamental localization (Ortung),
which does not limit itself to distinguishing what is inside from what is outside
but instead ttaces a threshold (the state of exception) between the two, on
the basis of which outside and inside, the normal situation and chaos, enter
into those complex topological relations that make the validity of the juridical
ordet possible. The ordering of space that is, according to Schmitt,
constitutive of the sovereign nomos is therefore not only a taking of land
(Landesnahme) the determination of a juridical and a territorial ordering (of
an Ordnung and an Ortung) but above all a taking of the outside, an
exception (Ausnahme). Since there is no rule that is applicable to chaos,
chaos must first be included in the juridical order through the creation of a
zone of indistinction between outside and inside, chaos and the normal
situation the state of exception.

The state of exception has a predilection towards

exemplary punishment the aff cannot reconcile the
congruity of the exception and the rule.
Agamben, Philosopher, 1998
(Stanford University Press California, Homo Sacer: Sovereign
Power and Bare Life,, 7/3/15, CY)

It may seem incongruous to define the structure of sovereign power, with its
cruel factual implications, by means of two innocuous grammatical
categories. Yet there is a case in which the linguistic examples decisive
character and ultimate indistinguishability from the exception show an
unmistakable involvement with the power of life and death. We refer to the
episode in Judges 12.; 6 in which the Galatians recognize the fleeing
Ephraimites, who are trying to save themselves beyond the Jordan, by asking
them to pronounce the word Shibboleth, which the Ephraimites pronounce
Sibboleth (The men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he
said, Nay; then they said unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said
Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him,

and slew him at the passages of Jordan). In the Shibboleth, example and
exception become indistinguishable: Shibboleth is an exemplary exception
or an example that functions as an exception. (In this sense, it is not
surprising that there is a predilection to resort to exemplary
punishment in the state of exception.) 1.5. Set theory distinguishes
between membership and inclusion. A term is included when it is part of a set
in the sense that all of its elements are elements of that set (one then says
that b is a subset of a, and one writes it b a). But a term may be a member
of a set without being included in it (membership is, after all, the primitive
notion of set theory, which one writes b a), or, conversely, a term may be
included in a set without being one of its members. In a recent book, Alain
Badiou has developed this distinction in order to translate it into political
terms. Badiou has membership correspond to presentation, and inclusion
correspond to representation (re-presentation). One then says that a term is a
member of a situation (in political terms, these are single individuals insofar
as they belong to a society). And one says that a term is included in a
situation if it is represented in the metastructure (the State) in which the
structure of the situation is counted as one term (individuals insofar as they
are recodified by the State into classes, for example, or into electorates).
Badiou defines a term as normal when it is both presented and represented
(that is, when it both is a member and is included), as excrescent when it is
represented but not presented (that is, when it is included in a situation
without being a member of that situation), and as singular when it is
presented but not represented (a term that is a member without being
included) (Ltre, pp. 95-115). What becomes of the exception in this
scheme? At first glance, one might think that it falls into the third case, that
the exception, in other words, embodies a kind of membership without
inclusion. And this is certainly Badious position. But what defines the
character of the sovereign claim is precisely that it applies to the exception in
no longer applying to it, that it includes what is outside itself. The sovereign
exception is thus the figure in which singularity is represented as such, which
is to say, insofar as it is unrepresentable. What cannot be included in any
way is included in the form of the exception. In Badious scheme, the
exception introduces a fourth figure, a threshold of indistinction between
excrescence (representation without presentation) and singularity
(presentation without representation), something like a paradoxical
inclusion of membership itself. The exception is what cannot be included in
the whole of which it is a member and cannot be a member of the
whole in which it is always already included. What emerges in this limit
figure is the radical crisis of every possibility of clearly distinguishing
between membership and inclusion, between what is outside and
what is inside, between exception and rule. Badious thought is, from
this perspective, a rigorous thought of the exception. His central category of
the event corresponds to the structure of the exception. Badiou defines the
event as an element of a situation such that its membership in the situation
is undecidable from the perspective of the situation. To the State, the event
thus necessarily appears as an excrescence. According to Badiou, the relation
between membership and inclusion is also marked by a fundamental lack of
correspondence, such that inclusion always exceeds membership (theorem of
the point of excess). The exception expresses precisely this impossibility of a

systems making inclusion coincide with membership, its reducing all its parts
ro unity. From the point of view of language, it is possible to assimilate
inclusion to sense and membership to denotation. In this way, the fact that a
word always has more sense than it can actually denote corresponds to the
theorem of the point of excess. Precisely this disjunction is at issue both in
Claude Lvi-Strausss theory of the constitutive excess of the signifier over
the signified (there is always a lack of equivalence between the rwo, which
is resolvable for a divine intellect alone, and which results in the existence of
a superabundance of the signifier over the signifieds on which it rests
[Introduction Mauss, p. xlix]) and in Emile Benvenistes doctrine of the
irreducible opposition between the semiotic and the semantic. The thought
of our time finds itself confronted with the structure of the exception in every
area. Languages sovereign claim thus consists in the attempt to make sense
coincide with denotation, to stabilize a zone of indistinction between the two
in which language can maintain irself in relation to its denotata by
abandoning them and withdrawing from them into a pure langue (the
linguistic state of exception). This is what deconstruction does, positing
undecidables that are infinitely in excess of every possibility of signification.
1.6. This is why sovereignty presents itself in Schmitt in the form of a decision
on the exception. Here the decision is not the expression of the will of a
subject hierarchically superior to all others, but rather represents the
inscription within the body of the nomos of the exteriority that animates it
and gives it meaning. The sovereign decides not the licit and illicit but the
originary inclusion of the living in the sphere of law or, in the words of
Schmitt, the normal structuring of life relations, which the law needs. The
decision concerns neither a quaestio iuris nor a quaestio facti, but rather the
very relation between law and fact. Here it is a question not only, as Schmitt
seems to suggest, of the irruption of the effective life that, in the exception,
breaks the crust of a mechanism grown rigid through repetition but of
something that concerns the most inner nature of the law. The law has a
regulative character and is a rule not because it commands and proscribes,
but because it must first of all create the sphere of its own reference in real
life and make that reference regular. Since the rule both stabilizes and
presupposes the conditions of this reference, the originary structure of the
rule is always of this kind: If (a real case in point, e.g.: si membrum rupsit),
then (juridical consequence, e.g.: talio esto), in which a fact is included in
the juridical order through its exclusion, and transgression seems to precede
and determine the lawful case. That the law initially has the form of a lex
talionis (talio, perhaps from talis, 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, that is, as an exceptional case. This is not a
punishment of this first act, but rather represents its inclusion in the juridical
order, violence as a primordial juridical fact (permittit enim lexparem
vindictam, for the law allows equitable vengeance [Pompeius Festus, De
verborum significations 496. 15]). In this sense, the exception is the originary
form of law. 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 culpa esse), which is to say, precisely the

condition of being included through an exclusion, of being in relation to

something from which one is excluded or which one cannot fully assume.
Guilt refers not to transgression, that is, to the determination of the licit and
the illicit, but to the pure force of the law, to the laws simple reference to
something. This is the ultimate ground of the juridical maxim, which is foreign
to all morality, 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, 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. The sovereign structure of the law, its peculiar
and original force, has the form of a state of exception in which fact and law
are indistinguishable (yet must, nevertheless, be decided on). Life, which is
thus obliged, can in the last instance be implicated in the sphere of law only
through the presupposition of its inclusive exclusion, only in an exceptio.
There is a limit-figure of life, a threshold in which life is both inside and
outside the juridical order, and this threshold is the place of sovereignty. The
statement The rule lives off the exception alone must therefore be taken to
the letter. Law is made of nothing but what it manages to capture inside itself
through the inclusive exclusion of the exceptio: it nourishes itself on this
exception and is a dead letter without it. In this sense, the law truly has no
existence in itself, but rather has its being in the very life of men. The
sovereign decision traces and from time to time renews this threshold of
indistinction between outside and inside, exclusion and inclusion, nomos and
physis, in which life is originarily excepted in law. Its decision is the position
of an undecidable. Not by chance is Schmitts first work wholly devoted to
the definition of the juridical concept of guilt. What is immediately striking in
this study is the decision with which the author refutes evety technico-formal
definition of the concept of guilt in favor of terms that, at first glance, seem
more moral than juridical. Here, in fact, guilt is (against the ancient juridical
proverb There is no guilt without rule) first of all a process of inner life,

The inclusive exclusion is the abject between us and
Zemblylas, 10 (Michalinos of Open University of Cyprus, Nicosia with

expertise in Educational Theory and Peace Education, Agambens Theory of

Biopower and Immigrants/Refugees/Asylum Seekers: Discourses of
Citizenship and the Implications
For Curriculum Theorizing
Critical and transnational discourses on citizenship can use Agambens views to raise questions about
identity, membership and citizenshipquestions that are issues of public debate, yet in curricular texts
such questions are marginalized (Knight Abowitz & Harnish, 2006). For example,
immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers can be considered as limit concepts (e.g., see Agamben, 1994) to
radically call into question the fundamental categories of the nationstate, including rights and citizenship.
Immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers are powerful figures that invite educators, curriculum theorists,
students, and the whole community to confront the politics of what Agamben has described as inclusive

This inclusive exclusion brings to mind Kristevas (1982) view

of the abject. The abject for Kristeva is an object which is excluded

but which still challenges its master (1982, p. 2). Although it is

excluded, it is simultaneously included in that it continues to disturb
borders (between us and them) and norms. Thus the abject does
not stand opposed to the subject, at a distance, definable. The
abject is other than the subject but is only just the other side of the
border (Young, 1990, p. 144). What is of interest here is an
understanding of abjection as that which disturbs borders and norms such as
rights and citizenships. The immigrant/ refugee / asylum seeker
becomes the abject Other, the homo sacer who has been left behind
or been excluded from the territorial boundaries that confer the
rights of citizenship (Papastergiadis, 2006).

Sovereignty can only operate through the inclusive

Ayten, Professor of political theory and human rights, 2012
[Barnad-College Columbia University, Potentialities of human
rights: Agamben and the narrative of fated necessity,,
7/6/15 CY]
In 1998 France introduced an amendment to its law on the Conditions of
Entry and Residence of Foreigners. This legal amendment granted residency
permits to non-citizens who have life-threatening pathologies that would not
be properly treated if they were to be deported to their home countries
(Ticktin, 2006). The amendment was motivated by humanitarian concerns;
indeed, it was groups such as Mdecins sans Frontires that pushed for such
a legal change. This humanitarian provision, aiming to care for the suffering
body, however, had some unanticipated and paradoxical effects: Introduced
at a time when strict asylum and immigration policies made it increasingly
difficult for non-citizens to legally reside in France, this illness clause was
indeed one of the few options for securing basic rights. Yet, as Miriam Ticktin
(2006) underscores, troubling effects of this humanitarian provision came to
the fore shortly: increasing number of undocumented immigrants started to
infect themselves with HIV, rejected treatment for illnesses such as cataract,
or took on the identity of people with AIDS to be able to get residence
permits. This disconcerting case, illustrating how humanitarian politics aiming
to care for life can have the paradoxical effect of producing disabled and
infected bodies, provides significant insights into the pertinence of
Agamben's account of sovereignty in the current political context. Particularly
in Homo Sacer, Agamben argues that sovereignty consists in a
decision over life, which always produces bare lives vulnerable to
violence. One of the most controversial claims he makes is that human
rights and humanitarianism, usually conceived as normative setbacks to
sovereign power, actually work in ways to reinscribe it. They do this precisely
by valorizing life and turning it into a site of political decision. In the case of
the humanitarian provision in France, for instance, to be able to grant
residence permits on the basis of life-threatening pathologies, there needs
to be a decision about what life is in the first place (Ticktin, 2006, p. 42).

These vital decisions and their effects are at the center of Agamben's
analysis of the inimical effects of a politics centered on sovereignty and
human rights. Below I will outline Agamben's analysis of biopolitical
sovereignty to provide the groundwork for a discussion of his critique of
human rights. To understand the insidious effects of a power that makes the
care of life its central task, Agamben draws on the work of Michel Foucault. Of
particular interest is Foucault's contention that in modernity we see the
emergence of biopower, which differs from the archaic sovereign power that
relies on the threat of death and is instead centered on regulating and
managing the biological life of the individual and species (Foucault, 1988, p.
143; 2003, p. 241). Contra Foucault, Agamben argues that biopower is not
a distinctively modern form of power but is always already
implicated in sovereignty (Agamben, 1998, pp. 6, 9). It is the type of
power at work not only in modern democracies but also in absolute
monarchies. To the extent that sovereignty, in its archaic and modern forms,
always consists in a decision on life, it is indeed inseparable from biopower.2
Agamben starts off his analysis of this intersection between sovereignty and
biopower with the premise that the production of a biopolitical body is the
original activity of sovereign power (1998, p. 6; emphasis in the original). As
he works on this premise, he leaves aside Foucault's genealogy, and engages
instead in a logico-formal analysis that aims to delineate what is always
already biopolitical in the permanent structure of sovereignty throughout
Western politics (1998, p. 109). To do this, he draws on Carl Schmitt's
definition of sovereignty as the decision on the exception (Agamben, 1998,
pp. 19, 67, 83; Schmitt, 2005, p. 5). For both Agamben and Schmitt,
sovereignty cannot ground itself in legal norms; it is in need of an
exteriority or factuality to ground itself. To understand the relation between
sovereign law and this exteriority, Agamben turns to the etymology of
exception (ex-capere), which indicates that sovereign exception is not
merely exclusion; it is more precisely an inclusive exclusion, which
signifies a double movement capturing at the very moment of
excluding (1998, p. 21). On the basis of this etymology, Agamben argues
that the logic of sovereignty consists in capturing, taking in, what is outside
of the juridico-political order. What is this exteriority that is captured in
sovereign law? The simple answer is life. Agamben's reading of Schmitt
suggests that law cannot have a concrete meaning without a relation to life
(1998, p. 27). Drawing on Walter Benjamin, Agamben also concludes that this
relationship between law and life always necessitates the isolation of a bare
life that can be killed with impunity. Life can be included in the
sovereign sphere only in the form of an exclusion, or its capacity to
be killed (1998, p. 8). To understand how bare life is produced and to see
how Agamben establishes the continuity of biopolitical sovereignty
throughout Western history, it is important to look at his reading of the
ancient Greek opposition between zo and bios. According to Agamben, zo
refers to the simple fact of living common to all living beings (animals, men,
or gods) whereas bios denotes exclusively the form or way of living proper
to an individual or a group (1998, p. 1). Drawing on Aristotle's Politics,
Agamben claims that this opposition underlies the exclusion of natural life
from the polis and its relegation to the oikos (1998, p. 2).3 It is this
biopolitical division of political and natural life that always produces

remainders and turns certain categories of living beings into bare life.4 Bare
life then is neither simple natural life of zo nor politically qualified life of
bios; rather it is the life produced as a result of sovereign decisions regarding
what is distinctively human (1998, pp. 90, 106, 109). By arguing that the
inclusive exclusion of life has been the permanent characteristic of
biopolitical sovereignty, Agamben contests Foucault and argues that the
novelty of modern biopolitics consists neither in the inclusion of zo in the
political sphere nor in the fact that politics is concerned with life (Agamben,
1998, p. 9). What is distinctive about modern power in this new account is
that natural life, which was confined to the sphere of the oikos in the classical
world, becomes the foundation of politics, and what used to be an exception
bare life becomes the rule and comes to define the life of every
citizen and human being, blurring the distinctions between polis and
oikos, bios and zoe, right and violence (1998, p. 9). As modern
democracies dedicate themselves to the task of taking care of and protecting
zo, they end up subjecting every aspect of life to sovereign power
and turning each political subject virtually into bare life (1998, p.
111). Agamben attributes a significant role to modern juridico-political
innovations such as habeas corpus and declarations of rights in this major
historical transformation, and it is to these that I now turn to discuss
Agamben's distinctive contribution to contemporary debates on human

The rights of the citizen versus the rights of the human
demonstrate the formulaic exemption of the law resulting
in the camp Sodexho underpaying refugees and
Australia detain refugees demonstrate the paradigm
Wassen, 15 (Stina Wassen, 4-22-2015, "Are There People Outside of
Identity?," E-International Relations, //NK)
The sight of the camp is the location of the specialisation of sovereign powe r
within which the production of bare life is transformed from
exemption into rule (Minca, 2011). For Agamben, the juridical-political structure of
the camp be it the concentration camps of the Second World War, the
modern detention camps for refugees and asylum seekers, or the infamous
Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay is the site where the suspension of the
law it reproduced. This suspension allows for acts of immense cruelty not only to be committed,
but also ultimately to go unpunished (Puggioni, 2006). As Agamben has declared , the camp
envisages the structure in which the absolutisation of the biopower of di far
vivere [to make live] intersects with and equally absolute generalisation of
the sovereign power di far morire [to make die] (Agamben, 1999: 83). Importantly,
according to Agamben, once a geographical location is converted into this particular
power structure, a space of exemption, life is per se reduced to bare life,
and its control resides exclusively on the sovereign power of camp
administrators (Puggioni, 2006: 70). The way in which the refugee camp produces homo sacer has
been examined in depth by several scholars. For instance, Blent Diken has shown how the idea of
exception increasingly controls all aspects of the refugees life (2004).
Illustrative is the case of the French company, Sodexho, which, in running a
detention centre for asylum seekers outside of London, is allowed by the UK
authorities to pay camp residents 34p an hour for cleaning and cooking in the
camp. An amount which is far below the legal minimum wage in the UK (ibid).
Another example of how the refugee is reduced to homo sacer, is the way in
which asylum seekers can be arbitrarily relegated to detention. In Australia
for instance, refugees are mandatorily detained as a result of the policy that
all asylum claims are seen as fictitious until proved otherwise (ibi d). Further, as
the interviews with 46 asylum seeking women in the UK in 2012 by Women for Refugee Women (WFRW)
makes evident, detention is very common and can span between a period of a few days up until 11
months. On average, the women interviewed had been detained for three months (WFRW, 2014). As one
woman told the interviewers: The most depressing thing is that you dont know how long youre going to
be here or if youll still be here tomorrow (ibid: 4). In all of the above examples, the position of the asylum
seeker in contrast to the citizen of the host state is telling. As Pointed out by Slavoj Zizek, the question at

if this distinction between refugee and state citizen indicate that what
we are seeing is a return to the differentiation between the rights of the
citizen and the right of the human? (2002). Also, maybe the even more pressing issue is
hand is

not the way in which the people who are inclusively excluded are treated, but rather the fact that these
cases indicate that our most elementary, zero, position is that of an object of biopolitics (ibid: 95).

Declaration of the rights of citizens enables modern

biopolitics the outside/inside dichotomy of citizenship
creates the homo sacer, thus allowing rights to be taken
away at will
Agamben 98
(Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 76-77, VW)
2.2. Declarations of rights must therefore be viewed as the place in
which the passage from divinely authorized royal sovereignty to
national sovereignty is accomplished. This passage assures the exceptio
of life in the new state order that will succeed the collapse of the ancien
rgime. The fact that in this process the subject is, as has been
noted, transformed into a citizen means that birth which is to
say, bare natural life as such here for the first time becomes
(thanks to a transformation whose biopolitical consequences we are
only beginning to discern today) the immediate bearer of
sovereignty. The principle of nativity and the principle of
sovereignty, which were separated in the ancien rgime (where birth
marked only the emergence of a sujet, a subject), are now
irrevocably united in the body of the sovereign subject so that the
foundation of the new nation-state may be constituted. It is not
possible to understand the national and biopolitical development
and vocation of the modern state in the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries if one forgets that what lies at its basis is not man as a
free and conscious political subject but, above all, mans bare life,
the simple birth that as such is, in the passage from subject to
citizen, invested with the principle of sovereignty. The fiction implicit
here is that birth immediately becomes nation such that there can be no
interval of separation [scarto] between the two terms. Rights are
attributed to man (or originate in him) solely to the extent that man
is the immediately vanishing ground (who must never come to light
as such) of the citizen. Only if we understand this essential historical
function of the doctrine of rights can we grasp the development and
Metamorphosis of declarations of rights in our century. When the hidden
difference [scarto] between birth and nation entered into a lasting crisis
following the devastation of Europes geopolitical order after the First World
War, what appeared was Nazism and fascism, that is, two properly biopolitical
movements that made of natural life the exemplary place of the sovereign
decision. We are used to condensing the essence of National Socialist
ideology into the syntagm blood and soil (Blut und Boden). When Alfred
Rosenberg wanted to express his partys vision of the world, it is precisely to
this hendiadys that he turned. The National Socialist vision of the world, he
writes, springs from the conviction that soil and blood constitute what is
essential about Germanness, and that it is therefore in reference to these two
givens that a cultural and state politics must be directed (Blut und Ehre, p.
242). Yet it has too often been forgotten that this formula, which is so highly
determined politically, has, in truth, an innocuous juridical origin. The
formula is nothing other than the concise expression of the two
criteria that, already in Roman law, served to identify citizenship
(that is, the primary inscription of life in the state order): ius soli

(birth in a certain territory) and ius sanguinis (birth from citizen

parents). In the ancien rgime, these two traditional juridical criteria
had no essential meaning, since they expressed only a relation of
subjugation. Yet with the French Revolution they acquire a new and
decisive importance. Citizenship now does not simply identify a
generic subjugation to royal authority or a determinate system of
laws, nor does it simply embody (as Chalier maintained when he
suggested to the convention on September 23,1792, that the title of citizen
be substituted for the traditional title monsieur or sieur in every public act)
the new egalitarian principle; citizenship names the new status of
life as origin and ground of sovereignty and, therefore, literally
identifies to cite Jean-Denis Lanjuinaiss words to the convention les
membres du souverain, the members of the sovereign. Hence the
centrality (and the ambiguity) of the notion of citizenship in
modern political thought, which compels Rousseau to say, No
author in France... has understood the true meaning of the term
citizen. Hence too, however, the rapid growth in the course of the French
Revolution of regulatory provisions specifying which man was a citizen and
which one not, and articulating and gradually restricting the area of the ius
soli and the ius sanguinis. Until this time, the questions What is French?
What is German? had constituted not a political problem but only one theme
among others discussed in philosophical anthropologies. Caught in a constant
work of redefinition, these questions now begin to become essentially
political, to the point that, with National Socialism, the answer to the question
Who and what is German? (and also, therefore, Who and what is not
German?) coincides immediately with the highest political task. Fascism
and Nazism are, above all, Biopolitics and the Rights of Man 77
redefinitions of the relations between man and citizen, and become
fully intelligible only when situated no matter how paradoxical it
may seem in the biopolitical context inaugurated by national
sovereignty and declarations of rights. Only this tie between the
rights of man and the new biopolitical determination of sovereignty
makes it possible to understand the striking fact, which has often been
noted by historians of the French Revolution, that at the very moment in
which native rights were declared to be inalienable and indefeasible,
the rights of man in general were divided into active rights and
passive rights. In his Prliminaires de la constitution, Sieys already clearly
stated: Natural and civil rights are those rights for whose
preservation society is formed, and political rights are those rights
by which society is formed. For the sake of clarity, it would be best
to call the first ones passive rights, and the second ones active
rights.... All inhabitants of a country must enjoy the rights of passive
citizens ... all are not active citizens. Women, at least in the present
state, children, foreigners, and also those who would not at all contribute to
the public establishment must have no active influence on public matters.
(Ecrits politiques, pp. 189-206) And after defining the membres du souverain,
the passage of Lan-juinais cited above continues with these words: Thus
children, the insane, minors, women, those condemned to a
punishment either restricting personal freedom or bringing disgrace
[punition affiletive ou inflammante] ... will not be citizens (quoted in

Sewell, Le citoyen, p. 105). Instead, of viewing these distinctions as a

simple restriction of the democratic and egalitarian principle, in
flagrant contradiction to the spirit and letter of the declarations, we
ought first to grasp their coherent biopolitical meaning. One of the
essential characteristics of modern biopolitics (which will continue
to increase in our century) is its constant need to redefine the
threshold in life that distinguishes and separates what is inside from
what is outside. Once it crosses over the walls of the oikos and
penetrates more and more deeply into the city, the foundation of
sovereignty non political life is immediately transformed into a
line that must be constantly redrawn. Once zoe is politicized by
declarations of rights, the distinctions and thresholds that make it
possible to isolate a sacred life must be newly defined. And when
natural life is wholly included in the polis and this much has, by
now, already happened these thresholds pass, as we will see,
beyond the dark boundaries separating life from death in order to
identify a new living dead man, a new sacred man.


State of exception mobilizes genocidal violence in the
name of the law
Rogers, 8 (Nicole of Southern Cross School of Law and Justice, Terrorist v
sovereign: legal performances in a state of exception
There is no doubt that legal contests between the accused terrorist
and the sovereign are occurring with some frequency in the state of
exception which arguably characterises contemporary Western
societies. Their very occurrence could be perceived as an anomaly given the
theoretical parameters of the state of exception as a lawless void. However,
Agamben describes a relationship of mutual dependency in which
the judicial order must seek in every way to assure itself a relation
with this space devoid of law (2005:51). In any event, some of these legal
performances, for instance those staged by the Bush administration in processing the Guantanamo Bay
detainees, are quasi-legal proceedings and not necessarily representative of the rule of law. Fleur Johns
rejects this conclusion and contends that the regime at Guantanamo Bay is, in fact, a profoundly
antiexceptional legal artefact (2005: 615) with no space for option, doubt and responsibility in the legal

rather than law the sort of murderous bureaucracy which
engendered mass genocide during the Third Reich: the governmental
procedures which apply therein. This 164 Rogers description, however, suggests

violence that while ignoring international law externally and

producing a permanent state of exception internally nevertheless
still claims to be applying the law (Agamben 2005: 87).

In fact, the legal

performances which are taking place in the contemporary state of exception can be divided into three
categories. In the first category we find the true legal black holes, in which the courts refuse to judge the
actions of the executive. Yet such performances are limited in number. More common are the second
category of legal performances, in which the courts conduct only a procedural review and ignore the
substance of the rule of law (Dyzenhaus 2006: 35). From these performances emerge what David

the legal grey holes far more dangerous, in his view,

than the black holes (2006: 50) because in deferring to the executive the
judiciary place a thin veneer of legality on the political (2006: 39).
Into this category fall challenges by accused terrorists to varying
circumstances of non-criminal detention, rigorous conditions of
surveillance and extreme restrictions on their freedom of movement
and association. In the final category, however, we find legal contests between accused terrorists
Dyzenhaus has labelled

and the sovereign in which, despite the deployment of biopolitical strategies and an overt display of
intimidatory force on the part of the sovereign, the courts have demonstrated an adherence to the rule of
law and a resistance to the Kafka-esque qualities of the state of exception. In this final category of legal
performances the sovereign is indeed constrained by the rule of law.

Turns Case More Surveillance

The biopolitical management of life in sovereignty
requires mass surveillance attempting to control the
Douglas, 9 (Jeremy, independent scholar, Disappearing Citizenship:
surveillance and the state of exception

This type of structure, which allows for an unseen seer to watch over individuals occupying a given
territory, is nothing new in fact, such surveillance structures have been recorded from as far back as the
Early Bronze Age (3000-2650 BC) (ibid, 78-85). However, these earlier surveillance systems were used in
order to guard a territory against an attack, as with the lookout towers constructed at the top of castles.
What distinguishes the Roman work camp from other ancient surveillance mechanisms is the way in which
is it integrated into, and in many ways the precondition for, the political structure that creates the camp .

The encampment of rebellious Jews characterizes the state of

emergency, in which normal law is suspended in order to use any
means necessary to protect the interest of the sovereign . Thus, the
Jews in the camp must be removed from the political realm and
treated as bare life that must be constantly monitored and exposed
to the potentiality of violence. As we shall see, this camp serves a
paradigmatic example of affects of surveillance, insofar as it is the
amalgamation of the state of exception, bare life, violence, law,
biopolitics, territory, and governmentality; not to mention that evidence of
surveillance and camp structures that existed thousands of years ago demonstrates that none of these

Governmentality is able to function as

the control of the population and the creation of bare life because it
employs surveillance as a crucial tactic in the management of life
this is clearly presented in the Roman camp example. However, although many of the
concepts are new and modern phenomena.

concepts and techniques we see at work in the camp are not fundamentally different today, not everything
has remained the same.

The importance of a juridical-political system that

acts according to the state of exception, or suspension of the law, is
evident in the emergence of recent totalitarian and democratic
permanent states of emergency; for example, the UK and the US
have normalised the exception through the passing of laws
(Terrorism Act, Patriot Act, etc.) that essentially nullify the
application of normal laws protecting human rights, while still
holding them technically in force . We see also that these
exceptional laws go hand in hand with increased surveillance, both
of which are tactics that establish control of the population . Yet what
remains to be analysed is the relation(s) between surveillance, territory, and the state of exception how
does surveillance allow for the rise of the state of exception and the camp? And, more broadly, how are all

Surveillance must be regarded as

the point at which the camp and the bare of the state of exception
intersect in the governmental control of the population.
there concepts integrated in an art of government?

The Camp
State of exception creates an omnipresent threat of
concentration camps reemerging the constant security
threat created by the sovereign legitimizes extreme
Douglas, 9 (Jeremy, independent scholar, Disappearing Citizenship:
surveillance and the state of exception

In order to understand how bare life is produced and how it can exists both within and outside of the polis,
it is necessary to introduce another concept: state of exception. This notion is derived, by in large, from
Carl Schmitts book Political Theology, as well as from a fairly extensive debate between Walter Benjamin
and Schmitt concerning the nature of the state of exception .

The state of exception is a

suspension of law, which is usually instituted during a period of
war or another state of emergency: The exception, which is not
codified in the existing legal order, can at best be characterized as a
case of extreme peril, a danger to the existence of the state, or the
like (Schmitt 1922, 6). Under the state of exception there becomes a
threshold between law that is in the norm but is suspended and law that is
not the norm i.e. not necessarily part of the juridical order but is in force;
so, in the state of exception there appears this ambiguous and uncertain
zone in which de facto proceedings, which are themselves extra- or
antijuridical, pass over into law, and juridical norms blur with the mere fact
that is, a threshold where fact and law seem to become undecidable
(Agamben 2005, 29). What needs to be underlined here is the relation
between the state of exception and bare life. This point is absolutely
crucial for Agamben and for understanding the role of governmental
surveillance: the state of exception opens up the possibility of bare
life and of the camp, where bare life is outside law but constantly
exposed to violence and unsanctionable killing (Agamben 1994, 82).
Agambens position can be understood in the triadic relation state of
exception-camp-bare life; the ultimate power of the sovereign, and the
complete dissolution of democracy into totalitarianism two political
systems that, according to Agamben, already have an inner
solidarity (ibid, 10) happens at the point when the state of
exception becomes the rule and the camp emerges as the
permanent realization of the indistinguishability between violence
and law, to which we all, as homines sacri, are exposed. The paradigmatic
example is, of course, Nazi Germany; but what remains to be seen is how this
triad can be applied to our current political milieu.

The camp is the paradigm of modern sovereignty

anything becomes possible, as the law and fact are fused
and confused the state of exception is normalized, and
the citizen becomes homo sacer.

Agamben 98 (Giorgio, prof of philosophy at university of Verona, Homo

Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 72 DLS)
7.3. The paradoxical status of the camp as a space of exception must be
considered. The camp is a piece of land placed outside the normal juridical
order, but it is nevertheless not simply an external space. What is excluded in
the camp is, according to the etymological sense of the term exception (excapere), taken outside, included through its own exclusion. But what is first of
all taken into the juridical order is the state of exception itself. Insofar as the
state of exception is willed, it inaugurates a new juridicopolitical
structure in which the state of exception the possibility of deciding on
which founds sovereign power is realized normally. The sovereign no
longer limits itself, as it did in the spirit of the Weimar constitution,
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, he now de facto
produces the situation as a consequence of his decision on the
exception. This is why in the camp the quaestio iuris is, if we look carefully,
no longer strictly distinguishable from the quaestio facti, and in this sense
every question concerning the legality or illegality of what happened
there simply makes no sense. The camp is a hybrid of law and fact in
which the two terms have become indistinguishable. Hannah Arendt once
observed that in the camps, the principle that supports totalitarian
rule and that common sense obstinately refuses to admit comes fully
to light: this is the principle according to which everything is possible.
Only because the camps constitute a space of exception in the sense we
have examined in which not only is law completely suspended but fact
and law are completely confused is everything in the camps truly
possible. If this particular juridico-political structure of the camps
the task of which is precisely to create a stable exception is not
understood, the incredible things that happened there remain
completely unintelligible. Whoever entered the camp moved in a
zone of indistinction between outside and inside, exception and rule,
licit and illicit, in which the very concepts of subjective right and
juridical protection no longer made any sense. What is more, if the
person entering the camp was a Jew, he had already been deprived of his
rights as a citizen by the Nuremberg laws and was subsequently completely
denationalized at the time of the Final Solution. Insofar as its inhabitants
were stripped of every political status and wholly reduced to bare
life, the camp was also the most absolute biopolitical space ever to
have been realized, in which power confronts nothing but pure life,
without any mediation. This is why the camp is the very paradigm of
political space at the point at which politics becomes biopolitics and
homo sacer is virtually confused with the citizen. The correct question
to pose concerning the horrors committed in the camps is, therefore, not the
hypocritical one of how crimes of such atrocity could be committed against

human beings. It would be more honest and, above all, more useful to
investigate carefully the juridical procedures and deployments of
power by which human beings could be so completely deprived of
their rights and prerogatives that no act committed against them
could appear any longer as a crime. (At this point, in fact, everything
had truly become possible.)

The state of exception authorized the camp, legitimizing

Agamben 98
(Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 96-97, VW)
7.2. The importance of this constitutive nexus between the state of exception
and the concentration camp cannot be overestimated for a correct
understanding of the nature of the camp. The protection of freedom that is
at issue in Schutzhaft is, ironically, protection against the suspension of law
that characterizes the emergency. The novelty is that Schutzhaft is now
separated from the state of exception on which it had been based and is left
in force in the normal situation. The camp is the space that is opened
when the state of exception begins to become the rule. In the camp,
the state of exception, which was essentially a temporary
suspension of the rule of law on the basis of a factual state of
danger, is now given a permanent spatial arrangement, which as
such nevertheless remains outside the normal order. When Himmler
decided to create a concentration camp for political prisoners in Dachau at
the time of Hitlers election as chancellor of the Reich in March 1933, the
camp was immediately entrusted to the SS and thanks to Schutzhaft
placed outside the rules of penal and prison law, which then and
subsequently had no bearing on it. Despite the multiplication of the often
contradictory communiqus, instructions, and telegrams through which the
authorities both of the Reich and of the individual Lander took care to keep
the workings of Schutzhat as vague as possible after the decree of February
28, the camps absolute independence from every judicial control
and every reference to the normal juridical order was constantly
reaffirmed. According to the new notions of the National Socialist jurists
(among whom Carl Schmitt was in the front lines), which located the primary
and immediate source of law in the Fhrers command, Schutzhaft had,
moreover, no need whatsoever of a juridical foundation in existing institutions
and laws, being an immediate effect of the National Socialist revolution
(Drobisch and Wieland, System, p. 27). Because of this that is, insofar as
the camps were located in such a peculiar space of exception Diels, the
head of the Gestapo, could declare, Neither an order nor an instruction
exists for the origin of the camps: they were not instituted; one day they were
there [sie waren nicht gegrndet, sie waren eines Tages da] (quoted ibid., p.
30). Dachau and the other camps that were immediately added to it
(Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Lichtenberg) remained almost always in
operation what varied was the size of their population (which in certain
periods, in particular between 1935 and 1937, before the Jews began to be
deported, diminished to 7,500 people). But in Germany the camp as such had
become a permanent reality. 7.3. The paradoxical status of the camp as a

space of exception must be considered. The camp is a piece of land placed

outside the normal juridical order, but it is nevertheless not simply an
external space. What is excluded in the camp is, according to the
etymological sense of the term exception (ex-capere), taken outside,
included through its own exclusion. But what is first of all taken into the
juridical order is the state of exception itself. Insofar as the state of exception
is willed, it inaugurates a new juridico- political paradigm in which the norm
becomes indistinguishable from the exception. The camp is thus the The
Camp as 'Nomos' 97 structure in which the state of exception the
possibility of deciding on which founds sovereign power is realized
normally. The sovereign no longer limits himself, as he did in the spirit of the
Weimar constitution, 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, he now de facto produces
the situation as a consequence of his decision on the exception. This is why in
the camp the quaestio iuris is, if we look carefully, no longer strictly
distinguishable from the quaestio facti, and in this sense every question
concerning the legality or illegality of what happened there simply makes no
sense. The camp is a hybrid of law and fact in which the two terms have
become indistinguishable. Hannah Arendt once observed that in the camps,
the principle that supports totalitarian rule and that common sense
obstinately refuses to admit comes fully to light: this is the principle
according to which everything is possible. Only because the camps
constitute a space of exception in the sense we have examined in
which not only is law completely suspended but fact and law are
completely confused is everything in the camps truly possible. If
this particular juridico-political structure of the camps the task of which is
precisely to create a stable exception is not understood, the incredible
things that happened there remain completely unintelligible. Whoever
entered the camp moved in a zone of indistinction between outside
and inside, exception and rule, licit and illicit, in which the very
concepts of subjective right and juridical protection no longer made
any sense. What is more, if the person entering the camp was a Jew, he had
already been deprived of his rights as a citizen by the Nuremberg laws and
was subsequently completely denationalized at the time of the Final Solution.
Insofar as its inhabitants were stripped of every political status and
wholly reduced to bare life, the camp was also the most absolute
biopolitical space ever to have been realized, in which power
confronts nothing but pure life, without any mediation. This is why
the camp is the very paradigm of political space at the point at
which politics becomes biopolitics and homo sacer is virtually
confused with the citizen. The correct question to pose concerning
the horrors committed in the camps is, therefore, not the
hypocritical one of how crimes of such atrocity could be committed
against human beings. It would be more honest and, above all, more
useful to investigate carefully the juridical procedures and
deployments of power by which human beings could be so
completely deprived of their rights and prerogatives that no act
committed against them could appear any longer as a crime. (At this
point, in fact, everything had truly become possible.)

The modern biopolitical United States, through the state

of exception, is no different from the concentration camp
of Nazi Germany legitimizing VPs and human
Agamben 98
(Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 89-91, VW)
5.1. On May 15,1941, Dr. Roscher, who for some time had been conducting
experiments on rescue operations from high altitudes, wrote to Himmler. He
asked whether, considering the importance of his research for the lives of
German pilots, the mortal risk his experiments constituted for VPs
(Versuchspersonen, human guinea pigs) and the fact that nothing of
use could be gained from conducting experiments on animals, it
might be possible to provide him with two or three professional
criminals for his work. By this point the air war had already entered, the
stage of high-altitude flying, and the risk of death would be great if, under
these conditions, the pressurized, cabin were damaged or the pilot had to
parachute from the plane. The final result of the exchange of letters between
Roscher and Himmler (which is preserved in its entirety) was the installation
at Dachau of a compression chamber to continue the experiments in a place
in which VPs were particularly easy to find. We still possess the records
(furnished with photographs) of the experiment conducted on a 37-year-old
Jewish VP in good heath who was subjected to the equivalent pressure of
12,000 meters of altitude. After four minutes, we read, the VP began to
sweat and to shake her head. After five minutes cramps were produced;
between six and ten minutes breathing accelerated and the VP lost
consciousness; between ten and thirty minutes breathing slowed down to
three breaths a minute, and then ceased altogether. At the same time skin
color became strongly cyanotic and foam appeared around the lips. Then
follows the report of the dissection conducted to ascertain any
possible organic lesions on the corpse. At the Nuremberg trials, the
experiments conducted by German physicians and scientists in the
concentration camps were universally taken to be one of the most infamous
chapters in the history of the National Socialist regime. In addition to
experiments pertaining to high-altitude rescue operations, experiments were
also conducted at Dachau on the possibility of survival in ice-cold water and
on the potability of salt water (these experiments, too, were designed to
facilitate the rescue of sailors and pilots who had fallen into the ocean). In the
cold-water experiments, VPs were held under cold water until they lost
consciousness, while researchers carefully analyzed the variations in body
temperature and possibilities of reanimation. Particularly grotesque was the
experiment on so-called animal heat reanimation, in which VPs were placed in
a cot between two naked women who had also been taken from among the
Jews detained in the camps; the documentation tells of a VP who was able to
have sexual relations, which facilitated the recuperation process. The
experiments on the potability of salt water were instead conducted on VPs
chosen from among the prisoners bearing the black triangle (i.e., Gypsies;
this symbol of the genocide of a defenseless population ought to be

remembered alongside the yellow star). These VPs were divided into three
groups: one that simply had to abstain from drinking altogether; one that
drank only salt water; and one that drank salt water mixed with Berkazusatz,
a chemical substance that, according to the researchers, lessened the harm
of the salt water. Another important area of experimentation involved
inoculation with petechial fever bacteria and the Hepatitis endemica virus in
the hope of producing vaccines against two infectious diseases that were
especially threatening to the health of German soldiers on the battlefronts,
where life was hardest. Experimentation on nonsurgical sterilization by
means of chemical substances or radiation, which was to serve the Reichs
eugenic politics, was, in addition, particularly severe and painful for subjects.
Less often, experiments were also conducted on limb transplants, cellular
inflammations, and so on. 90 PART THREE: THE CAMP AS BIOPOLITICAL
PARADIGM OF THE MODERN 5.2. Reading the testimony of VPs who survived,
in some cases the testimony of the very subjects described in the extant
records, is such an atrocious experience that it is very tempting to
consider the experiments as merely sadocriminal acts with no
relation to scientific research. But unfortunately this cannot be
done. To begin with, some (certainly not all) of the physicians who conducted
the experiments were quite well respected by the scientific community for
their research. Professor Clauberg, for example, who was responsible for the
sterilization program, was the inventor of the Clauberg test on
progesterone action, which was commonly used in gynecology until a few
years ago. Professors Schrder, Becker- Freyting, and Bergblck, who directed
the experiments on the potability of salt water, enjoyed such a good scientific
reputation that after they were convicted, a group of scientists from various
countries submitted a petition to an international congress of medicine in
1948 so that these scientists might not be confused with other criminal
physicians sentenced in Nuremberg. And during their trial, Professor Vollardt,
a professor of chemistry at the University of Frankfurt, who was not
considered to have sympathies for the Nazi regime, testified before the court
that from the scientific point of view, the preparation of these experiments
was splendid a curious adjective, if one considers that the VPs reached
such a level of prostration in the course of the experiment that they twice
tried to suck fresh water from a rag on the floor. What is decisively more
disquieting is the fact (which is unequivocally shown by the scientific
literature put forward by the defense and confirmed by the expert
witnesses appointed by the court) that experiments on prisoners
and persons sentenced to death had been performed several times
and on a large scale in our century, in particular in the United States
(the very country from which most of the Nuremberg judges came).
Thus in the 1920s, 800 people held in United States prisons were
infected with malaria plasmodia in an attempt to find an antidote to
paludism. There were also the experiments widely held to be
exemplary in the scientific literature on pellagra conducted by
Goldberg on twelve prisoners sentenced to death, who were
promised the remission of their penalty if they survived
experimentation. Outside the United States, the first experiments with
cultures of the beriberi bacillus were conducted by R. P. Strong in Manila on
persons sentenced to death (the records of the experiment do not mention

whether participation in the experiment was voluntary). In addition, the

defense cited the case of Keanu (Hawaii), who was infected with
leprosy in order to be promised pardon, and who died following the
experiment. Confronted with this documentation, the judges were forced
to dedicate interminable discussions to the identification of criteria
that might render scientific experiments on human guinea pigs
admissible. The final criterion, which elicited general agreement,
was the necessity of an explicit and voluntary consent on the part of
the subject who was to be submitted to the experiment. The
consistent practice in the United States was (as shown by a form in use in the
state of Illinois which was displayed before the judges) to have the sentenced
person sign a declaration in which the following, among other things, is
stated: I assume all the risks of this experiment and declare that I absolve
the University of Chicago and all the technicians and researchers who take
part in the experiment, as well as the government of Illinois, the directory of
the State penitentiary and every other official, even as concerns my heirs and
representatives, of any responsibility. I therefore renounce every claim to any
damage or disease, even fatal, which may be caused by the experiment. The
obvious hypocrisy of such documents cannot, fail to leave one
perplexed. To speak of free will and consent in the case of a person
sentenced to death or of a detained person who must pay serious
penalties is, at the very least, questionable. And it is certain that
even if similar declarations had been signed by the people detained
in the camps, the experiments that took place would not have been
considered ethically admissible. What the well-meaning emphasis on
the free will of the individual refuses to recognize here is that the
concept of voluntary consent is simply meaningless for someone
interned at Dachau, even if he or she is promised an improvement in
living conditions. From this point of view, the inhumanity of the
experiments in the United States and in the camps is, therefore,
substantially equivalent. VP 91 Nor was it possible to invoke a difference
of ends in order to evaluate the different and specific responsibilities in the
cases at issue. An observation by Alexander Mitscherlich, the doctor who,
together with F. Mielke, published the first account of the physicians trials in
Nuremberg in 1947, bears witness to the difficulty of admitting that the
experiments in the camps were not without medico-scientific precedent.
When Professor Rose was tried for experiments with vaccination against
petechial fever (which had brought death to 97 of 392 VPs), he defended
himself by citing the analogous experiments conducted by Strong in Manila
on persons sentenced to death. Rose compared the German soldiers who
died of petechial fever to the people with beriberi for whose benefit Strongs
research was intended. At this point Mitscherlich, who otherwise distinguishes
himself by the sobriety of his comments, objects: While Strong was trying to
fight against the misery and death caused by a scourge of the natural order,
researchers like the accused Professor Rose worked, in the confusion of a
dictatorships inhuman methods, to maintain and justify cruelty (Mitscherlich
and Mielke, Wissenschaft, pp. 11-12). As a historico-political judgment, the
observation is exact. It is clear, however, that the ethico-juridical admissibility
of the experiments could not in any way depend on either the nationality of
the people for whom the vaccine was destined or the circumstances in which

they had contracted the disease. The only ethically correct position would
have been to recognize that the precedents cited by the defense were
pertinent, but that they did not diminish the responsibility of the accused in
the slightest. But this would have meant throwing a sinister shadow on
common practices of the medical profession. (Since the time of the trial, even
more sensational cases of mass experiments conducted on citizens have
come to light, for example, in the study of the effects of nuclear radiation.) If
it was theoretically comprehensible that such experiments would not
raise ethical problems for officials and researchers inside a
totalitarian regime that moved in an openly biopolitical horizon, how
could experiments that were, in a certain sense, analogous have
been conducted in a democratic country? The only possible answer
is that in both contexts the particular status of the VPs was decisive;
they were persons sentenced to death or detained in a camp, the
entry into which meant the definitive exclusion from the political
community. Precisely because they were lacking almost all the rights
and expectations that we customarily attribute to human existence,
and yet were still biologically alive, they came to be situated in a
limit zone between life and death, inside and outside, in which they
were no longer anything but bare life. Those who are sentenced to
death and those who dwelt in the camps are thus in some way
unconsciously assimilated to homines sacres, to a life that may be
killed without the commission of homicide. Like the fence of the
camp, the interval between death sentence and execution delimits
an extratemporal and extraterritorial threshold in which the human
body is separated from its normal political status and abandoned, in
a state of exception, to the most extreme misfortunes. In such a
space of exception, subjection to experimentation can, like an
expiation rite, either return the human body to life (pardon and the
remission of a penalty are, it is worth remembering, manifestations
of the sovereign power over life and death) or definitively consign it
to the death to which it already belongs. What concerns us most of
all here, however, is that in the biopolitical horizon that
characterizes modernity, the physician and the scientist move in the
no-mans-land into which at one point the sovereign alone could

Gitmo is the manifestation of the U.S. state of exception

it has become the camp.
Franks, J.D. from Harvard Law, 2005
(Mary Anne, 2005, Scribner, Guantanamo Forever: United States Sovereignty
and the Unending State of Exception,, accessed 7/8/2015, JAK)
The name Guantanamo Bay is now inextricably linked with images of
shackled men in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, with the designation of
enemy combatants, and with the uncertain, possibly severe violence to
which they are subjected. The camps, in their strange positioning
between the rule of law and utter lawlessness, stand for the outer
limit of U.S. sovereign power. Guantanamo functions as this limit in two

simultaneous but paradoxical senses. The camps at Guantanamo are

first and foremost a creation of the United States, and those
detained there are held pursuant to the exercise of American
sovereign power. At the same time, however, the U.S. government asserts
that American courts have no jurisdiction, and U.S. laws do not apply, in
Guantanamo. Guantanamo is thus a kind of no mans land where
traditional conceptions of human rights do not exist, and where U.S.
sovereign power is allegedly impotent to guarantee the basic human
rights that are the cornerstone of democracy. The government has attempted
to justify the extraordinary measures taken at Guantanamothe tactics
employed in capturing and keeping the prisoners, the creation of enemy
combatant status, the use of torture or other questionable measures in
extracting information from the prisoners, the denial of due process, and the
trying of prisoners by military commissions rather than full courtsas
necessary responses to an extraordinary situation: a postSeptember 11
world facing imminent danger from a shadowy and powerful enemy. In
short, the U.S. government has justified the paradox of Guantanamo
through the invocation of the state of emergency, or what Carl
Schmitt called the state of exception.2 The dark and paradoxical
dimension of the state of exception, as theorists such as Giorgio Agamben
and Slavoj Zizek have pointed out, is that the state of exception, which is
meant to be a temporary provisional suspension of the norm, often
instead becomes the normthe lawitself. As Agamben writes, [T]he
state of exception is not a special kind of law (like the law of war);
rather, insofar as it is a suspension of the juridical order itself, it
denies laws threshold or limit concept.3 The consequences of this
perpetual state of exception for the democratic project are becoming
brutally clear in light of the seemingly endless war on terror.

Because state has power to declare both homo sacer and

state of exception, potential for the emergence of
concentration camp-like situations is high
Robinson, political theorist, 2011 (Andrew, In Theory Giorgio
Agamben: the state and the concentration camp

The danger of being declared homo sacer is built into the experience
of life in societies ruled by states. For Agamben, the ability to declare
someone homo sacer is fundamental to the sovereignty claimed by
states. This is shown in the historic concept of the ban. The term ban refers both to the sovereigns
standard (the banner or flag) and to the act of outlawing someone (origin of English ban, banish and
bandit). This shows the deep connection between sovereignty and homo sacer. This kind of practice was
supposed to be stopped in modern liberalism, with ideas such as due process and habeas corpus, but

Agamben views it as a permanent aspect of sovereignty which keeps

returning and which is becoming increasingly central today, in the
emergence of states of exception such as camps. It is also clear in a certain
populist discourse often found in the tabloid press and among the more bigoted politicians, in which

various people deemed monsters, animals, scum and so on are

taken not to deserve human or civil rights. For instance, the former Tory MP Andrew

Mackay said in parliament that gypsies who camp in car parks are scum who do not deserve the same
human rights as my decent constituents. (His own expense fiddling being, presumably, a different matter).
Such cases are for Agamben evidence of the spread of the logic of sovereignty, which was never really

In any state regime, everyone is vulnerable, at risk

of being declared homo sacer. In the case of democratic discourse,
this does not change; at most, it just means that, while everyone is
potentially vulnerable, everyone is also potentially a sovereign, able
to declare others homo sacer (for instance, through moral panics). There are many different
kinds of exceptional power to which Agambens concepts are frequently applied. The sovereign
power to declare an exception is associated with the suspension of
normal legal guarantees and protections, and the denial of basic
rights. Sometimes, such a situation can pertain across an entire society. States of exception are
eliminated to begin with.

clearest in the kind of emergency powers which states use to suspend normal laws in special
circumstances, such as Britains Civil Contingencies Act. These kinds of laws have been widely used in
Latin American and some European countries to suppress protests and social unrest. States of exception
also exist in other kinds of spaces defined as marginal or outside normal laws .

Cases of prison
camps like Guantanamo Bay, which was asserted by the Bush regime to be
outside American law, and Abu Ghraib, where US soldiers committed abuse
under the cover of military impunity, are straightforward examples of the
state of exception. The theory also tends to be applied to prisons and policing regimes more
broadly, especially when they are apparently lawless or outside normal laws the refugee detention and

Prisons, too, are becoming

camp-like, with impunity for abuses by guards and, most recently, allegations
border control regime for example.

that guards provoked the Moorland uprising in an attempt to avoid job cuts. There is also a strong
similarity between medieval outlawing and measures such as ASBOs and control orders, which similarly
define certain individuals selected by the state as outside the rights recognised in ordinary law. In earlier
historical periods, and still today in warzones, there is a tendency for colonies to be treated as states of

discusses the denigration of savages and primitives as a means to
relegate groups of people to bare life by rendering them
indistinguishable from animals, which had already been consigned to
bare life.
exception the rights which apply in the homeland dont apply in the periphery.

The Holocaust revealed how the logic of sovereignty is the

enemy just because Nazi Germany is gone does not
mean camps are
Robinson, political theorist, 2011 (Andrew, In Theory Giorgio
Agamben: the state and the concentration camp
The Nazi Holocaust marks a second turning point in which the horrors of the camp are revealed in all their
monstrosity. The


happened when and where it did for contingent, historical reasons, but

its real causes were the creation of a particular kind of space, the
camp, where people were defined as having lives not worth living,
and as being vulnerable to being killed with impunity.

Auschwitz is the high

point of the logic of sovereignty, showing its ontological nature in its realisation: it shows where the

Auschwitz marks the point of no

return which reveals the nature of sovereignty for what it really is. It
thus marks the starting point for a new politics. This new politics is
combination of biopolitics and sovereignty leads.

not just about opposing Nazis specifically, but fighting the logic of
sovereignty which generated the Holocaust. According to Agamben, the camp
doesnt just exist in Nazi Germany, or even in totalitarian regimes. The camp exists,
potentially at least, wherever there are states. It is built into the
logic of political sovereignty. It is permanently possible in the spaces
of exception which states constantly create. Whether or not people in these
spaces are actually killed does not depend on any legal protection (which is either nonexistent or
ineffective), but entirely on the whims or ethics of the agents of the state who are exercising its sovereign
power. It exists particularly strongly in contemporary states, because the logic of sovereignty has unfolded
to a certain point (Agamben seems to think of the changes in the state over time as something akin to a
sapling growing into a giant, fully developed tree). Agamben famously claims that the camp is the nomos
of modernity the moment of naming, of recognition and derecognition, which creates the power (and
autonomy) of the modern state. While it is peculiarly modern, the camp also marks the fulfilment of the
internal development of sovereignty.

Were not physically tramped in camps right now, but

there is huge potential to be treated as sub-human and
killed, all without punishment to the state
Robinson, political theorist, 2011 (Andrew, In Theory Giorgio
Agamben: the state and the concentration camp
Doubtless some will reject his theories for violating Godwins Law, or because they feel it is trivialising or
decontextualising the camp to compare it to every instance of repression. This, I suspect, is based on a

Agamben is not actually saying that we are all

treated like camp inmates, simply that were all at risk from being
treated as if we are of this status we could be killed by the state
with impunity, even if we arent. Also, this is not just a case of Agamben calling people
misunderstanding. For one thing,

he dislikes Nazis. There are clear, structural reasons for the parallels he draws. I would argue that, in

the tabooing of discussion of fascistic elements of present

state practices is based on a kind of irrational splitting, which wards
off the subversive implications of never again by keeping them at
a distance, pretending they dont apply to us, they only apply to
issues behind some imaginary boundary (in undemocratic societies for instance) which

historically would prove to be far more porous. It is, I think, a peculiar perspectival blockage of radicalisms
in countries like Britain to confine anti-fascism to opposing small neo-Nazi groups. In contrast, German
antifa have long recognised the parallels between the repressive practices (and even the personnel) of the

is only in countries like Britain and America, with no recent fascist past
to compare to, where the existence of a continuum between fascism
and the deep state is something of a public secret, even among
current German state and those of the Third Reich; so have radicals in Italy, Spain, Greece and Japan.

Camp is the space where bare life and state of exception

Tas, Graduate Student in Sociology at Bogazici University,
15 (Sercan, Modernity, Camp and Homo Sacer in Giorgio

According to Agamben, politics is always biopolitics and biopolitics is the centre of sovereign power. In this
light, modernity is not a break with the historical tradition, but it generalizes and radicalizes what was

modernity is different from pre-modern

times because bare life, which was once located at the margins of
political life is now occupying more and more space inside the
political domain. Agamben Sees camp as the matrix of modernity.
Camp is a hidden matrix because it is an event that repeats itself
on daily basis of the political domain. (166) The camp, for Agamben is not only a
present in the beginning of politics. However,

physical entity surrounded by fences and materiality but it symbolizes the line between bare life and

So, Nazi concentration camps are not the only camps

that Agamben sees as the nomos of modernity, but every single
space that produce bare life like ghettos can be counted as camp.
The camp is the space that is opened when the state of exception
becomes the rule. (168) Camp is the space, the state of exception
where law and fact, rule and exception overlap. This is not place but space
political existence.

because the zone does not have to have a character specific to it. The bombing of Roboski as an example
proves it. Heron planes determined the coordinates of the villagers and bombed them. So, every zone can

Bare life and camp are essential parts of our

contemporary political rationality. Agamben says all politics is biopolitics
but modernity is the most excellent age of biopolitics because only in
modernity rule and exception have become indistinguishable. There is an
be a space and a state of exception.

increasing aggravation of biopolitics in modernity. He says that biopolitics has passed beyond a new
threshold. For example, Nazi biopolitics concentrated on identifiable individuals or specific populations.

in our age, all citizens can be said, in a specific but

extremely real sense, to appear virtually as homices sacri .

(111) The
borderline th at separated individuals and groups in the past is now found in inside the individual body. The
line of separation between political existence and bare life moved inside every human life and every

Homo Sacer
Law has abandoned those within the camp their killing
no longer calls for punishment, but just the capacity to be
killed. They have become homo sacer.
Ownbey, Has a PhD in English and works on human rights in
literature within the context of statelessness, 2013
(Carolyn, 4/2013, disclosure: A Journal of Social Theory, The Abandonment of
Modernity: Bare Life and the Camp in Homo Sacer and Hotel Rwanda,
article=1017&context=disclosure, accessed 7/6/2015, JAK)
The homo sacer stands outside the law, and is abandoned by it.
Agamben calls the homo sacer simply set outside human
jurisdiction without being brought into the realm of divine law (82).
The homo sacer, external to the law, still, however, remains intimately 19
bound to it. He does not simply have no relation to the law; he relates to the
law precisely through his exclusion from it. Agamben explains this as the
sovereign ban of the homo sacer from the sovereign spherein other words,
as the state of exception. He says, The original political relation is the ban
(the state of exception as zone of indistinction between outside and inside,
exclusion and inclusion) (181). Being excluded from the law, the homo sacer
cannot appeal to the law; it cannot protect him. His banishment from the
sphere of law reduces himfrom a politically relevant person, a citizen
protected by the law and within the lawto his bare life alone. As such, as a
creature possessing bare life only, the homo sacer may become subject to
death or punishment at the hands of anyone. Agamben explains that in the
state of exception, human life is politicized only through an abandonment to
an unconditional power of death (90). Using the example of the Jew in Nazi
Germany, Agamben identifies, a flagrant case of homo sacer in the
sense of a life that may be killed but not sacrificed. His killing
therefore constitutes neither capital punishment nor a sacrifice, but
simply the actualization of a mere capacity to be killed (114). The
Jew in Nazi Germany demonstrates exactly those two traits Agamben has told
us are always present in the homo sacer: his ability to be killed without being
the victim of homicide, and his inability to be sacrificed. Agamben continues,
saying, The truth 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 (114). In the same way, the exterminating Hutus, particularly the
group called the Interhamwe, call the Tutsis cockroaches (00:52). The
homo sacer no longer signifies anything beyond his bare life; he has
no political relevance but for his mere existence outside the law,
banished from the law, abandoned by it. Agamben explains, The life
caught in the sovereign ban is the life that is originarily sacred and, in this
sense, the production of bare life is the originary activity of sovereignty. The
sacredness of life, which is invoked today as an absolutely fundamental right
in opposition to sovereign power, in fact originally expresses precisely both
lifes subjection to a power over death and lifes irreparable exposure in the
relation of abandonment (83). Being abandoned by the law, and as

such being reduced to bare life, does not necessarily indicate that
the abandoned sovereign subject, the homo sacer, will be tortured,
murdered, or the like (although this is not out of the realm of
possibility, and indeed there always seems to be a sense of danger
haunting the homo sacer). It simply means the law no longer applies;
the homo sacer cannot appeal to anyone for help, not to the law, the
sovereign, or the police.

Police State
The proliferation of policing and surveillance technologies
strips the capacity for social or political identities
security has left the police state as a black hole
Agamben, Philosopher, 2014
[Rational International, From the State of Control to a Praxis of
Destituent Power,, 7/5/15, CY]

I will rather try to show how the paradigm of security and the security
apparatuses have played a decisive role in this process. The growing
extension to citizens of technologies which were conceived for
criminals inevitably has consequences for the political identity of the
citizen. For the first time in the history of humanity, identity is no longer a
function of the social personality and its recognition by others, but
rather a function of biological data, which cannot bear any relation
to it, like the arabesques of the fingerprints or the disposition of the genes in
the double helix of DNA. The most neutral and private thing becomes
the decisive factor of social identity, which loses therefore its public
character. If my identity is now determined by biological facts that in
no way depend on my will and over which I have no control, then the
construction of something like a political and ethical identity
becomes problematic. What relationship can I establish with my
fingerprints or my genetic code? The new identity is an identity
without the person, as it were, in which the space of politics and ethics
loses its sense and must be thought again from the ground up. While
the classical Greek citizen was defined through the opposition between the
private and the public, the oikos, which is the place of reproductive life, and
the polis, place of political action, the modern citizen seems rather to
move in a zone of indifference between the private and the public,
or, to quote Hobbes terms, the physical and the political body. The
materialization in space of this zone of indifference is the video
surveillance of the streets and the squares of our cities. Here again an
apparatus that had been conceived for the prisons has been extended to
public places. But it is evident that a video-recorded place is no more
an agora and becomes a hybrid of public and private; a zone of
indifference between the prison and the forum. This transformation
of the political space is certainly a complex phenomenon that
involves a multiplicity of causes, and among them the birth of
biopower holds a special place. The primacy of the biological identity over
the political identity is certainly linked to the politicization of bare life in
modern states. But one should never forget that the leveling of social
identity on body identity begun with the attempt to identify the
recidivist criminals. We should not be astonished if today the normal
relationship between the state and its citizens is defined by
suspicion, police filing and control. The unspoken principle which rules
our society can be stated like this: every citizen is a potential terrorist.
But what is a state ruled by such a principle? Can we still define it as

democratic state? Can we even consider it as something political? In

what kind of state do we live today? You will probably know that Michel
Foucault, in his book Surveiller et Punir and in his courses at the Collge de
France, sketched a typological classification of modern states. He shows how
the state of the Ancien Regime, which he calls the territorial or sovereign
state and whose motto was faire mourir et laisser vivre, evolves progressively
into a population state and into a disciplinary state, whose motto reverses
now into faire vivre et laisser mourir, as it will take care of the citizens life in
order to produce healthy, well-ordered and manageable bodies. The state in
which we live now is no more a disciplinary state. Gilles Deleuze
suggested to call it the Etat de contrle, or control state, because what it
wants is not to order and to impose discipline but rather to manage
and to control. Deleuzes definition is correct, because management and
control do not necessarily coincide with order and discipline. No one
has told it so clearly as the Italian police officer, who, after the Genoa riots in
July 2001 declared that the government did not want for the police to
maintain order but for it to manage disorder. American political scientists who
have tried to analyze the constitutional transformation involved in the Patriot
Act and in the other laws which followed September 2001 prefer to speak of a
security state. But what does security here mean? It is during the French
Revolution that the notion of security suret, as they used to say is linked
to the definition of police. The laws of March 16, 1791 and August 11, 1792
introduced thus into French legislation the notion of police de suret (security
police), which was doomed to have a long history in modernity. If you read
the debates which preceded the vote on these laws you will see that
police and security define one another, but no one among the speakers
(Brissot, Heraut de Schelle, Gensonn) is able to define police or security by
themselves. The debates focused on the situation of the police with
respect to justice and judicial power. Gensonn maintains that they
are two separate and distinct powers, yet, while the function of
the judicial power is clear, it is impossible to define the role of the
police. An analysis of the debate shows that the place and function of the
police is undecidable and must remain undecidable, because, if it were really
absorbed in the judicial power, the police could no more exist. This is the
discretionary power which still today defines the actions of police officer,
who, in a concrete situation of danger for the public security act, so to speak,
as a sovereign. But, even when he exerts this discretionary power, the
policeman does not really take a decision, nor prepares, as is usually
stated, the judges decision. Every decision concerns the causes, while
the police acts on effects, which are by definition undecidable. The name of
this undecidable element is no more today, like it was in 17th century, raison
dEtat, or state reason. It is rather security reasons. The security
state is a police state, but, again, in the juridical theory, the police is a
kind of black hole. All we can say is that when the so called science
of the police first appears in the 18th century, the police is
brought back to its etymology from the Greek politeia and opposed
as such to politics. But it is surprising to see that police coincides now
with the true political function, while the term politics is reserved for foreign
policy. Thus Von Justi, in his treatise on Policey-Wissenschaft, calls Politik the
relationship of a state with other states, while he calls Polizei the relationship

of a state with itself. It is worthwhile to reflect upon this definition: Police is

the relationship of a state with itself. The hypothesis I would like to
suggest here is that, placing itself under the sign of security, the modern
state has left the domain of politics to enter a no mans land, whose
geography and whose borders are still unknown. The security state, whose
name seems to refer to an absence of cares (securus from sine cura) should,
on the contrary, make us worry about the dangers it involves for democracy,
because in it political life has become impossible, while democracy means
precisely the possibility of a political life.

Sovereignty inscribes self-preservation as a justification
for all violence within the law it is still naked power, the
violence of the strongest is all that can be produced.
Agamben, Italian continental philosopher, 98 (Giorgio Agamben,
Homo Sacer, p. 35-36)

2.3. The very sense of this opposition, which has had such a tenacious lineage in the political culture of the

The Sophistic polemic against nomos in favor

of nature (which developed with ever-increasing urgency during the course of
the fourth century) can be considered the necessary premise of the
opposition between the state of nature and the "commonwealth ,"
which Hobbes posits as the ground of his conception of sovereignty. If for the Sophists the anteriority
of physis ultimately justifies the violence of the strongest , for Hobbes
it is this very identity of the state of nature and violence (homo
hominis lupus) that justifies the absolute power of the sovereign . In
both cases, even if in an apparently opposed fashion, the physis nomos antinomy
constitutes the presupposition that legitimates the principle of sovereignty,
the indistinction of law and violence (in the Sophists' strong man or Hobbes's sovereign). lt is
West, will be considered here in a new way.

important to note that in Hobbes the state of nature survives in the person of the sovereign, who is the

Sovereignty thus presents itself as

an incorporation of the state of nature in society, or, if one prefers, as
a state of indistinction between nature and culture, between
violence and law, and this very indistinction constitutes specifically
sovereign violence. The state of nature is therefore not truly external to names but rather
only one to preserve its natural ius contra omnes.

contains its virtuality. The state of nature (certainly in the modern era, but probably also in that of the
Sophists) is the being-in-potentiality [l'essere-in-potenza] of the law, the laws self- presupposition as

that the state of

nature did not necessarily have to be conceived as a real epoch, but rather
could be understood as a principle internal to the State revealed in the
moment in which the State is considered "as if it were dissolved " (ut tanquam
dissoluta comideretur [Hobbes, De due, pp. 79-80)). Exteriority-the law of nature and
the principle of the preservation of one's own life-is truly the
innermost center of the political system, and the political system lives
off it in the same way that the rule, according to Schmitt, lives off the
"natural law." Hobbes, after all, was perfectly aware, as Strauss has underscored,

Biopolitical surveillance reduce black Americans to bare
life and enforce the white norm through cycles of
punishment and discipline
Santori 12

(Gregg, Doctor of Philosophy, Bachelors in Political Science and Government,

and Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University
of California, Project Muse, Sula and the Sociologist: Toni Morrison on
American Biopower after Civil Rights,,
Accessed: 7.5.15, VW)
Ultimately, Nels choice dangerously exposes her. Nel does not comprehend
her unique place as a black woman within white civilizations bio-politics; a
system in which her body and her sexual behavior is no less significant to the
community than those of a prostitute. While we have long policed
prostitution, only the bio-political state considers a womans non-profit sexual
activityand especially that of black women receiving public benefitsa
proper focus of public policy. In Agambens terminology, black Americans
are exposed to sovereign power by being reduced to bare life; black
women are relevant to the state insofar as they may produce welfare
babies, black men are relevant inasmuch as it costs the state to
maintain their bodies during periods of incarceration. Morrison is
concerned with privacy because its revocation reduces us to bare life. But
such exposure is not solely the result of law and sovereignty; nor is
conventional, domestic privacy necessarily a bulwark against it. After all, Nel
exposes herself to the whims of the white world in the privacy of her own
home by accepting and internalizing the expectations of the dominant
culture. Because bio-politics functions through the
normal/pathological distinction certain bodily behaviors are
considered a priori normal. In American racial politics the behavior
of whites is considered the standard by which all others are
measured. Thus just as blacks are exposed, whites are insulated
from exposure by their normality. Blacks further expose themselves
by futilely attempting to emulate normal behavior when their own
bodies and behaviors are what form, discursively, the content of the
pathologicalmade evident in the fate of Chicken Littles body. The
Bottoms black community insulated itself from this exposure by maintaining
spatial distance from the white world; the mobility of the river changed all of
this for Chicken Littles body much the same way the integrated spaces of
1965 would for all black Americans. The Moynihan Report spells the end
of privacy for them: once a voiceless subpopulation ignored by white
America, black Americans are increasingly the subject of public
policy and subject to state intervention.65 The increased
surveillance of black Americans (whether by the police, social
scientists, or the media) and the disciplinary cycles accompanying
this shift constitute new forms of exposure to state power. The
norms of behavior corresponding to the normal/pathological register

are normalizing, disciplinary and their disciplinary nature tends to

justify and establish cycles of punishment whether state- or selfinflicted. In this regard both what Morrison suspected in the early 1970s and
what we have come to understand today as the prison-industrial
complex and the attack upon the welfare state suggest that the
post-civil rights period represents the apogee of American biopolitics and of black Americans exposure to it. To act as Nel does is to
disregard this exposure and its attendant dangers. Unlike Daniels Shadrach,
Nel has been worshiping the wrong god and her false baptism in normality
will not save her from the fire. The transformation of American racial
politics from Jim Crow white supremacy to Moynihans bio-politics
finds expression in Sulas fire and water images. Fire is political: it kills
in a manly fashion and represents conflict, interracial contact,
adaptation to such exposure, and survival. It means, in Arendtian terms,
doing something new and doing it in opposition to the oikos.66 The Moynihan
Report de-politicizes race by relocating the origin of racial problems in the
household; Morrisons fire, and the interest her characters take in it, oppose
his bio-political depoliticization of racehence Plums immolation. Being
black and pursuing bios ought to be synonymous; this is the lesson to be
learned. Being black and pursuing a better form of life must be equivalents
because the spaces in which black life unfolds, by virtue of their being
deemed pathological, are inherently political spaces; blacks have no choice
but to do something new, given the impositions of the white world.
On the other hand, there is water. If fire facilitates dying like a man, water
represents the slow social death at the hands of a matriarchal family or
more accuratelysocial scientific interpretations of it. The coolness of water
suggests the dispassionate and de-politicizing activities of the
objective scientist whose narratives define black Americans by
their bodies, their biological life. Water also forms the river of
mobility that prematurely transgresses spatial segregations,
maximizing the exposure of blacks (think here of Chicken Little) to
misrecognition (the bargeman) and the bio-political state. This is
encapsulated in the image of the blood-tainted water Eva finds on Plums
bureau the night she sets him ablaze: Plums health problems stem from his
service to Uncle Sam; Uncle Sams response to its black veterans is a cool
one; in this regard it is waterordinarily understood to be soothingand not
fire that is tainted with blood. Soothing narratives characterize the biopolitical state. Sociology, for example, is both normalizing and detached from
political hostilities by its notion of pathos, the inevitability of decay. The social
sciences are therefore mechanisms by which the state practices bio-politics
and conceals its own power. From this we may surmise that racial politics
after civil rights and Jim Crow has left the world of fire, the terrain of the
properly political. Racial politics is now an oxymoron; race itself has
been captured by the cool, dispassionate, and de-politicized world of
social-scientific evaluations of normality and pathology; but as
contemporary literature on racism suggests, theres blood in this
water as well. Morrison here echoes Nietzsches allusion to the social
sciences as the water with which Westerners will attempt to cleanse
themselves after the death of their God.67 Nels problemthe danger all
black Americans face after civil rightsis that she mistakes fire and water.

Nel lives in the past and presumes that the assimilation of white
values will protect her from the fire of racism. But racism has
changed from a hot politics to the cool, detached study of behaviors
and pathologies. In order to protect herself, Nel should fear water
more than fire; her strategy should challenge, rather than
accommodate, the behavioral expectations of whites. This is
confusing, of course, because the notion that blacks could be the
behavioral equal of whiteswhile long a staple of the black
intelligentsiais seriously entertained by whites only after civil
rights inclusiveness. What once seemed a solution to racial
misrecognition is now the snare of the bio-political state.

The white gaze can be traced to the generalization of the

state of exception the spread of the camp has made
police the sovereign and African Americans the prisoners.
Roos, PhD Researcher at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of
the European University Institute in Florence, 14
(Jerome, 8/24/2014, ROAR Magazine, What happens in Ferguson does not
stay in Ferguson,,
accessed 7/6/2015, JAK)
For Agamben, the state of exception finds its topological expression in
the camp, which delimits a space in which the normal order is de
facto suspended and in which whether or not atrocities are
committed depends not on law but on the civility and ethical sense
of the police who temporarily act as sovereign. For those on the wrong
side of the war on terror, the camps are called Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo
Bay. For African Americans, the camp is prison or, increasingly
often, the labor camp. If current incarceration trends continue, one in
three black males born today can expect to spend at least part of their lives
behind bars. While only 12 percent of the US population is black, African
American males make up 40 percent of the total 2.1 million prison population.
More black men are in prison today than were enslaved before the Civil War
in 1850. As the state of exception becomes generalized, however, the
boundaries between inside and outside begin to blur and the two
gradually blend into one another. Bit by bit, the logic of the camp
spills over into society at large. Gaza, which has been described
even by UK Prime Minister David Cameron as an open-air prison
camp, is perhaps the clearest contemporary expression of this
phenomenon. But similar (though much less extreme) processes are
afoot in the US and elsewhere, as spatial segregation becomes the
hallmark of the neoliberal urban geography. Today, the ghettos of
Detroit and the outer neighborhoods of St Louis, like the townships of
Johannesburg and the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, increasingly take on the form
of open-air prison camps, in which the police permanently act as
temporary sovereign, and in which poor blacks and male youths in
particular are simply considered free game for the racist fantasies
of white officers.

Gender Violence
Gendered violence results from invoking bare life
Agamben 98

(Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, pg. 78-79, VW)
The pamphlet Make More of an Effort, Frenchmen, if You Want to Be
Republicans, read by the libertine Dolmanc in the Marquis de Sades
Philosophy in the Boudoir, is the first and perhaps most radical biopolitical
manifesto of modernity. At the very moment in which the revolution makes
birth which is to say, bare life into Biopolitics and the Rights of Man 79
the foundation of sovereignty and rights, Sade stages (in his entire work, and
in particular in 120 Days of Sodom) the theatrum politicum as a theater of
bare life, in which the very physiological life of bodies appears,
through sexuality, as the pure political element. But the political
meaning of Sades work is nowhere as explicit as it is in this pamphlet, in
which the maisons in which every citizen can publicly summon any other
citizen in order to compel him to satisfy his own needs emerge as the political
realm par excellence. Not only philosophy (Lefort, Ecrire, pp. 100-101) but
also and above all politics is sifted through the boudoir. Indeed, in Dolmancs
project, the boudoir fully takes the placeof the cit, in a dimension in
which the public and the private, political existence and bare life
change places. The growing importance of sadomasochism in
modernity has its root in this exchange. Sadomasochism is precisely
the technique of sexuality by which the bare life of a sexual partner
is brought to light. Not only does Sade consciously invoke the
analogy with sovereign power (there is no man, he writes, who
does not want to be a despot when he has an erection), but we also
find here the symmetry between homo sacer and sovereign, in the
complicity that ties the masochist to the sadist, the victim to the
executioner. Sades modernity does not consist in his having foreseen the
unpolitical primacy of sexuality in our unpolitical age. On the contrary, Sade
is as contemporary as he is because of his incomparable
presentation of the absolutely political (that is, biopolitical)
meaning of sexuality and physiological life itself. Like the
concentration camps of our century, the totalitarian character of the
organization of life in Sillings castle with its meticulous
regulations that do not spare any aspect of physiological life (not
even the digestive function, which is obsessively codified and publicized) has its root in the fact that what is proposed here for the
first time is a normal and collective (and hence political)
organization of human life founded solely on bare life.

Docile Bodies
Surveillance creates the public space into a prison turns
the human in to docile bodies.
Agamben, Philosopher at The University of Verona, 2009

(Giorgo, 2009, Stanford UP, What is an Apparatus?: And Other

Essays, accessed 7/5/2015, JAK)

This, above all, is the source of the peculiar uneasiness of power precisely
during an era in which it confronts the most docile and cowardly social body
that has ever existed in human history . It is only an apparent paradox
that the harmless citizen of postindustrial democracies (the Bloom, as
it has been effectively suggested he be called),6 who readily does
everything that he is asked to do, inasmuch as he leaves his everyday
gestures and his health, his amusements and his occupations, his diet and his
desires, to be commanded and controlled in the smallest detail by
apparatuses, is also considered by power perhaps precisely because of
thisas a potential terrorist. While a new European norm imposes
biometric apparatuses on all its citizens by developing and perfecting
anthropometric technologies invented in the nineteenth century in order to
identify recidivist criminals (from mug shots to fingerprinting), surveillance
by means of video cameras transforms the public space of the city
into the interior of an immense prison. In the eyes of authorityand
maybe rightly sonothing looks like a terrorist than the ordinary

Bio politics turns the state into a killing machine that
annihilates those deemed unworthy.
Thorup, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and the History of
Ideas at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, 2012

(Mikkel, 2012, Routledge, AN INTELLECTUAL HISTORY OF TERROR: War,

Violence, and the State, accessed 7/9/2015, JAK)
This is where health campaigns and extermination programs connect; a
connection one shouldnt exaggerate but also not overlook. The Nazis were
the first to implement an anti-smoking campaign and we should see this not
as the dark secret behind the present health craze but as the range of biopolicies. When, as quoted above, Lifton spoke of the destruction of the
boundary between healing and killing or the perversion of the Hippocratic
Oath into a commitment of killing, we can explore it as the displacement of
the oath from the individual body to the national body, from the individual life
to the life of the nation. This is what bio-politics does. It view life
through a statist, economist, nationalist or racist perspec-tive and it
measures its worthiness according to collective standards. The Nazi
invention or radicalization of bio-politics is to declare war on the
unworthy life. Rudolf Hess is supposed to have said Nazism is applied
biology and there is the truth in it that modern racism is a biologization of
politicsa biologist way of defining what used to be the inter-state war of
survival but which now becomes the internal war of race survival defending
against the death of the people [Volkstod]. The bio-political war
declares war on ones own population: exception, law/lawless,
friend/enemy of the national/international divide is doubled within
the nation state itself. The borderland is reinstated as the exception.
Then, the state becomes, in the words of Agamben, a killing machine.
The breakdown of the differentiations is where the state of exception and biopolitics meet, reaching its ultimate point in Auschwitz where people did
not die; rather, corpses were producedmeaning this was, in the
eyes of the killers, not human life but just inferior biological material
to dispose of. In the bio-political enmity, we can see how arbitrary the
dividing line between friend and enemy is. The enemy is not given as enemy,
as the many discussions in Nazi circles about who was and who wasnt a Jew
testify to. Bio-political enmity is another sign of the difficulties encountered
by the state in limiting or containing the enemy category. The bio-political
enemy can be everyoneones blood, heritage, disease or whatever is not
necessarily identifiable. Enmity is generalized. The bio-political enmity is
perhaps the clearest example of the blurring of differentiations, and its also
where the exception becomes truly permanent. Instead of a war contained
in time we get a process of permanent purification, turning ever
inwards until self-annihilation; a point on which Foucault and Arendt
concur: the logical end point of totalitarianism is suicide.


Whatever Being/Singularity
Whatever being entails a lack of classification as an
individual, giving the individual a belonging to itself
solves sovereign power
Caldwell, Assistant Professor in the Department of
Political Science at the University of Louisville, 04 (Anne,
Bio-Sovereignty and the Emergence of Humanity
io) //MEB
Agamben's alternative is therefore radical. He does not contest particular aspects
of the tradition. He does not suggest we expand the range of rights available to life. He does not call us to

he suggests we
take leave of the tradition and all its terms. Whatever being is a life
that defies the classifications of the tradition, and its reduction of all
forms of life to homo sacer. Whatever being therefore has no common ground, no
deconstruct a tradition whose power lies in its indeterminate status.21 Instead,

presuppositions, and no particular attributes. It cannot be broken into discrete parts; it has no essence to
be separated from its attributes; and it has no common substrate of existence defining its relation to
others. Whatever being cannot then be broken down into some common element of life to which additive

Whatever being retains all its properties,

without any of them constituting a different valuation of life (1993:
18.9). As a result, whatever being is "reclaimed from its having this
or that property, which identifies it as belonging to this or that set,
to this or that class (the reds, the French, the Muslims) -- and it is
reclaimed not for another class nor for the simple generic absence of
any belonging, but for its being-such, for belonging itself." (0.1-1.2).
We should pay attention to this comparison. For what Agamben suggests
is that whatever being is not any abstract, inaccessible life, perhaps
promised to us in the future. Whatever being, should we care to see
it, is all around us, wherever we reject the criteria sovereign power
would use to classify and value life. "In the final instance the State can
recognize any claim for identity -- even that of a State identity within the
State . . . What the State cannot tolerate in any way, however, is that the
singularities form a community without affirming an identity, that humans cobelong without a representable condition of belonging" (Agamben
1993:85.6). At every point where we refuse the distinctions
sovereignty and the state would demand of us, the possibility of a
non-state world, made up of whatever life, appears.
series of rights would then be attached.

To escape the logic of the sovereign, we must embrace

whatever-singularity as an alternative recognizes
ethical value in whatever they are and do.
Robinson, Political theorist and activist, 2011
(Andrew, 1/21/2015, Ceasefire Magazine, In Theory Giorgio Agamben:
destroying sovereignty,, accessed 7/6/2015, JAK)

Agamben proposes whatever-singularity as an alternative basis for

political action, which escapes the logic of sovereignty . Taken from
Deleuze and Guattaris thought, a singularity is something which is unique
and which cant be reduced to a measurement or representation. Agamben
likes it because it avoids his having to choose between universality and
particularity. Whatever in English has unfortunate overtones of indifference
(whatever, talk to the hand) which is not at all what Agamben means.
Rather, he is referring to something mattering whatever it is, always
mattering regardless of what it is as opposed to the sovereign decision
to divide life into things which matter and things which dont. A
whatever-singularity is neither reducible to its attributes nor expressible as
an abstract generality such as universal humanity; rather, it is something
which has general value as it is, with all of its attributes (and especially, as
potentiality or possibility). It does not depend on any standard of conformity
or subjectification or normality, or on belonging to the people or masses. It
also denies that there is any particular essence which makes people
human instead, being human is a scattering of singularities.
Whatever-singularity is also a kind of being which people are assumed to
already have, which for instance motivates resistance to being normalised. In
a sense, this is a radicalised version of human rights discourse, since anyone,
whatever they are and whatever they do, is recognised as having a
kind of autonomous ethical value. This is fundamentally an ethics of
letting be (with overtones of being who you are). It entails doing away with
normativity as usually defined, with standards of good and evil which declare
certain people to be valueless because of some particularly heinous deviant
act theyve committed (in contrast to the more common approach of either
contracting normativity to cover a smaller range of acts, or altering it to focus
on oppressive abuses). For instance, Agamben argues that ideas such as guilt
and responsibility are derived from legal thought and hence from sovereignty.
The ethical challenge Agamben poses is to still view every person
and, in line with the discussion in The Open, every animal as
fundamentally valuable in their own life, as having forms of life and
particularity worthy of respect and autonomous existence, regardless of how
bad they are or what crimes they commit. In effect, Agamben aims to take
away, through choices in terms of language, ethics and philosophy, the threat
posed by others ethical judgements in constituting a person or being as
vulnerable. This does not remove human vulnerability per se, but
does remove the particular risk of being made into homo sacer. It
does, however, leave a particular ethical problem: are agents of sovereignty
also to be treated as whatever-singularities, or as the negation of all such
singularities? The coming community corresponds on a collective level to
whatever-singularity. It is related to the people to come, a concept Deleuze
and Guattari borrow from Bergson, and to messianic ideas of a coming
liberation. Agamben refers to the coming community as a form of social
togetherness which is also a non-state and is counterposed to the logic of
sovereignty. The coming community is defined in Agamben as a kind of postconsumerist condition, emerging from a passage through current forms of
life, such as the indifference of mass media images and of commodities
through which one can reshape ones identity. It passes through and beyond
such forms of life by radicalising their challenge to normativity and

sovereignty. It is not a hybrid space hybridity is already actualised in homo

sacer and the sovereign but rather, a negation, the un-man. It is based on
whatever-singularities in their antagonism with the state and sovereignty
(hence it cannot seek to seize state power). Agamben believes that
whatever-singularities can form communities without affirming
representable conditions of belonging (such as laws, norms, etc). It
also does not rest on categories of identity (even the identity of
excluded or marginalised groups), which for Agamben, remain
trapped within old forms of politics which reproduce sovereignty
(mainly because the recognition of an identity is necessarily separate from
the processes of life which constitute it). In conditions of sovereignty, life has
to separate itself from the orders of subjects and objects, to free itself from
biopower and from hierarchical relations with living things, to become
whatever-singularity and to attain radical immanence. In Potentialities,
Agamben argues for an almost Buddhist stance of contemplative separation
which preserves instead of deciding. Agambens stance also has a
revolutionary aspect. Rather than starting from identity, Agambens ethical
theory starts from the standpoint of bare life. In Remnants of Auschwitz,
Agamben argues that the ethical standpoint from which one should start is
provided by the experience of concentration camp inmates. More precisely, it
should start from the standpoint of the most abject sub-group of inmates, the
so-called Musselmanner who were near death and had lost the will to live,
who hence embodied directly the idea of bare life. This is because of a
particular moment of inversion. The moment of catastrophe is taken also to
contain the moment where salvation becomes possible, with passage through
the low point of the current expansion of sovereignty acting as a transition to
liberation. This is a rather strange argument, but based on a viable
observation: that only when the logic of sovereignty is fully unfolded
(only when we are faced with a giant tree instead of a sapling) does the
nature of the problem or the nature of what needs to be got rid of
become clear. This also means that, in Agambens view, liberation is
ambiguously tied to sovereignty, as its negation.

Cut off from ties to society, we embody the whatever

beings, escaping biopolitics, which neutralizes rigid
Damai 05

(Puspa, Winter 2005, Marshall Digital Scholar, The Killing Machine of

Exception: Sovereignty, Law, and Play in Agambens State of Exception,
article=1030&context=english_faculty, Accessed: 7.7.15, VW)
PARADIGM , EXAMPLE , AND THE EXCEPTION As we know, one of the tasks in
the State of Exception is to answer the question, what does it mean to act
politically? Yet unlike Carl Schmitt, who, in his book The Concept of the
Political (1976), defined the inherently objective nature and autonomy of
political action as its ability to treat, distinguish, and comprehend the friendenemy antithesis independently of Puspa Damai 269 other antitheses
(27), the biopolitical plane is a perpetual conflict; it is the site of
tensions in which the struggle traverses through the plane.To quote

from Agambens 2002 lecture at the European Graduate School, What is a

Paradigm?: [The biopolitical plane is] depolar and not dichotomic, it is
tensional, not oppositional, it produces a field of polar tensions which
tends to form a zone of undecidability which neutralizes every rigid
opposition. Thus, the tension in the biopolitical plane is paradigmatic
inasmuch as a paradigm is a nondichotomic field of ceaseless tensions: it is
neither universal nor particular, neither general nor individual, it is a
singularity, which showing itself as such, produces a new ontological
context (2002). The singularity of the paradigm that produces the new
ontological context is compared to the example in another very important
work by Agamben, The Coming Community (1991). Like paradigm, an
example is neither particular nor universal; it is a singular object that
presents itself as such. The Greek paradeigma, like the German Bei-spiel
which plays alongsideis that which is shown alongside. Hence the
proper place of the example is always beside itself, in the empty space in
which its indefinable and unforgettable life unfolds. This life is purely
linguistic life (1991, 9). Early in the State of Exception, Agamben remarks
that the state of exception tends to appear as the dominant
paradigm of government in contemporary politics to the extent
that this paradigm, which has transformed exceptional measures
into a technique of government (2), has already threatened to
dismantle traditional distinctions between constitutional forms, like
democracy and absolutism, by introducing a zone of indeterminacy
within them. His notion of the paradigm as a singular example can
help us understand how he understands the problem of the
constitutional difference. As an example, the paradigm is neither
particular nor universal. In order to be an example, it has to be
singular. Since it is singular, the example becomes the example of
the rule that cannot be stated. In other words, the example
functions as a paradigm to guide the investigation in the absence
of rules. Thus, by wreathing together paradigm, example, and the
exception, Agamben seems to suggest that we can investigate the 270
The Killing Machine of Exception phenomenon of exceptionality only when
we think about it at the level of singular examples within various
constitutional forms. Like langue without any real denotation, a paradigm is a
singular example that has severed its ties from what it exemplifies. The
disjunction between birth and nation-state, which constitutes the
space of exception or the camp, therefore, is like grammar, which in
producing a speech without denotation isolates language from
discourse and law from concrete custom. The disjuncture between
langue and parole, grammar and the concrete praxis, form an
exemplary analogy with the state of exception in whichas in the
passage from langue to parole where the individual enunciation has
to create a fictional nexus between the signifier and the signified
the norm is in force without any reference to reality (Agamben
2005b, 36). Agamben tries to interpret the syntagm of the force of law in this
sense, because the state of exception is an anomic space in which what is
at stake is a force of law (which should therefore be written: force of law)
(2005, 39). This is an interesting moment in the discussion, but not because
by using the image of the floating signifier of the force of law that can be

claimed both by the state authority and by any revolutionary organization

Agamben again conflates the violence perpetuated by the state with the
counter-violence mounted by the revolutionary forces lined up against the
state. What makes Agambens use of paradigm and example interesting is
the convergence between the paradigm of exception and the
paradigmatic singularity of pure Being in play that he postulates
against exceptionalism. In order to follow this curious turn, we need again
to hark back to the idea of paradigm and example in The Coming
Community, where immediately after defining exemplary life as linguistic life,
which is singular beside itself in its own empty space, he goes on to
elaborate the nature of this being. This exemplary being, whose other
name is whatever being, is not defined by any property, except
by being called or being interpellatednot, however, by the
ideological state apparatuses, as in Althusser, but by no one other
than itself. For these pure singularities communicate only in the
empty space of the example, without being tied by any common
property, by any identity (Agamben 1991, 910). Thus disengaged
from any ties and cut off from all communities, these whatever
beings, like the floating Puspa Damai 271 signifiers of the force of
law, can only turn to themselves, as does Melvilles Bartleby, who
preferring not to, comes back to himself through a pure act of
calling himself (1991, 36). Thus Agamben envisions a space for
thought to think itself as means without end. And this autoreflection is possible only through the state of exception, because
as he reminds us in the State of Exception, there is no return to
classical politics from the death camps or the exception (87). Political
Theology (Schmitt 1974) defined the exception as the suspension of the
entire existing order. In such a situation, writes Schmitt, it is clear that the
state remains, whereas law recedes (12). Contrary to this, Agamben
proposes a human action that not only halts the state-machine but also
succeeds in shutting the actor, or more accurately the patient, off from the
machine, as if the disjunction between birth and nation-state created by the
exception were the only political ground to intensify the disjunction between
bare life and the state. As a result, bare life becomes a self-enclosed
paradigm communicating to itself as pure means without end. I N T H E P L
AY - LAND This pure act of communication and Being, predicated upon the
complete halting of the machine of the state, its sovereignty, and its rights,
guides Agambens notion of exposing and severing the fictional ties between
birth and the nation. But seen from a different perspective, this biopolitical
plane or politics transcending itself into theory exemplified by thought
thinking itself, language communicating itself, or pure means without end
is the cessation of all politics, too. This world of paradigmatic singularities
without alliances or responsibility for the other, therefore, ironically
resembles the world of the penniless lovers in Tiecks story titled Lifes
Superfluity. The couple in the story, after renouncing all possessions
and connections to the world outside, finally burn the wooden
ladder that connected their room to the rest of the house so that,
comments Agamben in Infancy and History (1993), they are left in
isolation from the outside world, owning nothing and alive to
nothing but their love (15). If the I prefer not to of Bartleby is

the example or paradigm of Agambens politics, then 272 The

Killing Machine of Exception the whatever beings and their complete
severance of ties with the state cannot be political because the very
concept of the political, to invert Carl Schmitts equation of the political and
the state in The Concept of the Political, presupposes the state (Schmitt
1976, 19). Thus, the State of Exception that sets out to retrieve politics
ironically ends with a call to end it for play. Agamben visualizes this
phantasm of playa Disneyland beyond law and violencein very prophetic
terms in the text: One day humanity will play with law just as children play
with disused objects, not in order to restore them to their canonical use but
to free them from it for good. What is found after the law is not a more
proper and original use value that precedes the law, but a new use that is
born only after it. And use, which has been contaminated by law, must also
be freed from its own value. This liberation is the task of study, or of play.
And this studious play is the passage that allows us to arrive at . . . justice.
(Agamben 2005, 64)

Alternative Impotentiality
Our alternative is to embrace our impotentiality to restore
our potentiality, we refuse to participate in the modes of
sovereignty or else we will enter a politics of destruction.
Balskus 10 (Elizabeth, Ph.D. Department of Philosophy | University of

Oregon, Examining Potentiality in the Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben 2010,

accessed 7/7/15, FZ)
This halo, this recognition of the contingency of our situation, is more
attainable than it would at first appear. As Agamben has pointed out, we
already possess the means; the key is potentiality. Going far beyond
the classical definition of potentiality as the ability of something to
be or not be, potentiality becomes, for Agamben, the most significant
truth of our existence and the only basis for a coming politics not
rife with destruction. We can see in Agambens conception of the
inoperative the call to, like Bartleby, embrace our impotentiality and,
instead of demanding specific changes, declare that we will not
participate in the modes of sovereignty at play in todays society. We
see in the concept of decreation the want to restore to all events their
initial contingency or potentiality, to realize that things did not have
to and do not have to be the way they are. To, according to a quote from
Benjamin that Agamben himself employs, restore possibility to the past,
making what happened incomplete and completing what never was.10 And
we see in the profane the need to grasp what is already at hand and play
with it.

AT: Aff Answers

AT: Perm
The Perm cannot avoid codifying the exception of bare life
Agamben 98 (Giorgio, professor of philosophy at the University of Verona, Homo Sacer, pg. 11)
In contrasting the beautiful day (euemeria) of simple life with the great difficulty of political
bios in the passage cited above, Aristotle may well have given the most beautiful formulation
to the aporia that lies at the foundation of Western politics . The 24 centuries that have since gone by have
brought only provisional and ineffective solutions. In carrying out the metaphysical task that has led it
more and more to assume the form of a biopolitics, Western politics has not succeeded in
constructing the link between zoe and bios, between voice and language, that would have
healed the fracture. Bare life remains included in politics in the form of the exception, that is,
as something that is included solely through an exclusion. How is it possible to politicize the
natural sweetness of zoe? And first of all, does zoe really need to be politicized, or is politics
not already contained in zoe as its most precious center? The biopolitics of both modern
totalitarianism and the society of mass hedonism and consumerism certainly constitute
answers to these questions. Nevertheless, until a completely new politicsthat is, a politics no
longer founded on the exception of bare lifeis at hand, every theory and every praxis will
remain imprisoned and immobile, and the beautiful day of life will be given citizenship only
either through blood and death or in the perfect senselessness to which the society of the
spectacle condemns it.

AT: Cosmopolitanism
The Refugee is symptom of sovereign power, not a
historical problem tied to the nation-state.
Cosmopolitanism (or world government) cannot resolve
the dilemma of the camp.
Larsen, 12 (Signe Larsen, xx-xx-2012, "Refugees, nationalism, and
political membership," Nordicum-Mediterraneum, //NK)

Arendts diagnosis of the problem of the refugee (the refugee as the manifestation of the problematic tie
between the nation-state and human rights) is the starting point for Agambens diagnosis of the problem

Agamben agrees with Arendt that the reason why the refugee is
not protected by human rights is that rights can only be attributed to
Man insofar as he is also a citizen. From this we can draw the paradoxical
conclusion that the refugee, in the eyes of the law, is not even considered a
human being (Agamben, 1998, pp. 128-129). Contrary to Arendt, Agamben argues that the
problem of the refugee is best understood, not as a historical
problem born with the nation-state, but as a symptom of the
problematic nature of sovereign power as such. Where the problem of
the refugee in Arendts perspective is a symptom of the problematic historical
connection between human rights and the nation-state, the problem of the
refugee in Agambens perspective is a symptom of the problematic transcultural and trans-historical nature of sovereign power . In Agambens perspective,
the exclusion of the refugeehomo saceris the original and
fundamental activity of sovereign power, and the production of refugees
as rightless human beings is thus not only a necessary implication of nationstates, but of all sovereign power. It is this connection between sovereign power and the
of the refugee.

rightless men that is the primary inquiry in Agambens homo sacer project[8], to which I will now turn. The
starting point of the homo sacer project is the sovereign paradox: The paradox of sovereignty consists in
the fact the sovereign is, at the same time, outside and inside the juridical order (Agamben, pp. 1998,
15). The sovereign is outside the juridical order in the sense that he has juridical immunity (the law does
not apply to him) and he is inside the juridical order in the sense that he is the fundament of the juridical
order. The structure of the sovereign paradox is the structure of the exception, in the sense that the
sovereign is only included in the juridical order by his exclusion from it: the sovereign is the exception of
the law, in the sense that the law applies to the sovereign by no longer applying (Agamben, 1998, pp. 15,
18). The core of state sovereignty lies in this exception: the sovereign is not defined by his monopoly to
legislate but by his monopoly to decide whether the legislation applies or not.[9] The sovereign has the
power to declare a state of exception, that is, the suspension of all laws. The state of exception, Agamben
argues, is a threshold between inside and outside, between a normal situation and chaos, where the
boundaries between law and violence become indistinguishable and everything becomes possible (1998,
pp. 37-38). The state of exception is the originary and formal structure of the juridical relation, in the sense
that the sovereign decides what is included in and what is excluded from the juridical order (Agamben,
1998, pp. 25-26). The state of exception is the principle of the law because it opens the very space of
juridical order. The exception as the structure of sovereignty is the originary structure of law, in which life
is included in law by being suspended from it. This relation is named ban, that is, ban from the political
sphere. The person who is banned is by his exclusion from the political sphere still included in the political
sphere as an exception or an exclusion; he is abandoned at the threshold of society in a zone where the
boundaries between law and life, inside and outside, disappear (Agamben, 1998, pp. 28). In this zone of
pure ban, Agamben argues, the law does no longer prescribe anything, and it is oddly enough in this zone
that the law affirms itself most rigorously, because literally everything becomes possible (1998, pp. 49-50).
The pure ban is the zone where the law has no content and therefore the possibility of prescribing

In this zone of indistinction a human being is trapped as the bearer of

the sovereign ban. The banned is the refugee, the Friedlos, the bare
life (Bloes Leben), homo sacer. The existence of the banned is included

in the political sphere only through his exclusion from the political sphere; he
is abandoned on the threshold of society where the boundaries between
violence and law become indistinguishable. Homo sacerliterally the sacred
human beingis a figure from Roman law: he is the man no one can sacrifice,
but everyone can kill without committing homicide (Agamben, 1998, pp. 71). At first
glance, as Agamben points out, the definition of homo sacer seems to be a self-contradiction: if he is
sacred why can everyone kill him without committing homicide? (1998, pp. 72) The question is in what
does the sacredness of the sacred man consist? In order to make sense of this, Agamben states, one must
recognize that sacredness is ambiguous: it is both something holy and something damned or tabooed;
something unclean that has to be banned from the religious sphere (1998, pp. 77, 79). The ambiguity of
the ban, i.e., the inclusion through exclusion implies the ambiguity of sacredness: the tabooed is included
in the religious sphere by being excluded from it. Homo sacer, Agamben concludes, is not a holy man but a

sacer, Agamben continues, is banned from both religion and society;
from heaven and earth (1998, pp. 81-82). He is banned from ius humanum because everyone
cursed man; homo sacer is banned and tabooed; he is an outcast, a Friedlos (1998, pp. 79).

can kill him without committing homicide, and he is banned from ius divinum because the sacrifice would
be a purification rite and not strictly speaking a death penalty (if homo sacer was sacrificed he would be
purified and thereby included in the religious sphere). The sacratio of homo sacer is then a double
exception; homo sacer is excluded both from the ius humanum and from the ius divinum; he is excluded
both from the sphere of the profane and from that of the religious. We must understand that it is this
double exclusion and not the ambiguity of the sacred that constitutes the core of homo sacer; homo sacer
is a product of the sovereign ban, the product of earthly, human action. Homo sacer is the human being
who is trapped in the double exclusion; he is trapped in a zone where the distinction between sacrifice and
homicide disappears. This zone of indistinctionthe inclusive-exclusion from both ius humanum and ius
divinumis the sovereign sphere: The sovereign sphere is the sphere in which it is permitted to kill
without celebrating a sacrifice, and sacred lifethat is, life that may be killed but not sacrificedis the life
that has been captured in this sphere (Agamben, 1998, pp. 83). The life of homo sacer, bare life or
sacred life, is the first content of sovereign power, because the sovereign ban is the originary activity of
the sovereignty, and the bearer of this ban is homo sacer. For this reason the problem of the refugee points
towards the originary activity of sovereign power. In Agambens perspective, sovereign power is founded
upon the exclusion of some human beings within the sovereign to whom the normal rules of the state do
not apply. These human beings, the homini sacri, are a mirror of sovereign power as such because they are
the exception that allows the normality to endure. The refugees, as homini sacri, are a locus where the
truth about sovereign power as the sphere in which it is possible to kill without committing homicide
discloses itself. In the modern nation-state a new space comes into existence, i.e. the sovereign sphere as
the zone of indistinction where homo sacer is kept and where everything becomes possible discloses itself:
this new space is the concentration camp. The camp is not defined by its geographical boundaries but by
its juridical placement outside the law; the camp is not born out of ordinary law but out of martial law, that
is, out of a state of exception (Agamben, 1998, pp. 167). An important transition of sovereign power in the
modern nation-state is, in Agambens perspective, the tendency towards declaring a state of willed
exception, (2005, pp. 3; 1998, pp. 169) or the permanent state of exception. By this Agamben means that
the state of exception becomes a paradigm for government: the exception is used, not out of necessity,
but as a political tool of governmentality (2005, pp. 1, 30-31). The state of exception is willed because it
is an extremely effective tool to carry out political actions that could not have been carried out under
normal circumstances, that is, outside the exception of martial law. An example hereupon is the laws in
Germany between 1933 and 1945. In 1933, when the Nazis took power, a state of exception was declared
by the decree for the protection of the people and State (Agamben 1998, pp. 168; Agamben 2005, pp.
2). This decree remained de facto in force until the end of the war and in that sense Nazi Germany can be
understood as twelve years of state of exception, that is, a permanent state of exception, a state where
the exception has become the rule (Agamben 1998, pp. 168-169; Agamben 2005, pp. 15-16). The
concentration camp is the space where the permanent state of exception is in full power. This means that
the concentration camp is excluded from ordinary legislation and for this reason anything can happen
within the camp: there are no laws within the camp except the law that no laws apply. This is the meaning
of Agambens cryptic formulation that the law in the permanent state of exception is in force as the
Nothing of Revelation (1998, pp. 51): the law does not prescribe anything but that does not mean that a
sphere of freedom is created; the camp is, on the contrary, the space where the highest possible control of
human beings is possible. In the camp, the law is in force without signifying anything. This space of the
camp has become, in Agambens perspective, the nomos of the modern, meaning that the camp as a
juridical space not only exists in concentration camps but potentially everywhere: in airports, in public
areas and in outskirts of cities in which we live (1998, pp. 175). In modernity, the state of exception
becomes a latent possibility everywhere, and it is thus always possible to reduce human beings to the
naked life of homo sacer: the willed state of exception signals the permanent possibility of violent
government without juridical control. What is truly radical about the homo sacer project is the notion that
the society we live in today is a permanent state of exception and that all of us (citizens and refugees
alike) in all present-day societies (authoritarian and so-called democratic) are reduced to the naked life of
homo sacer: If today there is no longer any one clear figure of the sacred man, it is perhaps because we

all are homini sacri (Agamben, 1998, pp. 115). In State of Exception, Agamben presents a theoretical and
historical introduction to the juridical notion of the state of exception. What becomes clear from his
analysis is an inner relation between the laws in Germany between 1933-1945 (Decree for the protection
of the people and State) (Agamben, 2005, pp. 2) and the USA Patriot Act from 2001, which was passed to
protect the national security of the United States (Agamben, 2005, pp. 3): if you are suspected of
endangering national security, your constitutional rights are de facto suspended. With the USA Patriot Act
as a role model, terror-laws have been passed in most of Europe and at least to that extent it is
understandable why Agamben understands the permanent state of exception as the new paradigm for
government (Agamben, 2005, pp. 1-4). It is for this reason that Agamben argues that all present-day
societies (totalitarian and so-called democratic) are ruled by a permanent state of exception where the law
discloses itself as the pure Nothing of Revelation and where all human beings (citizens and refugees
alike) can be reduced potentially to the status of the homo sacer and where all spaces can be transformed

Since, for Agamben,

the origin of the problem of the refugee is the very nature of
sovereign power, it is, in this view, necessary to challenge and overcome
sovereign power as such, if the problem of the refugee is to be solved. Put
another way, for Agamben, it is necessary to go beyond politics in order to
solve the problem of the refugee. One attempt to go beyond politics would be
a cosmopolitan solution, such as the construction of a world state; something
that however is incompatible with Agambens philosophy. The cosmopolitan
solution would be to include and unite all human beings in the world in one
state and thereby do away with stateless and refugees simply by eliminating
the plurality of nation-states. Following Agambens philosophy, this solution
does however not challenge the problematic core of sovereign power. The
production of the bio-political body of homo sacer would also be the
fundament of sovereign power of the world state: there would therefore still
be human beings who are reduced to naked life even though they, strictly
speaking, might not be stateless or refugees. As countless examples from
20th-century history showconcentration camps are only the most
predominant and surely far from the most recent exampleit is quite
possible to repress a part of the population within the boundaries of a state.
Cosmopolitanism does therefore not even address the pivotal problem of
sovereign power. If the problem of the refugee is to be solved, it is necessary
to question the notion of state-power as such .
potentially into the juridical exception of the camp (Agamben, 1998, pp. 51).


The perm solvesinstitutions already account for the
critique and the idea of sovereign autonomy is a selfserving construct
Chandler, IR professor at the University of Westminster,
[David, October 2010, The Uncritical Critique of Liberal Peace, Review of
International Studies, Volume: 36, p. 10-13, YGS]
the assumptions held to be driving liberal peace
approaches are very much in the eye of their critical beholders. The
It would appear that

most obvious empirical difficulty is that international policy regarding intervention and statebuilding
seems to have little transformative aspiration: far from assumptions of liberal universalism, it would
appear that, with the failure of post-colonial development, especially from the 1970s onwards,
international policymakers have developed historically low expectations about what can be achieved
through external intervention and assistance. The lack of transformative belief is highlighted by one of the
key concerns of the policy critics of the liberal peace the focus on capacity-building state institutions

The focus on institutional solutions (at

to the problems of conflict and transition is
indicative of the narrowing down of aspirations from transforming
society to merely regulating or managing it often understood critically as the
securitising of policymaking. This is a long way from the promise of liberal
transformation and the discourse of liberating societies
economically and politically. In fact, it is the consensus of opinion
on the dangers of democracy, which has informed the focus on
human rights and good governance. For the policy and radical critics of liberal peace,
and intervening to construct civil societies.
both the formal and informal levels)

liberal rights frameworks are often considered problematic in terms of the dangers of exclusion and
extremism. Todays illiberal peace approaches do not argue for the export of democracy the freeing up
of the political sphere on the basis of support for popular autonomy. The language of illiberal
institutionalist approaches is that of democratisation: the problematisation of the liberal subject, held to
be incapable of moral, rational choices at the ballot box, unless tutored by international experts
concerned to promote civil society and pluralist values. In these frameworks, the holding of elections
serves as an examination of the population and the behaviour of electoral candidates, rather than as a
process for the judgement or construction of policy (which it is assumed needs external or international

The focus on institutionalism does not stem

from a critique of liberal peace programmes; institutionalist
approaches developed from the 1970s onwards and were rapidly
mainstreamed with the end of the Cold War.36 From 1989 onwards,
Western governments and donors have stressed that policy interventions
cannot just rely on promoting the freedoms of the market and
democracy, but need to put institutional reform and good
governance at the core.37 Even in relation to Central and Eastern
Europe it was regularly stressed that the people and elected
representatives were not ready for freedom and that it would take a
number of generations before it could be said that democracy was
consolidated.38 The transitology literature was based on the critique
of liberal assumptions this was why a transitional period was
necessary. Transition implied that markets and democracy could not
work without external institutional intervention to prevent
instability. While markets needed to be carefully managed through government policymaking it was
frameworks for its production).

held that civil society was necessary to ensure that the population learnt civic values to make democracy

It was through the engagement with transition and the

problematic negotiation of EU enlargement that the discursive
framework of liberal institutionalism where human rights, the rule
of law, civil society, and anti-corruption are privileged over
democracy was programmatically cohered. It was also through the
discussion of transition that the concept of sovereign autonomy
was increasingly problematised, initially in relation to the
protections for minority rights and then increasingly expanded to
cover other areas of domestic policymaking.40 It would appear that
the key concepts and values of the liberal peace held to have been
promoted with vigour with the victory of liberalism at the end of
the Cold War were never as dominant a framing as their radical and
policy critics have claimed.41 Rather than attempting to transform
non-Western societies into the liberal self-image of the West, it
would appear that external interveners have had much more status
quo aspirations, concerned with regulatory stability and regional
and domestic security, rather than transformation. Rather than
imposing or exporting alleged liberal Western models,
international policy making has revolved around the promotion of
regulatory and administrative measures which suggest the
problems are not the lack of markets or democracy but rather the
culture of society or the mechanisms of governance. Rather than promoting
democracy and liberal freedoms, the discussion has been how to keep the lid on or to
manage the complexity of non-Western societies, usually perceived in terms
of fixed ethnic and regional divisions. The solution to the complexity of the nonliberal state and society has been the internationalisation of the
mechanisms of governance, removing substantive autonomy rather
than promoting it. While it is true that the reconstruction or rebuilding of states is at the centre
of external projects of intervention, it would be wrong to see the project of
statebuilding as one which aimed at the construction of a liberal
international order.42 This is not just because external statebuilding
would be understood as a contradiction in liberal terms but, more
importantly, because the states being constructed in these projects
of post-conflict and failed state intervention are not liberal states in the
sense of having self-determination and political autonomy. The
state at the centre of statebuilding is not the Westphalian state of

classical International Relations (IR) theorising. Under the internationalised regulatory mechanisms of

the state is increasingly reduced to an

administrative level, in which sovereignty no longer marks a clear
boundary line between the inside and the outside.43 Whether we consider
intervention and statebuilding

European Union (EU) statebuilding, explicitly based on a sharing of sovereignty, or consider other
statebuilding interventions, such as those by the international financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa,

the state is central as a mechanism for external

coordination and regulation rather than as a self-standing actor in
so-called Westphalian terms.
it is clear that

Only the permutation is able to realize productive change

the critique already informs policy
Chandler, IR professor at the University of Westminster,

[David, October 2010, The Uncritical Critique of Liberal Peace, Review of

International Studies, Volume: 36, p. 17-1, YGS]
The more ostensibly conservative critics of the liberal peace, drawn
largely to the policymaking sphere, have much clearer political aims
in their critique of the liberal peace. This is manifest in their focus
on institutional reform, understood as a way of reconciling nonliberal states and societies both to the market and to democratic forms. This, like the
transitology discourse before it, is a radical critique of classical liberal assumptions. In their
advocacy of these frameworks, discursively framed as a critique of
the liberal peace, they have a clear point of reference. Although, as
highlighted above, this point of reference is a fictional one: a constructed
narrative of post-Cold War intervention, which enables them to
ground the scaling-back of policy expectations against a framework
of allegedly unrealistic liberal aspirations. This critique of liberalism
is not a critique of interventionist policymaking but rather a defence
of current practices on the basis that they have not been properly
applied or understood. Institutionalist approaches, which have informed the interventionist
frameworks of international institutions and donors since the early 1990s, are explicit in their
denunciation of the basic assumptions of classical liberalism. This critique of liberalism is however an
indirect one, inevitably so, as the institutionalist critique developed at the height of the Cold War.65 This

while the classical concepts of the liberal rights framework

remain sovereignty, democracy, rule of law, civil society
they have been given a new content, transforming the universal
discourse of the autonomous liberal rights-holder from that of the subject of rights
to the object of regulation.66 This new content has unfortunately
been of little interest to the more radical power-based critics of
the liberal peace. But, in understanding the content of institutionalist approaches, it is
possible to tie together the superficial nature of external engagement with the fact that it
has a non-liberal content rather than one which is too liberal. The
is why,

institutionalist discourse of intervention and regulation is not one of liberal universalism and
transformation but one of restricted possibilities, where democracy and development are hollowed out
and, rather than embodying the possibilities of the autonomous human subject, become mechanisms of

Institutionalisation reduces law to an administrative

code, politics to technocratic decision-making, democratic and civil
rights to those of the supplicant rather than the citizen, replaces
the citizenry with civil society, and the promise of capitalist
modernity with pro-poor poverty reduction.67 To conceptualise this
inversion of basic liberal assumptions and ontologies as liberalism
would be to make the word meaningless at the same time as claiming to stake
control and ordering.

everything on the assumed meaning and stakes involved in the critique of the liberal peace.68

Default affthe distinction between the alternative and

the permutation is virtually non-existent
Chandler, IR professor at the University of Westminster,
[David, October 2010, The Uncritical Critique of Liberal Peace, Review of
International Studies, Volume: 36, p. 14-16, YGS]
Where this critical discourse becomes problematic is in the confidence with which its proponents assert
that the reasons for these policy failings can be located in the liberalism of the interveners or the

illiberalism of the subjects of intervention. Roland Paris, for example, argues that there is no logical
requirement for international agencies to resurrect failed states as states, rather than [as] some other
type of polity, and argues that this is the latest chapter in the globalisation of the Westphalian state,
where this state form is being propped up despite its failings.48 Paris argues that just as the non-liberal
Other cannot deal with the liberal state form, they are similarly ill-suited to handle electoral democracy,
warning particularly against the holding of elections in post-conflict situations. It is asserted that holding
elections when societies are still divided or segmented will be counterproductive, often giving enhanced
legitimacy to warring parties and bolstering the legitimacy of the forces successful in conflict.

the solutions advocated by the policy critics are along similar lines
with regard to both sovereignty and democracy: the need for
greater international engagement in the state institutions, under
the guise of guaranteeing that no voices are excluded and the need
to constrict the autonomy of elected authorities. Under the rubric of
the critique of the liberal peace, these critics of the liberal peace
often advocate the reform of policy interventions away from the
focus on liberal rights frameworks and electoral democracy. Dominik

Zaum, for example, through a series of case studies, argues that the aspirations of the technocratic
approach of international statebuilding fails to appreciate that the liberal discourse of self-government
undermines the authority of external interveners and enables local elites to assert pressure and
influence.49 These liberal normative commitments mean that international interventions are limited both
in time and scope and therefore find it difficult to resist compromising their initial goals through giving
greater authority to local actors.50 Other authors have a similar perspective, explaining the failures of
international intervention as a product of external actors assuming that liberal models can merely be
exported, rather than understanding the contradictions involved in bringing liberalism to non-liberal
societies. Michael Barnett and Christopher Zrcher, for example, have sought to analyse why liberal
interventions tend to be no more than surface, on the basis that elites at both national and subnational
levels can capture and compromise peacebuilding leading to the reproduction of state-society
relations and patrimonial politics.51 Some of the policy critics argue not merely that these Western
models are perverted by the power of the non-liberal Other but that the attempt to export Western
models to non-liberal societies is inevitably going to fail to bridge the gulf between liberal and non-liberal
state-society forms. Noah Feldman, for example, suggests that these non-Western states and societies are
so alien to Western liberal interveners that the high failure rate strongly supports the basic intuition that
we do not know what we are doing.52 Feldman suggests that we need to continue to provide external
assistance but should reject the idea that our comparative advantages of wealth and power [give] us any
special ability to identify the institutional structures that will succeed in promoting democracy.53
Michael Ignatieff similarly argues that we do not actually know how to make states work in non-liberal
societies that are poor, divided on religious or ethnic lines or lacked a substantial state tradition in the

The work of Roland Paris and Timothy Sisk, supports this

view, suggesting that, in dealing with the non-liberal Other, the
issues are so complex and dilemma-laden that pragmatic muddling
through is the only solution.55 Discursively, the alleged voice of the non-liberal Other
first place.54

has also been central to the shifting discourse of development. While some commentators suggest that
little substantive has changed in the shift from the modernising frameworks of the liberal Washington
Consensus to the post-liberal, post-conditionality, New York Consensus focus on pro-poor policy making,

there is little doubt that

the aspirations for social and economic transformation have been
scaled back.57 It is quite clear that broad frameworks of development
intervention have much lower horizons than during the Cold War
period;58 for example, the replacement of Cold War desires for
modernisation with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The
MDGs focus not on social and economic transformation but on the
situation of the poorest in society with the aspiration that, by 2015, people will be able
to live on $1 a day.59 The view that there is a universalising
transformative liberal agenda is a peculiar way to understand the
focus on sustainable development, small and medium enterprises and the shift
away from large development projects.60 With regard to the critique
of universal liberal aspirations for progress, it is often difficult to
tell the policy perspectives apart from the viewpoints of some of the
sustainable development and poverty reduction strategy papers,56

more radical critics of the liberal peace. There is a danger that liberalism is
criticised not for its inability to universalise economic growth and overcome the problems of combined
and uneven development, but for the aspirations of development itself. For example, Michael Pugh asserts
that rather than the economic rationalism of (capitalistic) entrepreneurship, other, non-liberal, values
need to be taken into account. Following the work of those critical of liberal development models, such as

Amartya Sen,61 he argues that in non-liberal societies: Inequalities

and non-physiological needs are considered more significant than
either absolute poverty or, beyond a survival point, physiological needs. This
means that provided people are not destitute [. . .] they may choose
to live humbly in order to be fulfilled. Such an approach recognises
that the paths to modernisation may not be convergent at all, and
the marginalised peoples of the world are entitled to choose the
extent to which, and how, they integrate in the global economy.62 It would
seem that at the core of the policy and radical critiques of the liberal
peace is a critique of liberal aspirations rather than a critique of
international interventionist policies and practices. The critique reflects
the ease with which liberalism has become a field of adversity,
through which both policy reform and critical claims for theoretical
advance can both be made. The construction of a liberal field of adversity seems to have
little relation to policy realities. This is reflected in the fact that, while there is a consensus
on the view that Western policies are problematic in that they are
too liberal, there is much less attention to how the problems of the
post-colonial world might be alternatively addressed. Here, as discussed
below, the discursive critique of the liberal peace unfortunately has very little to offer in ways that go
beyond present policy perspectives.

Alt Fails
The structured resistance to biopolitics recommended by Agamben and his
migration studies followers portray fails to fundamentally alter the structured
materiality of modern liberal juridical order.
Lee 2010 [Charles, Bare Life, Interstices, and the Third Spaces of Citizenship,
Womens Studies Quarterly, 38.1/2]

Agambens transhistorical call notwithstanding, to what extent is the space of camp (and by
implication, the largely suppressed agency of bare life caught within the camp) an adequate
depiction of the social condition of undocumented migrants? Examining the workspace of private
households where female migrants work as domestic workers and where labor laws and regulations
are indefinitely suspended, in this essay I argue that, while these laboring spaces relate to camp as
the undocumented workers are stripped of juridico-political rights and reduced to a state of
exploited bare life, the con ception of camp lacks a dynamic account of power relations to address
the complex agency of migrant subjects as they negotiate their daily workspace. Significantly, what
begins for Agamben as a space of interstitiality posited in campa zone between life and death,
inside and outsideultimately slides into an immobile binary between the political beings of
citizens and the excluded bodies of bare life. Yet if the space of camp is interstitial in nature,
what preempts the possibility of the abject manifesting an agency that is also interstitial in
character? If the sovereign power occupies a space that is simultaneously inside and outside
the juridical order, so does the undocumented in navigating a terrain of resistance/negotiation
inside and outside the normative arrangement of citizenship. As I will argue, this negotiated
resistance does not fundamentally alter the structured materiality of modern liberal juridical
order and the political economy of irregular migration that Agamben and his migration
studies followers so powerfully portray. However, at the point when Agamben declares the
death of citizenship life for the bare subjects, he omits a crucial spectrum of ambiguous and
interstitial practices mounted by the abjectmediating between the two extreme ends of
political and nonpoliticalthat actually extends and reanimates the life of citizenship from the
very margins of abjection.

Their critique overdetermines citizenship and reinstates the divide between political
life and bare life, destroying agency
Lee 2010 [Charles, Bare Life, Interstices, and the Third Spaces of Citizenship,
Womens Studies Quarterly, 38.1/2]
In the following, I will first address the relevance of Agambens work for studies of undocumented
migration. Two elements in his conception of camp are particularly compelling for the condition of
refugees and undocumented migrants: the immanence of interstitiality and the depoliticized state of
bare life.1 In turn, I look at how critics have problematized Agambens thesis and its connection to
unauthorized migration by raising issues such as location and agency in an effort to resurrect the
political for the abject. In particular, they point to acts of refugee antideportation campaigns
and undocumented-worker protests as counterexamples of acts of citizenship or noncitizen
citizenship that defy the image of camp as bodies of victims. Yet while chronicling such
resistant acts constitutes an urgent political intervention that counters the state of abjection, by
understanding citizenship as solely visible and audible political acts, this line of critique
actually falls into Agambens rigid binary that divides humanity into political life (citizenship)
and bare life (no rights, nonparticipation)with the only difference being that the latter, by way
of her citizen-like political acts, can now transform and elevate into the position of the former.
Importantly, both Agamben and his critics alike have yet to extend his analysis of the
interstitiality of sovereign power to examine the corresponding, interstitial agency of the
abject that sidesteps the binary of bare life and citizenship life.

The alternative fails to confront biopolitics and entrenches the harms

Virno 2 (Paolo, Revolutionary, General intellect, exodus, multitude, Archipelago n54, June//shree)
Agamben is a thinker of great value but also, in my opinion, a thinker with no political vocation. Then, 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. And, in this, in my opinion, he is very wrongheaded. The problem is, I believe, that the biopolitical is only an effect derived from the concept of
labor-power. When there is a commodity that is called labor-power it is already implicitly
government over life. Agamben says, on the other hand, that labor-power is only one of the aspects of the biopolitical;
I say the contrary: over all because labor power is a paradoxical commodity, because it is not a real
commodity like a book or a bottle of water, but rather is simply the potential to produce. As
soon as this potential is transformed into a commodity, then, it is necessary to govern the
living body that maintains this potential, that contains this potential . Toni (Negri) and Michael (Hardt),
on the other hand, use biopolitics in a historically determined sense, basing it on Foucault, but Foucault spoke in few pages of
the biopolitical - in relation to the birth of liberalism - that Foucault is not a sufficient base for founding a

discourse over the biopolitical and my apprehension, my fear, is that the biopolitical can be
transformed into a word that hides, covers problems instead of being an instrument for
confronting them. A fetish word, an "open doors" word, a word with an exclamation point, a
word that carries the risk of blocking critical thought instead of helping it. Then, my fear is of
fetish words in politics because it seems like the cries of a child that is afraid of the dark..., the
child that says "mama, mama!", "biopolitics, biopolitics!". I don't negate that there can be a
serious content in the term, however I see that the use of the term biopolitics sometimes is a
consolatory use, like the cry of a child, when what serves us are, in all cases, instruments of
work and not propaganda words.

Law Solves
Politics is possible through the law even in the camp,
questions of law and administration are possible
Huysmans, Professor of Security Studies, 8 (Jef Huysmans, The
Jargon of ExceptionOn Schmitt, Agamben and the Absence of Political
Society, p. 179 -180 //NK)
Looked at from this perspective, debates about the reconciliation of liberty
and security, for example, are not, as Agamben argues, an ideological
practice that hides the fundamental break down of the dialectic between law
and anomie that has been central to modern politics (Agamben 2003:144
148). Rather these debates insert questions of and challenges to the role of
law and generalized norm-setting in highly charged biopolitical governance of
insecurities. Instead of collapsing the dialectic between law and anomie,
contestation of the protection of civil liberties, demands for re-negotiating
balances between liberties and security are neither simply to be taken at face
value as a matter of the necessity of balancing and rebalancing nor to be
seen as the endgame of the validity of legal mediations of politics and life.
Rather they open up a need to revisit the particular kind of work that law
does and does not do in specific sites (Neocleous 2006), such as camps, and
what the practices possibly tell us about if and how the dialectic between law
and anomie operates in biopolitical governance. Fleur Johnss analysis of the
camp in Guantanamo Bay is one such example (Johns 2005). She argues that
the camp is penetrated by a form of norm setting, thus implying that a
dialectic between norms and anomie, political transgression and law is not
absent from the organization and governing practice in the camp. Unlike
some other analyses that focus on constitutional transgressions and battles in
the constitutional courts, Johns emphasizes the importance for biopolitical
governance of the detailed and in a sense banal regulations that seek to
structure the everyday practices of the guards, the administrators and the
prisoners. The norm setting is thus not primarily constitutional but
administrative. The important point for this essay is that analyses like Fleur
Johns unpack the contemporary predicaments and political stakes in a site
like Guantanamo Bay by taking the practices and governmental technologies
at face value and interpret the specific work they do for making camps
possible within democratic polities. The understanding of the camp
transfigures from an absolute limit that defines the fundamental nature of
modern politics to a phenomenon that is constituted and contested by
various banal practices and governmental techniques. The question becomes
how these practices and sites we call camps are rendered within and through
modern democratic governance in a biopolitical age. Such an approach does
not read the nature of politics off of its limits but through the multiple
relations that are shaped by means of objectified mediations and the
struggles over them.

Biometrics Link Turn

Biometric surveillance by the state incarcerates and
disciplines through privacy in the name of securitycreates an prison in which freedom and privacy no longer
Branco, Department of History at the University of Lisbon, 2013
[University of Lisbon, The Terror of Control: Surveillance and
Imperialism in Homeland ,
ance_and_Imperialism_in_Homeland_, 7/5/15, CY]
As Giorgio Agamben says, the surveillance apparatus transforms all
spaces into the inside of a huge prison: While a new European norm
imposes biometric apparatuses on all its citizens by developing and
perfecting anthropometric technologies invented in the nineteenth
century in order to identify recidivist criminals (from mug shots to
fingerprinting), surveillance by means of video cameras transforms the
public space of the city into the interior of an immense prison. In the
eyes of authority and maybe rightly so nothing looks more like a
terrorist than the ordinary man. The act of permanently and
unlimitedly surveilling that the series unveils thus serves as
demonstration of an imperialist power. This power has a monopoly
on the last observation, one that surpasses all other observers, and
tries to control all potential movements in order to read them and
make sure that a new terrorist attack does not happen. Carrie is not
the only one to personify this power, but she personifies it more intensely.The
first image of the series comes from the opening credit sequence and shows
Carrie as a child, sleeping. In the next shot, we see her in front of a television
screen. This is intercut with moments from President Ronald Reagans
address to the nation on the US air strike against Libya on 14th April 1986.
Later, we see images of the 9/11 attacks and President Barack Obama, after
President George Bush, President Bill Clinton, and Colin Powell. This
progression is accompanied by Carries development from childhood
to adulthood. This sequence sets her history and recent US history
side by side. Both histories are inseparable from television images.
In this sense, the show reflects on the way images are elements that
construct reality , whether fictional or factual, not merely giving
access to reality in a more or less neutral way. Images from different
sources create a network on which the very notion of reality is build
on. This network may also be taken as a labyrinth, a visual concept
explored in the opening credits that evokes confusion and intricacy. A
sequence from Grace (1.02) may helps us to develop this reading further,
focusing on the relationship between the abundance of imagination and the
lack of images. It is a scene in which Carries surveillance work reaches its
limitations because she does not have access to the garage where Brody
goes one night. Jason Jacobs notes that when Carrie is watching Brody and
his family through the black and white surveillance cameras hidden in their

home, her intense scrutiny of Brodys words, gestures and movements is

similar to his own practice of studying television [...] in order to assess a
performance. Jacobs also observes that Carrie describes what she sees on
the monitors as a reality show, more specifically in the episode Clean Skin
(1.03). Her effort is one of watching Brodys bodily gestures and facial
expressions and read them transparently as if he does not have an interior
life, made of thoughts and feelings, that is inaccessible to her. It is for this
reason that Jacobs writes that the series raises crucial questions:What are
those strings and pulleys that connect our flesh with our minds and how do
we use them to nurture and express or break and destroy the bonds of family
and community and nation? What is it that moves us? These questions point
towards the ideological dimension that the series investigates. If we take
ideology to be the representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals
to their real conditions of existence as Louis Althusser defines it, then such a
system is unable to be erased. It can however be demystified through an
analysis that reveals the connection between imaginary representation and
real conditions, even if this demystification also depends on representations.
This is why ideology is inescapable and also why there are ideological dif
ferences, that is, why not all ideologies are the same .Thinking about these
ideas and this sequence we can ask: what moves Carrie? Not really the
search for truth, but the quest for a confirmation of what she imagines to be
true. Her imagination is fueled by images. Without them, she loses the
capacity to imagine and make suppositions. She loses control over his life
when she is confronted with the lack of images from inside the garage. The
audience, however, has access to it: Brody has converted to Islam and went
to the garage to pray. The lighting of the scene establishes a contrast
between light and darkness that is also seen, and even more intensely, in the
flashbacks that show his liberation from captivity. This parallel sheds light on
his past as well as on his present, and shows him at peace, enlightened.
Carrie, however, does not have access to these moments. The next time she
sees him, he is walking out of his house, in uniform, and faces the journalists
for the first time, asking if they are ready for him. She expressed many times
the nagging feeling that she missed something and indeed, in this case,
she did not missed something in the sense of overlooking it, but in the sense
of being unable to see it.

Biometrics take information previously bound to the body

and accumulates biological information allowing the
control and manipulation of the body
Ajana, BA (Hons) with First Class in Media Studies and
Computing Science, 13 (Btihaj Ajana, Governing through Biometrics:
The Biopolitics of Identity, p. 7-8 //NK)
The implementation and rapid spread of biometric systems inevitably call the
status of identity itself into question. More specifically, and given its
fundamental characteristics, biometrics raises a need for exploring and
understanding the intimate and intricate relationship between identity, body
and information. To be sure, the informatisation and digitisation of the body together with notions of
de/materialization and dis/embodiment are some of the issues that have dominated much of the
(techno)cultural, sociological, scientific and philosophical debates since the late twentieth century. And

with the current development and proliferation of biometric technologies, these issues are given renewed
importance, rendering the body once again a central point of discussion and bringing the problematic
bifurcation of information and materiality into sharper focus. Some of the seminal works in this area relate
to studies of Irma van der Ploeg (2003a, 2005a) in which she seeks to rethink the entire normative
approach by which the confluence between body and technology is understood and conceptualized, and
reveal the extent to which the distinction between 'embodied identity or physical existence [...| and
information about (embodied) persons and their physical characteristics' can be sustained (lbid.: 2003a:

The ways by which the body is transformed into processable, storable and
retrievable information are numerous and among the most notable ones are
the techniques of genetic fingerprinting, DNA typing and the growing field of
bioinformatics. In all of these techniques, what is enabled is the process of
acquisition, storage and analysis of biological information via algorithmic and
computational methods whereby new forms of knowledge production are
generated and in which the notion of 'body as information' is salient. This
ontology of body as information construes the body itself in terms of
informational flows and communication patterns} exposing the porous and
malleable nature of body boundaries . And when the body is viewed beyond its somatic and

material contours, what ensues is a problematisation of the very distinction between materiality and
immateriality and, with it, the distinction between the 'material' body and the body as 'information'. This,
in turn, poses a challenge to 'issues previously considered self-evident' so much so that the 'presumed
dematcation of where the body itself stops and begins being information will subtly shift [and] moral
had legal vocabularies available will no longer suffice' (ibid.: 67 ).

In this respect, and especially

with regard to the normative concerns of privacy and bodily integrity relating
to biometrics and biotechnologies in general, van der Ploeg argues that the
'legal' and 'ethical' distinction between what is perceived in the dichotomous
discourse as 'the thing itself' (the body),-' and the digital representation of
that 'thing' (i.e. the personal information held on the body),' is likely to flatten
as a result of this ontology of body as information - this, despite the continuous
upholding of the difference between searches on the body and searches in the body. Examples of the
problematic efforts to deal with the increasingly blurring boundaries between 'the body itself' and 'body as

rounding the much-contested

field of DNA sampling and banking of genetic information. In these practices,
it is not the act of touching the body or crossing its anatomical-physical
boundaries that is at issue vis- a-vis the normative notion of bodily integrity.
Rather, it is the taking of a DNA sample itself even though the methods of
doing so can hardly be noticeable to the person involved. As such, what is
stored about a person is 'constitutive of, and inseparable from' who that
person is. And according to van der Ploeg, this argument demands a serious and urgent rethinking of
what is at stake in the 'intensive forms of monitoring, categorizing,
scrutinizing and, ultimately, controlling and manipulating of persons
through their bodies and embodied identities ' (ibid.: 70-1 J. These concerns are
information' can be seen, for instance, in the controversy sur-

also present in Alterman's (2003) analysis of biometrics' implications vis-a-vis embodiment and identity. He
con- tends that the spread of our bodily 'representations' across networks and databases entails a
fundamental 'loss of privacy, and a threat to the self-respect which privacy rights preserve' (ibid.: 143).

He distinguishes between what he calls biocentric data (e.g. biometric data)

and indexical data (e.g. social security number, driver's license number and
so on). While the former is centred on the 'body', the latter has no 'internal
relation to an embodied person; it possesses no property that is tied to our
psychological or physical conception of self' (ibid.: 144). Such a distinction allows Alterman
to posit that indexical data have no intrinsic relationship to 'one's dignity or self-respect', whereas
biocentric data have a direct impact on 'one's right to control the use and disposition d demarcation of
where "the body itself" stops and begins being "information" will subtly shift [and] the moral and legal

Gender Turn
Agambens politics of potentiality fail to discuss the
prerequisite, the I can, and erases sexual difference
Ziarek 10
(Ewa Plonowska, Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature at the State
University of New York, Buffalo, Project Muse, Feminine 'I can': On Possibility
and Praxis in Agamben's Work,,
Accessed: 6.5.15, VW)
If we approach the politics of potentiality from the perspective of
bare life, the most urgent issue is not only the distinction of
possibility from will but the difference between impotentiality (the
enabling capacity of "not to," which for Agamben is the source of
freedom) and powerlessness or impossibility. Although barely legible in
Agamben's paradigmatic figure of potentiality, namely, Bartelby's famous
formula "I prefer not to," this task is at stake in another example of
potentiality, which makes only a fleeting appearance in Agamben's work, and
which thus far has been almost completely ignored by Agamben's
commentators.20 Let us recall that Agamben begins his essay "On
Potentiality" with a brief reference to the Russian poet, Anna
Akhmatova, who, standing outside the Stalinist prison in Leningrad
to hear the news of her imprisoned son, utters "I can" instead of "I
prefer not to." Agamben does not pursue in greater detail this
feminine inflection of possibility proclaimed in the face of the
suffering of others and political terror. Not only does he eclipse the
subtle difference between the (feminine?) "I can" and the
(masculine?) "I prefer not to," but he generalizes the singularity of
Akhmatova's utterance into "everyone's" experience of potentiality:
For everyone a moment comes in which she or he must utter this 'I
can," which does not refer to any... specific capacity that is,
nevertheless, absolutely demanding. Beyond all faculties, this "I
can"... marks what is, for each of us, perhaps the hardest and
bitterest experience possible: the experience of potentiality21 By
glossing over the specificity of her case, by equating her experience
of Stalinist terror with the experience of possibility encountered by
"each of us," Agamben misses the opportunity to interrogate the
relation between potentiality, powerlessness, and gender. What is
then the difference between Bartelby's "I prefer not to," uttered in response
to the juridical machinery of the liberal state, and Akhmatova's "I can,"
proclaimed in response to another woman, also subjected to the political
machinery of intimidation and terror? Although Bartelby's formula
challenges the power of the law and the will, it does not necessarily
express the systematic destruction of the potential of subjugated
people - the destruction, to which Akhmatova's poetry bears
witness. Nor does it show how powerlessness can be transformed
into possibility. Akhmatova's "I can," cited by Agamben, comes from her
1957 preface, which she added to her most famous collection of short poems,

entitled Requiem. Written between 1935-40, after a long period of silence,

Requiem is a poetic testimony to the horror of Stalin's Terror and an act of
mourning for its victims. In the "Dedication" section she describes a daily
congregation of beings "less live than dead."22 Akhmatova herself spent 17
months waiting in line outside the prison for news of her son, Lev Gumilev,
whom she addresses as "my dead."23 The cycle of poems mourns not only
the death of relatives and friends, like her former husband or the poet Osip
Mandelstam, but all the victims of the Great Terror, including other women
with whom she shared her painful vigil and the experience of being
abandoned by the disaster. How can a possibility of writing arise from
the utter destruction of possibilities, from the powerlessness and
destitution of these living dead congregating outside the Stalinist
prison? In her 1957 prose foreword, entitled "Instead of a Preface," which is
a kind of retrospective "Afterward," Akhmatova offers the following response
to this question: During the terrible years of the Yezhov terror I spent
seventeen months waiting in line outside the prison in Leningrad... Standing
behind me was a woman, with lips blue from the cold, who had, of course,
never heard me called by name before. Now she started out of the torpor
common to us all and asked me in a whisper (everyone whispered there):
'Could one ever describe this?'/And I said: 'I can'.24 What is at stake in
Akhmatova's "I can" is neither a critique nor a proclamation of the
will of the poet. Rather it is a recovery of feminine possibility from
the double sense of powerlessness: one stemming from the
paralyzing effects of political subjugation, which destroys writing
itself, and the other from the erasure of "the feminine operation"
from language. How can transformative capacity and potentiality survive
their destruction by political terror? How can its victims and survivors be
"jolted out of their torpor"? How can this persisting capacity be reclaimed and
inscribed in language without reverting into a counter-will to power? As
Akhmatova's answer suggests, the experience of impotentiality - "I can not
do this or be that" -can be enabling even in a state of "torpor" only if it
maintains its relation, as Agamben's own formulation implicitly suggests, to
the positive, intersubjective potentiality of "I can." Indeed, as Agamben
himself reminds us, Aristotle draws his examples of potentiality and
impotentiality from "the arts and human knowledge," which means
that human beings "exist in the mode of potentiality" only insofar as
they can act or produce.25 Only if I can write, paint, or act politically,
and only if this capacity is manifested and enhanced in my relations
with others, can I preserve my abilities when I do not act, and
especially, when I'm told that I cannot do so. Although the emphasis on
"I can" is crucial to all subjugated groups, because this is what ultimately
separates potentiality from the torpor of powerlessness, this emphasis is
even more important in the case of female potentiality. As Irigaray's work
suggests, the feminine experience of impotentiality -"I can not to"- is
hardly legible in philosophical discourse where it appears as "the
waste product of reflection" or as deficiency expressed as "you
cannot."26 This collapse of the distinctions between impotentiality
and impossibility, and the implicit gendering of powerlessness as
"feminine," are some of the effects of the erasure of sexual
difference from the philosophical conception of the subject and

language. Consequently, the impotentiality of women has to inscribe in

language, again and again, its relation to the feminine "I/you/we can." Only
then the powerlessness projected onto the feminine can be deprived of its
necessity and transformed into the capacity for not acting, which is
inseparable from the capacity for acting. Such a transformation also
requires a shift in the relation between feminine potential and the
negative. Instead of being subjected to the impossible - expressed
as "you cannot" - the feminine has to assume the capacity for the
negative - for "I can not to." What we see here is a transformation of
the destroyed potentiality, experienced as powerlessness, into a
capacity for negating that destruction. In a reversal of Agamben, we
can say that the unrealized feminine potential survives its
destruction as impotentiality, which contests the inevitability of
destruction. Furthermore, since this persisting impotentiality is an
inherent part of the human potential to change, it can be reclaimed
and mobilized first as the negative capacity to contest destructive
conditions, and second, as the positive capacity to create new
unpredictable possibilities of being otherwise, possibilities
exceeding any telos, end, or political goal. Finally, what is crucial in
Akhmatova's "I can" is that it is uttered in response to another woman, who
barely whispers "Could one ever describe this?" One can imagine multiple
significations of this question, ranging from desperation and impossibility
(how can one speak of this?) to the urgency of the impossible request
imploring another woman to witness and speak about the destruction to
which all of the women are subjected. Consequently, Akhmatova's "I can"
is a response to this imploring question from another woman rather
than the pronouncement of her own initiative. In his analysis
Agamben, however, glosses over this relational aspect of
Akhmatova's potentiality. Yet, as this exchange between women suggests,
potentiality cannot be understood, as Agamben seems to suggest, in terms of
the isolated subject and what he "can or can not do," because it is
fundamentally a relational concept, emerging from the encounter with
another "you." Such encounters can be destructive or enabling. It is this "Can
you/I can" that is rescued against all odds by a female community outside the
prison walls in Akhmatova's Requiem.

Biopower Good
Biopower key to preserving all life improvement of
condition, welfare, longevity, happiness
Ojakangas, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2005
[Foucault studies No 2, pp. 5-28, Impossible Dialogue on Bio-power,, 7/9/15, CY]

In a sense Agambens analysis of Walter Benjamins Critique of Violence in Homo Sacer reveals quite well
his reluctance of admitting or perceiving the nature of modern biopower. In the article, Benjamin
defines two forms of power, namely, the lawcreating and lawpreserving mythical power and the law
destroying divine power. Mythical power is, by Benjamins definition, bloody power over mere life for its
own sake,64 based on the production of mere life. (Without mere life, there exists no rule of law over
the living.65) In this sense, mythical power corresponds well both with Foucaults conception of the
sovereign power and with Agambens definition of the structure of the sovereign ban. What is divine power
then? Agamben, who writes extensively on Benjamins article in Homo Sacer, quite surprisingly claims that
Benjamin offers no positive criterion for its identification.66 Contrary to Agambens claims, however,

Benjamin does indeed offer positive criteria for the identification of divine
power. First and foremost, divine power is the antithesis of mythical power in
all respects.67 It is not bloody power over mere life for its own sake
but pure power over all life for the sake of the living .68 Instead of
making and preserving the law and thereby producing mere life, the
purpose of divine power is the same as that of biopower, the
producing and preserving of all life, life in general. Admittedly,
Benjamins concept of divine power is by no means as simple as presented here.69 However, if

Agamben would have taken into account Benjamins basic definition (pure
power over all life for the sake of the living), he perhaps would have
recognized the link, not between the sovereign mythical power and biopower,
but between the latter and divine power. He would have recognized that in addition to
divine power that stands outside the law,70 biopower also stands outside the law even outside the law
which is in force without signifying. To say that biopower stands outside the law does not yet mean that it
stands outside state power. On the contrary, as we have already noted and as Foucault himself has shown,

biopolitical methods
extensively for the care of individuals and populations. Undoubtedly, the original
purpose of these methods was to increase state power, but its aim has also been, from
the beginning, the welfare of the individual and of the entire
population, the improvement of their condition, the increase of their
wealth, their longevity, health and even happiness71 happiness of
all and everyone (omnes et singulatim): The sole purpose of the police, one of
the first institutional loci of the nascent biopower, is to lead man to the utmost
happiness to be enjoyed in this life, wrote De Lamare in Treaty on the Police at the
it was precisely the modern sovereign state that first started to use

beginning of the eighteenth century.72 According to Foucault, one should not, however, concentrate only
on the modern state in looking for the origin of biopower. One should examine also the religious tradition of
the West, especially the JudeoChristian idea of a shepherd as a political leader of his people.73 Although
Foucaults studies of JudeoChristian political ideas were merely initiatory, he was nevertheless somewhat
convinced that the origin of biopolitical rationality can be found in the JudeoChristian tradition of pastoral
power. What then is pastoral power, especially in its original Hebraic form? Foucault addresses this
question by juxtaposing it to the Greek and Roman conceptions of power and governance, claiming that it
is something unknown in those traditions. Firstly, Greek and Roman power was power over land, whereas
the shepherd wields power over a flock. Secondly, the main task of the Greek political leader was to quiet
down hostilities and resolve conflicts within the city, whereas the purpose of the shepherd is to guide and
lead his flock. Thirdly, it was sufficient for the Greeks that there be a virtuous Greek lawgiver, like Solon,
who, once he had resolved conflicts, could leave the city behind with laws enabling it to endure without
him. Instead, the Hebraic idea of the shepherdleader presupposes the immediate presence of the
shepherd, who has only to disappear for the flock to be scattered. Fourthly, whilst the aim of the Greek
leader was to discover the common interest of the city, the task of the shepherd is to provide continuous
material and spiritual welfare for each and every member of the flock. Fifthly, the measure of success of

the Greek leader was the glory he won by his decisions. By way of contrast, the measure of the shepherds
success is the welfare of the flock: Everything the shepherd does is geared to the good of his flock. That
is his constant concern. When they sleep, he keeps watch: The shepherd acts, he works, he puts himself
out, for those he nourishes and who are asleep. He watches over them. He pays attention to them all and
scans each one of them. Hes got to know his flock as a whole, and in detail. Not only must he know where
good pastures are, the seasons laws, and the order of things; he must also know each ones particular
needs.74 Of course, these are merely themes that Hebraic texts associate with the metaphors of the
shepherd and especially the ShepherdGod and his flock of people. Moreover, the ultimate purpose of the
shepherds kindly care of the flock is not so much mundane happiness but the salvation of souls. In other
words, Foucault does not claim that that is how political power was wielded in Hebrew society. However,
what is important, especially from the perspective of modern biopower, is that Christianity gave these
themes considerable importance, both in theory and in practice.75 To be sure,

Your analogy is flawed, biopower and sovereign power are

mutually exclusive- biopower is what gives life and
withdrawal from every demand of killing without it our
lives would be reduced to bare life
Ojakangas, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2005
[Foucault studies No 2, pp. 5-28, Impossible Dialogue on Bio-power,, 7/9/15, CY]

For Foucault, the coexistence in political structures of large destructive mechanisms and institutions
oriented toward the care of individual life was something puzzling: It is one of the central antinomies of

However, it was an antinomy precisely because in

principle the sovereign power and biopower are mutually exclusive.
How is it possible that the care of individual life paves the way for
mass slaughters? Although Foucault could never give a satisfactory answer to this question, he
was convinced that mass slaughters are not the effect or the logical conclusion of
biopolitical rationality. I am also convinced about that. To be sure, it can be argued that sovereign
our political reason.110

power and biopower are reconciled within the modern state, which legitimates killing by biopolitical
arguments. Especially, it can be argued that these powers are reconciled in the Third Reich in which they
seemed to coincide exactly.111 To my mind, however, neither the modern state nor the Third Reich in
which the monstrosity of the modern state is crystallized are the syntheses of the sovereign power and
biopower, but, rather, the institutional loci of their irreconcilable tension. This is, I believe, what Foucault
meant when he wrote about their demonic combination. In fact, the history of modern Western societies

a form of power
which refrains from killing but which nevertheless is capable of directing peoples lives. The
effectiveness of biopower can be seen lying precisely in that it
refrains and withdraws before every demand of killing, even though these
would be quite incomprehensible without taking into account that there exists

demands would derive from the demand of justice. In bio political societies, according to Foucault, capital
punishment could not be maintained except by invoking less the enormity of the crime itself than the
monstrosity of the criminal: One had the right to kill those who represented a kind of biological danger to
others.112 However, given that the right to kill is precisely a sovereign right , it
can be argued that the biopolitical societies analyzed by Foucault were not entirely biopolitical. Perhaps,
there neither has been nor can be a society that is entirely biopolitical. Nevertheless, the fact is that
presentday European societies have abolished capital punishment. In them, there are no longer
exceptions. It is the very right to kill that has been called into question. However, it is not called into
question because of enlightened moral sentiments, but rather because of the deployment of biopolitical
thinking and practice. For all these reasons, Agambens thesis, according to which the concentration camp
is the fundamental biopolitical paradigm of the West, has to be corrected.113 The biopolitical paradigm of
the West is not the concentration camp, but, rather, the presentday welfare society and, instead of homo
sacer, the paradigmatic figure of the biopolitical society can be seen, for example, in the middleclass
Swedish socialdemocrat. Although this figure is an object and a product of the huge biopolitical
machinery, it does not mean that he is permitted to kill without committing homicide. Actually, the fact
that he eventually dies, seems to be his greatest crime against the machinery. (In biopolitical societies,
death is not only something to be hidden away, but, also, as Foucault stresses, the most shameful thing
of all.114) Therefore, he is not exposed to an unconditional threat of death, but rather to an unconditional

biopolitical machinery does not want to

threaten him, but to encourage him, with all its material and
retreat of all dying. In fact, the

spiritual capacities, to live healthily, to live long and to live happily

even when, in biological terms, he should have been dead long
ago.115 This is because biopower is not bloody power over bare life for its
own sake but pure power over all life for the sake of the living . It is not
power but the living, the condition of all life individual as well as collective that is the measure of the
success of biopower. Another important question is whether these biopolitical societies that started to take
shape in the seventeenth century (but did not crystallize until the 1980s) are ideologically, especially at
the level of practical politics, collapsing to say nothing about the value of the wouldbe collapse. One
thing is clear, however. At the global level, there has not been, and likely will not be, a completely bio

without biopolitical
considerations of health and happiness of individuals and
populations, as it has done until now, it is possible that our entire
existence will someday be reduced to bare life , as has already occurred, for
political society. And to the extent that globalization takes place

instance, in Chechnya and Iraq. On that day, perhaps, when biopolitical care has ceased to exist, and we
all live within the sovereign ban of Empire without significance, we can only save ourselves, as Agamben
suggests, in perpetual flight or a foreign land116 although there will hardly be either places to which to
flee, or foreign lands.

Rights Good
Human rights are goodthe alternative is totalizing and re-entrenches domination
Deranty 4

(Jean-Philippe, Assoc Lecturer in Phil @ Macquarie University, Agambens Challenge to

Normative Theories of Modern Rights, Borderlands, V 3, N 1//shree)
In the case of empirical examples, the erasure of difference between phenomena seems particularly counter-intuitive in the
case of dissimilar modes of internment. From a practical point of view, it seems counter-productive to claim that

there is no substantial difference between archaic communities and modern communities

provided with the language of rights, between the lawlessness of war times and democratic
discourse. There must be a way of problematising the ideological mantra of Western freedom,
of modernitys moral superiority, that does not simply equate it with Nazi propaganda (Ogilvie
2001). Habermas and Honneth probably have a point when they highlight the advances made by modernity in the
entrenchment of rights. If the ethical task is that of testimony, then our testimony should go also

all the individual lives that were freed from alienation by the establishment of legal barriers
against arbitrariness and exclusion. We should heed Honneths reminder that struggles for social and
political emancipation have often privileged the language of rights over any other discourse
(Fraser, Honneth 2003). To reject the language of human rights altogether could be a costly gesture
in understanding past political struggles in their relevance for future ones, and a serious
strategic, political loss for accompanying present struggles. We want to criticise the ideology of
human rights, but not at the cost of renouncing the resources that rights provide. Otherwise,
critical theory would be in the odd position of casting aspersions upon the very people it
purports to speak for, and of depriving itself of a major weapon in the struggle against