agamben state of exception summary

“The ultimate ground of the exception here is not necessity but the principle according to which ‘every law is obtained for the common well-being of men, and only for this does it have the force and reason of law; if it fails in this regard, it has no capacity to bind” (25). Chapter 1 “The State of Exception as a Paradigm of Government,” begins  with the observation that public law lacks an adequate theory of the state of exception (1). Agamben argues that the purity of Benjamin’s pure violence is externally determined by the means-end relation of law to justice characteristic of the existing constitutional order of the state (61). In the final portion of Chapter 1, Agamben attempts to flesh out his conceptualization of the state of exception through a history of the inclusion of the state of necessity in the juridical order of the modern age (24). Turning to the Roman Republic, Agamben examines the “extreme figure of authority” that arises in relation to the senatus consultum ultimum and the iustitium which suspends the juridical order (78-9). Although deliverance from the state of exception in which we live to a state of law is impossible, it is possible, Agamben concludes, to reveal the central fiction of the juridico-biopolitical machine since between violence/law and life/norm no substantial articulation exists (87). Secretly nestled between the abstract universal norm and its concrete application, therefore, is the ephemeral decision which vanishes into thin air just as quickly as it is enunciated (norm-decision-application). The state of exception “defines a special condition in which the juridical order is actually suspended due to an emergency or a serious crisis threatening the state. The state of exception is the expansion of the executive power to the point where presidential decrees have the force of law, often invoked during “states of siege” or a “state of war.” Through this expansion of executive power, the separation of powers no longer constrains the executive branch. And how can it be distinguished from the force of law? We must attain a concept of history that accords with this fact. Unless the topic of this book deeply resonates with you, there are more important books to spend your money on. In this sense, the “real state of exception19”, that anomic zone where “violence without any juridical form acts” unmasks the attempt of “state power to annex anomie through the state of exception” as a “ fictio iuris par excellence, which claims to maintain the law in its very suspension as force of law. Analyzing the legal and political theory that has given rise to the state of exception, Agamben delivers a highly detailed description of this legal concept. Agamben rejects the Marxist view of the state as superstructure, and does not see power as mystified. Given the highly bureaucratic nature of any Western political system, Presidential decrees will unavoidablyreach resistance within the system. Consequently, when the exception becomes the rule, the technique through which law acquires its legitimacy looses its functionality (58). Agamben, Giorgio. Response: Your email address will not be published. Just as langue, the abstract system of rules and conventions signifying a sign system, only acquires denotative meaning through specific signifying practices the intelligibility of which require language, the norm can only to refer to a concrete segment of reality (i.e., “the normal situation”) through its suspension in the state of exception (36). The second treats it as an extra-juridical phenomenon and thus argues that it ought not be subject to legal regulation (10). In the same way that the “battle of giants concerning being [Nietzsche] is decisive for Western metaphysics, this “struggle for anomie” is decisive for Western politics (59). In Chapter 4, “Gigantomachy Concerning a Void,” Agamben definitely states what is at stake in Schmitt’s theories on the state of exception and sovereign power: a sphere of action entirely removed from the law. The key point here is to understand that Agamben regards the abstract (“universal”) norm and there sphere of its practical application as two conceptually distinct, radically unbridgeable concepts. Agamben also traces this relation of exclusion and supplementation between authority and power to another institution, the hostis iudicatio, which likewise reveals figure of authority’s specific function: suspending the law where it looses it grasp on reality.  In exceptional situations, the Senate had the authority to declare a Roman citizen that threatened the security of the Republic “public enemy” (i.e., hostis). Everything happens as if both law and logos needed an anomic (or alogical) zone of suspension in order to ground their reference to the world of life. ↩ 3. Finally, Agamben points to the aporias that  arises out of the attempt to define necessity as an objective situation (29). 1) The modern state of exception, a legal institution rooted in the democratic-revolutionary tradition, has gradually become the paradigmatic form of government in the twentieth century. Giorgio Agamben is an Italian philosopher best known for his work investigating the concepts of the state of exception, form-of-life and homo sacer. The passage from langue to parole (or from the semiotic to the semantic), which represents the movement from a generic proposition (with an abstract or virtual reference to the empirical world) to a generic proposition with its (apparently) concrete reference to the empirical world, is practical activity that concerns the actual relation of language and world. As living law, the sovereign, with its “irresponsible power”, is akin to a “god among men” (69). For now it is enough to consider the distinction between norm and application. The connection between iustitium and mourning, according to Agamben, reveals its “true meaning” within this context: If the sovereign is a living nomos, and if, for this reason, anomie and nomos perfectly coincide in his person, then anarchy (which threatens to loose itself in the city upon the sovereign’s death, which is to say, when the nexus that joins it to the law is severed) must be ritualized and controlled, transforming the state of exception into public mourning and mourning into iustitium. Theme "Anarcho Notepad" designed and engineered by Arthur (Berserkr) Gareginyan. 1.1. A theory of the state of exception needs to be articulated. Benjamin’s 8th theses on the concept of history reads: “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of exception’ in which we live is the rule. Extended Summary of Agamben’s State of Exception (draft) In State of Exception (2005), Agamben advances three theses. 2) As an expression of a violent process through which the law, “by means of its own suspension,” attempts to ensnare life-itself within the juridical order, the institutionalization of the state of exception is biopolitically significant (3). It is as if the universe of law–and more generally, the sphere of human action insofar as it has to do with the law–ultimately appeared as a field of forces traversed by two conjoined and opposite tensions: one that goes from norm to anomie, and another that leads from anomie to the law and the rule. In this context, auctor takes on a precise legal meaning in relation to the transfer of the res republica from his hands to those of the people and the senate. Chicago: Uni-versity o f C h icago P ress, 2005 / G io rgio A gam ben , Stato di eccezion e: H om o sacer, II, I. Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2003. ↩ 4 The assertion that the “state of exception has become the rule18” evokes the understanding of the state of exception as a zone of absolute indeterminacy. What is at stake in both frameworks, therefore, “is the question of the juridical significance of a sphere of action that is in itself extrajuridical” (11). Benjamin’s famous essay, “The Critique of Violence” (1921), advances the idea of “reine Gewalt10” (i.e., pure violence/power) existing outside the law’s empire. Giorgio Agamben provides a thorough historical and legal contextualization of the state of exception, defining its critical nature and development. The anomic character of this new figure of supreme power, the sovereign as living law, is evident in the eponymous neo-Pythagorean theory of the sovereign27 (basileus nomos empukhos) which finds its analogy in the modern theory of sovereignty (69). What now takes its place are civil war and revolutionary violence, that is, a human action that has shed [deposto] every relation to law” (59). The Western juridical system is held together by two elements: 1) a normative and juridical (power) and 2) an anomic and metajuridical (authority) (86). In both cases, the conflict seems to concern an empty space: on the one hand, anomie, juridical vacuum, and, on the other, pure being devoid of any determination or real predicate. Agamben casts Schmitt’s theories of the state of exception and sovereignty as a response to Benjamin’s pure violence. The following summary is not faithful to the chronological order of the book. In this sense, “what was clearly an ideology or a fictio intended to ground the preeminence of [...]authority in relation to power” has thus become “a figure of law’s immanence to life” (84). Western judicial order can be describes as a duality between auctoritas and potestas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. 28–29. Agamben’s second move is to highlight the aporetic character of the modern view that necessity is foundation of law which emerged after the 1789 decree of the French constituent assembly that distinguished between a “state of peace” and a “state of siege”(28). Reflections on Thomas Aquinas’ “Treatise on Law”: What is the law? Agamben argues that “necessity” is the result of the law’s loss of reference to reality (chapter 1) and that the concrete suspension of the sphere of the norm’s application creates the conditions where the norm can once again apply7.  In this way, the state of exception can be understood as the strategy through which law comes to “refer” to concrete reality8. The Exceptional Life of the State: Giorgio Agamben Õs State of Exception Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception. The purity of pure violence, in other words, is is a product of its evaluation of mythico-juridical violence which as “a means for making law never deposes its own relation with law and thus instantiates law as power21 (Macht)” (Benjamin 1921, 198/248) (From Agamben, 61). Giorgio Agamben: The coronaviris and the state of exception Posted on March 3, 2020 by Julius Gavroche Before the frenzied, irrational and totally unjustified emergency measures taken for a supposed epidemic due to the coronavirus, it is necessary to start with the declarations of the CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche), according to which “there is no epidemic of Sars-CoV2 in Italy “. For legal scholars or those interested in the expansion of executive power, this book provides a great deal of pertinent analysis. It suspends the juridical order where the law looses its ability to guarantee social order25 (46). For Schmitt, pure violence is impossible since the purpose of the sovereign decision is to subsume pure violence under the juridical order through the state of exception12 13 (54). Giorgio Agamben, “The state of exception provoked by an unmotivated emergency” This is a translation of an article that first appeared as “Lo stato d’eccezione provocato da un’emergenza immotivata,” in il manifesto , 26 Feb, 2020. Not to be conceived as merely occasional and conditional, invocations of a state of exception have come to constitute the basis of modern state power. In this sense, the “perfect legal action” consists of a duality of subjects/elements–that is, authority and power–which are conceptually distinct yet comprise a binary system that functions to convey judicial validity or legitimacy onto human action (78). Giorgio Agamben provides a thorough historical and legal contextualization of the state of exception, defining its critical nature and development. At the theoretical level, this empirically observed relationship between authority and power suggests, according to Agamben, that the existence of something within the legal sphere necessitates the construction of a relational bridge between two subjects33 (e.g., emperor and magistrate) or elements (authority and power) (76). Pure violence, in this sense,  “manifests” itself “only as the exposure and deposition of the relation between violence and law22” (62) and in this way functions, contra the force-of-law, as a pure means without any relation to an end. The second phrase Agamben quotes from François Saint-Bonnet, L’État d’exception (Presses Universitaires de France, 2001). Is Charles Mills’ Account of Racial Injustice Essentialist? Click to read more about State of Exception by Giorgio Agamben. The identification between sovereign and law represents, that is, the first attempt to assert anomie of the sovereign and, at the same time, his essential link to the juridical order. Turning to the 13 January 27 BCE edict wherein Augustus defined himself as auctor of the highest standing and declared his intention to restore the republican constitution, Agamben explains precisely how Augustus “surpassed all in authority”. The repercussions of Benjamin’s redefinition of the sovereign function are evident in Agamben’s approach to the state of exception. The sovereign’s inability to decide, excludes the state of exception the from the realm of sovereign jurisdiction where it no longer appears, as Schmitt would have it, “at the threshold that guarantees the articulation between inside and outside, or between anomie and juridical context, by virtue of a law that is in force in its suspension” (57). Agamben explores how the state of exception, building from Schmitt as the suspension of law for the preservation of the juridical order, produces and is indeed predicated on the blurring of or the indistinction between legal and illegal, public and private, state and law, war and peace, potestas and auctoritas, law and violence, life and norm, criminal and combatant, the political and the juridical (etc. On Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception Stephen Humphreys* Agamben, Giorgio. The paradox of sovereignty is that the sovereign, like … It is, rather, only the stake in a conflict over the state of exception, what results from it and, in this way only, is supposed prior to the law20” (60). His actions, in this sense, are mere facts, the appraisal of which, once the iustitium is expired, will depend on the circumstances. The relevant passage of the famous funerary inscription reads: “After that time I [Augustus] surpassed all in authority, although I had no more power than those who were my colleagues in each magistracy” (81). In “Political Theology” (1922), building off earlier conceptualizations of “commissarial dictatorship” and “sovereign dictatorship”, Schmitt plays off the distinction between norm (Norm) and decision (Entscheidung and Dezision) in order to annex the state of exception to the juridical order via the figure of the sovereign, the entity defined by virtue of their unique prerogative to decide the state of exception. Rather, it first presents Agamben’s theory of the state of exception (Chapters 1, 2 and 4) and then presents his genealogical investigation of it which traces the phenomenon from its origins in the Roman Republic through to the present day (Chapters 3, 5 and 6). Defined as the expansion of executive power in response to existential threats to the nation, the state of exception has become the norm of executive power throughout Western democracies. The first move to this end is to criticize the classical reduction of theory of the state of exception to the theory of the state of necessity (i.e., status necessitatis). State of Exception . Likewise, “if the state of exception is instead only a de facto situation and is as such unrelated or contrary to law, how is it possible for the order to contain a lacuna precisely where the decisive situation is concerned” (23). ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody, February 2007, pp. Agamben argues that the perpetual utilization of the state of exception will ultimately undermine Western law and lead to a “global civil war” (87). “It constitutes him as auctor of the highest standing, as he who legitimates and guarantees the whole of Roman political life” (82). However, because the sovereign as living law and thus identified with it: He is held in relation to it and is indeed posited as the anomic foundation of the juridical order. The state of exception has evolved from the Roman law of iustitium, the suspension of law during times of necessity (41). With you, there are two primarily limitations to any utilization of the exception becomes the target of state... Marxist view of the “baroque sovereign14”, Agamben advances three theses in so doing establish a historical... Political life the phenomenon as a duality between auctoritas and potestas that out! Assertion that the law should be interpreted in a manner that respects rights constitutive! Subjective ( 30 ) either case, the technique through which law its... Other. the former asserts “that law must coincide with the particular practices of some Western nation-states it entirely from. Books to spend your money on this anomic zone is precisely what is anomic. 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