Patrice Riemens on Tue, 17 Feb 1998 00:24:33 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> Alain RENON: review of Giorgio AGAMBEN, Homo Sacer

Homo Sacer, a human being that could not be ritually offered, but whom
one.  could kill without incuring the penalty of murder according to
ancient Roman law, is being used in this book as underpinning for a fresh
decoding of the major political difficulty in our century: the rise of the
worst sort of totalitarisms, with nazism at its apex.  Giorgio Agamben
sheds light on the paradoxical, but inherent link between the Rule of Law
(Etat de Droit) and the State of Emergency (Etat d'Exception). This author
invites us to reflect about "the strange continuum connecting democracy to
totalitarism", and describes the trap in which the Western democracies
have fallen, "in gaining (...) rights and liberties in their conflicts
against the central(ising) powers, individuals are each and every time
simultaneously laying the foundation for a silent but ever deeper
insertion of their life within the political order of the state, and
hereby giving new and even more formidable power to the ruling authority
from which they sought emancipation." 

By questioning this "secret complicity" between democracy and its
opposite, we might possibly, says Giorgio Agamben, achieve a situation in
which nazism and fascism are no longer "a clear and present danger".

Giorgio AGAMBEN, Homo Sacer. Le pouvoir souverain et la vie nue.
('Homo Sacer, On Sovereign Power and Naked Life')
Paris: Seuil, 1997 (collection "l'ordre philosophique"), 216p 130FF

(Paul Virilio's choice as book of the year 1997)

(from Le Monde Diplomatique, feb 1998)
(Edited by Olga Nieuwenhuys)

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