Academia finally catching up with us?
- STATE OF EXCEPTION is the latest work by Giorgio Agamben, an Italian
professor of aesthetics apparently quite popular with the "critical
theory" crowd. The description of the book at Amazon.com makes it
sound like Robert Higgs's CRISIS AND LEVIATHAN!
"Two months after the attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration, in
the midst of what it perceived to be a state of emergency,
authorized the indefinite detention of noncitizens suspected of
terrorist activities and their subsequent trials by a military
commission. Here, distinguished Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben
uses such circumstances to argue that this unusual extension of
power, or "state of exception," has historically been an
underexamined and powerful strategy that has the potential to
transform democracies into totalitarian states.
The sequel to Agamben's Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life,
State of Exception is the first book to theorize the state of
exception in historical and philosophical context. In Agamben's
view, the majority of legal scholars and policymakers in Europe as
well as the United States have wrongly rejected the necessity of
such a theory, claiming instead that the state of exception is a
pragmatic question. Agamben argues here that the state of exception,
which was meant to be a provisional measure, became in the course of
the twentieth century a normal paradigm of government. Writing
nothing less than the history of the state of exception in its
various national contexts throughout Western Europe and the United
States, Agamben uses the work of Carl Schmitt as a foil for his
reflections as well as that of Derrida, Benjamin, and Arendt.
In this highly topical book, Agamben ultimately arrives at original
ideas about the future of democracy and casts a new light on the
hidden relationship that ties law to violence."
I saw the book at the store, and, glancing thru it, didn't notice
any Higgs citations, so Agamben may have reinvented the wheel here.
From what I've read, "sovereignty" and "statecraft" are becoming
popular topics for analysis in academic theory, so we may be seeing
more and more crossovers with libertarianism.
Has anyone here read Agamben? Am I just making a mountain out of a
- It's the Neo-Morphs! Didn't H.G. Wells write about them in his time
traveler novel? :)
- I put a short obit on my website,
http://classicalliberalism.blogspot.com/ and Chris Sciabarra has done on
and at the Liberty & Power blog: http://hnn.us/blogs/4.html
He will be missed by many.
Best to all of you,