The place of politics

The forces pushing towards world political unity seemed to be so much stronger than those directed towards a more limited political unity, such as Europe, that it could be written that the unity of Europe could only be «a product collateral, not to say waste, of the global unity of the planet». In reality, the forces driving the achievement of unity have proved to be just as insufficient for the planet as they are for Europe. If European unity, to give life to a true constituent assembly, would have presupposed something like a “European patriotism”, which did not exist anywhere (and the first consequence was the failure of the referendums to approve the so-called European constitution, which , from a juridical point of view, is not a constitution, but only an agreement between states), the political unity of the planet presupposed a “patriotism of the species or of the human race” even more difficult to find.

As Gilson has rightly pointed out, a society of political societies cannot itself be political, but needs a metapolitical principle, such as religion was, at least in the past.
It is possible then that what governments have attempted to achieve through the pandemic is just such a “patriotism of the species”. But they could only parodically do so in the form of shared terror in the face of an invisible enemy, the result of which was not the production of a homeland and community ties, but of a mass founded on an unprecedented separation, proving that distance under no circumstances could it – as an odious, obsessively repeated slogan claimed – constitute a “social” bond. Apparently more effective was the use of a principle capable of replacing religion, which was immediately identified in science (in this case, medicine). But here too medicine as a religion has shown its inadequacy, not only because in exchange for the salvation of an entire existence it could only promise health from disease, but also and above all because, in order to assert itself as a religion, medicine had to produce a a state of incessant threat and insecurity, in which viruses and pandemics followed one another without respite and no vaccine guaranteed that serenity that the sacraments had been able to ensure to the faithful.

The project of creating a kind of patriotism failed to such an extent that in the end it was necessary once again and brazenly to resort to the creation of a particular political enemy, identified not by chance among those who had already played this role: Russia, China, Iran.
In this sense, the political culture of the West has not taken a single step in a different direction from the one in which it has always moved and only if all the principles and values ​​on which it is based are called into question will it be possible to think otherwise of the place of politics, beyond both nation-states and the global economic state.

January 9, 2023
Source: Giorgio Agamben QUODLIBET

  • Translated

World War III is not over yet

“We live in an epochal crisis. I believe that we are not yet at the bottom, not even in the middle of this crisis.

More and more I’m thinking about it. I am convinced that the cultural, intellectual and political scenario has not yet expressed all its potential. We must consider ourselves at the end of the third world war.”

The war Dossetti talked about in this 1993 interview was more devastating or equally devastating than the other two, because it was fought only by evil in the name of evil, between equally evil powers, albeit with less bloodshed in appearance. But this war, according to all evidence, is not over yet, it has taken other forms and we are in it without being able to see its end. We are in the planetary war against the virus, part of the thousand civil wars that divide peoples from within and involved in spite of ourselves in the war in Ukraine as the occasion of a white world war, which is carried out first of all in the language and minds of the men.

It is possible, however, that Dossetti was right and that this interminable war somehow coincides with the end, that the end is, so to speak, always ongoing.

«We are faced with the exhaustion of cultures – he added – I do not see the birth of a new thought either on the secular side or on the Christian side. We are all immobile, fixed on a present, which we try to patch up in some way ».

The powers that are fighting have in fact no salvation and no truth to propose: only a continuous, looming threat of disease and death and the hatred and war of each one towards all.

They are, in this sense, at the end and the atrocious planetary civil war they wage is the form of their end.

September 5, 2022

Source: Giorgio Agamben – QUODLIBET

  • Translated

Angels and Demons

The speeches that we hear so often today about the end of history and the beginning of a posthuman and posthistorical era forget the simple fact that man is always in the act of becoming human and therefore also of ceasing to be so and so to speak. to die to the human.

The claim of an achieved animality or completed humanity of man at the end of history does not account for this constitutive incompleteness of the human being.

Similar considerations also apply to the discourses on the death of God.

Just as man is always in the act of becoming human and ceasing to be, so too the divine becoming of God is always ongoing and never completed once and for all.

In this sense, Pascal’s phrase about Christ in agony until the end of time must be understood. In agony – that is, according to the etymology, in struggle or in conflict with his own divinity, for this reason he never died, but always, so to speak, to himself dying.

The only meaning of human history is in this incessant agony and the gossip about the end of history seems to ignore the fact – also evident – that history is always in the act of ending.

Hence the insistence of the last Hölderlin on demigods and almost divine or more than human figures.

History is made up of beings already and not yet divine, already and not yet human: there is, that is, a “semi-history” just as there are demigods and almost men.

  • For this reason, the only keys to interpreting history are angelology and demonology, which see in it – as the Fathers and Paul himself did when he calls angels (or demons) the powers and governments of this world – a relentless struggle. between less than gods and more – or less – than men.

And if we can say anything about our present condition it is that in the last two years we have seen with unprecedented clarity the demons at work in history and the possessed blindly following them in their vain attempt to drive away the angels forever – those angels who, after all , before their infinite fall into history, they themselves were.

August 4, 2022
Giorgio Agamben

Source: Giorgio Agamben – QUODLIBET

On the Right of Resistance

I will try to share with you some thoughts on the resistance and the civil war. I am not reminding you that a right of resistance already exists in the ancient world, which has a tradition of praising tyrannicide, and in the Middle Ages. Thomas summarized the position of scholastic theology in the principle that the tyrannical regime, insofar as it substitutes a partisan interest for the common good, cannot be iustum .

  • The resistance – Thomas says the perturbatio – against this regime is therefore not a seditio .

It goes without saying that the matter necessarily entails a degree of ambiguity as regards the definition of the tyrannical character of a given regime, as evidenced by the caution of Bartolo, who in his Treatise on Guelphs and Ghibellines distinguishes a tyrant a ex defectu tituli from a tyrant ex parte exercitii , but then has difficulty in identifying a iusta causa resistendi .

This ambiguity reappears in the discussions of 1947 on the inclusion of a right of resistance in the Italian constitution. Dossetti had proposed, as you know, that the text included an article that read:

  • “Individual and collective resistance to the acts of the public power that violate fundamental freedoms and the rights guaranteed by this constitution is a right and a duty of citizens.”

The text, which was also supported by Aldo Moro, was not included and Meuccio Ruini, who chaired the so-called Commission of 75 which was to prepare the text of the constitution and who, a few years later, as president of the Senate, had to stand out for the way in which he tried to prevent parliamentary discussion on the so-called fraud law, he preferred to postpone the decision to the vote of the assembly, which he knew would be negative.

It cannot be denied, however, the hesitations and objections of jurists – including Costantino Mortati – were not without arguments, when they pointed out that

  • … the relationship between positive law and revolution cannot be legally regulated.

The problem  with regard to the figure of the partisan is so important in modernity,

  • Schmitt defined the problem as of the “regulation of the irregular”.
  • It is curious that jurists were speaking of the relationship between positive law and “revolution”: it would have seemed to me more precisely to speak of “civil war”.

Indeed, how to draw a line between the right of resistance and civil war? Isn’t civil war the inevitable outcome of a seriously understood right of resistance?

The hypothesis that I intend to propose to you today is that this way of approaching the problem of resistance overlooks the essential, that is, a radical change that concerns the very nature of the modern state – that is, of the post-Napoleonic state.

We cannot speak of resistance unless we first reflect on this transformation.

European public law is essentially a law of war.

  • The modern state is defined not only, in general, through its monopoly of violence, but, more concretely, through its monopoly of jus belli. The state cannot renounce this right, even at the cost, as we see today, of inventing new forms of war.

The jus belli is not only the right to make and wage wars, but also the right to legally regulate the conduct of war. It thus distinguished between the state of war and the state of peace, between the public enemy and the criminal, between the civilian population and the fighting army, between the soldier and the partisan.

Now we know that precisely these essential characteristics of jus belli have long since disappeared and my hypothesis is precisely that this implies an equally essential change in the nature of the state.

Already during the Second World War the distinction between the civilian population and the fighting army had been progressively obliterated.

  • One spy is that the Geneva conventions of 1949 recognize a legal status for the population participating in the war without belonging to the regular army, on the condition, however, that commanders could be identified, that the weapons were exhibited and that there was some visible mark.

Once again, these provisions do not interest me as they lead to a recognition of the right of resistance – moreover, as you have seen, very limited: a partisan who exhibits his weapons is not a partisan, he is an unconscious partisan – but because they imply a transformation of the same state, as holder of jus belli .

As we have seen and continue to see, the state, which from a strictly juridical point of view, has now permanently entered the state of exception, does not abolish jus belli , but ipso facto loses the possibility of distinguishing between regular war and civil war.

  • We are facing today a state which is conducting a sort of planetary civil war, which it cannot in any way recognize as such.

Resistance and civil war are therefore classified as acts of terrorism and it will not be inappropriate here to recall that the first appearance of terrorism after the war was the work of a French army general, Raoul Salan, supreme commander of the French armed forces in Algeria, who had created in 1961 the OAS, which means: Organization Armée Secrète . Think about the formula “secret army”: the regular army becomes irregular, the soldier gets confused with the terrorist.

It seems clear to me that in the face of this state, one cannot speak about the “right of resistance”, possibly certifiable in the constitution or obtainable from it. At least for two reasons: the first is that the civil war cannot be regulated, as the state for its part is trying to do through an indefinite series of decrees, which have altered the principle of stability of the law from top to bottom.

  • We have in source a state that conducts and tries to codify a disguised form of civil war.

The second, which for me constitutes an inalienable thesis, is that in the present conditions resistance cannot be a separate activity: it can only become a form of life.

There will be real resistance only if and when each one is able to draw the consequences that concern him from this thesis.

June 2, 2022

Source: Giorgio Agamben – QUODLIBET

  • Translated

State of exception and civil war

In a book published a few years ago, Stasis. The civil war as a political paradigm [Stasis. La guerra civile come paradigma politico], I tried to show that in classical Greece the possibility – I stress the term “possibility” – of the civil war functioned as a threshold of politicization between the oikos and the polis , without which political life would have been inconceivable. Without stasis , the standing of citizens in the extreme form of dissent, the polis is no longer such. This constitutive link between stasisand politics was so unavoidable that even in the thinker who seemed to have based his conception of politics on the exclusion of civil war, that is, Hobbes, it remains virtually possible until the end.

The hypothesis that I would like to propose is then that if we have reached the situation of absolute depoliticization in which we now find ourselves, this is precisely because the very possibility of stasisin recent decades it has been progressively and completely excluded from political reflection, also through its surreptitious identification with terrorism.

A society in which the possibility of civil war, that is, of the extreme form of dissent, is excluded is a society that can only slip into totalitarianism.

I call totalitarian a thought that does not contemplate the possibility of confronting the extreme form of dissent, that is, a thought that only admits the possibility of consent. And it is no coincidence that it is precisely through the constitution of consensus as the only criterion of politics that democracies, as history teaches, have fallen into totalitarianism.

As often happens, what has been removed from consciousness re-emerges in pathological forms and what is happening around us today is that oblivion and inattention to stasis go hand in hand, as Roman Schnur had observed in one of the few serious studies on the issue, with the progress of a sort of world civil war. It is not just the fact, although not to be overlooked, that wars, as jurists and political scientists had already noted for some time, are no longer formally declared and, transformed into police operations, acquire the characteristics that were usually assigned to civil wars.

The decisive factor today is that the civil war, by making a system with the state of exception, is transformed like this into an instrument of government.

If we analyze the decrees and the devices put in place by governments in the last two years, it is clear that they are aimed at dividing people into two opposing groups, between which a sort of inevitable conflict is established.

Infected and healthy, vaccinated and unvaccinated, equipped with Greenpass and without Greenpass, integrated into social life or excluded from it: in any case, unity among citizens, as happens in a civil war, has failed.

What has happened before our eyes without us realizing it is, that is, that the two limit forms of law and politics have been used without scruples as normal forms of government.

And while in classical Greece, the stasis, insofar as it marked an interruption of political life, it could not for any reason be hidden and transformed into a norm, it becomes today, like the state of exception, the paradigm par excellence of the government of people.

  • 9-04-2022
    (intervention of the DUPRE commission)

Source: Giorgio Agamben – Quodlibet

  • Translated

Leave it to scratch where the mange is

They will not say: times were dark,
but: why have you been silent?

  • Bertolt Brecht

But nevertheless, once every lie has been removed,
all your vision makes it manifest
and lets you scratch where the mange is.
That your voice will be troublesome
in the first taste, vital nourishment
will leave then, when it is digested.

  • Dante Alighieri

There is a piece of paper somewhere on which the names of those who, in a world of lies, have testified to the truth is written. This sheet exists, but it is illegible. Then there is another sheet, perfectly legible, which records these same names: it is in the hands of police officers and journalists.

Source: Giorgio Agamben – Quodlibet

  • Translated

Header: Scratch-Off Bus Stop Ads – Romain André -Behance

Giorgio Agamben – Speech at the conference of Venetian students against the Green Pass on 11 November 2021 at Ca ‘Sagredo

To begin with, I would like to take up some points that I tried to fix a few days ago to try to define the surreptitious, but no less radical transformation that is taking place before our eyes.

I think we must first of all realize that the legal and political order in which we thought we lived has completely changed.

The operator of this transformation was, as is evident, that zone of indifference between law and politics which is the state of emergency.

Almost twenty years ago, in a book that attempted to provide a theory of the state of exception, I found that the state of exception was becoming the normal system of government.

As you know, the state of exception is a space of suspension of the law, therefore an anomic space, which is however claimed to be included in the legal system.

But let’s take a closer look at what happens in the state of exception.

From the technical point of view, there is a separation of the force-of-law from the law in a formal sense.

The state of exception defines, that is, a “state of the law” in which on the one hand the law is theoretically in force, but has no force, does not apply, is suspended and on the other, provisions and measures that do not have the value of law acquire the force.

It could be said that, in the limit, what is at stake in the state of exception is a force-of-law that fluctuates without the law.

However this situation is defined – whether the state of exception is considered as internal or if it is qualified instead as external to the legal order – in any case it translates into a sort of eclipse of the law, in which, as in a astronomical eclipse, it persists, but no longer emanates its light.

The first consequence is the failure of that fundamental principle which is legal certainty.

If the State, instead of giving regulatory discipline to a phenomenon, intervenes thanks to the emergency, on that phenomenon every 15 days or every month, that phenomenon no longer responds to a principle of legality, since the principle of legality consists in the fact that State gives the law and citizens trust that law and its stability.

This cancellation of legal certainty is the first fact that I would like to bring to your attention, because it implies a radical change not only in our relationship with the legal order, but in our very way of life, because it involves living in a state. of normalized illegality.

The paradigm of the law is replaced by that of vague clauses and formulas, such as “state of necessity”, “security”, “public order”, which being indeterminate in themselves, need someone to intervene to determine them.

We are no longer dealing with a law or a constitution, but with a fluctuating force-of-law that can be assumed, as we see today, by commissions and individuals, doctors or experts entirely outside the legal system.

I believe we are faced with a form of so-called dual state – through which Ernst Fraenkel, in a 1941 book that should be reread, tried to explain the Nazi state – which is technically a state in which the state of exception is not never been revoked.

The dual state is a state in which the normative state (Normenstaat) is accompanied by a discretionary state (Massnahmestaat , a state of measures) and the government of men and things is the work of their ambiguous collaboration.

A sentence by Fraenkel is significant in this perspective:

“For its salvation German capitalism needed not a unitary state but a double state, arbitrary in the political dimension and rational in the economic one”.

It is in the lineage of this dual state that we must locate a phenomenon whose importance could not be underestimated and which concerns the change in the very figure of the state that is taking place before our eyes. I mean what American political scientists call The Administrative State , which found its theorization in the recent book by Sunstein and Vermeule (C. Sunstein and A. Vermeule, Law and Leviathan, Redeeming the Administrative State ).

It is a model of state where governance, the exercise of government, goes beyond the traditional division of powers (legislative, executive, judicial) and agencies not provided for in the constitution exercise in the name of the administration and in a discretionary way the functions and powers that belonged to the three constitutionally competent subjects.

It is a sort of purely administrative Leviathan, which is supposed to act in the interest of the community, even infringing the dictates of the law and the constitution, in order to ensure and guide not the free choice of citizens, but what Sunstein calls navigability. – that is, in reality the governability – of their choices.

This is what is happening all too evidently today, when we see that decision-making power is exercised by commissions and subjects (doctors, etc.)

Through these factual procedures the constitution is altered in a much more substantial way than through the power of revision provided by the constituents, until it becomes, as a disciple of Marx said, a Papier Stück , just a piece of paper. And it is certainly significant that these transformations are modeled on the dual structure of Nazi governance and that it is perhaps the very concept of “government”, of a policy such as “cybernetics” or the art of government that needs to be questioned.

It has been said that the modern state thrives on assumptions it cannot guarantee. It is possible that the situation I have tried to describe to you is the form in which this absence of guarantees has reached its critical mass and that the modern state, giving up as is evident today to guarantee its presuppositions, has reached the end of its history. and it is this end that we are perhaps experiencing.

I believe that any discussion on what we can or should do today must start from the realization that the civilization in which we live has now collapsed – or, rather, given that it is a society based on finance – has gone bankrupt. That our culture was on the verge of general bankruptcy had been evident for decades and the clearest minds of the twentieth century had diagnosed it without reservation. I cannot fail to recall with what force and with how much dismay Pasolini and Elsa Morante, in those sixties that now seem so much better than the present, denounced the inhumanity and barbarism they saw growing around them.

Today we have the experience – certainly not pleasant, but perhaps truer than the previous ones – of being no longer on the threshold, but within this intellectual, ethical, religious, legal bankruptcy,

What to do in such a situation? On the individual level, of course, to continue as far as possible to do well what we tried to do well, even if there seems to be no reason to do it anymore, indeed precisely for this reason to continue. However, I don’t think this is enough. Hannah Arendt, in a reflection that we cannot help but feel close, because it was entitled On humanity in dark times , asked herself

“to what extent we remain obliged to the world and to the public sphere even when we have been expelled from it (it was what happened to the Jews in his time) or we had to withdraw from them (as those who had chosen what with a paradoxical expression in Nazi Germany was called “internal emigration”).

I think it is important today not to forget that if we find ourselves in a similar condition it is because we have been forced, and that therefore it is a choice that remains political in any case, even if it seems to be placed outside the world.

Arendt pointed to friendship as the possible foundation for a policy in dark times. I think the indication is correct, as long as we remember that friendship – that is, the fact of feeling an otherness in our own experience of existing – is a sort of minimum.political, a threshold that together unites and divides the individual from the community. That is, as long as we remember that we are dealing with nothing less than trying to establish a society or a community in society everywhere.

That is, in the face of the growing depoliticization of individuals, to rediscover in friendship the radical principle of a renewed politicization.

It seems to me that you students have started to do this by creating your own association. But you must extend it more and more, because the very possibility of living in a human way will depend on this.

In conclusion, I would like to address the students who are present here and who have invited me to speak today. I would like to remind you of something that should be the basis of every university study and which, on the other hand, is not mentioned in the university. Before living in a country and in a state, men have their vital home in a language and I believe that only if we are able to investigate and understand how this vital home has been manipulated and transformed will we be able to understand how the transformations could have taken place. political and legal issues that we have before our eyes.

The hypothesis that I intend to suggest to you is, that is, that the transformation of the relationship with the language is the condition of all the other transformations of society. And if we do not realize it, it is because the language by definition remains hidden in what it names and gives us to understand. As a psychoanalyst who was also a bit of a philosopher once said: “what is said remains forgotten in what is meant by what is said”.

We are used to looking at modernity as that historical process that begins with the industrial revolution in England and with the political revolution in France, but we do not ask ourselves what revolution in the relationship of men with language has made possible what Polanyi called the Great Transformation.

It is certainly significant that the revolutions from which modernity was born were accompanied if not preceded by a problematization of reason, that is, of what defines man as a speaking animal. Ratio comes from reor , which means “to count, to calculate, but also to speak in the sense of rationem reddere , to give an account”. The dream of reason, having become a goddess, coincides with a “rationalization” of the language and of the experience of language that allows us to fully account for and govern nature and, at the same time, the life of human beings.

And what is what we now call science, if not a practice of language that tends to eliminate any ethical, poetic and philosophical experience of the word in the speaker in order to transform language into a neutral tool for exchanging information? If science can never respond to our need for happiness, it is because it ultimately presupposes not a speaking being, but a biological body as such mute.

And how must the speaker’s relationship with his language be transformed, so that, as is happening today, the very possibility of distinguishing truth from falsehood may fail? If today doctors, jurists, scientists accept a discourse that renounces asking questions about the truth,hang ) – but only calculate.

In that masterpiece of twentieth-century ethics that is Hannah Arendt’s book on Eichmann, Arendt observes that Eichmann was a perfectly reasoning man, but that he was unable to think, that is, to interrupt the flow of discourse that dominated his mind and that he was not he could question, but only execute as an order.

The first task facing us is therefore that of rediscovering a springing and almost dialectal relationship, that is, poetic and thinking with our language. Only in this way will we be able to get out of the impasse that humanity seems to have taken and that will most likely lead to extinction – if not physical, at least ethical and political. Rediscovering thought as a dialect impossible to formalize and format.

Source: Giorgio Agamben – Quodlibet

  • Translated

Giorgio Agamben: Speech in the Senate on 7 October 2021

I will focus only on two points, which I would like to bring to the attention of the parliamentarians who will have to vote on the conversion of the decree into law.

The first is the evident – I stress evident – contradiction of the decree in question.

You know that the government with a special decree-law, known as the “penal shield”, no. 44 of 2021, now converted into law, has exempted itself from any responsibility for the damage caused by vaccines.

How serious these damages can be. results from the fact that article 3 of the decree explicitly mentions articles 589 and 590 of the criminal code, which refer to manslaughter and negligent injuries.

As authoritative jurists have noted, the State does not feel that it is taking responsibility for a vaccine that has not completed the testing phase and yet, at the same time, tries to force citizens to vaccinate by all means, otherwise excluding them from social life and , now, with the new decree that you are called to vote on, even depriving them of the opportunity to work.

Is it possible to imagine a situation that is legally and morally more abnormal?

How can the State accuse of irresponsibility those who choose not to get vaccinated, when it is the same State that formally declines all responsibility for the possible serious consequences – remember the mention of articles 589 and 590 of the criminal code of the vaccine?

I would like the parliamentarians to reflect on this contradiction which, in my opinion, constitutes a real legal monstrosity.

The second point to which I would like to draw your attention does not concern the medical problem of the vaccine, but the political one of the Greenpass, which must not be confused with that (we have made vaccines of all kinds in the past, without being obliged to show a certificate for each our movement).

It has been said by scientists and doctors that the Green Pass has no medical significance in itself, but serves to force people to get vaccinated.

On the other hand, I believe that the opposite can and must also be affirmed, namely that the vaccine is actually a means of forcing people to have a Green Pass, that is, a device that allows them to control and track their movements to an unprecedented extent.

Political scientists have long known that our societies have moved from the model that used to be called “disciplinary society” to that of “control companies”, based on a virtually unlimited digital control of individual behavior, which thus becomes quantifiable in an algorithm.

We are now getting used to these control devices – but how far are we willing to accept that this control goes? Is it possible that the citizens of a supposedly democratic society find themselves in a worse situation than that of the citizens of Stalin’s Soviet Union? You know that Soviet citizens were required to show a “propiska” to travel from one country to another, but we also have to do it to go to the cinema or restaurant – and now, much more seriously, to go to the workplace.

Everything suggests that the decree-laws that follow one another as if they were emanating from a single person, must be framed in a process of transformation the institutions and government paradigms that is all are the more insidious since, as had happened for fascism , takes place without altering the text of the Constitution.

The model that is thus progressively eroded and canceled is that of [the] parliamentary democracies, with their rights and their constitutional guarantees, replaced [with] a paradigm [which] government takes over, in the name of biosecurity and control, [in which] individual freedoms are destined to suffer increasing limitations.

The exclusive concentration of attention on “infections” and health [measures] prevents us from perceiving the Great Transformation that is taking place in the political sphere and from realizing that, as the governments themselves never tire of reminding people, security and emergency are not transitory [phenomena], but they constitute the new forms of governmentality.

In this perspective, it is more urgent than ever for parliamentarians to consider with extreme attention [to] the transformation [which is] underway; [which] in the long run is destined to empty [the] Parliament from its powers, reducing it, as it is now happening, [just] to approve in the name of biosecurity, decrees that emanate from organizations and people who have very little to do with Parliament.

Source: Giorgio Agamben – QUODLIBET

A community within a society

Italy, as the political laboratory of the West, in which the strategies of the dominant powers are elaborated in advance in their extreme form, is today a country humanly and politically in disrepair, in which an unscrupulous and determined tyranny has allied itself with a mass in the grip of a pseudo-religious terror, ready to sacrifice not only what were once called constitutional freedoms, but even all warmth in human relations.

In fact,

… believing that the Green Pass means a return to normalcy is really naive.

Just as a third vaccine is already being imposed, new ones will be imposed and new emergency situations and new Red Zones will be declared as long as the government and the powers that it expresses consider it useful.

And those who they will pay the price first in primis and foremost, those will be the very ones, those who unwisely obeyed.

In these conditions, without putting down every possible instrument of immediate resistance, dissidents need to think about creating something like a society within the society, a community of friends and neighbors within the society of enmity and distance.

The forms of this new clandestinity, which will have to make itself as autonomous as possible from the institutions, will be meditated and tested from time to time, but only they will be able to guarantee human survival in a world that has devoted itself to a more or less conscious self-destruction.

September 17, 2021
Giorgio Agamben

  • Translated

Source: Giorgio Agamben – Quodlibet

Two names

Two names to keep in mind: Alessandro La Fortezza, Andrea Camperio Ciani.

They are two teachers who are ready to resign from teaching because they reject the Green Pass as an instrument of social discrimination.

Here are some words they wrote, the first in an open letter to his students, the second in the resignation letter to the rector of the university where he teaches.

“Dear guys, in June we said greet each other with a” goodbye “, but today I have to tell you that maybe we won’t see each other in September … I will get the vaccine when and if I am convinced that it is the right thing to do, certainly not to go to school. restaurant, concert or wherever. Not even to keep the job. Let us remember that ‘man will not live on bread alone’ (Mt 4.4) … even if one day I should decide to vaccinate myself, or if I feel the need to undergo a diagnostic swab, I would not download the Green Passport anyway, so that my individual choices, whatever they may be, do not become grounds for discrimination for those who have made different choices “.

« Colleague Rector, (I do not use superlatives for what follows), I, the undersigned Andrea Camperio Ciani, full professor of this free University of Padua, having learned from the Rector’s decree that the Green Pass card is compulsory to carry out lessons, I formally declare, to you, and for information to the Minister of the University Maria Cristina Messa and the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, who will have the honor and dignity of placing my Green Pass in front of you ».

Two examples, which if followed by other teachers, would remove any value from the infamous decree of a government that discriminates as second-class citizens who refuses the Green Pass, at the same time as, with a specific decree (n. , now converted into law) has exonerated from any liability in the event of death or injury caused by vaccines.

It is time, both for teachers and students, to rediscover, after two years of state of exception and the cancellation of all the most elementary freedoms, the political consciousness that seems to have disappeared from schools and universities.

August 28, 2021
Giorgio Agamben

Source: Giorgio Agamben – QUODLIBET

  • Translated

Humans and Lemmings

Lemmings are small rodents, about 15 centimeters long, that live in the tundras of northern Europe and Asia.

This species has the particularity of suddenly undertaking collective migrations for no apparent reason that end with a mass suicide in the waters of the sea.

The enigma that this behavior posed to zoologists is so singular that they, after trying to provide explanations that proved insufficient, preferred to remove it. But one of the most lucid minds of the twentieth century, Primo Levi questioned the phenomenon and provided a convincing interpretation of it.

We take it for granted that all living beings wish to continue living: in the lemmings for some reason this will has failed and the instinct that drove them to live has turned into a death instinct.

I believe that something similar is happening today to another species of living beings, what we call Homo sapiens.

Collective suicide occurs here – as befits a species that has replaced instinct with language and an endosomatic impulse with a series of devices external to the body – in an artificial and complicated way, but the result could be the same.

Human beings cannot live if they do not give themselves reasons and justifications for their lives, which in every age have taken the form of religions, myths, political beliefs, philosophies and ideals of all kinds.

These justifications seem to have fallen today – at least in the richest and most technologized part of humanity – and the humans find themselves perhaps for the first time, reduced to their pure biological survival, which, it seems, prove unable to accept.

This alone can explain, why, instead of assuming the simple, lovable fact of living side by side, we felt the need to instill an implacable sanitary terror, in which life without any more ideal justifications, is threatened and punished at every moment by disease and death. And this alone can explain that, although the industries that produce them, have stated that it is not possible to predict the effects of vaccines in the long term, because it has not been possible to comply with the foreseen procedures and the tests on genotoxicity and carcinogenicity will only end in October 2022; during which millions of people were subjected to an unprecedented mass vaccination.

It is perfectly possible – even if it is by no means certain – that in a few years the behavior of humans will be similar to that of lemmings and the humans will be on the verge of extinction.

July 28, 2021

Source: Giorgio Agamben – QUODLIBET

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Green Pass

In a previous text we showed the unjust discrimination of a class of citizens excluded from normal social life that follows the introduction of the so-called Green Pass.

This discrimination is a necessary and calculated consequence, but not the main purpose of the introduction of the Green Pass, which is aimed not at excluded citizens, but at the whole population who have it.

The purpose that governments pursue through it is, in fact, a meticulous and unconditional control over any movement of citizens, completely analogous to the internal passport that in the Soviet regime everyone had to have in order to move from one city to another.

In this case, however, the control is even more absolute, because it concerns any movement of the citizen, who will have to show the Green Pass at every movement, even to go to the cinema, attend a concert or sit in a restaurant.

The non-registered citizen will, paradoxically, be freer than the one who owns one and the mass of registered citizens should be protesting and rebelling, who from now on will be registered, monitored and controlled to an unprecedented extent even in the regimes more totalitarian.

It is significant that China has announced that it will maintain its tracking and control systems even after the end of the pandemic. As it should be evident, in the Green Pass health is not in question, but population control, and sooner or later, the members of the society will have the opportunity to understand it at their expense.

Source: Giorgio Agamben – Quodlibet

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Second-class citizens

As happens every time a despotic emergency regime is established and constitutional guarantees are suspended, the result is, as happened for the Jews under fascism, the discrimination of a category of men, who automatically become second-class citizens.

This is the aim of the creation of the so-called Green Pass.

That it is a discrimination based on personal beliefs and not an objective scientific certainty and is proved by the fact that in the scientific field the debate is still ongoing on the safety and efficacy of vaccines, which, according to the opinion of doctors and scientists who there is no reason to ignore, they were produced quickly and without adequate testing.

Despite this,

those who stick to their free and well-founded conviction and refuse to get vaccinated will be excluded from social life.

That the vaccine is thus transformed into a sort of political-religious symbol aimed at creating discrimination among citizens is evident in the irresponsible declaration of a politician, who, referring to those who do not get vaccinated, said, without realizing that he was using a fascist jargon: “we will purge them with the Green Pass”.

The “Green Pass” constitutes for those who do not have it in bearers, a virtual Yellow Star.

This is a fact whose political gravity cannot be overstated. What does a country become in which a discriminated class is created?

How can one accept living with second-class citizens?

The need to discriminate is as old as society and certainly forms of discrimination were also present in our so-called democratic societies; but these factual discriminations are sanctioned by law and is a barbarism that we cannot accept.

July 16, 2021
Giorgio Agamben

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Source: Giorgio Agamben – QUODLIBET

Original: Cittadini di seconda classe

A Political Theory of COVID-19 or Hobbes’s Coviathan

Political theorists have been mostly silent about COVID-19, as far as I have seen.

There was Georgio Agamben, who, early on in 2020, suggested that what was going on bore out his view that the exception was now the norm.

For thirty years or more Agamben has gone on, to great applause from admirers and publishers – he is one of those writers for whom every lecture in Italian becomes a handsomely bound book in English – in a paranoiac metaphorical erudite leftist manner. But now events have borne him out. And since he was willing to say that something bad was going on, we have to give him credit, not only for that – saying so – but also for having worked on a theory which, no matter how irrelevant it seemed in the old days (except, perhaps, to Guantanamo), now has something to say to everyone.

Apart from him there is no one I know of. They continue in conference and on Twitter while the world burns. So I asked myself which of the great political philosophers would have approved of the government-corporation-media response to this novel coronavirus (and the apparently necessary consequence that all discussion, debate or disagreement be suppressed, avoided, deplatformed)? And the answer was bare, to say the least. Plato might come to mind, because he advocated rule by the wise, and because he mentioned “the noble lie”: but the lies told this time around have been ignoble; and, anyhow, it is far from obvious that our philosopher-kings (Whitty, Vallance, Cummings, Hancock, etc.) know what the good is. In addition, Plato was not in favour of extending life by the use of medicine. He might not even have granted citizenship to modellers and behavioural scientists.

Other political theorists could not have approved of the rigmarole of distancing, masks, lockdown and vaccination. Not Aristotle, who was moderate in almost every respect, including in seeing both sides of every question. The polis for him had good reason to be aristocratic, but was also, emphatically, a place in which citizens were equals, so that they ruled and were ruled in turn. Not Augustine, who said that Rome had originated in injustice, and that one should opt out of it and think of oneself as a member of a societas perfecta, a city not of this world, the civitas Dei. Not Aquinas. Not even Machiavelli, despite all the force and fraud, because he was, in the end, a good republican, a believer in vivere civile e politico, civil and political life. Not Locke, of course, the father of liberalism. Not Rousseau, not Kant, not Hegel – not without distortion. Not Burke. Not Paine. Not Bentham. Not J.S. Mill. Not John Rawls. No. They all valued something which would have disqualified them, whether it was truth, tradition, reason, utility, liberty, or justice. Not Marx, of course, since he was concerned with emancipation, and was against alienation. Most modern thinkers, from Heidegger, through Adorno, Schmitt and Foucault to Habermas, have been opposed to technical or instrumental rationality. So it is actually quite hard to think of a theorist of this brave new world.

The only obvious candidate is Hobbes, if interpreted in a particular way.

Nowadays, Hobbes is much admired, and has been since the mid-twentieth century. After a few centuries of dismissal or forgetting, Hobbes returned to the top 10 in the era of Collingwood, Strauss and Oakeshott, and has since been much studied since by some of the most intelligent historians in England, including Quentin Skinner and Noel Malcolm, as well as by many Americans.

Hobbes was born in 1588: in fear, he joked – since the Armada was coming. And the most important word in his political thought is fear.

Oakeshott said it was pride; but Oakeshott’s interpretation was capricious: his Hobbes was a sort of Montaigne-cum-Nietzsche, an aristocrat of the soul. In fact his Hobbes was a sort of Oakeshott, and Oakeshott, famously, thought we should pay as little attention to politics as possible. (Paying as little attention to politics as possible has become difficult, to say the least, since March 2020.)

Everyone else has agreed that Hobbes’s theory was about fear, came out of fear and was intended to deal with fear, just as his own behaviour was, his enemies suggested, fairly fearful. He told one of his friends that he wrote Leviathan, written in France where he was sharing exile with Charles II, because he had a mind to go home.

Hobbes’s theory is a theory of the absolute necessity of being ruled.

There is the state, on the one hand, and the state of nature on the other. The state of nature is a supposed original state of all humans. He memorably called it the place where man is a wolf to man, and – in one of the most often quoted lines in our literature – where life is “nasty, brutish and short”. But this state of nature was not just an original state: it was also the state to which we might return at any point. It was, in short, the world of exit: the world of chaos, anarchy, distemper, civil war: a picture of what the world would be without the state.

His political theory has generally been celebrated by recent commentators because it emphasises the need for politics in the most extreme or fundamental manner. He does not say that the state is the living embodiment of justice on earth, or the manifestation of the natural law, or the safeguard of our liberties and rights, or anything like that. It is simply an artifice whereby scared men and women agree to surrender their powers to a sovereign. How is this done? The most important novelty of Hobbes’s detailed argument is that it is done by representation.

In the state, the civil state, we do not have power. We have surrendered it. We are not ruling and ruled in turn. Instead we have security. And our security is entrusted to an entity which stands for us, and guarantees our security. Forget about liberty – a slight matter. In the endless problem of how to balance liberty and security Hobbes is, alas, on the side of security. Hence his invention, the security state. And – given the historical shifts which have followed since the eighteenth century, in terms of the increased power of this state, not only in terms of taxation, but also regulation, education and eventually inoculation – this security state has been behind the emergence of the thing which Foucault and others since the 1970s have called biopolitics and the biosecurity state.

Hobbes was not very interested in politics as such: the usual cut and thrust of argument, the theatre of conniving, the business of “who loses and who wins, who’s in, who’s out” (as Lear put it in King Lear, Act V, Scene 3). He had no interest in party politics, which was barely glimpsed at the time: and he would have considered most of the Whig-Tory, Conservative-Liberal-Labour fuss of the last three hundred years a charade of fraudulent and dangerous flirting with civil war: or, at most, a bit of theatre designed to conceal from the Hobbesian public the real nature of the state he had most carefully exposed in Leviathan.

Hobbes’s state was for security.

He was against anything which was a threat to the body politic. An important metaphor, the body politic. The state was a body, threatened by various mortal enemies.

Hobbes warned of the danger of intestine worms to the body politic, and anything cancerous. He would have been opposed to political viruses, had he known about them: it is almost certain that he would have used the word ‘virus’ as a metaphor for something dark and dangerous had he known of it. His state, we may now say in 2021, was antiviral. It was for integrity, unity, order and safety. It sought a political vaccine. It was distanced from empire, church and other states. And it was masked.

Consider the astonishing lines in chapter 16 of Leviathan in which Hobbes explains how the sovereign is a person, something which represents or personates us. The word ‘person’ of course does not refer to an actual human being. It means the legal thing, or the theatrical thing: the thing which stands for an absent thing, a thing like an attorney or an actor. Hobbes says that the word ‘person’ derives from the disguise or outward appearance of a man, counterfeited on the Stage; and sometimes more particularly that part of it, which disguiseth the face, as a Mask or Visard.

The modern state, the Hobbesian antiviral state, is a state which has managed what we might until now have supposed impossible – certainly in the West where there is the long tradition of basing our politics on liberty or law or justice or proportion or discussion. For it has succeeded in imposing its own hidden image on the face of its citizens.

Man, according to the Bible, was made in God’s image. But the state has defeated this. Man is now made in the image of the state. The state is a person, a counterfeit of us, masked, visarded so it looks like us. It is not a real person, but a fiction, a crown without a head, a king without scalp or oil or ritual or corpse, a rickety framework of straw and scaffolding which we have to believe in somehow.

And now, in a final stroke, thanks to the scare caused by the over-reactions of a rising biosecurity apparatus and its now almost entirely socially mediated civil society, the state has disguised the faces of its citizens – who now, in praise of the state, turn, take the knee, and publish photographs of themselves masked and visarded to indicate how they have complied with the order to inoculate themselves with an experimental nanotechnology.

These citizens are no longer free. They have turned themselves into miniature reflections of the state behind its mask. The state stares at them, cold and pitiless, behind a mask. The mask of the state looks like them, looks human (like a vast Leviathan frontispiece), looks caring, and assures them, in fraudulent words and with forceful injunction, that they are safe. And now the citizens stare back at the state wearing masks of their own: but these masks are cold and pitiless in appearance, since they imitate the pitilessness of the actual state, the state behind its mask, that reality of straw and scaffolding. They signify nothing except submission to the state.

The citizens are in every other sense dehumanised.

They are alienated from everyone else. But beneath the mask they enjoy a warm (and moist) sense of having been saved by the state.

I have exaggerated here, and have no doubt that Hobbes could be exonerated. Like many, I find him sympathetic. He had a twinkle in his eye, and probably would have looked good on the BBC, a seventeenth-century David Attenborough or Brian Cox. But, like many modern scientific modellers, he thought he had squared the circle. He thought order could be deduced. He thought that the safeguards of experience or religion or law or moderation could go to the devil. He is not responsible for pharmaceutical corporations, for monopoly capitalism, for biopolitics, for modern state propaganda, for social media, or for our own corruption, collusion and compliance. But he is responsible for a vision of a state in which we will mask ourselves in order to be safe.

Source: James Alexander – LOCKDOWN SCEPTICS

Header: Jan Stussy, “A free man is he that in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do, is not hindered to do what he has a will to.” – Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man., 1965, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Container Corporation of America, 1984.

The Face and The Death

It seems that in the new planetary order that is taking shape, two things, apparently unrelated to each other, are destined to be completely removed: the face and the death.

We will try to investigate whether they are not somehow connected and what is the meaning of their removal.

That, the vision of one’s own face and the face of others, is a decisive experience for man, was already known to the ancients:

“What is called” face “- writes Cicero – cannot exist in any animal except in man” and the Greeks defined the slave, who is not master of himself, aproposon, literally “faceless”.

Of course all living beings show themselves and communicate to each other, but only man makes the face the place of his recognition and his truth, man is the animal that recognizes his face in the mirror and mirrors himself and recognizes in the face of the other. The face is, in this sense, both the similitas, the similarity and the simultas, the being of men together.

A faceless man is necessarily alone.

This is why the face is the place of politics. If men had to communicate always and only information, always this or that thing, there would never be properly politics, but only an exchange of messages. But since men, first of all have to communicate their openness to each other, their recognizing one another in a face, the face is the very condition of politics, what is based on everything that men say and exchange.

The face is in this sense the true city of men, the political element par excellence.

It is by looking in the face that men recognize and are passionate about each other, perceive similarity and diversity, distance and proximity.

If there is no animal politics, this is because animals, which are already always in the open, do not make their exposure a problem, they simply dwell in it without caring about it. This is why they are not interested in mirrors, in the image as an image.

The man, on the other hand, wants to recognize himself and be recognized, he wants to appropriate his own image, he seeks his own truth in it.

In this way he transforms the animal environment into a world, in the field of an incessant political dialectic.

A country that decides to give up its own face, to cover the faces of its citizens with masks everywhere, is, then, a country that has erased all political dimensions from itself.

In this empty space, subjected at every moment to limitless control, individuals are now moving isolated from each other, who have lost the immediate and sensitive foundation of their community and can only exchange messages directed at a faceless name.

And since man is a political animal, the disappearance of politics also means the removal of life: a child who is born and no longer sees his mother’s face, risks to being unable to conceive human feelings.

No less important than the relationship with the face is for men the relationship with the dead.

The man, the animal that recognizes himself, in its own face, it is also the only animal that celebrates the cult of the dead.

It is not surprising, then, that even the dead have a face and that the erasing of the face goes hand in hand with the removal of death.

In Rome, the dead participates in the world of the living through the image of themself, the image molded and painted on the wax that each family kept in the atrium of their home.

The free man is, that is – defined both by his participation in the political life of the city and by his ius imaginum – the inalienable right to guard the face of his ancestors and to exhibit it publicly in the festivals of the community.

“After the burial and the funeral rites – writes Polybius – the imago of the dead was placed in a wooden reliquary in the most visible point of the house and this image is a wax face made in exact resemblance both in shape and color”.

These images were not only the subject of a private memory, but were the tangible sign of the alliance and solidarity between the living and the dead, between past and present which was an integral part of the life of the city.

This is why they played such an important part in public life, so much so that it has been possible to affirm that the right to images of the dead is the laboratory in which the right of the living is founded.

This is so true that whoever committed a serious public crime, lost the right to an image.

And that legend that say, when Romulus founded Rome, he had a pit dug – called mundus, “world” – in which he himself and each of his companions throw a handful of the earth from which they come. This pit was opened three times a year and it was said that in those days the hands, the dead entered the city and took part in the existence of the living.

The world is but the threshold through which the living and the dead, the past and the present communicate.

We understand then why a world without faces can only be a world without deaths.

If the living lose their faces, the deaths become only numbers, which, in so far as they had been reduced to their pure biological life, must die alone and without funerals.

And if the face is the place, where, before any discourse, we communicate with our fellow men, then even the living, deprived of their relationship with their face, are irreparably let alone, however much they try to communicate with digital devices.

The planetary project that governments try to impose is, therefore, radically unpolitical.

On the contrary, it proposes to eliminate every genuinely political element from human existence, to replace it with a governmentality based only on an algorithmic control.

Facial cancellation, removal of the dead and social distancing are the essential devices of this governmentality, which, according to the agreed declarations of the powerful, must be maintained even when the sanitary terror is eased. But a society without a face, without a past and without physical contact is a society of ghosts, as such doomed to a more or less rapid ruin.

Source: Giorgio Agamben – Quodlibet

(Text published in the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, 30 April 2021)

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The bare life and the vaccine – La nuda vita e il vaccino – The concept. Giorgio Agamben

Several times in my previous interventions I have evoked the figure of bare life. In fact, it seems to me that the epidemic shows beyond any possible doubt that humanity no longer believes in anything except in the bare existence to be preserved as such at any price.

The Christian religion with its works of love and mercy and with its faith to the point of martyrdom, political ideology with its unconditional solidarity, even trust in work and money seem to take second place as soon as bare life it is threatened, albeit in the form of a risk whose statistical entity is fleeting and deliberately indeterminate.

The time has come to clarify the meaning and origin of this concept.

For this it is necessary to remember that the human is not something that can be defined once and for all.

It is rather the place of an incessantly updated historical decision, which each time fixes the boundary that separates man from animal, what is human in man from what is not human in him and outside him.

When Linnaeus searches for a characteristic note for his classifications that separates man from primates, he must confess that he does not know it and ends up putting next to the generic name homo only the old philosophical adage: nosce te ipsum, know yourself. This is the meaning of the term sapiens that Linnaeus will add in the tenth edition of his system of nature: man is the animal that must recognize itself as human to be human and must therefore divide – decide – the human from what is not.

The device through which this decision takes place historically can be called an anthropological machine.

The machine works by excluding animal life from man and producing the human through this exclusion.

But for the machine to work, exclusion must also be an inclusion, that between the two poles – the animal and the human – there is an articulation and a threshold that divides and joins them together.

This articulation is bare life, that is, a life that is neither properly animal nor truly human, but in which the decision between the human and the non-human takes place every time.

This threshold, which necessarily passes inside man, separating biological from social life in him, is an abstraction and a virtuality, but an abstraction that becomes real by embodying itself each time in concrete and politically determined historical figures: slave, the barbarian, the homo sacer, whom anyone can kill without committing a crime, in the ancient world; the enfant-sauvage, the wolf-man and homo alalus as the missing link between the monkey and man between the Enlightenment and the century XIX; the citizen in the state of exception, the Jew in the Lager, the overcomatous in the resuscitation room and the body preserved for the removal of organs in the century XX.

What is the figure of [a] bare life that is in question today in the management of the pandemic?

It is not so much the [figure of a…] patient who is isolated and treated as a patient [who] has never been treated [in this way] in the [whole] history of medicine; rather, it is the infected or – as it is defined with a contradictory formula – the asymptomatic patient, [that is…] something that every man is virtually, even without knowing it.

In question is not so much [about] health, but rather [about] a life that is neither healthy nor sick, which, as such, as potentially pathogenic, can be deprived of its freedoms and subjected to prohibitions and controls of all kinds.

All men are, in this sense, virtually asymptomatic sufferers.

The only identity of this life fluctuating between illness and health is that of [a] being [,] the recipient of the tampon and the vaccine, which, like the baptism of a new religion, define the inverted figure of what was once called citizenship.

[The] Baptism is no longer indelible, but necessarily provisional and renewable, because the new citizen, who must always show the certificate, no longer has inalienable and undecidable rights, but only obligations that must be incessantly decided and updated.

Source: Giorgio Agamben – QUODLIBET

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