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Agamben: The State of Exception

Posted on September 12, 2009 in Reading Project

The State of Exception is where Agamben says that we shouldn’t let casualty figures get in the way of acknowledging the fact that from a legal perspective there is no difference between Guantanamo Bay and a concentration camp. I read the first chapter, which is a brief history of how constitutional governments have attempted to codify the transgression of the law by authorities in times of crisis. This is good because it means he gets away from badmouthing Foucault for not addressing “exceptional circumstances” which Foucault recognized as totally normal.

This is an important shift, because really the exception is only really interesting inasmuch as it is, in fact, indistinguishable from the norm. Pathology is really nothing more than common sense examined closely, as any history of political contortions to justify powers will show. Our national state of emergency extends for another year because it is our reality now. God bless America, folks; god bless America.

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