This week’s blog asks a question ” is it possible for those who are subject to a state of exception and therefore cast outside of the sphere of normal legality to resist sovereign power?” In short, I think, it is and it is not possible for those who are subjects to a state of exception to cast outside of the sphere of normal legality to resist sovereign power for many reasons. However, in the interest of time, I will take one stance and argue why it is not possible to flee sovereignty in a state of exception. To begin with, the state of exception is not the norm and therefore what happens in a state of exception can be very different from what would otherwise be. It should not be forgotten that, “according to opinions which are very common, the state of exception [ makes] a point of imbalance between public law and politics which, like civil war, insurrection and resistance, is located in an ambiguous zone at the border between the juridical and the political” [European Graduate School, 2003].In a state of exception “ one who has been accused of committing a crime, within the legal system, loses the ability to use his voice and represent themselves. The individual can not only be deprived of their citizenship, but also of any form of agency over their own life” [ Wikipedia, 2013]. I can seldom see this happening in a normal state. In a state of exception, decisions strictly stay in the hands of the sovereign. Furthermore, in Schmitt’s words ” sovereign is he who decides on the exception” and the sovereign state decides the laws. The only exception from the law is the sovereign state itself. Since that is the case, it is ” is thereby ensured of remaining anchored in the legal order” [ European Graduate School, 2003]. The sovereign state is much too powerful for one person to exist outside of it successfully. As stated by Pavlich that Agamben describes political environments that have sovereigns creating bandits that is neither ‘ animal’ or ‘man’ included nor excluded – they live within the law but as outlaws and treated accordingly, They have not fled sovereignty. They have simply attempted to resist sovereign power and failed. As Pavlich says, it can be possible that “law [can] now operate as a force, but without the key elements that one usually associates with the rule of law. It [can] be stripped of its normative (justice-based) content and simply exercise force, becoming a force of law without content”[ 2011, p. 159]. In this kind of state, Pavlich explains that subjects according to law are outlaws and fall prey to a kind of law that emphasizes guilt and enforces itself without justice and any ethics. Pavlich goes on to say that It allows the sovereign to preserve his natural right to do anything to anyone[ 2011, p. 159]. Since sovereign powers are so centered during a state of exception it would be rather difficult to live outside of it. People attempting to live outside sovereignty in a state of exception is a thought that should be reconsidered since during this time, “the sovereign remains exterior to the normally valid legal order, and nevertheless belongs to it . . . ” [ European Graduate School, 2003].
In my concluding thoughts, it would be a difficult task to live outside of sovereignty in a state of exception since sovereignty can do what it likes and then defend its actions by saying it is in the best interest of the state and society for it to be that way.
Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Canada: Oxford University Press.
Giorgio Agamben. State of Exception. (2003).In The European Graduate School: Graduate and Postgraduate Studies. Retrieved from http://www.egs.edu/faculty/giorgio-agamben/articles/state-of-exception/
Giorgio Agamben.(2013). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Agamben