Autumn Number 2019


Spectre of the State of Exception

Arup Kumar Sen

The eminent political philosopher of present time, Giorgio Agamben, characterised the State of Exception as a paradigm of governance (Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, The University of Chicago Press, 2005). He argued: "One of the elements that make the state of exception so difficult to define is certainly its close relationship to civil war, insurrection, and resistance". According to Agamben: "...modern totalitarianism can be defined as the establishment, by means of the state of exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the physical elimination not only of political adversaries but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into the political system" (p.2).

Agamben's theorisation of the State of Exception was organically connected with his reading of the "Nazi State" in Germany. To put it in the words of Agamben: "No sooner did Hitler take power... than, on February 28 (1933), he proclaimed the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State, which suspended the articles of the Weimar Constitution concerning personal liberties. The decree was never repealed, so that from a juridical standpoint the entire Third Reich can be considered a state of exception that lasted twelve years (ibid.).

Gross human rights violations being witnessed in the Kashmir Valley in recent times, particularly after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bring back to ground reality that the spectre of the State of Exception. ooo

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Autumn Number 2019
Vol. 52, No. 13 - 16, Sep 29 - October 26, 2019