Working on the final version on my paper about political action in the era of the permanent state of exception. Finally I found a paper which portrays Agamaben as a contemporary anarchist thinker 🙂
Simone Bignall, On Property and the Philosophy of Poverty: Agamben and Anarchism, in: Daniel McLoughlin (ed.), Agamben and Radical Politics, Edinburgh University Press, 2016/2017, pp. 49-70.
„Agamben makes scant reference to thinkers in the anarchist tradition. However, … in his latest works, he delves increasingly into themes at the heart of anarchist philosophy: the renunciation of property and the practice of poverty as means of living outside of determination by law and state“ 49
„at the point in The Time That Remains where he first explicitly references anarchist theory, Agamben identifies in Max Stirner an ‘ethical-anarchic interpretation of the Pauline as not’“ 49
„anarchism is important to understanding Agemben’s account of the ‘coming politics’“ 49
„Agamben supports a theory of transformation that is critical of the Marxist theory of class-based revolution, and instead approximates and develops anarchist practices of dissolution. I then consider how anarchism provides the only possible solution to the ‘archist’ aporias that reside in the ontopollitical division Agamben identifies between being and practice; between the rule of sovereignty and the economy of government“ 50
„Agamben’s recent ideas bring him closer to the socialist anarchist tradition than to Marx’s governemental communism“ definitely not!
„what is at stake in his work is a rethinking of the paradigm of anarchy in the contemporary light of political ontology“ 51
„The messianic moment of redemption will not happen in a time to come, but always already abides with us here, in the time of the now, in the ability for things as they are to be deactivated and rendered ‘as not’“ 51 f.
„Messianic redemption therefore does not involve the institution of a new order, but rather involves an internal shifting of existing content in a movement which radically transforms the significance of the world as it is presently experienced. Indeed, it is … through a new use of this world that salvation will arrive, via a redeeming praxis with a deactivating consequence in its rendering inoperative of present operations.“ 52
quite close to William Goodwin „It also approximates the theory of insurrection described by the libertarian anarchist thinker Max Stirner (…) For Stirner, revolt or insurrection differs from revolution in that it is not ‘a fight against the established’, culminating in the institution of ‘a new arrangement’, but is ‘only a working forth of me our of the established. If I leave the established, it is dead and passes into decay’ Stirner 1950, 279-280.“ 52
„Marxian philosophy proritises social revolution over private revolt (…) This makes it suspectible to the problem of dogma“ 53
third interpretation, anarchic-nihilistic: „Unlike Stirner, who prioritises private revolt as an efficient cause of transformation – and unlike Marx, who prioritises the action of a revolutionary class in a public event or revolution – this interpretation ‘plays on the absolute indiscernibility between revolt and revolution.’“ 53 f.
„Revolutionary consciousness is something to use, and not to possess.“ 54
„power has an ontology and an economy, a being and a practice. Power is sovereign at the level of ontology; but divided in its managerial economy, or in practical administration. (…) these two aspects of power are never really independent and self-sufficient. They always rely upon each other for their efficacy, and must be combined in a ‘governmental machine’ that encompasses sovereignty as the rule of the law, and government as the practice that puts law into effect: in fact, ‘they are correlated and become fully intelligible only in their functional relation’ Kingdom and the Glory 51.“ 55
„The governmental machine is void at its heart: a power without foundation; an empty throne. This is why, according to Agamben, it relies upon popular approval encouraged by techniques of glorification. The free consent of the people, who acclaim (as self-evident) the power they affirm and uphold, works to found political legitimacy by concealing power’s anarchis basis or centre, making government appear natural and legitimate. (…) Governmental power does not simply oppose anarchy as an external condition of liberty, but rather relied upon anarchy for its being as such and on freedom as its internal condition of legitimacy. This, then, is the complex double operation of consent and exception – glory and violence – that defines the governmental form, and which ultimately produces homo sacer as the paradigmatic subject of sovereign state power.“ 55
concept of eternal life as solution to this dilemma. „’eternal’ here ‘does not have a merely temporal significance but designates a special quality of life’ which … is the quality of live lived ‘as not’. Kingdom and the Glory 247 (…) The eternal ‘life for which we live’ is characterised by its ‘ek-stasis’, its potentiality or its essential freedom. It is life contemplated outside the constraints of the existing properties that define any particulat factical form of life.“ 56
„inoperativity ‘as a properly human and political praxis’ Kingdom and the Glory xiii; and eternal life is ‘the name of this inoperative centre of the human […] that the machine of economy and glory ceaselessly attempts to capture within itself’ Kingdom and the Glory 251.“ 56
„how, in the time of now, will we use the constitutive groundlessness of our legal system – the essential anarchy of social forms?“ 57 either ‘satanically’, glory of power or ‘messianically’, „as a permanent praxis of inoperativity, towards the glorious beatitude of an eternally ‘improper’ life“ 57
„Is it possible to organise social life such that zoe and bios may coincide perfectly according to a human capacity for acting freely iin an ethical manner of ‘mutual aid’, or, if you like, in alignment with the divine providence of a world ordered by love, charity and grace?“ 57
„Agamben’s thinking here [when attempting ‘to think life as that which is never given as property but only as a common use’] is remarkably close to the ideas and arguments pur forward by Proudhon in his work on property and on the philosophy of poverty. This affiliation is important in view of the longstanding antipathy that marked the relationship between Proudhon and Marx, since it offers a way of understanding Agamben’s political thought as departing from the Marxist tradition in significant respects and not simply participating in it.“ 58
Proudhon was … deeply repulsed by the effects of the ‘bourgeois revolution’ of July 1830 and by the hypocrisy he saw in a society ostensibly founded on ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity, which nonetheless entrenched the economic slavery of the working poort by its concentration, in the ahnds of the ruling rich, of the institution of private property and by its associated profiteering from the alienating extraction of wage labour.“ 58
„there is no doubt that Marx initially regarded Proudhon as a collaborator“ 59
in 1846 he requested „that they might enter frutifully into correspondence“ 59
Proudhon denied and that was the end of their cooperation. In 1847 Marx published The Poverty of Philosophy, „which was a scathing and frequently misrepresentative critique of Proudhon’s 1846 work, the Philosophy of Poverty.“ 59
According to Proudhon „Communism expands the principle of private property to the public realm, and its result ist the total capture of life under the rule of the collective property form.“ 59
„According to Proudhon, anti-capitalist revolution necessarily involves the restoration of sociability by the abolition of property in all its forms, in favour of mobile practices of occupation or use“ 60
goal of Proudhon’s intervention is ‘to bring about the return to society, by an economic combination, of the wealth which was withdrawn from society by another economic combination’ Woodcock, Anarchism p. 101n61
„Transformatioon is propelled by the contradiction inherent to a formation and it proceeds as the perpetual decomposition and recomposition of forms: this is an ongoing collective activity justly guided by the social ideals of equality and harmony“ 61
„According to the natural law perspective we find in Spinoza, all things in nature are available for everyone to use as a matter of necessity, as they strive to preserve their being.“ 62
it is a matter of ‘living according to that form, that is of a life that, in its sequence, makes itself that very form, coincides with it’. Highest Poverty, p. 99
through „the renunciation of ownership … civil law is rendered inoperative“ 63
„the individual life lived messianically in the condition of being ‘as such’ is taken up in a community, which is then characterized by the non-appropriative use of things as a strategfy of living together.“ 63
„Agamben’s achievement, at the level of political thought, is to extend the anarchist critique of law and property to the germinal level of social ontology, characterised as ‘a field of forces run through by two intensities that are opposed and, at the same time, intertwined’ The Highest Poverty xi-xii.“ 63
The „anarchist ‘form-of-life’ is a social praxis in which zoe and bios – life and norm – are rendered indiscernible through conduct that negates powerful forms of proparty and propriety. (…) Truly anomic being, life lived in the ‘real’ state of exception’ experiences the ‘sweetness’ of anarchic liberty. However, Agamben’s anarchism is … a strategy of expropriation and impropriety that is at once individual and collective, and renders the governmentality of law ineffectual or inoperative.“ 64
„Agamben’s reinterpration of anarchist principles insulates them from attacks directed by Marx against Stirner and Produhon, restoring to anarchism its potential for use in the present, in the contemporary ‘time of the now’. (…) Agamben starts … with that basic anarchic potentiality which Benjamin refers to as the ‘real state of exception’.“ 64
„Our redemption in this case lies precisely in a ‘new use’ we may make of the constitutive groundlessness of our political systems, such that political action no longer works to conceal and constrain this indetermination, but instead acknowledges it as the source of a constructive common politics of permanent renewal and reform.“ 64 f.
Paul Thomas, Karl Marx and the Anarchists, Routledge 1980.
Pierre Macherey, Hegel or Spinoza, 2011.