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Agamben and the Politics of Human RightsStatelessness, Images, Violence$
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John Lechte and Saul Newman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748645725

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645725.001.0001

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Politics, Power and Violence in Agamben

Politics, Power and Violence in Agamben

(p.119) Chapter 6 Politics, Power and Violence in Agamben
Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights

John Lechte

Saul Newman

Edinburgh University Press

The task of this chapter is to clarify what we see as Agamben's understanding of politics, a question which is otherwise very opaque in his work. It is argued here that seeing Agamben as a political thinker – which we do — relies on being able to make a coherent distinction between politics and power. Here this distinction is explored through, first, a critical engagement with Chantal Mouffe's category of the political, and then with Antonio Negri's distinction between constituting and constituted power, neither of which, we argue, adequately accounts for Agamben's understanding of politics. We then turn to Walter Benjamin's ‘Critique of Violence’, in which the project of transcending legal violence through the enigmatic notion of ‘divine violence’ takes us closer to Agamben's messianic and ‘anarchic’ way of thinking about politics beyond the clasps of law and sovereignty.

Keywords:   power and politics, constituting/constituted power, Mouffe, Negri, Benjamin, legal violence, divine violence, revolutionary politics, anarchism, inoperative politics

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