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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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Living Human Rights

Living Human Rights

(p.163) Chapter 8 Living Human Rights
Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights

John Lechte

Saul Newman

Edinburgh University Press

Ultimately, it is judged that sovereign power is the enemy of human rights, which must have a transcendent element. Securitisation (concern for the existing situation) always puts a damper on transcendence. Is it possible – and if so, how? – to escape the dominance of sovereign power? By analysing sovereignty (including the respective approaches on this by Hegel and Bataille), violence and law (looking at Benjamin and Derrida) and violence and otherness in relation to the philosophy of Levinas, the chapter attempts to show how politics can indeed be the incarnation of freedom for all. The chapter concludes that existing approaches to politics and human rights are incapable of revealing how freedom can be truly universal because they are still locked into the idea that freedom and politics are essentially about the realisation of a project. What needs to be recognised is the sense in which the human is always already free and that there is no human that is not already part of the universal state of being.

Keywords:   Sovereignty, Bataille, Benjamin, Derrida, freedom, Hegel, law, Levinas, politics, violence

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