Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights: Statelessness, by John Lechte

By John Lechte

Can human rights shield the stateless? Or are they completely excluded from politics and condemned to "bare life"?Human rights are in predicament at the present time. all over the place one appears to be like, there's violence, deprivation, and oppression, which human rights norms appear powerless to avoid. This e-book investigates the roots of the present concern in the course of the considered Italian thinker, Giorgio Agamben. Human rights thought and perform needs to come to grips with key difficulties pointed out by way of Agamben - the violence of the sovereign kingdom of exception and the aid of humanity to 'bare' lifestyles. Any renewal of human rights this day needs to contain breaking decisively with the conventional coordinates of Western political concept and in its place verify a brand new knowing of lifestyles and political motion.

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Example text

Rather, to not be part of a political community is to be expelled from humanity itself - it is to cease to be fully human: Not the loss of specific rights, then, but the loss of a community willing and able to guarantee any rights whatsoever, has been the calamity which has befallen ever-increasing numbers of people. Man, it turns out, can lose aIl so-called Rights of Man without losing his essential quality as a man, his human dignity. Only the 10ss of a polity itself expels him from humanity.

Third - and this has been said before - to reduce the fully human to the form found in civil society runs the risk, as sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu have shown, of erasing the difference between formaI freedom and equality, and substantive freedom and equality. Fourth, if the human is only fully realised in a political community, as described by Arendt, and as political community as a fully-fledged public sphere has only been realised in the West and particularly in Europe, the implication is that, at best, a question mark hangs over the heads of those who are not part of this tradition.

As we have seen, one cannot be fully human outside of a political community. On this basis, the real de cline and disappearance of the nation -state would be a terrible tragedy. It is worth returning to the words that Arendt uses to reinforce her argument regarding the importance of political community for being human, because none of Arendt' s commentators have picked up on the full significance of the position expressed at the end of part two of The Origins of Totalitarianism. Whether or not Arendt, later in her oeuvre, continued to subscribe to what she writes here is less important than the fact that she puts into words a position that has become hugely influential, touching as it do es on the role of the public sphere in modernity and on the importance in European thinking of the opposi-tion between 1 freedom and necessity'.

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