Girard’s Criticism (1) In his work State of Exception, Giorgio Agamben argues that the political dynamics of what is being referred to as modern history, can be characterized by continuous attempts of figures of political authority to undermine the ideals of democracy, as such that define the forms of political governing in civilized countries. Agamben discusses numerous examples from recent history, when the proclaimed state of emergency, on the part of legitimate governments, which regard it as the tool of combating social and political instability, would actually become prolonged in time and begin to be associated with something that has value in itself. Author describes the political authority that functions outside of context of common law, as state of exemption, and suggests that, even though the notion of democracy is still being cherished, within the context of Western politics, it does not have much in common with how democratic governments actually function: Under the pressure of the paradigm of the state of exception, the entire politico-constitutional life of Western societies began gradually to assume a new form, which has perhaps only today reached its full development (Agamben, p. 13).
The last sentence from this quote refers to the Patriot Act, which entitles FBI with the right to arrest American citizens without receiving the consent from the Court of Law. Thus, Agamben argues that totalitarian fascism, as form of governing, has never ceased to exist after the end of WW2, as it is being suggested by conventional politicians and historians.
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What is the difference between Communist being thrown in concentration camp, because of his political views, during the time when Nazis were in power in Germany, and a modern holocaust denier, such is Ernst Zundel, who is being sentenced to five years in jail in todays democratic Germany, simply because of his insistence that Jews were not only the ones who suffered in WW2? We can say that nowadays, fascism exists in the form of anti-fascism, which does not make it less dangerous to peoples well-being. After having established that governments in democratic countries always strive to find an excuse to impose the state to exception upon citizens, Agamben suggests that stabilization of state of exception is associated with institutionalized violence intruding into all spheres of social life, while becoming less clearly defined. Therefore, he comes to conclusion that resorting to violence, on the part of ordinary citizens, as the way to address institutionalized oppression, is perfectly understandable and even beneficial to the society, as whole. The totalitarian political regimes strive to convince people that the fact that government maintains monopoly on violence is a natural state of affairs.
This is the reason why the rate of violent crimes, committed in totalitarian countries, is significantly lower then the one in democratic countries. However, it is exactly because citizens in free countries think of themselves as mini-sovereigns, which implies the subconscious conviction, on their part, that they do have the right to pursue their agenda with violent means, despite that it is being forbidden by the law, that corresponds to their ability to attain metaphysical happiness. People in totalitarian states, on the other hand, are deprived of such ability. Therefore, Agamben suggests that, in democratic countries, peoples violent behavior should not be discussed as something ultimately evil, but as the mean of maintaining democracy; whatever illogical such idea might sound.
(2) The main conceptual difference between Rene Girards and Giorgio Agambens attitude towards the violence is the fact that, whereas Agamben discuses it as having value in itself, Girard refers to violence as the tool, within a context of peoples existential mode. According to Girard, the nature of our desires, which it its turn, define us as individuals, is purely subjective. The reason we yearn for the things that are not related to satisfying our physical needs, is that we see other people wanting to acquire the same things. In its turn, this creates the state of existential tension in society, when people become incapable of rationalizing their behavior. Thus, society becomes destabilized, because citizens find themselves in position of waging war against each other. It is only when they see someone being killed, while pursuing the same agenda with the rest of societys members, which relieves people of their psychological anxiety. Therefore, Girard suggests that the true nature of all religious rituals is to provide society with sacrificial lambs, on continuos basis, in order for such society to maintain its inner integrity, as sacrificing such lambs reduce the rate of mimetic rivalry, within a society.
... a violent society. And when we read about violence, it only reinforces what we know.? People have become used to seeing violence on television ... is notable to see that some of these theories were stated as early as 1961. Most would have to disagree with ... become even more aggressive. They testified before congress in 1992 stating, ?Television violence affects youngsters of all ages, of both genders, at ...
Thus, from the perspective of Rene Girard, Agambens suggestion that violence itself possesses metaphysical value, does not make much of a sense, because its positive effects cannot be discussed outside of sacrificial context. In fact, Girard suggests that Christianity has brought about the situation, when sacrificial violence is going to grow less and less effective, as agent of stabilization, because, even though Jesus Christ has been sacrificed, Christian theology is based on the notion of his innocence. In other words Christianity deprives the act of sacrifice of its sacredness, which in its turn, has the potential of changing the mode of peoples social behavior. Therefore, according to Girard, we cannot entitle violence with properties of social virtue, as Agamben does, because there is a plenty of evidence that points out to the fact that public morality is the subject of metaphysical evolution, just as people are the subject of biological evolution. It appears that Christianity, as religion, signifies the process of human sapiens becoming more and more complex, in biological sense of this word. This process will eventually lead to a situation when sacrificial violence might no longer be required, as essential element of opposing social entropy, because, as time goes by, peoples behavior will less and less correspond to their animalistic instincts. This thesis contradicts Agambens theory of state of exception, which insists on the fact that it is impossible to find a key to understanding the essence social dynamics, unless we adopt a voluntaristic outlook on life.
... one meaning citizens long to be exposed to violence, they want to see people blown to pieces, sawn in half, and ridden ... account for their willingness to revise the doctrinal tenets of Christianity. It is needless to say, of course, that it is ... integrity of American society has been continuously undermined by the process of racial marginalization (celebration of diversity). In order for us ...
The objective nature of biological evolution, which is a process of living organisms becoming more complex, is a proven fact; therefore, it is absolutely logical, on our part, to presume that such evolution will eventually result in changing the ways people perceive surrounding reality. The emergence of Christianity is the proof that this process taking place, as we speak.
Agamben, Giorgio State of Exception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. Girard, Rene Violence and the Sacred. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979. Marr, Andrew Christianity and Sacred Violence.
2002. Andrew Marr Homestaed.Com. 8 Jun. 2008. http://andrewmarr.homestead.com/files/girard/sacri fice.htm Weber, Mark Ernst Zundel: Political Prisoner. 19 May 2003. Institute for Historical Review. 8 Jun.
2008. http://www.ihr.org/news/030519Zundel_Pol_Prisoner. shtml Abstract: This paper criticizes the opinions of Giorgio Agamben about the essence of violence as socio-political phenomenon from the position of Rene Girard, expressed in his book Violence and the Sacred. Outline: Part one Part two.