Mike's Reviews > State of Exception

State of Exception by Giorgio Agamben
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's review
Oct 16, 2011

really liked it

Agamben, one of our age's most stunningly original philosophers of law, examines the expansion of executive powers under President George W. Bush following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the USA. Agamben provides a nuanced musing over the ethical reasoning behind such a move in this short book, and argues that with the exceptions of coups, dictators, and other instances of government where there is a complete and unjust imbalance of power, states may have valid ethical and legal reasons to truncate legal freedoms in order to ensure greater safety for their people. However, he is also quick to note that such a concept is expectedly inviting for misuse and abuses of power. Agaben considers the thin margins between security and insecurity, freedom and totalitarianism, nation at peace and nation at war. He understands that in history, in very few cases has any form of government gone to war without making some changes in its expectations of its citizens at home, but also that no democratic government spurns the freedom of the republic for the integrity of total safety. War has changed, as has its mechanisms, and as so shall its laws: we need scholars like Agamben to consider these changes. My only real complaint with this book was that it wasn't longer and able to consider more examples and pretexts than it did.

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