Reference : The Literary Exception: Reflections on Agamben’s “Liberal Democratic” Political Theol...
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The Literary Exception: Reflections on Agamben’s “Liberal Democratic” Political Theology and the Religious Destabilisation of the Political in Our Time
Van Der Walt, Johan Willem Gous mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF) > Law Research Unit >]
New Perspectives: Interdisciplinary Journal of Central and East European Politics and International Relations
[en] Agamben ; State of Exception ; Literary Community
[en] The concern with stabilising the political and avoiding the excessive deployments of coercive
force by totalitarian political imaginations is usually associated with political liberalismand
liberal political theory. It is rarely associated with political theology and conceptions
of sovereignty that are based on political theology. The unique contribution of the Italian
philosopher Giorgio Agamben to contemporary political theory is the opportunity it offers
to contemplate the stabilisation of the political in terms of political theology and not in
terms of typical rule of law arguments that one would associate with political liberalism. The
aim of this article is to trace and question some of the essential thoughts on the basis of
which Agamben puts forward the idea of the called existence of the Christian community.
It does so in order to put forward, in response, an argument for a literary community that
has much in common with Agamben’s conception of the Christian ekklesia, but ultimately
also differs fromit in certain important respects. The argument for a literary community that
is developed ultimately has more in common with Nancy’s conception of an “inoperative
community”. The article also offers a close scrutiny of Agamben’s engagement with the
work of Carl Schmitt. This scrutiny of Agamben’s engagement with Schmitt is crucial for the
argument that the article forwards, considering the way in which Schmitt’s work is with
good reason historically linked to exactly the kind of political theology that destabilises
rather than stabilises the political.

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