Still Agamben

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Debate on Agamben's position in the face of the pandemic and Neoliberalism

Initial considerations

After Agamben being Agamben: the philosopher and the invention of the pandemic, published by Boitempo's blog on 12/05/2020, professor Yara Frateschi released her rejoinder on the same website, on 29/05/2020, and entitled it Philosophical Essentialisms and the Corona Dictatorship: About Giorgio Agamben, Once Again. This was his second text for Boitempo's blog about the controversy with Giorgio Agamben surrounding his recent demonstrations about the current pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In his rejoinder, Frateschi responded to researchers Carla Rodrigues, Ana Carolina Martins, Caio Paz, Isabela Pinho and Juliana Moraes Monteiro, who wrote Agamben being Agamben: why not?, published by Editora Boitempo on 16/05/2020, as well as the text by Ana Carolina Martins and Juliana de Moraes Moreira, called Agamben against neoliberalism, published on 16/05/2020 on the website In the time of Now, which specifically deals with the accusation that Agamben had something to do with neoliberalism.

Still in his second text, the rejoinder, Frateschi also responded to my article about the controversy, initially published on my personal blog at Medium, on 13/05/2020, and that only afterwards, precisely on 17/05/2020, was also published in the electronic magazine the earth is round it's called Agamben in City of God.

Faced with these responses, Frateschi says that “[although these articles are distinct in focus and worthy of being approached individually (...)”, he was willing to make his reply to two objections, which can be summarized as follows: a) the criticism of “(…) Agamben is more potent to contemporary capitalist societies than I [Frateschi] am willing to concede; b) “the objection that I did not understand the tenor and critical potential of the Italian philosopher’s reflections on the coronavirus crisis, which is why I hurriedly accused him of being neoliberal and compared him to far-right deniers, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, between them".

Frateschi then resumes 2 points objected against his first text, exploring them better and reaffirming them. Having established the points on which he insists on opposing Agamben's texts on the pandemic, despite his interlocutors, in his second text, Frateschi also goes further, even criticizing what he called "essentialism" in the philosophy of Italian writer. Well, to the best of my knowledge, despite seeming to have also agreed with Juliana Moraes – and with me – on how she had shown “in an incontestable way that he [Agamben] is in fact a critic of liberalism and neoliberalism”, Frateschi continues to question “the scope of this critique” of Agamben to neoliberalism (FRATESCHI, 2020).

Some necessary previous records and the objectives of the text

From now on, I will review these criticisms and the new arguments that Frateschi develops in his most recent text. But, first, I must register my thanks to the professor for having treated the theme with kindness and interpretative charity towards my text. Although the Brazilian academic community is known for not being controversial and for almost always taking philosophical discussions personally, I believe that maintaining respect, even if minimal, is extremely important.

In her second text, Frateschi was careful to maintain her position, clarify some points and do this, as she herself says, with convergent affections, willing to dialogue with her interlocutors. Furthermore, I reiterate my gratitude for her willingness to raise questions about the controversy of what has already been transformed into the “Agamben case”. I believe that this is an opportunity to further strengthen the already productive Brazilian reception of Agamben's philosophy by those who are interested in and research the themes on which the philosopher has dedicated himself for more than 40 years, in several areas, such as aesthetics, politics, ontology and law.

Before going any further, I need to say that, although I am also a lawyer, in addition to being a professor, I do not have Agamben's power of attorney to defend him on his behalf. I believe that to do this obstinately without duly remembering that, here, I argue on my own, would then be an abuse on my part of the typically Brazilian baccalaureate, which constituted our legal culture. I speak of this especially when it comes to a polemic around an Italian philosopher, who responds to the exceptional measures of his own country, in the economic, historical and political contexts of Western Europe, within the political-ideological understanding of the Italian academic left, where, by the way, there are authors who endorse their position on the subject of the coronavirus, such as, for example, the philosopher Donatella Di Cesare, among others, as Jonnefer Barbosa and Vinícius N. Honesko tell us in the text Colonized modes of philosophical reception, published on 15/05/2020 on the blog Flanges (BARBOSA; HONESKO, 2020).

So, even if the debate is outside the Latin American context and even with the uniqueness of the Brazilian case, I believe it is necessary to continue the discussion. For this, in this new text, I will try to better develop the controversial points in an attempt to refute some, clarify others, in addition to raising new questions, focusing on what I believe is the most important thing to establish my points of disagreement.

Thus, from the reading of Frateschi's rejoinder, in Philosophical Essentialisms and the Corona Dictatorship: About Giorgio Agamben, Once Again, I was able, in an attempt that I hope was successful, to find three points on which I will critically dwell, in addition to responding, in the first point of which I listed, to the philosopher’s discomfort when she says that “(...) it genuinely surprises that [his interlocutors] seem not to be bothered by the similarities between Agamben’s speech and Bolsonaro’s” (FRATESCHI, 2020).

Added to this, I will also take the opportunity to respond, with the due Italian contextual reservations already made, to the questioning that Agamben poses to the silence of jurists. In the text a domanda, published on 13/04/2020, Agamben questions“[è] compito dei giuristi verified recheleregole della constituzione siano rispettate, ma i giuristitacciono.Quare sileteiuristae in munerevestro? [Why are you silent, jurists, in the face of what concerns you?]” (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 46).

Having made records and established my objectives, let's discuss the three points, divided into three topics, which I intend to disagree around Professor Frateschi's rejoinder.

1. On the similarities between Agamben and the Brazilian extreme right

In this dialogue, I can summarize, right in this first topic, the following criticisms by Frateschi: 1.1) that Agamben is not attentive to the problems of the present as he says he is, because the philosopher disregards the growth of scientific denialism; 1.2) and, due to this disregard, Agamben would end up approaching, albeit perhaps unintentionally, reactionary and neoliberal discourses, such as that of the Brazilian government of Jair Bolsonaro and his minister Ernesto Araújo; 1.3) and, even if Agamben's intentions are different from Bolsonaro's and Araújo's, the use of this argument is not accepted by Frateschi as he considers unacceptable such relativism in politics and practical philosophy, since in the name of good intentions, contrary practices to human rights were exercised with such a justification, and, finally, Frateschi doubts the practicality of a speech that, in the end, ends up reproducing the same speeches of the pandemic-denialist right, regardless of whether it is a speech by a left-wing philosopher with intentions other than those of neoliberal reactionarism.

1.1 On the scientific denialism of the pandemic

In order for me to start the discussion on this first point, it is necessary that I return to some arguments from my first text in dialogue with Frateschi. I refer to my position in Agamben in City of God, when he said that Agamben was too quick to write about the pandemic, in addition to having run the risk of being compared to alt-rightand its way of dealing with this crisis. At least when, at the time of his first text, published on the Quodlibet publisher's blog and in the newspaper The poster it's called L'invenzione di an'epidemic, on 26/02/2020, Agamben relied on the position at the time of Consiglio Nazionale del Ricerche (CNR). And, in fact, this was the position of the CNR. Days before this text, in a press release called Coronavirus. Rich basso, capire condizione vittime, of 22/02/2020, the CNR says that 19 cases in a population of 60 million make the risk of infection very low. Many caveats are made in this note, but one phrase seems decisive: “Non c'è um'epidemia di SARS-CoV2 in Italia” (CNR, 2020).

About this, in fact, as I said in my first text, Agamben rushed into his inaugural statement on the subject. But it must be said that he did not do so without foundation in the scientific data he had at the time, and according to an important Italian scientific institution. The precipitation was due to not taking into account the possibility that the pandemic situation in Italy could change, as it did, quickly and drastically. In addition, having already disclosed the situation in China, Agamben underestimated the contagious and deadly potential of the virus.

However, Agamben's concern was less with the existence or not of the virus and with the potential or not of contagion and death, and more with the exceptionality measures on the part of Italian institutions, when the scientific data available in Italy stated that there was no there was a coronavirus epidemic in the country. Thus, the error of such precipitation was in having thought that that initial situation of the pandemic in Italy could not be modified to the point of justifying the exceptional legal measures that “[i]l decree-legge súbito approving dal government 'perragioni di igiene e di sicurezza pubblica'” (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 15).

Well, having said that, regarding Frateschi's criticism of how Agamben would not be attentive to the present because he would disregard the growing scientific denialism, I say that such accusation, in part, does not hold, since Agamben was precisely based on the position of the main body of research country, when, in fact, the severity of the contagious effects of COVID-19 has diminished. About how such a position of Agamben, at the time of his first text, resembles scientific denialism – such as, for example, that of President Jair Bolsonaro, his minister Ernesto Araújo, as well as that of the ideologue of the current Brazilian government, for the which, probably, Frateschi refers to Olavo de Carvalho, and considering that the 3 make up the Brazilian version of the alt-right American and European as a contemporary political phenomenon of the extreme right –, I can make some considerations below.

1.2 Proximity to the extreme right position

I reaffirm, here, what I said in a previous text, that, in fact, Agamben ran this risk – that of being confused with the extreme right positions – and I agree with Frateschi that the growing wave of denial was not taken into account. Regarding the confusion between Agamben and denialism, the truth is that this actually happened, although sometimes in very dishonest ways, proposed by both the right and the left when they used his name as if he were a legitimate denialist and example to be cited to substantiate inhuman opinions about the pandemic.

I can cite an emblematic example. The current Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ernesto Araújo, in an article called The comunavirus has arrived, mentioned the name of Agamben in an implicitly convergent way to his own government position, which is denialist, and to the understanding that the pandemic can bring about the end of democracy and the beginning of a communist dictatorship, as the philosopher would have announced in favor of this possibility Slavoj Zizek. But it wasn't just Bolsonaro's minister who did this; the newspaper Demokratischer Widerstand, linked to the German far-right group, used Agamben's critical and suspicious position in relation to the pandemic to support his ideals. In the case of the German newspaper, it was even falsely claimed that the Italian philosopher was one of its editors, which was, of course, denied by him, who said that he did not even know about the journal. That is, on this absurd accusation, Agamben himself manifested himself.

The interview given to the journalist Dimitra Pouliopoulou, by the Greek magazine Babylonia (Περιοδικό Βαβυλωνία), on 20/05/2020, can now be found in the recently published collection of his texts on the pandemic, by the publishing house quodlibet, which has the title A chepunto siamo?: L'epidemia come politica (2020). In chapter 14, called polemosepideimos, Agamben is questioned by Pouliopoulou about the fact that if, on the one hand, he has “criticize the state administration for its management of the pandemic, and in particular for 'cleaning of misures and suspension of social activities”, on the other, she says,“[t]uttavia, queste misure sono state accolte evident caution, if not with ostilità, also gives a significant number of government functions”, and thus cites as an example the governments of “Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Boris Johnson, dittatori com Aljaksandr Lukas̆ėnka e ovviamnete tanti attori del Mercado internazionale” (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 87).

Based on this coincidence between criticism of the state management of the pandemic through exceptional measures and the “hostility” with which the so-called “international elite”, such as the international market and politicians like Bolsonaro, Trump, etc., deals with these measures, Poulipoulouquestions Agamben: “Come valuta questa avversione per le misure prohibitive thick da alcune sezione dell'élite Internazionale?” (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 87). In response, the philosopher begins by saying that this can measure the degree of confusion that the emergency situation has generated in the minds of those who should be lucid and also to what extent the opposition between right and right left has emptied itself of all real political content, claiming that “[if] a fascist said che 2+2=4, questa non è um'obiezione controls mathematics” (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 88).

Regarding the accusation of involvement with the German extreme right group, which used his name to support criticism of the local government's emergency measures, Agamben says that when the Der Spiegel interviewed him to find out his opinion about the extreme right movement, Demokratischer Widerstand, which explicitly used his name, the journalist of the famous newspaper only published the first part of his answer, when he said that he had nothing to do with the extremist group, but that they had every right to express their opinion, and that the fact that the far right has similar claims"non ne inficitava minimalmente la validità” (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 88). Agamben even completes his answer by saying that, in these cases, it is necessary to analyze the reasons which led the leaders cited by the Greek journalist to defend a certain opinion and examine “la strategie in cui um'opinione in sé correct viene utilizzata, e non mettere in questione la verità di quell'opinione” (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 88).

In other words, Agamben is basically saying that if his opinion, contrary to exceptional emergency measures because of the pandemic, is similar to an extreme right opinion on, it is necessary to analyze what drives a political leader like Bolsonaro, for example, to take a position in one way, and not another, as well as it is necessary to examine the strategy behind this opinion, and not the truth of the opinion. Well, before developing my position here, I believe that care and willingness are necessary to interpret these positions of Agamben, especially since there is almost a consensus on the legitimate feeling, by us Brazilians, of revolt, to say the least, against the Bolsonaro government. If we read Agamben's position, admittedly similar to Bolsonaro's, etc., at an apophantic level, I believe that a better and more correct interpretation of his "case" is greatly impaired.

However, I record here that my hermeneutic invitation has nothing to do with a simple, puerile call, cliche, supposedly neutral, fruit of the Eurocentric philosophical tradition, to a supposedly “rational” reading, which would oppose “emotion versus reason”, as if this were my call to a “rational”, “neutral” judgment. On the contrary, I understand that there is no way to pretend that we are not in the midst of one of the biggest political crises in Brazil, and that an opinion that may even sound Bolsonarist about the current pandemic, which brings, among so many tragedies, a crisis of collective mourning, impossible of dignified elaboration, could not pass through our judgment unscathed from astonishment and also revolt. On this, we are in full agreement.

However, I insist on offering an interpretation to that brief passage in Agamben's interview, in which I believe that the Italian philosopher is not simply saying that he doesn't care whether or not his judgment of distrust of exceptional measures and ethical-normativeness is true. science policy on human life, in times of a pandemic, as if its position were not in question of a test of factual veracity. Because the quarrel, here, I think, is precisely Agamben's attempt to show the validity and veracity of his theory in the face of what Professor Frateschi called, in her first text, “factual reality”. Agamben cares about this, as well as the interlocutors and their texts in reply to Frateschi.

This is so true that, as I put it in my first answer to this dialogue, the risks warned by Agamben regarding the state of exception and the excesses of medical-scientific and sanitarian-hygienist intervention on life, are justified with concrete, historical situations and current ones, such as, for example, the relationship, in the past, between science and Nazism, with its political tanate of concentration and extermination camps; the need not to automatically adhere to scientific guidelines, regarding, for example, the status of “pathologies” by the WHO, which only 30 years ago homosexuality lost, as well as transsexuality, less than 1 year ago; consolidation of distance education; the decision of bioethical and biolegal implications on “Sofia's choice” in the use of respirators; use of cell phone applications to monitor infected people; use of security cameras as a pandemic control strategy.

With that, in this interview for the Greek newspaper, what Agamben is telling us is that it is not just a matter of knowing whether the similarity between the opinion of the extreme right and his own can have real relevance. It is important to know the strategies underlying the speeches, as he himself said. Thus, approaching Frateschi's criticisms about how the different intentions between Agamben and the extreme right do not matter, with regard to exceptional measures in times of pandemic, because it is an unacceptable relativism (1.3), as well as the different intentions do not matter when the practice of these discourses would result in the same problems, I can contest them here, claiming, with Agamben, the opposite: that these differences matter, but not because of different intentions.

1.3 Of the different intentions and practicality of Agamben's speech

I want to draw attention not to the idea of ​​intention, but to the strategies behind far-right discourses. Because I understand that, if it is possible to show the different strategies, rather than analyze and evaluate intentions about their positions regarding what to do to face the current pandemic, then Frateschi's criticisms may not be sustained. Such an analysis of different strategies could make them objective criteria for making relevant distinctions between our readings of Agamben's and Bolsonaro's speeches, for example, and, thus, the problem of "relativism in politics and practical philosophy", the which Frateschi rightly cannot admit could be resolved. But how can the analysis of strategies serve as an objective criterion for judging the distinctions between Agamben and Bolsonaro or his minister without resorting to the fragile psychological parameter of “intentions”, as Frateschi rightly puts it?

About the problematic similarities between Agamben and Araújo's Olavo-neo-Pentecostal-Bolsonarist scientific denialism, for example, which reflects the opinion of its president, I was able to deal better in other opportunities. In my articles, Ernesto Araújo and Nazism in Brazil, published by The Diplomatic World, on 15/05/2020, and in its expanded version, published by the dossier on the current Volunteers Magazine, called the The neoliberal virus has arrived and the controversy over Giorgio Agamben, on 03/07/2020, I was able to better develop the analysis of these different strategies.

In addition to mere intentions, separated by “good” and “bad”, there is, concretely, a government strategy, an agency of bodies by the Bolsonaro government, which has its own justifications and its own planning, already consistent even with the way in which he and his allied base have been speaking for years, forming, in this way, a government objective for this pandemic crisis:

i) when it continues to deny the seriousness of the pandemic, even with the current numbers of deaths, which, until the end of this text, reached more than 73 thousand and almost 1 million and 900 thousand confirmed cases in Brazil; ii) when he exposed his supporters in crowds, sometimes without wearing a mask; gave resigned statements, to say the least, by just “wailing” and asking “so what?”; iii) when it made access difficult and deleted details of data on the evolution of the pandemic in Brazil on official platforms; iv) when it encouraged and invested public money in the use of a drug that had already been discarded because it was considered ineffective in combating the symptoms of the coronavirus, according to the WHO; v) when it exempted itself from responsibility for managing state actions against the pandemic by transferring it to state governments – which are also the target of investigations into fraud in the purchase of respirators –; and vi) when it could benefit from the War Budget PEC, which is more concerned with helping large financial institutions and frees the federal government to use the public budget exceptionally, functioning as a kind of parallel budget.

Well, in the face of so many ideological-discursive, political, financial, legal strategies that result in governmental truths, is it not possible to glimpse, here, concrete factors that function as very evident criteria to distinguish not only Bolsonaro's intentions, but acts in relation to what Agamben has written about the pandemic? Could it be that the differences in concerns about deaths between Bolsonaro and Agamben are not relevant enough to distance them in their views on the current pandemic? In Clarifications, published on 17/03/2020, Agamben is concerned about the dead without the right to a funeral and, in addition to questioning the fate of these bodies, says that “(…) our next step is status canceled (…)” (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 23).

In that same text, very differently from the former minister of education in the Bolsonaro government, Abraham Weintraub, a defender of homeschooling and the creation of a “digital university”, with distance learning classes, remote, Agamben alerts to “(...) the dopo”; according to him, "(…) It is highly likely that if you close the door to the emergency room così in the school, in the università and in the public place ala physical presence, it will remain confined, with the precautionary measures, in the private sphere and in the context of it pareti domestiche.” (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 24).

I also remember that the Bolsonaro government is the government that has long known and notorious support and strong nostalgia for and with the military governments of the last Brazilian civil-military coup. Coup that, as we know, decreed the Institutional Act n. 5, which, among so many restrictions on fundamental and human rights, restricted the right to assembly, something central to any opposing political organization. With this, I insist on asking whether it is still possible to reduce the differences between Agamben and Bolsonaro to a matter of mere different “intentions”, when the legal consequences of the emergency measures to combat the coronavirus would make such a fundamental right unfeasible for any attempt at opposition, violent or not, against a government?

Are these mere declarative affinities, without concrete practical differences and discursive strategies about power, when, to further refine the examples of this argument, one of Bolsonaro's sons, federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, a strong representative of his allied base in Congress , even spoke of the possibility of “a new AI-5”, as a way of dealing with the demonstrations against his father's government?

The examples of Weintraub and Eduardo Bolsonaro can show that, behind Jair Messias Bolsonaro's speech against social isolation measures and the implementation of online classes in federal public universities, there is, in fact, part of a government strategy prior to the pandemic, but that uses it as a justification. This is also the case of the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, when he says that he is taking advantage of the pandemic crisis to “pass the cattle”, that is, to carry out “bureaucratic facilitation” in the process of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. This is also the case for the Minister of the Economy, Paulo Guedes, when he has the opportunity to justify, due to the economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic, the widespread privatization of public companies. In the case of Guedes, there is something even more emblematic, which is his ideological and academic affiliation with the so-called Chicago Boys, the group of neoliberal economists who surrounded the Chilean dictatorial government of General Augusto Pinochet.

As I have already argued in my texts on Ernesto Araújo’s article, Bolsonaro’s strategy to deal with the pandemic in Brazil, through “herd immunity”, has the far from implicit objective of safeguarding the economy, to the detriment of the dozens of thousands of deaths from the coronavirus, making the president issue a sentence that is at least curious and interesting for Agamben’s critical studies, when he said that “the economy is also life!”. The phrase reveals very well the concrete strategy of the neoliberal Bolsonarist government, in which the administration, the oikonomia becomes the paradigm of the government of life, since we are fighting for the survival of our mere life, ceding, in a way that runs the risk of being insoluble for the near future, our political freedoms in the name of the survival of our lives, against the threat of the coronavirus. Therefore, I insist on the question of whether between the Bolsonaro government, the speeches of its allied base, ministers, their own speeches, and Agamben's criticism of the state of emergency caused in Italy by the current pandemic, there would not be an abyss between the objective differences in around your views on exceptional government measures?

It is definitely not a question of mere ideological, intentional differences that would eventually be found in the practice of their speeches. With all the Bolsonarist government strategies, it is possible to see how the economic and political crises caused by the pandemic are, for Bolsonaro, sometimes reasons to show how liberal he would be, as he defends the end of social isolation based on the denial of the severity of the disease , are reasons that could lead him to intensify the neoliberal reforms initiated by the Michel Temer government, to intensify agribusiness and mining in the Amazon, as well as to leave the Brazilian indigenous peoples to sovereign death, whether due to land conflicts or due to their own negligence regarding the contagion of the coronavirus among these people. Furthermore, the current pandemic, at any time, contrary to its pseudo-libertarian discourse, could justify yet another civil-military coup, if, for example, anti-fascist demonstrations intensify, and if the STF's reaction against its ideological militias and virtual ones reach their own children. So, there is a big difference between Bolsonaro and Agamben also regarding the practice of their speeches and the risks of these speeches.

However, I record here that, in my first text in response to Frateschi's first text, I defended that Agamben should indeed indicate a way to face the pandemic when social isolation still exists, while there is no effective antiviral medicine and a vaccine, the best method to save lives, and that this is the best path, as it is based on the most reliable international body to offer scientific guidelines on the current pandemic crisis, although it has noted that its list of pathologies is not free from criticism, like when homosexuality and transsexuality were framed as pathologies, in the recent past, and that, as in the case I quoted from Maria Galindo's text, when she questioned the viability of indigenous ways of life in Bolivia, if they adopt isolation measures (GALINDO, 2020, p. 126), are also not immune to criticism regarding the universality of their methods of combating COVID-19. one more argument. It should be noted that, if it is possible to dedicate oneself to reading the set of texts, Agamben in fact denies the existence of the seriousness of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, but this is only in his first text, when, based on scientific data from the CNR, alleges that there is no epidemic in Italy and, therefore, exceptional measures for social isolation, etc., are not justified. Already from his second text, called Contagion and published on 11/03/2020, Agamben starts to deal not with the existence or not of the pandemic and its severity, but rather with the consequences of the panic surrounding the pandemic (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 19).

Days after the publication of Contagion, in which a change of focus is seen from denial to concentration on the problem of the political “consequences” of the pandemic, Agamben confirms this change, when granting an interview to the newspaper Le Monde on 24/03/2020. The philosopher was asked – with emphasis on the use of a curiously theological-legal term – whether he “regrets” what he said in his first text about the pandemic, referring to his denialist statement , given, at the time, the already high death tolls from COVID-19. Agamben replied that “Je ne suis nivirologueni médecin, et dans l'article en question, qui date d'il ya un mois, je ne faisais que citer textuellement ce qui était à l'époque l'opinion du Center national de la recherche italien.”, and then, it continues, “[m]ais je ne vais pas entrer dans les discussions entre les scientifiques sur l'épidemie ; ce qui m'intéresse, ce sont les consequences éthiques et politiques extremly serious qui em découlent.” (LE MONDE, 2020).

Having concluded these first controversial issues, I move on to the second point of discussion.

2. The problem of comparison with Nazism and the pandemic crisis placed in the background

I can summarize in this second topic the following criticisms by Frateschi: 2.1) that Agamben downplays the seriousness of the pandemic by prioritizing his concerns around the factual problem of the danger of perpetuating social control techniques, such as the monitoring of social isolation by the government; 2.2) that Agamben's thesis on how social control through cell phones, which would be far beyond the way Nazis and fascists carried out social control in their times, tends to lose sight of the monstrosity and originality of Nazism, and that Agamben's statements when he compares the pandemic exception measures with Nazism are to be expected from Agamben's theory of the concentration camp as a modern political paradigm and that, for this reason, for being a paradigm that reads current phenomena already distant from the Nazi experiences, such a thesis does not take seriously what happened even in a concentration camp.

2.1 The secondary role of the pandemic in the face of the risk of a state of exception

There is no denying that Agamben is really placing the pandemic as a secondary concern among the themes of his texts on the current planetary crisis (2.1). Frateschi is right. The Italian philosopher is even prioritizing the consequences of exceptional measures and he does this after having, even if only first, denied the seriousness of the deadly effects of the coronavirus. This is a very problem in his statements; it is severe. Because it seems that a very important issue is left out: what to do in the face of so many deaths when exceptional measures are not desirable due to the political risk they pose to our freedoms? If social isolation seems to be the only way out, what's left to say about it? Would just rejecting him be enough? I don't understand that it is.

However, it must be said that Agamben's role cannot be seen as unnecessary or even as disrespectful, nor as a monotonous speech that only speaks of the state of exception. Here, then, I remember how Agamben dealt with the impediment of the due funeral of the victims of COVID-19 as being one of the consequences of exceptional measures (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 36), in addition to the fact that he did not forget the environmental problem linked to the causes of this pandemic (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 56).

2.2 Comparison with Nazism regarding control measures

About the use of cell phones as a form of social control that is more serious than the Nazi forms of control, as well as about the unprecedented nature of the barbarism of Nazism (2.2), these are themes, at the very least, very delicate to be dealt with here, in the midst of so many other topics. So, I will pause to say that I believe Agamben was referring only to the unprecedented surveillance potential of current technology, which uses cell phones, GPS and the internet – this one, in its 5G phase of transferring a lot of data in a very short time. In other words, I believe that, here, the best way to interpret these passages from Agamben is to see that it is a comparison by the technological evolution of the 30s and 40s, in relation to the 20s of this century, when, today, it is a fact that the potential for social surveillance is much greater, via contemporary technological mechanisms, incomparably superior to those of World War II.

However, I admit that any comparison with Nazism is always very risky of failing, in the face of the unwitnessable events of the Shoah. It is important, however, to remember that Agamben wrote about the unspeakable violence caused by the Nazis when he published What's left of Auschwitz (1998) – book that makes up the project Homo sapiens and that, as Professor Jeanne Marie Gagnebin says in her Presentation, has chapters that can irritate the reader, in addition to the reception of Agamben's work being very controversial in German and French Jewish circles (GAGNEBIN, 2008, p. 13).

In this work, Agamben demonstrates that he knows very well the relevance of Shoah and the impossibility of denying the events in the Auschwitz camp, when he goes so far as to say, based on his reading of Primo Levi, that the only possible testimony of this experience is the impossibility of giving testimony, because it is about “ (…) a possibility of a word just because of an impossibility (…)” (AGAMBEN, 2008, p. 163). This is, therefore, paradoxical, because the Jew, when deprived of his dignity by Nazism, becomes a “non-man”, or, as in the “camp jargon”, a “Muslim”: that prisoner who had lost all hope , who lives in an extreme situation, between the human and the inhuman, between the living and the dead, is, in fact, in his inability to tell us about his situation, paradoxically, the only possibility of testimony in the face of the barbarism that robbed him of his life, dignity, the quality of the human form (AGAMBEN, 2020, p. 49; 56; 157).

About the predictable coherence of his comparisons to his theory and how he would not take what happened in the Nazi camps seriously, I want to leave these issues for when I deal with paradigm, method and supposed metaphysics, in the next topic. But first, it is worth remembering an interview given by Agamben to the magazine Literature (2002), when the Italian philosopher says that he does not devalue the concrete historical phenomena of the figures of the concentration camp or the homo sacer. On the contrary, he classifies them as they are, and only from this point on would he understand them as modes of knowledge of the present, as paradigms, therefore (AGAMBEN, 2001, p. 19). enough, for this reason in the next topic I will better develop the notion of paradigm within Agamben's method of thought.

In order to justify myself a little more regarding my position on the question of the “ineditism of the Nazi monstrosity” and the forms of Nazi control, as provoked by Frateschi, it is important that, at this point, I refrain from developing such a theme. Because, despite living in the Amazon region, the last frontier of the colonial process of more than 5 centuries in Brazil, as I am not part of an ethnic-social group directly affected by the issue, I prefer not to deal with the very delicate theme that Michel Rothberg called “inistence in the unique character of the Holocaust” (ROTHBERG, 2020), which recently ended up generating another controversial “case”.

It was the so-called “Mbembe case”, when the Cameroonian philosopher Achile Mbembe, author of the famous and important essay Necropolitical (2011) was involved in the charge of anti-Semitism for allegedly comparing the Holocaust ao apartheid and the occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel in its book The Society of Enmity(2017) – a theme he has already dealt with before, citing the possible relationship between Nazism and colonial techniques of planting, which used enslaved Afro-indigenous labor –, an opportunity that made him say that such a relationship matters little in the face of the evident trait that persists: “in modern philosophical thought as well as in practice in the European political imaginary, a colony represents a place where Sovereignty consists fundamentally in the exercise of a power outside the law (ab legibus solutus) in which “peace” tends to assume the face of an “endless war” (MBEMBE, 2018, p. 31-32).

It remains, then, to move on, as promised, to the theme of Agamben's method and the accusation of incurring a metaphysical “essentialism”.

3. Agamben's Method, accusation of being metaphysical and the problem of its critical potential

Now, having already reached the third and final topic of this text, I move on to talk about Frateschi's criticism of the critical potential of Agamben's theory, as well as the accusation that Agamben would fall into “fantasy metaphysics and sterile essentialisms”. Briefly, I analyze Frateschi's criticisms of Agamben as follows: 3.1) that Agamben has a metaphysical, essentialist theory and has it because he uses generalizing terms, such as “The West”, “The Society”, “The Democracy”; 3.2) Agamben's genealogy is teleological, thus having the “metaphysical air” of the philosophy of history, but, unlike the latter, not seeing progress and, yes, ruin at the end of the course of time; and, finally, 3.3) Agamben is metaphysician because his method causes his thought to be frozen by not seeing the subtleties of historical phenomena, erasing struggles and political conquests; Agamben is platonic in losing common sense to common men, upon whom he would only see fear, paralysis, their inability to act, while he would pay the price of seeing the truth.

3.1 On metaphysics, essentialism and the use of generalizing terms by Agamben: on the method

Starting with the first accusation, that Agamben had a metaphysical, essentialist theory, followed by justifications on how the Italian philosopher uses general, totalizing terms, which would make his genealogical method a teleology, which sees history as a final cause, towards the inescapable ruin, I can comment from the work in which he deals specifically with his method, Rerum signature (2010). But, first, I would very much like to try to understand the sense of metaphysics, here, in which Agamben would fall. Because, contrary to Professor Frateschi, I do not understand Agamben as a philosopher who operates from an idealistic metaphysics, who would see the historical course with ends, just because he uses general expressions and because he does not see active solutions, as if politics were fated to capture life and to subject it, necessarily desubjectifying it. To substantiate my hypotheses, I will try to understand metaphysics, bring Agamben's methodological texts, but also leave my weighting slightly convergent to what Frateschi understands.

in your famous post-metaphysical thinking (2002), Jürgen Habermas lists 4 aspects of metaphysical thought: i) “Identity thinking”, in which the multiple is deduced from a single principle, from which identity and difference have a fundamental relationship, being the foundation of being, the beginning and origin; ii) “Idealism”, in which the one and the whole are the result of thought, through which the concept of “being” also arises, thus, with Plato, the founding order of the unity between varied phenomena has a conceptual nature, gathered under an idea , a form; iii) “Philosophy of consciousness”, which, made possible by nominalism, which reduced forms to signs of things (signa rerum), as mere names given to things, finds in self-consciousness the possibility of representing different things in an abstract way, to the absolute; iv) “Strong concept of theory”, in which the contemplative life would be above the active, practical life, as it contemplates abstract and timeless forms, as “(...) it requires the abandonment of the mundane natural approach” (HABERMAS, 1990, p. 40-42).

If “metaphysical” has anything to do with what Habermas established, and if Frateschi is right about how Agamben deals with politics, by making what I called “the ontology of political action”, then it really seems that the Italian philosopher would speak for the first time. bias of tradition, founded on the primacy of identity over difference, of the unity of the multiple by a total idea, by self-consciousness, where an idea would be based to read the diverse phenomena, through a dialectical reason on the historical movement until the absolute as an end, and would start from a notion in which theory, description, analysis would make acting unfeasible, or even would not even see it as something worthy of theorizing, in which, even, the truth would be in an abstract world, one, identical, or else its multiple would be united in the theoretical consciousness, in precedence over practice and common sense. Now, then, it remains to deal with Frateschi's criticism head-on and try to see if Agamben would even incur the concept of “metaphysician”. I believe that, if I manage to develop my arguments to the question of practice and its relation to theory, I will also be able to respond to the criticism about Agamben's low critical potential.

First, I want to say that the accusation against Agamben sounds like the old accusation of psychologism between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, but now around the “risk” of being metaphysical, essentialist, teleological, theoretical, etc. I think this type of criticism is fair, since we have been far from a pre-linguistic-pragmatic conception in philosophy and in the other Humanities. However, it seems that the stigma of being “metaphysical” still generates quarrels. Speaking of which, I would point out that this discussion also takes us back to another quarrel, a much older one, the “quarrel of universals”, in which William of Ockham was more famously involved. In logic of terms, from your short story (1341), Ockham tells us that “(…) no universal is a substance outside the soul” (OCKHAM, 1999, p. 161). In other words, general, generalizing, universal terms, therefore, only exist if they refer to an existing thing, or emitted by speech, writing or if they are in the mind (OCKHAM, 1999, p. 164-165). This gave impetus to a possible critique of a traditional conception of realism, in which universals had a real existence, a corresponding thing, and, therefore, one could theorize them without fear of incurring the accusation of being “essentialist” or even “fantastic”. ”, since one would be talking about one thing (rs) concrete, when dealing with a universal term. But what does Agamben have to do with it?

In the said work signature (2008), the Italian philosopher says that “[i]n my research, I was able to analyze some figures – homo sacer and the Muslim, the state of exception and the concentration camp – which are certainly, even if to a different extent, positive historical phenomena, but which were treated in them as paradigms (…)” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 09). Here, Agamben is already beginning his explanation of how he uses these historical phenomena as lenses for reading reality. They are “figures”, “(…) whose function was to constitute and make intelligible a broader historical-problematic context” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 09). He says this to clarify the accusations that he would only be offering theses or merely historical reconstructions (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 09).

Here, Agamben remembers Michel Foucault and Thomas Kuhn, trying to show similarities between them through the concept of paradigm. According to Agamben, for Kuhn, “(…) a paradigm is just an example, an individual case, which, through its repeatability, acquires the capacity to tacitly model the behavior and research practices of scientists” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 13), thus, “(...) the rule rule as a canon of scientificity is thus replaced by that of the paradigm, and the universal logic of the law is replaced by the specific and singular logic of the example” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 13). But this is perfectly understandable and adapted by and to the natural sciences, although such ideas, about “scientific revolutions”, made when there are paradigmatic changes, also have reflections in the human sciences – perhaps there is a possible approximation with Gadamerian philosophy here. So how is this applicable to Agamben's genealogical investigations?

About how Foucault dealt with this question, Agamben reminds us that “[o]ne of the most constant orientations in Foucault's research is the abandonment of the traditional approach to the problem of power, based on legal and institutional models and on universal categories (law, the State, the theory of sovereignty) (…)” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 13). Thus, with this “abandonment of the traditional approach” via “universal categories”, Foucault began to investigate not the norms, the normalizations of power, but its procedures, “(...) in favor of an analysis of the concrete devices through which power it penetrates the very bodies of subjects and governs their forms of life. The analogy with the Kuhnian paradigms seems to find an important confirmation here” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 14). An example of the use of a paradigmatic concept in Foucault is that of the panopticon, which “(..) is at the same time a 'generalizable operating model' (…)”, and which “(…) functions as a paradigm in the proper sense: a singular object that, valid for all others of the same class , defines the intelligibility of the set of which it is a part and which, at the same time, it constitutes” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 20-21).

But, if it is true that the generalization of a paradigm brings together species, my interlocutor could question whether this would not be a metaphysical resource, because, as I mentioned, with Habermas, could this be something of idealism, in which the multiple would be united in a concept abstract. However, regarding this possibility of objection, I would say that: it is not a pure form, a transcendental, nor an idea that is real, transcendent, while the multiple species would be mere imitations, copies of the real truth. Here, there is neither ancient nor modern idealism. Nor is the paradigm a concept of the consciousness of the subject of knowledge. But what would it be then? Mere metaphor?

My answer, since Agamben, is: neither metaphysical concept, nor transcendental form, nor mere metaphor. Explaining Foucault, Agamben says: “more like an allegory than a metaphor, the paradigm is an individual case that is isolated from the context of which it forms a part only insofar as, by displaying its own uniqueness, it makes intelligible a new set (…)” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 23). Thus, “[the] Foucauldian paradigm is both things at the same time: not only exemplary and model, which imposes the constitution and a normal science, but also and above all example, which makes it possible to bring together statements and discursive practices in a new intelligible set and in a new problematic context” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 23).

Here, it is not a methodical resource for approaching his metaphysical objects, nor even a logical one, in the classic sense, with an ontological-traditional background, based on the principles of identity and difference, but, rather, in the analogical sense, made possible by a reconstruction by Enzo Melandri of the ancient Aristotelian conception of analogy. According to Agamben, “[e]m The line and the circle, Melandri showed that analogy is opposed to the dichotomous principle that dominates Western logic. Against the drastic alternative 'either A or B', which excludes the third, it asserts its tertium datur, you obstinate 'neither A nor B'” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 25).

This means that the figures used by Agamben are third elements in opposition, at the same time, between opposites. "The third is this indiscernibility." In this way, the paradigm, as an example, is not a universal regarding individual, particular multiples, nor is it an individual, particular, from which a universal concept, a general law, could be reached. What is it about then? “(…) [The] paradigm implies a movement that goes from singularity to singularity and that, without leaving this one, transforms each individual into copy of a general rule which it is never possible to formulate first.” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 28). I admit that this is too complex and does not escape the vocabulary of the ontological tradition (Aristotle, Ockham, Kant, and also Plato himself). For, Agamben also says that “(…) the paradigm somehow contains eidos, the very form that it is a question of defining” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 30).

But this does not mean that it is Platonism. It is yet another way of explaining the paradigm, since it would be wrong to force it to be reduced to: an idea, as it is something individual, in a relationship beyond the sensitive-mental dichotomy; an essence, a substance that resists time, because, in fact, it is an example that, as in Kuhn, can undergo a “revolution”; or one beforehand because it is beyond the universal-singular dichotomy (3.a). About this, Agamben says: “The paradigmatic relationship does not simply take place between each sensible object, nor between them and a general rule, but above all between the singularity (which thus becomes a paradigm) and its exposition (that is, its intelligibility). ).” (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 30).

To summarize the concept of paradigm, Agamben traces some theses: paradigm is a form of analogical knowledge, therefore, it is neither deductive nor inductive, it moves from singularity to singularity; it neutralizes the general-particular dichotomy, replacing such logic with a bipolar analogical model; the paradigmatic case suspends its belonging to a set, excluding itself from it, to expose, paradoxically, its inclusion as an example – capable of introducing us to the knowledge of sets of similar singularities (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 28).

Thus, on the use of concepts such as homo sacer and its relationship with time and contexts, it is worth reproducing the following quote:

"The homo sacer and the concentration camp, the Mussulman [Muslim] and the state of exception – as, more recently, the oikonomia Trinitarian or the acclamations – these are not hypotheses by which I intended to explain modernity, leading it back to something like a cause or a historical origin. On the contrary, as their very multiplicity might have hinted at, they were always about paradigms, whose scope was to make a series of phenomena intelligible, whose kinship could escape unnoticed by the historian's eye. Certainly, both my research and Foucault's are of an archaeological nature and the phenomena they deal with develop over time, implying, therefore, an attention to documents and diachrony that cannot fail to obey the laws of historical philology. (AGAMBEN, 2019, p. 41).

And about the use of general terms, such as “The West”, “The Society”, “The Democracy”, cited by Frateschi (3.2), I could say, here, that these are also concepts that relate to the paradigms explained by Agamben and who, agreeing with her, are problematic, yes, since they should be singular, dealing with particularities. Such general terms can indeed create confusion, especially when one tries, as I do, to receive Agamben's philosophy from the global South. In these moments, then, I ask myself, with Mbembe, if Brazil, whose nomosof the land had been considered by the colonizers as an exception to the metropolis, to the Jus publicum europaeum, would not be, as Henrique Dussel says, on the side of coloniality, in opposition to the general term for modernity, the metropolis.

With that, I also question whether we would be on the side of the Western tradition. If we, Brazilian jurists, would be within the Roman-Germanic tradition, and if this would be extended to the worldviews of legal sensibilities, as Clifford Geertz says in the local knowledge (1997) (GEERTZ, 2004, p. 271), of indigenous peoples and quilombolas? Which modernity, which West, when, and which metropolis are we talking about? It is important, however, to show that, despite admitting that, in fact, Agamben deals with these concepts in a general way, this does not mean that his work would not have critical potential to understand our reality, our Latin American social phenomena through their most common, like homo sacer, field, etc., and even through other paradigms, not so common to the project Homo sapiens. I am referring here to investigations into coloniality and post-coloniality based on Agamben's thinking.

Studies carried out in a very positive way should be referenced here, such as those by Mbembe himself, but also those by Marcelo Svirsky and Simone Bignall, when they write Agamben and colonialism (2012), a work that brings together 12 articles on the subject, from various colonial experiences, about native peoples, conflicts with Palestinians, Libyans, to the situation of exception in post-Soviet Russia. It is worth highlighting the Introduction from the work of Svirsky and Bignall, written by themselves, when they talk about the issue of how biopolitics themes are not investigated by Agamben outside the “West” area and how the philosopher maintains a relative silence about colonialism (SVIRSKY; BIGNALL , 2012, p. 13). Other names also deal with the colonial exception and emergency, such as Nasser Hussain and Lauren Benton, etc. In Brazil, research of this type is also notorious, such as that carried out by Daniel Arruda Nascimento, on the slave quarters as a biopolitical field, when he published his article The Brazilian colonial exception (2016) and also the research carried out by Ana Suelen Tossige Gomes and Andityas Soares de MC Matos, with the publication of the article The state of exception in republican Brazil (2017)

However, I still resist thinking that the mere use of general terms by Agamben, such as “The West”, would logically mean that it is an essentialist philosophy, unaware of singularities. For example, would just referring in a general way to something operate a reasoning about a substantialist ontology? Or would it not be merely a use of a simplifying expression in the name of rhetorical facilitation of discourse, in which, within a context, of a post-metaphysical, contemporary language game, we would no longer have to justify and account for each term we use , like when, for example, I could say that, instead of using the expression “I understand X” or “I believe Y”, about a certain subject, I could say “I have in mind that X”? Does this imply that I necessarily presuppose a background psychological understanding? Or maybe I'm just using an ordinary expression that works for the communication task to just say “I understand X”, I “believe Y”?

Well, reaching the end of this topic, it still remains to deal with the supposed teleology of the Agambenian genealogy and the accusation of understanding social phenomena as if they were outside the world, of common sense, where the people who inhabit it would also be devoid of thought (3.3 ). About teleology, this cannot even be sustained in Agamben's thought because he is not the philosopher of imminent, inescapable catastrophe. Strongly influenced by Walter Benjamin's conception of history, Agamben understands that the course of history does not have a purpose that will necessarily lead us to ruin.

3.2 On the supposed teleology of the conceptions of history and the “biopolitical river”

Em Theological-political fragment(1918), Benjamin spoke that the Kingdom of God is not the telos that moves the story; because the consummation of historical happening is not an objective, but a term (BENJMAIN, 2016, p. 23). In the same line of his revolutionary-messianic thought, making his interpretation of Karl Marx and the revolutionary process, in one way street (1900), Benjamin already spoke about how cultural evolution will either end or continue depending on whether it will sink by itself or by the action of the proletariat (BENJAMIN, 2017, p. 42). At another time, in one of his notes gathered in Flights (1927-1940), Benjamin highlighted a quotation from Marx and Friedrich Engels about the revolution as the Last Judgment (BENJAMIN, 2018, [X 1, 4], p. 1056).

I cite Benjamin here, as Agamben starts from this Benjaminian notion to deal with his critique of progress. And definitely, in his thinking about history, there is no “end” that is impossible to change. About that, in On the threshold of Modern (2003), Ernani Chaves teaches that Benjamin was opposed to the conception of the Second International and its evolutionist (Darwinist) and inevitable interpretation of progress (CHAVES, 2003, p. 38-39). In the same sense, in The revolution is the brake of the emergency (2019), Michel Löwy teaches that Benjamin was against the grain of vulgar evolutionist Marxism, as revolution is not a natural result of progress, it is an “emergency brake” (LÖWY, 2019, position 2183).

But even so, this does not resolve the accusation that Agamben, regarding this anti-progressive messianic-revolutionary conception of history of time, would have a “teleological” conception of history, in which the “biopolitical river” would flow towards an inexorable end. According to Frateschi, “[m]as the philosophers of progress, Agamben is not interested in the subtleties of the phenomenal world and of history that would hinder the continuity of the movement” (FRATESCHI, 2020).

Against this criticism, I would like to point out that, in fact, Agamben has a non-continuous conception of history. with your theses About the concept of history(1940), for Benjamin, “cultural evolution” is more like joining the pieces of progress, of civilization that, among its monuments, also produces barbarism (BENJAMIN, 2016, p.13-14). For this reason, inspired by the German philosopher, when he says that “[the] awareness of destroying the continuum in history is characteristic of the revolutionary classes at the moment of action” (BENJAMIN, 2016, p. 18), Agamben is precisely the one who is interested in the possibility of irruption of bourgeois history, in which the state of exception is the rule.

It remains to be seen, then, whether the dark future into which the “river of biopolitics” would flow would be something metaphysical, guided by a telos anti-progressive, as if it were a pessimistic version of an evolutionary conception of history. About this, I ask: why would it be, when it is the very contemporary facts, of the “factual reality”, that show us this, at a time when – to give a local example – the deforestation of the Amazon forest has never been so accelerated? Is it difficult to predict, based on the concrete violent phenomena, an environmental and genocidal catastrophe, which will quickly affect not only indigenous people, but the whole of Brazil, its productive structure, if another relationship, another “use” of goods is not possible? , the earth and non-human animals?

Brazilian eschatology is not a metaphysical-finalistic prediction. It is the urgency caused by a genocidal, thannate and necropolitical war, carried out by an active and extreme “letting die” against traditional peoples, for more than 500 years.

3.3 The power to act in the face of biopolitical devices and the anti-progressive historical course

As stated in the previous topic, inspired by Benjamin, for Agamben, the end of history due to the catastrophe produced by the state of exception and the world civil war may have another end, as a term, and not a final cause. But the Italian philosopher developed his own research and insurgent outputs against the devices of power, influenced by what he researched on the Catholic tradition, following the genealogical paths started earlier by Foucault. In extreme poverty (2011), “[the] specific eschatological character of the Franciscan message is not expressed in a new doctrine, but in a form of life [that of the abdication of property] by which the very life of Christ becomes present again in the world (…)” ( AGAMBEN, 2014, p. 146). More clearly, Agamben is saying that it is possible to stop the progressive historical course towards ruin through a life that uses law in another way – that deposes it, not constitutes it again.

Perhaps for what can be called anarchism or post-anarchism[I], Agamben offers us a possible, “active” way out of the imminent catastrophe. And he is not alone. invisible committee e Tiqqun, collectives that have published in Brazil, through publishing house n-1, several political texts with a bold and avant-garde tone are also inspired by Agamben's philosophy to deal with political themes of anarchist character. But what is certain is that we are talking about a type of investigation into the destitution of power through the demonstration of the anarchy paradoxically inherent in power itself. For Agamben, as he says in The use of bodies (2014), “(…) the only possibility of thinking about a true anarchy coincides with the lucid exposure of internal anarchy to power” (AGAMBEN, 2014, position 4329). In other words, the challenge is to show the fictitious, anomic character that is aporetically at the bottom of power, deactivating its devices through the deposition that a life united to form is capable of making by giving things another use.

Not for that reason would Agamben be resigned to a theoretical passivity, which would stop the truth, to the detriment of the docile and passive community.With Theodor Adorno, in his text Resignation (1977), it is necessary to remember that “[t]o political actions can be reduced to pseudo-activities, to theater” (ADORNO, 2018, p. 114). practical character of Agamben's philosophy, as “(...) an uncompromising thinker, who does not falsify conscience and does not allow himself to be terrified into acting (...)” (ADORNO, 2018, p. 114). Agamben is not merely trying to be coherent with his theory, giving it life, in the face of the reality that is imposed by this tragic pandemic. Not even his theory fails to be critical enough because of his attempt to make a paradigmatic, modal, or even command ontology of political action. I understand, quoting Adorno, once again, that “[p]thinking is not the intellectual reproduction of what, in any case, is” (ADORNO, 2018, p. 114); “[t]he open mind points beyond itself. Being itself a behavior, a figure [shape] of praxis” (ADORNO, 2018, p. 114).

In fact, on the traditional dichotomy of theory-praxis, Agamben seeks to go further, knowing that a revolutionary attitude, capable of putting an end to the messianic time – “which became short”, as Paul says (1 Cor 7, 29) –, can being that of life united with form, the act with speech, a performance, in John Austin's terms, as Agamben himself uses to explain such a relationship, in Creazione e anarchia: L'opera nell'età della religione capitalist (2017) (AGMBEN, 2018, p. 104-105); and, thus, also departs from what Ludwig Wittgenstein conceives as the idea of ​​“constitutive rule” or “constitutive norm”, to go beyond the old dichotomies between norm and action, universal and particular, which are called into question, neutralizing “( …) the current representation according to which the problem of the rule would simply consist in the application of a general principle to a particular case, that is, according to the Kantian model of a determining judgment, in a merely logical operation” (AGAMBEN, 2014, p. 79 ).

Thus, the project of another life, lived outside the command of capitalist society, for example, as a paradigm of cenobitic life, shifts “(...) the ethical problem from the plane of the relationship between norm and action to that of the way of life” ( …) (AGAMBEN, 2014, p. 79). It is a life in which the devices that command us through another use of things, of law, of property, are profaned, through an anarchy that presupposes that human action is free because it is not founded on the Being that "(...) right l'abbiamo perduto o abbiamo dimenticato l'accesso a esso” (AGAMBEN, 2018, p. 132).

And still about acting, about action against the devices of power, of government over our bodies, in the article by Leland de La Durantaye, The paradigm of colonialism (2012), published in the aforementioned collection by Svirsky and Bignall, there is an important record of a brief text by Agamben on the subject, called Metropolis (2006) – translated into Portuguese by Honesko, in 2010, by Revista murmur 26. In this text, La Durantaye says, among other interpretations, that the question raised by Agambem is not about how colonialism became a paradigm of a certain state of exception, but rather about how the division between metropolis and colony ceased to be merely spatial and practical. and it has become a division within our cities (LA DURANTAYE, 2012, p. 237).

About this, Agamben says that, instead of thinking of cities as a homogeneous, conglomerate urban continuum, we can, in fact, read the urban space from the heterogeneity of the metropolis-colony opposition, something different from the old notion of polis. In this way, Agamben says that he will start to call contemporary urban centers metropolis, where there is a process of depoliticization, in which there is the exercise of power by a government over men and things, as Foucault said, capable of deciding, as in the relationship metropolis-colony, who is “outside”, “excluded”, even if inside the city – included by exclusion. (AGAMBEN, 2010).

On that occasion, Agamben implicitly alludes to a seminar by Michel Foucault on the paradigms of the plague and leprosy, present in the freaks (1975): i) while the paradigm of leprosy is the government that expels lepers out of the city; ii) the paradigm of the plague is that which cannot expel its citizens contaminated by the epidemic, therefore, a way of surveillance and control of the urban space must be created. He then goes on to explain that, however, from the 2010th century onwards, with the transition to biopolitics, the paradigms became confused, thus creating “(...) no longer a simple binary division, but the projection of a complex series of procedures and technologies that individualize and articulate this division” (AGAMBEN, XNUMX).

Thus, these procedures and technologies that monitor, control and measure the inhabitants of urban centers are also capable of creating subjects, individuals, as well as desubjectifying them. Agamben says that the metropolis can be seen as an immense place where a process of creation of subjectivities by control devices is taking place. However, this process is still not well understood. So, he says something worth quoting in full, as he refers to the importance of his ontological investigation, despite the possible and important sociological and economic analyzes on the subject, around acting before and against the government of the metropolises over the subjects, which also produces them:

When I say that we need to try to understand these processes of subjectivation, I am not referring only to analyzes, albeit very important ones, about the sociological, economic and social nature of these processes, but I am referring, so to speak, to an almost ontological level, in which the subject's ability to act is called into question in a “Spinotian way”. That is, what in the processes in which the subject attaches himself to a subjective identity leads to a modification, an increase or a decrease in his capacity to act. It seems to me that this awareness is very lacking today and that perhaps this is what makes the metropolitan conflicts that we witness today so opaque. (AGAMBEN, 2010).

Final considerations

I conclude by saying that, despite finding Agamben's anarchic proposal interesting, I agree with Professor Frateschi, on the other hand, that the struggle and resistance are for the defense of more rights, especially when we speak from the Brazilian context of resistance to the neoliberal project of Bolsonaro’s government, at a time when not only has capitalism become religion, but when, for some time now, in Brazil, religion has become capitalism, and a necroliberal capitalism. However, I also need to reaffirm the importance of Agamben's criticism in showing the insoluble ambiguity of the legal machine, which is also anthropogenic, which has eclipsed political action, active life, heading, yes, towards a catastrophe through a world civil war , which is expanding more and more.

In the case of his texts on the current pandemic, I conclude this article based on the arguments and quotations already constructed and referenced in the following sense: Agamben is not trying to give life to his work, forcing reality on it, to propel it. In fact, the themes of an epidemic and the risk of advances in control and surveillance devices have already been addressed by the Italian philosopher – not only in the article cited here, Metropolis, but also in the last published volume, according to the chronological order of the Homo sapiens, by name stasis (2015), which I have not addressed directly here. This actually shows the potential of his thinking, which is capable, as Benjamin says, of “brushing history against the grain” (BENJAMIN, 2016, p. 13) in order to understand the contemporary beyond socioeconomic analyses, in search for the unveiling of what political action is in the face of the anarchy that underlies power, revealing its fictional character, in order to deactivate it, opening space for other forms of use.

Finally, Agamben's texts provoke us to see that the contemporary quarrel between humanists versus posthumanists and the last century's political quarrel between reformers and revolutionaries are still at play here; In addition to our national battle, in which I believe we are on the same side of the trench against neoliberal, militarist and neo-Pentecostal barbarism in Brazil, I cannot deny that the philosophical-political and legal projects are also in dispute, in “game”, be it social-democratic, liberal-procedural, be it identity, anti-racist, non-heteronormative, be it a post-anarchist project, deposing the biopolitical, biojuridical and theological-economic machine. And, as in other times, it is very important to think, within academia, as a means of political resistance, of change, but also of insurrection.

*Ricardo Evandro S. Martins Professor of Theory of Law at the Faculty of Law of the Federal University of Pará (UFPA).


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