Home > Uncategorized > Book Summary: Giorgio Agamben: The Kingdom and the glory

Book Summary: Giorgio Agamben: The Kingdom and the glory

Contests Schmitt who argues origin of political in secular age is from Church’s politics. It is from Church’s Oikonomia.

Why is power in the western world accompanied by glory? All the wasefullness on symbolism. Likewise why is government by men linked to glory?

(preface)“And yet, one of the results of our investigation has been precisely to note that the function of acclamations and Glory, in the modern form of public opinion and consensus, is still at the center of the political apparatuses of contemporary democracies.”

Glory at center of human politics, the image of the empty throne, and we must move beyond it, render inoperative the human divine works.

Two paradigms in Western thought. Scant attention has been paid to the history and archaeology of economic theology and how it originate in religious dogma. (1)

Assumption: Carl Schmitt: “all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts.” (2) Not just state but economy, and many other things.

(3) Economic theology paints a picture of man as only capable of economics, not politics. “History is not a political problem but one of administration and government” the root of this depoliticized man lies in theology. The eternal life to which christians lay claim is in the realm of economics not politics.

(4) Secularism understood as a signature, not altering the content but the way we understand it and who it belongs to. Yes there is the study of how the content changes but alongside it the symbols and meaning change as well. Distinguishing the two is important.

German Idealism’s philosophy of history and enlightenment’s idea of progress are nothing more than theology.

Christ’s second coming is prevented by Jewish refusal to convert. So the existence of jews validates the survival of the Church. There can be no church unless it is so.

(9) First paradigm, there is one sovereign, and politics should be monarchical. One only people, one only god.

(10) coincidence between coming of Christ and the Roman Empire. Before augustus mankind lived in peaceful plurality, with Augustus and the coming of Christ the world was unified under one empire completed with constantine, had the potential to bring about the second coming. God wanted to be a man in this time period.

The other paradigm is Trinitarian theology against divine monarchy. Because of the trinity, political theology is impossible. Only economics.

Note (What is the value of this work? If I’m not a Christian what can I read into it? Understanding the lineage of modern politics I guess)

(13) Three ancient opinions concerning god. Anarchy, polyarchy and monarchy. The first two are hellenistic pre-christian (prof is an anarchist) But anarchy does not mean one ruler, it has room for three rulers but in one essence, or three senses. Monarchy can lead to civil war, only a  “a displacement from a political to an economic rationality can protect us against this danger” (politics is glory)

Chapter 8:

(197)Glory presupposes the idea of lordship and sovereignty in the bible. It is also important to glorify god. There is aesthetic dimension to politics, in sovereignty and unity is god glorified.

(202) “Thus to the glorious economy of the Trinity corresponds the reciprocal glorification of men and god” there is circular economy of glorification in which the don glorifies the father and is glorified by him. Alternatively (204) god radiates glory on his son who reflects it on his followers.

(Note) Link between dualism and religion especially monotheism. External truth is God which man works towards.

(207) Two senses of trinity, economic trinity of revelation, and immanent trinity of substance. The first is how god reveals himself to man, in three forms. The second is gods essence itself a tripartite. This reflects he origin of the fracture between ontology and praxis, theology and economy. “Our investigation has tried to reconstruct the way in which these original polarities have, at different levels, developed into the polarities of transcendent order and immanent order, Kingdom and Government, general providence and special providence, which define the operation of the machine of the divine government of the world.”

Economic trinity is government and it presupposes immanent trinity which is the kingdom.

(208) Glory is where theology thinks the link or collation between immanent and economic trinity. Economic trinity is completed as a cycle but not immanent trinity, not until the end days when everything is reunited to God.

State glory and of god ends in spectacles, media, public exclamations, and the discourse assumes in culminated in Nazism mass chant of heil hitler el duce duce, but did it die out there? The modern need for consensus or decision by acclamation is an extension of the spectacle. Media is everywhere and if it is not public it is not verified.

God is perfect glorifies himself, why does the world exist? He is perfect his beings are perfect, then the only reason he wants them is to glorify himself. This explains missionary fervor to some extent.

(51) only purpose of governance in god’s plan is for glorification.

(64) Economy and theology cannot be separated, it is blasphemous like separating god from the son. “Economic and theological rationality must operate, as it were, in divergent agreement, so that the economy of the son is not negated and a substantial division is not introduce in God.”

Modern Christian paradigm of trinitology infuses stoicism from Greek times into the theology of the church in which praxis meets praise.

(66) “”the economy means the mode of administration by means of a pluralism of the divine power” In this governmental meaning, the impolitical paradigm of the economy also shows its political implications.” (chapter 3 on glorification)

(108) “In other words, two different conceptions of the government of men confront each other: the first is still dominated by the old model of territorial sovereignty, which reduces the double articulation of the governmental machine to a purely formal moment; the second is closer to the new economico-providential paradigm, in which the two elements maintain their identity, in spite of their correlation, and the contingency of the acts of government corresponds to the freedom of the sovereign decision” (first paradigm government is theology by another name, they are one and the same. Second one they are different ways though returning to god eventually, although the second seems more democratic those theorists on the second camp claim the need for absolute executive power) (Chapter four on debates on division of economics and theology or its unity)

(110) Foucault locates three spheres of governance, legal institutional, security apparatus, and disciplinary apparatus. He argues that these were modeled on the church and emerged simultaneously from the practice of the government of souls. Although Foucault locates he origins in the 16th century with the emergence of new physics, Agamben shows it was present at the beginning of religion even. Origin of modern political concepts has its origin in “Gubernatione Dei” God’s governance? The debate on the role of providence stretches all the way from the stoics to modernity in Christian and Judaic cultures. (But seriously that’s one long line to draw man)

Mirrors debate on whether god provides the world with general or particular principles. What is at stake is the possibility of divine government in the world. “If the Kingdom and the Government are separated in God by a clear opposition, then no government of the world is actually possible: we would have, on the one hand, an impotent sovereignty and, on the other, the infinite and chaotic series of particular (and violent) acts of providence. The government is possible only if the Kingdom and the Government are correlated in a bipolar machine: the government is precisely what result-s from the coordination and articulation of special and general providence”

(114)Government as providential machine. The paradox is that providential action is inevitable but also not accidental (free will)(117) Can providence have accidental effects? When I live in a house I provide for roaches but only accidentally. That is how no one is unaffected by providence but not necessarily directly. (for god as providing generalities not specific providence) Versus yes for specific providence, three types, general, second and providence that comes after creation which is issue specific. (chapter 5 on debate between specific and general providence)

(131) Aquinas defines government according to theology. Not chance but order and deliberation, ultimately help things created by god reach their end. But if natural order is already perfect no need for government. Thus the question hiow much does god take care of and how detailed is his providence. Thus the distinction between first and second orders of god. Second gives room for things to fulfill themselves. (fulfillment comes from religions I guess at least emphasis on happiness and how one can define it.) Does god or the executive govern by rules then or by executive function.

(aw man this book makes me hate religion so fucking tautological and self righteous and ascetic and fucked)

(137) form the 16th century the question of governance between nature and grace starts moving towards the modes and efficacy of grace. There is a split between the kingdom and the government but both are unified with a dual nature of the world and vicarious through man Emperor and pope.

(140): Theses:

  1. Providence (the government) is what can join the split between being and praxis, transcendent and immanent good, theology and economics. It is providence that joins the father and the son from its apparent split.
  2. Providence reconciles and inactive god foreign to the world and an active god that governs (economical god). (This shows in the way that the US tries to govern the world today, setting down structure and expecting local autonomy in governance
  3. Providence has two levels one general one specific, Government results from this correlation.
  4. The actions of government is the collateral effects of general rules. The act is the in between on the specific and the general.
  5. Every power has a vicarious character, it is not an essence but must be transmited through an agent (an economy of it).
  6. The division between two levels guarantees that government is not despotic, it presumes freedome of those under it in forms as collateral.

These are the epistemological boundaries of modern governments. Modern state inherits both the providence state and the destiny state. Through the distinction between legislative/sovereign power and executive/governmental power the modern state “acquires the double structure of the governmental machine” It wears the regal clothes of the sovereign but lets its creatures be free.

Chapter 6:

(147) Christian publicity only comes in form of praise. There is little else that humans can do politically in this theology of angels. All angels do day and night is sing hyms of praise so if men want to emulate them that’s what they should do. But angels have two characters, contemplative to praise god and administrative to looks after humans. But if god can do everything why does he need angels? Answer is that so a fitting order can be maintained. Invention of term hierarchy to explain hierarchy of angels. (origin of bureaucracy, angels do not report to get but only transfer his message. Interdasting 156-157) Angels arranged functionally. Even after Armageddon, the angles still have to punish the damned for eternity. Angeleology coincides with theory of power. Angels also judged at end times. Interesting how the language of power of angels and bureaucracy transfers and is mixed and borrows from one another.

Chapter 7:

Twofold nature of angels as governing and praising is difficult to translate the latter into secular governance. (175) The Amen in liturgy is in which the multitude constitutes itself as a people. At the end of prayer everyone says amen to express their assent as a community. Need for acclamation. Third century emergence of sovereignty and glory. Coins and crowns and purple dresses to differentiate ruler from ruled become symbols of sovereignty. Originally there is no language to express this but it develops. Importance of ceremony and pomp in Christianity for glory. The sign of power becomes important in of itself. So a flag shouldn’t be thrown nor a crow disposed but retained. Why it’s illegal to burn Flags in US. Authentic figures that represent spiritual progress. Words become actions themselves, opposing ancient chasm between word and action. Because words are symbols or as agamben calls them signatures they are imbued with power as If they were acts “saying I Swear for example”

(this book could use some pictures) These become definitions of glory.

(186) Sport and politics:

“What is significant, if at first disconcerting, is that the same ritualizing of acclamations takes place for the horse racing in the hippodrome. The shriekers cry out here as well: “Many many many” and the people reply, just as they do in the Christmas ceremony: “Many years, and many more,” substituting the name of the race winner for that of the emp~ror. In Byzantium, beginning already in the Justinian era, the two factions into which the spectators are divided in the hippodrome, the Blues and Greens, have a strong political character and even constitute, so to speak, the only form of political expression left to the people. Therefore, it is not surprising that sporting acclamations are invested with the same process

of ritualization that defines the acclamations of the emperors. Under Justinian’s rule there was even an uprising that shook the city for almost a week, which had as its slogan a sporting acclamation (nika, “win!”; exactly as today, in Italy, an important political faction draws its name from an acclamation heard in the stadiums).’”

Importance of acclamation in church choreographed mass chant of approval, transfer to importance for fascist regimes. On the ceremonial aspects of power and its importance.

(195) if power is essentially force and efficacious action, why does it need to receive ritual acclamation and hymns of praise, look to ceremonies and protocol and wear crowns and shit. “why does something that is essentially opperativity and oikonomia need to become solemnly immobilized in glory?” That it has a legitimating function is insufficient an answer. Often these processes are seen as painful and lead to the downfall of rulers. I hate this shit kingy says. The answer is in chapter 8 because power is linked to glory.

Class N0tes:

Agambin arguing against Schmitt, modern politics is theology secularized. Rather he argues that is is an extension of the economic not political roots of religion.

Modern State: Sovereign: God the Father. Administrative body: Sets the  specifics, collateral decisions of God.

Glory occupies the space between God as father and God as praxis.

Glory’s function is to hide the inoperativity of Kingdom and government, otherwise the two wouldn’t hold together. Human life is essentially inoperative, without purpose, but glory hides this. (also the government as sovereign yet requiring people is also inoperative)

Book makes sense till chapter 8 on glory where it starts to break down, but first seven chapters show interesting roots of logic.

Social legitimacy of state. Constitution in US from religion.

Promise of redemption without ever paying off. Like constitution, political parties come from christian orders, divided but united to advance the glory of god.

Corinthians 0BC-4BC before christianity needed to organize the flock outside of the empire, was all about the household, the oikonimia as church grew into an empire it had to justify its rule both to govern and justify that the empire that it is supposed to serve the flock benefits the few. Had to resolve it by reading into religion to find how to govern the empire and justify wealth. States after church pick this up and use it to justify their rule and benefit. This is what is carried on after the 8th century especially. Justifying ruler who is sovereign, the rest are the flock, eternal salvation is promised like life liberty freedom, never really achieved but always on the horizon. justifies purpose of power which is inherently without purpose by hiding behind glory.

Political parties are united under the same  system, like different  sects but compete in friendly terms,

how power has constituted not the same as how power is administrated, If all God we can’t  do anything, just manage power. Constitutional vs Constitutive power. Where does power come from vs how it is managed.

Pope 8th Century, feudalism no order outside it, because it mirrored kingdom of heaven. Why we call it the animal kingdom.

Schnitt “political theology” is origin of state. How the church dealt with outsiders versus Agambin “economic theology” how the church organizes the inside. Flocks.

christology versus theology. Christology is partisan to christians, there is a right path. Theology lends itself to unity of humanity.

Theology informs many more people’s opinions than Plato does. Theology gives birth to bureaucracy, people, individual.

Founding fathers of the United States are like God. Everyone goes back to them, they gave the constitution. Supreme courts are the holy spirit, and the son is the government. (why we have three powers because of trinity)

So if we have used the same ideas to organize politics, is globalization challenging this?

Because of theology and philosophy the west seems to revisit the same political ideas over and over again.

In international realm, many sovereign. Is it realm of polytheism or  polyarchy? But look at which states use the language of deliverance U.S> uses it so it seems to  be taking that mantle in the world but not all states do so. China doesn’t, does that mean that maybe China is a better fit to lead the world? So same discourse that Jesus was sent at a specific moment in time of empire so that his message would spread. Same logic is used by states like France and the US.

US founded at plymouth rock is providence. It had to be ordained and rise to guide the world.

Globalization isn’t global but proxy for other things projection of western order , ICC, ICJ and security council mirrors these western political arrangements originated in religion.

* Life is inoperative really. So why kill for it? War as validating human purpose. This logic is why war deaths are ok but stalin camps are not. The difference is that theory behaviours such as wife burning, honor killing, has no purpose doesn’t  provide the teleology of final salvation and is therefore not alright. Also why Al Qaeda was ok under Raegan but no longer part of the plan, they are bad now. This is how we manage events and organize them.

N: how much of this is human and not just catholic?

Glory is the word not truth. The word is assumed to be true but truth doesn’t matter. So truth and its value may have different traditions in the west.

Zizek says there is a divorce between capitalism and democracy, no longer amenable. But this is modern heresy, it goes against the promises of the word and is therefore also punishable. (zizek piunishable)

N: Us has 7% structural unemployment, will bever be solved, but we blame the individual for his failure not the system.

Media performs the function of acclamation of “public” sphere. It is simply the sanctioned privatized public sphere of God.

American senators 30 years ago were friends across partisan  linbes. Today not as much, loss of “public” space in USA (maybe this is counter to Agambins claims).

What does the state do for us? Is Agambin saying it does nothing?

The father allows for anarchy, but the son needs order and he needs science to be exclusive from sister and brother, age, inheritance, science justifies certain kinds of violence.

International morality is neutral but constitutive is not, the son is arbitrary the father is not. Everyone can use the father.

US became a superpower in WW2 a war that involved everybody. The world had changed US genius was in picking up at a moment in history of anti-order and universalism. 1946-1973 US didnt use vetoe power once. USSR used it 118 times. After 1973 US used it 87 times. US power  was credible and respected, whichis why in Human Rgihts declaration Eleanor roosevelt stated it as human family, everyone not individual, intended to be generous and open, US lost its soft power after 1973.

(110) IR is a minister to and for empire, they are like angels praising God and preaching to the populous. Preaches the word of jesus. The way the world is, IR is part of it. That is why big departments teach neoliberalism as word of empire, gives empire purpose. Christology is what feminists and constructivist do whereas prof wants to study father not son.

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