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Technologies of Critique$
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Willy Thayer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823286744

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823286744.001.0001

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Sovereign Exception, Destructive Exception

Sovereign Exception, Destructive Exception

31 Sovereign Exception, Destructive Exception
Technologies of Critique

Willy Thayer

, John Kraniauskas
Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses Walter Benjamin's “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” which refers to a regime of sovereign representation where the state of emergency is the rule. It explains the paradigm of sovereignty that is constituted teleologically from exception, as the foundation and conservation of representational regimes. For Benjamin, the state of emergency is equivalent to “progress as a historical norm.” The chapter also looks at the commissary-sovereign state of exception that is functional to a policing critique and a politics whose prerogative is to put the regimes of representation into crisis. It analyzes a prerogative that subsumes the destructive character of the exception within a dialectical concentration of the rule, making the spectrality of destruction a function of the system of representation.

Keywords:   Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History, state of emergency, sovereignty, commissary-sovereign state, representation

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