Agamben and economics

To follow up on this Jameson quote on Agamben, a quote on the relationship between slaves and kings from David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years that seems relevant for a similar reason:

If one looks across the expanse of history, one cannot help but notice a curious sense of identifiation between the most exalted and the most degraded; particularly, between emperors and kings, and slaves. Many kings surround themselves with slaves, appoint slave ministers… Kings surround themselves with slaves for the same reason that they surround themselves with eunuchs: because the slaves and criminals have no family or friends, no possibility of other loyalties–or at least that, in principles, they shouldn’t. But in a way, kings should really be like that too. As many an African proverb emphasizes: a proper king has no relatives, either, or at least, he acts as if he does not. In other words, the king and slave are mirror images, in that unlike normal human beings who are defined by their commitments to others, they are defined only by relations of power. They are as close to perfectly isolated, alienated beings as one can possibly come. (209)

The more I think about it, the more the systematic exclusion of economics from Agamben’s project seems bizarre — and the more interesting it is that it explodes onto the scene in such a disorienting way (seemingly both for author and reader) in The Kingdom and the Glory.

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One Response to “Agamben and economics”

  1. Alex Says:

    Bataille makes the same point viz. heterogeneous matter. Both the sovereign and the trash are heterogeneous in the sense described above.


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