Author Archives: hufarrel

Notes and response to “Affective Labor” by Michael Hardt

Hardt’s goal here is to briefly provide a schematic history of transformations in the capitalist economy that will buttress his theories of immaterial labor and positive biopower. This is useful as a foundation, and also makes some basic corrections to how he has been read:

“The claim that the process of modernization is over and that the global economy is today undergoing a process of postmodernization toward an informational economy does not mean that industrial production will be done away with or that it will cease to play an important role, even in the most dominant regions of the globe. Just as the industrial revolution transformed agriculture and made it more productive, so too the informational revolution will transform industry redefining and rejuvenating manufacturing processes through the integration, for example, of information networks within industrial processes. “

This argument usefully echoes earlier discussions in our class on how organizations of power layer over each other, as opposed to historical conceptions that accept epochal shifts.

On the other hand, Hardt still tends to project a biopolitically-smooth social space, even into periods before the emergence of the immaterial economy/biopower proper. In accounting for the transition from the Fordist model of industrial production to a Toyotist one, Hardt explains: “The mass production of standardized commodities in the Fordist era could count on an adequate demand and thus had little need to listen closely to the market.” He thus implies the key event in the transition was a kind of consumer rebellion on the demand side. This demand-side approach allows him to represent a diffuse and passive transitional process, spread across the entire population of citizen-consumers, prefiguring well the ultra-diffuse resistant forms that, for him, constitute a positive biopower in the current period.

Absent here is the uneven, violent, and sector-specific narrative of the breakdown of discipline in the auto factory in the late 1960s and early 70s. The spreading refusal on the shopfloor was not primarily expressed in political forms, and indeed could be referenced as a different prefiguration of biopolitical resistance (i.e. the application of sick-outs, the constitution of informal organizations for disruption). While this is a short piece that necessarily paints the story broadly, the Toyotist-phenomenon is key to his idea of the emerging hegemony of immaterial labor, and Hardt’s historical approach follows his political orientation.

More broadly, Hardt’s perspective (which here at least, echoes orthodox Marxism), that the elaboration of the new affective economy will necessarily open new spaces for struggle, walks a thin line. As he ends with, “the production of affects, subjectivities, and forms of life present an enormous potential for autonomous circuits or valorization, and perhaps for liberation.” It’s unclear what his “autonomous circuits” directly signify, but the ambiguity speaks to the very possible alternate reading that the new, flexibilized affective economy will simply be an engine for ever-more efficient recuperation, recognizing new forms of life and quickly incorporating them within the economy. His method is either strategic, moving to analyze new terrains of contestation as they emerge, or celebratory, promising that the latest innovations in the economy should be temporarily accepted, in the name of a future pay-off, of still as-yet-formless subversive potentials. The distance between these methodological poles is the political distance between diffuse resistance and diffuse social democracy, both of which deserve to be criticized.


Daniel’s Notes on Feminized Labor

It is clear from these articles that capitalist modes of production have as a precondition the division of labor which is cut along sexual difference; in other words, the marginalization of women as a class, which is the valorization of men as a class, was a necessary condition for the transition into capitalism. Extending Foucault’s definition of racism, biopower (and capitalism) require differences in the field of the managed organism, the species; race, gender, and class seem to be these archetypal, all-important divisions needed for the initial primitive accumulation of capital but also for the perpetual primitive accumulation for whose existence Boutang argues (c.f., John Lennon’s song “Woman is the Nigger of the World” – this song has been really important to me recently because it hits most of my strongest feelings about conceptualizing women as an oppressed class).

Waldby and Cooper echo Boutang (further echoing de la Costa) in their correction to Marx’s theory of primitive accumulation (the “pre-capitalist mode of often violent primary resource acquisition” which is supposedly replaced by the wage contract) in saying that this form of slave labor in which the laborer is not considered to be the Lockean property owner/seller of their labor is not exclusive to the pre-capitalist mode but is in fact one of the primary conditions for the reproduction of capitalist conditions. Much of this slave labor that is necessary for capitalism to function is feminized labor or “women’s work.” One example is from this article, “The Biopolitics of Reproduction”: “Egg donors spend 56 hours in the medical setting, undergoing interviews, counseling, and medical procedures related to the process,” the procedure involves 7-10 days of hormone injections, not to mention the 5% risk of developing a possibly fatal disease called ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome. The hours, the emotional and physical effects of hormone therapy, and the risk of having to treat a disease by your own means which you contracted “on a job,” all are examples of the hidden costs for the women undergoing these supposedly lucrative egg donations. The act of making the laborer pay for certain costs related to or necessary for the performance of a job Immanuel Wallerstein calls externalizing costs of the labor process to the laborer. So the laborer pays to work when the capitalist externalizes costs to them, making the laborer internalize costs. Other examples of this are an employee’s drive to work or an employee having to buy food at the job or even paying for supplies, such as tools. But another example of this is when a family supports one worker and thus all of the costs of reproducing that worker are externalized to the family, which oftentimes means the women of the family. Thus, women “work for free” in this way, and this seems to be one of the main methods of externalizing onerous costs of capitalist ventures to the people: a process of wealth expropriation. This is what Fortunati speaks to when they write that it is by both the extension of the work day to the limits of human possibility and also the conceptualizing of reproductive labor as “natural production” “which has enabled two workers to be exploited with one wage, and the entire cost of reproduction to be unloaded onto the labor force.”

What seems important to me about these insights, starting with Boutang and ending with Wallerstein, is that the “social contract” never extends itself in a linear fashion in which more and more people are brought into the fold. Instead, capitalism depends on much cruder forms of exploitation, as well as the more sophisticated contract form with all of its philosophical technology, to sustain itself.

The ambivalences of being a woman, the multiple modes of existing throughout the world that are signified by being of this class, come to the center in these pieces. It is the emancipated first world woman who puts off child-rearing for her career and then decides to mine fertility from poor, younger women in often poor countries. This is what Waldby and Cooper mean when they write that feminist theorist Kempadoo “makes clear that the sexual division of labour is inseparable from issues of race, imperialism and unequal exchange, including the power relations that exist between women.” (side note: the idea of poor women “gifting” their eggs to mostly business women in the first world, as though there were no other antagonisms between them, is just as disgusting as the idea that women should “gift” their productive labor in the household or their reproductive labor to men, or better, to capital: “[Reproduction] is an exchange that appears to take place between male workers and women, but in reality takes place between capital and women, with the male workers acting as intermediaries” (Fortunati, 9).) This also makes me think critically of the difference between sex work in the first world and sex work in the post-colonies.

Women, in general, do more work than men, meaning that they are disproportionately exploited. This is a consequence of their having to perform “natural production” (reproductive labor and other domestic work) and most often the production of exchange value which is waged labor, too.

I am at a loss for how to extend support to the hundreds of millions of women being exploited in the post-colonies: how does one reconcile their feminism with the realities of the two papers regarding the conditions of women in countries which have undergone IMF restructuring programs and thus the collapse of their economies? I suppose the indebtedness of those countries to the rest of the world is most painfully embodied by the women performing clinical or biotechnical labor in which parts of their bodies are most explicitly given up in order for them to procure the necessities of living. Just my existence in the first world means that I am a beneficiary of their indebtedness and servitude. At least the women’s issues in America can be helped by responding to points made in the Fortunati piece, for instance. But maybe women’s issues on the national level only seem to be more accessible to leverage, but are they really without attention to the periphery?

LT and HF’s Response: Hoosier Biopolitics

We spent the day, and now the evening, debating the transformations of capital that are so obviously under way right now. The drop-out rate in high schools has hit 30%, a number that will be given an enormous bump by the school reforms now being proposed. In the years since No Child Left Behind, teachers have been consistently vilified in the mass media, as an entrenched elite, as failing to live up individually to a traditional caring conception of the classroom. Now, after one round of lay-offs (with selective rehiring) last year, another round of young teachers will be fired, and teachers with seniority face salary cuts in the neighborhood of $20,000, in the case of our roommate’s mom.

At the same time, eight Planned Parenthood clinics will be shuttered this year by explicitly political funding cuts. These are primarily in rural areas, and the extremely poor urban spaces in Northwest Indiana. In the Herald Times today, the article outlines how clinics who cannot be supported by fees for service, in other words clinics where most of the clients receive free or reduced cost care, will be closed. This eliminates services for those least able to pay, and to disproportionately people of color.

As Waldby and Cooper argue in “Biopolitics of Reproduction,” declining birth rates represent, in the OECD (which is broadly equivalent to the post-industrial world), a slow crisis in economic and political viability. They point to the availability of reproductive planning, and its necessity given the labor and affective demands of the “new economy,” but Fortunati is more explicit about the political relation of abortion to capital in the 1970s in Chapter 2:

“Within the family, capital posits the reproduction of new labor powers as being ‘necessary’ to the male worker and female houseworker for their own reproduction. ‘Necessary’ because, paradoxically, it is the only way in which they can wider their circle of fundamental relationships or, indeed, have any relationship with non-adults. The need to have children cannot be explained solely in terms of lack of contraception or “illegality” of abortion. However, capital is once again losing its argument of necessity, as more and more women are opting out of bearing children or are limiting the number given the cost in both social and monetary terms nowadays.” P. 25

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Esposito – Chapter 3 notes “Biopolitics and Biopotentiality”

Esposito here goes to Nietszche to provide an alternative genealogy of the biopolitical. This clearly dovetails with his account in chapter 1 of the semantic origins of the term. See p. 82:

“The grand politics places physiology above all other questions – it wants to rear humanity as a whole, it measures the range of the races, of peoples, of individuals according to…the guarantee of life that they carry within them. Inexorably it puts an end to everything that is degenerate and parasitical to life.”

Nietszche lacks the specific word “biopolitics” but in most other ways is closer here to Foucault’s rendering in the College de France lectures than, for example, the French “neo-humanists.” But Esposito is going to Nietszche to do many different things. He’s also drawn on for his vitalism and political immanence (mirroring the organists and Schmitt), his emphasis on the “tumult of bodies and proliferation of errors,” as opposed to the supposed importance of grand principles, and the spread of polyvalent conflicts that give the lie to contractualism. (p. 80)

Nietszche is also seen as fundamentally ambiguous, anti-modern, capable of recognizing immunity (p. 89) as a central dynamic, but also obsessed with “cleanliness,” (p. 96), as is also evident in the first quote above. His aristocratic impulse elaborates another linkage with race war as a historical trajectory, and Esposito usefully cites de Boulainviller as a source for Nietszche. Foucault also draws on the French aristocrat (it seems clear that this is the source material for the discussion at the end of the College de France lecture we read, which wasn’t specifically traced to sources older than Marx in that edition); de Boulainviller was a late 17th century hyper-aristocrat and court intellectual, translated Spinoza, and developed an early theory of race war as a way to implicate the French sovereign as being compromised in an alliance with the racially-inferior 3rd Estate (from Wikipedia).

Nietszche is put into tension with himself at multiple points, but ultimately remains ambiguous. Ambiguities include:

The role of decadence (p. 97)

Nietszche’s “subaltern” position regarding immunization and nihilism (p. 96) Survival/will to health vs. the will to power (p. 87)

Of course, the relationship to “parasites.”

The discussion of bodies and conflict, and the limits of individuality, on p. 83-84 was very helpful. The question of Nietzsche’s blockage, in his “negation of the negation” regarding immunity leads to a very concise summary of the issue of immunity and its limits at the bottom of p. 96.

I preferred to read this chapter as a whirlwind exegesis of political Nietszche, and was skeptical of its resolution in the “Posthuman” section. Esposito evokes the individualist Nietszche but never really seems to put him into tension with the biopolitical Nietzsche constructed in this chapter. The Gay Science is a frequent reference point, and I couldn’t help but go back to aphorism 283, “Preparatory Human Beings” (“live dangerously, build your cities on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius,” etc.) and related passages, which seem to provide a much more chaotic, aristocratic conception of self-overcoming. At one point, Esposito argues that Nietzsche is more fruitful a source than Foucault on these questions, but ultimately the question of biopotentiality and Nietzsche’s contribution to it is ambiguous.

This is important because Nietzsche is obviously seen as a potential source for the affirmative biopolitics that Esposito seeks. Maybe we can work together to try and unpack exactly where that happens, vs. where Nietzsche appears very differently (as a source for thanatopolitics)?

Various questions remain for me. One is the issue of exteriority, vs. “interiorization,” see the discussion of childbirth on p. 108. This seems like a framing bipolarity, also related to vitalism as a whole impulse, but I don’t have the background on it.

Notes over “Biopolitics/Bioeconomics” by Maurizio Lazzarato

Lazzarato has been based in Paris since he fled state repression in Italy during the late 1970s. He collaborates with Yann Moulier-Boutang and others on the post-Autonomist journal Multitudes. This piece as a response to the debate on the series of national referendums on ratification of the European constitution. Lazzarato and his cohorts tended to be critical, in particular, of the electoral opponents of the ratification.


In this piece, Lazzarato charts a specifically Foucaldian genealogy of governmentality and liberalism. This is specifically at odds with, and a critique of, various other understanding of the emergence of the modern State and politics. It acknowledges a relation between economy and politics while, in particular, refusing the base/superstructure conception in Marxism.

The complex interaction between the economy and politics, and particularly the entry of economic questions into political life (discussed in reference to Arendt), do not tend toward a dialectical synthesis, but a stable instability, a heterogeneous power network. To effect a limited reconciliation, or management, of this network, civil society (and liberalism) is born as a third term in the equation. Civil society acts as a mediator between competing frameworks and lineages in managing society.

“But here civil society is not the space for the making of autonomy from the state, but the correlative of certain techniques of government. Civil society is not a first and immediate reality, but something that belongs to the modern technology of governmentality. Society is not a reality in itself or something that does not exist, but a reality of transactions, just like sexuality or madness. “

This is successful precisely because, “for Foucault heterogeneity means tensions, frictions, and mutual incompatibilities, successful or unsuccessful adjustments between these different dispositifs. Sometimes the government plays one dispositif against another; sometimes it relies on one, sometimes on the other. We are confronted with a kind of pragmatism that always uses the market and competition as a measure of its strategies.”

From here, Lazzarato lays out a schema of transition between strategies of discipline and strategies of security. This seems to broadly mirror (and collapse) the binary of sovereign/disciplinary power and biopolitics laid out by Foucault in History of Sexuality, Vol. 1. Lazzarato is also integrating elements of Deleuze’s analysis in Postscript: “Security is a differential management of normalities and risks…”

He goes on to describe the means of interaction and mediation between modern economy and politics, drawing in particular on the Ordo-liberals, “social market” economists in West Germany who stressed the importance of the State in establishing and defending the terms of the free market, thus “intervention for the market, not on the market.” All of society must be managed in its interaction with the market, reintroducing the population as an essential category, as opposed to the workers.

Lazzarato then moves on to consider, as does the “liberal State,” the workers outside the confines of a Marxian analysis of “mechanisms of production, exchange, and consumption,” as whole beings, subsumed by society/capital. Workers can now consider themselves human capital, individually responsible for further self-accumulation, in forms ranging from school to affects, and competing within a seemingly ahistorical marketplace. He identifies this as a key moment of individuation: “There is a shift from the analysis of structure to the analysis of the individual, from the analysis of economic processes to an analysis of subjectivity, its choices and the conditions of production of its life. “

In turn, this individuation is key to the strategy of the security society, in its complexity and flexibility: “The dispositifs of security define a frame that is “loose” (since it deals precisely with actions on possibilities); within this frame, on the one hand the individual will be able to exercise its “free” choices on the possibilities determined by others and, on the other hand, there will be enough scope for the government and handling of responses to the hazards of the changes of its environment, as required by the situation of permanent innovation of our societies. “ Liberalism as a whole appears as a political technology to flexibly manage difference and heterogeneity, and its essential form is multiplicitous, in opposition to the prevailing “totalism” of French political ideology.

Scattered points and responses:
It’s telling that Lazzarato quickly glosses over Keynesianism, and only as a minor counterpoint to Ordo-liberalism. There would seem to be a range of possible relationships between economy, State, and civil society, and not all are liberal.

If Lazzarato is arguing specifically that this liberal strategy is important because it’s in the ascent (which I think he is), his historical method is so abstract and vague that he is unable to really defend that point. He seems to argue that this is a long-term development, without engaging other strategies (such as Keynesianism or state socialism), or identifying periods or moments of transition. I’d argue that this particular strategy tends to interact and cycle with other management, but perhaps my understanding of liberalism is not adequately “total.”

The discussion of the genealogy of “class struggle” as concept and terminology in the footnote was a helpful, concrete contribution to the brief observations at the end of the Foucault lecture we read. But Lazzarato seems to treat Marx’s position here as a pure maneuver, a theoretical sleight-of-hand to conceal the question of “population” (vs. classes). But while these genealogical observations do point to a disturbing underlying structure, one also still has to credit Marx with the materialism of his method. If “population” as a category was invisible to him, it was because, politically, classes had begun organizing as blocs since at least 1789 in Paris, and potentially much earlier outside of France.

Notes over Mitropoulos’ “Materialization of Race in Multiculture”

Notes over “Materialization of Race in Multiculture,” by Angela Mitropoulos

Because it’s unlikely that most people read this for today, I tried to summarize the piece while covering the main theoretical points.  WordPress hates me and won’t let me take most of my notes out of italics, sorry.

Mitropoulos is, according to a recent interview in Shift Magazine, a writer and activist in Australia, who also runs a blog at Mitropoulos’ background is in No Borders organizing, camps and otherwise.


Mitropoulos’ starting point here is the strategic transition in the management of difference in Australian society from an officially-celebrated multiculturalism in the 80s to the explicitly harsh surveillance and control practiced today. This shift occurred not just in reference to borders and immigration, but also in the management of indigenous people.


In the 90s, Australia’s high court, in the Mabo decision, abandoned terra nullius, or “empty land,” the legal principle that the continent had been unowned and barbarous before European colonization, thus allowing the Crown to issue land title unilaterally. This allowed indigenous peoples to file suit for title, and to use land co-extensively with White ranchers, though another court decision a few years later gave precedence to the latter in such agreements.


Mitropoulos argues that the multiculturalism of this period, which underlay this “concession,” demands homogenous, representable minorities that can be integrated functionally into democratic discourse. So this concession actually shifted the burden of conflict away from the previous dynamic of ‘indigenous vs. settler society’: the really-existing consequence of multiculturalism was the ‘internalisation’ of conflict in the form of disputes over authenticity, identity and its borders.”


Further, multiculturalism relies on these homogenous minorities to be pliant, asserting cultural difference but willing to cooperate on important matters like development, and the Australian public tired of a seemingly intractable indigenous “problem.” This culminated in 1997, with the declaration of a national emergency, responding to a supposed crisis of child sex abuse in indigenous communities. Mitropoulos emphasizes the gendered, paternalistic dimensions of the intervention on behalf of “women and children,” relating this to an important quality of modern liberal management, its depoliticization. This reflects a shared interest and broad set of values within the democratic spectrum (which is implicitly whitened), that is forced to respond to an entire, racialized class of people who stubbornly remain outside of society’s norms: “‘They’ made ‘us’ do it by – and by being far too ‘they’ in the first place. The conditions under which the contract might be suspended is already written into contractualism: the failure of will to prevail over ‘custom’, the non-identity of the contracting parties, the inability of certain people to ‘control themselves’.”


Following Tronti and others, Mitropoulos understands the interplay between these events – indigenous land rights struggles in the 80s, the Mabo decision, title suits, the child sex emergency, etc. – to reflect a non-linear struggle for power. The Mabo decision was not necessarily either just a concession or a recuperation. It allowed for indigenous groups to seek possession over traditional holdings, but it also forced them to articulate precisely the historical nature of these holdings and concede rights permanently over much of the rest (this is similar to the Treaty Rights process in British Columbia).


More broadly: “In that policy, and in that process of managing the passage from the ostensibly particular differences of the otherly-complexioned to their integration into the apparently neutral terrain of social identity (citizenship), distinctions were always made between proper and improper forms of difference. As Mathew Hyland notes, this becomes the route by which an “open-ended obligation to the state and its proxies” is demanded.”


My summarization strategy of note-taking breaks down here, because the next three paragraphs seem really important:


Or, as Harry Chang put it some time ago, it is not the instrumentalisation of physiognomic differences that is at issue, but rather “objectification, ie, relational poles conceived as the intrinsic quality of objects in relation”[8] Chang went on to insist that while, therefore and for instance, enslavability could be regarded as an attribute of blackness, not everyone who is black is therefore destined to be enslaved.


it does not aim at an air-tight predictable outcome when it comes to the question of who shall be in what class; the rule has to work itself out actuarially. … an elaborate system of gambling-house odds. … what is a gambling-house mentality if there are no winners occasionally? Nonetheless, the abstract need of class relations (eg, there shall be slaves) demands some concrete demographic solution (eg, Blacks as ‘candidates’ for slaves).[9]

Racialisation is, to stress the point, actuarial; it is coincident with the hazards and triumphs of meritocracy and its predicaments, the organisation of ruin, gain, winners and losers, and the incessant restlessness that these imply. Race is, then, not a question of fixed categories, even if fixity and determination is what it imputes in manoeuvring around the troublesome questions of contingency and destiny. It delineates the points of a process, a set of filters that sift between those who might be groomed for inclusion (and potential value) and those set aside for exclusion and superfluity (or determined to be without value). This is why the application of its categories acquires a mobility that can only be understood as situational and concrete, never abstract or ahistorical; at times turning around the dualities of black and white or, at other times, the spectra of complexion, migratory waves or physiognomic assortment.

Mitropoulos argues against both biologically-essentialist conceptions of race and “voluntarist” social constructionism. Instead, she points to the actual materialization of race, the process by which the imperatives of race are imposed on populations:

“Where the biological concepts of race adhere to certain understandings of causation (conceive, for instance, of higher rates of mortality among indigenous people as an effect of ‘biology’, sometimes rendered as ‘culture’; or understand higher rates of infection without recalling the denial of certain antibiotic treatments and health care that are routinely available elsewhere), the latter champions the tautologies of contractarianism while exteriorising a presumed excess.”


This reminds me of Arendt in “Origins of Totalitarianism,” but I actually prefer this different passage as an explanation of the principle — “Thus, Das Schwarze Korps conceded several years before the outbreak of the war that people abroad did not completely believe the Nazi contention that all Jews are homeless beggars who can only subsist as parasites in the economic organism of other nations; but foreign public opinion, they prophesized, would in a few years be given the opportunity to convince itself of this fact when the German Jews would be driven out across the borders like a pack of beggars.” Seeds of a Fascist International.


Race is not a stable construction that one is either born into or can leave voluntarily, but an unstable tautology that is physically imposed on populations and reproduced constantly particularly within the logic of the economy:

“In other words, race exists insofar as capital – its conditions, relations and procedures – is spectralised, just as abstract equality exists to the extent that concrete differences are sifted, ordered, repudiated, costed and abjected. This circumstance is neither a result of will nor biology, even if it organises the semantics and practices, both mundane and sensational, of will and of bios through which race becomes materialised.”


Notes over Chapter 1 of “Political Theology”

Brief notes on Chapter 1 of Schmitt’s “Political Theology.”

P. 2  Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution allowed the President of
the Republic legislative powers under emergency conditions.  It was
the legal framework under which von Hindenburg turned over power to
Hitler in 1933.

P. 9.  Jean Bodin “The Republic”
“The sovereign Prince is only accountable to God.”

The liberal state, on the other hand,  invokes popular constitution
and a separation of powers to conceal the “question of sovereignty.”
(p. 11)

P. 12,  “The existence of the state is undoubted proof of its
superiority of over the validity of the legal norm. The decision frees
itself from all normative ties and becomes in the true sense absolute.
The state suspends the law in the exception on the basis of its right
of self-preservation, as one would say. “

P. 13, “The exception is that which cannot be subsumed; it defies
general codification, but it simultaneously reveals a specifically
juridical formal element: the decision in absolute purity.”

Generally, Schmitt emphasizes the importance of the very principle of
exception.  The quote from Kierkegaard that ends the first chapter
seems to serve this purpose.  There is a fundamental division between
those who privilege the norm or the exception.  Schmitt
prioritizes theoretically the exceptions that push to “the outermost sphere.”

The exception is that element which undermines the rationalist claims
of the liberal constitutional state.  State-builders in this vein
write various provisions into the constitution attempting to foresee
crisis and simultaneously enable and prescribe the mode of exception,
but the emergency situation cannot be foreseen and exceeds all
rational prediction (P. 6-7).

P. 13, Schmitt later focuses on decisionism as a school of juridical
thought. To quote him later, in an extreme definition of decisionism:
“Der Führer has made the law, der Führer protects the law”.
The passage here at the bottom P. 13 seems to summarize and introduce
the principle.

Despite their extreme political disparities, Schmitt and Walter Benjamin corresponded with and respected each other.  Here is Benjamin on the state of exception, written shortly before his death in occupied France in 1940:

“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “state of
exception” in which we live is the rule. We must arrive at a concept
of history which corresponds to this. Then it will become clear that
the task before us is the introduction of a real state of exception;
and our position in the struggle against Fascism will thereby improve.”
Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History