The state of exception described by Giorgio Agamben requires mass obedience and learned helplessness, such that individual and collective agency dissipates into passive consumption of mindless diversions and junk culture. Yet as the vampiric politics and economics of neoliberalism reach obscene levels of exclusion, incarceration, inequality and greed, increasing numbers of people refuse to accept the precarity imposed by the state, whether in the name of austerity or national security.
In France, this refusal has taken shape (or shapelessness!) beneath the banner of Nuit Debout, or Up All Night.
Among the assortment of voices assembled recently by the Guardian, our ears were particularly struck by the testimony of a young Belgian student, Elie:
The powers that be are terrified by the idea of an entire generation simply “opting out” of the neo-lberal paradigm, which was after all intended to represent the end of history. Every minute of autonomy will leave its “mark in the mind”, as Elie so astutely notes. From those mind-marks, her generation may find the beginnings of an alternative future, free from the self-serving permanent emergency of the parasite class.