chapter  24
24 Pages

Steven DeCaroli (2013), 'Political Life: Giorgio Agamben and the Idea of Authority', Research in Phenomenology, 43, pp. 220-42

There is a bond between neeessity and violenee to which the long history of political thought testifies. As living beings, fundamentaHy eoneerned with the preservation of life, humanity is eonfronted with needs and driven by neeessity, and so, before the "good life" promised by polities is made possible, the resomees neeessary for sheer life must be seemed. "No man ean live weH,"

One of the clearest expressions of the relation between necessity and violence comes to us from Hannah Arendt. Writing in The Human Condition, she observes, 'What all Greek philosophers, no matter how opposed to the polis life, took for gran ted is that freedom is exclusively located in the political realm, that necessity is primarily a prepolitical phenomenon, characteristic of the private household organization, and that force and violen ce are justified in this sphere because they are the only means to master necessity."4 The distinguishing trait of the household is that it is mIed by necessity, not law, and those who gather together under its jurisdiction do so not according to choice but in compliance with the demands ofbiological survival. As long as one remains exclusively within the domain of the oikos, however, mastering the necessities oflife will involve exposure to the risk of violence, not simply because "no manexerted violence, except the violence used in torture, can match the natural

force with which necessity itself compels,"5 but because every necessity conceals the potential for an emergency.