Giorgio Agamben: Political consciousness, today

What defines political consciousness today? A subtle conjugation of renunciation and hope. When God ordered Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah, he gave up his son without hesitation and yet – at least this is what Kierkegaard suggests in Fear and Trembling – in a corner of his heart he continued to believe (faith, we know, is only a form of hope) that God would not take Isaac from him, although he had renounced him once and for all. So in the extreme situation in which we find ourselves, a lucid mind can only leave aside projects, plans and even the idea of a possible happy political community between men, and yet, at the very moment when we renounces, there we are infallibly hoping in what we had to abandon.

Renunciation and hope, idea and disenchantment, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza converge in a single person, they mutually provide each other with denial and confirmation. Only a hope, which deserting the field of false certainties of dogmas and ideologies, of churches and parties, turns with all its strength towards what it has just declared impossible, will be able to escape from the confinement of facts and strike power at its weak points, to possibly bring back the unexpected. Both in the city and the public sphere and in the darkness of private existence, it is only possible to believe and hope in this joy which we have been able to renounce.

Giorgrio Agamben, Quodlibet, 10/10/2023

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