Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blast to the Past? (Butler)

In Indefinite Detention, Butler uses the actions of the U.S government towards detainees as a platform to voice her concerns on “indefinite detention”. Here, it’s used to describe detainees held by the U.S who are denied even recognition and solid standards for convicting evidence and trials. She believes it doesn’t have a ground in law and is based on the judgment of a select few who determine the fate and lives of people. However, is it because that indefinite detention is based on people’s judgment that it is outside the sphere of law? Or is it the other way around? And is she implying that those who make heavily consequential decisions are dumb? Indefinite detention plays a constant role on detainees because in government policies because people’s definition of terrorism is limitless; people see terrorism in everything, and so their detention will never end. She shoots down the excuse that extreme measures are necessary in a state of emergency by pointing out that the definition of “state of emergency” is also indefinite, and that there is no set period for it. What I found interesting was the notion that indefinite detention “not only carries implications for when and where law will be suspended but for determining the limit and scope of legal jurisdiction itself”. (Butler 51). Is she saying that those who implement indefinite detention become the law or the sovereign?

Something that really confused me was the idea that getting rid of the traditional thought of sovereignty (as in how people got power through social status, etc.) would cause sovereignty to rise again as an “anachronism” (an error in chronology). My interpretation of this is that sovereignty could potentially rise again as something it wasn’t supposed to be, and so the new sovereignty would be a mistake. But does she mean an error in what was already past, and what counts as an error in time?

Butler beings up two forms of government power: sovereignty and governmentality. Governmentality cannot be reduced to law and “legitimizes the state” (as in it allows the state to do what it deems to those it governs). The state cannot exist without governmentality, and in order for governmentality to exist, the traditional sovereignty has to be dropped. So how do countries with sovereign-like governments survive today? And does she see a difference between the traditional sovereignty and the governmentality now? Because it’s the government now that is keeping the detainees from basic rights and living conditions that she believes everyone should have and that’s loosening the standards for evidence and trials. Could we be living in a monarchy right now without knowing it?

8 comments:

M. said...

There exist countries in our society today that still find balance in a sovereignty. Not necessarily as traditional god king with absolute rule, but countries with constitutional monarchies in which a monarch serves as a public figure/figure head to tend to public morale and well being, whereas the government controls the actual power of the state and the legislation of laws and how they are enforced. To go off of your last question of if we can be living under a monarchy right now, it is a logical question as we are subordanate to a governmental figure, but it is not that he works as a monarch to control the country to his will, its more of a righteous being with a means to a successful and efficient future i think. So are we living under a higher power of law? yes. Should we worry of monarchical tyranny in the U.S.? i don't think so.

Kellie Lyver said...

I do not think that we are living in monarchy right now. Although we do have one ultimate leader, we also have smaller governmental advisers, and rulers. Along with the rulers, the citizens of the nation have a huge role in the government, decisions made, and how the country is controlled. We as citizens of the United States have the power of being able to vote and guide our administrators to making good decisions for our country. Although it seems that the one ruler is controlling the entire nation, the citizens have a huge role in guiding the decisions made. We are definitely not living under monarchal rule.

John McCooe said...

The U.S. government takes great pride in the fact that we live in a natiion in which there is a balance of power, and every voice counts. There are a great number of fully functioning countries across the globe who have found success in their monarchy. It is through this sovereignty that a king or a queen takes the physcial role of a national leader but does not necessarily have absolute power. It has been suggested that this may be the only way to have a working soverignty style government because otherwise, one leader may lead a nation down the wrong path due to their corruption and their overwhelming amount of power. As Americans, we are lucky enough to have several working instutions which balance with other platforms of power in order to spread the responsibility that is needed to lead a democratic nation into the 21st century.

Alana Biagioli said...

I agree with Kellie and John. They are both right in the fact that the United States is not currently in a monarchy. We pride ourselves and are known for our democracy. Our democracy does not have one ruler that has full power; however, all the people have a say in the society and what goes on. Although it might seem Jane that in Butler’s Indefinite Detention our country is leaning towards a monarchy, we as the citizens of the US are lucky our nation will probably never be under monarchal rule. So Jane I’m sorry to say but I disagree with what you said and I do not believe that we could unknowingly be under monarchal rule.

Alana Biagioli said...

I agree with Kellie and John. They are both right in the fact that the United States is not currently in a monarchy. We pride ourselves and are known for our democracy. Our democracy does not have one ruler that has full power; however, all the people have a say in the society and what goes on. Although it might seem Jane that in Butler’s Indefinite Detention our country is leaning towards a monarchy, we as the citizens of the US are lucky our nation will probably never be under monarchal rule. So Jane I’m sorry to say but I disagree with what you said and I do not believe that we could unknowingly be under monarchal rule.

Vonmarie said...

I would have to agree with Jane a tiny bit. No we do not function under a monarchial government without knowing it. Even though we are under a government based on governmentality, the governent likes to find loopholes in the law system in order to get their way. In doing this, it finds ways to have exceptions to those laws which we consider to be undeceivable. For example, Professor Vaught mentioned that Ranciere stated that nonlawful combatants are in the limbo of human and civil rights. They are stuck in the middle. After the government went ahead and rocongnized that they could take advantage of this loophole, it can be said that  our govenment is based on governmentality with a pinch of soveriegnity. :)      

Alex MacLeod said...

Agreeing with what Vonmarie and Jane said, while perhaps not overtly a monarch, it cannot be argued that the President of the United States wields an enormous amount of power. When creating the nation, it was recognized that a government run strictly by a collection of people assembled in a congress or parliament would be too inefficient. Think about it. The President has enough power to strike down a bill drafter by Congress with a stroke of his pen. While certainly not a monarchy, it was recognized that occasionally, sovereignty is necessary for the continued functioning of the political system. However, this system does lead to the utilization (and occasional abuse) of loopholes. The question that we must answer is where do we draw the line between sovereignty and governmentality

Carolina said...

The power the federal government right now is limitless. We cannot predict what will happen because in the democratic we live in we chose who will represent us and our interests and that person disposes of what they think is best. And in all honesty sometimes what they think is right more than 75 percent of the nation thinks its immoral or unnecessary. I believe it isn't right to en-prison people without sufficient evidence. How many criminals do the police let escape because they do not have sufficient proof to detain them and are free as we speak. And just because these people are seen as terrorist that is sufficient to imprison them without a fair hearing. It's funny to see how still today people are deprived from their rights and have no hope in retrieving it from anywhere else. Where the world has come to because of greed, and revenge.