Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Sovereignty Vs. Freedom

" Subsequently Arendt links this thought with a critique of the political concept of sovereignty.There again is a clear analogy to Foucault, who also declines to understand power as a form of justified violence or sovereignty as a political principle. The reason behind this critique may be the same for both, as sovereignty leads to a legitimacy of violence. Arendt, at least, argues that the category of cause and effect always presupposes a sovereignty which is typical for homo faber i.e. man as the working being; not for the actor, man as a political being. For unlike homo faber, man as the political actor is never master and sovereign of his actions. Therefore for Arendt, sovereignty is not a political category and its use in politics has a rotting or spoiling effect. First, in the view of Arendt, the confusion of these two categories causes a misinterpretation of freedom as independence, while dependence on others is then perceived as a constraint.But since politics is the space where people rely on others, freedom becomes something which is to be excluded from the political sphere; freedom means then a freedom “from” politics. This must seem absurd to Arendt, who uses freedom in its antique concept, which framed freedom as a radically political concept: it exists only within the political sphere and hence can succeed or fail only there. But the confusion is not only a problem of theory. According to Arendt it also has a practical effect, because it destroys freedom itself. Sovereignty and freedom are antagonistic
concepts: that means, in Arendt’s concept, “Non-sovereignty” seems to be the prerequisite for freedom and not vice versa.
Arendt draws the connection between homo faber and sovereignty when she quotes
Carl Schmitt:“He recognizes clearly that the root of sovereignty is the will: sovereign is who wills and commands”. One can suggest that the identification of freedom and sovereignty leads, in Arendt’s view, to an understanding of politics as a battlefield.“For it leads either to a denial of freedom (...) or to the insight that the freedom of one man, or a group, or a body politic can be purchased only at the price of the freedom, i.e. the sovereignty of all others.”
On the contrary, Arendt states, “if men wish to be free, it is precisely sovereignty they must renounce”.We see now that homo faber as the sovereign of his work is connected with this quotation of Schmitt to the freedom of the will.Arendt defines, with Augustine, freedom of the will as “liberum arbitrium”, i.e., “a freedom of choice that arbitrates and decides between two given things, one good and one evil, and whose choice is predetermined by motive which has only to be argued to start its operation”.
Now we have a systematically clear opposition between instrumental work, which is a
relationship of violence started by a principium that refers to goals that can be chosen and is thus ruled by motives and a free will and political action with a free beginning in the sense of initium."

1 comment:

xtina said...