States of Exception


States of Exception

Human Rights, Biopolitics, Utopia

9781800376434 Edward Elgar Publishing
Costas Douzinas, Professor of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, UK
Publication Date: 2023 ISBN: 978 1 80037 643 4 Extent: 272 pp
Considering the major crises Europe has faced over the last three decades, this unique book offers a multidisciplinary examination of the ways in which law, human rights and politics have evolved and were affected by recent emergencies.

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Considering the major crises Europe has faced over the last three decades, this unique book offers a multidisciplinary examination of the ways in which law, human rights and politics have evolved and were affected by recent emergencies.

Costas Douzinas assesses and critiques the ways in which governments responded to three emergencies: the 2008 economic crisis, the large flows of refugees and migrants since the 2010s, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilising Foucault’s theory of biopolitics and Douzinas’ experience as a critical scholar and politician, this insightful book reviews the law and politics of emergency and proposes a theory and future pathways of resistance. Ultimately, States of Exception asks to what extent critical legal theory can inform radical politics and argues that human rights are not the ‘last utopia’ but a combination of the unfulfilled promise of dignity with the desire to transcend inequality and exploitation.

This multidimensional exploration of the intersection between critical legal theory, human rights philosophy and radical politics offers a unique insight to students, academics and researchers specialising in legal theory, human rights law, jurisprudence and politics. It will also prove beneficial for professionals and practitioners working in the legal and political sectors.
Critical Acclaim
‘A tour de force. Costas Douzinas brings his unique critical acumen and extraordinary erudition to bear on his first-hand experience—as a founder of critical legal studies in the UK and an MP in Greece’s Syriza parliament in the 2010s—of the grinding dissolution of public autonomy in the relentless advance of global 23/1/2024. Douzinas coins the term “neolegalism” for the curious legal architecture that has spread from interwar Vienna, wartime London, postwar Chicago and Cold War Santiago to its thorough globalisation in the “polycrisis” of the 2020s. Neolegalism, in Douzinas’s account, combines the brutal authoritarianism of a strong-arm state, stoking a cowed general public, with the freedoms of a market order for transnational plutocrats, with a growing subclass of homeless refugees caught in-between. Its normalisation is symbolised in the Covid-19 regime, premised on ‘necessity’ rather than exception. Required reading to understand our current predicament.’
– Stephen Humphreys, London School of Economics, UK

‘Costas Douzinas’s States of Exception offers a crucial diagnosis ofour troubled times. In this remarkable book, Douzinas draws t together his critical legal theory of law and life in states of exception with his political experience in Greek government to analyse our current political situation. Rather than despairing at our current political realities, States of Exception powerfully argues for the possibilities for collective action in resistance, political praxis, and
utopian thought. This includes Douzinas’ important “final thoughts” on the radical potential of human rights, which builds on his work of the last two decades to set out his critical theory of human rights. This volume will become an indispensable reference for anyone engaging
with human rights now.

States of Exception is a compelling and eloquent book that sets out a critical legal theory for our time. The illuminating discussion of political praxis, thought provoking analysis of legal and political theory, and important account of contemporary law and emancipatory politics make States of Exception essential reading. This important book will be a vital source of theoretical and political insights for all those seeking to understand our present and build an
alternative future.’
– Kirsten Campbell, Goldsmiths College, UK

‘Part intellectual autobiography, part critical legal retrospect, and part manifesto for radical human rights, this book sees “Douzinism” come of age. States of Exception provides an adroit combination of theoretical abrasiveness, hard earned political realism, and the amicable generosity of solidarity. It is the last that lingers longest. The book offers faith in critique and an unquenchable glimpse of a utopian disposition.’
– Peter Goodrich, Cardozo School of Law, US

‘Douzinas at his very best! The book demonstrates the immense power of contemporary critical legal theory to help us grasp the world around us. It will be indispensable for those who seek to understand the role of law, rights, the state and international relations in the wake of the Covid pandemic.’
– Illan Wall, University of Warwick, UK

‘Costas Douzinas’ work, as a writer, teacher, mentor and editor, has been pivotal to the development of critical legal scholarship in Britain since the 80s. States of Exception, his most personal book to date, gives us a synthesis of the extraordinary range of earlier thematics, imbued now with what it has meant for him to have defended the “desire called utopia” in the “more positive tonality” of his political involvement as an MP for the radical left in Greece, during the difficult years of the conditionalities and the memoranda. This is a book that reflects Douzinas’ unwavering faith in popular resistance, in people’s acts of solidarity, sacrifice and care. From that insistent demand that rights, solidarity and justice will not be surrendered to the logic of capital, he draws a restatement of the dignity of natural law which, like in that other heretical Marxist natural lawyer, Ernst Bloch, points us beyond current political compromises and lies to the “orthopaedia” - the upright posture - of critical thinking.’
– Emilios Christodoulidis, University of Glasgow, UK
Contents: Introduction: the sense of an ending PART I STATES OF EXCEPTION, STATES OF NECESSITY 1 Biopolitics, rights, subjects 2 States of exception, states of necessity 3 Protest and resistance in the pandemic 4 A theory of resistance 5 Refugees: politics, law, ethics PART II CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON HUMAN RIGHTS 6 Human rights in history 7 Law, morality, politics 8 Neolegalism 9 Cosmopolitanism and just wars 10 The desire called utopia Index
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