Revolutionary states of emergency

“Modern states of emergency follow close on the heels of modern revolutions. They are, per Agamben, ‘a creation,’ ironically, ‘of the democratic-revolutionary tradition and not the absolutist one’ [State of Exception, 5]. Though he does not himself make this point explicitly, we cold consider emergency an instrument that emerges from within the revolution to turn its most radical tendencies back. When a revolutionary government suspends its own constitution, it undermines the constituent politics – that is, the popular power to form a truly egalitarian body politic – that originally precipitated the revolution and which the constitution is supposed to enshrine. Emergency decrees are, in this regard, the counterinsurgent practice par excellence. They circumscribe constituent power withing the sovereign voice” (Ahmed, Archaeology of Babel, 2017, 189).