April 05, 2005

pedophilia in politics, emergency measures, constitutional dictatorship

The emergency measures about pedophilia in politics mentioned here, have arisen out of this situation in South Australia. The political background is given by Scott Wickstein over at Troppo Armadillo.

Do the emergency measures indicate a tendency to constitutional dictatorship in liberal democracy?

A step to constitutional dictatorship arises when, in a time of crisis, it is held that a constitutional government must be temporarily altered to whatever degree is necessary to overcome the peril and restore normal conditions.

That is what is happening in SA at the moment. We have a political crisis as a state of exception has been decreed by the Rann Labor Government because of the allegations by the Speaker about pedophilia in high places. Emergency measures are therefore required to deal with the peril, and these require the sacrifice of democracy. It is proposed that parliamentary privilege is to be curtailed and that police can raid parliamentary offices.

What suprises me is how much this happening of a temporary crisis or state of exception is generally accepted. It appears that government of a strong character is what is required to deal with allegations about pedophilia! The body politic is corrupted. Parliament must be protected from itself. The executive comes to the rescue by curtailing the powers of Parliament.

Giorgio Agamben argues that a state of exception is what has become the rule, or the normal. What is the normal in this situation in SA? It is the extension of the powers of the executive against those of Parliament. This extension and dominance of the executive with its sacrifice of democracy is not a transitory phenomena--it is an ongoing tendency of our liberal parliamentary institutions. The existing order that must be preserved is executive dominance.

In the SA example necessity defines the unique situation and it becomes the ground of the law and so included within the juridical situation through an act of Parliament in the name of the right of the state. The state of exception becomes incorporated into the world of law.

The state of necessity becomes subjective as it depends on the aims tha the government wants to acchive. Another government would have a different conception of necessity that requires the emergency measures of withdrawing parliamentary privilege and allowing police to raid Parliamentary offices looking for evidence.

What we see in the SA example is that the suspension of parliamentary order depends upon the opening of a fictitious lacuna for the purpose of safeguarding the existence of the norm of executive dominance.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at April 5, 2005 02:21 PM | TrackBack
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