The reason of State

From Baripedia

What is the reason of state?[edit | edit source]

The State reason is a mode of intervention by the public or political power which derogates from ordinary law for exceptional circumstances, the State or an institutional political power may escape ordinary law.

There are modes of policy intervention that are outside the ordinary law. Political power has the capacity to intervene in violation of the rules of ordinary law, which is the reason for state power.

The reason of state is out of the classical law, it can be applied outside civil liberties. It is an action of the exceptional order, in a democracy, one can apply the reason of state, but it cannot be the everyday.

Therefore, there will be three possible overruns in the state reason:

  • of legality: one does not exceed what is going to be the law;
  • of the normal: it is of the order of the exceptional and the name of normality;
  • of what makes sense: it's a form of illogicality.

We will first study from a theoretical point of view and then study examples on the state of exception. This comes from the exceptional and what deviates from daily life. The state of emergency, in this case, is synonymous with the state reason which describes a specific context of public action in a context outside the ordinary law.

The most illustrative case of state reason is the management of September 11, 2001 after the destruction of the Twin Towers in the United States.

State Reason describes a state of exceptional action; i. e., the state of exception is associated with that of State Reason.

Thus, we can ask ourselves the question of whether the state reason is reasonable.

Genealogy of the State reason[edit | edit source]

The state of emergency is the acceptance that democracy can be suspended in the name of a greater interest than democracy. If democracy is an absolute, how can we at any given time stay in the name of democracy?

If democracy is suspended, if we go beyond the positive law of democracy, then we find ourselves in a "no mans land", that is, a territory where the law of democracy applies more.

The state of exception opens a specific phase in which, in the name of safeguarding democracy, democracy is amputated from its modes of operation by positioning itself as a state above democracy. It is a fuzzy territory where boundaries no longer exist.

In the question of state reason, we are forced to return to the political questions and political theories of the moment.

Machiavelli[edit | edit source]

Article détaillé : La Renaissance italienne.
His posthumous portrait by Santi di Tito, at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Machiavelli talks about political reason to basically say that the fundamental challenge for politics is to achieve its objectives; thus the end justifies the means. This is an immoral position, but that Machiavelli defines as moral in the importance of the goal to be expected.

It is, therefore, possible to use all techniques to achieve the goal. In The Prince, Machiavelli advises using strategy and trickery. The trick is the differentiation between two individuals. The one who is cunning is the one who holds information and does not pass it on to him, giving him an advance that is a superior asset to the other.

What is important is tactics, the ability to do things outside the law.

The limit is that Machiavelli does not use the concept of state reason, but postulates that in some cases the values inherent in the constitution of the modern state can be exceeded. Since the prince must reach his objectives, he can use means that are not necessarily democratic, but this is not important, because by this behaviour he can achieve his objectives.

Machiavelli justifies that at a given moment, public and political action can go beyond a form of recognition and public dialogue of the state.

Giovanni Botero[edit | edit source]

Giovanni Botero.

Botero is the founder of the modern concept of state reason, he is a Piedmontese Jesuit born 1544 and died 1617 who was also a diplomat who wrote a great treatise on state reason.

What interests him is the construction and constitution of power, namely its forms and power. Botero is interested in the efficiency of the state, i. e. the relationship between the state, population and the growth of political power.

He's going to look at it theologically. For there to be a reason of state, he must obviously have a return to God. Power has a theological dimension, it is necessary to respond to divine inspirations, the prince must, therefore, respect the word of God. By respecting God's word, he can rule in the name of state reason.

If he responds well to God in relation to God's objectives for mankind on earth, then the prince can apply an exceptional power which is the reason of state.

Botero is not in an amoral vision in the sense of Machiavellian, he seeks to place the reason of state in a logic of morality. If God commands how men and women should act on earth, then the prince can apply state reason in certain exceptional cases to respond to divine orders.

Thus, Botero brings state reason to the side of morality, while Machiavelli theorizes it as amorality.

What is important is that in the return to morality, state reason will appear as potentially possible in terms of public action. If in some cases the prince is right about his subjects, if he is right and does it in the name of God, he has the morality of state reason. Which may seem immoral.

It is the application of state reason in the name of divine principles, therefore it is the application of the moral order. Means do not matter when they respect divine virtues.

In Botero's theory is conducted a fight against the thought of Machiavelli, it is necessary to return to God if he is subject to God he can govern according to the state reason.

The prince is the one who gives himself the means of domination in the service of God and the reason of state is the recognition of these means.

From that moment on, Botero's theory consists of thinking about the modern state and the conditions for applying state reason.

From when will it be possible to enter into the exceptionality of the power of state reason? Botero will illustrate this framework by civil wars, a civil war is a risk of tearing up and destroying society by internal destruction, so the reason of state can be applied in the name of God.

Botero's paradox is that he legitimizes the action of the prince on the religious, but at the same time he is ready to define as moral acts that have nothing human.

Starting from a limited conceptual apriori, the prince is moral then he can apply state reason. If the prince is fundamentally immoral, he can then use the reason of state to satisfy his own interests in the name of God.

In Botero's theory, there are great weaknesses for the bias of state reason, in addition, there is the bias that men are not reasonable enough to be governed in a classical way. If men are not reasonable they are unreasonable, they lack rationality and reason, so the reason of State will be the return of rationality, that is to say, the fact that we will rebuild reasonableness according to all unreasonable means.

Man can be dangerous and non-social. The prince has the right to use exceptional rules which are rules of abandonment of the ordinary to the extraordinary which is the application of the reason of state.

He concludes his speech by asking himself the question of the strongest moments of potentialities and circumstances to apply the reason of state. It is above all war, because it is an exceptional moment, in a situation of military conflict to win the survival of its political entity, we will apply state reason in order to lead the war. Therefore, reason is a necessity in the order of war because it will mobilize individuals and cities while taking extraordinary measures against enemies.

In Botero's case, the army is a vector of war which is also one of the tools for defining state reason.

Starting from the religious and theological, it will gradually be abandoned to found a modern political theory of state reason, asserting that there are extraordinary situations which cannot be regulated, regulated or governed by the ordinary. An extraordinary situation is an extraordinary government, this government will apply the reason of state.

Thus, the State reason is the situation of managing an extraordinary time by applying the rules of the State reason name state reason of the general interest.

The paradox is to become aware of the absolute paradox in which one arrives; one defines an extraordinary by amputating public freedoms in the name of the collective good and the reason of the State since in essence the extraordinary is unreasonableness and unreasonableness.

War as a support for reason of state[edit | edit source]

Michel Senellart[edit | edit source]

For Senellart, the main application of state reason is war: "State reason is nothing more than a contravention of ordinary reasons for the respect of the public good, or for the respect of a greater and universal reason".

State reason is justified by a context that breaks with the ordinary rules of democracy.

Scipione Ammirato[edit | edit source]

Ammirato postulates that there is a historical link between war and state reason. The very place where the application of state reason is applied is war, living it in its time in the fledgeling conflict with Islam. It is necessary to use the principle of state reason, because it is going to be a structural bulwark against forms of government that will make it possible to fight Islam.

We must think of state reason as an act of latent war, it is a mode of mobilization, concentration and organization that allows us to prepare for war. Thus war justifies the extraordinary and the application of state reason.

Carl Schmitt[edit | edit source]

Schmitt advises the von Papen (left) and Schleicher (right) governments on the constitutional question.

Schmitt had theorized the theory of partisan theory, he had new wars that appeared by the partisans.

He will question himself under Nazism, postulating that the real sovereign is the one who decides the exceptional situation. It is the one who decides on the exceptional, it is what is called decision-making, it is the one who has the capacity to decide on the relationship with war. The only true leader and that of the state of exception what Hitler did after 1933.

Basically, the only important skill for this great leader is to be able to carry the discourse of the exceptional who engages in war. The theory of state reason is evident in the question of total war, which requires total mobilization within a total state, is totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is the philosophical impossibility of being able to think outside the framework.

Totalitarianism is a political system in which one cannot think because everything has been structured.

Schmitt postulates that the right leader is the one who promotes conflict. The conflict in a Nazi theological vision is the basis of the enemy - friend relationship, it is the discourse of the futurists. It is a representation of war as a prodigious absolute space that requires the application of state reason.

For Schmitt, war is an absolute sublimation that is the moment when politics can be revealed as such.

Recent lookout over exception state[edit | edit source]

The State of emergency[edit | edit source]

Giorgio Agamben .

Agamben is an Italian philosopher who published a book entitled État d' exception in 2003.

He postulates that the societies in which we are now entering an exceptional state through the issue of security.

The 1789 declaration states that the freedom of individuals underlies security. It is freedom that would allow freedom and security. In the tradition of the philosophy of modern political theory, which underpins human security and freedom.

Today we have a paradigm shift where security underlies freedom. Before freedom, we preach the concept of security which raises questions of norms, coercion and the security of individuals.

Agamben's theory is that we have all returned to states of exception because we have entered societies that have placed security first and foremost in relation to the concept of freedom. It is a philosophical countermeasure, which is at stake for security and first of all freedom, there will be a principle of rationality or reason that leads us to move towards rationality.

So we entered a no man's land which is a state of continuous exception; it is no longer a state of exception that will be a closed parenthesis as Botero suggested. With Agamben, we would have returned to a permanent state of exception in which the individual's place is no longer controlled by the question of freedom, but by the question of security, hence in the Foucault sense a permanent state of control of the individual.

We have entered into companies that no longer accept invisible and thick things and do not refer to the issue of traceability.

Basically, we are in a fundamental disruption of modern societies because we are entering into a legal lawlessness and a concept of necessity or it is necessity that makes law, whereas democracy is a process.

It is a zone of uncertainty, societies of grey zones characterized by specific laws, martial, security laws that curtail and undermine public and individual freedoms. We have entered into a military vocabulary and a strategic discourse that justifies the suspension of the idea of democracy. It is a parenthesis that erases constitutional norms, the rights of individuals and individual freedom as a principle.

It is the concentration of powers, the end of the distinction between legislative and executive power, and the birth of specific regulations that control the individual throughout his or her life.

The application of the state of exception in France is the First World War, which refers to a state of exception; the preparation of the Second World War in 1938 and 1939 with the German-Soviet pact, which created dissensions in French politics, because the Communists wanted to follow the Soviet position; In the French Constitution of 1958, article 16 states that in the event of a threat to the integrity of the republic and the nation, the President of the Republic may take all necessary powers. Thus an article grants the taking of all powers in the name of the attack on territorial integrity.

In Switzerland, on 30 August 1914, the Federal Assembly gave the Federal Council unlimited power to guarantee the security, integrity and neutrality of Switzerland.

September 11 and the Return of Reason of State[edit | edit source]

Article détaillé : September 11, 2001 ruptures.

The first point that will justify the state of emergency in the United States after 9/11 is George Bush's statement on the basis that the integrity of the American nation has been compromised, he was tried to undermine the integrity of the nation by terrorist attacks that he equates with an act of war.

From that moment on, he was in need of defending the American nation. Bush elevates the enemy as a nation-state, he gives credit to Bin Laden as leader of a nation-state.

This paradigm raises the question of the application of state reason. The qualification as an act of war raises war as the principal referent of action. This means that at this time it is possible to apply State reason in the name of the act of war.

This semantic phrase quickly changed the story. The legitimation of Bin Laden makes it possible to defend the territory by applying state reason.

The urgency of the state's situation raises an extraordinary question for the state, it becomes extraordinary and is allowed to leave the normal rules of public law in the name of the extraordinary of the situation.

The British Minister for Trade on 9 November 2001 said: "it is a very good day to sneak out and sneak out all the measures we need to take". Basically, the suspension of democracy was initiated in the name of necessity, there is a superior rationality.

The 11 September attacks will be a driving force for accelerating the transformation of the legal space and, above all, for the closure of the democratic debate, because there is an urgency that justifies all the extraordinary measures.

  • USA patriot act
    • The authorities may arrest and detain, for an unspecified period of time, foreigners suspected of being in contact with terrorist groups, non-qualification of terrorism.
    • Set up surveillance of the Net, FBI carnivorous system.
    • that crimes are considered terrorist if they are "knowingly committed with the aim of influencing or affecting the government by intimidation or coercion... or in retaliation for operations conducted by the government"; and
The enemy is declared Outlaw - Carl Schmitt provides Giorgio Agamben with the categories of a fundamental criticism of Guantanamo.
  • Guantanamo

The Guantanamo Bay prison has been studied by jurists, it is a prison in Cuban territory where individuals considered as terrorists are transferred in order to extract information from it.

The story of Guantanamo Bay is the invention of "no man's land". The whole procedure of Guantanamo Bay is the manufacturing procedure of state reason. It is not an American territory, it is a military base leased to the Cuban government.

There is a legal fabrication of lawlessness. Thus this prison escapes American jurisdictions because it is located in Cuban territory.

Thus it allows to avoid any contestation, the prisoner has a different status from the one who is a prisoner of war:

  • he is not a common-law prisoner
  • nor a political prisoner
  • he's not a prisoner of war while Bush is waging a war on terror.

It is an interesting principle of extraterritoriality that no one can dispute the existence of this prison.

It will be necessary to wait until 2004, for the United States Supreme Court to recognize that Guantanamo Bay is under control and therefore under American jurisdiction, it takes three years to define a status.

It is only from 2004 onwards that prisoners will be able to start challenging the conditions of their detention before an American court. The US Administration is developing the concept of irregular combatants. These are decisions of the U. S. Supreme Court that will ultimately grant them more humanitarian human rights.

This raises a fundamental question, which is whether the parenthesis of the state of emergency in the United States' management of 11 September is finally over.

Between Obama's promises and certain restrictions on freedoms that remain entrenched in today's society, such as control of the Internet, etc., lead us to ask ourselves the question of whether we have emerged from the rule of law, which is not obvious.

From the European Union's point of view, we can see that it is starting a more democratic process than in the United States on the management of global terrorism, harmonising legislation and redefining the offence. So we can see how certain forms of civil liberties and fundamental rights are still being abused, the CIA's theft is the parangon of this circumvention of freedoms.

Annexes[edit | edit source]

  • Stéphane Bonnet « Botero machiavélien ou l'invention de la raison d'Etat », Les Études philosophiques 3/2003 (n° 66), p. 315-329.
  • Bouaziz, Franck. "À La Une – Critique De La Raison D’Etat." Le Nouvel Economiste. N.p., 9 Feb. 2011. url:
  • À propos de État d’exception, Homo sacer de Giorgio Agamben, Sidi Askofaré « À propos de État d'exception, Homo sacer de Giorgio Agamben », L'en-je lacanien1/2004 (no 2), p. 193-205.
  • Botero, Giovanni. Della Ragion Di Stato Libri Dieci. In Roma: Presso Vincenzio Pellagallo, 1590.
  • Machiavelli, Niccolò, Jean-Louis Fournel, Jean-Claude Zancarini, and Giorgio Inglese. De Principatibus = Le Prince. Paris: Presses Universitaires De France, 2000.
  • Nuccio, Oscar. Giovanni Botero: Politica E Precettistica Economica Del Medievalismo Controriformistico. Sassari: Gallizzi, 1992.
  • Senellart, Michel. Machiavélisme Et Raison D'Etat: XIIe-XVIIIe Siècle ; Suivi D'un Choix De Textes. Paris: Presses Universitaires De France, 1989.
  • Senellart, Michel. Les Arts De Gouverner: Du Regimen Médiéval Au Concept De Gouvernement. Paris: Ed. Du Seuil, 1995.
  • "Comment L'obsession Sécuritaire Fait Muter La démocratie." Comment L'obsession Sécuritaire Fait Muter La Démocratie, Par Giorgio Agamben (Le Monde Diplomatique, Janvier 2014). N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.
  • ARTE. “Terrorisme, Raison D'État (1/2) | ARTE.” YouTube, Arte, 12 Mar. 2019,
  • ARTE. “Terrorisme, Raison D'État (2/2) | ARTE.” YouTube, YouTube, 12 Mar. 2019,

References[edit | edit source]