In the aftermath of September 11th, one can see a great amount of restriction as well as uncertainty in the United States and the world in general. Citizens are subjected to a lack of freedom while at the same time they do not know what will occur in terms of their own safety or fate, in a way lost in the expanse of chaos. This paradox of both restriction and uncertainty is made possible by the phenomenon of the event. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11th can be seen as the epitome of the event in that it was an incident that was also a disruption of the normal flow of history and society. Once any event occurs, everything that was considered part of the everyday is pushed to the foreground of consciousness. No assumptions can be made, things are no longer predictable, and the structures that shape relationships of power, meaning, and production no longer work. The shock of the event leaves a void that demands reactions that are formed afterwards.
There is the possibility of a reevaluation of basic principles, an opportunity to create a new society as an expression of freedom. However, there usually is an attempt to restructure the event to perpetuate the status quo that existed before the event. A restructuring may try to explain what happened, in order to reassert stability, but the explanation will always serve those in power since it is inherently a structural approach. The restructuring process is a containment of factors and it frames reality, eventually forming universal absolutes that erase actual differences. There is therefore the two options of having uniformity under structures where everything is predictable but there is no substantial freedom, or a void of chaos where everything can happen but there is the chance of freedom. With the event of September 11th the increased power of surveillance by the government is an example of the restructuring process. On the other side of the coin, there is also the rebirth of the opposition to these anti-democratic measures in the progressive movement lead by the Green Party, made possible by the sudden crisis of previous structures of power. The main question is, if the void of the event is subsumed under new structures and if those new structures serve or hinder freedom.
The difficulty of judging whether the event is a positive or negative factor can be expressed in the contrasting thought of Alain Badiou and Giorgio Agamben. Both deal with the event in their writings but have opposite opinions of its ramifications on individuals and society. They both agree that the event is external to structures, the void upon which new structures reformulate. The internal aspect of structures is an ordering of reality, and therefore a predictability of social and political life. Before structures, reality can be seen to be a multiplicity of singularities that allows only absolute difference. By this one can mean that reality is full of parts, the parts existing independent of human thought, but each part is completely unique and can not be comparable to other parts. In this state, which can be the state of reality before human interaction, there is no meaning or other types of organization such as political structures or systems of production.
Structures are required for there to be power, meaning, or production and existence is mediated by these structures. The multiple many of independent reality becomes the unfied one of ordered reality that can be understood and used by humans. The identity of the human subject also emerges during the experience of reality as it is mediated by structures. Overall, structures transform immanent facts into transcendent truths that appear to be the cause of reality rather than being a product of raw unstructured reality. This appearance of absolute truth is the restricting aspect of structures and it obscures how these truths are constructed by the organizing ability of structures.
Badiou has stated that the event is the open space for the new to emerge in the fields of science, art, love, and politics. The event, as a rupture in the flow of history and the normal functioning of structures, is not only a destruction of the preexisting order but a subtraction from it to create an alternative. The structure may be a formation of transcendent categories such as a position of authority, universal truth, or the free market. The event is a rupture that allows for a more immanent sense of freedom of choice, new truth narratives, and production based on desire. These alternatives depend upon a clearing of previous structures that have their own internal functions and act to only reproduce themselves. Structural recuperation can occur that can prevent the disrupting of previous structures and the creating of independent alternatives. Alternatives without a disruption are contained, while a disruption without alternatives are used as a resource for the structural recuperation. The process of destruction and subtraction described by Badiou in the event results in alternatives disappearing from structures and its pacifying influence. This can also mean a certain undecidability in historical causality as well as the space of opportunity for true free agency.
In contrast, Agamben has a more pessimistic view on the event. Though he never clearly describes the event he does discuss bare life, which is the state of humans who are placed outside of the law. This creation of bare life is made possible by the state of emergency where those who are sovereign are able to define who are enemies or allies as well as determining who is inside or outside of the law. The law has a specific structure, but in this case its predictability and uniformity can be used to insure the protection of human rights. In the structure of law, humans using the identity of citizen can use their rights to address those in the sovereign position and oppose any abridgement of their rights. When the event does occur the uncertainty it creates can give the sovereign, whether a monarch or president, the ability to declare a state of emergency and suspend the normal flow of the law. The sovereign retains the right to classify the former citizens as existing in bare life or legal life. Bare life means an exclusion from the identity of citizen, which means a certain subjective identity and the option of self-conscious political action. There is also the exclusion from the concrete body of law, which is an immanent method of practicing freedom. In contrast, those in bare life are included into the identity of subject, which means being a raw material not only for economic production but structural reproduction. There is also the inclusion into the abstract body of law that consists of the transcendent universal identity of the people. Even in the midst of the state of emergency the sovereign will invoke the name of the people in the act of placing people into the uncertainty of bare life outside of the law.
The paradox of increased restrictions and increased disorder after the event of September 11th can be explained as caused by the incompletion of the event. Those in power were not affected by the event as everyday citizens were, and they took advantage of the event in order to use the fear and insecurity to declare a state of emergency and place citizens outside of the protection of law and democracy. This was in accordance to the perspective by Agamben, but the Green Party can implement the perspective proposed by Badiou to complete the event and create new social and political alternatives. These alternatives must not be expanded to monolithic proportions like previous structures, but must be local temporary structures that serve progressive interests of democracy, freedom, equality, and justice. This approach is in alignment with the Key Value of decentralization where structures are recognized as creations of humans rather than elements that control humans. In this age of the event, the Green Party can make great achievements and be a positive political force by looking into this approach.