Giorgio Agamben: Second-Class Citizens

[Translation posted December 3, 2021. Original at Quodlibet.]


As always happens when a despotic emergency regime is established and constitutional guarantees are suspended, the result is—as happened for Jews under fascism—discrimination against a class of humans who are automatically converted into second-class citizens. This is the aim of creating the so-called Green Pass. That it’s a question of discrimination according to personal convictions and not of objective scientific certainty is proven by the fact that in scientific circles the debate is still underway on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, which—according to the opinion of doctors and scientists whom there’s no reason to ignore—were produced hastily and without adequate tests.
In spite of this, those who hold to their own free and justified convictions and refuse to get vaccinated will be excluded from social life. That the vaccine becomes, therefore, a kind of political-religious symbol intended to create discrimination among citizens is obvious in the irresponsible declaration of a politician who, referring to those who don’t get vaccinated, said without realizing he was using fascist jargon, “We will purge them with the Green Pass.” The “green pass” turns those who don’t have it into wearers of a virtual yellow star.
It’s a question of a fact whose political weight cannot be overestimated. What becomes of a country inside of which is created a class that’s discriminated against? How can we accept the fact of living with second-class citizens? The desire to discriminate is as old as society, and forms of discrimination have certainly been present even in our so-called democratic societies; but that this factual discrimination be sanctioned by law is a barbarity that we cannot accept.

July 16, 2021
Giorgio Agamben