original, full length interview here: http://www.zeit.de/2015/35/giorgio-agamben-philosoph-europa-oekonomie-kapitalismus-ausstieg/komplettansicht
this is the juiciest bit for unmon, google-translated (and brushed up)
Agamben: To say it again, it's not about a return to the Franciscan ideal, as it once was, but to use it in new ways. My interest in monasticism was triggered by the fact that it was often people who belonged to the wealthiest and most educated layer of society, such as Basilius the Great, St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order, and later St. Francis, who took the decision to get out from the society in which they had lived so far in order to found a radically different community or what in my view is the same, a radically different politics. These beginnings coincided with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The remarkable thing is that these people did not think about reforming or improving the state in which they lived, that is to take power in order to change it. They just turned their backs on it.
ZEIT: Like the dropouts of today, who retreat to the countryside and grow vegetables ...
Agamben: I see a certain analogy to the present situation. We are accustomed to understand radical political change as a result of more or less violent revolution: A new political subject, which is called the constituent or the constitution-making power since the French Revolution, destroys the existing political and legal order and creates a new constituted or constitutional violence. I think the time has come to abandon this outdated model in order to align our thinking on something you "destituent" or might call "transcending power" - that is, a force that can simply not take the form of a constituted violence. This constitutional violence corresponds with revolutions, uprisings and new legal constitutions, it is a form of violence that enforces new law. For destituent violence completely different strategies have to be devised, the particulars of which must be the task for a politics to come. If power is overturned only by the constituent violence, it goes inevitably from the unceasing, endless and hopeless dialectic of constituent and constituted violence that imposes laws and upholds order and reproduces it in another form. [[I'm sure if someone knows Agamben's terminology better than me, this could be improved.]]
ZEIT: So it would be wise to develop a strategy of retreat and escape from modernity?
Agamben: I think, in fact, that the model of the battle/struggle that has paralyzed the political imagination of modernity should be replaced by a model of the way out/the exit. That, as it seems to me, has become particularly evident in Greece. Syriza had to capitulate, as it had embarked on a struggle it was bound to lose and rejected the only way forward: to withdraw from Europe. Needless to say, this also applies to one's individual existence. Kafka repeated tirelessly: Search not for the fight, but find a way out. Obviously, the Faustian model of the struggle and the capitalist model of increasing productivity are linked very closely. What interested me the phenomenon of monastic orders, above all, was the appearance of a form of life, that is, a politics, that is based on flight and retreat. The empire collapsed, the monastic orders persisted and preserved for us the heritage that the state institutions, as today in the European schools and universities that are facing massive cuts, could no longer maintain. I see something like that coming towards us. Of course, it takes time. But even today this model is more or less openly practiced by young people. There are more than three hundred communities of this kind in Italy alone. People argue that what enabled monasticism was belief, and that it is absent today. This is what Heidegger must have meant when he said that always-misunderstood phrase in the Spiegel interview: "Only a god can save us". But what is faith? There is no doubt that nowadays no intelligent person is willing any longer to believe in the institutions, the church, and existing values, particularly since the latter can be reduced to the euro, as we could see very beautifully in Europe. The Greek word for "faith", pistis, which is used in the New Testament, originally means "credit", and money is nothing more than a promise of credit. But this promise is based - especially since Nixon got rid of the gold standard - on nothing. The European democracies, who call themselves secular, are based on an empty form of faith. On nothing rests what is known today by that seemingly venerable word Europe. But a credit based on nothing cannot endure forever. What interested me about the Franciscans was not so much poverty, but rather the way in which they accept that for them use is more important than ownership. The term use is also at the center of my last book L'uso dei corpi ("The use of the body"). To invent a way of life that is not based on action and on property, but on use - that is another task for a politics to come.