‘international war on terrorism’

In the political realm, Giorgio Agamben wrote a seminal work in the late nineties entitled Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. In the book, the philosopher introduces the concept of the concentration camp into the centre of the political discourse. According to Agamben the goal of modern power-politics is no longer the national, sovereign state but, shockingly, the concentration camp. He portrays the camp as the true symbol of the modern age. The ultimate worldly-political sovereignty and power is revealed in the camp, that is, in the decision to strip speech, law and space from ‘bare life’. This prophecy is being fulfilled in Guantanamo and in the known and unknown camps of that world state which is emerging today. To Agamben the camp is now an integrated and long-term component of the global nomos.

Let us pause a moment in order to introduce a reflection upon terrorism. We must not forget that the ‘international war on terrorism’ has given an important impetus to the furtherance of the development of the world state and its global domestic politics. In the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Agamben defined the terrorists as the decisive helping force of the coming world state. Why? In his view they ensure the ‘permanent state of emergency’ and thus the israelisation of world politics. The revolt of nihilistic terrorism is leading to the final technical perfection of the world state. Of course, terrorism also legitimises the necessity of the concentration camp and the state of emergency. The terrorist and the world state necessarily appear together on the world stage.

Giorgio Agamben shocked the West with his basic thesis. According to him there is an “innermost solidarity” between democracy and totalitarianism. Naziism and fascism remain “threateningly topical”, and democracy is “in the throes of collapse”. Agamben considers the Camp, a location without order, as an integral part of the new reality of the World State.

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