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Re: <nettime> Re: Fascism in the USA (digest) [marston, wang, brozefsky,
Robert Lucas on Fri, 6 Jun 2003 11:52:44 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Re: Fascism in the USA (digest) [marston, wang, brozefsky, von seggern]


Hi,

Here's my token input, for what it is worth, in a debate that seems to be 
getting more and more interesting, save the odd touch of apparent 
dunderheadedness. In "Homo Sacer" Giorgio Agamben traces the figure of 
the "camp" through the history of the West as a fundamental manifestation of 
sovereign power- the point at which the "bare life" (the life of man that is 
imagined as pre-political) of man that underpins sovereign power is utterly 
exposed before that sovereign power yet set outside of any "politics" 
(Home Sacer is he who exemplifies sovereignty's treatment of this bare 
life as he who can be "killed but not sacrificed"- only killed because 
somehow always completely outside of the political/ social).
 
Now consider US treatment of Guantanamo bay prisoners, and the general shift 
towards detention with effectively no rights. Guantanamo bay is a very literal 
realisation of the camp, and the theoretical simplicity of drawing a connection 
between this and the camps of Nazi Germany is clear. This is not to say that 
current US policy can be compared simply with Nazi Germany- such a bold 
generalisation would be facile (although I don't think anyone on this list 
actually attempting to explore these arguments really goes with such a simple 
generalisation)- but it is to say that the "camp" is present in force in both 
examples, and that they might therefore be understood in the context of the 
general unfolding of sovereign power and its relation with a certain "bare 
life" in Western history as two particularly intense points. What is more, 
the current escalation of that "state of exception" that also figures so highly 
in Agamben's book would square off our analysis very neatly...

The question therefore, to put it in simple terms, would not be one of whether 
the US might actually be meaningfully called "fascist" in any way, but whether 
the current escalation of inroads being made into civil liberties and human 
rights in post 9/11 (global, though particularly US for our purposes here) 
society is a manifestation of the same extreme "logic" of sovereign power that 
occurred in Nazi Germany, amongst other points in history.

Rob.


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