global Camp policies

One usually knows that towards the border, when seen from the world interiors of capital, the air becomes colder, today one should rather say hotter, and with it the living conditions become worse, the danger grows that one could encounter groups coming from the outside, perhaps even subversive groups, the abnormal, the especially poor, the hunchbacked and the insane, the „gypsies“ and „negroes“, yes the human garbage that surplus population only the Marxists have dared to call so far. In the end, the only thing that helps against all these forces is the excessive marking of the border, electronic fences, barbed wire, satellite systems, Frontex, ships and apotropaic structures inscribed in the border lines, and sparkling additional lines from the virtual world of fighter jet technology, or affective delusion systems that are ritually circulated in the feel-good oases of the West. It was Gilles Deleuze who once said, „In delusion there is always a Negro, a Jew, a Chinese, a Great Mogul, an Aryan“ (Deleuze 2005: 26).

All of this can be extended at will, and as an application of the marking of an inside/outside distinction it can be substantiated with abundant empirical material, but in doing so it would become increasingly bleak, it would almost drive one out of one’s mind, since today it would be precisely the cases of the blurring of this distinction that would be preferred, as was perhaps still the case in earlier societies at the carnival or potlatch. Instead, the progressive regression determining the capital relation has merely eliminated God, who was still excluded from the distinction inside/outside in the Middle Ages, and, without anyone having put it in its place, has self-importantly pushed its immanent limit further and further ahead. Only if in the process capital as production for the sake of production finds its temporary limit at the profit, which it always lacks, and above all at the socially and politically cultivated consumption of finite human beings, can obstacles still be put in the way of capital on the way to the summit of all summits, which it is itself, in its own internal space. For it would then still have to take into account a mass of potent and socialized money owners and their political expressiveness. But if capital insists only on financial transactions, objective production processes and procedural rules and materializes itself in highways, luxury yachts, televisions, computers, rockets and frozen pizza – trash, and last but not least still excludes from its consumption a larger part of mankind, then on the one hand it does not need to consider borders in the internal spaces anymore, while at the same time the border between center and periphery breaks into the world interior of capital itself with shocking drasticness. In the oases of well-being in the north, the greater part of consumer goods now appears as abundance in comparison to the poverty of life in the office; after all, in view of the long time spent slaving away or, as the case may be, being bored in the office, all one would need at home to regenerate oneself would be a computer, a hotplate and a bed, while a stereo, a luxury barbecue and a couch set are uselessly present in the apartments, as they were in shop windows before. It is also this dynamic that makes the capital seemingly limitless. If one looks a little more closely, the world interior of capital is an articulated interior world in which, similar to medieval mysticism, a passionate inner interest is pursued and the path to perfection is imagined as the path in and to a center. But this shameless concentration on the inside does not run today without the exploitation and devastation of the „outside“ – imperial colonization, export of capital and import of raw materials, TUI catalog and mass travel. In a sense, for the subject delirious in the inside, especially if it is on the losing side, all this is always also an imposition, which one strives to escape only too gladly. And so the collective empowerment of forgetfulness can feed the people’s souls, almost threatened by extraterrestrial conditions (although always coming from the south), in the feel-good oases of capital with political and economic sadisms, in their, one would not believe it, neo-Buddhist-inspired gliding along the obsessive paths of appropriation, purification and wellness, which are incessantly approached from the outside by repugnant figures: Criminals, devils, vermin – monstrosities that must stand for all the illusory waste and irritation of the inward salvation path of the semi-privileged, a path that, strangely enough, only ever leads back to the bestiality of the possessive individual, but which is absorbed on the sea of fibrillating money capital without leaving bubbles by the socio-psychological imperatives of financial political economy.

The clearly fixed borderline between states has long since given way to an unstable and flexible border space, whereby the division of the southern states into countries of refugee, transit and camp states, countries of origin or safe third countries does not initially represent a violation of the sovereignty of these states, but rather, on the part of the leading imperialist states, one wants above all to develop instruments to regulate the refugee routes on a global level, one thinks of the shifting of borders by the EU deep into Africa. Meanwhile, internment camps called hotspots or anchor centers are back in and off Europe, and the Mediterranean is being policed under the direction of the EU border agency Frontex, with the familiar consequences of refugees being swamped. War refugees and parts of the global surplus population, who are not even allowed the pleasure of exploitation by capital, are confronted with the various forms of graduated state operations of camp formation and integrated systems of repatriation management in Europe, for example. Refugees in the future will have to deal with an increase in the number of deportations and the creation of new governmental organizations and security institutions that are excessively concerned with the management of border spaces, which goes hand in hand with the militarization of everyday life in these spaces, inevitably transposing biopolitics to thanatos politics. Ultimately, the surplus population of the South should also succumb to death from global warming at home, rather than perhaps having the foolish idea of fleeing to the North. The imperialist Thanatos policy virtually demands the closing of borders, the narrowing of the possessive extremism of the elites and the middle classes in the metropolises and the genocide or a kind of super-Auschwitz for the surplus population in the South, especially precisely the genocide of those who will try to escape the deadly warming of the globe in the future.

Currently, the Libyan military, without the slightest objection from European authorities and national governments, is transferring repatriated refugees to internment camps, where some are abused, tortured, and otherwise humiliated. Germany and France, in order to push Europe’s external borders further deep into Africa, want to supply weapons to African states that are almost indistinguishable from „failed states.“ More people are now dying in the deserts of Africa than in the Mediterranean, which governments and the EU willingly accept. And more and more inhabitants of certain regions of the global south, where in the course of global warming temperatures will rise most extremely and desertification will continue, will feel the harsh brutal hand of the imperialist bunker states by first being disqualified as criminals, thieves, murderers and rapists, indeed as subhumans who are beneath the dignity of the oh-so-enlightened perspectives of Western civilization, before they will finally be locked up in camps.

It should not be forgotten that African companies, as stipulated in the various free trade agreements of African states with the EU, are denied access to European markets, while companies based in Europe flood the African economies with their goods subsidized by the state and deprive the indigenous populations of their livelihoods; think of the dumping poultry that is supplied to Ghana and drives the local poultry industry there to ruin. It is companies from the EU that are draining Senegal’s coastal waters, bankrupting Senegal’s fishing industry. Through intensive land grabbing, food or fertile soils (palm oil plantations in the Ivory Coast, roses from Kenya, peanuts from Senegal, etc.) are destroyed and fishing areas, raw material deposits (uranium from Niger, Chad and Mali) as well as cheap labor are appropriated and shamelessly exploited by Western capital. Last but not least, parts of the surplus population in the South have to undercut each other in the competition for cheap wage labor or informal work and end up in the large slums of the native metropolises.1

The racist phantasm that is always part of the state racism that excludes the stranger and monitors and regulates the life and death of the population has at the moment assumed a slight, though not unintended, modification. In accordance with the general rules of the game of neoliberalism, here too we observe a progression from the security dispositif to the risk dispositif. The discourse of migration, with its racist connotations, initially presents the native population as an integral, as a quasi-organic body characterized by clear boundaries vis-à-vis the outside world, which must be defended against the hordes and nomads from the South who threaten the healthy homogeneity of the body of the people. And this includes today, in the expansion from the security to the risk dispositive, the strict distinction between desired qualified foreign professionals, of which Germany has a shortage in some sectors, and the unwanted refugee, who stands for the mass of useless human garbage from the global South.2

Let us return to the notion of the camp. Giorgio Agamben has reminded us that the first camps were established in Europe and that the sequence internment camp – concentration camp – extermination camp has a quite real lineage. (Agamben 2002: 130f.) If one again follows Hannah Arendt’s classification, then one has to take note of three types of camps in the 20th century. Century three types of camps to take note of : 1) In „Hades“ we found „those relatively mild forms of neglectful clearing out of the way,“ according to Arendt, „which threatened to become fashionable for undesirable elements of all kinds – refugees, stateless persons, asocials, the unemployed – even in non-totalitarian states“ (Arendt 1948: 315), one thinks today in Germany of the anchor centers for asylum seekers; 2) „purgatory,“ the Soviet gulag, in which work is compulsory; and 3) „hell,“ a label applied exclusively to the concentration camps of National Socialism, which were characterized by the brutal humiliation and extermination of their inmates. It is necessary to add that the concentration camps of the fascist exceptional state fix the same spatial matrix as the national territory, in order to concretize themselves as an enclosure for the internal enemies on the national territory. In the camps, the borders are incorporated into the national space. (Poulantzas 1978: 97) In this context, the concentration camp is to be understood as a kind of laboratory in which specific techniques of work and organization, techniques of discipline, and practices of the natural sciences are arranged in such a way that they can be inscribed in the self-referential system of absolute annihilation in the sense of a technocratic totalitarianism that suspends any productive function of work. Maurice Blanchot has somewhat differentiated this kind of annihilation: „And labor is everywhere, at all times. When oppression is absolute, there is no more leisure, no more ‚free time.‘ Sleep is supervised. The meaning of work is then the destruction of work at and through work. But if, as happened in some concentration camps, work consists in dragging stones to a place at a run, piling them up, and then, still running, bringing them back to the starting point … then work can no longer be destroyed by any sabotage, if it is already destined to destroy itself. Nevertheless, it retains its purpose; not only to destroy the worker, but, directly, to occupy him, to fix him, to control him, and at the same time to make him aware that producing and not producing are one and the same, are also work.“ (Blanchot 2005: 102-103) In this way, the industrial production of death refers not only to the superfluousness of man, which Arendt also pointed out, but to the associated superfluousness of work, yet work is retained, even when it is reduced to simple presence in space, as it often enough is today.

In his book Die Welt als Vernichtungslager (The World as an Extermination Camp), the sociologist Christoph Dries, in turn, followed up Hannah Arendt’s and Günther Anders‘ remarks on the camp by bringing into play the hitherto little-noticed term „world as a camp condition.“ According to Dries, this refers to the present world, which is successively approaching a state that can be described as a „world state of camp“ in distinction to the system of concentration camps, a state that is the result of a rather unplanned, successive development, in the course of which the world is being reduced to such a state, that it assumes the status of an extermination camp encompassing the entire globe, whereby the boundary between inside and outside, which was still constitutive of the Nazi camp, implodes, so that the camp ultimately no longer has an environment and the world itself regresses „to an unimaginable ‚Ab-ort‘,“ a „cesspool of man,“ a „disposable world.“ (Dries 2012: 353) If the reproduction of man today is less about the concept of race than about the genetic code, then it is also at this point that the superfluousness of man seems to assume an inevitable development. 3

We cannot discuss this position any further here; suffice it to say that this view is in part close in its conclusions to that of Agamben, who, however, in order to determine the workings of power and encampment, has examined in particular the relationship between sovereignty and territory, establishing a close relationship between sovereignty, the state of exception, and the encampment by short-circuiting the juridico-institutional model of state sovereignty with Foucault’s biopolitical analysis of power (disciplining populations and bodies). The camp integrates both sovereignty and power, insofar as here the general state of exception, which represents an at least temporary suspension of state order, is translated into a continuous space. Thus, for Agamben, the camps are definitely places of exception within a state territory, but at the same time outside the normalized scope of the law, or, to put it differently, the camp is a space outside the „normal“ legal order without being an outside space. By denying in the refugee camps any legal status to its inmates, one reduces them to their bare physical existence and, precisely by doing so, executes on them an act of absolute power as a proper technique of governance. In this respect, the camp is a place where, as a result of lawlessness, law is always created.

In analyses following on from Agamben, which deal with migration movements on the edges of Europe, some authors (Papadopoulos, Stephenson, Tsianos 2008) have questioned the definition of the camp as a space of confinement (immobilization) and as a disciplinary means of exclusion by bringing the factors of time and mobility into play in order to bring out more strongly the diffuseness of contemporary camp structures. For example, they argue that the European Schengen camps should not be understood as mere warehouses but, following Paul Virilio, as „speed boxes“ that attempt to regulate refugee movements through a kind of „deceleration“ of speed. Through the specific dynamization of migration, the camps acquire a temporal dimension and are designed as transit stations or temporary stations where only temporary mobility control takes place along heterogeneous migrant lines of flight.

These statements, in turn, partially coincide with the analyses of the American theorist Thomas Nail, who argues that the systemic violence inherent in the border should not only be seen as an effect of the operational paradox of state sovereignty (exclusion qua law), as Agamben does, but increasingly as a function of micropolitical borders, indeed of border spaces, which would allow a diffuse social violence against migrants and refugees to operate within them, thus precisely perpetuating it. (Nail 2015)

For migrants themselves, the social body increasingly functions as a fluid border space where surveillance is perpetual. Thomas Nail, in his book The Figure of the Migrant, has called the 21st century that of the migrant, a figure that should not, however, be equated with the refugee.4 This also calls into question the previous definition of borders. Borders are a modern construction that implies parceled, discontinuous, and fragmented spaces, and their grids lead to the definition of an inside and an outside. The task of the state is to homogenize and close off these fragmented spaces, and through this unification it constitutes itself, and this means precisely that borders and territories do not precede the unification of the state within, but are created uno actu with it. A segmented chain of individual places and sites now encompasses the interior of a national territory, and does so as part of the state’s exercise of power. Far from destroying nation-states, today the temporary state states of exception and the fascisms operating within them have exacerbated the paradox of exclusion/inclusion precisely by setting in motion a decentralized and multiple institutionalization of migration that today requires flexible border demarcations,diffusing into migrants‘ diverse ways of living and working.5

In unison, multinational corporations and imperialist states have created a structural invisibility of exceptionalism or exceptionalism. Borders are only the politically visible line of this inclusion and exclusion, while the border dispositif or apparatus that expands borders and is more invisible continues to include and exclude, but not so much through a wall that cannot be crossed, but rather with the help of multiple passages that can be easily crossed by capital flows (to make profits, establish control and security) and by migrants under certain conditions, while refugees and surplus populations cannot enter these passages in the first place or at best get stuck in them. However, a flow can, in turn, become a wall itself, which is then represented primarily by nation-states, given their trade restrictions, monetary relations, and agreements that restrict, redirect, and redirect the free flow of goods and capital. The border dispositive, which does not coincide with geographic boundary lines, features a degree of self-regulation and self-transformation, especially for those in power because they can advance and militarize border lines. (Bernes 2018) Boundaries are now to be understood as modulating limitations that are used not only to block external movements, but to force specific divided populations into channels within an environment that is to some degree unpredictable and thereby regulated and integrated. The sovereign may still decide on the state of exception, but it has itself become extremely flexible and multiple, which may well lead to shifting effects of sovereignty, but also to losses of it.

1 In the European countries, the special status as refugees would have to be abolished and responded appropriately with demands for the abolition of the refugee regime, demands for equality of rights as far as the free movement, mobility, education, work permits, etc. of migrants are concerned. To attack the refugee regime would mean to attack the legal non-status of refugees, which is marked, for example, by food vouchers instead of cash, prohibition to work, residence obligation and collective housing. In all these respects, however, the measures are just being tightened. It can be assumed that the legal equality of the refugee is not even possible under capitalism for purely „logical“ reasons. Already with Kant it can be left that in a nation which defines itself by its territory as its people’s property, the stranger is inevitably set as an imperson. Just as the protection of the home is a crucial concern of the citizen and private citizen, so the integrity of the borders is the condition of existence of the state, the Marquess Curzon of Kedleston wants to report already around the year 1900. The nation virtually forbids the establishment of a right of hospitality in which the guest is understood as a legal entity. Hospitality is not a philanthropic-humanitarian gesture, nor is it a kind of charity; it is the political that must be fought for by the subaltern.

2 Twenty-five years ago, Wolfgang Pohrt wrote the following in his essay Der moderne Flüchtling – Über Eric Ambler (The Modern Refugee – On Eric Ambler): „Similar to today, where 100,000 additional people in the FRG would be a negligible quantity, while 100,000 asylum seekers, who have been deprived of the right to freedom of movement as well as to work, already represent a special case undermining basic rights and may actually develop into the social problem they are considered to be; similar to today, then (after 1918), refugees became a destabilizing element through the treatment they received. Held in a state of lawlessness, which includes lawlessness, they were the most vivid example of the shrinking of the scope of laws, of signs of decomposition in the area of state control over the population, and in general of the growing inability of the traditional social structure to keep people’s lives in order“ (Pohrt 1989: 152). When German politicians boast today that we have to adjust to „changes everywhere: School, police, housing, courts, health care, everywhere,“ then this sounds like a reshaping of the spheres of state control to be feared by large parts of the population, with the destabilizing element of the refugee taking on the role of the trigger to further adopt one or another democratic right and to make the impoverishment of parts of the population even more hopeful, especially that part which the impoverishment machinery of the German state has fixed as cheap labor and welfare recipients.

3 „According to Hannah Arendt, the industrial production of death, for which Auschwitz stands, demonstrates, far beyond the extermination of the concentration camp inmates, the superfluousness of man, which is continued today with a view to growth, provided that it is no longer a question of the concept of breeding and race, but of the genetic code.“ (Gerburg Treusch-Dieter 2003: 66)

4 The refugee wants/must leave the territory of his state, in which he is subject to the national legal system as a citizen, for very different reasons, and therefore all the rules of emigration and immigration also apply to him first. When fleeing, however, the refugee must escape the very laws of his own country if, for example, he belongs to a disgraced religious community or politically persecuted group, has become a victim of land theft or civil war, or is even threatened with starvation, torture and the death penalty.

5 The juridical-political suspension of law and legislation or their permanent rewritings serve here new inscriptions of security, which are directed not only against migrants and refugees, but also against the poor in general. In this process, multinational corporations can easily cross borders, while the poor and the surplus population are denied access to certain territories without any justification.

translated by deepl.

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