The Camp as Biopolitical Paradigm of the State

The logical and inevitable outcome of our continued compliance with medically meaningless and illegally imposed restrictions on our human rights, like social distancing, face coverings, ‘asymptomatic’ testing, ‘vaccine’ passports as a condition of citizenship, ‘quarantining’ healthy people and mandatory medical intervention with experimental gene injections, is the camp. But what is a camp? Below are excerpts from ‘The Camp as Biopolitical Paradigm of the Modern’, part three of Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, illustrated with images and documents from the Centre for National Resilience in the Northern Territory of Australia. Information about this particular camp can be found in the endnotes.

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‘The camp is the space that is opened when the state of exception becomes the rule. In the camp, the state of exception, which was essentially a temporary suspension of the rule of law on the basis of a factual state of danger, is now given a permanent spatial arrangement, which as such nevertheless remains outside the normal order.’

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‘If this is true — if the essence of the camp consists in the materialisation of the state of exception and in the subsequent creation of a space in which bare life and the juridical order enter into a threshold of indistinction — then we must admit that we find ourselves virtually in the presence of a camp every time such a structure is created, independent of the kinds of crime that are committed there and whatever its denomination and specific topography.’

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‘In this light, the birth of the camp in our time appears as an event that decisively signals the political space of modernity itself. It is produced at the point at which the political system of the modern nation-state enters into a lasting crisis, and the State decides to assume directly the care of the nation’s biological life as one of its proper tasks.’

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‘We must expect not only new camps but also always new and more lunatic regulative definitions of the inscription of life in the city. The camp, which is now securely lodged within the city’s interior, is the new biopolitical nomos [the laws and customs of human behaviour] of the planet.’

‘Today, it is not the city but rather the camp that is the fundamental biopolitical paradigm of the West. Every attempt to rethink the political space of the West must begin with the clear awareness that we no longer know anything of the classical distinction between private life and political existence, between man as a simple being living at home in the house and man’s political existence in the city.’

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‘There is no return from the camps to classical politics. In the camps, city and house became indistinguishable, and the possibility of differentiating between our biological body and our political body — between what is incommunicable and mute and what is communicable and sayable — was taken from us forever. And we are not only, in Foucault’s words, animals whose life as living beings is at issue in their politics, but also — inversely — citizens whose very politics is at issue in their natural body.’

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‘It we give the name form-of-life to this being that is only its own bare existence, and to this life that, being its own form, remains inseparable from it, we will witness the emergence of a field of research beyond the terrain defined by the intersection of politics and philosophy, medico-biological sciences and jurisprudence. First, however, it will be necessary to examine how it was possible for something like a bare life to be conceived within these disciplines, and how the historical development of these very disciplines has brought them to a limit beyond which they cannot venture without risking an unprecedented biopolitical catastrophe.’

— Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (1995)

Notes

1. Manigurr-ma Village, a residential mining camp in Howard Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia, was masterplanned and designed by the US-headquartered multinational engineering firm AECOM. In 2014 the camp received the State commendation award for Urban Design – Northern Territory Architecture Awards.

2. In March 2020, the Northern Territory government renamed the camp the Centre of National Resilience and began using it to ‘quarantine’ Australians repatriated from overseas, regardless of their state of health. Under a politically-declared state of emergency, all Australians on Commonwealth-facilitated flights into the Northern Territory are required to undertake 14 days of mandatory supervised quarantine at a cost of $2,500 AUD for an unvaccinated individual and $5000 for a family or couple.

3. Before being permitted to leave the camp at the end of 2 weeks, inmates must produce a negative RT-PCR test. Refusal to do so incurs a further 7 days incarceration at an additional cost of $1,750 AUD for an individual and $3,500 for a family.

4. The instructions to camp inmates and the map of the camp are from the Chief Medical Officer’s Direction 52 of 2021. Failure to comply with these instructions, or with any other instructions from a camp officer, is a criminal offence punishable by fines ranging from $5,000 AUD for an infringement notice up to a maximum of $62,800.

5. In November 2021, 3 teenagers escaped from the camp, and following a manhunt were arrested by the Northern Territory police. None tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. At the time, a total of 58 people in the Northern Territory had tested positive with a PCR assay out of a state population of 250,730, and not a single death had been attributed to COVID-19. Since then, 5 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in the Northern Territory after a period of nearly 2 years. 6 people have tried to escape the camp. All have been apprehended.

6. In July 2021, the Australian Government announced the contract to build a Centre for National Resilience in Melbourne, Victoria. Another is being built in Brisbane, Queensland; and a fourth in Perth, Western Australia. The Melbourne camp is expected to start opening at the end of 2021, the Brisbane and Perth camps in the first quarter of 2022.

7. Of the 2,639 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Australia between March 2020 and 31 January, 2022, 96.7 per cent had underlying health conditions, with an average of three conditions per deceased. Chronic cardiac conditions were the primary underlying health condition of those whose deaths were attributed to COVID-19. During the same period, 100,000 Australians died from cancer, 32,000 from heart disease, 30,000 from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and 10,000 from diabetes. Of the 273,901 deaths in Australia over this period, COVID-19 was identified as the 38th highest cause of death, representing only one per cent of all fatalities nationwide. The average age of death is 83 for men and 86 for women. In the nearly two years since SARS-CoV-2 reached Australia, only 83 people have had COVID-19 identified as the sole cause of death, without other underlying causes.

4 thoughts on “The Camp as Biopolitical Paradigm of the State

  1. Simon, thanks once again for an excellent read. Reading your posts helps me to flesh out inchoate thoughts and intuitions.

    I am reading your work for free, and it doesn’t sit right with me. Is there some way that I can support your work? Apologies if this offends you – I appreciate that money is not your motivation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Colin, I’m glad this helped your own thoughts. All our work is available for free, but if you’d like to make a donation we’d welcome it. There’s a donate button at the top of the menu on our website. If you haven’t received them already, we also send pdfs of each of the three collections of my writings on the UK biosecurity state for £10 each. See, for example: https://architectsforsocialhousing.co.uk/2021/03/04/brave-new-world-expanding-the-uk-biosecurity-state-through-the-winter-of-2020-2021/. Best wishes, and happy reading.

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