We are all in various ways global villagers—semiotically impoverished relative to the nootechnologies that form our cultural and cognitive habitus. The specific history of Kenya’s transition to independence is intended to exemplify a more global tendency according to which responsibility (or what Stiegler has also called “maturity”) is deferred through the instatement of semiotic magic as a substitute for self-rule. Returning to Agamben’s thesis that the Holocaust camp constitutes the “nomos of the modern,” I would propose that the methods of power most paradigmatic of the present were not those. based on explicit systems of exclusion, but rather the ways that exclusionary practices were interwoven with means of liminal inclusion and interpenetration allowing hierarchical categories such as class and race to remain intact but never too rigidly When exploitation—rather than expulsion—of difference reigns, then power need not distinguish strictly and irrevocably between which groups are internal and external to the polis. The categories allow for interpenetration and ambiguity even while they are maintained.
The “nomos of the modern” is not directed primarily toward irrevocable exclusions, as accomplished through genocide or de jure political and spatial apartheid. The paradigmatic camp might be described more as a “village,” a global village that operates as a device of conversion, filtration, and connectivity: shaping, sifting, and weaving together different modes of subjectivity, distributing them along broad, fluid continuums suitable to the ownership and nonownership of land, capital, and letters. The paradigmatic camp is to be found less in the early and most brutal phases of Kenya villagization than in its strategies of rehabilitation, in the “Pipeline” system of progressively (and magically) converting people from the status of detainees into a subtle gradation of other class- and ethnic-based statuses.
What this means is that the global villagers can belong fully to an independent nation, while being nonetheless unable to effectively leverage the rights of citizenship, rights that depend on semiotic affluence. Between the poles of citizenship and noncitizenship are the various gradations of quasi-citizenship through which sovereignty can legitimately operate (i.e., minimizing its states of exception). Biopolitics might be differently understood if we added to the problem of “bare life” the fact that depoliticization often comes garbed in the lineaments of normal, participatory forms of inclusion, which bear little kinship to the logic of death camps. This depoliticized life is often perfectly coterminous with sensual pleasures, with material nourishment, and with social-political involvement in an (impoverished) public sphere. And if we were to complicate the model of “bare life” by considering the effects of noopolitics (and their entanglement with terra-power), perhaps the complex figure crystallizing at this nexus of power—the figure of the global village—would suggest somewhat different strategies of resistance.