Citizens of ‘enemy origin’

March 17, 2011

Agamben mentions earlier in Means Without Ends, that “the state is a community instituted for the sake of the living and the well living of men in it” (pg 4). A community in this notion may as well mean as a community under the sovereign with high political power. By men, he actually means the rightful citizens of that state indeed. These men are automatically expected to always be submitting themselves under the govern of this sovereign power; as protection is only given upon them when doing so. In term of human life, Agamben compares this literally with the originary meaning of sacer [sacred] (pg 5) where a certain amount of sacrifice is to be fulfilled hence the humble submission. Human life in this context is somehow represents itself as the secularized political living-model where particular ways of life is allowed.

What are the rights for the non-citizens a.k.a. the refugees in the subjects of the political? These countryless refugees, in the order of the nation-state could be seen as radical, appearing strongly to a nation (not theirs) a coming political crisis as they are prone to the subject of having questionable national and human identities. Agamben himself points out that breaking the nativity and nationality could lead to a critical sovereign and that these refugees could be the cause of it (pg 20).

Among beings who would always already be enacted, who would always already be this or that thing, this or that identity, and who would have entirely exhausted their power in these things and identities- among such beings there could not be any community but only coincidences and factual partitions. We can communicate with others only through what in us as much as in others – has remained potential, and any communication (as Benjamin perceives for language) is first of all communication not of something in common but of communicability itself.”

(Agamben, Pg 10)

In We Refugees, Arendt makes a remark that as refugees,communication is somewhat a process of assimilation with the state country that they are in (pg 3). It is essential that losing the national or mother tongue language could be one aspect of slowly losing the identity, nationally and individually. From citizens to non-citizens to slowly localizing and assimilating themselves with the local condition (denizen), they remain as only that, refugees…


Nurulain Mohd Noor

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