Monday, 11 April 2016

Australian camps - a short discursive

In a previous post I mentioned the book Homo Sacer by Giorgio Agamben in which he looks at sovereignty and modern political life or rather its historical power bases and development.  (This is only my interpretation and probably not really the take home message.) Not withstanding that he makes some interesting observations around the Concentration camp and its political ramifications.

Some of those ramifications pose questions for the Australian citizen in relation to the Off shore detention centres used to process refugees coming by routes other than those accepted by the government.  There is also a wider implication for the burgeoning use of camps in Europe which need to be noted.  In short Agamben suggests that the birth of the camp (referring to the Concentration camp in modern political life) produces a 'lasting crisis' which disrupts the normal rules of citizenship and law.  Indeed he writes that "It is significant that the camps appear together with new laws on citizenship and denationalisation of citizens".   The camp becomes a place were the normal order is de facto suspended and allows for an order which is imposed by the guards which is outside the sovereignty of the host country.

Razor wire or humanity? (

His analyses appears to be very creepy in light of recent political moves and re-forming of citizenship laws.  Questions which arise in my mind relate to how far down the track towards the inhumanity previously seen in other manifestations of camps is the Australian state?  Certainly it appears that we have already stripped the inhabitants of the camps of their humanity by treating them as we do.  We appear also to have stripped them of their 'rights' as citizens as we have stripped them of that status by placing them into the camp.  It matters not whether the citizenship is of Australia or some other country.  The fact of placing them away from access strips them from the ideal or knowledge of being part of a country.

As Christians where is our stance?  Christ on the cross is stripped of all humanity and citizenship and yet embraces us with total love within the citizenship of God's reign.  Our leaders suggest that they are good upstanding people of faith which would suggest that their views should be formed within the cauldron of faith formation.  However, it would appear that faith does not inform those who proclaim their faith on the political platform.  Perhaps our faith is no longer a valued informer of our political views.  Yet as people of faith, irrespective of that faith, we should surely inform our opinions from what we hold dear to our spiritual life.  In the coming elections our decisions with regards to voting need to be discerned in terms of faith not in terms of our political orientation or party affiliation.  Do we as people of faith hold with the dehumanisation of others and placing of the other within a political vacuum or are we welcoming of the other realising that God is present in the face of all humanity not just those who are like us?

If we are true to our faith than surely we must invite that faith in to inform our political ideals.  It should not be the ambiguous 'Citizen safety' or 'safety of the state' but rather the birth of incarnate love within each of us that brings about a better good rather than the erection of the palisades to hide behind.  Do we see the suffering of Christ within the faces of the dispossessed? or do we see our own ambiguous fears of a disruption to our own autonomy and citizenship of country?

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